As we finally reach the festive month that is December, here’s a bunch of things to see and do in the merriest month of winter in London. From traditional Christmas activities, to mouthwatering menus, as well as Christmas markets and workshops, I’ve got you sorted.
TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS THINGS TO DO IN LONDON
Natural History Museum Ice Rink
Set against the backdrop of the Waterhouse building, the Ice Rink at the Natural History Museum is one of the most magical places to be this winter. Experience the thrill of skating surrounded by fairy lights nestled in frost-covered trees, with the smell of mulled wine and toasted marshmallows in the air.
Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park
Returning for its 12th year, head down to this annual, family-friendly event in Hyde Park. With a huge Christmas market, a stunning ice kingdom, big-top shows, an ice rink and a host of Christmas-themed activities and fun, you’re sure to feel festive in no time.
Christmas in Leicester Square
See one of London’s most famous squares transformed for the festive season as part of Christmas in Leicester Square. The festival features a traditional Christmas market, a Santa’s grotto for families and a Belgian spiegeltent.
Winter Festival @ Southbank Centre
The Southbank Centre will be transformed into a magical Christmas landscape this winter, with a bustling market, twinkling lights and a host of seasonal events. The festival offers a packed programme of free and ticketed events for all ages – from world-class theatrical performances and festive concerts, to social dances, community choirs and activities.
The Great Christmas Pudding Race @ Covent Garden, 7 December
One of the most exciting events of the Christmas season, this charity fun-run takes place in London’s iconic Covent Garden, helping to raise vital funds for the charity Cancer Research UK. Teams in fantastic fancy-dress costumes race to compete the festive course, navigating obstacles such as a giant inflatable slide and a crazy foam slalom all whilst balancing a Christmas Pudding on a tray!
Skate at Somerset House
Make the most of the wintry weather as one of London’s most beautiful outdoor ice rinks returns for Skate at Somerset House. In partnership with Fortnum & Mason, this icy experience is open all day and well into the evening, when the rink comes alive with special club nights featuring top DJs.
Skate in the City, Broadgate Ice Rink
Embrace the magic of Christmas in the heart of the City. Broadgate Ice Rink is just a two-minute walk from Liverpool Street Station, in the midst of an impressive array of Christmas decorations, shops, bars and restaurants.
Tower of London Ice Rink
Skate in the grounds of one of London’s most dramatic landmarks, and soak up the centuries-old historic atmosphere at this exclusive outdoor ice-rink.
ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS THINGS TO DO IN LONDON
CHRISTMAS MARKETS AND POP-UPS IN LONDON
Frost Fair festival @ Museum of London Docklands, 21 – 22 December
When the River Thames would freeze over, many years ago, huge celebrations called Frost Fairs were held on the ice. Join the Museum of London Docklands for a weekend of festivities recreating the magic of these special festivals, with interactive games and workshops, enchanting performances and arts and crafts.
The Peter Pan Cup @ Hyde Park, 25 December
Watch one of the more unusual London events in December, as brave outdoor swimmers compete in the icy waters of the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park for the annual Christmas Day race. Don’t miss this event, which has been taking place on Christmas mornings since 1864.
Enchanted Eltham Palace @ Eltham Palace, 12 – 15 December
Once a favoured medieval palace and then the childhood home of Henry VII, Eltham Palace was transformed into a striking Art Deco mansion by eccentric millionaires Stephen and Virginia Courtauld in the 1900s. Explore the stunning historic landscape lit up after dark with the return of their popular enchanting evening, with an illuminated trail, interactive colour displays and fairground rides.
Maltby Street Christmas Night Market, 6-20 December
As nights draw in and the festive season approaches, Maltby Street Market warmly invites everyone to join them on their beloved Ropewalk for the first run of their seasonal after dark markets. We’re talking carolling, hot mulled wine and mince pies, as well as responsibly sourced Christmas trees you can buy.
Plastic Freedom Pop-Up 6 – 8 December
If you’re looking for gifts that are plastic free to spread that eco-love to your family and friends, then this pop-up is your go-to destination. The Sea Containers London X Plastic Freedom pop-up will sell a wide variety of items, from limited-edition Self Care Company X Plastic Freedom candles and specially curated grooming gift sets to Christmas sock sets and brass and wood Christmas tree decorations.
A sustainable gift-wrapping station will be setup within the space, where guests can either bring in their own items to be wrapped or have items purchased on the day wrapped for them using recycled, hand-printed paper, boxes and hessian bows.
