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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 December, click here.

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

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Christmas gift guide for the Londoner in your life

Looking for gift inspiration this Christmas? If you have a Londoner or Londonphile in your life and you’re stuck for ideas for what to get them for festive season, then look no further. Here’s a few suggestions for some London-centric presents.

 

  • The British Library membership

British Library © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018£80 (direct debit) or £87 (via credit/debit card) per year from The British Library.

If you know a Londoner who loves literature, then an annual membership to the British Library could be a perfect gift. They can enjoy unlimited free entry to BL exhibitions (plus 1 guest), access to the exclusive Members’ Room, or the Knowledge Centre Bar (plus up to 3 guests) on weeknight evenings. Members also enjoy priority booking for the BL’s programme of talks, events and performances as well 20% discount in their public restaurants, cafes and shops. The British Library has a series of specially curated exhibitions and events throughout the year. Current exhibitions include Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War (until 19 February 2019); and Cats on the Page (until 17 March 2019).

– The British Library, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras or Euston.

  • London Playset in a Bag

£19.99 from House of Marbles.

Although aimed at children, plenty of big kids will also like these miniature London landmarks and characters. Iconic sights such as Big Ben, the BT Tower, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye have been carved in wood and painted in bright colours. (9cm/3in figures come in a drawstring bag. Not suitable for children under three).

London-Playset-in-a-Bag

  • Soapsmith Soaps

£8.00 from Soapsmith.

Make a traditional gift of toiletries a little bit special with some London-themed soaps. All Soapsmith soaps are handmade in London using high quality, moisturising oils and butters. A range of soaps have taken inspiration from some of the capital’s famous districts, such as Baker Street (almond, honey and goat’s milk); Bloomsbury (primrose, peony and roses), and Hackney (Bergamot, Sandalwood, Rosemary and Geranium); among others. Founded by born and bred Londoner Samantha Jameson in 2012, all of Soapsmith’s products are manufactured in an East London workshop.

© Soapsmith Marble Arch soap

  • Half Hitch Gin

£35.00 from Half Hitch Gin website.

Back in the Victorian era, Camden was famous for its gin. Half Hitch Gin have brought ‘mother’s ruin’ back to NW1. Half Hitch Gin has been made in the former warehouse vaults of Camden Lock since it launched in 2014. Half Hitch Gin is made with tinctures of black tea, pepper, hay, English wood and bergamot. You could buy the gin lover in your life a bottle of Half Hitch, or perhaps book a visit to the gin school at their micro-distillery.

  • London Alphabet Screenprints by Lucy Loves This

£20-£50 from Lucy Loves This.

Brixton-based illustration studio Lucy Loves This has created a series of screenprints detailing some of the capital’s areas and their popular haunts. For example, Shoreditch features landmarks such as Boxpark, Truman Brewery and Arnold Circus entwinned in a giant S. The prints can be bought unframed (21 x 29.7cm) or framed (32.5 x 45cm) and are printed on 300gsm paper. Free delivery on orders over £40.

  • Prettycitylondon: Discovering London’s Beautiful Places

PrettyCityLondon book cover£25.00 from Waterstones.

London Instagram sensation Siobhan Ferguson has been photographing the capital’s most beautiful places since 2010. She now has over 351,000 followers on her PrettycityLondon Instagram account and another 358,000 on her sister account @theprettycities. Her coffee table book published this year features beautiful photos of the capital and provides a guide to some of London’s less explored parts, as well as tips on how to plan and photograph the capital to help make your ‘gram pop.

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

To find out where London’s outdoor ice rinks are this winter season, click here.

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Guide to what’s on in London in December 2018

Find out things to do in London this Christmas and December 2018.

Festive door Fitzrovia Christmas © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

London turns festive

It’s finally December! Although retailers have been pretending it’s the festive season for a month or more, it’s that time of year where things really crank up. All around town is a host of Christmas activities, pop-ups and events, with plenty of mulled booze and hot food on offer.

As well as guide to London’s events and festivals in December, Metro Girl has also rounded up an entertainment guide to all the capital’s ballets and pantomimes on this season.

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

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

For a guide to London’s Christmas pop-ups and festive cocktails, click here.

  • 1 – 9 DecemberSpitalfields Music Festival

Spitalfields Music return with their winter festival. Acts include Richard Reeve Parry, Fidelio Trio, Mary Bevan and Katherine Manley, among others. Including concerts, promenade performances, walks and more. At various venues in the Spitalfields area including Shoreditch Church, Rich Mix and the Huguenot Houses of Spitalfields. For booking, visit the Spitalfields Music website. Read Metro Girl’s review on last year’s festival.

