55 Things to Do in London: December 2019
55 of the best things to do in London this month, from festive extravaganzas through to ballets, theatre performances and food festivals
Lead image: Christmas at Kew (photo: Jeff Eden / RBG Kew)
1 Dazzle Contemporary Jewellery Exhibition, South Bank
1 December to 5 January
For the 38th year, this annual exhibition returns with over 4000 handmade pieces for sale, which have been created by a line-up of 90 talented makers – each has been carefully selected and often discovered by leading contemporary jewellery pioneers, Tony Gordon and Christine Bola. As a result, this is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for something special for the loved one in your life. It will take place at the Oxo Tower’s gallery, and entry is free.
gallery@Oxo, Oxo Tower Wharf, South Bank SE1 9PH; dazzle-exhibitions.co.uk
2 Art Car Boot Fair presents Prêt-à-Accrocher, Vauxhall
The hugely popular Art Car Boot Fair is returning to The Workshop in Vauxhall this December for a one-off festive flash sale, offering the art-fans amongst us the chance to browse through a selection of pieces that have been created by some of the most talented names in the industry. Prêt-à-Accrocher is the ‘Ready to Hang’ edition of the fair, so it’s the ideal place to make a start on your Christmas shopping – and to pick up some goodies for your own home, too. There will also be on-the-spot personalisations and hand finishes by the artists, as well as a wrapping and postage service. You can also pick up Christmas cards and gorgeous decorations here, and you can try your luck at the Secret Santa Art Casino. It will take place between 2 and 4.30pm, and entry costs £10.
The Workshop, 26 Lambeth High Street SE1 7AG; artcarbootfair.com
3 Dermot Kennedy at Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith
The Dublin-based singer and songwriter has recently soared to fame with singles such as All My Friends and Moments Passed, as well as with his debut EP Doves & Ravens. He was also shortlisted in the BBC’s Sound of 2019 poll, and this month he’s coming to the Eventim Apollo for an evening that is not to be missed. Tickets are from £24, and doors open at 6.30pm.
45 Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith W6 9QH; eventim.co.uk
4 Christmas Design Day at Chelsea Harbour Design Centre
Put your creative skills to the test this month and head to Chelsea Harbour’s Design Centre for a fun-filled day of Christmas workshops – think glitter, sparkles and beautiful flowers and you’ll be on the right track. Highlights include learning how to craft a hand-block printed gift at Morris & Co, Christmas wreath making at Fox Linton/Jim Thompson and the chance to make your own luxurious Christmas cards and baubles at Julian Chichester. There will also be insider tips on how to entertain at home during the holidays, and ideas for gifts, teatime treats, party canapés and cocktails. The day is being run in aid of Screw Cancer, the charity set up by designer William Yeoward who recently passed away.
Chelsea Harbour, Lots Road SW10 0XE; dcch.co.uk
5 Little Miss Burden at The Bunker Theatre, Southwark
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
6 The Ever After Garden, Mayfair
30 November-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. Open 12pm-8pm daily.
Grosvenor Square, Mayfair W1K; mayfairandbelgravia.com
7 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
8 Emma Bunton’s Christmas Party at Royal Albert Hall, Kensington
Spice up your life this month at the Royal Albert Hall, as Emma Bunton brings her Christmas party to the Hall with her famous friends in town. The iconic pop star and radio presenter has sold over 85 million records as a member of the all-conquering Spice Girls, and this year she returned as a solo artist with her much anticipated album My Happy Place. Begins at 7.30pm, and tickets are from £22.50.
Kensington Gore SW7 2AP; royalalberthall.com
9 HamptonCourt PalaceFestive Fayre
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
10 David Kowalski: Die Farben and the Last Pictures from Earth at bo.lee Gallery, Peckham
6 December – 23 January
bo.lee Gallery will unveil their new exhibition with David Kowalski this month, which offers a window into the surreal and otherwordly spaces created by the self-taught German painter at his studio in Gronau. Inspired by Zen culture, minimalism, science fiction and ambient electronic music, he works intuitively in thin layers of oil paint and wax to create delicate and intimate object-paintings.
