London's Seasonal Cheer
Because the UK capital is also one of the world's Christmas capitals
Perhaps it’s Charles Dickens’ classic novel A Christmas Carol; perhaps the compelling influence the Victorians had on Christmas imagery and traditions across Europe as a whole. Perhaps it’s the amount of Christmas movies set there, with improbable snow falling on its ancient cobbled streets and alleyways. But London at this time of year has a festive feel about it like no other capital city.
The good news is that, if you’re looking for a short break over the Christmas and New Year period, there are plenty of quirky ways to soak up the seasonal cheer yourself. Here are six of the best:
Dive into the world of panto
Immerse yourself in a classic British Christmas tradition by checking out one of this year’s grandest ‘pantomimes’ (or ‘pantos’ to the locals). Dick Whittington, performed at the London Palladium, is a classic rags-to-riches tale, set on the streets of London and served up with a healthy dollop of slapstick humor.
Until 14th January 2018.
Skate in the sky
Wrap up warm and head out to East London to experience the city’s newest rooftop venue - ‘Skylight,’ near Tower Bridge. Here you can fill up on fondue, seasonal cocktails and mulled wine before skating under the stars, enjoying incredible views over the city while you try to stay upright.
Until 13 January 2018. For more: skylightlondon.com
Enjoy an alternative winter wonderland
Sure, London’s Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park gets all the mainstream attention and headlines, but it’s a little obvious. Those in the know this year are headed to Winterville on Clapham Common - an alternative festival boasting a spiegeltent cabaret, a roller disco, ultraviolet indoor mini golf and a “Backyard Cinema” screening a selection of Christmas classics.
Until 1 January 2018. For more: winterville.co.uk
Raise a toast with Mr Fogg
London’s famous old-fashioned Mr Fogg’s cocktail bars (in Mayfair and Covent Garden) have both been given a dramatic Dickensian makeover for the festive period. Think impromptu carols by the fireplace and candlelit drinks. But be careful after one too many cocktails - there’s mistletoe hanging about all over the place…
For more: mr-foggs.com
Set your watch to Greenwich Winter Time
Maritime Greenwich, home to the famous Cutty Sark ship and arguably the prettiest park in London, is hosting its first Christmas market this year, which it promises will be the “most Instagrammable” winter festival around. Head down there for everything from live music and DJs to pantomime horse racing.
Until 31 December.
Explore the darker side of Peter Pan
A “dark and dangerous” immersive Peter Pan show for adults is opening in the tunnels underneath Waterloo Station this winter. In a reimagining of the famous tale, audiences will be invited to walk from set to set meeting the characters, while warming themselves with handy drinks from the absinthe bar. Along the way they’ll encounter fairies, mermaids and pirates - while enjoying live music from a band of Lost Boys.
Until 18 March 2018. For more: vaultfestival.com
By Jonathan Thompson