Cheers to Christmas! Where to sip London’s sweetest cocktails this festive season

An 'Apres-Ski Sharer' cocktail at Piste pop-up at Archer Street

An ‘Apres-Ski Sharer’ cocktail at Piste pop-up at Archer Street

In the run up to Christmas, it’s the busiest time in most Londoners’ social calendars. No doubt many friends will be meeting for a cocktail (or three) in one of the capital’s various bars. With so many venues, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to places to drink. However, if you’re looking for something extra festive, why not sip on a Christmas-themed cocktail?

Here’s Metro Girl’s round-up of the top Christmas cocktails on offer in London this 2016 season:

  • Aquum

Clapham’s late night destination has recently had a more food-focused makeover. For December, they’ve given the beloved Espresso Martini a Christmas twist – the ‘Vanilla Espression’ (£9) including Cariel Vanilla Vodka, Tia Maria, Espresso and Sugar Syrup).

Aquum, 68-70 Clapham High Street, Clapham, SW4 7UL. Nearest stations: Clapham North, Clapham High Street or Clapham Common. For Metro Girl’s review of Aquum, click here. 

  • Cahoots

For a night out with a difference, head to Soho’s secret drinking den Cahoots, which recreates post-WW2 London in a ‘tube station’. The drinks menu is heavily influenced by wartime tipples. Their festive offering is ‘The Stocking Stuffer’ (Christmas spiced Bombay sapphire, signature almond mince pie sweet mix, sultana grapes infused with Martini Rosso, pink grapefruit, topped up with Bulmers pressed red grapes cider).

Cahoots, 13 Kingly Court, Soho, W1B 5PW. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For Metro Girl’s review of Cahoots, click here.

© Cahoots

‘The Stocking Stuffer’ at 1940s-themed basement bar Cahoots

  • Dirty Bones

American diner Dirty Bones have created a sweet festive concoction – ‘Mince Pie Bramble’ (Bombay Sapphire gin, lemon juice, brandy and port-infused mince pie reduction (£8).

Dirty Bones – branches in Kensington Church Street, Carnaby Street and Club Row, Shoreditch. Nearest stations: High Street Kensington, Oxford Circus or Shoreditch High Street. For Metro Girl’s review of Dirty Bones, click here. Read the rest of this entry

Tootoomoo review: Asian tapas and cocktails galore at a rather different Bottomless Brunch

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Hamachi Sashimi (yellowtail) with soy and kizami wasabi at Tootoomoo’s Bottomless Brunch

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

All you can drink: Mango Caipirinha

I’m a huge fan of brunching – in fact I would go so far to say it’s my favourite type of meal. However, many brunch options London has to offer can often blend into one they’re so similar. So for those looking for a brunch with something a bit different, then Tootoomoo is a good place to start. Tootoomoo is a small, independent chain of Pan Asian restaurants and takeaways across north London. They recently announced a new Bottomless Brunch deal at weekends giving you all you can eat and drink for £35.

I went along to the Islington restaurant last weekend with a friend to check out the new brunch menu and wasn’t disappointed. It’s a cute, bijou restaurant just a few minutes from Highbury & Islington station. The tables and décor did remind me of some of the cafes I have visited during previous holidays to Cambodia and Vietnam. We took a seat nearer the counter so had a good view of other diners’ dishes coming out of the kitchen for inspiration.

The menu is Asian tapas style, featuring popular dishes from Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. When we were presented with the menu, we were a tad overwhelmed by the choice so started with a rather easier decision – what to drink. Among the bottomless cocktails on offer include classics such as Margaritas, Mojitos, Cosmopolitan and Caipirinha. However, Tootoomoo’s fruity twist on the Caipirinha – rather appealed so I ordered a mango one which was refreshing and sweet.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Crispy smoked chicken with chili salt and spicy mayo

The menu features a wide choice of dishes, grouped into small plates, sashimi and salad, tempura and grill, sushi and wok. For those with food allergies, things are labelled gluten-free to make ordering easier. Among the dishes we decided on were Crispy Smoked Chicken, Vegetarian Potstickers, Hamachi Sashimi, Popcorn Rock Shrimp and Soft Shall Crab Maki Sushi. I hadn’t come across Vegetarian Potstickers before and were informed by the waiter they were similar to gyoza, which is one of my favourite Japanese foods. Served with ponzu sauce, the dumplings were crispy and tasty, and I could have ordered a few more. One of the highlights of the meal for me were the Popcorn Rock Shrimp, served with nori dust and yuzu mayo. Shrimp wrapped in batter really did look like popcorn and had that moreish, can’t-stop-nibbling allure like its namesake. I don’t eat poultry, but my friend really enjoyed the Crispy Smoked Chicken – served in batter with chili salt and spicy mayo to give it a kick.

