Christmas 2019 in London.
Christmas 2019 in London.
We thought we would put together a selection of events on this Christmas in London. Hopefully if you are here for a conference and feel like extending your visit this will provide some inspiration.
Pitch Black Playback
If you’re in the dark about PBP, well… that’s only to be expected. They’re an underground listening party collective who stage album listening nights in the dark, in beautiful, unusual venues around the city. And to cap off what was already a pretty excellent year, they’re staging four more events, featuring albums by Erykah Badu, Jamie Woon, Sigur Rós and a cinematic screening of Beyoncé’s Lemonade.
Details: 3rd, 4th & 11th December | Various locations | £8-10
Champagne & Oysters at The Mulwray
‘Tis the season to be jolly. And if going to a Ruinart Champagne tasting with freshly shucked oysters, St. John sourdough and carol singing in the beautifully decked out pub from the Palomar team isn’t jolly, then frankly, we don’t know what is.
Details: 4th December | The Mulwray at The Blue Posts, 28 Rupert Street, London, W1D 6DJ | £54.49
Critically acclaimed theatre company Kneehigh are bringing their bizarre and jubilant take on the anarchic play King Ubu to Shoreditch Town Hall this month. They describe it as an “unhinged improvised promenade musical”, and it’ll see actors and musicians whizzing amongst the audience, leading you on rousing crowd karaoke renditions of everything from Britney to the Sex Pistols, while you throw ping pong balls at the people opposite and limber up for Ubu’s Olympic Games.
Details: 4th-21st December | Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, EC1V 9LT | £18-25
For their exhibition on 20th century cabaret culture, the Barbican have installed a life-size recreation of the iconic 1920s bar L’Aubette. And for one late-night opening this month, they’re taking that recreation a step further by staging a performance by jazz saxophonist Ruben Fox. After the gig, you’ll be free to walk around the rest of the exhibition after-hours, and sip a cocktail in another recreated bar, Vienna’s Cabaret Fledermaus.
Details: 5th December | Art Gallery, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS | Free with £15 exhibition ticket
Enchanted Eltham Palace
South London’s stunning medieval-meets-art-deco palace gets some additional deco this month, as they illuminate their sprawling grounds with a twinkling array of fairy-lights, mirrorballs, coloured fountains and interactive artworks. There’ll be mulled wine and hot chocolates to sip as you go round the trail, as well as traditional fairground stalls and rides.
Details: 5th – 22nd December | Court Yard, Eltham, Greenwich, London, SE9 5QE | £12-14
Maltby Street Night Markets
You never want to be left in the dark when it comes to night markets – so here’s a heads up that Maltby Street will be open late every Friday in the run up to Christmas. You’ll find all their usual street food traders, plus mulled wine, mince pies, and live carolling while you stuff your piehole.
Details: 6th, 13th & 20th December | Maltby Street, SE1 3PA | Free Entry
The Little Orchestra
Beethoven never heard his own 9th symphony.
But trust us, it’s still good.
It sounds even better, though, when it’s played in a spine-tinglingly intimate and special setting by an orchestra who specialise in taking the pomp and stuffiness out of classical concerts… READ MORE
Details: 6th & 7th December | Royal Horticultural Halls, Elverton St, London SW1P 2PB | £30/£45pp for a sofa
Ever After Garden
Grosvenor Square in Mayfair is slowly being transformed into a field of over 27,000 illuminated white silk roses, inspired by an installation that took place in Seoul back in 2015. It’s all in aid of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, and visitors can plant a rose in memory of a loved one in exchange for a donation.
