The best things to do in London this weekend, from Christmas fairs to panto and festive films on ice – yep, ’tis the season!
Lead image: Festive Films on Ice at QUEENS Skate Dine Bowl
1 SAMPLE Christmas, Greenwich Peninsula
With top quality shopping, festive workshops and arts and crafts, this event at The Tide on Greenwich Peninsula is the one-stop-shop for all your Christmas desires. In response to the devastating environmental impact of ‘fast’ fashion, there will be an emphasis on ‘slow’ fashion, with an eclectic selection of hand-made gifts, ethical produce, sustainable designs and locally sourced goods. Take part in Santa’s Sustainable Workshop, as well as other crafty activities such as how to make a notebook, pom-pom and ceramic Christmas decorations. There will also be a street food concept by chef James Cochran, the winner of BBC 2’s Great British Menu 2018, so you’re sure to keep any shopping-induced hanger at bay. Workshops are a mixture of free and paid-for.
The Tide, Pier Walk, Greenwich Peninsula SE10 0ES; greenwichpeninsula.co.uk
2 Festive Films on Ice at QUEENS Skate Dine Bowl, Queensway
7-8 & 14-15 December
Watching your festive favourites just got even more fun with the launch of Festive Films on Ice at QUEENS Skate Dine Bowl. The pop-up cinema experience, delivered by screening event producers Big Screen, offers you the chance to watch your favourite Christmas movies on a super-sized LED screen, either while lounging on candy striped deck-chairs with cosy blankets, or on skates. There will be two screenings per day – a family screening at 5pm, where guests can enjoy hot-chocolates and other winter warmers at the SIN BIN café before the film starts, and an adult screening at 8pm, where guests can enjoy cocktails and snacks before, after and even during the film. This weekend, the films are Elf (5pm) and The Holiday (8pm). Next weekend, it’s The Muppet Christmas Carol (5pm) and Home Alone 1 (8pm). Tickets £11-£13 for kids, £12-£16 for adults (skate hire an additional £2.50).
17 Queensway W2 4PQ; queens.london
7 December-5 January
Samantha Womack and Lesley Garrett face off as good and evil in Cinderella at New Wimbledon Theatre this year. Womack, the former EastEnders star who just emerged from a long run in the theatre version of The Girl on a Train, plays The Wicked Stepmother, while Garrett takes on The Fairy Godmother. Melody Thornton of the Pussycat Dolls takes on the role of Cinderella, while Pete Firman plays Buttons. So join Cinderella as she goes from rags to riches, outwits her wicked sisters and meets her dashing Prince Charming. Packed with all of the traditional pantomime ingredients of laugh-out-loud comedy, fab scenery, beautiful costumes and plenty of boos and hisses, you shall go to the ball this Christmas! Tickets from £13.
93 The Broadway, Wimbledon SW19 1QG; atgtickets.com
4 Bloomberg New Contemporaries at South London Gallery, Camberwell
6 December-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
5 Plosive Comedy with Paul Foot, Dulwich
Plosive Comedy – south east London’s all-headline monthly comedy show – returns to the MCT at Alleyn’s, Dulwich, on Saturday 7 December. Paul Foot – as seen on Would I Lie to You, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and Never Mind the Buzzcocks – headlines. Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Jessica Fostekew, Edinburgh Comedy Awards Best Newcomer nominee Sophie Duker and Rob Auton of Rob Delaney’s Stand Up Central will also perform. Doors 7.15pm for 8pm start. Tickets £17. Ages 18+.
The MCT at Alleyn’s Alleyn’s School, Townley Road, East Dulwich SE22 8SU; plosive.co.uk
Doña is a bold, pink pop-up mezcal bar run by friends Thea Cumming & Lucie Massey, the brains behind Dangerous Don, London Mezcal Week, Cuppa Gumbo & Slap Ya Papa. Bringing together their expertise in music & mezcal, Doña is a space to jam for various bands and musical collectives during the day, and a live music venue every night. On Saturday 7 December, Doña is inviting musical madness from DJ Stepping Into Tomorrow, who will be spinning their signature mix of all things tropical while guests sip on Mezcal cocktails to get them into the groove. Free before 10pm, £5 after. Open till 4am.
92 Stoke Newington High Street N16 7NY; residentadvisor.net
7 The Dance Before Christmas at The Vaults, Waterloo
7 December and 14 December
As always, The Vaults – the maze of disused railway arches under Waterloo Station – offers up an alternative approach to the typical festive celebrations with The Dance Before Christmas. Inspired by the fairy tell stories of old, they underground creative team has created an immersive party experience full of cavorting beasts and romping belles, each with a story to tell and their dancing shoes firmly on. Complementary punch will be provided on arrival for all guests for the first hour. Suitable for ages 18+. 8pm-2am. Early bird tickets from £5, general admission £20.
