A round-up of what’s on in London during the 2021 festive period.
Just a short blog post to wish readers of Memoirs of a Metro Girl a safe and Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! As the pandemic continues to rumble on, some people may be isolating over the festive period or scaling down their plans – I am certainly doing the latter.
If you’re like me and are staying in the London over the Christmas and New Year period, there are still plenty of events and activities on around town to keep you entertained. Of course, many venues may have amended their Covid-19 precautions, such as limiting numbers, requiring masks and asking for proof of vaccination or negative tests. Other venues have decided to close as well so always check their websites or social media accounts before heading out.
Here’s some ideas of what’s on in London during Christmas and New Year:
– Follow the Illuminature lights trail around the London Wetlands Centre in Barnes
– Fans of the Fab Four can check out unseen photographs of The Beatles at the Shapero Modern gallery in Mayfair.
– Check out the Winterfest light festival in Wembley.
– Try out a spot of curling in King’s Cross.
– Head to the theatre to watch one of the capital’s pantomimes, ballets or other festive shows.
– 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.
– Peruse the eclectic art at the last few days of the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy.
– Bring your kids to pose with their favourite movie heroes at the Scenes in the Square trail in Leicester Square.
Stay safe and enjoy the festive period!
Discover the London Wetlands Centre after dark on a festive trail
There are many festive light experiences on in London at the moment. However, most of these illuminated trails don’t allow visitors the chance to witness nature after dark at the same time.
Recently, we went along to the London Wetlands Centre in Barnes, to check out their winter lights trail passing by the habitats of its wildlife. While other nocturnal neon experiences tend to be Christmas themed, the Wetlands Centre have turn to their feathered inhabitants and other creatures for inspiration, with light sculpture of birds dotted along the trail. Among our group were my six-year-old niece and nine-year-old nephew, who loved dancing under the rainfall lights and hopping from lily pad to pad, which lit up in green in response to human feet. There are also opportunities to control some illuminations with interactive buttons, as well as a spotlight shed to hide in to create-your-own shadow animals. Read the rest of this entry
Find out what festive events and exhibitions are on in London over the Christmas 2021 period.
December is finally here! We’re sure many of us can’t wait for this difficult year to be over after another long struggle through pandemic and Brexit impacts. As usual, many festive events already started in November, but they really ramp up in the run-up to Christmas.
Among the events on in the capital this December include festive cinematic experiences, illumination and light trails, and many events celebrating food and drink on the most gluttonous time of the year.
As you would expect, there’s plenty of family-friendly activities as many relatives are reunited after spending last Christmas apart. Theatreland is well and truly back in action with a host of pantomimes, ballets and other Christmas shows to keep the whole family entertained. There’s also opportunities for alfresco ice skating or shopping at one of London’s many Christmas markets.
Look out for the 🐻 for family-friendly activities.
- 1 – 5 December 2021 : Sparkle in the Park
Follow a festive light trail around the park alongside fire art installations, before enjoying live music, children’s shows, a Christmas disco, market stalls and hot food and drink. From 4pm-9pm. Free entry. Maryon Park, Maryon Road, Charlton, SE7 8EN. Nearest stations: Charlton or Woolwich Dockyard. For more information, visit the Royal Greenwich website. 🐻
- 1 – 19 December 2021 : Cinema in the Snow
Pop Up Screens are bringing their festive, cinematic experience to south London. Step through a magical wardrobe into a winter wonderland, where you can watch classic Christmas films and newer festive releases on the big screen (indoors!). Licensed bar and snacks available. Tickets: Under 12s £12, Adults £22. Brockwell Park (Lido gate), Dulwich Road, Herne Hill, SE24 0PA. Nearest station: Herne Hill. For booking, visit the Pop Up Screens website. 🐻
- 1 – 30 December 2021 : Backyard Cinema’s Christmas Movie Spectacular
Cinematic experience experts Backyard Cinema are launching a third festive spectacular away from their permanent home in Wandsworth. Watch one of the three classic Christmas films (Love Actually, Home Alone or Elf) along with a live choir and performances by George The Poet in a stunning Art Deco setting. Times vary. Tickets start from £15. Troxy, 490 Commercial Road, Limehouse, E1 0HX. Nearest station: Limehouse. For tickets, visit the Backyard Cinema website. 🐻
