ELL’s guide to a happy, healthy and hopefully stress-free Christmas so you can sit back and enjoy the holidays

London transport may be disrupted this Christmas. Pic: Manel

London transport may be disrupted this Christmas. Pic: Manel

Christmas can be a magical time but it can also be a very stressful one, particularly if things go wrong. Whether it’s forgetting the cranberry sauce or something a little more serious this guide to the borough’s key services will help.


For specific information TfL has produced its annual festive guide which gives details for every day from December 21 until January 4, when normal service resumes. The Tfl Travel Alerts Twitter account is also well worth checking before you head out over the holidays.

The London Underground will be closed throughout Christmas Day and services will start to wind down from 5:00pm on Christmas Eve. Last trains will run on a Sunday timetable.

The London Overground will also be closed on the big day; final trains going through the boroughs will generally be just after 9:30pm on Christmas Eve. There will also be no Overground service on Boxing Day.

A Saturday service will operate for buses on Christmas Eve but there will not be any night buses. No buses will be running on Christmas Day but otherwise there will be a normal service until the 31st.

There are a number of closures specific to boroughs. Southern services will not stop at London Bridge from December 20 to January 4 and will be diverted to Victoria. Thameslink services will also not call at the station and will be diverted via Blackfriars.

Overground services will be closed to and from New Cross between December 22 and December 24, but there will be a replacement bus service running between Canada Water, Surrey Quays and New Cross.

New Year’s

New Year’s Eve brings free travel on the bus, Tube, Overground, DLR and tram between 11.45 and 4.30am, but be sure to check your route before travelling, as some lines will be offering reduced services.

Southern will be running a special service overnight on New Year’s Eve from Victoria to East Croydon. A Saturday service will operate on the Overground between Clapham Junction and Stratford, and between Highbury and Islington and New Cross, Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace and West Croydon.

Buses in an around central London will either terminate earlier or be diverted from 2:00pm onwards to avoid road closures.

There will be a number of road closures in central London, which will be in place from 8:00pm until 6:00am the following morning. Roads will start closing at 2:00pm. Additional roads will be closed in central London from 4:00am for the New Year’s Day Parade.

Between December 27 and 4 January the junction of Homerton High Street and Wardle Street may be congested due to sewer repair works. A temporary traffic signal control will be operating over this period.

Many GP services will this year be closing from December 24 until December 29, and then again from December 31 until January 5, but for emergencies, patients can still visit A&E departments, which will be running in all hospitals. Emergency departments can get busy over the festive period, so the NHS has advised that people take care around their home to avoid hazardous situations.

For a last minute visit to the pharmacy, Boots will be open on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, as well as on New Years Day for those dreaded hangovers.

To find out whether your local pharmacy is open on Christmas day, click here.

For those struggling to make ends meet this Christmas, We Care Food bank will be open late on Christmas Eve, with no referral needed. On Christmas Day, the centre in New Cross will be open for people to heat up food and will also be running open houses for homeless people who are alone.

Trussell Trust centres in the ELL boroughs will not be open on Christmas Day for walk-ins, but will have emergency food parcels for those who have been referred.

On Christmas itself, Crisis at Christmas will be welcoming everyone, with beds for those who do not have anywhere to sleep. Running from December 23 to December 29, the charity will operate day centres between 9am and 9pm, where hot food will be offered, alongside haircuts, fun activities and advice.

Crisis will also be running bus services to help homeless people get to their centres. On December 23 the buses will run between 11:30am and 5:00pm and from December 24 to December 29 the buses will start at 9:00am and will call at every stop until 1:00pm.

In Hackney, the centre will be at The City Academy, with pick up stops at Stratford Picture House, outside McDonalds in Canning Town and Christ Church Spitalfields. The charity is also hosting a centre at Lewisham College, Deptford Campus.

Crisis at Christmas is still looking for night-time volunteers and those wishing to donate can give £21.62 to reserve a place for a homeless person.

All the major supermarkets will be closed on Christmas Day, but if you’re in dire need of some mince pies or mulled wine on Christmas Eve, check out your nearest supermarket opening times before leaving the house.

The Tesco Lewisham Superstore will be open until 10:00pm on Christmas Eve and opens again at 9:00am on Boxing Day, whilst the Sainsbury’s in Central Croydon closes at 5:00pm on Christmas Eve and opens at 10:00am Boxing Day.

Most of the popular supermarkets will have the opening times for specific stores on their websites.

James Benge and Hannah Boland

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