Category Archives: Entertainment

Where to celebrate Burns’ Night 2018 in London

© Pear Tree Cafe

Listen to a live bagpiper at the Pear Tree Cafe’s Burns’ Night celebrations

You don’t have to be Scottish to celebrate Burns’ Night, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. January 25 is an annual festivity to mark the birthday of Scottish poet Robert ‘Robbie’ Burns, who died in 1796. Traditionally, a meal of soup, haggis, tatties, neeps and lots of whisky is served to celebrate his life and poetry. With a host of Scots living in the capital, there are tons of Burns’ Night celebrations on around town.

  • Burns’ Dinner and Music @ Boisdale (22 – 27 January)

Scottish restaurant chain Boisdale will be hosting a series of Burns evenings, featuring special three or four-course meals, with live music in some venues (each branch’s menu choice and price differs). Menus from £35.

– Boisdale – Four branches in Canary Wharf, Belgravia, Bishopsgate and Mayfair. For more information, visit the Boisdale website.

  • Burns events @ Barworks (various venues) (22 – 27 January)

Barworks will be running special Burns events at a selection of their bars and restaurants across the capital. Haggis and Neeps & Tatties will be on offer, as well as a dram of R&B Distillery’s Raasay While We Wait. Meanwhile, Harrild & Sons in Farringdon will be hosting a three-course traditional supper on actual Burns’ Night, coupled with Scottish cocktails which includes the Grain & Ginger a of R&B Distillers’ Borders Single Grain Scotch Whisky with fiery Ginger Ale.  From 7.30pm. Dinner: £45 pp including whiskies.

– Venues taking part included the Slaughtered Lamb, Exmouth Arms, Well & Bucket, Harrild & Sons and Singer Tavern. For more information, visit the Barworks website.

  • Week Of Burns @ Mac & Wild (22 – 28 January)

Scottish eaterie Mac & Wild will be celebrating with a whole week of Burns inspired menu and events. Including Whisky and Beer Pairing, Haggis Making Masterclass, Whisky Tour Tasting Experience, Whisky and Chocolate Pairing Masterclass and traditional Burns’ Night menu. Throughout the week, customers can order Mac & Wild Haggis, Neeps & Tatties Burgers and Rabbie’s Drams whisky flights.

– Mac & Wild Fitzrovia: 65 Great Titchfield Street, W1W 7PS (Nearest station: Oxford Circus) or Mac & Wild City: 9A Devonshire Square, City of London, EC2M 4YN (Nearest station: Liverpool Street). For booking and more information, visit the Mac & Wild website.

  • Whisky 101 @ The Gallery (25 January)

The Gallery bar has created a special Robbie Burns drinks menu featuring their favourite whiskies and beers, including Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve and beer and whisky pairings including Chivas 12 with 6° North Four Saisons. Open 12pm-12.30am. Free entry.

– The Gallery, 190 Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead, NW6 3AY. Nearest station: West Hampstead. For more information, visit their website. Read the rest of this entry

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Schumann Street review: A fascinating musical ‘crawl’ around Spitalfields

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Andrew West and Rob Murray perform during Schumann Street, a ‘song crawl’ around the Huguenot houses of Spitalfields

The Spitalfields Music Festival is an annual celebration of innovative music, featuring local and international talent. Venues across east London play host to a wide variety of performances. The last event of the 2017 festival in December was the captivating Schumann Street. Sixteen artists from very different genre and backgrounds were invited to perform their own interpretation of the songs in German composer Robert Schumann’s 1840 song cycle Dichterliebe (A Poet’s Love).

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Baritone Benedict Nelson expresses forlorn desperation in Allnächtlich im Traume

The audience were split into groups to start our journey on the immersive, promenade musical installation. For the evening, eight local residents of the Huguenot houses of Spitalfields had opened their doors to stage two performances across different floors. The whole event takes place over 75 minutes so participants were invited to come and go as we please from each house, spending just long enough to hear the 16 pieces. We started our experience in Wilkes Street, a small group of us stepping into the parlour of a charmingly creaky early 18th century home. With just six of us squeezed into the wood-panelled front room, we sat quietly as a pianist Andrew West and tenor Rob Murray provided an interpretation of one of the song cycles by candlelight. Next, we headed upstairs for a cosier experience with a guitarist Aart Stootman accompanying singer Abimaro by a roaring fire in the living room.