As well as drinks and the meal, the Bottomless Brunch also includes dessert options – Fro-Yo and a variety of toppings, which we unfortunately didn’t have room for. Re-reading the choices as I write this review, I’m regretting not making some room! During our meal, the service was friendly and not over-bearing. Our first dishes came out promptly, which was just as well as we were pretty hungry. I’d definitely recommend it for a Bottomless Brunch alternative to the same old smashed avocado and poached eggs offerings so many places seem to offer these days.

  • Tootoomoo, 278 St Paul’s Road, Islington, N1 2LH. Nearest station: Highbury & Islington. The Bottomless Brunch is on at the Crouch End and Islington branches every weekend between 12-5pm. £25 for all-you-can-eat or £35 for all-you-can-eat-and-drink within a 1 and half hour period. For booking and more information, visit the Tootoomoo website.
Soft Shell Crab Maki Sushi

Soft Shell Crab Maki Sushi


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

Tootoomoo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Square Meal

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When’s the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck visiting London?

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Find out when the Coca-Cola Christmas truck is rolling into London

Yes, it’s shamelessly commercial… but so much of Christmas is these days whether you like to admit it or not! However, there are many who delight in hearing that familiar theme song and the sight of the big red truck as the Coca-Cola lorry journeys around the UK spreading Christmas cheer. Last year, I spotted the truck in Leicester Square, complete with fake snow, which admittedly made me feel very festive indeed.

The Coca-Cola Christmas truck will be giving the public the chance to explore a ‘special winter wonderland’ and receive a free 150ml can of Coca-Cola Classic, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar or Diet Coke. There is also a chance to win a Santa’s sack full of goodies worth £5,000.

Here’s when the Coca-Cola truck will be making pit-stops in London:

  • 1 December : Watford High Street, Watford, WD17 2BD. Nearest station: Watford High Street. 1-9pm.
  • 3 – 4 December : The O2, Peninsula Square, North Greenwich, SE10 0DX. Nearest station: North Greenwich. 12-8pm.
  • 14 December : Asda Leyton Mills, Marshall Road, Leyton, E10 5NH. Nearest station: Leyton. 1-9pm.
  • 18 December : London Eye, South Bank, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo. 1-9pm.
  • 20 December : Leicester Square, WC2H. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus. 12-8pm.

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

To find out about London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here or for the capital’s open-air ice rinks, click here.

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Guide to what’s on in London in December 2016

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Santa’s on his way!

A festive bomb has been dropped on London turning everything sequinned, red and green. As you would expect, a host of Christmas themed activities and events are on around the capital. However, if you’re feeling seasonally jaded, there’s some regular events like film and arts festivals on around town. Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to what’s on in the capital this December.

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

Fancy a festive cocktail? Here’s where to find London’s Christmas tipples.

Or for details of the capital’s pop-up ice skating rinks, click here.

  • 1 December : Christmas In The Queen’s House

Late night opening of the Queen’s House in Greenwich with the 17th century building turned into a giant advent calendar with surprises behind every door. 6.30-9pm. Tickets: £25 (£20 conc). Queen’s House, Romney Road, Greenwich, SE10 9NF. Nearest station: Cutty Sark (DLR) or Greenwich. For booking, visit the Royal Museums Greenwich website.

  • 1 – 4 December : London Illustration Fair

Four day event celebrating illustration, featuring artist-led stands, talks, workshops, music, DJs, live signings. Open Thur 6-9pm, Fri-Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 11am-6pm. Entry: £6 advance, £8 on the door, Under 12s free. Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bankside, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars or Waterloo . For more information, visit the London Illustration Fair website.