Details: Until 22nd December | Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, W1K 2HP | Free Entry/recommended donation of £10 to plant a rose
The Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread City
Building an entire city out of gingerbread may sound like a half-baked idea…
…but when it’s constructed by the architects & engineers at the Museum of Architecture, it’s actually pretty impressive, with over 100 artists and architects constructing their own sugar-dusted, fairylit gingerbread edifices… READ MORE
Details: 7th December – 5th January | Somerset House, Strand, Covent Garden, WC2R 1LA | £9
Making its debut this year, Stardust is an enormous winter music festival landing at Tobacco Docks this month. There’ll be three stages (occupied by the likes of the Artful Dodger, The Streets’ Mike Skinner, and Shift K3Y); a time-travelling roller disco; roaming jewel make-up artists; festive screenings from the Luna Cinema; and street food – including ice cream made by hurling ingredients at a super-cold plate…
Details: 7th December | Tobacco Docks, 50 Porters Walk, E1W 2SF | £65-250
Laser art – it’s pretty cutting edge. And now a huge, free exhibition of the stuff is popping up in London. It showcases three works by the United Visual Artists collective, each of which are vast, walk-in installations… READ MORE
Details: Until 8th December | The Store x 180 The Strand, London WC2R 1EA | Free Entry
Dock The Halls
You must have been good this year, because the Docklands are giving you a free film festival for Christmas. They’re screening a dozen festive classics, alongside free activities and live music – from Die Hard with a brass band to Elf with a wreath-making workshop.
Details: Throughout December | The Royal Docks | Free, but register ahead
Hidden Jazz Club
The team behind HJC take jazz so seriously, they even improvise their venues. They pop up in undisclosed locations around the capital with a rotating roster of talented musicians, ready to soothe your eardrums with ever-changing set lists in intimate and atmospherically-lit settings. READ MORE
Details: 9th, 16th & 19th December | Secret Locations | £18
It’s the perfect ballet for the snowflake generation. A festive classic, The English National Ballet’s glittering production involves over 100 dancers, a hot air balloon and cascades of snowy blizzards, set in one of the most beautiful, grandiose theatres in London.
Details: 11th December – 5th January | London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4ES | £14-80
Nine Lessons and Carols for Curious People
Comedian, writer and broadcaster Robin Ince reprises his sell-out festive cracker; which is basically like the Royal Institution’s Christmas lectures for adults. He’ll be joined by singers, statisticians, comedians and chemists for an eclectic festival of ideas and entertainment – plus it’s all in aid of The Trussell Trust Food Bank.
Details: 12th, 13th, 19th & 21st December | Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG | £27
The Candlelight Club
The Candlelight Club – the roving 1920s party lit almost entirely by candles – is decking the halls of their secret ballroom space for a special festive edition this month. There’ll be live music from the Swing’It Dixieband, vintage DJ’ing by The Bees Knees, and MC’ing from the compère without compare, the inimitable Champagne Charlie.
Details: 13th December | A Secret Location | From £25
Turning Earth Christmas Market
As the Earth completes another turn about the sun, Hoxton’s pottery studio Turning Earth hosts another of their insanely popular Christmas markets. As usual, you’ll be able to peruse handmade wares from 75+ different potters, watch demonstrations and have a go at throwing something yourself – or just chow down on the Vietnamese street food, mince pies and mulled wine as you soak up the live gypsy jazz.
Details: 14th & 15th December | Turning Earth Hoxton, Railway Arch 361, Whiston Road E2 8BW | Free Entry
The Luna Winter Cinema
Few places do pop up film like the Luna Cinema, who use the night sky (and a fair few stunning buildings) as their backdrop. Of course, that doesn’t work quite so well in the middle of December – so they’re retreating indoors for a series of festive film screenings inside a pavilion in the grounds of Kensington Palace, accompanied by crepes and mulled wine.
Details: 15th-23rd December | Kensington Palace, Orme Square Gate, Bayswater Road, London W8 4PX | £13
The Krampus and the Old, Dark Christmas
If you’re not familiar with the Krampus, he’s basically an anti-Santa that goes around punishing children who have been naughty (as opposed to St. Nick, who treats kids who have been nice). Described as half-goat, half-demon, the old European folk character represents a darker side to the festive season – and you can hear all about it from the world’s preeminent Krampus expert at the suitably spooky Last Tuesday Society, featuring a possible visit from Krampus himself.