222 Rye Lane, Peckham SE15 4NL; bo-lee.co.uk
11 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
12 The Dance Before Christmas at The Vaults, Waterloo
7 December and 14 December
Did you know that there is a maze of disused railway arches under Waterloo Station, which have been transformed into an immersive theatre and alternative arts centre? Cool, right? Well, this Christmas they’re offering party-goers the chance to explore this underground palace where cavorting beasts and romping belles each have a story to tell. Inspired by the fairy tell stories of old, they’ve created an immersive party experience that will see you drink and gorge to excess in a setting that certainly beats your local nightclub. Complementary punch will be provided on arrival for all guests for the first hour, and this event is suitable for those aged 18 plus. Taking place from 8pm to 2am. Early bird tickets are from £5, and general admission is £20.
The Vaults, Leake Street SE1 7NN; thevaults.london
13 Museumof 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
14 A Conscious Wayto 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
15 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
16 West NorwoodFeast 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
17 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
18 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
19 Polka Theatre’s Big Charity Comedy Show at Battersea Arts Centre
Polka Theatre – which is currently undergoing a huge refurb – is dedicated exclusively to children, with the aim of inspiring young audiences. This month, the theatre is taking over the Grand Hall at BACs to host a charity evening to raise much-needed funds for their ongoing redevelopment appeal. Be prepared for a night of side-splitting laughter with legendary comedian Omid Djalili, the patron of the theatre, as he’s joined by the likes of Michael McIntyre and other special guests. Standard tickets cost £55, and VIP tickets are available for £150. Doors open at 7pm ahead of the performance at 7.30pm.
Lavender Hill SW11 5TN; polkatheatre.com
20 Silent Night at the Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Knightsbridge
In our increasingly hectic world, silence is a precious commodity, which is why the spa at Hyde Park’s luxurious Mandarin Oriental Hotel is ‘turning down the volume’ for this special event. Although the spa will still offer its normal treatment menu, from 5pm there will be no talking or music to instil a sense of peace, and to allow space for contemplation and mindfulness. Book us in please…
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge SW1X 7LA; mandarinoriental.com
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21 Nativity! The Musical at Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith
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
22 English National Ballet’s Nutcracker at London Coliseum
11 December-5 January
For many of us, a trip to the theatre is a sure sign that the festive season is well and truly here – and it doesn’t get any more Christmassy than the Nutcracker. At the London Coliseum, over 100 dancers from one of the world’s most prestigious ballet companies will bring this timeless story to life, with beautiful sets and Tchaikovsky’s popular score played live. Adult tickets are from £14 to £80, and child tickets are from £7 to £40.
St Martin’s Lane WC2N 4ES; londoncoliseum.org
23 Peter Pan Goes Wrong at Alexandra Palace
13 December-5 January
Following their multi-award-winning success with The Play That Goes Wrong and The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, Mischief Theatre returns with their riotous spin on a timeless classic, Peter Pan Goes Wrong. It will be showing at Alexandra Palace this month, and it’s a pantomime that is every bit as appealing for adults as it is for children. Times and ticket prices vary.
Alexandra Palace Way N22 7AY; alexandrapalace.com
24 LondonCommunity Gospel Choir at Christmas, Royal Albert Hall
Get ready for a night of feel-good music as The Royal Albert Hall hosts the incredible London Community Gospel Choir, who will be presenting an all new show backed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. This follows their sell-out appearance last year, and it’s sure to be a night to remember. Begins at 7.30pm, with tickets available from £22.50.
Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore SW7 2AP; royalalberthall.com
25 The Clash: Westway to the World at BFI Southbank
In celebration of the anniversary of The Clash’s era defining masterpiece, London Calling, which was originally released on 14 December 1979, BFI Southbank are hosting a special screening of Don Letts’ documentary Westway to the World. This will then be followed by a discussion with The Clash’s very own Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon with Don Letts, as well as an after party with a DJ set by Don Letts.
Belvedere Road, Lambeth SE1 8XT; bfi.org.uk
26 Prosecco Festival at St Mary’s Church, Marylebone
Prosecco and gin – what more do we need in our lives? This festival at St Mary’s celebrates these two much-loved tipples in all their glory, with Christmas cocktails galore, as well as live music, well-stocked bars, a huge number of gin varieties from across the world to sample and Italian street food. Sign us up… Early bird ticket prices are £15.50 or £17.50 for standard admission.