  • 1, 8, 15 and 22 December : Live Music Sessions @ St Martin’s Courtyard

Festive gospel choir Get Gospel will be entertaining shoppers on Thursday evenings throughout December. 5,30-8.30pm. Free. Martin’s Courtyard, Covent Garden, WC2E 9AB. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. For more information, visit the St Martin’s Courtyard website.

  • 1 – 10 December : Dolce by Ferrero Rocher pop-up

Italian chocolatier Ferrero Rocher are hosting a pop-up dessert experience. Open from 1-11pm. Sessions last 45 minutes: £10 for walk-ins and £15 for pre-booked slots (includes a glass of Prosecco). Dolce, 21 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard, Covent Garden, WC2E 9AB. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. For booking, visit the Dolce by Ferrero Rocher website. Read Metro Girl’s blog post on Dolce, click here.

  • 1 – 22 December : Art For Love Christmas Festival

Three weeks of festive entertainment at Devonshire Square in the City of London. Line-up includes Get Gospel choir, Michael Jackson tribute dance show, penguin visit, acrobatic arts show in the Winter Globe, live music from Zalon, Girls On Sax and Sammie Jay. Show times vary between lunchtime and evenings. Free. Devonshire Square, City of London, EC2M. Nearest stations: Liverpool Street or Aldgate. For more information, visit the Devonshire Square website.

  • 1 – 23 December : Christmas at Trafalgar Square

After the lighting of the Christmas Tree on 1 December (a gift from Norway), there is daily carol singing in the Square between 5 – 23 December and the Blessing of the Crib on 4 December. Carol singing between 4-8pm weekdays and 2-6pm weekends. Free. Trafalgar Square, Westminster, WC1. Nearest station: Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square or Embankment. For more information, visit the London.gov.uk website.

  • Now until 2 December : London Lift-Off Film Festival

The London branch of the international Lift-Off Film Festival, which gives a platform to independent filmmakers. Screenings taking place nightly. Charlotte Street Hotel, Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 1RJ. Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road or Goodge Street. For more information, visit the Lift-Off Film Festival website.

  • 2 – 4 December : Portobello Winter Festival

The iconic west London market gets a festive makeover featuring vintage and pop-up stalls, Christmas rum shack, steel pan band, live music and dancers and Grotto wonderland for the kids. 10am-8pm. Free entry. Portobello Road, Notting Hill, W10 5QZ. Nearest station: Notting Hill Gate. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

  • 2 – 11 DecemberLondon International Animation Festival

Showcase of animation from around the world featuring gala premieres, retrospectives, filmmakers Q&As, workshops, audience voting and screenings. Tickets start from £11.50 (Barbican session tickets) to £95 for full pass. At the Barbican, The Horse Hospital, Close-Up Cinema and The Whitechapel Gallery. For more information and tickets, visit the LIAF website.

  • Now until 3 December : Pigs Ear Beer And Cider Festival

Annual beer festival in conjunction with CAMRA, featuring over 230 real ales plus ciders, perries and bottled beers, food stalls and unique festival brews. Opening hours TBC. Entry: £3 (members), £5 (non-members). Round Chapel, Powerscroft Road, Hackney, E5 0PU. Nearest station: Hackney Downs or Hackney Central. For more information, visit the Pig’s Ear website.

  • 3 December : The 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. Entertainment starts at 11am, first race at 12.10pm. Covent Garden Piazza, WC1. Nearest station: Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information and details on entering, visit the Xmas Pudding Race website.

  • 3 December : Beautycon

Social media influencers and celebrities will come together to talk beauty, fashion and style. Featuring Justine Skye, Estee Lalonde, Fleur DeForce, Dulce Candy and Sam and Nic of Pixiwoo. 12-6pm. Tickets start from £30. Kensington Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Beautycon website.

  • 3 – 4 December :  Santa and his huskies come to the London Wetland Centre

Special Christmas weekend event at the London Wetland Centre, where families can visit Santa’s Grotto, enjoy a sleigh ride with the huskies or a donkey ride or make decorations in the elves’ workshop. Normal admission prices to LWC apply: Adults £13.10, Children £7.20. Santa visit £6 per child (includes gift). London Wetland Centre, Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, SW13 9WT. Nearest station: Barnes. For more information, visit the WWT London Wetland Centre website.

