Celebrating the light art of a neon genius: Gods Own Junkyard pop-up in Soho

A hidden garden in the City: The ruins of St Dunstan-in-the-East

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Ruins: One of the Gothic-style windows on the north wall on the remains of St-Dunstan-in-the-East

The City Of London is a bustling, noisy place, especially on weekdays. For hundreds of years, the City’s churches have always been a place of solitude for those seeking quiet and today that is no different. However, not all churches consist of four walls and a ceiling thanks to the damage ravaged by the Nazis during World War II. Located just north of Lower Thames Street is a hidden garden in the ruins of a former church.  Although the steeple and tower and some of the walls now remain, the roof and interiors are long gone, having been replaced by a peaceful garden.

St Dunstan-in-the-East is located in the south-east corner of the City of London, a short walk from the Tower of London. The original St Dunstan church was originally built in 1100, but like many in the City, was damaged in the Great Fire Of London in 1666. Sir Christopher Wren (1632–1723) was given the responsibility of repairing and renovating the church. The building was patched up between 1668 and 1671 with Wren adding a needle spire during 1696 and 1701. Inside, the church contained carvings by Dutch-born carver Grinling Gibbons (1648–1721), whose work also features in St Paul’s Cathedral, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace.

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Wren’s needle spire and clock tower managed to survive the World War II bombings

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With the roof gone, what remains of the wall encloses a public garden

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The grand Gothic doorways remain intact, but are covered in vines

In 1817, the church was in a sorry state so it was rebuilt in a perpendicular style to a design by architect David Laing (1774-1856), who designed the New Custom House and was a former apprentice of Sir John Soane. Laing was assisted by architect William Tite (1798–1873), who went on to design the Royal Exchange, West Norwood Cemetery and various train stations, including Vauxhall, Barnes, Chiswick and Kew Bridge. The heavy weight of the roof of the nave had been pushing the walls out seven inches, so it was decided the whole structure – bar Wren’s tower – should be rebuilt. The new design was built with Portland Stone, cost £36,000 and spanned 115 feet by 65 feet. The makeover was revealed to the congregation on January 1821 and could accommodate up to 600-700 parishioners. (For a photo of the church interior, click here or exterior in 1910, click here.)

However, Laing’s redesign was not to last either, with the Nazi bombing campaign of World War II wreaking havoc on St Dunstan’s 120 years later. On 10 May 1941, the bomb destroyed the nave and roof and blew out the stained glass windows. In 1960, St Dunstan was linked with All Hallows by the Tower. The City of London Corporation decided not to rebuild and instead turn the ruins into a public garden, which opened in 1971. The tower’s eight bells were transferred to the Sterling Winery in California’s Napa Valley.

Today, the garden contain lots of plants, trees, a fountain and benches, while the tower is home to a wellbeing foundation. Occasional religious services are held in the open air in the garden, such as Palm Sunday, organised by All Hallows.

  • St Dunstan-in-the-East, St Dunstan’s Hill, off Lower Thames Street, City of London, EC3R 8DX. Nearest tube: Tower Hill or Monument.
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The eastern wall (right) of the church has been largely destroyed, while the south wall managed to stay standing


For other posts on Sir Christopher Wren’s life and buildings read…

For more of Metro Girl’s history blog posts, click here.

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Spirit Of Soho mural: Celebrating the history and characters of Soho

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The Spirit Of Soho mural stands on the side of 9 Carnaby Street overlooking Broadwick Street

Various areas of London come and go as the ‘trendy’ new postcode to visit. However, one that has remained an eternal draw to Londoners and visitors for decades as a playground for both is Soho. Bordered by the shops of Oxford and Regent Street with the theatres of Shaftesbury Avenue cutting through it, Soho today retains a mix of its old and new haunts – with iconic venues and restaurants such as Ronnie Scott’s and the Gay Hussar sharing the same roads as the inevitable chain restaurants and coffee shops.

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The right panel features (top to bottom) the Palladium, Carnaby Street and Ronnie Scott’s

Back in 1991, the community of Soho created a mural at the western end of Broadwick Street to celebrate the characters and venues which make the area so special. Crowning the mural is St Anne – who lends her name to Soho’s church in Dean Street – with her skirt forming the streets and lanes of Soho. Dotted around are dogs and hares, harking back to Soho’s origins as royal hunting ground between the 16th and 17th centuries. In fact, the word Soho is believed to have come from an old hunting cry.

Representing Chinatown in the south east corner of the skirt, is the pagoda and Lee Fung supermarket, while the western borders features a depiction of Liberty’s department store with its iconic Tudor-style timber frame. On the right panel of the mural, popular Soho spots are depicted including the Palladium, Carnaby Street and Ronnie Scott’s, while the left panel features an artist in his studio (believed to be late animator Bob Godfrey MBE), fashion stores and international restaurants. Among the streets of Soho you may well recognise one of the Groucho Brothers – likely alluding to the iconic Groucho Club on Dean Street.

At the bottom of the mural is a huddle of notable Soho residents and clientele, including revolutionary Karl Marx, artist William Blake, poet Dylan Thomas and jazz musician George Melly. When the clock (which was restored in 2006) strikes on the hour, look carefully to see Marx sipping a can of Coca-Cola, while opera singer Teresa Cornelys winks at her former lover Casanova, who returns the favour by blowing her a kiss. Marx actually lived in Dean Street in the 1850s with his family, above what is now the Quo Vadis restaurant. During his time in Soho, Marx and his wife suffered the loss of three of their children in infancy, while he also wrote his proposal for the Communist Manifesto in a room above the Red Lion pub on Great Windmill Street. Meanwhile, Teresa’s parties at her home, Carlisle House in Soho Square were legendary in the mid 1700s. She fathered a daughter Sophia during an affair with Italian playboy Casanova, who used to visit the house.