  • 1 – 16 December : Ally Pally Christmas Carnival

Celebrate the re-opening of the historic theatre with a host of Christmas activities over three consecutive weekends and some weekdays. Including Luna Cinema screenings, Christmas market, street food and drink, Santa’s Grotto, Horrible Histories’ Horrible Christmas, and more. Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY. Nearest station: Alexandra Palace. For more information, visit the Ally Pally website.

  • Now until 2 December : London Illustration Fair

Three-day event celebrating illustration, featuring artist-led stands, talks, workshops, music, DJs, live signings. Fri-Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 11am-6pm. Entry: £10 advance. Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bankside, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars or Waterloo. For more information, visit the London Illustration Fair website.

  • Now until 4 December : Foodflix @ Bluebird Chelsea

Weekly film night comes to Bluebird Chelsea in their new cosy orangery. Expect Cointreau cocktails, gourmet fast food, popcorn and modern classic films. Tickets: £25 (includes film, welcome Cointreau cocktail and a Bluebird hotdog or vegan burger). Bluebird Chelsea, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest station: South Kensington. For more information, visit the Bluebird Chelsea website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the Foodflix.

  • 4 – 8 DecemberPigs Ear Beer And Cider Festival

Annual beer festival in conjunction with CAMRA, featuring over 230 real ales plus ciders, perries and bottled beers, food stalls and unique festival brews. Opening hours TBC. Entry: £3 (CAMRA members), £5 (non-members). Round Chapel, Powerscroft Road, Hackney, E5 0PU. Nearest station: Hackney Downs or Hackney Central. For more information, visit the Pig’s Ear website.

  • 6 – 22 December : 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. 4.30pm-9pm on Thu-Sun only. Tickets: Adults £12, Children 5-15 yrs £7.50. Eltham Palace, Court Yard, Eltham, SE9 5QE. Nearest station: Eltham or Mottingham. For more information, visit the English Heritage website. Check out Metro Girl’s review of Eltham Palace

  • 7 – 9 DecemberHampton Court Palace Festive Fayre

Festive food event in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, featuring shopping, live music, mulled wine, seasonal demos, tastings, choirs and more. Tickets: Adults £19.20, Children £9.60. 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.

  • 8 December : The Great Christmas Pudding Race

Watch or take part in the annual Great Christmas Pudding Race in Covent Garden, which sees participants dressing up and raising money for Cancer Research UK. From 11am. Free for spectators. Covent Garden Piazza, WC1. Nearest station: Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information and details on entering, visit the Great Christmas Pudding Race website.

  • Now until 9 December : Strange Days – Memories Of the Future

Video and films by 21 radical film-makers, presented as large-scale, multi-screen video installations. Tues-Sat 12pm-7pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. Free entry. The Store X, 180 The Strand, WC2R 1EA. Nearest station: Temple or Charing Cross. For more information, visit the website.

  • 10 – 30 December : The Four Realms at Christmas

Creative wizards Bompas & Parr have created a special, immersive Christmas experience, inspired by Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Enter the Land of Snowflakes, navigate the icy mirror maze, tickle your senses in the Land of Flowers and the Land of Sweets, before arriving at the Fourth Realm. Open Mon-Sat 12pm-9pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. Tickets: Adults £5, Children 12 and under Free (but still need to register for a ticket). The Atrium, Westfield London, Ariel Way, White City, W12 7GF. Nearest station: Shepherd’s Bush, White City or Shepherd’s Bush Market. For more information and booking, visit the Westfield London website.

  • 11 December : The Honeypot Children’s Charity’s Christmas Carol Concert

A night of festive entertainment and carols to raise money for The Honeypot Children charity. Featuring Portobello Live Choir, West End Kids and Alex Gibson Music. Complimentary mulled wine and mince pies following the concert. Doors open 6.30pm for a 7pm start. Tickets: Adults and teens £15, Children under 12 £12. St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, WC2E 9ED. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For tickets, click here.

  • 12 December : An Evening Of Cheese

Late-night opening of Borough Market celebrates cheese. Twenty of the Market’s renowned cheesemongers showcase their range of UK and International cheeses. There are also demo kitchens and tastings, carol singers and traders competing in the ‘cracking of the parmesan wheel’ competition. 6pm-9pm. Free entry. Borough Market, Borough, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Borough Market website. Read Metro Girl’s blog on an Evening of Cheese.
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Madison London review: Cosy up with hot cocktails and great views at The Chalet winter terrace

© Madison rooftop
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.