Despite being a classical piece, the story of Dichterliebe was told to us through hip-hop, Bengali folk, soul, jazz, R&B, blues, as well as a classical. We stood, sat on chairs, tables and floors; or lingered in dark corners as we snuck in and out of the performances trying not to interrupt. The song cycle is about love, then loss, with the musicians giving musical expressions of the joy and the torment the heart goes through. One particularly enchanting performance was Mara Carlyle and Liam Byrne in the basement kitchen of a courtyard home. Carlyle sang while wearing Marigolds and washing up at the sink, as Byrne accompanies her on the viol. She then switches direction with a musical saw, bringing a quirky, modern end to the piece. Moving upstairs, we were greeted by an incredibly emotional performance by soprano Héloïse Werner and harpist Anne Denholm in a darkly lit living room. Werner looked positively heartbroken as she forlornly belted out lines from Und Wüssten’s die Blumen. I also particularly enjoyed German duo Apollo 47 depicting the torment and obsession that love can inflict as they rapped Hör’ ich das Liedchen Klingen. In a room covered in lyrics on the wall, the pair were oblivious to the audience as they rambled around with their lanterns trying to make sense of their emotions.

In the end, I only visited seven houses and was disappointed to have missed the last one, due to the fault of my own time management. I enjoyed the different stagings – from a more formal setting of a singer by a piano, to a drunken singing rampage around another house. While some artists acknowledged your presence, for many of the others, it felt like we were eavesdropping on a private or mundane moment – the writing of love letters, household chores, a lonely moping session. In addition to being entertained by very different performances, I felt privileged to see inside these amazing Georgian houses. I loved checking out their original shutters, fireplaces, wood panelling and window seats. Overall, it was certainly an ambitious premise, but the Spitalfields Music Festival certainly pulled it off. The result was a quirky, innovative experience which brought the classical workings of Schumann to a new audience.

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Vault Festival 2018: Comedy, theatre and immersive experiences as London’s biggest arts festival returns

Vault Festival 2018

The Vault Festival returns to the tunnels underneath Waterloo station
© Vault Festival

Returning to the tunnels underneath Waterloo this winter is one of the country’s biggest arts festivals. Now its in sixth year, the Vault Festival features over 300 shows over eight weeks. Expect a jam-packed schedule of comedy, film, circus, musicals, theatre, immersive experiences and late-night parties. As well taking over the atmospheric and historic tunnels, the festival is also expanding to satellite venues such as Waterloo East Theatre and Network Theatre. Expect to see homegrown and international talent, with a spotlight on names to watch at the Vault New Writers Award.

One of this year’s big shows is Neverland, an immersive musical adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale. Guests will come face-to-face with glittering pirates, mermaids, food fights, absinthe bars and live music from a band of lost boys. If immersive experiences floats your boat, there is also Caravan, a journey through hip-hop dance, or Lamplighters, an improvised spy story in the style of John Le Carre.

If you want to be amazed, there’s plenty of mind-blowing circus acts, including the Chivaree Circus’ award-winning re-imagining of the Persephone myth, Becoming Shades. Explore hypnotism with David Aula and Simon Evans in their show The Vanishing Mankind, or be wowed by the brilliant Madhi The Magician, who was born without hands or feet. There will also be a busy comedy schedule, with Joe Lycett, Bridget Christie, Richard Gadd, Phil Wang and Adam Riches, Mat Ewins, Graham Dickson and Joe Sutherland aiming to tickle your funny bone.

The Vault Festival promises to showcase some of the best female and BAME talent, with over 52 per cent of shows written or directed by women. Fringe First winner Katie Bonna explores gender conditioning in Paper Scissors Stone, while Edinburgh hit Glitter Punch deals with student/teacher relationship boundaries. Nicole Acquah examines racism in the UK in her powerful piece For a Black Girl, while round-table discussions on gender equality will also be providing food for thought.