Next time you’re in Soho, why not pay a visit to the mural and see who you can recognise. Aim to visit on the hour for the very subtle animations around the clock.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Animated: As the clock strikes the hour, watch as Karl Marx sips Coke, Teresa Cornelys winks as Casanova, who blows a kiss back

  • The Spirit Of Soho mural in located on the Berwick Street side of 9 Carnaby Street, Soho, W1F 9PB. Nearest tube: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus.

For more of Metro Girl’s history blog posts, click here.

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Year Of The Bus: An infographic detailing facts and figures about our iconic red bus

Last year, it was all about the London Underground, but 2014 has seen the celebration of the Year Of The Bus. 2014 saw two landmarks for our beloved red transport methods – 60 years since the first Routemaster and 100 years since the B-type motor buses were used on the front line in World War I.

With so much information around about our trusty public transport methods, the team at Refresh Accommodation have created a handy infographic to commemorate the Year Of The Bus and its important place within our city’s infrastructure.

The infographic dates back to 1829 when Londoners started using the inaugural horse-drawn buses, otherwise known as ‘omnibuses. The various guises London buses have grown through over the decades has been detailed, up until they went cash-free this summer.

 London bus History Infographic


For more of Metro Girl’s history blog posts, click here.

For a blog post on the disused Aldwych underground station, click here.

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Where to welcome 2015: Guide to New Year’s Eve 2014 parties in London

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Tunes: What music will help you see in the new year?

Can you believe the year is nearly over already? As always, it appears the past 12 months fly by at an alarming rate and it’s already time to say ‘sayonora 2014′ and ‘konnichiwa 2015′. If you can’t be bothered with the stress (and cleaning up the next day!) of organising your own bash or can’t quite see the allure of spending it on the sofa with Jools Holland and co, there is plenty of parties on across the capital. While this guide doesn’t claim to be comprehensive listings (there are 100s after all!), Metro Girl has handpicked some of the highlights of the party calendar for 31 December 2014.

Central London

  • New Year’s Eve firework display over the River Thames

Thousands expected to take to the north and south of the River to watch the fireworks display near the London Eye. Although usually free, this year City Hall has introduced a £10 fee to cover costs. Limited batches of tickets will be released daily at 12pm from 1–15 December. There will be a lot of congestion or potential closures of some tube stations around the Embankments so check with TFL before you travel. For more information, visit the London.gov.uk website.

  • Belle Epoque’s Dark Circus Party

Enjoy an evening of ‘abandoned dancing, pleasure-seeking and spectacular entertainment’, featuring Bourne & Hollingsworth’s atmospheric production, amazing cocktails and performances from the Torture Garden. 9pm-3am. Tickets: £40. The Grand Hall St Pancras, Euston Road, WC1H 9JE. Nearest tube: Kings Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the Dark Circus website.

  • Vintage New Year’s Eve Party – Royal Festival Hall

The team behind the Vintage Festival put on a glamorous extravaganza of live bands and DJs spread across six pop-up vintage nightclubs from various eras, with bars, beauty parlours and photo studios also on site. Around midnight, some of the action will move to one of the balconies for a great vista of the New Year’s Eve fireworks over the Thames. Starts 7pm onwards. Tickets start from £97.50. Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • Black Tie Masquerade Ball – Kettner’s

Kettner’s in Soho will be hosting a masquerade ball, featuring cabaret show, swing dance lessons, burlesque performances, a live band and DJs over two floors and three bars. 9pm-3am. Tickets: £50 for party or £125 including dinner at The Apartment. Kettner’s, 29 Romilly Street, Soho, W1D 5HP. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Kettner’s website.

  • New Year’s Eve Stand Up Show – Comedy Store

Start your night off with some comedy from Stephen Grant, Prince Abdi, Jarred Christmas, Romesh Ranganathan, Pete Johansson and The Noise Next Door . After you’ve laughed yourself silly, there will a DJ spinning tracks after for some dancing. Show starts at 8pm. Tickets: £59 (early bird £49). The Comedy Store, 1a Oxendon Street, SW1Y 4EE. Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Comedy Store website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Ready to toast 2015?

  • Prohibition 1920s New Year’s Eve party

Say hello to 2015 in 1920s style at this prohibition-themed party, includes live music, gramophone DJs, gambling, dancers and cocktails. Must dress in 1920s costume. 9pm-3am. Tickets: £40. Bloomsbury Ballroom, Bloomsbury Square, Bloomsbury, WC1B 4DA. Nearest tube: Russell Square or Euston. For more information, visit the Prohibition 1920s website.

  • Back To The Future Party – Bar Soho

As 2015 is famously the year Marty McFly ended up in the future, Bar Soho are drawing on the iconic film franchise to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Featuring live entertainment from Daddy Soho and the Soholites. Guests will be transported (1950s style) to the ‘Enchantment Under the Sea’ dance. Tickets start from £7.50 (early bird). Bar Soho, 23-25 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 5JL. Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Bar Soho website.

  • UV NYE Party – Bounce

Ping pong bar and restaurant Bounce will be lit up with a UV light installation so everyone will be glowing. Guests encouraged to dress in vibrant UV clothing. Including unlimited, free UV ping pong all night, UV face artists to glowify guests, cocktail prizes for the best UV outfits and retro party anthems spun by DJ Mighty Atom vs Nick Terrific. 8.30pm until 3am. Tickets: £15 (early bird £10). Bounce, 121 Holborn, EC1N 2TD. Nearest tube: Chancery Lane. For more information and tickets, visit the Bounce websiteFor Metro Girl’s review of Bounce, click here.

  • New Year’s Eve @ Basement Sate

New cocktail and pudding bar Basement Sate in Soho is celebrating the advent of 2015 with booze, desserts and music. Tickets include one cocktail, one glass of champagne and a selection of canapés. With entertainment from DJ Franck Bombard and Lola. 8pm until late. Tickets £45. 8 Broadwick Street, Soho, W1F 8HN. Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. Tables can be booked by emailing table@basementsate.com.

