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.
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.
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.
- 16 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)
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
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.
Dolphins, and whales, and kelp – oh my! New Carnaby Christmas installation to be unveiled at shopping party
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.
Wishing 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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org . 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.
Christmas is fast approaching and there’s a host of festive pop-ups opening around London. Here’s a guide to the capital’s Christmassy bars and terraces, as well as some of the seasonal cocktails on offer at some of the regular bars.
Around the capital, a host of festive experiences are popping up around the capital. A host of London’s top bars have curated special festive cocktail menus. From Christmas pop-up bars and cosy terraces to winter wonderlands, here’s the best places to have festive fun.
Many London bars and restaurants have created special festive cocktails for the Christmas period, available for a limited time only. Here’s some of London’s top Christmas concoctions.
- The Lobby Bar @ One Aldwych
The Lobby Bar at the luxury One Aldwych hotel has created five Christmas cocktails to sip while looking at their 25ft amazing Snow Dome Christmas Tree. Father Negroni (Beefeater 24 gin, Cinnamon Campari and Antica Formula); Jungle Bells (Havana Club 7, Angostura Reduction, Lime Juice, Sugar Syrup and Crème Des Prunelles); Mulled Berries (Tequila Altos Silver, Mulled Wine, Agave Syrup, Lime Juice and Pedrino Tonic); Rose Stardust (Absolut Elix, Raspberry and Rose Shrub, Orange Juice, Disaronno Amaretto, Grapefruit Juice and Rose Lemonade); and Warm Gift (Maker’s Mark, Double Cream, Mozart Dark Chocolate, Vanilla Syrup, Pedro Ximénez, Frangelico, Vanilla Bitters and Tabasco).
– One Aldwych, 1 Aldwych, Covent Garden, WC2B 4BZ. Nearest stations: Covent Garden or Temple. For more information, visit the One Aldwych website.
- The Little Blue Door
‘The Flatmates’ are hosting festive feasts throughout December with a host of cocktail specials. Featuring the Mince Pie Martinis served with mini mince pies and EggNog Whiskey Flips with Grated Nutmeg. Check out Metro Girl’s review on The Little Blue Door.
– The Little Blue Door, 871-873 Fulham Road, Fulham, SW6 5HP. Nearest station: Parsons Green. For more information, visit the The Little Blue Door website.
- Dirty Martini
The sleek bar chain has created a special festive menu, available at its seven central London locations. Includes The Bellringer (Amaretto Disaronno, cranberry juice, blood orange syrup, topped with Prosecco); Grinch’s Espresso Martini (Absolut Vodka, Kahlua, DM Homemade Christmas Syrup, Fresh Espresso, Chocolate Bitters, Gingerbread Foam); and Santa’s Punch (Ketel One Oranje Vodka, Bold Liqueur, Pimento Dram, DM Homemade Xmas Syrup. Fresh Pomegranate Juice, Lime Juice, Orange Bitters). All £9.50.
– Dirty Martini, branches at Bishopsgate, Covent Garden, Hanover Square, Islington, Minories, Monument and St Paul’s.
Dockside restaurant and bar Bōkan have created a special festive drink to enjoy along with the views of the City. The Hot Mulled Sloe cocktail incorporates Sipsmith gin, spice mulled cloudy apple juice and a slice of orange. £9.
– Bōkan, (Floor 37-39), 40 Marsh Wall, Canary Wharf, E14 9TP. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Bokan website.
- Cantina Laredo
Mexican restaurant Cantina Laredo has created a quirky festive cocktail – Brussel Sprout infused margaritas – to accompany their ultimate festive feasting menus.
– Cantina Laredo, 10 Upper St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, WC2H 9FB. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit Cantina Laredo’s website.
There’s a host of Christmas pop-ups in London this season. Expect plenty of hot booze, comfort food, fake snow, Christmas trees and sparkling lights.
- 6 November – 24 December : The Winter Forest
Seasonal pop-up returns to Broadgate Circle in the City of London. Featuring 300 snow-covered pine trees, twinkling lights, cosy wood cabins, live music, festive quiz nights (Mons), craft classes, Father Christmas, art exhibition and plenty of hot food and drink. Free.
Shop for unique gifts and soak up some festive cheer at one of London’s many Christmas and markets and fairs this November and December 2018.
If you’re looking for something a bit different for your loved ones this Christmas, why not to head to one of London’s Christmas markets and fairs. There’s a host of long-term, charitable and weekend fairs on in the capital throughout November and December. Most are free entry, however some do charge a small entry fee with the money usually going to charity. Here’s a guide to the best Christmas markets in London for 2018.
Some festive markets are popping up for the whole Christmas period, with some even running into the new year. Be aware, 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.
- 9 November – 5 January 2019 : 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.
- 9 November – 6 January 2019 : South Bank 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.
- 15 November – 31 December : Kingston Christmas Market
Christmas market pops up in wooden huts pops up in Kingston town centre. Free. Kingston Market Place, Market Place, Kingston, KT1 1JH. Nearest station: Kingston. For more information, check out the Visit Kingston website.
- 17 November – 23 December : Solo Craft Fair @ Winterville
Craft fair featuring independent designers selling art, jewellery, ceramics, kids’ clothing and more. Fair taking place on Saturday and Sundays only. 12pm-5pm. Entry: Sat £2 after 12pm & £5 after 6pm. Sun £2 all day. Winterville, Clapham Common, SW4 9DE. Nearest station: Clapham Common. For more information, visit the Winterville website.
- 22 November – 6 January 2019 : 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.
- 24 November – 23 December : Christmas Market on the Piazza
Festive market at Wimbledon every weekend and occasional Fridays (7 and 21 December). Featuring over 40 stalls, street food and more. 11am-6pm. Free entry. The Piazza, Wimbledon, SW19 1QB. Nearest station: Wimbledon. For more information, visit the Love Wimbledon website.
- 29 November – 2 January 2019 : 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 London Bridge City website.
One-off or short-term Christmas fairs
- 7 – 11 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 £15 (Adults), £8 (Children). Business Design Centre, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information and tickets, visit the Country Living Fair website.
- 8 November : Carnaby Christmas Shopping Party
Shopping party at over 90 shops and boutiques of the Carnaby district. Including on-street entertainment and various store activities. Enjoy a 20% discount by signing up for your free ticket on the Carnaby website. 5pm-9pm. Carnaby London, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby London website
- 14 November : A Merry Marylebone Christmas launch
Marylebone’s annual Christmas Lights charity switch-on, food and drink, gift stalls, tombola and live music performances. From 3-7pm (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.
- 15 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.
- 16 – 17 November : Hyper Japan Christmas
A Christmas edition of the popular summer celebration of Japanese culture and products. Includes cuisine, shopping, mix of pop and traditional culture. Open Fri 12pm-8pm, Sat 9am-9pm, Sun 9am-5pm. Tickets: £18.33-£31.59. Olympia National, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information and advance tickets, visit the Hyper Japan website. Read the rest of this entry