Leake Street SE1 7NN; thevaults.london
8 Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread City at Somerset House
7 December-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 A Conscious Way to Look at Mindfulness at Alma, Belgravia
Need a bit of a breather amidst the madness of the countdown to Christmas? Head to Alma, the beautiful health and wellbeing space in the heart of Belgravia, for the first installation in their series of Urban Retreats; these events have been skilfully curated alongside Clinical Hypnotherapist and Mindfulness Wellbeing Expert, Terrence the Teacher, with the aim of enabling guests to reconnect with their mind and body whilst learning new solutions for achieving internal balance and harmony. Each session will start with celebrated healer Terrence the Teacher empowering guests with practical tools to unlock their capacity for change and growth, which will then be followed by a lunch and learn session with Alma’s founder, Priyanka Lugani. Terence the Teacher will close proceedings by reaffirming the day’s lessons, leaving guests feeling motivated to achieve their individual goals. And relax…A Conscious Way to Look at Mindfulness will take place between 11am and 2pm. £125 per session.
11 Eccleston Street, Belgravia SW1W 9LX; almadeli.com
10 The London Santa Dash, Brockwell Park
Grab your Santa hats and trusty Christmas jumpers and take part in either the 5k or 10k fun run around London’s Brockwell Park for this charity event, which is sponsored by Galliard Homes and in aid of the wonderful work of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. It’s a great way to blow away the cobwebs after the first of the Christmas parties, and once you’ve crossed the finish line and received your medal, you will be treated to a very much deserved mince pie and hot drink. Adults, children and fancy-dressed dogs are all welcome to take part. The race starts at 11am. Adult entry fee costs £22, £12 for children and infants under 4 go free.
Brockwell Park, Herne Hill SE24 9BJ; gosh.org/santadash
Calling all foodies – this is definitely one for you. Head to the grounds of this historic Tudor palace and you’ll find endless stalls offering the very best artisan food and drink. There will also be inspiring seasonal cookery demonstrations by some of the biggest names in the industry, as well as plenty of gift ideas if you want to make a start on the Christmas shopping. Eat, drink and be merry, whilst soaking up the fantastic festive atmosphere.
Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey KT8 9AU; hrpfoodfestivals.com
12 Raiding the Rock Vault at Subterania, Ladbroke Grove
Back in November 2017, Raiding the Rock Vault celebrated its 1000th show in Las Vegas – and now it’s coming to London’s Subterania for its first ever UK shows. A must for all discerning rock ‘n’ roll fans, it will feature anthems by the biggest acts in music including The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, which will be performed by some of the biggest stars of their generation. It was voted as ‘Best Tribute Show’ by the Vegas Review-Journal alongside a whole host of other awards, so if that’s anything to go by, audiences are in for a treat. Tickets are between £35 and £65.
12 Acklam Road, Ladbroke Grove W10 5QS; subterania.net
13 A South London Makers Market, Crystal Palace
The team behind the interiors Instagram account @asouthlondonstyle are hosting their first ever market this month in Upper Norwood Library, which will focus on personalised, handmade and exclusive items, showcasing the very best that south London’s makers have to offer. Think personalised sweatshirts, lampshades, prints, candles, Christmas decorates and cards, with sellers including Limpet Store and TP Prints. Open from 11am to 4pm.
Upper Norwood Library, Westow Hill, Crystal Palace SE19 1TJ; eventbrite.co.uk
14 West Norwood Feast Christmas Lights Switch On
West Norwood Feast is a community run market that takes place on the first Sunday of every month from April to December, but this month they’re hosting a special event alongside St Luke’s Church to celebrate the arrival of the festive season. Watch as the church façade and railings are illuminated with magical festive lighting, with delicious hot street food and mulled wine making for a very merry atmosphere indeed. There will also be a Christmas gift market inside the church with a wonderful selection of local makers and artisans, as well as carol singing from local choirs, free craft activities for children and the chance to meet Father Christmas himself. Entry is free, and the event will take place between 4pm and 9pm.
St Luke’s Church, Knight’s Hill, West Norwood SE27 0HS; westnorwoodfeast.com
15 The Ever After Garden, Mayfair
Until 22 December
Head for Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square to dedicate an illuminated rose to absent friends and family at The Ever After Garden. After the loss of their friend – the late, great production designer Michael Howells – fashion creatives writer Camilla Morton and designer Anya Hindmarch, wanted to find an elegant and inspiring way to commemorate those we have lost. From the evening of 29 November 2019, Grosvenor Square will light up with a stunning garden installation of symbolic, illuminated flowers and help raise funds to support The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Entrance to the Ever After Garden is free, and visitors can donate and ‘dedicate’ a white silk, illuminated rose in honour of your loved ones for a suggested donation of £10. Inspired by Korean Creative Group PANCOMMUNICATION’s Light Rose Garden, the installation has been developed by Culture Creative, the award-winning design team behind Christmas at Kew Gardens and Blenheim Palace’s illuminated Christmas trail. Open 12pm-8pm daily.
Grosvenor Square, Mayfair W1K; mayfairandbelgravia.com