Festive Celebrations in London
Grab your mittens and winter warmers and head out into the Big Smoke for yuletide fun
As Christmas is fast approaching and festivities are in full swing, you may be wondering what to see and do in the capital city. So, grab your mittens and winter warmers and head out into the Big Smoke for the best yuletide fun the city has to offer. As Christmas is fast approaching and festivities are in full swing, you may be wondering what to see and do in the capital city. So, grab your mittens and winter warmers and head out into the Big Smoke for the best yuletide fun the city has to offer.
Christmas markets are no longer only associated with Germany and the rest of Europe; they are now a firm favourite in Blighty too. Kew Gardens has one of the best, with Santa’s grotto, vintage family-fun rides and a boutique market. The most well-known is Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, where traditional Christmas treats and gifts of snow globes and handmade decorations adorn the wooden market stalls. Not forgetting the German sausages and sweets too. If your friends and family prefer something a little quirkier, head to Dalston Christmas Market and shop at the flea market, offering one-of-a-kind artisan goods. Keep up with the Christmas jumper recycled fashion and get one at Snowy Fingers Vintage Market in East London's Hackney.
Going to the theatre at Christmastime doesn’t have to mean pantomimes galore; there are still plenty of great and quirky shows to see. Dickens Abridged is 90 minutes full of Dickensian classic stories along with some fast facts, by a cast of five at the Arts Theatre. A new adaptation of Kiplings The Jungle Book runs throughout Christmas at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre, where audiences are encouraged to help Mowgli through his journey. Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a modern take on the well-known story. This show at Pleaseance Theatre is all about Peter Pan and the lost boy’s misadventures.
Sparkling ice rinks
London’s chilly nights make it the perfect place to enjoy an evening of skating. Whether you think of yourself as a graceful skater or more of a side-clutcher, any of the rinks are a great choice. Most rinks have a bar serving warming beverages from mulled wine to hot chocolate. The rinks open their gates from the 22nd of October and most run right through until the 14th January 2014. Choose from DJ nights at Somerset House, skating beneath the iconic London Eye, or themed nights at Stratford Westfield’s indoor rink.
Many of the main shopping areas in London have their own themed Christmas light extravaganza. Regent Street had celebrities turning on the lights and live music while Oxford Street has a falling snowflake theme to its huge lights, strung across the whole width of the street. Cool Carnaby Street is adorned in huge robins while Harrods’s exterior is literally dripping in festive lights accompanying its elaborately themed windows.
Traditional carol singing
To get into the true spirit of Christmas attend some carol singing concerts, or head to midnight mass service. Take children to the Father Christmas and Carol Singing concert at Brixton Windmill to remember the real reason behind Christmas, and enjoy festive crafts and mince pies. What better place to listen to carols than St Paul’s Cathedral, sung by the cathedral choir. For something a little different, there will be a special Carols and Candles Service at Canary Wharf, led by choirs from companies working in Canary Wharf. For this jovial event, all proceeds will be going to Street Pastors and Save the Children.
For the kids
Children are, without a doubt, the most likely to get excited about Christmas. Take them for a family day out to fun-filled pantomimes such as Aladdin at New Wimbledon Theatre, Cinderella at Shaw Theatre or the classic Dick Whittington at the Queen’s Theatre. For little ones, there’s Santa and the Christmas Adventure, getting children to find Santa at Fairfield Halls. Or, get involved in the jazzy show of The Ballard of Rudy, where Rudy the penguin wants a red nose.
So whether its carrying on with a family tradition of visiting the theatre or attending a carol concert, or entertaining the children with a show or ice skating, or visiting quirky markets for the first time, head out into London to make this year Christmas the most memorable yet and pick up some gifts along the way.