- 2 December 2021 : Christmas Lights Walk @ Marylebone
Explore the light installations of the Baker Street Quarter, telling the story of famous people and places from the district. Starts at 6pm. Free. Starts at Punch Tavern, 55 Baker Street, Marylebone, W1U 7DA. Nearest station: Baker Street or Marylebone. For more information, visit the Baker Street Quarter website. 🐻
- 3 – 5 December 2021 : Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre
A celebration of festive food in the grounds of historic Hampton Court Palace. Featuring street food, pop-up bars, artisanal producers, live music, and more. 10am-5pm. Tickets (inc entry to courtyard and gardens): Adults £25.30, Children 5-15yr £12.60, Under 5s free. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (36 minutes from Waterloo). For more information and tickets, visit the HRP Food Festivals website. 🐻
- 4 December 2021 : Rumblin’ Cocktails Rum Education @ Museum of London Docklands
Rum cocktail experts Rumblin’ host a history and mixology workshop in the old Rum Store. Explore the heritage of the tipple, before mixing your own and take a bottle of rum punch home. Over 18s only. From 5.30pm. Tickets: £55. Museum of London Docklands, No.1 Warehouse, West India Quay, E14 4AL. Nearest stations: West India Quay or Canary Wharf. For booking, visit the Museum of London website.
- Now until 4 December 2021 : Pigs Ear Festival 2021
Annual beer festival in conjunction with CAMRA, featuring over 230 real ales plus ciders, perries and bottled beers, food stalls and unique festival brews. Open 12pm-10.30pm. Tickets: £3 (CAMRA members), £5 (general). Round Chapel, Glenarm Road, Hackney, E5 0LY. Nearest station: Hackney Downs or Hackney Central. For more information, visit the Pig’s Ear website.
- 4 December 2021 – 9 January 2022 : The Gingerbread City 2021
The Museum of Architecture returns with another Gingerbread City. Over 100 architects, artists and engineers create a mini city made entirely of gingerbread and icing. In addition to the exhibition of the final creation, there is also the opportunity to take part in gingerbread house-making workshops. Open daily 9am-9pm. Tickets (45 min sessions): Adults and over 12 yrs: £14, Children 3-12yrs £8.50. 6-7 Motcomb Street, Belgravia, SW1X 8JU. Nearest station: Knightsbridge or Hyde Park Corner. For more information, visit the Gingerbread City website. 🐻
- Now until 5 December 2021 : Christmas Floating Film Festival
Cosy up on a sofa or deckchair on a floating pontoon to watch your favourite festive films against the backdrop of St Katharine Docks. Screenings at 7pm (weekday and weekends), 2pm (weekends). Tickets: £16.76-£32.93. St Katharine Docks, 50 St Katharine’s Way, E1W 1LA. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Tower Gateway. For more information, visit the St Kats website. 🐻
- 7 – 9 December 2021 : Borough Market’s Festive Kitchen
Get inspired for your festive food with live demonstrations, tastings, masterclasses, tips and tricks at Borough Market. Events from 11am-4pm. Free entry. Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Borough Market website.
- 8 December 2021 : Festive evening @ Leadenhall Market
Enjoy Christmas workshops, live music and late-night shopping at historic Leadenhall Market. Open 6pm-10pm. Free to attend, but register for a place on one of the workshops via Eventbrite. Leadenhall Market (access from Gracechurch Street, Lime Street and Whittington Avenue), City of London, EC3V 1LT. Nearest stations: Monument or Fenchurch Street. For more information, visit the Leadenhall Market website.
- 8 December 2021 – 3 January 2022 : Palace of Stardust @ Hampton Court Palace
A spectacular new light trail illuminates the historic Hampton Court Palace, as it winds around the gardens. Expect illuminations, projects and festive food and drink. Open daily 4pm-8pm (closed 11, 24-26 Dec). Tickets: Adults £12.50, Children £8, under 5s free. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (36 minutes from Waterloo). To book, visit the Hampton Court Palace website. 🐻
- 9 December 2021 : Miracle on Leake Street 2021
A one-off Christmas event comes to the colourful, graffiti-decorated tunnels of Leake Street. Featuring market stalls, free wreath-making workshops, face paint, activations, food and drink, comedy and cabaret teasers of the Vault Festival 2022 and a free screening of Home Alone. From 6pm-9pm. Free entry. Leake Street tunnels, Lambeth, SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Lambeth North or Waterloo. For more information, visit the We Are Waterloo website.
