Category Archives: Christmas

Festive fun, frolics and food as ‘Christmess’ comes to Borough Market

Santa goes wild at Christmess

When it comes to Christmas, it can often feel like children get the most excitement out of the festive season. However, in the run-up to Yuletide, a festive pop-up is giving us grown-ups the chance for some seasonal fun.

Launching at Borough Market on 15 November for six weeks is Christmess, an opportunity to visit a naughty and anarchistic world featuring St Nicky and his pals. An old Victorian warehouse is being transformed for a new instalment from supper club supremos Slap Ya Papa and artistic collective Marbles & Ware. Guests can check out Mama Claus’ hidden parlour-come-blues room, and a Santa’s Whiskey Grotto. Expect plenty of entertainment with live music, Santa’s little helpers and plenty of Christmas sparkle. Be sure not to miss the Green Fairy granting wishes in the hidden absinthe bar.

Finally, revellers will head to the dining room for a 12 dish lunch or dinner, featuring the likes of Cajun roasted turkey and candied yams. Table etiquette will go out the window with diners encouraged to drink a lot and dance on the tables.

Meanwhile, during the day downstairs will be workshops so you can make your own Christmas presents or decoration, such as floral wreath weaving, beeswax candle making, writing workshops, yoga and life drawing.

  • Christmess @ The Imaginarium, Hunter Penrose, 32 Southwark Street, London Bridge, SE1 1TU. Nearest station: London Bridge. Tickets from £55 (dinner). For more information and booking, visit the Christmess website.

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

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Guide to Christmas markets and fairs in London 2017

When it comes to looking for Christmas presents, many of us are tired of the same old stuff flogged at the high street chains and want to find something a bit more original or unique. Well, fortunately Christmas markets are more popular than ever with long-term and one-off and weekend ones popping up all over the capital. As well as giving you the opportunity to browse dozens of stalls, many also have plenty of festive fun and entertainment to really get you in the mood.

Long-term markets 

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Santa’s on his way!

  • 10 November – 4 January 2018 : South Bank Winter Market

Wooden chalets selling festive food, drink, gifts and treats alongside the riverbank 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.

  • 10 November – 7 January 2018Christmas 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 A Christmas Carol, Al Murray: The Pub Landlord, Austentatious, Black Cat Cabaret, Fascinating Aida, House of Burlesque 2.0 and more. 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.

  • 10 November  – 8 January 2018 : Winter Market @ The Winter Forest

Festive market at the new winter installation at Broadgate. Also including food and drink stalls, Tipi cinema, and art exhibitions. Free entry. Exchange Square, Broadgate, EC2. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit The Winter Forest website.

  • 17 November – 1 January 2018 : Winter Wonderland Market

Winter Wonderland features a fun fair, food, drink, circus and an ice rink in Hyde Park over the festive period and includes a German market selling gifts too. 10am-10pm. Free entry. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch or Knightsbridge. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website.

  • 27 November – 22 December : Christmas Market @ The Cheesegrater

A festive market is opening in the 28m high open atrium of ‘The Cheesegrater’. Featuring German-style wooden chalets selling gifts and street food and a pop-up Champagne and Prosecco bar. Open Mon-Fri 10am-7pm. Free entry. The Leadenhall Buildng, 122 Leadenhall Street, City of London, EC3V 4AB. Nearest station: Bank, Aldgate or Fenchurch Street. For more information, check out the Cheesegrater’s Twitter page.

  • 30 November – 3 January 2018London Bridge Presents Christmas By The River

A market featuring food, drink, craft and gift stalls across The Scoop More London, Hay’s Galleria and London Bridge City Pier. 11am-7pm. 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.

One-off or short-term Christmas fairs

  • 8 – 12 NovemberCountry Living Christmas

Handmade gifts from hundreds of artisan designers and makers. There will also be a lifestyle theatre with experts giving talks and demonstrations, tea room and Cava bar. Opening times vary. Tickets: Adults £14.50, Children £8.50, Under 5s free. Business Design Centre, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information and tickets, visit the Country Living Fair website.