Wyndham Place, York Street W1H 1PQ; proseccofestival.co.uk
27 Festive Flights on the Coca-Cola London Eye
14, 15, 20, 21, 22 & 23 December
Okay, some of us might have been lucky enough to board the iconic London Eye before, but who can say they’ve taken part in a chocolate tasting session whilst 135m high above the capital city? Now you can do just that, with this brand new 30-minute experience that is being run in partnership with Hotel Chocolat. Designed for those with a sweet-tooth young and old, the whole family will get a chance to sample a range of imaginative Christmas themed chocolates – from caramel penguins to dark chocolate reindeer – with a glass of Prosecco for the grown-ups. £35 for adults and £28 for children.
Outside County Hall, off Westminster Bridge Road SE1 7PB; londoneye.com
28 Bill Bailey’s Cutty Sark Spectacular, Greenwich
As part of the Cutty Sark’s 150th birthday celebrations, one of Britain’s best-loved comedians, Bill Bailey, climbs aboard the world-famous tea clipper for a night of music and comedy. Bailey will welcome some special musical guests to the stage in the Sammy Ofer Gallery, the fabulous space beneath the ship’s hull, before topping it all off with an extended set of his own hilarious material. Guests include Fred Snow and his band are stalwarts, saviours of the London underground music and cabaret scene; Nina Harries, a double bassist and vocalist whose sound blends the mythic with the modern; and Joe Wilkes, who is highly regarded on the live London folk scene as a skillful songwriter and a moving storyteller. 7pm-10pm. Tickets £35 or £49 for VIP tickets. Limited availability.
King William Walk, Greenwich SE10 9HT; rmg.co.uk/cuttysark
29 The Luna Winter Cinema at The Kensington Palace Pavilion
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
30 The London International Horse Show, Olympia
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
31 The London Artisan at the Old Truman Brewery
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. As a result, if you’ve left your Christmas shopping to the last minute, fear not: this will have you covered. Free to enter, and taking place between 11am and 6pm.
91 Brick Lane, Spitalfields E1 6QR; thelondonartisan.com
32 Ben Elton’s Comedy Night for Scope at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
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
33 The Serpentine Swimming Club’s Peter Pan Cup
How do you fancy the sound of a bracing cold swim to start off your Christmas morning? Well, since 1864, members of the Serpentine Swimming Club have been doing just that with their annual Peter Pan Cup, which follows a 100 yard course at the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park. Although this event is strictly for members only, spectators are welcome – so pile on the layers and get ready to cheer the brave souls who are taking it on this year.
Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park W2; serpentineswimmingclub.com
34 Disney On Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic at the O2 Arena
26 December-5 January 2020
This magical show will be arriving at the O2 just after Christmas, with a cast of over 50 characters – including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and of course a princess or two – skating their way into London to delight audiences young and old. Performance times and ticket prices vary.
Peninsula Square SE10 ODX; theo2.co.uk
35 The Whiskey Thing at The Distillery, Notting Hill
Every Saturday from 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
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36 Top Secret: From Ciphers to Cyber Security at Science Museum, Kensington
Until 23 February
Catch the last couple of months of this fascinating exhibition at the Science Museum, which uncovers the remarkable world of code-breaking, ciphers and secret communications. From the trenches of the First World War to the latest in cyber security, the exhibition traces over a century’s worth of communications intelligence through fascinating artefacts such as hand-written documents, declassified files and previously unseen artefacts from the Science Museum Group’s and GCHQ’s historic collections. As a result, it’s a must for the aspiring James Bonds and Bond Girls amongst us. This is free to enter.
Exhibition Road, South Kensington SW7 2DD; sciencemuseum.org.uk
37 Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh at Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea
2 November-3 May 2020
Head to the Saatchi Gallery this month to commemorate 100 years since the groundbreaking discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, and make the most of the final opportunity to see the glittering world heritage artefacts before they permanently return to Egypt. There are more than 150 pieces on display, three times the quantity that has travelled in previous exhibitions, and over 60 of these are travelling outside Egypt for the first time. Tickets cost from £24.50 for adults, from £22 for concessions and from £16.50 for children.
Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road SW3 4RY; saatchigallery.com
38 The Winter Forest at Broadgate Circle, the City
6 November-20 December
Broadgate Circle will be transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with snow-covered pine trees, twinkling lights, live music and the all-important good food and drink to match. Little ones will have the chance to meet Santa, whilst for grown ups there will be gin tastings, charity pub quizzes, wellbeing workshops and winter-themed floral workshops throughout the coming weeks. Make sure you pay a visit to the Fever-Tree Winter Lodge too, which is hosting gin master classes that make for the ideal day out with friends.
12 Exchange Square, the City EC2A 2BQ; broadgate.co.uk
39 Austentatious at Fortune Theatre, Covent Garden
18 November-16 December
Austentatious is an improvised comedy play starring a cast of the country’s quickest comic performers. Every single show the cast conjures up a brand new ‘lost’ Jane Austen novel based on nothing more than a title suggested by the audience. The group has established itself as one of the UK’s most popular live acts, with seven sell-out runs at the Edinburgh Fringe under their belt, a monthly West End residency in 2018, and a BBC Radio 4 special to mark the bicentenary of Austen’s death. Returning for a limited season in London, Austentatious is back and ready to ring in the festive season complete with pre-show carol singers. You can also get a loyalty card – see the show four times and your fifth time is free! Ages 12+. Tickets from £20.
29 Russell Street, Covent Garden WC2B 5HH; atgtickets.com
40 ABBA: Super Troupers, The Exhibition at The O2
6 December-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
41 Christmas at Kew
20 November-5 January
Kew Gardens are magical all year round, but this Christmas they really are extra special thanks to the return of the hugely popular sparkling after dark trail. Now in its 7th year, the trail will embark on a new route and take in a whole host of installations, with dynamic laser projections illuminating the iconic Temperate House to give a truly incredible spectacle. Unsurprisingly, it’s a prime Instagram opportunity too… A spiced cider, mulled wine or hot chocolate will be ready and waiting for you once you have finished your walk, and a wide selection of street food will be on offer along the way too – think everything from sourdough pizza to award-winning pies, as well as the chance to toast marshmallows around the fire-pit. For the young (and young at heart) there’s a Victorian carousel, helter skelter and other family-friendly rides, and you might even be in with a chance of seeing Santa Claus himself. Open from 5pm to 10pm, advance bookings only. Adult tickets are from £18 and children’s are from £11.
KewGardens, Kew, Richmond TW9 3AE; kew.org
42 Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park
21 November-5 January 2020
It’s hard to beat Winter Wonderland. Celebrating its 13th year in 2019, one of London’s biggest festive attractions has everything for the Christmas lover. Browse the 100+ fairy-lit Bavarian-style wooden chalets of the Angel’s Market and pick out gifts for friends and family from jewellery and clothing to handmade crafts and Christmas decorations, buy tickets to ice skate around the pavilion in Hyde Park or check out one of the many new shows, including the Magical Ice Kingdom presents A Christmas Carol, Paddington on Ice, Mr Men & Little Miss – The Show, Cirque Berserk, ice sculpting workshops and more. Free to enter. Attractions carry a fee. Closed on Christmas Day.
Hyde ParkW2 2UH; hydeparkwinterwonderland.com
43 WOW: City Lights and Woodland Shade at Japan House London, Kensington
21 November-22 March 2020
Japan House London welcomes the mesmerising digital displays of multidisciplinary visual design studio WOW this month. Their first UK solo exhibition features two installations looking at both the urban future and timelessness of rural Japan. WOW’s Tokyo Light Odyssey presents a mind-bending 360-degree re-imagining of Japan’s capital city by night, heralding 2020 and the year when the world looks to Tokyo for the Olympics. At once familiar – with neon lights emanating from train stations and convenience store logos floating in the darkness – the artists use omni-directional motion graphics to contort the known world and present a new interpretation of the cityscape. Then there’s POPPO, an excursion into the folk art of Japan’s countryside with three different installations focusing on kokeshi (wooden dolls) and O-taka poppo (carved wooden figures in the shape of hawks). Touch screens allow you to carve your own kokeshi doll and digitize them to become part of the exhibition, displayed on the walls of the gallery. You can also project your own face on to the kokeshi. Free to attend.