Among the late-night parties at the weekends, includes Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Ball, St Patrick’s Day, the South London Soul Train and the opening and closing bashes. As well as all the entertainment, there will be plenty of options to keep you fed and watered with intimate themed bars and street food stalls.

  • The Vault Festival runs from 24 January – 18 March 2018 and takes place at The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN; Network Theatre, 246a Lower Road, SE1 8SJ and Waterloo East Theatre, Brad Street, SE1 8TN. Nearest stations: Waterloo or Lambeth North. For more information and tickets, visit the Vault Festival website.

To find out what else is on in January, click here.

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Shake off the winter blues at the London Remixed Festival 2018

© Alejandro Tamagno

London Remixed Festival returns to Rich Mix
© Alejandro Tamagno

Need to shake off those winter blues? Well, you don’t have to wait until spring as the London Remixed Festival is returning to Shoreditch this February. Over two days, over 25 innovative and exciting bands and DJs from a range of genres will perform across four stages. Revellers will be entertained by talented artists playing Latin Grooves, Afro beats, Tropical Bass, Vintage-Remix, Desert Remix Balkan Beats, Urban Roots, Acoustic Soundclash and Brass Band Remix.

Taking over Rich Mix, music fans can soak up the festival spirit without the mud or dodgy toilets. As well as live music and DJ sets, guests can also take part in the free Remix workshops, Silent Disco, the ‘Disco Lift’ or the infamous Remix Speed Dating. Among the headliners include Wara, Holy Moly & The Crackers, The Baghdaddies, John Fairhurst, Siska and Subajah.

On Friday night, the Brass Off stage curated by Continental Drifts features New York Brass Band Vs Temple Funk Collective; DJ Chris Tofu and Count Bassy. On Saturday, revellers will be spoiled for choice with four stages to choose from, including Tropicarnival (Curated by Wormfood, Movimientos and Vibes & Pressure); Polka Club (Curated by Continental Drifts and Arts Canteen); and Folk Ghetto (Curated by Two For Joy and Woodburner).

  • The London Remixed Festival takes place from 2-3 February 2018 at Richmix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, E1 6LA. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street. Open Fri 2 7pm-1am, Sat 3 8pm-4am. Tickets: £7-£15. For more information and booking, visit the festival’s official website.

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

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Where to celebrate New Year’s Eve 2017 in London

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Happy New Year! 2018 is coming…

What a year 2017 has been – Trump shenanigans, the on-going Brexit negotiations, a wave of harassment allegations in Hollywood, the horror of Grenfell Tower and more. There are many of us who are looking forward to closing the door on this year and greeting 2018 with open arms. Fortunately, there’s a host of celebrations to help you welcome in the new year from clubbing, to meals and fancy dress or fireworks, depending on your taste and budget. With all the listings below, I would highly recommend booking in advance to take advantage of some early bird prices and to avoid disappointment as many will sell out. Many events won’t be taking walk-ups. Whatever you do, have a good one!

Don’t forget, TFL will be providing free public transport from 11.45pm on New Year’s Eve until 4.30am on New Year’s Day.

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. Since 2014, City Hall has introduced a fee to cover costs, this year’s being £10. Tickets went on sale in November. 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 of where you can and can’t access without a ticket, visit the London.gov.uk website.

  • Vintage New Year’s Eve Party @ Royal Festival Hal

Travel back in time with a glamorous extravaganza of live bands and DJs spread across six pop-up vintage nightclubs from the 1920s to the 1990s, with dining, bars, beauty parlours and photo studios also on site. Around midnight, some of the action will move to one of the balconies (weather permitting) for a great vista of the New Year’s Eve fireworks over the Thames. 7pm-2am. Tickets start from £99. Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. For booking, visit the Southbank Centre website. For more information, read Metro Girl’s blog post on the evening.