  • 9 November : Carnaby Christmas Party

Shopping party including the countdown to the famous Carnaby Christmas lights switch on at 6pm. An exciting and immersive light switch on will take place at 6pm to launch the brand-new Christmas lights, with legendary DJ Norman Jay MBE on the decks. Enjoy a 20% discount at over 100 brands in Carnaby. 5pm-9pm. Carnaby London, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby London website.

  • 16 November : Festive 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 live music from Some Voices choir and switching on the Christmas lights. The boutiques and eateries will be offering 20% discount. 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.

  • 18 November : Christmas Market @ St John at Hampstead

Christmas market in church crypt, featuring gifts, treats and presents, cake, coffee and more. 11am-2pm. Free entry. St John-at-Hampstead Church, Church Row, Hampstead, NW3 6UU. Nearest station: Hampstead. For more information, visit the church website.

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Skate on London’s highest ice rink at Skylight

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Enjoy a twirl on London’s highest ice rink at Skylight

Following its launch earlier this year, Skylight became a popular summer destination for rooftop drinking, food and games. Although many rooftop venues have closed for the winter, the Tobacco Quay destination has had a festive makeover. Launching last week, Skylight has been transformed for the winter season with the installation of an ice rink. Although smaller than other alfresco rinks, the Skylight one’s unique selling point is it offers fabulous views of the London skyline while you skate.

I went along to the launch last week having previously visited the venue in the summer and was impressed by how much it had changed. Despite anticipating it would be chilly and windy, I was pleasantly surprised. The top level features two bars – one enclosed in a heated tent and a pergola – heated too – with plenty of seating and blankets if you’re feeling cold. The lower-level is enclosed and include a fondue station, bar, lots of neon and alpine-esque furry seating and day beds. It’s a warm and cosy place which makes a great retreat after a whirl on the ice. There’s also an ice hockey slap shot outside if you’re looking to let off some steam.

Skylight London © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Skylight offers a rink, alfresco and undercover drinking, hockey shot and fondue

The bars serve a wide range of beers, cider, spirits, winter cocktails and mulled wine. We tried the Apple Crumble, a rum and apple concoction that certainly gave us a warm and fuzzy feeling. Meanwhile, cheese fans will be in their element with the fondue station.

Overall, it’s a great, versatile destination for a wintry night out. The abundance of heating means you’re unlikely to be cold for long, which would usually be my main aversion to outdoor winter venues. There was plenty to keep us occupied and it was a nice change to have a great view while ice-skating. Instagrammers will find there’s plenty of material to pose against with Skylight’s neon and stunning vistas.

  • Skylight, Tobacco Quay (Pennington Street entrance), Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. Free entry to Skylight. Under 18s allowed until 6pm. Open 2 November 2017 – 14 January 2018. Skating tickets: £10 (45 minutes). For booking, visit the Skylight London website.
Skylight London © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The various bars serve a range of spirits, beers, ciders and winter cocktails

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

For a guide to London’s open-air ice rinks this winter, click here.

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Guide to London’s open-air and pop-up ice rinks this winter 2017/2018

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Break the ice on a rink (and hopefully no bones!)

It’s that time of year again. With the temperatures dropping and the lights a twinkling, it’s no surprise many people want to take to the ice. As usual, there are a host of pop-up, open air rinks on around town. Many are accompanied by other wintry activities and festive food and drink offerings. Here’s a guide to open-air and pop-up ice skating in London this winter season.

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

  • 26 October – 7 January 2018Natural History Museum Ice Rink

A 1,000 square metre rink in the gardens of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. Opening hours vary. 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.

