Author Archives: Metro Girl

Where Light Falls: A spectacular sound and light show on St Paul’s Cathedral

London’s Christmas markets and fairs 2019

Christmas markets and fairs in north, south, east, west and central London this November and December 2019.

Royal Arcade Christmas © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Christmas is fast approaching and no doubt, many of us are feeling the pressure of the countdown to the big day. It’s that time of year when our usual monthly spending budgets go out the window and we get ready to splash the cash. However, if you’re struggling for gift ideas and want to get your loved ones something a little different, then why not pay a visit to one of London’s Christmas markets or fairs. As well as a host of stalls, many of the festive events offer entertainment, hot food and drink and other immersive Christmassy experiences. Many of the markets and fairs are free entry, although some have a small entry fee, with money raised going to help charities.

Whether you live in north, south, east or west London, or just visiting the capital, there’s plenty of festive shopping opportunities around town.

Here’s a guide to London’s best Christmas markets and fairs this 2019.

Long-term Christmas fairs

Some markets are opening throughout the run-up to Christmas, with some still going into the new year. Most of these markets will close earlier than usual on Christmas Eve and be closed all day on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

  • 8 November – 5 January 2020 : Christmas in Leicester Square

The West End’s famous square will feature a Christmas market in Bavarian-style huts and Santa’s Grotto. A Spiegeltent will play host shows. 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.

  • 8 November – 5 January 2020 : Southbank Centre Winter Market

Wooden chalets selling festive food, drink, gifts and treats alongside the river on the South Bank. Open Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. Free. Queen’s Walk, South Bank, SE1. Nearest station: Waterloo, Westminster or Embankment. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 21 November – 5 January 2020 : Winter Wonderland Market

Winter Wonderland covers a huge expanse in Hyde Park and offers a German market selling gifts, as well as food and drink. You can bring the whole family and get into the festive spirit with a fun fair, circus, live shows and an ice rink. 10am-10pm. Free entry. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch or Knightsbridge. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website.

  • 23 November – 22 December : Christmas Market on the Piazza

Festive market at Wimbledon every weekend and occasional Fridays (13, 20 December). Featuring over 50 stalls, street food and drink. 11am-6pm. Free entry. The Piazza, Wimbledon, SW19 1QB. Nearest station: Wimbledon. For more information, visit the Love Wimbledon website.

  • 26 November – 5 January 2020 : Christmas by the River

Annual festive market featuring food, drink, craft and gift stalls across The Scoop More London, Hay’s Galleria and London Bridge City Pier. 11am-10pm. Free entry. Queen’s Walk and Hay’s Galleria, SE1 2DB. Nearest station: London Bridge or Tower Hill. For more information, visit the Tudor Markets website.

  • 27 November – 24 December : Ealing Christmas Market

A host of traditional Christmas cabins pop up in Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre for an annual festive market. There will also be hot food and drink, Santa and his elves, as well as carol singers and local choirs. 11am-6pm. Free entry. Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre, Ealing, W5 5JY. Nearest station: Ealing Broadway. For more information, visit the Eat Me Drink Me website.

  • 28 November – 22 December : River Walk Christmas Market

Buy Christmas food, drink and gifts at the riverside market near Battersea Power Station. Open Thu-Sun. Free entry. Riverside Walk, Battersea Power Station, SW8 5BN. Nearest stations: Battersea Park or Queenstown Road Battersea. For more information, visit the Battersea Power Station website.


One-off or short-term Christmas fairs

  • 4 – 10 November : Spirit Of Christmas Fair

For the super organised, get ready for Christmas early with this fair, where you can stock up on gifts, design and food all ready for the festive season from over 750 independent boutiques. There will also be a winter restaurant and a champagne bar. Opening times vary. Tickets from £25. Olympia Grand, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Spirit Of Christmas Fair website.

  • 13 November : A Merry Marylebone Christmas launch

Marylebone’s annual Christmas Lights charity switch-on, food and drink, gift stalls, tombola and live music performances. 3pm-7pm (lights switch on at 6pm). Free. North end of Marylebone High Street, Paddington Street and Devonshire Street, Marylebone, W1G. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Baker Street. For more information, visit the Marylebone Village website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

  • 13 – 17 November : Country Living Christmas

Handmade gifts from hundreds of artisan designers and makers. There will also be a lifestyle theatre with experts giving talks and demonstrations, crafting studio, Hampstead tea room and Champagne bar. Opening times vary. Tickets start from £19 (Adults), £8.50 (Children). Business Design Centre, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information and tickets, visit the Country Living Fair website.