- 9 December 2021 – 16 January 2022 : The Beatles exhibition @ Shapero Modern
Exhibition of newly-discovered photographs of The Beatles filming A Hard Day’s Night in 1964. Open Mon-Fri: 10am-6pm. Free entry. Shapero Modern, 41-43 Maddox Street, Mayfair, W1S 2PD. Nearest station: Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the Shapero Modern website. Check out Metro Girl’s post for details.
- Now until 9 January 2022 : Wave @ Greenwich Peninsula
Squidsoup presents an interactive sculptural light installation, offering an audio-visual experience. Open 7pm-10pm. Free entry, but queues expected at busy times. Peninsula Square, Greenwich Peninsula, SE10 0SQ. Nearest station: North Greenwich. For more information, visit the Greenwich Peninsula website. 🐻
- 9 – 30 December 2021 : Enchanted Eltham
Late-night opening of Eltham Palace sees the Tudor and Art Deco buildings and gardens dazzle in a show of light, colour and sound. Follow the trail around the gardens. Also including fairground rides and hot food and drink on offer, including a roasting marshmallow pit. Open Thu-Sun 4.30pm-9pm (staggered entry times). Tickets: Adults £14/£16, Children 5-15 yrs £9.50/£11.50. Eltham Palace, Court Yard, Eltham, SE9 5QE. Nearest stations: Eltham or Mottingham. For more information, visit the English Heritage website. 🐻
- 10 December 2021 : Paper Craft Masterclass – Christmas Card Making
Using images from the British Library’s collections, design and make your own Christmas cards under the guidance of expert Shelagh McCarthy. From 10:30am-4.30pm. Tickets: £65, seniors, students or young people (18-25yrs) £55. Harry M Weinrebe Learning Centre, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB. Nearest stations: King’s Cross St Pancras or Euston. For booking, visit the British Library website. Read the rest of this entry
Discover festive markets and fairs in central, north, south, east, and west London in November and December 2021.
With Christmas getting closer all the time and depressing warnings about ‘supply issues’ at the big chain stores, the thought of in-person shopping from independent traders is more appealing than ever. What better way to pick up some gifts for your loved ones, while getting an injection of festive spirit at one of London’s many Christmas markets and fairs.
Whether you live in north, south, east or west London, or just visiting the capital, there’s plenty of festive shopping opportunities around town. This season we’ll see the return of some popular, long-term markets, while many local communities, museums and charities are hosting one-off or weekend fairs.
Many of the markets and fairs have free entry, while some charge a small entry fee to raise money for charity. Be aware that some events are asking visitors to register for a free ticket online so they can control crowd numbers as the pandemic continues.
Here’s a guide to London’s best Christmas markets and fairs this 2021.
Long-term Christmas markets in London
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.
- 4 November – 24 December 2021 : Southbank Centre Winter Market
Wooden chalets selling festive food, drink, gifts and treats alongside the river on the South Bank. Open daily 11am-11pm. Free. Queen’s Walk, South Bank, SE1. Nearest station: Waterloo, Westminster or Embankment. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.
- 12 November 2021 – 9 January 2022 : Christmas in Leicester Square
The West End’s famous square will feature a Christmas market in Bavarian-style huts. There will also be a Santa’s Grotto for kids and a Spiegeltent, which will host a production of La Clique. Open Mon-Fri 12pm-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm. Free entry to the market, 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.
- 16 November 2021 – 2 January 2022 : Christmas By The River 2021
Annual festive market featuring food, drink, craft and gift stalls across The Scoop More London, Hay’s Galleria and London Bridge City Pier. Open daily 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 London Bridge City website.
- 18 November – 24 December 2021 : Kingston Christmas Market
Over 40 wooden cabins will be selling festive food, drink and gifts. Times TBC. Free entry. Market is located across two sites: The first in between Clarence Street and High Street, and the 2nd in front of All Saints Church, Kingston-upon-Thames, KT1. Nearest station: Kingston. For more information, visit the Kingston Christmas Market website.
