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THE NEW ICE RINK:
Kensington Palace, Kensington
At the end of the month. Kensington Palace will open the UK’s largest ice rink. Guests can skate on a rink the length of a football pitch in 45-minute sessions, before enjoying a range of festive food and drinks. There will be a huge Christmas tree to set the scene, as well as music, games and fun attractions for kids. Guests can buy treats, hampers and presents from the Fortnum & Mason store, and enjoy hot chocolate and mulled wine from the pop-up stalls. Best of all, Kensington Palace has teamed up with Cecconi’s by Soho House to create a VIP area on the first floor of the skate exchange.
30th November-7th January
THE TRADITIONAL OUTING:
Skate at Somerset House, Strand
The Christmas holidays don’t start until you’ve hit the rink at Somerset House. This year, older children can skate day or night as DJs set the vibe with fun music. Little ones (or those who need a helping hand) can take lessons with National Ice Skating Association instructors. New this year are the ‘Skate Late’ sessions, and Jimmy Garcia’s alpine-inspired restaurant in partnership with the Swiss tourism board. Plus, homelessness charity Shelter will open a pop-up store where visitors can browse a selection of pre-loved vintage, designer and high-street clothing.
Until 14th January
THE FESTIVE EXTRAVAGANZA:
Christmas at The Royal Albert Hall, South Kensington
The Royal Albert Hall pulls out all the stops for its Christmas showcase, and this year looks set to be no exception. The venue has been celebrating the festive season for over 150 years, and there are numerous events to choose from. Highlights include Home Alone and Elf in concert with a live orchestra, a concert from singer Gregory Porter, a special evening with friends Dame Judi Dench and Gyles Brandreth, and Trevor Nelson’s Soul Christmas show featuring several of the UK’s best R&B acts. There will also be carol services throughout December.
Various dates throughout December
Jack & the Beanstalk at Theatre Royal, Stratford
Stratford’s Theatre Royal always puts on a memorable panto with original music and characters, so we were excited to hear this year’s production is a classic with a twist. Jack lives in the curious town of Splatford with his cow, Winnie The Moo, and his mum, Milky Linda. The town is home to a magical marsh full of healing mud, which Jack and his pals spend their days mining. But there’s a big problem: Giant Belch. He dominates Splatford from the sky – stealing the mud, charging outrageous rents and polluting the air. One odd shepherd, a handful of beans and an unexpected beanstalk later, Jack is on a life-changing journey. Can he reach the top, make his mum proud and become the unlikely hero?
18th November-6th January
THE MAGICAL BALLET:
The Nutcracker at London Coliseum, West End
From the sound of the orchestra tuning up to the final bows and applause, a trip to The English National Ballet at the London Coliseum is an eternal 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.
14th December-7th January
THE CHILDREN’S SHOW:
The Snowman at Peacock Theatre, Holborn
Twinkling with festive spirit, The Snowman is back for its 26th year. Based on the book by Raymond Briggs, this performance has transported generations of children and their families into the wintery world of a boy and his magical snowman. With music and lyrics by Howard Blake, including the classic ‘Walking in the Air’, The Snowman is a heart-warming mix of dance, spectacle, storytelling, splendid sets and music performed by a live orchestra.
18th November-30th December
THE LIGHT SHOW:
Christmas at Kew Gardens, Kew
Kew’s winter trail is set to return with old favourites and new light installations. Visitors can expect bursts of colour and enchanting optics as they explore a Unesco World Heritage landscape after dark. Along the trail, which takes around 90 minutes to complete, you’ll find a tunnel covered with a canopy of glowing, colour-changing stars. Further along, the Cathedral of Light will twinkle with thousands of fairy lights for that all-important Instagram moment. Stop off at the food stalls along the way to try festive treats and boozy hot chocolate.