  • 14 November : Christmas Shopping Event @ Seven Dials

Get into the festive spirit with an evening of fashion, food and more as Seven Dials is closed off to traffic. Featuring music from a live orchestra and switching on the Christmas lights. The boutiques and eateries will be offering 20% discount. 5pm-9pm. Register for a free ticket on the website for discounts and freebies. Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H 9HD. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

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Antony Gormley review: Artist pushes the boundaries of the Royal Academy with his huge sculptures

Matrix III is one of the highlights of the Antony Gormley exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts

Antony Gormley is one of Britain’s most famous living artists, with his sculpture career dating back 45 years. He tends to focus his creations on the human form – usually his own – with his latest exhibition attempting to raise our awareness of the bodies we inhabit.

'Body' and 'Fruit' by Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts

‘Body’ and ‘Fruit’

The artist’s new exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts has taken over 13 rooms, with Gormley molding and adapting the Georgian rooms to fit his large-scale installations. The Academy has had to get some of the rooms water-proofed and reinforced to support the weight of some of the pieces. The exhibition features work throughout the decades, including his rarely-seen, early pieces from the 1970s. Also on display are many of his sketchbooks so you can see the progression from idea to fruition as a physical sculpture.

Before even entering Burlington House, you could be forgiven for nearly tripping over the first Gormley piece – ‘Iron Baby’ (1999) – in the courtyard. The sculpture is a newborn baby curled up in a ball, apparently inspired by the artist’s daughter. A contrasting piece – the strength of its iron with the vulnerability we usually associated with newborns.

From the beginning of the exhibition, Gormley’s presence is everywhere. ‘Slabworks’ is a series of metal figures that many would associate with the artist due to the prominence of similar pieces across the country. The shapes lie, stand and sit in various directions and contortions. Nearby is ‘Mother’s Pride’, a recent recreation of an old piece made out of white bread. A man’s (presumably Gormley’s) silhouette has been eaten out of the bread, with the natural expiration of the material displaying an evident reason why it had to be recreated for this year’s exhibition. Read the rest of this entry

Brighten up dark nights with interactive, light art installations at Winterfest at Wembley Park

The Sonic Runway will be one of the installations during Winterfest
© Jordan Laboucane

Lighting up the dark, cold nights this autumn is a new light festival at Wembley Park. Winterfest kicks off on 20 November 2019 and transform the area into an expanse of light, sound and colour. Guests will be able to move around the park and interact with the installations, creating plenty of Insta-moments to capture.

One of the highlights will be the light-art installation Sonic Runway, making its European debut following its success at Nevada’s Burning Man festival. Located on Olympic Way, the piece features music rippling down a 100-metre corridor of 32 concentric rings, with the light patterns moving at the speed of sound. During the launch night, the installation will be accompanied by a bespoke music soundtrack in partnership with Boxpark Wembley. Following the switch-on, guests can head to nearby Boxpark to chose from over 20 street food stalls and entertainment, including the world’s first free-roam virtual reality e-gaming arena.

Other installations includes the ‘Murmuration of Hopes’ light by architectural designer Elyne Legarnisson and digital scenographer Aurelien Lafargue. The commission is displayed across 15 huge LED banners and across the trees, with digital ‘birds’ perching on them. London’s tallest-ever LED Christmas tree will be unveiled, standing tall at 25-metres and including over 100,000 low-energy coloured lights. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the sounds of ‘Illumaphonium: Halo’, a series of eight, 3-metre music installations by musician and inventor Michael Davis. Visitors can interact and created music together. There will also be plenty of Instagrammable photo moments waiting, including the ‘LoveSpot… Under the Mistletoe’, a heart sculpture adorned with mistletoe and pulsating red lights; ‘Star Box’, a gift shaped cube, filled with golden lights and shimmering sequins; and ‘Saturation Surge’, a bold, colourful and geometric piece by street artist Maser.

As well as the art installations, there will be series of live music performances every weekend throughout November and December. Meanwhile, theatre fans can head to the new Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre to see the touring production of hit musical Fame from 21 December – 26 January 2020.