- 19 November 2021 – 3 January 2022 : Winter Wonderland Market
Winter Wonderland returns to 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. Open daily 10am-10pm. General entry: (must be pre-booked) Peak £5-£7.50, Off-peak free. Entrance fee waived if you spend over £20 on attractions, rides or games in advance. Hyde Park, Westminster, W2 2UH. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch or Knightsbridge. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website.
One-off or short-term London Christmas fairs and markets
- 1 – 7 November 2021: 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. Open Mon-Sat: 10am-6pm, Thur: 10am-9pm, Sun: 10am-5pm. Tickets: Adults start from £21 (from £25 on the door), Children 13-16 yrs from £14 (£18 on the door), 12 and under free. Olympia Grand, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Spirit Of Christmas Fair website.
- 7 November and 4 – 5 December 2021 : Crafty Fox Christmas Market @ Mercato Metropolitano
Buy gifts directly from crafters and makers, enjoy food and drink from street food stalls or take part in a make-your-own-botanical-necklace workshop. 11am-5pm. Free entry.
- 10 November 2021 : Merry Marylebone
A festive evening to coincide with the Christmas lights switch-on with charity partner Mind Brent, Wandsworth and Westminster. Featuring retailer discounts, food and gift stalls, charity tombola, wreath-making, live music, Santa’s grotto, fairground rides, with a celebrity switching on the lights. 3pm-7pm. Free to attend. Marylebone Village (Marylebone High Street, Paddington Street and Devonshire Street), W1. Nearest stations: Bond Street, Baker Street or Marylebone. For more information, visit the Marylebone Village website.
- 10 – 14 November 2021 : Country Living Christmas
Prepare for the festive season with a host of Christmas stalls and events, including expert talks, workshops, food hall, shopping emporium, meet-the-makers and champagne bar. Open Wed-Thur 10am-5pm, Fri-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 10am-3pm. Tickets: Adults from £20, Children 5-16yrs £9. Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information and booking, visit the County Living Fair website.
- 10 – 14 and 22 – 26 November 2021 : Finnish Church Christmas Fair
Christmas market featuring live music, Finnish treats and gifts, food and drink from the cafeteria. Opening hours vary. Free entry. Finnish Church, 33 Albion Street, Rotherhithe, SE16 7JG. Nearest station: Rotherhithe. For more information, visit the Finnish Church website. Read the rest of this entry
Find out what events are on in the capital in November, including the Lord Mayor’s Show, motor shows, Christmas shopping events, and more.
November is here, the nights are drawing in, it’s getting colder… but on the bright side, it’s all getting a bit Christmassy. After last year’s lockdown, this year Londoners will be wanting to make up for lost time and prepare for a fabulous festive season. As well as host of Christmas shopping events, expect to see light shows and trails; the Lord Mayor’s Show; Oktoberfest, Diwali celebrations, music festivals and the return of Winter Wonderland.
Look out for the 🐻 for family-friendly activities.
- 1 – 7 November 2021 : Spirit of Christmas
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 600 independent boutiques and artisan makers. There will also be a winter restaurant and a champagne bar. Open Mon-Sat: 10am-6pm, Thur: 10am-9pm, Sun: 10am-5pm. Tickets: Adults start from £21 (from £25 on the door), Children 13-16 yrs from £14 (£18 on the door), 12 and under free. Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Spirit Of Christmas Fair website. 🐻
- 2 – 7 November 2021 : Winter Art & Antiques Fair
Arts and antiques event, featuring over 70 dealers showcasing over 20,000 pieces, ranging in price from £100 to £500,000. Open Tues-Wed & Fri-Sat 11am–6pm, Thur 11am–9pm, Sun 11am–5pm. Tickets: Tues-Fri – Adults £21, Children 13-16yrs £14. Weekends – Adults £23 (advance, more on the door), Children 13-16 yrs £16, 12 and under free. National Hall, Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Olympia Antiques website.