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

See in the new year laughing your socks off with MC Mandy Knight, Felicity Ward, Jeff Innocent, Tom Lucy and The Noise Next Door. There are two shows – an early one if you’ve got plans for midnight or the later one, with a DJ spinning tracks for the after-party. Doors open at 5pm/8pm, two shows at 6pm and 9.30pm. Tickets £27-£65. The Comedy Store, 1a Oxendon Street, SW1Y 4EE. Nearest stations: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Comedy Store website.

  • Black Cat NYE and Black Cat Ball

London’s dark and daring cabaret show is offering two opportunities to see in the New Year in the Spiegeltent in Leicester Square. The cabaret show at 6.30pm for early starters or the Black Cat Ball from 9.30pm, features a cabaret show, promenade circus spectacle, live music, roving performers and extended DJ set. 6.30/9.30pm-2am. Tickets: 6.30pm cabaret show £24-£29, Black Cat Ball £55 (includes glass of bubbly). Spiegeltent, Leicester Square, WC2H 7NA. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus. For tickets, visit Black Cat website.

  • Great Gatsby New Year’s Eve @ Sky Garden

Celebrate New Year’s Eve at the top of the ‘Walkie Talkie’ in the bars and restaurants of the Sky Garden with views over London. Food, drink, entertainment and DJs. 6pm-2am. Tickets prices start from £95. Sky Garden, 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London, EC3M 3BY. Nearest station: Fenchurch Street or Monument. For booking, visit the Sky Garden website. For Metro Girl’s review of the Sky Garden, click here.

  • Life Of A Legend @ Playboy Club

The Playboy Club pays tribute to its late founder Hugh Hefner with a decadent bash. The club will be transformed into the Playboy Mansion, with games area, film zone, photo studio, live music, DJs, American canapés, complimentary midnight fizz and, of course, bunnies. 8pm-3am. Tickets: £49. Playboy Club, 14 Old Park Lane, Mayfair, W1K 1ND. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner. For more information, visit the Playboy Club website.

  • Prohibition 1920s New Year’s Eve party

Welcome the new year, 1920s style at this prohibition-themed party from Bourne & Hollingsworth, featuring live music, gramophone DJs, gambling, dancers and cocktails. Dress code: 1920s. 9pm-3am. Tickets: £55. In a secret London location to be revealed two weeks before. For more information, visit the Prohibition Party website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Gaze out over London at View From The Shard

  • New Year’s Eve Party @ The Shard

Watch the fireworks from the highest party in London, featuring welcome cocktail, DJs, complimentary champagne toast, goody bag and 360 degree view of the capital. 10pm-2am. Tickets: £199. View From The Shard, Floor 72, Joiner Street, London Bridge, SE1 9QU. Nearest station: London Bridge. For booking, visit View From The Shard.

  • Vintage New Year’s Knees Up @ Cahoots

Vintage lovers will enjoy this post-war shenangians in an old underground war shelter, featuring a Moet & Chandon and canape reception, Bottomless Belvedere cocktails, live entertainment by the Hotsie Totsies, New Year’s Eve toast and DJ set by The Roustabouts. Dress code: Post-war chic. 5pm-3.30am. Tickets: Bar £100, Table £150. Cahoots, 13 Kingly Court, Soho, W1B 5PW. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For booking, visit the Cahoots website. For Metro Girl’s review of Cahoots, click here.

  • New Year’s Eve @ Flight Club

Dancing, drinking and darts at the Bloomsbury branch of Flight Club. Featuring DJs playing party hits, 90 minutes social darts session, fizz on arrival and more. 7pm-2am. Tickets from £15. Flight Club, New Oxford Street, Bloomsbury, WC1A 1BS. Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road. For tickets, visit DesignMyNight.