Until 7th January
Hogwarts In The Snow, Leavesden
Potterheads will love this spellbinding experience at Warner Bros. Studios. The annual Hogwarts in the Snow experience sees the famous studios – where the Harry Potter movie franchise was filmed – turned into a winter grotto where children can see the sets in the snow. The trees and woodland in the Forbidden Forest has been given a festive makeover with layers of snow, while the cobbled stones and magical shopfronts of Diagon Alley, Hagrid’s Hut and the Hogwarts castle model have also been given a festive touch. Don’t miss the enchanting Great Hall which has been dressed for the occasion with wreaths, flaming puddings, garlands and trees topped with witches on miniature broomsticks.
Until 14th January
THE FUN TOUR:
Small Car Big City, City-Wide
smallcarBIGCITY is a travel company renowned for its classic Mini Cooper tours. This year the team is spreading holiday cheer with a festive Christmas Lights Tour of London. The experience promises a two-hour journey through the city's brightest and most beautifully decorated streets. Guests will be chauffeured in a classic Mini Cooper with a passionate local guide at the wheel, down iconic London thoroughfares including Oxford Street, Regent Street, Winter Wonderland, Harrods, Covent Garden, Leadenhall Market and Mayfair. The cars feature full-length sunroofs for a perfect view of the lights, as well as warm tartan blankets, Christmas songs on the stereo, plus a stop for hot cocoa and mince pies along the way.
Pick-up and drop-off available anywhere in Zone 1; various dates
For a second year, Anya Hindmarch’s fun Belgravia store has been transformed into a winter wonderland where little ones can visit Father Christmas’ grotto. Book a 30-minute time slot to wonder through the immersive grotto experience which ends with a story read by Father Christmas himself. A lovely activity to enjoy over the holidays, the grotto will be in place until Christmas Eve. Tickets cost £45 for one adult and one child.
Until 24th December
The Gruffalo's Child at Garrick Theatre, West End
Internationally acclaimed theatre company Tall Stories is bringing its celebrated production of The Gruffalo’s Child to the Garrick Theatre for a limited Christmas season. Join the Gruffalo’s Child on her adventurous mission in this magical musical stage adaptation of the much-loved picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Suitable for children aged three and over, the performance will last 55 minutes, without an interval.
1st December-7th January
THE AFTERNOON TEA:
Grosvenor House, Mayfair
Grosvenor House has launched its The Snowman Afternoon Tea, with a separate children’s version available. Inspired by the British classic by Raymond Briggs, the treat takes guests on a journey of nostalgia, friendship and adventure. The festive afternoon tea will be served in the twinkling surroundings of the Park Room, to the soft sounds of the iconic soundtrack from the film adaption, played by a resident pianist. Guests will relive the extraordinary story of true festive magic through five pastries and an amuse bouche: One December Morning, Midnight Magic, A Friendly Face, The Snowman, Snowy Symphony and The Enchanted Forest – with a menu designed by illustrator Robin Shaw, who illustrated the 40th anniversary edition of The Snowman.
Until 7th January
Elf The Musical, West End
Due to popular demand, Elf The Musical has returned to the Dominion Theatre for a second consecutive year. The production is the funny and charming tale of Buddy, who mistakenly crawled into Santa’s bag as a baby and was raised as an elf. Way too tall and not so great at his job, Buddy is the North Pole’s biggest misfit… and knows he’ll never belong. When Santa tells him the truth, Buddy heads to New York to find his birth father (who turns out to be quite high on the Naughty List). After causing some mayhem in Manhattan, Buddy finally discovers the gift of family and falls in love. And when Santa’s sleigh crashes in Central Park, it’s Buddy who finds a way to save Christmas forever.
Until 6th January
Hamleys X The Ritz, Piccadilly
Two of London’s most iconic institutions, The Ritz London and Hamleys, have teamed up for the festive season. For the second year, Father Christmas and his elves are heading to 150 Piccadilly. After being greeted by one of Hamleys’ elves, the journey continues with Father Christmas’s delicious hot chocolate, where children will have the chance to talk all things Christmas with their House Elf, and take part in fun and games, ahead of their meeting with Father Christmas himself. Every child will depart with a gift. In collaboration with Great Ormond Street Hospital, The Ritz London and Hamleys are also offering exclusive Santa sessions, each day, for children who have been under the care of GOSH.