- 2 – 7 November 2021 : Diwali @ Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf celebrates the Hindu festival Diwali with a floating flower installation. Lights on from 5pm-11pm. Free. Jubilee Park, Canary Wharf, E14. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Canary Wharf website. 🐻
- 3 – 14 November 2021 : UK Green Film Festival
Watch documentaries exploring environmental issues. The UK-wide festival will be hosting London screenings in Dalston. Times and prices vary. Rio Cinema, 107 Kingsland Road, Dalston, E8 2PB. Nearest station: Dalston Kingsland or Dalston Junction. For more information, visit the festival website.
- 4 November 2021 : Diwali Festival @ Devonshire Square
Head to Devonshire Square to celebrate the Indian festival of lights. Featuring a dance show with Indian folk and classical dancers; complimentary tastings of Indian confectionary, Diwali canapes and tamarind soda drink from Cinnamon Kitchen; and the visual art of Rangoli lit by candles. 5.30pm-8pm. Free to attend, but register for a place through Eventbrite. Devonshire Square, City of London, EC2M. Nearest stations: Liverpool Street or Aldgate. For more information, visit the Devonshire Square website.
- 4 November 2021 : Carnaby Christmas Shopping & Dining Party
Festive evening sees over 100 shops, boutiques and restaurants of the Carnaby district are offering 20% discounts, in-store events, free drinks and goodie bags. Carnaby Street’s festive light installation will also be switched on. 12pm-8pm. Register online for a free ticket. Carnaby London, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby London website. 🐻
- 4 – 6 and 11 – 13 November 2021 : Oktoberfest London
Celebrate the German beer festival with plenty of Bavarian food, beer, and more. Open Thu-Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat 11am-11pm. Tickets: General admission £5-£15, Bavarian £21-£29 (inc 1 Mass of Bavarian FestBeer, Brezel snack and Bratwurst in bread). Dock X, Canada Water, 40 Surrey Quays Road, Docklands, SE16 7DX. Nearest station: Canada Water or Rotherhithe. For more information and tickets, visit the Oktoberfest London website.
- 6 November 2021 : Regent Street Motor Show
Dozens of vintage cars from 125 years of motoring will be on display for the Regent Street Motorshow ahead of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run the following day. Featuring entertainment and interactive displays. The road will be closed to vehicle traffic. 10.30am-4pm. Free. Regent Street, W1B 5TD. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Regent Street Motor Show website. 🐻
- 7 November 2021 : Veteran Car Run
Watch the beginning of 64 mile route from the capital to Brighton. Get up early to watch 500 classic cars setting off from Hyde Park Corner between 6.56am and 8.15am. Expect many drivers and passengers to be suitably dressed in costume and vintage clothing for the spectacle. Route starts at Serpentine Road in Hyde Park, past Buckingham Palace, over Westminster Bridge and south via Kennington, Brixton and Streatham. Free to spectate. Hyde Park Corner, Westminster, W2 2UH. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner. For more information, visit the Veteran Car Run website. 🐻
- 10 November 2021 : Merry Marylebone
A festive evening to coincide with the Christmas lights switch-on with charity partner Mind Brent, Wandsworth and Westminster. Featuring retailer discounts, food and gift stalls, charity tombola, wreath-making, live music, Santa’s grotto, fairground rides, with a celebrity switching on the lights. 3pm-7pm. Free to attend. Marylebone Village (Marylebone High Street, Paddington Street and Devonshire Street), W1. Nearest stations: Bond Street, Baker Street or Marylebone. For more information, visit the Marylebone Village website. 🐻
- 10 – 14 November 2021 : Country Living Christmas
Prepare for the festive season with a host of Christmas stalls and events, including expert talks, workshops, food hall, shopping emporium, meet-the-makers and champagne bar. Open Wed-Thur 10am-5pm, Fri-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 10am-3pm. Tickets: Adults from £20, Children 5-16yrs £9. Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information and booking, visit the County Living Fair website. 🐻
- 11 November – 18 December 2021 : The Great Feast
A new music and food festival pops up at the Selfridges Hotel. Featuring Michelin-starred chefs, immersive dining, creative cocktails and live music. Over 18s only. Open 11-20 Nov: Thu-Sat 6pm-12am, 25-27 Nov: 12pm-3pm and 6pm-12am, 1-18 Dec: Wed-Sat 12pm-3pm, 6pm-12am. Tickets: £20-£60. Old Selfridges Hotel, 1 Orchard St, Marylebone, W1H 6HJ. Nearest stations: Bond Street or Marble Arch. For more information and booking, visit The Great Feast website.
