Guide to what’s on in London in December 2018
Find out things to do in London this Christmas and December 2018.
It’s finally December! Although retailers have been pretending it’s the festive season for a month or more, it’s that time of year where things really crank up. All around town is a host of Christmas activities, pop-ups and events, with plenty of mulled booze and hot food on offer.
For a guide to London’s outdoor ice rinks this festive and winter season, click here.
For a guide to London’s Christmas pop-ups and festive cocktails, click here.
Find out what’s on in London on New Year’s Eve.
- 1 – 9 December : Spitalfields Music Festival
Spitalfields Music return with their winter festival. Acts include Richard Reeve Parry, Fidelio Trio, Mary Bevan and Katherine Manley, among others. Including concerts, promenade performances, walks and more. At various venues in the Spitalfields area including Shoreditch Church, Rich Mix and the Huguenot Houses of Spitalfields. For booking, visit the Spitalfields Music website. Read Metro Girl’s review on last year’s festival.
- 1 – 16 December : Ally Pally Christmas Carnival
Celebrate the re-opening of the historic theatre with a host of Christmas activities over three consecutive weekends and some weekdays. Including Luna Cinema screenings, Christmas market, street food and drink, Santa’s Grotto, Horrible Histories’ Horrible Christmas, and more. Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY. Nearest station: Alexandra Palace. For more information, visit the Ally Pally website.
- Now until 2 December : London Illustration Fair
Three-day event celebrating illustration, featuring artist-led stands, talks, workshops, music, DJs, live signings. Fri-Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 11am-6pm. Entry: £10 advance. Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bankside, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars or Waterloo. For more information, visit the London Illustration Fair website.
- Now until 4 December : Foodflix @ Bluebird Chelsea
Weekly film night comes to Bluebird Chelsea in their new cosy orangery. Expect Cointreau cocktails, gourmet fast food, popcorn and modern classic films. Tickets: £25 (includes film, welcome Cointreau cocktail and a Bluebird hotdog or vegan burger). Bluebird Chelsea, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest station: South Kensington. For more information, visit the Bluebird Chelsea website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the Foodflix.
- 4 – 8 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 (CAMRA 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.
- 6 – 22 December : Enchanted Eltham
Late-night opening of Eltham Palace sees the Tudor and Art Deco buildings and gardens dazzle in a show of light, colour and sound. Follow the trail around the gardens. Also including fairground rides and hot food and drink on offer, including a roasting marshmallow pit. 4.30pm-9pm on Thu-Sun only. Tickets: Adults £12, Children 5-15 yrs £7.50. Eltham Palace, Court Yard, Eltham, SE9 5QE. Nearest station: Eltham or Mottingham. For more information, visit the English Heritage website. Check out Metro Girl’s review of Eltham Palace
- 7 – 9 December : Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre
Festive food event in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, featuring shopping, live music, mulled wine, seasonal demos, tastings, choirs and more. Tickets: Adults £19.20, Children £9.60. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (36 minutes from Waterloo). For more information and tickets, visit the HRP Food Festivals website.
- 8 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. From 11am. Free for spectators. Covent Garden Piazza, WC1. Nearest station: Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information and details on entering, visit the Great Christmas Pudding Race website.
- Now until 9 December : Strange Days – Memories Of the Future
Video and films by 21 radical film-makers, presented as large-scale, multi-screen video installations. Tues-Sat 12pm-7pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. Free entry. The Store X, 180 The Strand, WC2R 1EA. Nearest station: Temple or Charing Cross. For more information, visit the website.
- 10 – 30 December : The Four Realms at Christmas
Creative wizards Bompas & Parr have created a special, immersive Christmas experience, inspired by Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Enter the Land of Snowflakes, navigate the icy mirror maze, tickle your senses in the Land of Flowers and the Land of Sweets, before arriving at the Fourth Realm. Open Mon-Sat 12pm-9pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. Tickets: Adults £5, Children 12 and under Free (but still need to register for a ticket). The Atrium, Westfield London, Ariel Way, White City, W12 7GF. Nearest station: Shepherd’s Bush, White City or Shepherd’s Bush Market. For more information and booking, visit the Westfield London website.