Christmas at Brixton Village
London’s most diverse and vibrant market, Brixton Village, has a really exciting line-up of events, and has been kitted out with full Christmas sparkle, pop-up street food in partnership with Street Food Union, and even a specially designed Instagram Mural for visitors to capture their perfect Christmas moment. As well as all of this, there is a really great line-up of festive music performances (detailed below), both this weekend and during upcoming weekends in December. There are also some great Christmas deals such as Salon’s Christmas Banquet, raclette and champagne at Champagne & Fromage, and Lost in Brixton’s festive drinks packages.
CHRISTMAS FOOD MENUS IN LONDON
This festive season, Perrier-Jouët and the Intercontinental Park Lane will launch an exclusive Afternoon Tea experience, inspired by the classic English carol “The Twelve Days Of Christmas”. Featuring an array of delicious sweet and savoury favourites including partridge and pear pithivier and sandwiches such as smoked salmon, roast beef, chicken and beetroot. There is also winter spiced scones, chocolate tart, and traditional Christmas mince pies – all enjoyed alongside a glass of perfectly chilled Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut or Belle Epoque. It’s available daily (from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm) until the 5th of January, 2020.
There is no better way to kick-start your celebrations than at Champagne and Fromage, a shop and bistro in Brixton Village, which will be offering customers a special offer on raclette, the perfect accompaniment to a well-deserved glass of fizz. Champagne and Fromage offers an Authentic French menu with a vast selection of award-winning grower Champagne and over 50 soft and hard artisan cheeses.
Harry’s Bar, James Street is launching a limited edition ‘Golden toadstool,’ a festive take on its most popular dessert. The decadent funghi encompasses a dark chocolate dome encasing iced vanilla parfait with blackberries, salted caramel, and toasted hazelnuts.
A Christmas cuddle in a bun. Blacklock have created the ultimate ‘Christmas burger,’ featuring Philip Warren Turkey thighs rubbed in a mix of Christmas spices, served in a brioche bun with Blacklock sausage and onion patty, middlewhite bacon, cranberry ketchup, and greens.
Big Mamma have gone all out with the ‘Christmas Tree’ pizza. Layered with Mozzarella di bufala, broccoli-parmigiano cream, topped with crunchy potatoes, stracciatella and ‘burned’ tomatoes. This one-off special will be available at both Circolo and Gloria.
Looking for the spot for your festive get-together? Whether you’re planning a meal with friends, a family celebration, or you want to take over the whole space for a blowout lunch or dinner, Salon in Brixton will be providing festive cheer with a set Christmas Banquet Menu for groups of 6 or more. Dishes will include indulgent options such as Aylesbury duck with celeriac and pickled walnut, and Caramelised pear with chestnut and sour cream.
Wahaca’s unique ‘Mince Pie Empanada’ has made a comeback and this year it’s infused with Mezcal and served with Brandy Butter ice cream. This, alongside the ‘Turkey & Stuffing Taquito special with Grilled Hispi Cabbage,’ means Wahaca’s festive menu will be an unmissable treat this Christmas.
CHRISTMAS WORKSHOPS IN LONDON
Gift Wrap Printmaking Workshop with Laurie Avon (free), Thursday and Saturdays, December 2019
Illustrator Laurie Avon is leading one-hour rubber stamp printmaking workshops at Islington Square this festive season where participants can create their own personalised gift wrapping paper to take home. Using simple tools and a take-home approach, Laurie’s workshops celebrate the evolution of stamps – from a historic symbol of authority, to a playful means of expression.
Christmas Leftovers and Fermentation – 11 & 12 December @ Cub
Hoxton bar and restaurant Cub has released this month’s Fermentation Masterclasses with a festive twist. Taking place in ‘The Cub Cave’ a subterranean bar beneath Cub, the events are hosted by Dr Johnny Drain, one of the world’s leading experts in fermentation. Guests will learn how to make their own ferments from leftovers whilst enjoying tasty drinks and snacks from the Cub team. Tickets can be purchased here
Wreath-making workshops @ Christmas at The Yards, 28 November, 5 & 14 December
Christmas wreath-making workshops with the Covent Garden Academy of Flowers, priced at £5 and with proceeds going to the charity Action for Children – 5.30pm
Festive craft workshops @ Christmas at The Yards @ Christmas at The Yards // 28 November, 5 & 14 December
Make Kirigami cards, learn how to write beautiful hand lettered gift tags or create pop-up cards and paper baubles as part of a series of creative Christmas craft sessions – 5-7pm & 12-1:30pm
So that’s it for the top treats and attractions you should definitely indulge in this season, but it’ll be over so quickly, I better get started researching next year’s list soon!