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Merry Christmas to MOAMG readers: Find out the best of London over Christmas

Just a short blog post to wish Memoirs of a Metro Girl readers a Merry Christmas. Hope you get to spend time with your loved ones and ignoring your diet for a few days and enjoying some good food and drink.

This year, I am taking the rare step to actually leave London for Christmas. It will be strange as I always look forward to the city being so quiet after the mass exodus – this year I will be part of said exodus.

To those people staying in London for the festive period – or perhaps you’re a visitor coming to the capital for Christmas – here’s a few ideas of what’s on around town. Of course, most things are closed on Christmas Day.

 – Visit the Winterfest light festival at Wembley Park.

 – Check out the last few weeks of Olafur Eliasson’s interactive art exhibition @ Tate Modern.

 – Follow the Snowman sculpture trail in London Bridge.

 – Watch a festive film on ice at Big Screen on Ice at QUEENS.

 – Enjoy the contemporary art at the Sculpture in the City exhibition in the City of London.

 – Go skating on one of London’s outdoor ice rinks.

 – Find out where London’s festive terraces, pop-ups and Christmas cocktails are.

 – Check out one of London’s pantomimes, ballets and Christmas shows.

Wishing all readers of Memoirs of a Metro Girl a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

See you on the other side of the decade!

Metro Girl

x

P.S. Or if you’re ready for January 2020, find out what’s on in London then.

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Baker Street’s history told in lights in a very special Christmas installation

Lady Montagu’s ‘Blue Stocking Parties’ at Baker Street Quarter’s Christmas Lights (artist’s impression)

As much as I love London’s Christmas lights, they can often be little more than some twinkling colours, the same ones from last year (sorry Regent Street, I’m looking at you!), or, even worse, covered in branding which strips out any festive sentiment.

However, this season, the Baker Street Quarter in Marylebone is doing something rather different for their first ever Christmas lights. The district will tell the story of its people and places of years gone by through a series of light installations. The spectacular lights will be featured in four different sites in the area, linked together by stunning illuminated lights along Baker Street. Designed by the Michael Grubb studio, there will designs lighting up Portman Square Garden, Manchester Square Garden, 55 Baker Street and at the Baker Street and Marylebone Road junction. The lights will be switched on on Thursday 21 November 2019, followed by a Christmas lights discovery walk on Wednesday 4 December (6pm).

The first installation in Portman Square Garden is ‘Lady Montagu’s Blue Stocking Parties’ – a nod to the wealthy philanthropist and literary critic’s fabulous bashes she hosted in Montagu House for her 18th century intellectual circle. Next up in Manchester Square Gardens, it will be a classic installation inspired by how the garden would have been lit in the mid 18th century as a ‘Marylebone Pleasure Garden’. Meanwhile, at 55 Baker Street will be memories of the ‘Baker Street Bazaar’, a popular attraction on the very spot which showcased the weird and wonderful from 1822 to World War II, when it was bombed. Finally, at the Baker Street and Marylebone Road junction lights will be inspired by Sherlock Holmes. Four lamp columns on each corner of the junction have been inspired by Sherlock’s sole Christmas tale ‘The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle’.

  • Baker Street Quarter’s Christmas lights will be on from 21 November 2019 – 6 January 2020. From Baker Street Station to Wigmore Street and Portman Square), Marylebone, W1. Nearest stations: Baker Street or Marylebone. For more information, visit the Baker Street Quarter website.
  • The Christmas Lights Discovery Walk takes place on 4 December 2019 at 6pm, starting at 55 Baker Street. Free. Participants can also enjoy 20% off drinks at the Churchill Bar & Terrace.

For a guide to what else is on in London in January 2020, click here.

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London pantomimes, ballets and Christmas shows 2019

Find out which Christmas shows are on in London this 2019 season, including ticket prices, transport options and more.

For many, the festive seasons is a time for entertainment and is a great opportunity to check out a Christmas show. From the West End to the fringes of outer London, there’s a huge choice of festive shows on across the capital. From ballets to pantomimes to ice skating spectaculars, there’s a huge choice of productions to suit all ages.

Here’s a guide to London Christmas pantomimes, ballets and shows this 2019 season.

London Pantomimes

Oh no he isn’t… oh yes, he is! Head to one of London’s classic family festive shows – the pantomime, with plenty of jokes, songs and camp.

