15 Great Things to Do this Weekend in London: 21-22 December 2019

The best things to do in London this weekend including the new ABBA exhibition at the O2 Arena Greenwich, Ben Elton’s Comedy Night for Scope at Shepherd’s Bush Empire and The London International Horse Show at Olympia

Lead image: The Household Cavalry at The London International Horse Show, Olympia

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1 Live Jazz at Alp’s Kitchen, Belsize Park

21 December
Alp’s Kitchen in Belsize Park hosts live musicians for an evening of laid back jazz and fine dining every Saturday night. Join the likes of Jazz on the Rocks for music inspired by the sound of 30s and 50s jazz divas, with a dash of Hollywood style. The steakhouse, founded by Le Cordon Bleu school graduate Alper Balci, serves grade A meats, from pure bred Suffolk Wagyu to Chateaubriand and T-bone steak to lamb skewers and chicken schnitzel, as well as vegetarian dishes from Mediterranean-style flatbreads to veg dumplings. The restaurant even has an in-house butchers where you can buy fine cuts to your preference. Live jazz plays from 7.30pm-10.30pm.
240 Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park NW3 2AE; alpskitchen.co.uk

2 Ben Elton’s Comedy Night for Scope at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
21 December
Comedy legend, playwright and author Ben Elton is coming to The Shepherd’s Bush Empire this month for a night of laughs in aid of the disability equality charity Scope, of which he is patron. He will be joined by Tim Renkow, Chris McCausland, Shazia Mirza, Jo Coffey and Kae Kurd. ‘As a Scope Patron, I know too well that negative attitudes towards disabled people are no laughing matter,’ says Ben, ‘but I believe that comedy can play a key role in challenging misconceptions and tackling negative attitudes.’ Tickets from £22. Doors open at 6.30pm.
Shepherd’s Bush Green, White City W12 8TT; scope.org.uk

3 The London International Horse Show, Olympia
16-22 December
The London International Horse Show at Olympia is always a highlight in the equestrian calendar, with the biggest names in the sport gathering together for everything from world-class show-jumping and dressage to the Shetland Pony Grand National (trust us, it’s every bit as cute as it sounds). However this event is also Christmas shopping heaven with over 250 stalls selling a wide range of luxury goods, including jewellery, wines and fine art, all under one roof. Ticket prices vary, but shopping passes can be purchased for £12 for those not attending the horse show.
Olympia London, Hammersmith W14 8UX; olympiahorseshow.com

4 Aladdin at Churchill Theatre Bromley
Until 5 January
Enjoy a magic carpet ride at The Churchill Theatre in Bromley this panto season as they stage the timeless classic, Aladdin, this Christmas. Legendary panto stalwart Christopher Biggins will be joined by funny man Rikki Jay and hilarious ventriloquist Max Fulham, as well as The Band star Yazdan Qafouri in the title role of Aladdin, Emily Hawgood as Princess Jasmine, Emily Beth Harrington as Scheherazade and Derek Elroy as the Emperor. Yazdan Qafouri rose to fame a member of Five to Five, the boyband created as part of the BBC reality competition Let it Shine, where Gary Barlow sought a talent to star in The Band, the Take That musical. Aladdin marks Qafouri’s pantomime debut. The pantomime will also feature a live band and a juvenile ensemble from students of the local dance school, The Laura Bruce Dance Academy. Tickets £20-£43 (kids £4 off).
High Street, Bromley BR1 1HA; churchilltheatre.co.uk

5 The London Artisan at the Old Truman Brewery
20-21 December
The London Artisan is celebrating its 5th birthday, so to celebrate, they’re putting on their biggest event to date at Old Truman Brewery in East London – this will see over 70 contemporary designer makers gathering together to offer a diverse, high-quality shopping experience that celebrates all things well-designed, handmade, organic and sustainable. So if you’ve left your Christmas shopping to the last minute, this event should have you covered. Free to enter. 11am and 6pm.
91 Brick Lane, Spitalfields E1 6QR; thelondonartisan.com

6 Little Miss Burden at The Bunker Theatre, Southwark
Until 21 December
This poignant new coming-of-age production, created by the award-winning playwright and screenwriter Matilda Ibini, is now on at The Bunker Theatre. It tells the story of the realities of growing up with a wheelchair in the 90s, drawing on Ibini’s own experiences and de-mystifying tropes and stereotypes. The Bunker is set to close in late March 2020, three and a half years after it opened in October 2016, due to proposed redevelopment of the site, so catch a show there while you can. Performances at 7.30pm, with Saturday matinees at 3pm. Tickets from £10.
53a Southwark Street, London Bridge SE1 1RU; bunkertheatre.com

7 The Luna Winter Cinema at The Kensington Palace Pavilion
Until 22 December
There’s nothing like a good old Christmas film to get in the Christmas spirit (Love Actually is our favourite), and the good news is that the hugely popular Luna Winter Cinema is returning to the pavilion at Kensington Palace this month. Catch classics on the big screen such as Home Alone, It’s a Wonderful Life and Elf, with mulled wine, mince pies and hot chocolate to keep you cosy. There will also be a full bar if you fancy a tipple or two, as well as comfy seats to curl up on for a well-deserved break after all the Christmas shopping. Tickets start at £13.
Kensington Gardens W8 4PX; thelunacinema.com

8 Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread City at Somerset House
Until 5 January
Is it really Christmas until you’ve had your first gingerbread latte? This sweet treat is synonymous with all things festive, but have you ever seen an entire city made of it? Probably not, but now’s your chance: The Museum of Architecture is bringing its hugely popular Gingerbread City exhibition to Somerset House this month, which challenges architects, engineers and designers to create a futuristic city made of gingerbread. This year’s city will be exploring the theme of ‘transport’, with participants being asked to create a city that explores imaginative new ways of moving around. There will also be daily family-friendly gingerbread house making workshops and a shop. Tickets are £9 or £7 for under 12s. Under 3s go free.
The Strand WC2R 1LA; somersethouse.org.uk