- 11 November – 30 December 2021 : Club Curling
Try your hand at curling as the winter sports pops up at King’s Cross for the festive season. Visitors can enjoy a 45 minute curling slot on one of the six synthetic ice rinks, before enjoying a cocktail at the bar. Open daily 11am-9pm. Tickets: Adults £5, Children under 12 free. Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, N1C 4DQ. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information and booking, visit the King’s Cross website. Check out Metro Girl’s post for more details. 🐻
- 12 – 14 November 2021 : Destination Star Trek
Europe’s official Star Trek convention comes to London, with the chance to see some of the series’ iconic faces, including George Takei, Kate Mulgrew, Jeri Ryan, Doug Jones, Robert Beltran, Marianna Hill, Mark Rolston, Alice Krige and more. Open Fri 2pm-8pm, Sat-Sun 9am-6pm. Tickets: One day £29 (Sat or Sun), Weekend £44 (Sat & Sun), three day £54. Premium ticket packages also available. ExCel London, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, Docklands, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Prince Regent or Custom House (DLR). For more information and tickets, visit the Destination Star Trek website. 🐻
- 12 – 14 November 2021 : Balance Festival 2021
Wellness festival returns to the East End for a weekend of mindfulness, fitness, relaxation and more. Opening times vary (morning and afternoon sessions). Tickets vary depending on day and session. Adults start from £26.50 (half-day), from £50 (full-day). The Old Truman Brewery, 15 Hanbury Street, Spitalfields, E1 6QR. Nearest stations: Shoreditch High Street or Liverpool Street. For more information and tickets, visit the Balance Festival website.
- 12 – 21 November 2021 : EFG London Jazz Festival
International jazz stars gather at venues all over the capital, including Dave Holland and John Scofield; Nu Civilisation Orchestra; Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita; Gwenifer Raymound; Black Midi & Moor Mother; Robocobra Quartet & Archipelago; Archie Sheep and Jason Moran; and many more. Gigs range from free to ticketed. At various locations across London. For listings and bookings, visit the EFG London Jazz Festival website.
- 12 – 28 November 2021 : Enchanted Woodland
Follow an illuminated trail through the gardens and arboretum of Syon Park. Lighting will transform the trees, plants and lake. Hot food and drinks available for sale. Open Fri-Sun, entry slots every 20 minutes from 5pm-7.40pm. Tickets: Adults £10, Children £7.50. Syon Park, London Road, Brentford, TW8 8JF. Nearest station: Syon Lane. For more information, visit the Enchanted Woodland website. 🐻
- 13 November 2021 : Lord Mayor’s Show
The spectacle is known as the oldest and largest civic procession in the world and marks the new Lord Mayor of London in a three-mile procession. The procession sets off from Mansion House at 11am, passes St Pauls before heading down Ludgate Hill to Fleet Street, then returns via the Victoria Embankment (approx 1.15pm-2.30pm) to Mansion House (arriving 2.30pm). Free to spectate. Nearest stations: Mansion House, Temple, Blackfriars, St Paul’s and Cannon Street. For more information visit the Lord Mayor’s Show website. 🐻
- 13 – 28 November 2021 : Wimbledon International Music Festival
A host of world-class musicians gather in Wimbledon for a series of classical, opera and jazz concerts and recitals. Artists include Sir Willard White, Imogen Cooper, The Tallis Scholars and Tango Club. Ticket prices vary. At various venues in Wimbledon, including King’s College School, Trinity United Reformed Church, St. John’s Church, Wimbledon College Hall, Wimbledon Synagogue. Nearest stations: Wimbledon or Raynes Park. For more information and tickets, visit the WIMF website.