North London

  • Guilty Pleasures & Ultimate Power present Hullaballoo NYE

Enjoy a night of classic rock and power ballads at the Forum, with a special appearance from the Musical Bingo team. 9pm-4am. Tickets from £15. The Forum, 9-17 Highgate Road, Kentish Town, NW5 1JY. Nearest station: Kentish Town. For more information and tickets, visit the Ultimate Power website.

  • New Year’s Cabaret Ball – Proud Camden

The unique Proud Galleries are seeing in 2015 with a cabaret ball, featuring circus performers, bands and DJs, including BigTopp, El Conchitas, Olya, Shoot The Pony, Ray Grooves and Fuel Girls. Strict dress code – black tie and ball gown glamour, burlesque and cabaret suave (no trainers or jeans). Open from 7pm until late. Tickets start from £14, then go up depending on your arrival time. Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, Camden Town, NW1 8AH. Nearest tube: Chalk Farm or Camden Town. For more information and tickets, visit the Proud Camden website.

  • Freak And Chic NYE – Drink Shop Do

Dress freaky fashion chic for Drink Shop Do’s bash in Caly Road. Expect colourful entertainment, confetti blasters and dancers. Hip hop & old skool tracks in the basement, while upstairs goes disco. 7pm until late. Tickets from £12-£35. 9 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, N1 9DX. Nearest tube: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information and tickets, visit the Drink Shop Do website.

  • Club De Fromage Vs Old School Indie Super NYE Party

Lovers of rock, pop and indie should head down to Angel for music, balloons, confetti and fun. 9pm-4am. Tickets start from £20.25. O2 Academy Islington, 16 Parkfield Street, Islington, N1 0PS. Nearest tube: Angel. For more information and tickets, visit the Club De Fromage website.

South London

  • The Blitz Party NYE Special

Relive the spirit of the Blitz in a 1940s-themed party at an  ‘air raid shelter’ in Borough. Fancy dress compulsory, so think military wares and victory rolls. 9pm-3am. Tickets: £40. Great Suffolk Street Arches, 29 Great Suffolk Street, Borough, SE1 0NS. Nearest tube: Southwark. For tickets, visit the Blitz Party website.

  • Enchantment Under The Sea – Breakfast Club Battersea and London Bridge

The Breakfast Clubs in Battersea, London Bridge and Spitalfields will be hosting Back To The Future-inspired 1950s prom dances. Tickets include champagne reception and three-course meal in The Breakfast Club followed by after parties in their basement bars, The King of Ladies Man (Battersea), Call Me Mr Lucky (London Bridge) and The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town (Spitalfields). 7.30pm-3am. Tickets £55 includes three course meal and champagne reception. For booking and more information, visit the Breakfast Club website.

  • Black Tie Beach Ball – Bunga Bunga and Cocobananas

Bunga Bunga and Cocobananas will be coming together to bring a fusion of the very best of Italian and Brazilian culture to Battersea. The ball kicks off with a seven-course Italian banquet and a complimentary Belvedere cocktail from 7pm, before moving on to dance at the beach party at Cocobananas. Dress code is ‘black tie on the beach’. 7pm-4am. Tickets: £85 ball, After party £20 in advance, £30 on the door. Bunga Bunga, 37 Battersea Bridge Road, SW11 3BA and Cocobananas, 101 Howie Street, SW11 3BA. Nearest train station: Clapham Junction, Queenstown Road Battersea or Battersea Park. For more information visit the Cocobananas or Bunga Bunga websites.

  • KISSTORY NYE – The O2

Old school dance anthems from Kiss FM comes to Building Six at the O2. DJs on the night include Jez Welham, Neev, Dixon Brothers, DJ Luck & MC Neat, DJ MK, Freddie Smith & Melvyn Francis. Live PAs from Lynsey Moore (Love Bug) & Kallaghan (Performing Right Before My Eyes). 9pm-4am. Tickets: £40-£65. Building Six, The O2, Peninsula Square, North Greenwich, SE10 0DX. Nearest tube: North Greenwich. For tickets, visit the O2 website.

West London

  • New Year at the Golden Mansion

Mansion NYE 2014A party extravaganza featuring 2 dancefloors, including DJs Joffrey Bogart, Anthony Devz and Amin Sane. Live performances from electric violinist Oktam and master percussionist Sam Baws, gypsy singer guitarist Martin Rodrigo and fire mastery from Natalie Mulkerrins. Free tarot readings from Erica Maxwell and Miss Anna’s make-up wizardy. Art from VJ Daton, while the Argentum Gallery will display the figurative acrylics of Allan Banford. Dress code: Gold. 9pm-4am. Tickets start from £25. In a secret venue in Notting Hill which will be revealed 48 hours before. For tickets and information, visit The Mansion website.

  • New Year’s Eve at the Roof Gardens

Las Vegas comes to London at the unique Kensington Roof Gardens. Tickets include arrival cocktail, ceremony in the wedding chapel with a souvenir photograph, mini bottle of champagne, beer, wine and special cocktails from 8-9pm, winter-themed BBQ buffet and breakfast canapés from 2am. 8pm-4am. Tickets: £135 (early bird), £140 (normal price). 99 Kensington High Street (entrance on Derry Street), Kensington, W8 5SA. Nearest tube: High Street Kensington. For more information, visit the Roof Gardens website.

  • NYE Hoedown – Beaver Lodge

Go all-American at the Beaver Lodge, where you’ll be greeted with a Moët & Chandon Imperial NV Brut reception. During the evening you’ll be entertained with live music from Beaver Lodge’’s own banjo player, and performance from The Gold Rush Cheerleading squad. Open 9.30pm-4am. Tickets: £20 advance, £30 on the night. Beaver Lodge, 266 Fulham Road, Chelsea, SW10 9EL. Nearest stations: West Brompton or Fulham Broadway. For more information and booking visit the Beaver Lodge website.

