SEE A PANTO HERE: The London Palladium
Matt Baker stars alongside returning Palladium royalty Julian Clary, Paul O’Grady, Nigel Havers and Gary Wilmot for this year’s must-see panto, Goldilocks & The Three Bears. Following up on last year’s sold-out production of Snow White, for five weeks only the London Palladium will be transformed into a sensational circus, where everything is possible and anything could happen. This festive extravaganza will be packed with riotous comedy routines, special effects, hair-raising stunts, international circus acts and the best cast in London.
8 Argyll Street, Soho, W1F 7LA; 7th December-12th January
GO SKATING HERE: Skate at Somerset House
Somerset House’s Edmond J Safra Fountain courtyard is the backdrop to one of London’s most beautiful ice rinks, where you can skate day or night with family and friends. This year’s Skate Lates will feature an extra-special series of music nights throughout the season, including sets from DJ Yoda and Joe Goddard. Après-skate, guests can treat themselves at Fortnum’s Lodge with a ‘Skate Extra’. All designed for two to share, these include the likes of chocolate fondue and champagne. Fortnum’s Christmas Arcade will also return, transforming the West Wing into a one-stop festive shopping destination.
Somerset House, Strand, Covent Garden, WC2R 1LA; 13th November-12th January
TAKE AFTERNOON TEA HERE: The Savoy
The Savoy’s ever-extravagant decorations and proximity to nearby festive locations Covent Garden, Somerset House and Trafalgar Square make it an ideal spot for afternoon tea. Delicate pastries and cakes filled with Christmas flavours will be served in the five-star hotel’s Thames Foyer. Highlights on the menu include coronation turkey on cranberry bread; smoked venison chestnut cream on brioche; Savoy Christmas cake with raisins, candied orange and earl grey; and a milk-chocolate ‘Rudolf’s Nose’ filled with vanilla and mandarin.
Strand, Covent Garden, WC2R 0EZ; dates TBC
SEE A FESTIVE LIGHTS SWITCH-ON HERE: Regent Street
On 14th November, the largest lights installation in the capital will take over Regent Street and St James’s with a star-studded switch-on and an evening of on-street and in-store treats. From 4pm to 9pm, Regent Street will be traffic free from Oxford Circus to Piccadilly Circus, enabling visitors to soak up the festive atmosphere. This year, ‘The Spirit of Christmas’ celebration will include performances from special guests – we’re expecting great things, as previous acts who have switched on the lights include Paloma Faith, Clean Bandit, the cast of West End musical Dreamgirls and Killing Eve’s Jodie Whittaker.
Regent Street, West End, W1C; 14th November
SEE THE NUTCRACKER HERE: London Coliseum
From the sound of the orchestra tuning up, to the final bows and cheers, a trip to English National Ballet at the London Coliseum is an essential Christmas treat. More than 100 dancers and musicians will bring The Nutcracker to life with world-class dancing, beautiful sets and Tchaikovsky’s popular score played live. On a sparkling Christmas Eve in a frost-dusted Edwardian London, Clara and her enchanted Nutcracker doll discover a magical world, where she battles with the Mouse King and meets a handsome stranger. As the air grows colder, Clara and her valiant Nutcracker take a hot-air balloon ride across London to the glistening Land of Snow where her adventure really begins.
St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, WC2N 4ES; 11th December-5th January
TAKE THE KIDS HERE: Kew Gardens
Now in its seventh year, Kew Gardens’ winter trail is bigger than ever, with over 1m twinkling pea-lights and thousands of laser beams. Guests will walk under arches into a world festooned with seasonal cheer and beneath tree canopies covered in Christmas colour. Enter the moonlit woods and step into a ‘Laser Garden’ where refracting lines of light bounce across the branches, before the Palm House Pond finale sees jumping jets of light dance across the water to much-loved Christmas classics. Don’t miss the vintage fairground rides and remember to keep an eye out for Santa’s elves along the way.