  • 3 – 4 December : Frost Fair

Festive family event at the Museum Of London Docklands, featuring performances, interactive games and crafts. 12-4pm. Free entry. Museum Of London, No.1 Warehouse, West India Dock Road, Docklands, E14 4AL. Nearest station: West India Quay (DLR). For more information, visit the Museum Of London website.

  • 3 – 22 December : A Peninsula Christmas

Christmas extravaganza by The O2 in Greenwich Peninsula. Featuring designer-maker Christmas market, Tepee Snug Bar, Santa’s Grotto of Wonderment, Enchanted Forest, Arcola Theatre, Storybrook, Theatre Bugs Panto, Craft London Tasting Menu and many more. 12pm-late. Free entry. Greenwich Peninsula, North Greenwich, SE10. Nearest station: North Greenwich. For more information, visit the Greenwich Peninsula website.

  • Now until 4 December : Enchanted Woodland

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 Fri-Sun 5-9pm, last entry 8pm. Tickets: Adults £9, Children £3. Syon Park, London Road, Brentford, TW8 8JF. Nearest station: Syon Lane. For more information, visit the Enchanted Woodland website. Read the rest of this entry

You’re really spoiling us! A Ferrero Rocher pop-up dessert restaurant is opening in London

dolce by ferrero rocher

Indulge yourself at the Dolce by Ferrero Rocher pop-up experience

Christmas is one of the best times of the year to be a chocoholic. So fans of the sweet stuff may be a tad excited to hear about a special pop-up coming to London this festive season.

Italian chocolatier Ferrero Rocher are launching a pop-up dessert destination at St Martin’s Courtyard in Covent Garden. Opening on 1 December 2016 for just 10 days, guests will be able to explore the after-dinner chocolate in a multi-layered dining experience at Dolce.

Customers will savour a tasting plate of five mini hand-crafted desserts curated by Cuisson head chef and director Paul Hannagen. Then to finish will be a classic Ferrero Rocher with its smooth combination of chocolate and hazelnut.

  • Dolce by Ferrero Rocher, 21 Slingsby Place, St Martin’s Courtyard, Covent Garden, WC2E 9AB. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. Open from 1-11pm. Sessions last 45 minutes: £10 for walk-ins and £15 for pre-booked slots (includes a glass of Prosecco). For more information, visit the Dolce by Ferrero Rocher website.

For a guide to what’s on in London this December, click here.

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

For listings of London’s pop-up ice rinks this festive season, click here.

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Beyond The Waterfall: Take a boat trip to a magical cocktail bar at Westfield London this Christmas

Beyond The Waterfall Bompas Parr Westfield by Addie Chinn
At shopping malls across the country, it can feel like the kids are getting all the fun with their visits to Santa’s Grotto. However, this December, food and drink wizards Bompas & Parr are creating a festive experience for grown-ups.

Beyond The Waterfall is an immersive and multi-sensory Christmas adventure at The Village in Westfield London. Shoppers will be taken whisked across an undersea lagoon to a mysterious island, with mythical creatures staffing a cocktail bar.

The journey will start with guests riding across a 20m lagoon on small boats and passing through a waterfall. After disembarking on the shore, they will explore an Aladdin’s Cave full of gemstones before arriving at the secret cocktail tavern. At the bar, mermen mixologists will whip up boozy delights from the marine-inspired cocktail list. Ingredients include undersea botanicals and minerals, promising psychological, emotional and physiological reactions.

This is the latest experience from Bompas & Parr, who have been responsible for Alcoholic Architecture, the Museum of Food and Dinners With The Twits, among others. Beyond The Waterfall is one of B&P’s most ambitious projects yet, with structural engineers, mining consultants and theatrical prop-makers taking part.

Harry Parr, partner of Bompas & Parr, said: ‘Christmas is obviously a magical time of year but many people find it hugely predictable so we’ve designed a radical new form of escapism that still evokes the emotions and nostalgia of the season – the group activity draws people together, with a real sense of discovery and emotion associated with gift-giving and an indulgent treat at its heart.’