  • Masked Ball – Paradise By Way Of Kensal Green

Masquerade ball across two floors of the popular gastro pub and late-night bar. Guests are required to wear masks. 8.30pm-3am. Tickets: £25. Paradise By Way Of Kensal Green, 19 Kilburn Lane, Kensal Green, W10 4AE. Nearest station: Kensal Green. For more information and booking visit the PBWOKG website.

  • Frankie Says… NYE – Maggie’s

Frankie Goes To Hollywood” style ’80s night at Eighties-themed nightclub Maggie’’s. Featuring retro music and DJs, a Moët & Chandon champagne reception, bacon butties at 2am, and a special Belvedere Vodka table menus. Dress code: 80s and awesome. 9.30pm-4am  Tickets: £30 earlybird (£20 members), £40 on the door (£30 members). Table bookings available for £60pp. Maggie’s, 329 Fulham Road, SW10 9QL. Nearest tube/Overground: South Kensington or West Brompton. For more information and booking, visit the Maggie’s website.

East London

  • Hot Tropic NYE 2014 – Queen Of Hoxton

Forget you’re in chilly London for a tropical themed New Year’s Eve party to warm you into 2015. Features giant glowing suns, roller skate chicks, posing muscle men, coconut shell cocktails, a tropical nail bar, sun lamps and face reflectors, poolside inflatables, palm trees and confetti cannons! Music from The Reflex, Medlar (Wolf Music), Poolside FM, Reverend Milo Speedwagon & friends and Fever 105 DJs. 8pm-4am. Tickets start from £15. Queen of Hoxton, 1 Curtain Road, Hoxton, EC2A 3JX. Nearest tube: Old Street or Shoreditch High Street (overland). For more information, visit the Queen Of Hoxton website.

  • New Year’s Rockin’ EveAll Star Lanes

Fifties-themed party where you can bowl, dance, eat, sing karaoke and drink all night. Music included rock ‘n’ roll, funk, soul and disco. Dress code is: hip cats and dolls. Free entry all night. 7pm-3am. All Star Lanes, 95 Brick Lane, Shoreditch, E1 6QL. Nearest tube: Shoreditch High Street (overground) or Aldgate East. For more information, visit the All Star Lanes website.

  • Hed Kandi NYE – McQueen

Welcome 2015 in glamorous style from house gurus Hed Kandi at this sleek two-storey bar and club. Sexy and smart dress code. 7pm-5am. Tickets: £25-£60 (including three-course dinner). McQueen, 55-61 Tabernacle Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 4AA. Nearest station: Old Street. For more information, visit the Hed Kandi website.


To browse and buy tickets for new year’s events in London, check out Cluboid.com. Use the discount code ‘CAPITAL’ to get money off.

For Metro Girl’s guide to what’s on in London this Christmas, including pantomimes and ballets, click here.

Or for guide to Christmas markets and fairs around London, click here.

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Ta-ra to tourist tat! Buy a London gift people will actually want at We Built This City pop-up shop

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

London Skyline necklace from Mona Mara (left) and Lundunar cushion by Kristjana Williams (right)

There’s no shortage of shops selling London paraphernalia, but how much of it is actually any good? There must be 100s of thousands, if not millions of tourists who have brought home a tacky product saying ‘Made In China’… so not very British at all! In the run up to Christmas, a new pop-up shop is set to change all that by selling London souvenirs made by homegrown talent.

Located on Soho’s iconic Carnaby Street, We Built This City is a new pop-up selling a unique collection of London gifts, accessories, ceramics and art prints from British artists and designers ranging from £3 to £200. The store will appeal to Londoners and international visitors alike, with products such as London Postcards from Sir Peter Blake, skyline ceramics by Cecily Vessey, exotic London globes by Kristjana S Williams, Gherkin cushions by Charlene Mullen, London Willow pattern teacups from We Love Kaoru and Literary London prints by Run For The Hills.

As well as selling souvenirs and gifts people will actually want, We Built This City will also host events and workshops in their ‘art grotto’ basement. Events will include London Gin Masterclasses from Shake Rattle and Stir, an Arty Party with Made in Arts London, Christmas wreath-making and ceramic up-cycling with The Indytute and an evening of new London-inspired Christmas hits from St Etienne.

  • We Built This City is open from now until 10 January 2015. Located at 11-12 Carnaby Street, Soho, W1F 9PQ. Opening hours: Mon-Weds: 10am–7pm, Thurs–Sat: 10am–8pm and Sun: 11am–6pm. Nearest tube: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the We Built This City website.

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

To read about another Soho pop-up shop, Gods Own Junkyard, click here.

For a guide to Christmas markets and fairs in London, click here.

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Guide to what’s on in London in December 2014

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Norwegian Wood: The Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square

December is the season to be jolly! With Christmas and New Year’s, this month is always a busy one – lots of socialising, shopping, eating and drinking. So it’s just as well there’s plenty of festive events on in town to get you in the mood. As well as the various events on around the city, there will be lots of festive entertainment, including ballets and pantomimes.

For Metro Girl’s guide to Christmas markets and fairs, click here.

To find out where all London’s hottest New Year’s Eve parties are, click here.

Or for listings of open-air ice rinks in London, click here.

  • 2 – 6 December : Pig’s Ear Beer Festival

Annual beer festival in conjunction with CAMRA at the Round Chapel in Hackney. Over 200 beers, food stalls and unique festival brews. Admission £3 for CAMRA members, £5 for non-members. Open from noon until 11pm. Round Chapel, Powerscroft Road, Hackney, E5 0PU. Nearest rail station: Hackney Downs or Hackney Central. Visit the Pig’s Ear website for more information.

