Category Archives: Christmas
Wishing all Memoirs Of A Metro Girl readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Wow, what a year! Here we are again, it’s Christmas Eve and we’re all ready for some down time to relax. If you are working over Christmas, I feel your pain, I’ve worked Christmas Day before and it’s tough working while getting major FOMO.
It’s that time of year when London gets the quietest it can. A mass exodus leaves the capital’s population dramatically shrunken with many bars, restaurants and shops closing up for days. I was out having Christmas drinks with some friends last night and was loving how quiet it was and easy to get a seat everywhere we went.
Wishing all my readers a merry Christmas and hope you’re having a good one wherever you are. I’ll be having another London Christmas as usual, still no white one is sight.
If you’re staying in the capital over the festive period, here’s a few things on around town if you do venture out:
- Try a spot of ice-skating on one of the capital’s pop-up ice rinks, including one on a rooftop with a view of London’s skyline, Skylight.
- Get merry this Christmas with a festive cocktail from one of these London bars.
- For a general guide to what’s on in December, check out this post.
- Party with Santa’s naughty elves with live music, winter warmers, street food and more at the South Pole Saloon.
- Start planning your New Year’s Eve with my Metro Girl’s guide to the best parties in town.
See you in 2018 for more exploring the capital!
As we approach Christmas, our social lives are busier than ever as we meet up with friends, family and work colleagues to celebrate the end of another year. While mulled wine can easily be found in many pubs and bars, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. With some of the world’s best cocktail bars in the capital, it’s no wonder that London’s mixologists have created some special festive concoctions for the Christmas period.
Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to the capital’s best festive cocktails this 2017 season.
South Bank bar and restaurant Skylon have looked to the night sky for inspiration with their festive cocktail menu. Each drink is based on the eight planets of the Solar System. Mars (Campari, Ciroc infused hibiscus, Martini Rosso), Jupiter (Tanqueray 10, Staibano creamy limoncello, mulled wine reduction), Mercury (Ciroc infused thyme, Masticha, Lemongrass, Sherbet Prosecco), Uranus (Ciroc, passion fruit and chilly syrup), Venus (Ciroc, truffle oil, cacao blanco, Prosecco), Saturn (Zacapa 23 infused caramel, Liquor 43, angostura bitter), Neptune (Ciroc, Blue Caracao infused pineapple, lemon grass sugar syrup) and Earth (J.W Blue label, Hennessey fine cognac, red and dry vermouth, angostura bitter). Drinks range from £12.50-£14.50. On sale until 31 January 2018.
Skylon, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo.
- The Lobby Bar @ One Aldwych
Enjoy a touch of luxury at the lavish Lobby Bar at the One Aldwych Hotel. They’ve teamed up with Perrier-Jouët Brut Champagne to create five limited-edition drinks. Christmas Club – inspired by Home Alone. (Home-made orange liqueur, raspberry syrup, fresh lemon juice, topped up with Perrier-Jouët Brut), Golden Snitch – inspired by Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Havana 7 rum, Antica Formula, Lapponia blueberry liqueur, blueberry cheesecake flavour, sugar syrup, fresh lemon juice, topped up with Perrier-Jouët Brut), Carol Fizz – inspired by A Christmas Carol (Plymouth gin, rhubarb liqueur, framboise liqueur, elderflower cordial, fresh lemon juice, gold leaf, topped up with Perrier-Jouët Brut), Nutcracker (Beluga Russian vodka, fig liqueur, green apple purée, drops of cardamom bitters, topped up with Perrier-Jouët Brut) and Royal Santa – inspired by Miracle on 34th Street (Home-made hibiscus liqueur, fresh pomegranate juice, cinnamon foam, topped with Perrier-Jouët Brut).
One Aldwych, 1 Aldwych, Covent Garden, WC2B 4BZ. Nearest stations: Covent Garden or Temple.
- Charlotte’s W5
Cosy up in Charlotte’s Winter Terrace from Sipsmith, featuring blankets, fairy lights, hot cocktails and roasted chestnuts. Winter Sloe Gin (Sipsmith Sloe Gin, cinnamon, star anise and apple), Winter Negroni Sipsmith (London Dry Gin, Campari, sweet vermouth and rooibos tea) and the Hot Espresso Martini (Sipsmith Sipping Vodka, Electric coffee and vanilla cream).
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:
- 1 December (12.30pm) : Christmas Wonderland ballet show.
- 7 December (5.30pm) : A Magical Christmas – Traditional Carols Concert by The Capital Arts Children’s Choir and London Cantamusica.
- 8 December (12.30pm) : Magic on Ice – Ice skating show.