  • New Year’s Eve @ Devonshire Club

The City’s private members club is opening its doors for the New Year. Start your night with welcome drinks and canapes, before a decadent three or five-course dinner in the brasserie. Live entertainment from The Night Lights and DJs until the early hours. From 6.30pm until late. Tickets range from £50 (members)/£75 (non-members) to £255 depending on package. Devonshire Club, 5 Devonshire Square, City of London, EC2M 4YD. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit the Devonshire Club websiteRead the rest of this entry

Party through the decades at a Vintage New Year’s Eve @ Southbank Centre

© Neil Buchan Grant

Party through the decades as you welcome 2018 at the Vintage New Year’s Eve Party
© Neil Buchan Grant

Fancy something a bit different than a house party or your local pub for New Year’s Eve? How about celebrating the dawn of a new year in a vintage nightclub and enjoying stunning views of the capital and its fireworks?

Returning to the Southbank Centre this month is A Vintage New Year’s Eve Party, an extravaganza of dancing, drinking, dining and more from HemingwayDesign. Curators Wayne, Gerardine and Jack Hemingway will transform five floors of the Royal Festival Hall into vintage nightclubs, dining rooms, a vintage hair and beauty salon and photo studios. At midnight, guests will have the opportunity to watch the capital’s iconic fireworks over the Thames from the riverside terrace (weather permitting).

Highlights of this year’s party include:

  • The Torch Club

Enjoy the sounds of the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s with live big band music from Alex Meedham and his 18 piece orchestra. Meanwhile, DJ Daddy Rich will be spinning original vinyl and dance, while vintage dance tutors Mark & Hoc will be showing guests the moves from yesteryear.

  • Bar Bonkers

Experience pure joy as you immerse yourself in the world of ’80s and ’90s, with the best pop, rock and dance anthems, musical bingo and karaoke. Cheer along to the sounds mixed by disco dancing DJ Anna Greenwood, Jess Indeedy, DJ Helix, while their dancing grannies deliver a special edition of Indeedy Musical Bingo.

  • The TIKI Bar

Sip colourful cocktails while gazing over stunning views of the River Thames in a very tropical pop-up. Listen to the sounds of 1950s exotica Martin Green and DJ Martin Karminsky while revellers show off their samba and mambo skills, as hula girls do the limbo.

  • The Studio

Explore the history of disco as The Studio revisits some of the greatest club nights from the mid ’70s to the early ’80s. Partiers will be treated to the sounds of funk and disco, to electro and Northern Soul.

Throughout the evening, top Jive teacher Andrew Hall will help guests learn the Jive basics, while DJ Mr Jinx will be hitting the decks and The Jive Romeros will be mixing classic American and early British rock ‘n’ roll in Let It Rock. After midnight, The Clore Ballroom will become a cabaret club with live performances and vintage dancing and music.

In addition to the wealth of entertainment, there are also some dining packages available to add on to your ticket. Guests can feast on a three-course meal and have the use of a reserved table by the main ballroom floor for the whole night and access to a dedicated bar. Or if you want something lighter, there is also a buffet dining option.

  • A Vintage New Year’s Eve Party takes place on 31 December 2017 from 7pm until late. At Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. Tickets: Party £99 (second release), £119 (final release), Add buffet for £35, Add dining, reserved table all night and access to dedicated bar for £85. For more information and tickets, visit the Southbank Centre website or phone 020 3879 9555.

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

For a guide to London’s other New Year’s Eve events, click here.

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Go on a musical journey at Spitalfields Music Festival 2017

© Brian Sweeney

This year’s Spitalfields Music Festival is curated by Andre de Ridder
© Brian Sweeney

Returning to London this December is the annual Spitalfields Music Festival. Over eight days, local and international musicians will gather in east London for a programme of bold and innovative performance. This year has been curated by conductor André de Ridder, with his vision shaking up the festival for 2017. Ridder is Artistic Director of Finland’s largest Contemporary Music Festival, founder of the ground-breaking ensemble s t a r g a z e and has worked across many genres with artists such as Nico Muhly, Damon Albarn, Max Richter, Uri Caine, Brian Eno and  Jonny Greenwood.