9 The Whiskey Thing at The Distillery, Notting Hill
21 December
Calling all whiskey fiends (and those who are yet to be converted) – this is one for you. The creators of London’s renowned Ginstitute Sessions have launched a revolutionary new whiskey experience, which aims to demystify the spirit and highlight its incredible diversity and accessibility to modern day drinkers. Taking place in the newly launched ‘The Malting Floor’ in West London’s The Distillery, guests will embark on a guided tasting session, sipping and savouring their way through a diverse range of whiskies from around the world. They’ll then have the opportunity to blend their own full sized bottle of truly unique whiskey to take away and enjoy at home, with each recipe kept on file so they can order their special blend time and time again. We’ll cheers to that (but we take no responsibility for any whiskey induced hangovers)…  Sessions take place every Saturday at 3pm and 6pm.
186 Portobello Road W11 1LA; the-distillery.london/thewhiskeything

10 Pinocchio: No Strings Attached at Above The Stag, Vauxhall
Until 11 January
A decade into its celebrated programming of raucous adult pantomime, Above The Stag theatre offers up Pinocchio: No Strings Attached for 2019. Above The Stag pantomimes have developed a cult following, blossoming into a staple ‘must-see’ for the theatrically adventurous and LGBT+ friendly, regularly selling out. Following the narrative of the original story (with added nudge and winks galore), audiences are invited to sing, laugh and revel in a little obscenity as they watch this well-loved tale reimagined as a riotous adult panto where lonely puppet maker Geppetta (Matthew Baldwin) crafts herself a boy out of wood. But when a magic spell brings Pinocchio to life she gets more than she bargained for, and whenever this gay, gangly young man tells a lie, something very embarrassing happens… The cast also includes Christopher Lane and Briony Rawle, both of whom are regular stars of the long-running global phenomenon, Sh!tfaced Shakespeare. Tickets £28.
72 Albert Embankment, Vauxhall SE1 7TP; abovethestag.com

11 Goldilocks & The Three Musketeers at Battersea Arts Centre
Until 31 December
Goldilocks & The Three Musketeers is a raucous festive treat by Sleeping Trees and Ben Hales that will have young audiences spellbound. The story begins as the mischievous Goldilocks flees from the Three Bears into the deep, dark wood. As she stumbles down a rabbit hole to escape, she finds herself in Wonderland, but all is not well… Teaming up with The Three Musketeers and a whole host of fairytale favourites – as well as a little help from the audience – can Goldilocks rescue Wonderland and live happily ever after? The production features original live music and songs. Tickets £10-£24, family tickets £50-£62. Each ticket includes a programme worth £4. Ages four and over.
Lavender Hill SW11 5TN; bac.org.uk

12 Nativity! The Musical at Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith
Until 29 December
The critically acclaimed musical is back in London for its third year at the Eventim Apollo, with the winning combination of Sharon Osbourne and Danny Dyer forming part of the all-star cast. Sharon will take on the role of ‘Crystal Collins’, the mother in law to ‘Harry Parker’ who is played by Danny Dyer, whilst his daughter Dani – who won Love Island 2018 – will return as ‘Polly Parker’. Rylan Clarke-Neal will also be taking to the stage to play ‘The Critic’, and he will be joined by the likes of Simon Lipkin, Scott Graham and Ashleigh Gray for what promises to be a performance to remember. Let the mayhem in Bethlehem begin… Ticket prices and times vary.
45 Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith W6 9QH; eventimapollo.com

13 Aladdin and The Feast of Wonders at The Vaults, Waterloo
Until 14 January 2020
Christmas seems to come around earlier every year, and this year is no exception, with the launch of London’s first pantomime of the season – Aladdin and The Feast of Wonders. Following the sell-out success of Beauty and The Feast, Darling & Edge, the immersive events studio based in Hello Darling, has whipped up another thrilling theatrical adult pantomime, inspired by Aladdin and the Genie. Aladdin and The Feast of Wonders is an underground theatrical dining experience, a fully immersive, grown-up panto that rolls a five-course gastro banquet and party into one hedonistic night – it’s a wine-and-dine pantomime that turns the classic tale on its head. Tickets from £35 (Early Bird) to £55.
The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo SE1 7NN; thevaults.london

14 ABBA: Super Troupers, The Exhibition at The O2, North Greenwich
Until 31 August 2020
Let’s be honest, we’ve all sung along to Mamma Mia at some point in our lives and now you can celebrate ABBA’s incredible musical legacy at the O2 with this very special immersive exhibition. It has been conceptualised and curated by Jude Kelly MBE, former artistic director at The Southbank Centre, and it documents the Swedish band’s stellar rise to fame through personal items, photographs, costumes and lyrics.
Peninsula Square, North Greenwich SE10 ODX; theo2.co.uk

15 Bloomberg New Contemporaries at South London Gallery, Camberwell
Until 23 February
New Contemporaries is an organisation that works to support emerging art practice, and throughout its 70-year history, it has played a key role in bringing many big names to public attention – Damien Hirst, Paula Rego and David Hockney are among the star-studded alumni. Bloomberg New Contemporaries, hosted by South London Gallery, will feature 45 of the UK’s most exciting emerging artists from arts education, providing an intriguing opportunity to see the next generation of contemporary artists.
65 Peckham Road, Camberwell SE5 8UH; newcontemporaries.org.uk

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