  • 2 – 18 December : Ho-Ho-Hot Tub Christmas

Pop-up screenings while sitting in a hot tub, including Frozen, Love Actually, Aladdin, Home Alone and Elf. Tickets: £35 individual, £190 for the whole tub for up to six persons. Former Shoreditch Underground station, Pedley Street (off Brick Lane), Shoreditch, E1 5ER. Nearest station: Aldgate or Shoreditch High Street. For more information and tickets, visit the Hot Tub Cinema website.

  • 2 December – 1 January 2015 : Winterville

An alternative winter wonderland in East London, featuring fairground, market, pantomime, ice skating, roller disco, entertainment at the Spiegeltent, gravity-defying motordrome, horse-drawn carriage and live music and DJs. Open from 10am-10pm. Free entry. Victoria Park, Grove Road, Bow, E9 7DD. Nearest tube/train: Hackney Wick, Mile End or Cambridge Heath. For more information, visit the Winterville website 

  • 4 December : Seven Dials and St Martin’s Courtyard Christmas Shopping Event

Over 120 shops in the Seven Dials and St Martin’s Courtyard area will be taking place in a special shopping event, featuring makeovers, treatments, live music, in-store activities and performances, festive food and drinks and 20% off in store. Register on the website for your free discount ticket. Takes place between 5-9pm. Nearest tube: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

  • 4 – 7 December : East London Design Show

Showcasing the best in UK contemporary design, including homewares, ceramics, furniture, jewellery, lighting and fashion. Admission £5 adults, £3 concessions, Free for under 15s. The Old Truman Brewery (Hanbury Street entrance), Brick Lane, Shoreditch, E1 6QL. Nearest tube: Aldgate or Shoreditch High Street. For more information, visit the East London Design Show website.

  • 4 – 23 December : Christmas at Trafalgar Square

After the lighting of the Christmas Tree on 4 December (a gift from Norway), there is the ‘Blessing of the Crib’ procession on 7 December, before carol singing nightly from 8 – 23 December in the Square. Free. Carol singing weekdays 4-8pm, weekends 2-6pm. Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN. Nearest tube/train: Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square or Embankment. For more information, visit the London.gov.uk website.

  • 5 – 7 December : The London Illustration Fair

Three day event celebrating illustration, featuring artist-led stands, workshops, DJs and pop-up food stalls. Entry: £5. Open Fri-Sat 12-8pm, Sun 12-6pm. Arch 402 Gallery, Cremer Street, E2 8HD. Nearest tube/train: Hoxton or Old Street. For more information, visit the London Illustration Fair website.

  • 5 – 16 December : Spitalfields Winter Festival

Music festival in the Spitalfields area of the East End featuring music old and new, including This Year’s Midnight by actor Simon Callow and mezzo-soprano Clare Wilkinson. For listings and more information, visit the Spitalfields Music website.

  • 5 December – 3 January 2015 : Monumental Masonry

Sir John Soane’s Museum have teamed up with Bompas & Parr to create a month-long exhibition to explore funerary architecture. On display will be 3D prints of the ‘perfect tombs’ from entries submitted in a competition, which were inspired by the museum’s sarcophagus. Free entry. Sir John’s Soane Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP. Nearest tube: Holborn. For more information, visit the Sir John Soane website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Check out the neon creations of the late Chris Bracey at the Gods Own Junkyard pop-up shop and gallery in Brewer Street, Soho

  • 6 December : Great Christmas Pudding Race

Watch or take part in the annual Great Christmas Pudding Race in Covent Garden, which sees participants dressing up and raising money for Cancer Research UK. Covent Garden Piazza, WC1. Nearest tube: Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information and details on entering, visit the Xmas Pudding Race website.

  • 6 December : Santacon

A parade of Santa’s through various locations in central London, where people dress up as Father Christmas, sing songs and give out presents. Starts at midday and is free to take part. Check the website nearer the time for further information about locations.

  • 6 December : Woolwich Winter Warmer

A day of festive fun and shopping, including live music stage, roving entertainers, reindeer, owl displays, food stalls, children’s lantern parade, ice sculpting, fairground rides, a craft market and a firework finale. Free. 12-5.15pm. General Gordon Square, Woolwich, SE18 6PW. Nearest stations: Woolwich Arsenal (DLR) or Woolwich Dockyard (overland). For more information, visit the Royal Greenwich website.

  • 6 – 7 December : Santa and his huskies come to the London Wetland Centre

Special Christmas weekend event at the London Wetland Centre, where families can meet Santa and the reindeers and enjoy a sleigh ride with the huskies. Normal admission prices to LWC apply, with £5 to visit Santa (includes gift). Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, SW13 9WT. Nearest station: Barnes. For more information, visit the WWT London Wetland Centre website.

  • 6, 12-14 and 21 December : Nomad Cinema’s Magical Christmas Pop-Up Cinema

Nomad Cinema will be coming to various locations in December, including Belgrave Square, Hyde Park, Hoxton Hotel and Hippodrome Casino. Screenings of Frozen, Edward Scissorhands, Gremlins, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Bad Santa and Elf. Tickets: £25 (include a hot meal and a glass of mulled wine). For more information, visit the Nomad Cinema website.

  • 6 December – 5 January 2015 : Winter Sun @ Granary Square

For those who suffer from the winter blues, head to the temporary ‘hearth’-like artwork and public space in Granary Square. On site will be an art installation featuring 12 glowing suns with ever-changing light.  There will also be a series of free events during the period. Free. Granary Square, 4 Stable Street, Kings Cross, N1C. Nearest tube: Kings Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the Kings Cross website.