Among the wide variety of performances and experiences include an immersive time-travel journey in a Spitalfields Huguenot House, meditation-inspired music under an interactive light display, an art commission in a church and a new work inspired by US punk band Fugazi. Acts include Sam Amidon, Bryan Benner, Sam Beste, Liam Byrne, Uri Caine, Mara Carlyle, Rahel Debebe-Desselegne, Anne Denholm, Abimaro, Lisa Hannigan, Topi Lehtipuu, Katherine Manley, Phil Minton, James McVinnie, Robert Murray, Ben Nelson, Alex Reeve, Shapla Salique, Saied Silbak, Aart Strootman, Heloise Werner and Apollo 47.

Among the highlights include:

An unpredictable adventure through history including tales from actors, historians and authors in a mystery location not usually open to the public. 2pm and 4pm. Tickets: £10. At secret location, meet at steps of Christ Church.

Classic Album Sundays presents an evening with composer Max Richter and conductor André de Ridder to discuss Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons. 7pm. Tickets: £15. Shoreditch Church (St Leonard’s).

From the award-winning Musical Rumpus series, explore the multi-sensory world of Fogonogo – an opera specially created for babies and toddlers. 11am and 1.30pm. Tickets: Child £8, Accompanying Adult £2. Rich Mix.

Presented by André de Ridder’s orchestral collective s t a r g a z e, listen to the realms of classical collide with minimal techno, experimental and electronic music. 8.30pm. Tickets: £10-£28. Shoreditch Church (St Leonard’s).

Festival-featured artist James McVinnie performs a stunning 40-minute set of solo keyboard music by JS Bach. 9pm. Pay what you decide. Shoreditch Church (St Leonard’s).

An ambitious staging and (re)interpretation of Schumann’s iconic song cycle: Dichterliebe. Set across the stunning Huguenot Houses of Spitalfields, each of the 16 songs in Schumann’s cycle will be performed by a different artist drawn from a wide range of stylistic backgrounds including Bengali folk, rap, classical, soul and jazz. 5pm and 7.30pm. Tickets: £35. Huguenot Homes of Spitalfields.

  • The Spitalfields Music Festival takes place from 2-10 December 2017. At various venues around Spitalfields. Nearest stations: Shoreditch High Street or Liverpool Street.

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

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Music, dance and giving back at the ‘Art for Love’ Christmas festival at Devonshire Square

Devonshire Square © Patrizia Ilaria Sechi

Help those less fortunate at Devonshire Square’s Giving Tree during the ‘Art for Love’ festival
© Patrizia Ilaria Sechi

December is finally here so the Christmas countdown can really begin. This month, Londoners will be entertained with a festive extravaganza with music, dance, ice skating and more. The ‘Art for Love’ festival will take place in Devonshire Square’s historic Western Courtyard, with lunchtime and after-work performances.

The events are:

Of course, Christmas is all about the spirit of giving so Devonshire Square will be teaming up with homeless charity The Connection to grant Christmas wishes and raise money for an important cause. Taking centre stage will be the Christmas Giving Tree, featuring wishes written on paper hearts. You can help them come true by writing ‘honoured’ on them and pledging to make that special request a reality. Surrounding the trees will be the stunning ‘Twilight Trees’ installation by artist Susie Reid, featuring sparkling cherry trees covered in illuminated blossom.

Amidst all the entertainment and festive fun will be plenty of restaurant and bars in the square if you’re feeling peckish, including Mac & Wild, Cinnamon Kitchen and Pitt Cue. Located in the City of London, just a short walk from Liverpool Street or Spitalfields Market, Devonshire Square is a historic business and entertainment quarter, dating back to the 18th century.

  • Art For Love Christmas Festival takes place from 1-19 December 2017. At Devonshire Square (Western Courtyard), City of London, EC2M. Nearest stations: Liverpool Street or Aldgate. For more information, visit the Devonshire Square website.

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

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Guide to what’s on in London in December 2017

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Wishing my readers a Merry Christmas

It’s all very festive in the capital. If you haven’t been forced into the Christmas spirit already with the sheer volume of red, green and glitter around the capital, it won’t take long before it hits you. There is a host of events on around the capital for both adults and families. Foodies will be particularly well catered for with seasonal markets and shows on. Across town, there’s plenty of festive pop-ups, with many listed below. Of course, there are many open-air ice skating rinks for those with a good sense of balance.