- 11 December : The Honeypot Children’s Charity’s Christmas Carol Concert
A night of festive entertainment and carols to raise money for The Honeypot Children charity. Featuring Portobello Live Choir, West End Kids and Alex Gibson Music. Complimentary mulled wine and mince pies following the concert. Doors open 6.30pm for a 7pm start. Tickets: Adults and teens £15, Children under 12 £12. St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, WC2E 9ED. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For tickets, click here.
- 12 December : An Evening Of Cheese
Late-night opening of Borough Market celebrates cheese. Twenty of the Market’s renowned cheesemongers showcase their range of UK and International cheeses. There are also demo kitchens and tastings, carol singers and traders competing in the ‘cracking of the parmesan wheel’ competition. 6pm-9pm. Free entry. Borough Market, Borough, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Borough Market website. Read Metro Girl’s blog on an Evening of Cheese.
- 13 – 23 December : Pop Up Screens Cinema in the Snow
Walk through a magical wardrobe to a snow-filled cinema. Movies include Home Alone, Elf, Love Actually, It’s A Wonderful Life and more. Times vary. Tickets: £20. Hackney Showroom, Hackney Downs Studios, Amhurst Terrace, Hackney, E8 2BT. Nearest stations: Rectory Road or Hackney Downs. For tickets, visit the Pop Up Screens website.
- 14 December : Georgian Christmas Late @ Sir John Soane’s Museum
Special Christmas late-night candlelit opening of the former home of architect and collector Sir John Soane. Featuring carol singing, live music, cocktails, mince pies and spirited readings. 6pm-9pm. Tickets: £30. Sir John’s Soane Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Holborn, WC2A 3BP. Nearest station: Holborn. For booking, visit the Sir John Soane Museum’s website.
- 17 – 23 December : Olympia Horse Show
The world’s biggest equestrian party, featuring displays, dressage, extreme diving and more. Times vary. Tickets range from £25.75 to £73.35. Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For tickets, visit the Olympia Horse Show website.
- 20 – 21 December : Benefit’s Jingle Brow Express
Cosmetics firm Benefit are launching a festive pop-up for two days only. A pink train carriage will pull up at King’s Cross station, offering brow services (styling, waxing, tinting and tips), cocktails, a DIY wrapping station, carolling, Christmas shopping and giveaways). 7am-9pm. Free entry King’s Cross mainland station, Euston Road, N1 9AL. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the Benefit website.
- Now until 23 December : Backyard Cinema’s Christmas Labyrinth
Enjoy an immersive cinema experience courtesy of Backyard Cinema’s latest experience. Find your way through a fantastical labyrinth to find the cosy pop-up cinema, featuring bean bags, blankets and hot cocktails. Tickets: Adults from £18.98, Children from £9.98. At Winterville (entrance just north of the Long Pond), Clapham Common, SW4. Nearest station: Clapham Common. For more information, visit the Backyard Cinema website. For Metro Girl’s review on the Christmas Labyrinth, click here.
- Now until 23 December : Winterville
An alternative festive wonderland in south London, featuring Christmas markets, ice rink, street feast, Backyard Cinema, roller disco, plonk golf, kids’ activities, Bus King Theatre, Chivaree Circus, fairground, spiegeltent, over 18 puppet show, solo craft fair and truck stop. Open Tues-Thu 3pm-10pm, Fri 3pm-10.30pm, Sat 10am-10.30pm, Sun 10am-10pm. Entry ranges from free to £5 depending on peak time (free entry to event or attraction ticketholders). Clapham Common, SW4 9DE. Nearest station: Clapham Common. For more information, visit the Winterville website.