  • Now until 7 December : Enchanted Woodland

    © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

    Tis the season for mince pies

Syon Park in South West London is open after hours, with an illuminated trail through the gardens and arboretum. Exciting lighting effects will transform the trees, plants and lake into a magical place. Hot food and drinks also available. Open 5-9pm Friday to Sunday only, last entry 8pm. Tickets: Adults £7, Children £3. Syon Park, London Road, Brentford, TW8 8JF. Nearest train station: Syon Lane. For more information, visit the Enchanted Woodland website.

  • Now until 7 December : Nordic Film Festival

A celebration of the best films to come out of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden at various locations across London, including Arthouse Crouch End, Hackney Picturehouse, Institute of Contemporary Arts and The Proud Archivist. For more information, visit the Nordic Film Festival website.

  • 12 – 14 December : Chocolate Festival

A celebration of all things chocolate, with tastings, lessons on how to make your own chocolate, recipes, masterclasses and plenty of opportunity to purchase chocolate. Friday: 1-8pm, Saturday 10am–7pm, Sunday 10am–3pm. Tickets: £7 in advance, £8 on the door. Business Design Centre, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest tube: Angel. For more information, visit the Chocolate Festival website.

  • 12 December – 9 January 2015 : Plywood Transmission

Acclaimed street and gallery artist Cedar Lewisohn’s new show Plywood Transmission is on display at Cock ‘N’ Bull Gallery featuring his massive woodblock artworks. Free entry. Open daily except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Cock ‘N’ Bull Gallery, located in the basement of Tramshed, 32 Rivington Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 3LX. Nearest tube/Overground: Old Street or Shoreditch High Street. For more information, visit the Cock ‘N’ Bull gallery website.

  • 13 December : OSS December Dip

This is not for the faint-hearted! The Outdoor Swimming Society host their annual December Dip – inviting swimmers to plunge into the Parliament Hill Lido, where temperatures will be between 0.1 and 6 degrees!!! All swimmers will receive a swimming hat, hot drinks, carols mince pies and a warming tipple for after. 11am-1pm. Parliament Hill Lido, Gordon House Road, NW5 1NB. Nearest tube: Gospel Oak. For more information, visit the OSS website.

  • 17 December : London’s Highest Cinema Screening

A screening of Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life at The View From The Shard. Tickets: £35 include a glass of champagne and a Penguin Books paperback. The View From The Shard, Joiner Street, SE1 9SP. Nearest tube/train: London Bridge. For more information, visit the View From The Shard website. For Metro Girl’s review of a late night event at The Shard, click here.

  • Now until 30 December : The Paddington Trail

Fifty Paddington statues hidden around London to mark the release of the film adaptation. Each statue has been customised by a different celebrity. Free. For more information and trails, check out the Visit London site.

  • Now until 3 January 2015 : Christmas At Kew

A new evening experience for 2014, featuring a one mile glittering trail which weaves its way through Kew Gardens with stunning sights lit up upon the way. There will also be vintage rides, festive food and Santa’s Snowflake Grotto. 5-10pm. Tickets – Adults: £15 in advance £17 on the day, Children: £10 in advance, £12 on the day. Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Tube: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website.

  • Now until 4 January 2015 : Hidden House

Take a break from shopping and enjoy an immersive fairy tale experience at Hidden House, which will transport you to another land. Tickets: Children £5, Adults 16 and over: £10. Opening hours: Mon-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-8pm. Stratford Westfield, City, Stratford, E20 1EJ. Nearest tube/train: Stratford. For more information, visit the Westfield Stratford website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the Hidden House for further details.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Attractions galore at Winter Wonderland

  • Now until 4 January 2015 : Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland does exactly what is say on the tin – the south east corner of the park is transformed into a Christmas fair with rides, food and lots of mulled wine, as well as Christmas gifts. It’s free to enter, but of course the aforementioned will cost. There is also an open air ice rink for those who fancy a twirl and Zippos Cirque Berserk – an alternative circus show. Nearest tube: Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge or Marble Arch. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website. Read about Metro Girl’s previous visit to Winter Wonderland.

  • Now until 18 January 2015 : God’s Own Junkyard Pop-Up

An exhibition celebrating 40 year of neon artist and designer Chris Bracey, who sadly lost his battle with cancer in November. Features a collection of his neon light creations in pop-up gallery Lights Of Soho, in the same area he lit up with his iconic signs on the strip clubs of W1. Free entry. 10am-8pm. Lights of Soho, 35 Brewer Street, Soho, W1F 0RX. Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the Lights Of Soho website. For Metro Girl’s blog post on Gods Own Junkyard, click here.

  • Now until 1 February 2015 : Hogwarts at Christmas

A must for all Harry Potter fans. The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter has been given a festive makeover with props and decorations from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Featuring Christmas-themed gifts and costumes from the film franchise. Tickets: Adults £31.00, Children £23.50. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, Hertfordshire, WD25 7LR. For more information, visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour website.

  • Now until March 2015 : Bond In Motion

An exhibition of over 50 James Bond vehicles, including the Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me and Aston Martin DB5 from Goldeneye. Tickets – Adults: £14.50, Children: £9.50. Booking in advance highly recommended. London Film Museum, 45 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 7BN. Nearest tube: Covent Garden or Temple. For more information, visit the London Film Museum website.

  • Now until 12 April 2015 : The Art Of The Brick

Nathan Sawaya’s Art Of The Brick exhibition features a range of sculptures made from millions of Lego building blocks, from recreations of iconic artwork to new contemporary pieces. Tickets – Adults: £14.50-£16.50, Children under 12: £8-£9.50. Open daily, hours vary. Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, Shoreditch, E1 6QL. Nearest station: Aldgate or Shoreditch High Street. For more information, visit The Art Of The Brick website. For Metro Girl’s review of the exhibition, click here.

  • Now until April 2015 : Sherlock Holmes exhibition @ Museum Of London

An exhibition of the world’s favourite fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, featuring historic artefacts from Victorian London and author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Tickets: £12 adults, £10 concession. Museum Of London, 150 London Wall, City of London, EC2Y 5HN. Nearest tube: Barbican or St Paul’s. For more information and tickets, visit Museum Of London website.