For a guide to London’s New Year’s Eve events, click here.

For a guide to London’s ice rinks, click here.

To find out which bars are serving special Christmas cocktails and Winter Warmers here.

  • 1 December : Dreamworks Animation in Concert

Listen to songs from your favourite Dreamworks animated films performed live by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. From 6pm. Tickets start from £28.32. Wembley SSE Arena, Arena Square, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0AA. Nearest station: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. For tickets, visit the Dreamworks SeeTickets website. For more information, visit Metro Girl’s blog post on the concert.

  • 1 – 2 DecemberThe Spirit Show

Fans of gin, vodka and the like will enjoy this boozy festival, featuring masterclasses, tastings, street food, interactive lounge, VIP speakeasy and more. Open Fri 1-9pm, Sat 12-5pm. Tickets from £25 (standard tickets inc unlimited tastings, showguide and 6 bottle jute). Business Design Centre, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit The Spirit Show website.

  • 1 – 3 DecemberLondon Illustration Fair

Three-day event celebrating illustration, featuring artist-led stands, talks, workshops, music, DJs, live signings. Entry: £8 advance, 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 – 10 December : London 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 £12 (Barbican standard 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.

  • 1 – 17 December : Ferrero Rocher – Behind The Layers

Ferrero Rocher are creating an immersive sensory tasting experience for chocolate fans. Open 1pm-10.30pm (last experience 9.30pm). Tickets: £25 (45 minute experience, includes a glass of Prosecco or non-alcoholic beverage). Westfield London, Shepherd’s Bush, W12 7GF. Nearest station: Shepherd’s Bush, Shepherd’s Bush Market or Wood Lane. For booking, visit BehindTheLayers.co.uk. Read Metro Girl’s blog post to find out more.

  • 1 – 19 December : Art For Love festival

A Christmas extravaganza in the historic surrounds of Devonshire Square, featuring live music, carol singing, ballet, ice skating performances and more. Times vary. Free. Devonshire Square (Western Courtyard), City of London, EC2M. Nearest stations: Liverpool Street or Aldgate. For more information, visit the Devonshire Square website. Read Metro Girl’s blog post on the festival.

  • 1 – 31 December : Greenwich Winter Time

The royal borough of Greenwich are hosting a winter festival, featuring open-air ice skating outside the Old Naval College, festive market, food and drink, entertainment on the mirrored stage and Father Christmas’ launch pad. Entry tickets (morning, afternoon or evening sessions): Adults £15-£18, Children £8. Old Royal Naval College, Park Row, Greenwich, SE10 9LS. Nearest station: Cutty Sark, Greenwich or Maze Hill. For more information, visit the Greenwich Winter Time website.

  • 2 DecemberThe 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.

  • 2 DecemberBeautycon

Social media influencers and celebrities will come together to talk beauty, fashion and style. Featuring Olivia Buckland, Jordyn Woods, Patricia Bright, Montana Brown, Grace Victory, Jayde Pierce and many more. 12-6pm. Tickets start from £30. Olympia National, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Beautycon website.

  • 2 – 3 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 £13.49, Children £7.42. Santa visit £8 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.

  • 2 – 10 December : Spitalfields Music Festival

Spitalfields Music return with their winter festival. Acts include Mark Titchner, Sara Mohr-Pietsch, Musical Rumpus, Max Richter and André de Ridder among others. 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. For this year’s highlights, read Metro Girl’s blog post.

  • 2 – 23 December : Santa’s Grotto @ Museum Of London

Meet Santa in a Victorian Santa’s Grotto. Professional photographer available to capture the moment. £10 per child (includes gift, book in advance). Museum of London, 150 London Wall, City of London, EC2Y 5HN. Nearest station: Barbican or Moorgate. For more information, visit the Museum Of London website.