- 11 December (6pm) – An evening of carols by the Constanza Chorus.
- 14 December (5.30pm) – The Deep End of Sound by Composer Alberto Ferro.
- 15 December (5pm) – Violins and Butterflies Christmas Show: LED Violins concert and illuminated butterfly ballerinas.
- 16 December (6.30pm) – Zalon Live in concert with his band.
- 19 December (5pm) – Saxophonist Aaron Liddard and his band The Argonauts live in concert.
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.
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 December : The 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 December : London 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 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.
- 2 December : Beautycon
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 December : Home 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 December : Pigs Ear Beer And Cider Festival
Annual beer festival in conjunction with CAMRA, featuring over 230 real ales plus ciders, perries and bottled beers, food stalls and unique festival brews. Opening hours TBC. Entry: £3 (members), £5 (non-members). Round Chapel, Powerscroft Road, Hackney, E5 0PU. Nearest station: Hackney Downs or Hackney Central. For more information, visit the Pig’s Ear website.
South Pole Saloon @ Brixton Rooftop review: Be naughty AND nice at south London’s festive playground
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.
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.
Christmas is that time of year to ditch the diet and indulge your sweet tooth. This festive season, chocolate lovers will be in for a treat with a new pop-up experience from Ferrero Rocher.
Following their successful dessert experience last Christmas, the Italian chocolatier is bringing a taste exploration to Westfield London. Launching on 1 December, the Ferrero Rocher: Behind the Layers will take guests on a multi-sensory tasting experience. Participants will sample delicious mini-desserts inspired by the five layers of Ferrero Rocher. The different flavours will be enriched by powerful light projections, music and motion.
Guests will start their journey in the golden bar and lounge, where they discover a drink menu created by the mixologists from Liquid Chefs. Next, they will take their seats to progress to the multi-sensory dessert experience. Visitors will watch their mini-desserts being hand-made in the spectacular setting. Chef Paul Hannagen has devised the special dessert menu, each creation inspired by the layers of a Ferrero Rocher – hazelnut, chocolate wafer and gold.
Following their experience, guests will be able to visit the on-site shop to buy Ferrero Rocher, which can be accompanied by personalised calligraphy labels for your loved ones. The bar will also be open to all those who haven’t been able to get tickets to the main event.
- Ferrero Rocher: Behind The Layers takes place on 1-17 December 2017. At Westfield London, Shepherd’s Bush, W12 7GF. Nearest station: Shepherd’s Bush, Shepherd’s Bush Market or Wood Lane. Open 1pm-10.30pm (last experience 9.30pm). Tickets: £25 (45 minute experience, includes a glass of Prosecco or non-alcoholic beverage). For more information and booking, visit BehindTheLayers.co.uk.
Snow bunnies living in London usually find themselves disappointed when it comes to the capital’s rare offering of the white stuff. However, if you’re looking for a bit of alpine-style fun but can’t be bothered getting an Easyjet flight to Tignes, there’s an alternative solution right here.
Following its successful launch last year, Vauxhall Winter Village is back in London for a six-week run over the festive period. Launching on 16 November, the seasonal pop-up offers après-ski style food, drink and entertainment. Expect twinkling lights, decorations, drinking and dining in an undercover, heated, cosy environment.
Located just moments from Vauxhall station, the pop-up alpine ski village features plenty to keep you amused, including the chance to get Instagramming in Retro Ski Wear at the Cable Car Photo Booth. You can host a Christmas social gathering for your friends by renting one of the bookable heated alpine cabin booths, themed after some of the world’s top ski resorts, such as St. Moritz, Klosters, Aspen, and Davos.
There’s plenty of foodie options to keep your hunger at bay at the street food stalls, including Jamakin Me Crazy Caribbean cuisine, Hola Guacamole Mexican treats, Country Kitchen’s British grub, City Burgers and Ye Olde Fish And Chips. Meanwhile, there will be plenty of opportunities to drink, with festive cocktails, mulled wine and your favourite tipples.
- Vauxhall Winter Village is open from 16 November – 22 December 2017 on Monday to Fridays only (and selected weekends) from 11.30am-10pm. Free entry. Vauxhall Winter Village, South Lambeth Place, Vauxhall, SW8 1SP. Nearest station: Vauxhall. For more information, visit the Vauxhall Winter Village website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in December, click here.
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 near 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 in December, click here.
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.
- 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 2018 : 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 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 2018 : London 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 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, 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.
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.
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.
For a guide to what else is on in London in December, click here.
For a guide to London’s open-air ice rinks this winter, click here.