101-111 Kensington High Street W8 5SA; japanhouselondon.uk
44 Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink
22 November-5 January 2020
London is spoilt for choice when it comes to spectacular ice rinks, but none come more atmospheric than the one at Hampton Court, which is set against the iconic backdrop of Henry VIII’s historic home. You’ll be treated to views of both the palace and the Thames, but we recommend going after dusk when the historic Tudor gate is bathed in light. Warm up with a hot drink and a sweet treat at the Ice Rink Café Bar, too. The ice rink is open from 10am until late on weekdays, and from 9am until late at the weekend. Adult tickets are from £15, and child tickets are £10.50, with family tickets also available.
HamptonCourt Palace, East Molesey KT8 9AU; hrp.org.uk
45 The Boy Friend at The Menier Chocolate Factory, Southwark
22 November-7 March 2020
The Menier Chocolate Factory is showing a major revival of Sandy Wilson’s The Boy Friend this month. Directed by Matthew White, Wilson’s all-singing all-dancing love letter to 1920s musical comedies is the first major London revival in over 10 years. Set in Madame Dubonnet’s finishing school in the south of France, these perfect young ladies burst into song at the least provocation, and forbidden boy friends are forever popping through the French windows to sing and dance with them. Since its premiere in 1953, this light-hearted soufflé of a show has delighted audiences worldwide and has become one of the most well-loved British musicals of all time.
53 Southwark StreetSE1 1RU; menierchocolatefactory.com
46 Ravens: Spassky Vs. Fischer at Hampstead Theatre
29 November-18 January 2020
Uncover the secrets of the Cold War with Tom Morton-Smith’s gripping new psychological thriller, which will be shown at Hampstead Theatre until January. Directed by Annebelle Comyn, this stellar new play depicts a match that became a signature event of this period in history, exploring how two very different individuals were co-opted to stand for contrasting political systems. Times and ticket prices vary.
Eton Avenue, Swiss Cottage NW3 3EU; hampsteadtheatre.com
47 Grayson Perry: Super Rich Interior Decoration at Victoria Miro, Mayfair
Until 20 December
For his first solo exhibition at the gallery since 2012 – and first exhibition at Victoria Miro Mayfair – Grayson Perry presents new work including pots, sculpture, large-scale prints, a tapestry and a carpet. Perry casts an anthropological eye on the heady collision of art, money, power and desire, broaching the slippery concepts of meaning and significance. New pots include Shopping for Meaning, adorned with images of the artist – in wig, headscarf and various outfits – standing in front of Mayfair’s designer stores, their logos visible behind him. Searching for Authenticity collects together symbols of rebellion and rites of passage – the leather jacket, the beard, the CND banner – as if they were a catalogue of lifestyle choices. Don’t Look Down is a carpet depicting a homeless person bordered by a frieze containing images of domestic architecture. During the making of the work Perry had in mind Nam June Paik’s famous quote: ‘the artist should always bite the hand that feeds him – but not too hard’.
14 St George Street W1S 1FE; victoria-miro.com
48 Watch This Space at Lazinc Gallery, Mayfair
Until 21 December
Watch This Space is an immersive live exhibition bringing together more than 25 international artists for a unique cultural presentation that develops right in front of your eyes… The unique initiative, presented in collaboration with renowned curator Magda Danysz of Danysz Gallery, will transform Lazinc gallery over the course of three months, creating a dialogue within the space as artists create works live on site. The disruptive exhibition will house an array of multi-disciplinary works, touching on themes of urban art, rebellion and multi-culturalism. Artists such as YZ and 1010 adopt building facades and concrete surfaces as their canvas, transforming them into monumental public artworks. During Watch This Space, they’ll be bringing the walls and floors of the gallery to life. Other artists including prominent figures from the Lazinc roster – namely Mark Jenkins and the Miaz Brothers – will feature alongside international artists selected by Danysz, notably, Charles Petillon and Ludo, as well as south London street artist Remi Rough.
29 Sackville Street, Mayfair W1S 3DX; lazinc.com
49 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
50 The Wolf of Wall Street Immersive Experience, the City
Until 19 January 2020
The Wolf of Wall Street has had the immersive treatment. The high anticipated production launches with previews from 5 September, taking over a 2,000 sq m landmark building in the City this month complete with four floors and 25 rooms. The building will be transformed to recreate 90s New York and the world of infamous stockbroker Jordan Belfort, whose life was depicted by Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese’s movie of the same name. This new production, from the creators and producers behind The Great Gatsby – the longest-ever running immersive show in the UK – will see a cast of 16 play multiple characters from Belfort’s memoirs, plunging audiences into a world of greed, power and excess in a night of top-notch entertainment. Stratton Oakmont is hiring. The FBI is closing in. You’re either with him or you’re against him… Tickets from £59.95. Currently booking until 19 Jan 2020.