Details: 17th December | 11 Mare Street, London E8 4RP | £15
Circus 1903 is all about old-school spectacle. Settling into the Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall, they’ll be showcasing the kinds of feats that health and safety did away with years ago: acts like knife-throwers; trapeze artists and acrobats without safety nets; and an all-new act called the ‘Brazilian wheel of death’. Thankfully, the one tradition they haven’t revived is the use of live animals – instead, they’ve collaborated with the War Horse designers to create jaw-dropping, life-sized puppets instead… READ MORE
Details: 19th December – 5th January | Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX | £29.50-125
Still hunting for a Christmas party venue? Mac & Wild have got you covered. They’ve set up a fully fledged hunting pop up by their City restaurant, where you can kick back in your own personal hunting lodge, sip mulled wines, dine on festive Scottish fare and toast whisky marshmallows on an open fire. They’ve also installed a ‘whisky wall’ – where you can sample dozens of drams – and their famous state-of-the-art virtual hunting ranges, so you can go deer stalking in Liverpool Street.
Details: Until 21st December | 1 Devonshire Square, EC2M 4YP | From £15pp
La La Land: The Soundtrack
If you were a particular fan of the ‘la la’ part of La La Land, you can hear a full orchestral rendition of the film’s music at The Jazz Café this month, courtesy of the 16-piece Rogue Orchestra. They’ll be playing through the whole soundtrack, as well as other classic show tunes from the golden era of Hollywood.
Details: 23rd December | Jazz Café, 5 Parkway,Camden, NW1 7PG | £20
Christmas in London
Jeff Eden © RBG Kew
Want a totally comprehensive guide of all the festive stuff going on in the capital this year? Then write to Santa. Or peruse this giant guide to the best Christmas markets, ice rinks, carol singing, winter pop ups and more… IT’S CHRIIIISTMAAAAS
The Peter Pan Cup
On Christmas Day, it’s always important to remember those less fortunate – like the people who have signed up to swim a 100-yard race along the freezing cold Serpentine. The shock of the water is so potentially heart attack-inducing that the race is only open to seasoned wild swimmers, but it makes for a great spectator sport (followed by a walk around the park) on Christmas morning.
Details: 25th December | Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park | Free
Fancy a dip somewhere more temperate? Hampton Pool’s opening its doors for a midnight dip in their heated outdoor lido. Understandably, these events tend to sell out almost instantly – which makes it good news that they’ve just released an extra date for you to get in the water beneath their Christmas lights and snack on a minced pie or two.
Details: 29th December | Hampton Pool, High Street, Hampton, TW12 2ST | £8.50
Music of Zimmer vs Williams
In the blue corner: Hans Zimmer’s Dark Knight, Inception, Pirates of the Caribbean. In the red corner: John Williams’ Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Harry Potter. Finally settling the question of which two venerated film composers would win in a fight are the London Concert Orchestra, who’ll be playing through some of the pair’s smash hits on the Barbican stage.
Details: 30th December | Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | £16.50-42.50
New Year’s Eve
Rooftop fireworks, masked balls, ball pits and boat parties – it’s all in your dedicated New Year’s Eve Agenda.
Joining the avalanche of light-based art installations popping up across the capital this month, Leo Villareal’s latest exhibition comes up top for three key reasons: 1) He’s the artist who’s recently illuminated 14 bridges across the Thames; 2) It’ll feature an array of eye-dazzling artworks, including a 10m wide screen of cosmically undulating lights; and 3) It’s indoors.
Details: Until 18th January | Pace Gallery, 6 Burlington Gardens, W1S 3ET | Free Entry
The Travelling Circus
The Travelling Circus is going to be staying put for the near future at Elephant & Castle’s sprawling street food marketplace, Mercato Metropolitano, which is putting on a very different kind of festive shindig this year. It’s all being curated by Josie and Rob da Bank, the co-founders of Bestival, who are essentially staging a fully-fledged festival inside the market every weekend until the end of January.
Details: Until end of January 2020 | Mercato Metropolitano, 42 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6DR | £30
Christmas Workshops at Coal Drops Yard
All month, Coal Drops will be home to workshops – from candle dripping and wreath making, to festive wrapping and bauble marbling at Tom Dixon. Plus, any money you donate as your ticket fee will go towards Shelter, who’ll be working to support the homeless over the colder months.