  • 5 DecemberHome Front – Immersive Time Travel

One-off evening of an immersive time travel experience set in London during World War II. Featuring performances, escape rooms, live music, five bars and more. From 5.15pm-10.30pm. Tickets start from £25. At a secret east London location. For booking, visit DesignMyNight. For more information, read Metro Girl’s blog post.

  • 5 – 8 December : Vauxhall One’s Christmas Music Week

Every night, a different choir will perform in front of Vauxhall One’s Christmas tree. Choirs include West End Musical Choir, Sunday Assembly Choir, House Gospel Choir and Real Voices. 5.30pm-6.30pm. Free to spectate. Vauxhall One (outside Vauxhall station), SW8. Nearest station: Vauxhall. For more information, visit the Vauxhall One website.

  • 5 – 9 DecemberPigs 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

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South Pole Saloon @ Brixton Rooftop review: Be naughty AND nice at south London’s festive playground

© Ross Silcocks

South Pole Saloon comes to Brixton Rooftop for the winter
© Ross Silcocks

When it comes to a festive pop-up, the thought of standing outside can dampen even the most Christmassy of spirits. While rooftop venues are all the rage right now, our unpredictable London weather can make them more miss than hit at this time of year. However, summer destination Brixton Rooftop has had a winter makeover, bringing all the fun undercover in a cosy, heated environment. Taking over the rooftop this season is the South Pole Saloon, providing food, booze and entertainment.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Mac ‘n’ cheese with chorizo (front) and spinach (back) from Mac To The Future

I went along to the launch last week and was initially struck by how big it was, and also how cosy and warm it is. The venue has been transformed into a winter wonderland, with fir trees, twinkling lights and tinsel. Upon arrival, you are greeted by rows of picnic seating with the main bar and small stage behind. To the right, was the street food market, private candy caner cabins, themed VIP rooms and the nightclub in the saloon bar. Adding to the festive spirit were gangs of candy caner girls and naughty elves, providing plenty of material for some Christmas Instagram poses.

The three on-site bars offer a wide range of premium draft and bottled beers, typical spirits and the winter warmer cocktail menu. Among the original creations on offer were The Snow Globe (Spiced Bacardi Rum, Ginger Beer, Angostura, Coconut Syrup, topped with Cocoa Powder) and Santa’s Tart (Bacardi 8YO, Cherry Syrup, Cinnamon Syrup and Lime Juice). We were in the mood for mixing it up so tried the delicious Snow Globe, before moving on to Prosecco. Pretty much whatever your tipple is, you’ll be easily catered for.

With all the booze flowing, there’s plenty of opportunities to line your stomachs at the street food market, featuring The Lambassadors, Fancy Funkin Chicken, Vudu Food and Mac To The Future serving up. My friend and I ordered the classic ‘DeLorean’ mac ‘n’ cheese with a side of spinach from Mac To The Future which was absolutely delicious. Fortunately there was plenty of seating around so we grabbed a table with our drinks and grub and were entertained by the brilliant live music on the bar stage. Late night revellers can head to the saloon nightclub for a host of DJs and club nights performing until 2am over the next month, with Cirque Du Soul, The Doctor’s Orders, Applebum, For The Love Of Garage among the hosts.

Overall, it’s a great winter venue that would make a perfect meeting place for Christmas drinks with pals. What’s great about South Pole Saloon is that there will always be something different. The food traders create special dishes every week to follow the weekly food theme, while supper clubs will also be visiting. Among the events taking place will be cheese nights, bottomless brunches, burlesque shows and shared Christmas party nights, which caters for work or friends’ parties. I’ll definitely be heading back for a festive knees-up.

  • South Pole Saloon @ Brixton Rooftop. Open from 23 November 2017 – 1 January 2018. Opening Hours: Thur: 5pm-12am, Fri: 5pm-2am, Sat: 4pm-2am. South Pole Saloon @ Brixton Rooftop, Pope’s Road, Brixton, SW9 8JH. Nearest station: Brixton. For more information, visit the Brixton Rooftop website.
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Brixton Rooftop has had a winter makeover, bringing all the fun undercover in a cosy, heated environment

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

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