  • Beyond The Waterfall runs from 9 – 23 December 2016. At The Village, Westfield London, Ariel Way, White City, W12 7GF. Nearest station: Shepherd’s Bush, White City or Shepherd’s Bush Market. Open 4-10pm. Tickets are time-slotted and last 60 minutes. Tickets: £15 (includes 2 drink tokens). For tickets, visit Westfield London website.

For a guide to what’s on in London this December, click here.

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

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Santa’s behind you! Shopping, panto and food at Sutton House Christmas

© Sutton House

Head to Sutton House for the pantomime-themed Christmas fair every weekend

Sutton House in Hackney is a rare gem. A Tudor manor house in the heart of East London. Now restored and run by the National Trust, the doors of the centuries old building are preparing to open for a special festive event. Every weekend from Saturday 26 November until Sunday 18 December 2016, Sutton House will be hosting a pantomime-themed Christmas fair.

The historic building will be transformed into an indoor winter wonderland featuring designer stalls and high quality food and drink. Each room will be themed around a pantomime and feature live action characters from Jack & The Beanstalk, Dick Whittington, Puss In Boots, Hansel and Gretel, Goldilocks, Snow White, Alice In Wonderland, The Beauty and The Beast, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Robin Hood, and the Wizard Of Oz. As well as getting up close with their favourite characters, children will also be able to visit the man of the moment himself, Santa, in his grotto, a double-decker caravan.

Meanwhile, there will also be a range of evening entertainment over the Christmas period, including carol performances, film previews, foodie events, local theatre productions of Beauty And The Beast and more. For the event, Sutton House has teamed up with City Showcase Markets, who are famous for the Embankment Summer Market, Soho Flea Market and Dalston Christmas Market.

  • Sutton House Christmas will take place every weekend from 12-5pm between 26 November – 18 December 2016. Sutton House, 2 and 4 Homerton High Street, Homerton, E9 6JQ. Nearest stations: Homerton or Hackney Central. For more information, visit the National Trust website.

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

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

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Life is sweet! Sample boozy sweets at the Flavour Rooms pop-up at the Sanderson

© Smith & Sinclair

Sweets aren’t just for the kids! This Christmas, adult Londoners can get their sugar fix while indulging their passion for cocktails. Following the success of their first ever edible alcohol store Eat My Drink in Soho last year, candy wizards Smith & Sinclair are returning with two immersive shopping experiences. This festive season, two pop-up sweet stores will be opening in Fitzrovia and Bluewater shopping centre in Kent.

© Smith & Sinclair 2015

Down the hatch! Try Smith & Sinclair’s trademark cocktail pastilles

The Flavour Rooms at the Sanderson hotel will be like a trip to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory with a boozy twist. The fun new experience will run alongside Smith & Sinclair at Purple Bar – which will serve alcoholic concoctions, including cocktails that change flavour. From 18 November until Christmas Eve, guests will step inside a surreal installation featuring a cocktail sherbet wall, pick ‘n’ mix, edible perfumes, twisted ‘salt & pepper’ shakers and alcoholic dib dabs. After sampling some of the treats, you can shop for boozy goodies – a great Christmas gift for your cocktail aficionado pals.

Smith & Sinclair have enlisted creative studio BeyondExact – famous for their works with Adidas, House of Holland and Lady Gaga – to design the Flavour Rooms. The studio’s founder James Ruth said: ‘Working with a brand like Smith&Sinclair is always a pleasure, as like us, they like to push ideas, through design and concept. To make people think, challenge and abandon the mundane.’

  • The Flavour Room London is open from 18 November – 24 December 2016 from 12-8pm. Sanderson Hotel, 50 Berners Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 3NG. Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road, Goodge Street or Oxford Circus. For more information, visit The Flavour Rooms website.

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

Or to find out about London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.

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Shopping in style – Part 2: The world’s oldest arcade, the Royal Opera Arcade

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The Royal Opera Arcade in St James is the world’s oldest existing shopping arcade

Decades before the likes of Westfield and Brent Cross came to London, those who wanted to shop in comfort headed to one of the capital’s arcades. Like the mega malls of today, these arcades featured numerous shops under one roof, providing a sheltered retail experience whatever the weather. However, as well laid out as these modern fashion meccas are, they just can’t compare to the historic and upmarket designs of the late Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods. As part of Metro Girl’s series on the five historic arcades of Mayfair and St James, Part 2 will be focusing on where it all began; the Royal Opera Arcade – the oldest arcade in the world.