Kew Gardens, Richmond, TW9 3AB; 20th November-5th January
SEE HANDEL’S MESSIAH HERE: Royal Albert Hall
The annual performance of Handel’s sacred oratorio ‘Messiah’ has taken place at the Royal Albert Hall every year since 1871. This year is no different; on 18th December more than 100 vocalists will take to the venue’s grand stage for one of the capital’s Christmas highlights. Led by conductor Christoph Altstaedt, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philharmonia Chorus will combine with rising vocal stars including Elgan Llyr Thomas, Katie Bray, Natalya Romaniw and William Thomas.
Kensington Gore, Kensington, SW7 2AP; 18th December
VISIT SANTA HERE: Sharky & George Chelsea
This year, Sharky & George is returning to Pavilion Road to create one of the capital’s most immersive grottos. Parents can head out for coffee, a glass of wine or last-minute present shopping while children have fun at the grotto, where there’ll be non-stop Christmas games, festive creative stations and cosy story reading. The experience guarantees one-to-one time with Father Christmas who will have sneaky personalised knowledge, a present, plus as many photos as you like. Each day, the team will run a ‘My First Grotto’ experience for under-twos, as well as dedicated pre-school sessions.
241 Pavilion Road, Chelsea, SW1X 0BP; 23rd November-24th December
SING CAROLS BY CANDLELIGHT HERE: Barbican
This December the Barbican will host a sublime concert of carols and seasonal classics, staged in full 18th-century costume in a candlelit-style setting. The Raymond Gubbay Christmas Festival 2019 programme includes Cullen’s ‘Joy to the World’, Handel’s Christmas Sequence from ‘Messiah’, ‘Zadok the Priest’ and ‘Hallelujah’, Bach’s ‘Air on the G String’, Ledger’s Sussex Carol and Darke’s ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ plus singalong hymns ‘Good King Wenceslas’, ‘While Shepherd's Watched’, ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ and ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’. We recommend grabbing a pre-concert mulled wine at The Jugged Hare opposite.
Silk Street, Clerkenwell, EC2Y 8DS; 21st December
SEE THE RED SHOES HERE: Sadler’s Wells
A sell-out for its world premiere in 2016, Matthew Bourne’s adaptation of the classic film returns to London, having won two Olivier Awards and impressed audiences across the UK and the US. The Red Shoes is a tale of obsession, possession and one girl’s dream to be the greatest dancer in the world. Victoria Page lives to dance but her ambitions become a battleground between the two men who inspire her passion. Set to the music of golden-age Hollywood composer Bernard Herrmann, The Red Shoes is orchestrated by Terry Davies and played live by the New Adventures Orchestra. A must-book.
Rosebery Avenue, Islington, EC1R 4TN; 3rd December-19th January
SEE A FESTIVE FILM HERE: Backyard Cinema
Backyard Cinema opened its first permanent home in Wandsworth in September. Capital Studios previously played host to the Beatles, David Bowie and Ready, Steady, Cook; now it has been brought back to life as an immersive, 250-seat cinematic playground, which will be showing the likes of Home Alone, The Holiday, A Muppet’s Christmas Carol, Elf and It’s A Wonderful Life over the festive period. The large, heated and seated courtyard, set out with feasting tables, will be transformed into the ‘Snow Kingdom’ for December, with food and drink available to buy during the film.
13 Wandsworth Plain, Wandsworth, SW18 1ET; dates throughout December
HIRE AN IGLOO HERE: Coppa Club
The ever-popular Coppa Club Igloos are back for 2019. Located between Tower Bridge and the Shard, the igloos provide one of the cosiest winter set-ups in town. Guests can settle into sleek Scandi surrounds with sheepskin rugs, fluffy blankets and a twinkly night sky – a great way to warm up and chill out after a day in the city. Last year, the venue teamed up with gin brand Sipsmith to create a special winter gin cocktail menu, so we’re keeping our eye out to see what’s in store for 2019. Regardless, make sure to book now – these sell out every season.
3 Three Quays Walk, Tower Bridge, EC3R 6AH
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