- Now until 23 December : Tinsel & Flix @ The Vaults
A pop-up cinema on limited dates in the vaults below Waterloo station. Featuring classic festive films such as Home Alone, Elf, Miracle On 34th Street, Bad Santa, Mary Poppins and Frozen. Times vary. Tickets: Adults from £8.50. Concessions from £6.50. The Vaults, Launcelot Street (entrance on this road), Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo or Lambeth North. For tickets, visit The Vaults website.
- Now until Christmas : Casa Bonita pop-up
Latin American-themed pop-up bar featuring classic cocktails, Mexican street food and DJ spinning Latin beats. Open Mon-Sat 2pm-1am, Sun 2pm-11pm. Free entry. Casa Bonita, 5 Kingly Street, Soho, W1B 5PF. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. Visit Casa Bonita’s website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the pop-up.
- Now until 24 December : The Winter Forest
Seasonal pop-up returns to Broadgate Circle in the City of London. Featuring 300 snow-covered pine trees, twinkling lights, cosy wood cabins, live music, festive quiz nights (Mons), craft classes, Father Christmas, art exhibition and plenty of hot food and drink. Free. Broadgate Circle, Broadgate, EC2. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit The Broadgate website.
- 26 December – 6 January 2019 : Disney On Ice – Dream Big
Some of your favourite Disney characters take to the ice for a show for all the family. Show times vary. Tickets: £32.25-£91.50. The O2, Peninsula Square, Greenwich, SE10 0DX. Nearest station: North Greenwich. For more information, visit the Disney UK website.
- Now until 30 December : After Dark @ Chiswick House
A brand new night walk and light display will illuminate Chiswick House and its historic gardens. 5.30pm-10pm every Thurs, Fri, Sat and Sun. Tickets: £8.50-£14. Chiswick House, Chiswick, W4. Nearest station: Chiswick or Chiswick Park. For booking, visit the After Dark website.
- Now until 5 January 2019 : Alice In Winterland
A new lantern festival sees the characters of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland brought to life with over 160 giant lanterns and immersive experiences, such as sliding down the rabbit hole and tea cup rides. There’s also a Santa’s Grotto on-site. Tickets: Adults £15, Children 4-16yrs £9. Southwark Park (Paradise Gate entrance), Jamaica Road, SE16 4RS. Nearest stations: Canada Water or Rotherhithe. For more information, visit the Alice In Winterland website.
- Now until 5 January 2019 : Christmas at Kew
A one mile glittering trail which weaves its way through Kew Gardens with stunning sights lit up upon the way. There will also be Santa at the North Pole Village, a Tunnel of Light, vintage rides, festive food and drinks. 5-10pm. Tickets (advance): Adults £19.50, Children £12, Under 4 free. Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website.
- Now until 5 January 2019 : Christmas In Leicester Square
The West End’s famous square will feature a Christmas market and Santa’s Grotto. A Spiegeltent will play host shows including Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel, Briefs: Close Encounters and Club Briefs. Free entry to Leicester Square, but tickets required for Santa’s Grotto and the Spiegeltent. Leicester Square, WC2H. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Christmas In Leicester Square website.
- Now until 5 January 2019 : Moonshine Saloon
A new immersive cocktail experience from the same team behind Alcotraz. Bring your own liquor to the Wild West and learn about the dark world of moonshining. Dress in cowboy gear and Stetsons and let experienced mixologists whip up some cocktails using your spirit of choice. Open Wed-Fri 6.15pm-10.15pm, Sat 12.15pm-11pm. Booking fee: £33.99 (includes 4 cocktails from brought drink of choice and 1hr 45m inside the saloon). 535 Kings Road, Fulham, SW10 0SZ. Nearest station: Fulham Broadway. Bookings can be made on the Moonshine Saloon website or DesignMyNight. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the pop-up.