  • Christmas santa © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 201916 November 2019 – 5 January 2020 : Cinderella (Hammersmith)

Lyric Hammersmith, Lyric Square, King Street, Hammersmith, W6 0QL. Nearest station: Hammersmith. Tickets: £10‐£44. For tickets, visit the Lyric website.

  • 22 November 2019 – 12 January 2020 : Sleeping Beauty (Greenwich)

Greenwich Theatre, Croom’s Hill, Greenwich, SE10 8ES. Nearest station: Greenwich or Cutty Sark (DLR). Tickets: Adults £30, Children £15.50. For tickets, visit the Greenwich Theatre website.

  • 23 November 2019 – 5 January 2020 : Dick Whittington and His Cat (Hackney)

Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street, Hackney, E8 1EJ. Nearest station: Hackney Central. Tickets: £10-£38. For tickets, visit the Hackney Empire website.

  • 23 November 2019 – 11 January 2020 : Dick Whittington (Stratford)

Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, Stratford, E15 1BN. Nearest station: Stratford. For tickets, visit the Stratford East website.

  • 28 November 2019 – 8 January 2020 : Slipped! Cinderella… Rebooted (Vauxhall)

A saucy panto for adults-only. Royal Vauxhall Tavern, 372 Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, SE11 5HY. Nearest station: Vauxhall. Tickets: £18 (over 18s only). For more information, visit the Vauxhall Tavern’s website.

  • 6 – 29 December 2019 : Sleeping Beauty (Hayes)

The Beck Theatre, Grange Road, Hayes, Middlesex, UB3 2UE. Nearest station: Hayes & Harlington. Tickets: £26-£29.50. For tickets, visit the Beck Theatre website.

  • 7 – 29 December 2019 : Cinderella (Euston)

Shaw Theatre, 100-110 Euston Road, Somers Town, NW1 2AJ. Nearest station: Euston and Kings Cross St Pancras. For tickets, visit the Shaw Theatre website.

  • 7 December 2019 – 5 January 2020 : Aladdin (Bromley)

Churchill Theatre, High Street, Bromley, BR1 1HA. Nearest station: Bromley South or Bromley North. Tickets: Adults £20-£43, Children £16-£39. For tickets, visit the Churchill Theatre website.

  • 7 December 2019 – 5 January 2020 : Snow White (Richmond)

Richmond Theatre, The Green, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1QJ. Nearest station: Richmond. Tickets: £12-£52.50. For tickets, visit the ATG website. Read the rest of this entry

Cosy up with hot tubs, igloos, mulled cocktails, street food and games at Winterland’s alpine lodge

One of the bookable winter lodges at Winterland

Boozy hot chocolates and cocktails

With the dark nights and dropping temperatures, it can be hard to motivate yourself to go out in the winter. However, the promise of cosy seating and hot cocktails is one way to entice me out of the house! With Christmas creeping up, I got into the festive spirit at the launch of seasonal pop-up destination Winterland last week.

Open from now until March 2020, Winterland is a restaurant, bar, music venue, arcade and adults-playground all rolled into one. Located by the River Thames, the Fulham pop-up covers a large space and features plenty of different spaces to hang out with your friends or lovers. Upon arrival, the festive spirit was well and truly kicking as we walked through a tunnel of twinkling lights, silver branches and Christmas trees. Despite the cold wind outside we had just battled through, the interior couldn’t be more different. Fur-covered sofas, cushions, fairy lights and plenty of trees made for a welcoming and cosy environment in the main covered pagoda. We headed straight to the bar, which serves a wide selection of drinks, including hot and cold cocktails. I couldn’t resist an alcoholic hot chocolate, with lashings of whipped cream and marshmallows on top. It had the right mixture of sweetness and booze, without the latter over-powering the flavour. Read the rest of this entry

London’s Christmas markets and fairs 2019

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

Visit one of London’s Christmas markets

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

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

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

Long-term Christmas fairs

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

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

The West End’s famous square will feature a Christmas market in Bavarian-style huts and Santa’s Grotto. A Spiegeltent will play host shows. Free entry to Leicester Square, but tickets required for Santa’s Grotto and the Spiegeltent. Leicester Square, WC2H. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Christmas In Leicester Square website.