  • Now until 30 August 2015 : Wildlife Photographer Of The Year 2014 @ Natural History Museum

An exhibition of the annual Wildlife Photographer Of The Year – the 50th year of the competition. Although entrance to the museum is free, this exhibition is ticketed. Adults: £12.60, Children & Concessions: £6.30. Open 10am-5.50pm daily. Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 5BD. Nearest tube: South Kensington. For more information and booking, visit the NHM website.


Ballet productions

  • 2 December – 11 January 2015 : Edward Scissorhands

    © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

    The Nutcracker is on at the Coliseum

Matthew Bourne’s dance adaptation of classic film Edward Scissorhands is on this Christmas at Sadler’s Wells. Tickets: Adults range from £24 to £55. Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, EC1R. Nearest station: Angel. For more information and booking, visit the Sadler’s Wells Theatre website.

  • 6 December – 15 January 2015 : Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland

The Royal Ballet and Christopher Wheeldon’s production this Christmas is an adaptation of the Lewis Carroll classic tale. Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 9DD. Nearest stations: Covent Garden, Holborn, Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the Royal Opera House website.

  • 11 December – 4 January 2015 : Nutcracker

The English National Ballet’s production of the iconic Nutcracker comes to the London Coliseum. Tickets from £29 to £79. St. Martin’s Lane, Charing Cross, WC2N 4ES. Nearest stations: Leicester Square, Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the English National Ballet’s website.


Pantomime productions

20 November – 11 January 2015 : Jack And The Beanstalk at the Greenwich Theatre. Croom’s Hill, Greenwich, SE10 8ES. For tickets, visit the Greenwich Theatre website.

22 November – 3 January 2015 : Dick Whittington And His Cat at The Lyric Hammersmith. Lyric Square, King Street, Hammersmith, W6 0QL. For tickets, visit the Lyric website.

22 November – 4 January 2015 : Mother Goose at the Hackney Empire. 291 Mare Street, Hackney, E8 1EJ. For tickets, visit the Hackney Empire website.

29 November – 4 January 2015 : Sleeping Beauty at The Churchill Theatre. High Street, Bromley, Kent BR1 1HA. For tickets, visit the ATG website.

29 November – 17 January 2015Beauty & The Beast at Theatre Royal Stratford East. Gerry Raffles Square, E15 1BN. For tickets, visit the Stratford East website.

5 December – 4 January 2015 : Snow White & The Seven Dwarves at Fairfield Halls. Park Lane, Croydon, Surrey, CR9 1DG. For tickets, visit the Fairfield Halls website.

5 December – 11 January 2015 Snow White & The Seven Dwarves at Richmond Theatre. The Green, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1QJ. For tickets, visit the ATG website.

5 December – 11 January 2015 : Cinderella at the New Wimbledon Theatre. 93 The Broadway, Wimbledon, SW19 1QG. For tickets, visit the ATG website.

6 – 31 December : Robin Hood at Winterville (see above for more information about Winterville). Victoria Park, Grove Road, Bow, E9 7DD. For tickets, visit the Winterville website.

11 December – 3 January 2015Aladdin at The Shaw Theatre. 100-110 Euston Road, Somers Town, NW1 2AJ. For tickets, visit the Shaw Theatre website.

13 – 31 December : Cinderella at The Broadway Theatre. Catford Road, Catford, SE6 4RU. For tickets, visit the Broadway Theatre website.

13 December – 4 January 2015Snow White & The Seven Dwarves at The Beck Theatre. Grange Road, Hayes, Middlesex, UB3 2UE. For tickets, visit the Beck Theatre website.

Or for strictly adults only…

28 November – 17 January 2015 : Sleeping Booty!, an adults-only panto. Tickets £22. The Lounge, Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BX. Nearest tube: Leicester Square. For more information and tickets, visit the Leicester Square Theatre website.

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The Cavendish review: European cuisine in a members club-style restaurant comes to trendy Marylebone

© The Cavendish

Enjoy modern, European-style cuisine at this members’ club-style restaurant in trendy Marylebone
© The Cavendish

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl

Mix of flavours: Starter of Scallops with Smoked Cauliflower Puree

Thanks to the recent addition of celeb-magnet Chiltern Firehouse, Marylebone is the hottest part of central London right now, with diners and drinkers being lured across the Oxford and Regent Street borders from their usual enclaves of Mayfair and Fitzrovia. I confess, I don’t know Marylebone as well as the aforementioned areas, but that’s all set to change with the growing amount of top eating and drinking venues.

Earlier this month, I was invited to the soft launch of The Cavendish, the latest new culinary destination in W1. Located upstairs with its accompanying bar on the ground floor, The Cavendish feels like a vintage members’ club with a mixture of plush leather booths and sleek wooden armchairs. My friend and I were shown to a cosy table in the corner so were privy to all the action and got a chance to look at some of the dishes enjoyed by our fellow diners.

Overseen by Spanish chef Alfonso Lillo Fas, the menu takes its inspiration from predominantly Italian, Spanish and French cuisine. It features a ‘Raw Bar’ for fans of Ceviche, Caviar, Oysters and the like. The menu is predominantly red meat and fish, so vegetarians may struggle. For those who wish, the knowledgeable waiters can match your wine to your dish. However, as we ordered our wine before deciding on our food, I opted for a glass of SV Dillons Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, which was fruity and refreshing.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Pan-Fried Dover Sole served with desiree potatoes, spinach and a lemon and saffron sauce

To start, I ordered the Scallops with Smoked Cauliflower Purée, served with Pickled Baby Courgette and Fig Balsamic. The scallops were cooked perfectly – not too chewy, and the mix of ingredients really worked well together. My companion opted for the Yellowfin Tuna Tartar, which was given a kick by the accompanying Wasabi, which she loved.