- Now until 6 January 2019 : Backyard Cinema Presents: The Snowman™ Experience
A cinematic walk-through experience to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Snowman. The classic book and short film is brought to life in an immersive experience. Times vary. Tickets (vary between standard, off-peak, and peak): Adults/teen £9.95-£14.95, Children £6.96-£12.95. Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, W2. Nearest stations: Hyde Park Corner or Marble Arch. For booking, visit the Winter Wonderland website. Read Metro Girl’s review on the Snowman Experience.
- Now until 6 January 2019 : Winter Wonderland
The south east corner of Hyde Park is transformed into a Christmas fair with rides, food and drink stalls, ice rink, Zippos Christmas Circus, Cirque Berserk, The Sooty Christmas Show, The Magical Ice Kingdom, Backyard Cinema‘s Snowman Experience. and more. Open 10am-10pm daily. Free to enter. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner, Victoria, Knightsbridge or Marble Arch. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website.
- Now until 12 January 2019 : Divine Proportions
A heavenly new immersive dining experience for Gods and Goddesses in the Vaults below Waterloo station. Shotgun Carousel’s new production reimagines the story of the God of Wine, hedonism and ritual ecstasy. Except a five-course meal accompanied by entertainment. Shows Tues-Sun, doors open 6.30pm. Tickets: £35-£55 (includes dinner and entertainment). The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo or Lambeth North. For tickets, visit The Vaults website.
- Now until 27 January 2019 : Hogwarts In The Snow
A must for all Harry Potter fans. The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter has been given a festive makeover. Featuring Christmas-themed gifts and costumes from the film franchise. Tickets: Adults £43, Children £35. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, Hertfordshire, WD25 7LR. Nearest station: Watford (then a shuttle bus to studios). For more information, visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour website.
- Now until 3 February 2019 : Take A View exhibition
Exhibition of the winning and shortlisted images from this year’s Landscape Photographer Of The Year are on display on the balcony at Waterloo station. Open during station hours. Free. Mezzanine level, Waterloo Station, SE1 8SW. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information, visit the Take A View website.
- Now until 31 March 2019 : Marvel’s Avengers
Multi-room experience for fans of Marvel’s Avengers, where they will find out their favourite characters’ back story and mind and interact with props and the characters themselves. Opening times: Mon-Thu: 10am–6.30pm, Fri: 10am–8.30pm, Sat: 9.30am-8.30pm and Sun: 9.30am-6.30pm. Tickets: Adults £25, Children £14. ExCel, 1 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Prince Regent or Custom House. For tickets, visit the Avengers Station website.
- Now until May 2019 : Last Nights Of Havana
Nightlife pop-up in Tobacco Dock brings a slice of Cuba to London. Featuring live music, DJs, dance, drinking and street food. Open 5pm-12am. Tickets: £20 in 2018, £25 in 2019 (inc complimentary arrival cocktail). Masterclass: £60pp (include rum flight, special cocktail and discount towards evening event). Last Nights Of Havana, Quayside Bar, Tobacco Dock, Wapping Lane (Gate Entrance), Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. For more information and tickets, visit lastnightsofhavana.com. See Metro Girl’s blog for more information.
- Now until early June 2019 : Sculpture In The City 2018/2019
Free public art exhibition, bringing contemporary pieces to the streets and spaces of the City of London. At various sites around the Square Mile. Nearest stations: Fenchurch Street, Monument or Liverpool Street. For more information and a map of the artworks, visit the City Of London’s official website. Check out Metro Girl’s gallery of the 2017/2018 exhibition.
- Now until summer 2019 : Room To Breathe @ Migration Museum
Interactive exhibition of a migrant’s experiences when they arrive in the UK and what it means to live as migrant. Open Thu 12pm-8pm, Fri-Sun 12pm-6pm. Free admission. At the Migration Museum @ The Workshop, 26 Lambeth High Street, Lambeth, SE1 7AG. Nearest station: Vauxhall, Westminster or Lambeth North. For more information, visit the Migration Museum website. For Metro Girl’s review on the exhibition, click here.