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

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

  • 21 November – 5 January 2020 : Winter Wonderland Market

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

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

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

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

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

  • 27 November – 24 December : Ealing Christmas Market

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

  • 28 November – 22 December : River Walk Christmas Market

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


One-off or short-term Christmas fairs

  • 4 – 10 November : Spirit Of Christmas Fair

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

  • 13 November : A Merry Marylebone Christmas launch

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

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

  • 13 – 17 November : Country Living Christmas

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

  • 14 November : Christmas Shopping Event @ Seven Dials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For a guide to what else is on in London in January 2020, click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Merry Christmas to MOAMG readers and some tips if you’re staying in London

Christmas Holly bush © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018Wishing all Memoirs Of A Metro Girl readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

I would just like to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas wherever you will be. As usual, it will be another traditional Christmas with my family in my hometown of London.

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

– Bring the family – or relive your childhood – at The Snowman Experience at Winter Wonderland.

– Sip on a Christmas cocktail from one of these London bars and festive pop-ups.

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

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

– Why not check out some of the capital’s Christmas lights and decorations.

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

See you in 2019 for more London fun and frolics!

Metro Girl

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Walking in a Christmas wonderland: Photos of London’s 2018 festive lights and decorations

The Snowman Experience review: A magical and nostalgic immersive screening of a Christmas classic at Winter Wonderland

Backyard Cinema presents The Snowman Experience is an immersive screening of the classic Christmas animation for adults and children alike.

Backyard Cinema Snowman Experience
This year marks the 40th anniversary of The Snowman book. Created by author Raymond Briggs, it was adapted into animated short film in 1982. Directed by Dianne Jackson, the film has become a Christmas classic and is shown on TV every year. As a child of the 1980s, I found The Snowman enchanting and moving and continue to watch it every Christmas as a tradition.

This festive season, Backyard Cinema has created an immersive live experience at Winter Wonderland. The walk-through experience is more than just a film screening, allowing you to visit the sets and even say hello to The Snowman himself.

This week, I went along to check out The Snowman Experience and absolutely loved it. Although the film is just 25 minutes long, the experience actually lasts 45 minutes and spans many different spaces inspired by the classic tale. Located near the giant wheel in Winter Wonderland, the experience starts every 20 minutes. Upon entering the huge tent, you walk through an atmospheric ‘snowy forest’ to reach the reception, where a photographer is waiting to capture you in a ‘flying’ pose to commemorate your visit.

Backyard Cinema Snowman Experience

The experience eventually begins in a large screening room in what appears to be the family home from the film. The familiar blue kitchen cabinets, Christmas cake, fireplace, TV and sleeping cat have been recreated faithfully, which helps kickstart the nostalgia before the film starts. Two windows with moving snowing scenes adds to the atmosphere. As the animation begins on the big screen, it is accompanied by a variety of effects in the surrounding rooms of the house, bringing a sense of magic. When its time for The Snowman and James to take off and fly on their night-time journey, we move on to the next room to watch it in a forest under a twinkling sky. Next, the action progresses to the snowmen’s party as we head into the third and final screening room, featuring a table full of balloons, streamers, hats and glasses ready for the celebrations. Children particularly are in for a treat when the star of the show – The Snowman himself – enters the room to say hello and show off some of his dance moves. Despite being a grown adult, I must admit it was lovely to see the Snowman and really made me feel nostalgic about how magical I found the character as a child.

Overall, it was a great experience. While children are guaranteed to love it, anyone that grew up watching The Snowman or reading the book are equally likely to be enthralled. Backyard Cinema have really brought the film to life and seeing it on a big screen along with the stunning soundtrack really showcases the beauty of Howard Blake’s music and vocals of Peter Auty. The experience made me feel like a little girl again and I am highly tempted to go back again I enjoyed it so much.

  • Backyard Cinema Presents: The Snowman™ Experience is on at Winter Wonderland until 6 January 2019. At Hyde Park, W2. Nearest stations: Hyde Park Corner or Marble Arch. Tickets (vary between standard, off-peak, and peak): Adults/teen £9.95-£14.95, Children £6.96-£12.95, Family tickets £27.80-£51.80. Shows start every 20 minutes. For booking, visit the Winter Wonderland website.

To find out what’s on in London in January 2019, click here.

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

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