Details: Throughout December | Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross | Donations (£10 recommended)
Go Ice Skating
Just be warned, it can be a slippery slope. Check out the best rinks in London.
Whether you’re a ‘herald angel’ or ‘cattle a-lowing’ kind of singer, there’s somewhere for you to get festively musical. We promise. See where to sing carols or hear Christmassy music in London.
Describing itself as “an inspired melange of cabaret, new burlesque, circus and contemporary vaudeville”, La Clique’s a raucous, risqué and fun-filled night featuring, amongst others, a debonaire juggler; a tattooed, sword-swallowing fire-eater; and a lady who swings around the famous spiegeltent while hanging by her hair… READ MORE
Details: Until 4th January | The Spiegeltent, Leicester Square,WC2H 7LU | From £26
The Flight Club team have just unveiled their latest wheeze: a high-tech tabletop shuffleboard bar, where you’ll slide pucks across super-smart lanes in an attempt to ‘capture territory’, compete in a boules-shuffleboard hybrid, or, you know, just play the traditional game. But with automatic score-keeping. And yes, it’s insanely fun… READ MORE
Details: Throughout December | 10 Cabot Square, North Colonnade, Canary Wharf, E14 4EY | £20-40
Winterland has all the things you’d usually expect of a cosy, alpine pop up – like fur-lined private chalets, heated igloos, a private hunting lodge full of hot cocktails and hot cheese – as well as a few things you wouldn’t expect, too.
Like a hot tub. With a mulled wine waiter. READ MORE
Details: Open Wed-Sun until early 2020 | Albert Wharf, Wandsworth Bridge Road, SW6 2TY | £5 entry
If you don’t know what Winterfest is, that’s understandable, because this will be the first year it’s happened. It’s basically a huge outdoor light & sound show up in Wembley Park, and it’s set to hit town for six weeks. It’s completely free, and it involves a 100ft installation from a pair of former Pixar animators…READ MORE
Details: Until 3rd January 2020 | Wembley Park, Wembley, HA9 | Free
The Great Christmas Feast
What the Dickens is the best immersive Christmas feast taking place in London this festive season?
Funny you should ask.
Because it’s unquestionably The Great Christmas Feast; a ravishing retelling of Dickens’ Christmas Carol set in a Victorian yuletide dining room, with a four course banquet woven into the story itself… READ MORE
Details: Until 4th January | 47-49 Tanner Street, London, SE1 3PL | £34-109
The Berkeley | Knightsbridge
One to file under ‘H’ for ‘Holy crap that’s an expensive cinema ticket’, The Berkeley will be housing a teeny tiny, six-person popup cinema on their roof for the cold season, showing Home Alone and The Holiday each night. Warming you up, they’ll have the likes of truffle mac ‘n’ cheese, confit duck croquettes, fondue and mulled wine. All for a mere £95 a pop.
Details: Until early 2020 | The Berkeley, Wilton Place, London SW1X 7RL | £95
Christmas at Kew
Let’s be honest. The last thing you want to do at Christmas is spend it in a queue.
You do, however, want to spend it in a Kew – or at least you will, once you’ve heard how they’ve transformed an entire 2.6km stretch of the grounds into an almost unfeasibly magical, after-hours, mulled-wine toting festive woodland light trail… READ MORE
Details: Until January 5th | Royal Botanic Gardens, TW9 3AE | £18
Set in Eccleston Yards, Wave is an experiment in chromotherapy, which we’re told is “the science of using the powers of light and colour to balance energy in the body and mind.”
So basically, it looks cool as f*ck.
It’s been set up by the people at SquidSoup, and it’ll have 500 individual lights that you can wander through while evolving harmonies play.
Details: Until 11th January, 4pm-10pm | Eccleston Yards, SW1W 9AZ
Southbank Centre Winter Festival
If you’re looking for an excuse to drink mulled cider and wine around crackling firepits; eat festive street food from raclette to bratwurst; and buy festive wares from twinkling fairylit chalets, then look no further than the Southbank Centre.
Details: Until 5th January | Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX | Free Entry
It’s a classic for a reason. Every year it seems to come back even bigger, and this year there’s London’s largest outdoor ice rink (with live music from the central bandstand); rollercoasters and rides; circus acts; street food; mulled wine; firepits and tipis; karaoke huts; and… a 70m observation wheel.