London’s Christmas Pantomimes
- 17 November – 6 January 2019 : Dick Whittington (Hammersmith)
Lyric Hammersmith, Lyric Square, King Street, Hammersmith, W6 0QL. Nearest station: Hammersmith. For tickets, visit the Lyric website.
- 21 November – 3 January 2019 : Rubbed – Aladdin’s Lamp Just Got Camp (Vauxhall)
A saucy panto for adults-only. Royal Vauxhall Tavern, 372 Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, SE11 5HY. Nearest station: Vauxhall. For more information, visit the Vauxhall Tavern’s website.
- 23 November – 13 January 2019 : Robinson Crusoe (Greenwich)
Greenwich Theatre, Croom’s Hill, Greenwich, SE10 8ES. Nearest station: Greenwich or Cutty Sark (DLR) . For tickets, visit the Greenwich Theatre website.
- 24 November – 6 January 2019 : Cinderella (Hackney)
Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street, Hackney, E8 1EJ. Nearest station: Hackney Central. For tickets, visit the Hackney Empire website.
- 1 – 30 December : Cinderella (Bromley)
Churchill Theatre, High Street, Bromley, BR1 1HA. Nearest station: Bromley South or Bromley North. For tickets, visit the Churchill Theatre website.
- 1 December – 12 January 2019 : Sleeping Beauty (Stratford)
Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, Stratford, E15 1BN. Nearest station: Stratford. For tickets, visit the Stratford East website.
- 7 – 30 December : Peter Pan (Hayes)
The Beck Theatre, Grange Road, Hayes, Middlesex, UB3 2UE. Nearest station: Hayes & Harlington. For tickets, visit the Beck Theatre website.
- 8 – 30 December : Beauty and the Beast (Euston)
Shaw Theatre, 100-110 Euston Road, Somers Town, NW1 2AJ. Nearest station: Euston and Kings Cross St Pancras. For tickets, visit the Shaw Theatre website.
- 8 December – 6 January 2019 : Peter Pan (Richmond)
Richmond Theatre, The Green, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1QJ. Nearest station: Richmond. For tickets, visit the ATG website.
- 8 December – 6 January 2019 : Aladdin (Wimbledon)
New Wimbledon Theatre, 93 The Broadway, Wimbledon, SW19 1QG. Nearest station: Wimbledon. For tickets, visit the ATG website.
- 8 December – 13 January 2019 : Snow White (West End)
Palladium, 8 Argyll Street, Soho, W1F 7TE. Nearest station: Oxford Circus. For tickets, visit the LW Theatres website
London Ballet Productions
If you want to check out one of London’s ballet productions over the festive period, it’s wise to book soon as they are likely to sell out in advance.
- 22 November – 6 January 2019 : The Snowman
The Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s ballet production of The Snowman returns to the Peacock Theatre. Tickets: £15-£38. Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, Holborn, WC2A 2HT. Nearest station: Temple or Holborn. For booking, visit the Sadlers Wells website.
- 3 December – 15 January 2019 : The Nutcracker
Peter Wright’s production of the classic ballet returns to the ROH. Tickets vary. Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 9DD. Nearest station: Embankment. For tickets, visit the Royal Opera House website.
- 4 December – 27 January 2019 : Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake
Matthew Bourne’s reimaging of the classic ballet, featuring men instead of women as the swan ensemble. Tickets: £12-£72. Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, Clerkenwell, EC1R 4TN. Nearest station: Angel. For booking, visit the Sadler’s Wells website.
- 13 – 30 December : The Nutcracker
The English National Ballet bring The Nutcracker to the London Coliseum. Tickets vary. Coliseum, 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.
- 28 – 31 December : The Nutcracker
The Royal Albert Hall and Birmingham Royal Ballet present The Nutcracker. Matinee and evening performances. Tickets: £35-£95. Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP. Nearest stations: South Kensington, Knightsbridge or High Street Kensington. For tickets, visit the Royal Albert Hall website.
Christmas gift guide for the Londoner in your life.
For a comprehensive guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.