  • 2 November – 14 January 2018 : Skylight London

London’s highest ice rink surface on top of Tobacco Dock’s car park. Features alfresco and covered bars, fondue and ice hockey slap shot. Under 18s allowed until 6pm. Free entry to Skylight. Skating tickets: £10 (45 minutes). Skylight, Tobacco Quay, Pennington Street entrance, Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. For booking, visit the Skylight London website. For Metro Girl’s review, click here.

  • 4 November – 24 February 2018 : Ice Rink Canary Wharf

Skate over ice in the middle of the soaring skyscrapers of Canary Wharf. Non-skaters can watch the action from the bar or street food stalls. Session times last 1 hour. Opening times vary. Adults £9.95-£16.95, Children £9.95-£10.95. Canada Square Park, E14 5AB. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. To book, visit the Ice Rink Canary Wharf website.

  • 15 November – 14 January 2018Skate at Somerset House with Fortnum & Mason

One of the original pop-up ice rinks located in the 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 start from £8.90. Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. To book, visit the Somerset House website.  Read the rest of this entry

Backyard Cinema Snow Kingdom review: Travel through an ice cave to a fantastical festive film screening

© Backyard Cinema

Travel through an ice cave to reach Backyard Cinema’s Snow Kingdom

Now November is here and the clocks have gone back, it’s all getting a bit festive. The nights are drawing in and it’s getting a bit cold and gloomy outside, so no wonder we have a need to brighten up our evenings. The appeal of cosying up in front of your favourite movie seems that bit more appealing. This winter, roaming cinema club Backyard Cinema’s new Snow Kingdom theme is bringing a bit of fairy tale magic to your favourite festive film.

To those uninitiated, Backyard Cinema create immersive cinematic experiences in various unique venues. I’ve previously watched their Romeo + Juliet screening accompanied by a live choir in a church and their ‘Lost World’ and ‘Miami Beach’ themes in their current home at Mercato Metropolitano. The premise of their latest theme is a ‘hidden ice kingdom buried in London’.

Backyard Cinema is located in the street food haven of Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant and Castle. There’s a host of Italian and other international food and drink stalls, so you could easily make a night of it and come for dinner before watching a movie. The entrance to Backyard Cinema is certainly intriguing with a small tunnel beckoning you in. An attendant outside offers you a lamp to guide you on your journey through to the Snow Kingdom, which certainly adds a touch of magic to proceedings and provides good Instagram fodder. The entrance and the subsequent ice cave are fabulous, you’ve really got to applaud BC for their great set design. We carefully edged our way over the moving drawbridge through the ice cave, before arriving at the warm enclaves of the screening room.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Cosy up on a beanbag and watch a classic festive film in the grand surroundings

Before heading to our seats, we popped to the bar serving a choice of winter warmers, craft beer, bubbly, snacks and other refreshments. As it was still quite warm in the capital on the night of my visit, I wasn’t quite ready for a hot toddy so opted for my usual g&t with a packet of sweets and gourmet popcorn to share. The screening room itself was decked out like a ballroom in a grand castle, with chandeliers, tapestries and a throne. On the night in question, we were there to seeing the new live action Beauty And The Beast. We grabbed a pair of bean bags loungers near the front and settled down to watch Emma Watson and co. The surroundings of the Snow Kingdom could easily be the film’s setting of the Beast’s castle so they complemented each other well.

Through a combination of the setting and the film itself, we were certainly transported to a magical kingdom for the evening, so I would definitely recommend to everyone for a festive and fun night out. Children in particular will love the journey through the ice cave, while Instagrammers have a lot of posing potential with the throne and the drawbridge. Over the season, BC will be screening a selection of festive and family classic to new releases, such as the Princess Bride, E.T., Labyrinth, Harry Potter, Baby Driver, La La Land, so there’s something for everyone. A lot of screenings running up until Christmas are sold out already so I’d advise booking asap if you’re interested.

  • Backyard Cinema: Snow Kingdom is on from now until early 2018. Backyard Cinema, Mercato Metropolitano, 42 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, SE1 6DR. Nearest station: Elephant & Castle. Tickets from £17. For booking and listings, visit the Backyard Cinema website.