  • Winterfest runs from 20 November 2019 – 3 January 2020. Free admission. At Wembley Park, Wembley, HA9 0FD. Nearest stations: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. For more information, visit the Wembley Park website.

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

For a guide to London’s outdoor ice rinks this festive season, click here.

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Guide to what’s on in London in November 2019

Find out what’s on in the capital in the run-up to the festive period.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Fashion, beauty, careers, wellness, food and more at Stylist Live

Autumn is in full swing and the (commercial!) countdown to Christmas is already on. If you’re not ready for festive fun, there’s plenty of literature, art and motor festivals on in London to keep you occupied this month. However, if you’re the organised type and are gearing up for Christmas early, there’s plenty of festive-themed festivals and shopping events on in the capital.

Here’s a guide to the best events, festivals and exhibitions in London this November.

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

For a guide to London’s outdoor ice rinks this festive season, click here.

  • 1 – 24 November : Richmond Literature Festival

A festivals of books and words at various locations across the borough. Featuring workshops, talks and Q&As from authors, including Katy Brand, Roger McGough, Jack Brown, Matthew Griffiths, Peter Pomerantsev, Alison Weir, Antonia Fraser, Lee Jackson, Zeba Talkhani, St*t-Faced Shakespeare and more. Venues include Richmond Library, Strawberry Hill House, The National Archives, Duke Street Church, The Exchange (Twickenham) and more. For booking, visit the Richmond Literature Festival website.

  • 2 November : Regent Street Motor Show

Three hundred cars from 125 years of motoring will be on display for the Regent Street Motorshow ahead of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run the following day. Featuring entertainment and interactive displays. The road will be closed to vehicle traffic. 10.30am-4pm. Free. Regent Street, W1B 5TD. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Regent Street Motor Show website.

  • 2 November : Family History Day

Explore your family history at the Migration Museum. Learn about genealogy and archival research, ask-the-expert photo dating, talks from celebrities and experts, expert advice, interactive artworks and installations, and food and drink. 10.30am-4.30pm. Tickets: £5. Migration Museum @ The Workshop, 26 Lambeth High Street, Lambeth, SE1 7AG. Nearest station: Vauxhall, Westminster or Lambeth North. For more tickets, visit the Migration Museum website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post for more information.

  • Now until 2 November : London Horror Festival

Festival of live horror performance including cabaret, film screenings, Zombie weekends, midnight performances and a short horror play competition. Ticket prices vary. Most events take place at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, Islington, EC1V 4NJ. Nearest station: Angel; or Pleasance, Carpenters Mews, North Road, Islington, N7 9EF. Nearest station: Caledonian Road. For more information, visit the London Horror Festival website.

  • 3 November : London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

Watch the beginning of 64 mile route from the capital to Brighton. Get up early to watch 500 classic cars setting off from Hyde Park Corner between 6.56am and 8.15am. Expect many drivers and passengers to be suitably dressed in costume and vintage clothing for the spectacle. Route goes from Hyde Park Corner, past Buckingham Palace, over Westminster Bridge and south via Kennington, Brixton and Streatham. Free to spectate. Hyde Park Corner, Westminster, W2 2UH. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner. For more information, visit the Veteran Car Run website.

  • 3 November : Diwali on Trafalgar Square

Food and performances, lights and saris injecting colour into the square and floating candles in the fountains for the Hindu Festival of Light. 12pm-7pm. Free. Trafalgar Square, Westminster, WC2N 5DN. Nearest station: Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus or Embankment. For more information, visit the London.gov.uk website.

  • 4 – 10 November : Spirit Of Christmas Fair

For the super organised, get ready for Christmas early with this fair, where you can stock up on gifts, design and food all ready for the festive season from over 750 independent boutiques. There will also be a winter restaurant and a champagne bar. Opening times vary. Tickets from £25. Olympia Grand, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Spirit Of Christmas Fair website.

  • 5 – 10 November : Winter Art & Antique Fair

Arts and antiques event, featuring over 120 dealers showcasing their unusual objects and art. Opening times vary. Tickets start from £20.50/£22.50 (cheaper in advance). Gallery Level, Olympia National, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Olympia Antiques website. Read the rest of this entry

An evening of escape rooms and Murder Mystery at the immersive ‘a Twist of the Rope’

If you’re a fan of escape games and immersive experiences, this fun charity event could be right up your street. This November, KIDS are hosting an evening of murder mystery in trendy east London for one night only.