For mains, I was unprepared for the sheer size of my Pan-Fried Dover Sole. The waiter brought it on the bone so I could survey the presentation, before stripping it for me to eat. It was cooked to perfection with the lemon and saffron sauce really sinking into the white meat and bringing out a lovely flavour. It was served with creamy desiree potatoes and spinach, which are two of my favourite vegetables so I was pretty happy. My friend was in a more carnivorous mood and opted for the Fillet Steak served with Watercress and Béarnaise Sauce, which she thoroughly enjoyed. She ordered sides of Green Beans and Zucchini Fries – the latter being heralded as absolutely delicious and quite unique as a sides option in restaurants.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Fillet Steak served with watercress and Béarnaise sauce with sides of green beans (top left) and zucchini fries (top right)

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Delicious! Caramel panna cotta served with chocolate sauce and edible flowers

Although I must confess I struggled to eat sll of my large portion of Dover Sole (despite how gorgeous it was), I did find a tiny bit of room for dessert. As I was pretty full, I opted for the lighter of the options – the Caramel Panna Cotta. Without exaggerating, it was absolutely heavenly. It was served on a bed of chocolate sauce with edible flowers with a slice of white chocolate as a topping. It was light, creamy and very moreish.

Throughout the meal, we were served by attentive and knowledgeable waiters, who provided old-fashioned service. Our glasses of water were always topped up and we were given all the information we needed when querying the dishes. The setting was comfortable and relaxing and it would certainly fit either a business dinner or romantic meal. If you wish to carry on the evening, you can always head to the bar downstairs to sample the extensive drinks menu. Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable meal and the setting and service gave a feeling of subtle luxury.

  • The Cavendish, 35 New Cavendish Street, Marylebone, W1G 9TR. Nearest tube: Bond Street. Tel: 020 7487 3030. For more information, visit the The Cavendish website.

Disclaimer: Metro Girl was a guest of The Cavendish for this review.

For more of Metro Girl’s restaurant reviews, click here.

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Ice ice baby! Get your skates on at Ice Skate Vauxhall

© Ice Skate Vauxhall

The open-air rink runs at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens until early January 2015
© Ice Skate Vauxhall

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you may have noticed that Vauxhall is one of London’s up and coming areas. Long renowned as a transport hub and for its business parks, SE11 is now gaining attention for its nightlife and restaurants after a huge investment in the area. With its close proximity to the Thames, it’s a wonder it hasn’t happened sooner.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Get your skates on: An ice sculpture at the Vauxhall launch

This festive season, the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens has been transformed into a mini winter wonderland of sorts with an ice rink, maze of Christmas tress and suitably Christmassy food and drink. Last Friday, we went to the launch of Ice Skate Vauxhall, the first temporary rink to come to the area. The full-sized rink has an atmospheric, urban surrounding of multi-coloured lights, trees and street art. The amount of people on the ice at one time is controlled in 45 minute sessions so you have enough room to skate regardless of your confidence.

For those who aren’t so gung-ho on the skates, there’s plenty to keep you occupied at the sidelines while your friends or family members twirl around the ice. After our Torvill and Dean impressions (ahem), we headed to the pop-up Cabin Bar, which was serving mulled wine and hot cider, perfect for those chilly winter days. During the weekends there will also be an extended street food market.

An added attraction, which is unique to Ice Skate Vauxhall, is the Christmas Tree Maze next door. A labyrinth of lanes separated by fir trees, covers a square kilometre of the Gardens, providing a challenge to find the centre. Overall, the combination of attractions and choice of food and drink mean you could easily spend a few hours here, getting into the festive spirit with family or friends.

  • Ice Skate Vauxhall is open daily from 11am-8/9pm from 21 November until 4 January 2015. Skating tickets: Adults £10.80/£12, Children start from £9.45/£7.65. (Cheaper if booked online in advance). Entrance to the maze is £4.50. Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, SE11 5HL. Nearest tube/train: Vauxhall. For more information, visit Ice Skate Vauxhall website.

For Metro Girl’s guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

Or for a guide to open air ice rinks in London this season, click here.

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Forget Santa’s Grotto: Head down to The Hidden House at Westfield Stratford

© Westfield Stratford City

The Hidden House offers an immersive fairytale experience
© Westfield Stratford City

Seeing Santa’s Grotto and his elves at your local shopping centre has become somewhat of a Christmas cliché. So standing out from the crowd, Westfield Stratford City are offering something different this festive season.

From late November until early January, shoppers can take a break from flashing the plastic and be transported to another land. The Hidden House has been inspired by Grimms’ Fairy Tales and will take guests on an immersive experience.

Audiences will be treated to a pre-show in the depths of the dark forest, before they head inside an abandoned house to find out the series of events which led to the vanishing of Red Riding Hood. Guests will then aim to uncover the truth behind her disappearance without being discovered by the Big Bad Wolf.

You will be free to choose where to go in the free-flowing maze, meaning you will have a completely unique experience. As well as actors guiding you along the way, there will also be special effects to make you feel you are in a fairy tale world.

The Hidden House is available to experience in two different ways: ‘The Hidden House’ for families with children, school groups and childrens parties, and ‘The Hidden House: Darkest Experiences’, for families with older children teenagers and adults over the age of 12.

  • The Hidden House runs at Westfield Stratford City, Stratford, E20 1EJ, from 20 November until 4 January 2015. Nearest tube/train: Stratford. Ticket: Children £5, Adults 16 and over: £10. For groups of 12 0r more, receive a 12% discount. Opening hours: Mon-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-8pm. For more information, visit the Westfield Stratford website.

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

For a guide to Christmas markets and fairs in London, click here.

Or for listings of open-air ice rinks in London this season, click here.

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