- 13 November 2021 – 16 January 2022 : Hogwarts in the Snow
Visit your favourite Harry Potter sets, such as the Forbidden Forest, Diagon Alley, Hagrid’s Hut and the Hogwarts castle, which have been transformed with snow for the festive season. Tickets from £47. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, Hertfordshire, WD25 7LR. Nearest station: Watford (then a shuttle bus to studios). For more information and tickets, visit the WB Studio Tour website. 🐻
- Now until 14 November 2021 : Remember the Future exhibition
Artists in residence will set up studio at Orleans House and explore in art ways we could fix the Earth’s ecological crisis. Among the artists taking part in the six-month project include Ackroyd & Harvey; Nestor Pestana; Bryony Benge-Abbott; Vicky Long and Eloise Moody. During the exhibition, there will also be workshops, talks, family activities and late night events. Open Tues-Sun 10am-5pm. Entry: Free (donations welcome). Orleans House Gallery, Orleans Road, Twickenham, TW1 3BL. Nearest station: St Margaret’s. For more information, visit the Orleans House Gallery website.
- 17 November 2021 – 9 January 2022 : Christmas at Kew
Follow a magical trail around Kew Gardens, through tunnels of light, past dancing waterfalls, illuminations and the Fire Garden, and a light display at the Palm House. 4pm-10pm. Tickets: Standard advance adult: Off peak £21.50/Peak £26.50, Children: Off peak £14/peak £16.50. Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website. 🐻 Read the rest of this entry
Find out prices, opening times and transport details for the capital’s alfresco, pop-up ice rinks this Christmas and winter season.
After an absence last year due to the pandemic, London’s alfresco ice rinks are back again for the 2021 festive season. Some of the capital’s most iconic buildings are transforming their courtyards and outdoor spaces into winter sports venues. Along with pop-up ice rinks, many are accompanied by heated bars and stalls, selling festive food and drink to warm you up after a spot of ice skating.
This 2021/2022 season will be the last year ever for the Natural History Museum’s outdoor rink as the space is being transformed into an urban wildlife hub, while a bit further east, the Tower of London’s rink is also taking a hiatus until next year.
Most rinks are open daily during their seasonal sessions, including Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but are closed on Christmas Day.
Here’s a guide to London ice rinks – both outdoor and permanent – open this winter season.
London’s outdoor temporary rinks
- 22 October 2021 – 16 January 2022 : Natural History Museum Ice Rink
One of the capital’s favourite open-air ice rink returns for the winter season for its final time. There is also a rink side café bar serving hot and cold drinks and meals. There is also a Penguin Skate Club, offering lessons for children aged 4-8yrs. Open 11am-10pm. Tickets: Adults from £12.65, Children from £8.80. Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 5BD. Nearest station: South Kensington. To book, visit the Natural History Museum website.
- 23 October 2021 – 26 February 2022 : Ice Rink Canary Wharf
London’s longest open-air winter ice rink returns to Docklands after last year’s absence. There will also be the heated, Off Piste bar from Pravha serving drinks. Open daily 10am-10pm. Tickets (45 min sessions inc. skate hire): Adults and teens 13-18yrs £17.95, Children 4-12yrs £11.95. Canada Square Park, Canary Wharf, E14. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For booking, visit the Ice Rink Canary Wharf website.
- 11 November 2021 – TBC January 2022 : Skylight London (Tobacco Dock)
Skate on London’s rooftops with views of the City of London’s skyscrapers. Features alfresco and covered bars, igloos, and street food. Open Thu-Sun only. Free entry to Skylight. Skating tickets: TBC (45 minutes inc. skate hire). Skylight (Pennington Street entrance), Tobacco Quay, Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. For booking and more information, visit the Skylight London website.
- 17 November 2021 – 16 January 2022 : Skate @ Somerset House
Take to the ice in the courtyard of the historic Somerset House. As well as general skating, they are also club nights on ice and skating lessons. Also in the courtyard will be gourmet dining at Chalet Barragiste with Jimmy Garcia and hot and cold drinks at the Skate Lounge by Moët & Chandon. Session times last 45 minutes. Tickets: Adults from £11, children from £8.50. Somerset House, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. For more information and booking, visit the Somerset House website. Read the rest of this entry
Head to Wembley this winter to check out the festive light show, on until early January 2022.