‘A Twist of the Rope’ will combine the traditional murder mystery format with live performances and an interactive escape room. Visitors will be taken on a mysterious journey to join the circus, where a killer is hiding in the world of ringmasters, lion tamers and mimes. Keep an eye out for clues, solve riddles, interrogate witnesses and unravel the secrets of the circus.

Guests are invited to help Detective Jones find out who killed the circus acrobat, found dead in her dressing room next to a mysterious vanishing cabinet. Aspiring investigators can take part in teams of 2-6 people.

Money raised from the event goes to KIDS, who support over 13,500 disabled children, young people and their families across Britain. Established in 1970, the charity provides over 120 different services and works with 80 local authorities across the country.

  • Murder Mystery: A Twist of the Rope takes place on 13 November 2019. From 7.30pm-10.30pm. Over 18s only. Tickets: £30. Trapeze Bar, 89 Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 3HX. Nearest station: Old Street. For more information, visit the KIDS charity website.

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

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Creative cocktails, Japanese snacks and blossom backdrops at Mr Fogg’s Winter Light Festival

A special new winter experience has arrived at Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour and Tavern. The Winter Light Festival launched on 23 October and runs until 24 November 2019. The neighbouring venues of the Gin Parlour and Tavern have transformed into a Japanese-inspired, illuminated oasis, serving House of Suntory cocktails and tasty fusion cuisine.

Visitors will be brought on a sensory journey to the Far East, with sights, tastes and sounds of Japan. After walking through a red Torii, guests can grab a chair and enjoy the photogenic, pink Japanese blossom surrounding the bar. Alternatively, you can follow the lantern trail upstairs to the Gin Parlour.

The two menus features Japanese-inspired cocktails made with Toki whisky, Haku vodka and Roku gin.

  • Mr Fogg’s Tavern have created a menu themed around locations in Japan:

– YAGOSHIMA (£10): Suntory Roku gin, Bergamot Liqueur, Fermented Cucumber Juice, Sichuan Pepper Syrup, Egg White and Cherry Bitters.
– OSAKA: Suntory Haku Vodka, Coffee Bean-infused Alipús San Andrés Mezcal, homemade Jasmin Syrup and Coffee flavoured White Tea.
– KYOTO (£10): Suntory Toki Whisky, Elderflower Cordial, Lemon Juice and topped with Ginger Ale.
– KANPAI (£20 / £38) Punch Cocktail (two to four sharing): Suntory Roku Gin, Green Tea & Hibiscus Liqueur, Lavender Syrup, Pink Grapefruit Juice topped with Fentimans Oriental Yuzu Tonic Water. Read the rest of this entry

Dolphins, and whales, and kelp – oh my! New Carnaby Christmas installation to be unveiled at shopping party

The Carnaby Christmas installation will highlight the plight of our oceans this year

The subject of the environment and the urgency to save the planet is rightly a big concern right now. So this festive season, Shaftesbury are collaborating with ocean conversation charity Project O to launch the Carnaby Christmas 2019 installation. Instead of traditional festive decorations, the light installation will be given an oceanic twist.

The iconic Carnaby Street will be transformed into a theatrical underwater scene, with pink coral, whales, dolphins, clams and seahorses floating above you. The message ‘One Ocean, One Planet,’ will highlight the need for conservation and the desperate need to reverse the effects of climate change. One of the main features will be a 5-metre sculpted whale which blows bubbles. Meanwhile, on the side streets of Carnaby – Foubert’s Place and Newburgh Street, 200 illuminated vampire squids will glitter away, while a mermaid will be resting on the famous giant plug on Ganton Street.

A host of sustainable materials have been used to create the installation, with every element made using recycled and reusable materials, including repurposed fishing nets, 500m of used bubble wrap and 1,500 recycled plastic bottles. The installation will be given its colourful appearance with 100% cotton fabrics and 100 litres of water-based, eco-friendly vegan paint.

The lights switch-on will coincide with the annual Carnaby Christmas Shopping party, where visitors can enjoy special events, activities, promotions and discounts throughout the district’s over 100 shops, restaurants and bars. There will also be tap-to-donate points, with all money raised going to ocean charities.

  • The Carnaby Christmas Shopping Party takes place on 7 November 2019. From 5pm-9pm (lights switch-on at 6pm). Free. Carnaby London, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. The light installation will be on show throughout the festive period. For more information and to register for your 20% discount, visit the Carnaby London website.