The names and buildings of Her Majesty’s Theatre

1705: The Queen’s Theatre built
1709: Theatre is dedicated to Italian Opera. Often referred to as ‘the Opera House’
1714: Renamed The King’s Theatre
1789: The King’s Theatre burns down
1791: Theatre is rebuilt and reopens
1837: Renamed Her Majesty’s Theatre, Italian Opera House
1867: Fire destroys the second theatre
1869: New theatre built
1892: Third theatre demolished
1897: Current Her Majesty’s Theatre opens
1901: Renamed His Majesty’s Theatre
1952: Renamed Her Majesty’s Theatre

Now you could well be confused wondering why the Royal Opera Arcade is over a kilometre away from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Well the current opera house has only been in its current location since 1847. The current Her Majesty’s Theatre on Haymarket is the fourth theatre to stand on the site and has experienced numerous name changes throughout history. Throughout the 18th and early 19th century, the theatre was renowned as the place in London to see opera and ballet. However, in 1846, Michael Costa (1808-1884), conductor at Her Majesty’s, had a dispute with the owners and switched allegiance to the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, bringing most of the company with him. Theatre Royal, Covent Garden was then renamed the Italian Opera House, eventually becoming the Royal Opera House in 1892.

The Royal Opera Arcade was conceived as an add-on to the second theatre to stand on the site – the King’s Theatre. The original King’s Theatre burned down in 1789 and replaced by a new building in 1791, designed by Michael Novosielski (1747–1795), an architect and former scene painter. When it opened, it was the largest theatre in the country. However, as the 19th century progressed, the theatre was in need of improvement. Regency architect John Nash (1752-1835) and his assistant George Stanley Repton (d.1858) altered the façade of the theatre and increased the capacity of the auditorium to 2,500 in 1816-1818. To the west of the theatre, they added the Royal Opera Arcade. Nash is also famous for designing Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, Brighton’s Royal Pavilion, Carlton House Terrace and many others.

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Discounts, freebies, music and more @ St Martin’s Courtyard festive shopping evening

St Martins Courtyard

Head to St Martin’s Courtyard for a Christmas shopping event with entertainment, freebies, discounts and more

It’s six weeks until Christmas so it’s probably time to start preparing if you haven’t already. When joining the throngs on Oxford Street or Westfield sounds rather unappetising, one of London’s less obvious shopping destinations is creating a more relaxing retail experience.

On Thursday 17 November, St Martin’s Courtyard in Covent Garden will be hosting a festive shopping party, featuring Christmas lights switch-on, entertainment, discounts, offers and complimentary drinks. The dark winter nights will be lit up by a bronze and gold festive light installation inspired by holly leaves designed by James Glancy.

Kicking things off at 5pm, gospel choir Urban Voices Collection will be performing in the courtyard. Shoppers will be able to snack on free warm mince pies and brandy butter while they soak up the festive atmosphere. Also providing the entertainment is jazz/soul vocalist, Simone Kaye, who has performed with Emeli Sande, Joss Stone and Craig David.

Meanwhile, the shops and boutiques of the area will be offering exclusive discounts between 10-30%, free gifts, competitions and activities. Visitors will also be treated to a complimentary glass of Prosecco (register for free ticket on the website) to help fuel your inspiration for gift buying.

Among the stores and restaurants taking part are Arc’teryx, Banana Republic, Barbour, Bill’s, Blow Ltd, Cycle Surgery, Cos, Dalla Terra, Eileen Fisher, Jack Wills, Jack Wolfskin, LK Bennett, Lorna Jane, Massimo Dutti, Pretty Ballerinas, Relax, Suda Thai, The Covent Garden Academy Of Flowers, The East India Company, The White Company and Yotopia.

  • The Festive Shopping Evening takes place on Thursday 17 November 2016 from 5-9pm. At St Martin’s Courtyard, Covent Garden, WC2E 9AB. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. For more information and to register for your free ticket to obtain discounts and offers, visit the St Martin’s Courtyard website.

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

Or for listings of London’s Christmas markets and fairs, read this.

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