5-15 Sun Street EC2N 2PT; immersivewolf.com
51 Moving to Mars at The Design Museum, Kensington
Until 23 February 2020
The Design Museum’s latest exhibition, Mission to Mars, explores how sending humans to the Red Planet is not just a new frontier for science, but also for design. Should humanity journey to Mars, what will we wear, eat and shelter in? Every detail of this extraordinary venture must be designed – from the journey (around seven months), to when we get there and beyond. More than 200 exhibits – including original objects and material from NASA and the European Space Agency, plus new commissions from responsible design company RÆBURN – tell the complete story of designing for Mars. Two major installations allow visitors to get closer to life on the Red Planet – there’s On Mars Today, a multisensory experience of the planet, and a full-scale prototype habitat by international design firm Hassell. The exhibition also questions whether we should be designing for Mars at all. In an installation modelling an alternative scenario running over a million years, Dr. Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg uses a gaming engine to simulate Mars colonised by plants – not humans. Adults £16-£18, kids £8-£9. Members free.
224-238 Kensington High Street, Kensington W8 6AG;designmuseum.org
52 Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds: The Immersive Experience, the City
Until 29 February 2020
The team behind Somnai, one of 2018’s most raved-about immersive experiences, returned earlier this year with a new gig – Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds: The Immersive Experience. Prolific composer Jeff Wayne has partnered with cutting-edge ‘layered reality’ company dotdotdot to re-imagine his Musical Work into a multi-sensory experience of immersive theatre, virtual reality, augmented reality holograms and other cutting-edge technology. You’ll be thrust you right into the centre of the of HG Wells’ Victorian England and the Martian invasion of 1898, where you’ll be able to smell the grass and feel the chill of the story’s famous Horsell Common, and physically feel the ground shake as the first cylinder lands. Tickets from £49.50.
56 Leadenhall Street, the CityEC3A 2BJ; dotdot.london/TWOTW
53 Stages of Making at the Horniman Museum and Gardens, Forest Hill
Until 19 April 2020
Stages of Making at the Horniman turns the tables on conventional museum exhibitions, putting the materials, acts and processes of making centre stage, rather than the finished works. Co-produced by a collective of nine local community members – who have taken inspiration from the Horniman’s anthropology collection and the museum’s design history – in collaboration with artist Katie Schwab – each artwork has a story to tell about design, techniques and materials. Exhibits are displayed at various points of production, and everything is either made from repurposed materials or sourced with care. Visitors can also take part in making something to add to the growing ‘archive’ of samples in the exhibition, by joining daily Making Time drop-in sessions or booking onto one of the specialist workshops.
100 London Road, Forest Hill SE23 3PQ; horniman.ac.uk
54 Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer Of The Year
Until 26 April 2020
Winning images from the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year Competition are now on display at the National Maritime Museum. Hungarian photographer László Francsics won the prestigious Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2019 award, securing the £10,000 top prize and pride of place for his photo at the exhibition. Other other categories and special prizes include a remarkable panorama taken from the top of the mountain Offersøykammen, showcasing the Aurora Borealis over the Lofoten Islands in Norway by Nicolai Brügger; an atmospheric image depicting photographer Ben Bush with his dog Floyd surrounded by Mars, Saturn and the galactic core of the Milky Way galaxy; and an extraordinary sequence of images of Mars following the progress of the great global dust storm by Andy Casely. In the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year category, 11-year-old Davy van der Hoeven took home the top prize for his remarkable deep sky image of the Rosette Nebula in the constellation Monoceros – a remarkable 5,000 light-years from Earth. Adults £10, kids £5.
Park Row, Greenwich Peninsula SE10 9NF; rmg.co.uk
55 London’s New Year’s Day Parade 2020
Blow away the cobwebs on New Year’s Day and head out to the streets of London to see the world famous New Year’s Day Parade, which will begin on Piccadilly at midday. Expect over 10,000 performers from around the world, accompanied by musicians and floats to create a truly mesmerising spectacle.