This winter, Wembley Park’s festive light festival is returning to bring some neon and colour to the dark nights. Following the success of the inaugural Winterfest two years ago, the collection of installations is returning to the streets of HA9 for six weeks. Launching on 25 November 2021, the open-air light trail, themed ‘Reunited in Light’, will be open to the public seven days a week.
The launch of Winterfest will coincide of the switch-on ceremony of London’s largest LED Christmas tree on Wembley Park Boulevard. The 25-metre high, electronic conifer has been decorated with new digital artwork by local Brent artist Yoni Alter, including 100,000 kinetic lights which pulse to different rhythms.
Meanwhile, bespoke light installations will be peppered throughout the entertainment district, through trees, digital totems, lampposts and light banners. ‘Reunion’, a new light installation from Kumquat Lab, will have its world exclusive unveiling in Market Square. The structure features a series of light arches which visitors are invited to walk through and meet under. Joining the collection on 9 December 2021, will be the light installation ‘Reflections of the Future’, offering guests the chance to explore a multi-sensory journey walkway.
Along with the light show, Wembley Park’s new permanent outdoor gallery will launch on Olympic Way with the ‘Reunited in Light’ photography exhibition (25 November 2021 – 27 February 2022). The collection features work from 12 UK-based photographers, including Tami Aftab and Sophie Harris-Taylor.
- Winterfest runs from 24 November 2021 – 9 January 2022. Free admission. Open 10am-10pm (but best viewed after dark!). At Wembley Park, Wembley, HA9 0FD. Nearest stations: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. For more information, visit the Wembley Park website.
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!
P.S. Or if you’re ready for January 2020, find out what’s on in London then.
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.
At this time of year, a rooftop bar isn’t always a natural choice for a night out. However, this season, City of London drinking destination Madison have given their terrace a winter makeover. Their outdoor space has been turned into an enticing, cosy festive hideout, with a special winter drinks menu of hot aperitifs.
Last week, I went along with a friend to check out Madison’s new seasonal menu and to try their winter warmers. Madison is a restaurant and bar spanning the top floor of the One New Change complex and boasts amazing views of neighbouring St Paul’s Cathedral and the capital skyline. I’ve previously visited the bar for summer alfresco drinks and have always enjoyed their cocktails so was looking forward to seeing what they could do with the changing season.
The night of our visit was pretty cold, but fortunately Madison are well prepared with patio heaters and cosy faux fur and tartan blankets to snuggle up under. Their rooftop space features a series of alpine-inspired chalets with twinkling lights, which really gives it a Christmassy atmosphere.
As well as their usual wine and cocktail list, Madison’s bartenders have curated a special Hot Aperitifs menu featuring a selection of six warm cocktails. My friend and I both have a sweet tooth so the Chocolate Delight (Bulleit Whisky, chocolate and salted caramel) seemed like a good place to start. There was just a hint of the whisky’s smokiness, but it was predominantly sweet. The cocktail did remind me of a boozy hot chocolate and was very easy to drink. As a regular gin connoisseur, I also couldn’t resist trying the Aromatic Genever (Gin and green apple), which was pretty strong with a hint of fruitiness. Meanwhile, my friend went for a more traditional Christmas drink – a Vin Brule (Italian Mulled Wine), which she really enjoyed.
Aside from our hot concoctions, we also ordered a sharing platter from the bar menu. We ate a selection of warm snacks, including tallegio and walnut arancini (my personal favourite), buttermilk chicken, sautéed mini chorizo sausage and smoked tomato hummus with seeded crackers. There was a good, tasty variety of food and the selection was a great accompaniment for a cocktail session.
Overall, we had a great evening. The service was friendly and attentive, while the atmosphere was very festive. Despite the cool outside temperature, we felt very cosy during our few hours on the roof thanks to the heaters and blankets. The cocktail menu had something for everyone’s tastes, although I particularly loved the Chocolate Delight, which really lived up to its name. I’ll definitely be returning for some Christmas drinks.
- Madison (rooftop terrace), 1 New Change, City of London, EC4M 9AF. Nearest station: St Paul’s. The rooftop terrace chalets is open from 7 November 2018 – 28 February 2019. Open daily 4pm until late. To book a chalet, contact the Madison London events team on email@example.com . For more information, visit the Madison London website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in Febuary, click here.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar reviews, click here.