Details: Until 5th January, daily from 10am-10pm | Hyde Park, W2 2UH | £9.50-£15.50
London’s Best Winter Rooftops
Rooftop drinking. It’s the height of sophistication. Especially when you do it at one of the city’s finest high-altitude spots, which have all been decked out with suitably wintry decor, hot cocktails, and fondue menus… READ MORE
It’s an escape room, set on a plane. As in an actual plane, not just a narrow room with a drinks trolley. It’s a decommission jet they’ve parked in Greenwich, you’ll play a jailbird in a criminal gang aboard a prisoner transport, and you’ve got to find the tools smuggled abroad to help escape. The company behind the entire enterprise, The Riddle Within, haven’t done any escape rooms before, so yes – this is their pilot show. Hopefully it takes off.
Details: Throughout December | 338 Boord Street, Greenwich Peninsula SE10 0PF | £20-£87pp
Head to the labyrinthine tunnels beneath Waterloo station this month, and you’ll happen upon a night of theatrical revelry full of dark, beguiling characters ripped out of a gothic fairy story. On your interactive journey through the palace, you’ll eat dishes by a Masterchef finalist, sip unusual cocktails, and watch performances by ballerinas, contortionists, and a very talented ghost orchestra…
Details: Until 12th January | The Vaults, Leake Street, SE1 7NN | £15-70
Secret Cinema Presents: Stranger Things
We never thought we’d see the day that Secret Cinema adapted a TV show. But Stranger Things have happened. Yes, the immersive experience pioneers are back, and after a staggering 70 productions they’re taking on a whole new branch of entertainment… READ MORE
Details: Until February 2020 | A Secret Location | From £49
Moving to Mars
You can now see what it would be like to live on Mars, thanks to the new exhibition from the Design Museum – because they’ve got a full-scale, completely liveable Mars home inside it… READ MORE
Details: Until 23rd February 2020 | The Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street, W8 6AG | £16-£18
WOW at Japan House
When you call your visual design studio an all-caps, back-patting, rakishly confident name like WOW you had better deliver. And WOW certainly does. They’re a Japanese firm whose work has been stunning audiences in the Far East, and is now making its way to the UK for the first time. It’s at Japan House, and you’ll find digital installations including Tokyo Lights Odyssey, a 360-degree immersive look at Tokyo at night, and Poppo, a chance to carve a traditional wooden doll and project your own face onto it.
Details: Until 22nd March 2020 | Japan Centre, 101-111 Kensington High Street, W8 5SA | Free
This vast exhibition is apparently the last chance you’ll have to see the riches of Tutankhamun’s tomb before they return to Egypt forever. Hopefully, it’s not just some kind of pyramid scheme. The largest exhibition ever staged outside of the country, it promises to feature over 150 of the awe-inspiring objects the boy king was buried with, from precious gold artefacts and statuettes to a pair of 3000 year-old gloves.
Details: Until 3rd May 2020 | Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, SW3 4RY | £24.50-28.50
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2019
There’s only one acceptable context for shooting wild animals, and it’s the one practiced by the world’s wildlife photographers.
And now in its 55th year, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year is back to show off the very best amongst them. This year, they trawled through some 48k entries from 100+ countries before landing on the winning images, which are displayed on special lightboxes (alongside dozens of runner-up shots) throughout the Natural History Museum’s gallery.
Details: Until 31 May 2020 | The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD | £14
One of the most anticipated musicals of the year has finally arrived. & Juliet gives Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers a new ending – one where Juliet discovers life after love, and decides not to kill herself. And the Cher reference is entirely appropriate – because it’s all told through the medium of pop songs over the last 30 years, from Baby One More Time to Can’t Feel My Face.
Details: Until May 2020 | Shaftesbury Theatre, 210 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8DP | From £22.50
If you are looking for conference / meeting or training space in Central London over Christmas or indeed at any point look no further than the award winning cavendish conference venues www.cavendishvenues.com
Thank you to the nudge for much inspiration
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