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

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Guide to London’s outdoor ice rinks this winter 2019/2020

Somerset House ice rink © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Skate in the historic Georgian courtyard of Somerset House

Now autumn is in full swing, we’re now on a steady countdown to Christmas. With the nights getting darker and colder, a visit to a festive ice rink could be just what you need to lift the spirits.

From the end of October until early January, a host of outdoor ice rinks are popping up in the capital. You can ice skate against some iconic London backdrops, such as Somerset House, the Natural History Museum and the Tower of London. Alternatively, there are more unusual venues, like Skylight London in Wapping, which gives you stunning city views from the ice.

Most rinks are open daily including Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but are closed on Christmas Day.

Here’s a guide to London ice rinks – both outdoor and permanent – open this winter season.

  • 19 October – 12 January 2020 : Natural History Museum Ice Rink

A 1,000 square metre rink in the gardens of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. Open 10am-9pm. Session times last 1 hour. Adults from £12.65, Children 12 and under from £8.80. Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 5BD. Nearest station: South Kensington. To book, visit the Natural History Museum website.

  • 31 October – 25 January 2020 : Skylight London

Skate on London’s rooftops with views of the City of London’s skyscrapers. Features alfresco and covered bars, igloos, and street food. Open Thu-Sun only. Free entry to Skylight. Skating tickets: £12 (45 minutes inc skate hire). Skylight, Tobacco Quay, Pennington Street entrance, Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. For booking, visit the Skylight London website.

  • 13 November – 12 January 2020 : Skate at Somerset House with Fortnum & Mason

One of the original pop-up ice rinks located in the historic courtyard of Somerset House. As well as general skating, they also host club nights on ice and skate lessons. Session times last 1 hour and are from 10am until 10.30pm (later for club nights and New Year’s Eve). Tickets: Adults start from £11, Children (12yr and under) from £8.50. Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. To book, visit the Somerset House website.

  • 16 November – 5 January 2020 : Tower Of London Ice Rink

Skate on a rink in the moat of the Tower of London. After a skate, visit the ice rink café bar serving hot snacks and drinks. (16 Nov-18 Dec) Weekdays 11am-9pm, Weekends 10am-9pm. (19 Dec-5 Jan) 10am-9pm all week. Tickets: Adults/teens from £15, Children under 12: £10.50. Tower Of London (off Lower Thames Street or Tower Hill), EC3N 4AB. Nearest station: Tower Hill. To book, visit the Tower Of London Ice Rink website. Read the rest of this entry

Tracing the footsteps of those who came before us: Family History Day at the Migration Museum

Family History Day with the Migration Museum
(My Grandparents’ Shop, 1913 ® Stephen Sedley)

Are you interested in your family history but don’t know where to start? Well, this autumn, the Migration Museum in London is offering visitors insights and opportunities to delve into their ancestry. On 2 November, a day-long event will feature workshops, talks, and meetings with experts to help you delve into your origins. The Migration Museum’s Family History Day will offer activities, talks and assistance from experts from the National Trust, the National Archives and London Metropolitan Archives.

There will be talks from TV star Robert Rinder, who delved into his own family’s past on BBC show Who Do You Think You Are?. Robert Kershaw from the National Archives will explain how its records can be searched and interpreted. Else Churchill from the Society of Genealogists will also be showing how you can search your family’s 20th century history, which can often be more difficult due to sealed records. Meanwhile, Robert Winder – author of Bloody Foreigners – shows how to put historical context into our personal family stories.

Throughout the day, there will also be a photograph dating with a National Trust expert, family history workshop, a chance to search for relatives who fought in WWI and WWII, an installation highlighting the history of black Britons with the Black Cultural Archives, and the chance to speak to war veterans.

Robyn Kasozi, Head of Public Engagement at the Migration Museum, enthused: “Our Family History Day aims to empower people to delve into their past and uncover their family’s migration stories, both within the UK and beyond its borders.”

  • Migration Museum’s Family History Day is on 2 November 2019. At the Migration Museum at The Workshop, 26 Lambeth High Street, London SE1 7AG. Nearest stations: Vauxhall, Lambeth North, Westminster or Waterloo. Open: 10.30am–4.30pm. Tickets: £5 (includes entry to all exhibitions). Book online at the Migration Museum website.

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

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