For the latest what’s on guide, click here.

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Wishing readers of Memoirs Of A Metro Girl a Happy Christmas

Wishing all MOAMG readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Wishing my readers a Merry Christmas

We’re approaching the end of 2016 and it’s been quite a year. Politically the country and the world is in turmoil right now.

It’s that time of year when London becomes somewhat of a ghost town for a few days when many of the capital’s residents flee to their hometowns across the country and overseas to spend the festive period with family… or perhaps in the sunshine.

As for me, I’ll be spending another Christmas here in London, as I always do, with my family. Yet again, my lifetime hope for a white Christmas is unlikely to be realised this year.

For those who are staying in the capital over the festive period, here’s a few ideas of things to do:

– If you fancy a spot of ice-skating at one of London’s many pop-up rinks, check out where to go here.

– Sip on a festive cocktail from one of these London bars.

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

– Or if you need some ideas of how to see in the New Year, click here.

See you in 2017 for more London fun and frolics!

Metro Girl

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Beyond The Waterfall review: Travel to another world in a surreal cocktail experience

© Marcus Peel

Beyond The Waterfall is a surreal experience, combining entertainment, cocktails and fantasy
© Marcus Peel

Many of you have probably heard of Bompas & Parr, the food and drink wizards who have created a series of sensory, taste experiences. I visited their Alcoholic Architecture – a room full of inhalable alcohol in Borough Market earlier this year and was looking forward to visiting subsequent projects. When I heard about their special Christmas experience – Beyond The Waterfall – I knew it was right up my street. It combines an immersive theatrical experience and cocktails so I was eager to take part.

This week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to their special preview night. Beyond The Waterfall is located in the plush The Village area of Westfield London – surrounded by designer shops. The fact they have managed to turn what I presume was a standard retail unit into a magical land is pretty impressive. Standing outside the front door, we were treated to a glimpse of what to expect as we peered through the windows to see the gloomy and misty lagoon. Upon entering, we were greeted by who I would describe as glamorous nautical advisers, giving us warnings of what to expect and tokens to exchange later for fantastical concoctions.

The first part of the journey was across a 20 metre lagoon – yes, they have actually created a huge water feature in a shopping centre. We boarded small, individual boats and made our way up the lagoon – with varying degrees of success in terms of speed and direction, depending on your paddling skills! Fortunately, there are strategically placed seafarers along the way to guide or push you in the right direction – which is ultimately ‘beyond the waterfall’. Don’t worry, you won’t get wet (unless you want to!), as waterproof ponchos and a large umbrella for the actual waterfall part are provided.

Beyond The Waterfall © Marcus Peel

Journey through a lagoon and Beyond The Waterfall
© Marcus Peel

A quick pit stop with a wise man gives you an insight into the faraway world you have travelled to and the chance to show off your drinking skills as you down your first cocktail – an interesting brown liquid in a bottle. Finally, we ended up in the hidden cavern – a mythical cocktail bar staffed by mermen and the very fabulous host Ruby. After being greeted with some welcome punch, we settled down to peruse the menu and mingle with the mermen, who entertained us with their various talents. The cocktail menu has been inspired by the sea and features unusual ingredients such as undersea botanicals, real gunpowder and rare ambergris. I ended up enjoying a Shipwreck Sour (Shipwreck cider brandy, Coral Calvados, Creme de Peche, lemon juice, shipwreck bitters and egg white), which was frothy and sweet.

Overall, we had a really fun experience. My friend and I embraced the spirit of the event and enjoyed the various flavours of alcohol we tried. The staff and entertainers we encountered along the way certainly brought a sense of adventure and theatrics so we felt a world away from the bustling shops of Westfield outside. The event has been so popular, further dates are likely to get added, so I really recommend keeping an eye out for more tickets.

  • 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 else is on in London in December, click here.

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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

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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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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