© Madison Vin Brule

A Vin Brule (Italian Mulled Wine)

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 madisonevents@danddlondon.com . For more information, visit the Madison London website.

© Madison rooftop cocktails

For a guide to London’s Christmas pop-ups and festive cocktails, click here.

For more of Metro Girl’s bar reviews, click here.

Madison Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Where to find some Christmas cheer – guide to London’s festive pop-ups and Christmas cocktails

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.

Christmas cocktails

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.

© One Aldwych Lobby Bar

Christmas Showtime cocktails at the One Aldwych Lobby Bar

  • 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

Christmas cocktails at The Little Blue Door

  • 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.

© Dirty Martini Christmas Cocktails 2018

Dirty Martini have created three Christmas cocktails (L-R) Santa’s Punch, The Bellringer and Grinch’s Espresso Martini

  • Bōkan

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.

© Cantina Laredo

Brussel Sprout infused margaritas at Cantina Laredo


Winter pop-ups

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.

– Broadgate Circle, Broadgate, EC2. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit The Broadgate websiteRead the rest of this entry

Backyard Cinema’s Christmas Labyrinth review: A wonderfully festive movie experience

Backyard Cinema Christmas Labyrinth © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Backyard Cinema has created a Christmas Labyrinth at Winterville at Clapham Common

This year sees Backyard Cinema launching their biggest film events to date. Setting up camp at festive experience Winterville is the Christmas Labyrinth. I’ve been going to Backyard Cinema events for several years and am always impressed by the various theme they come up with. It’s safe to say they’ve surpassed their previous themes with a fantastically Christmassy immersive experience on Clapham Common.

Backyard Cinema Christmas Labyrinth © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Which door will you choose?

The Christmas Labyrinth is one of two Backyard Cinema’s festive screening experiences – the other being The Snowman Experience at Winter Wonderland. This year, Backyard Cinema has taken over a large section of Winterville, with their huge, cosy tent hosting two screening rooms, a huge labyrinth adventure, cinemas bars, as well as a lobby bar with live entertainment.

Upon arrival, you can stop for a drink at the bar or head straight in to start your journey. Our evening began in a magical room, with a mysterious voice urging us to choose one of four different doors. I’m used to taking a special route to get to Backyard Cinema’s screening room, but this year’s Labyrinth experience is clearly much bigger, with many choices for the visitor. Although you are encouraged to take a separate door from your friend, my pal and I decided to take the same one and headed into the ‘Jester’ door, being the pair of jokers are we (according to my friend!). Our journey through the maze was disorientating, confusing, but exciting as we figured out what way to go. Finally, we ended up in a twinkling forest – which made me feel like I was in Narnia – which opened to the screening room.

Backyard Cinema Christmas Labyrinth © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

We walked through a magical labyrinth to the screening room

While the previous Backyard beanbags have always been comfortable, there’s some higher, bulkier and even cosier ones for their new Winterville home. My friend and I claimed a good set of beanbags with a prime position and headed to the nearby bar for some festive drinks. There’s a selection of craft beer, soft drinks, wine, prosecco and winter warmers. I’m a sucker for hot booze at the time of year so a mulled cider and rum was an easy choice… one I made twice as it happens. As you would expect for a cinema, there’s the typical snacks, including Proper Corn popcorn and pic and mix sweets. The bar is open throughout the screening should you feel the need to refresh yourself.

On our visit last week, we were watching the musical film The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron. We had never seen it before and I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. Throughout the film, I was really comfortable all settled in the beanbag, although I did use one of the BC provided blankets towards the last half hour to warm me up even further. Overall, it was a entertaining evening and the labyrinth was a creative and fun way to enter the cinema. Tickets are already sold out for many dates in the run-up to Christmas so I recommend buying them ASAP.

  • Backyard Cinema’s Christmas Labyrinth runs until 22 December 2018. At Winterville (entrance just north of the Long Pond), Clapham Common, SW4 9BX. Nearest stations: Clapham Common or Clapham South. Tickets: Adults from £18.98, Children from £9.98. Stalls, premium and loungers available. For booking, visit the Backyard Cinema website.

  • Backyard Cinema Presents: The Snowman™ Experience at Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, W2. Under 6 January 2019. 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. For booking, visit the Winter Wonderland website. Read Metro Girl’s review of the Snowman Experience.

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

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

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Guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs in 2018

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.

Long-term markets

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.

  • Christmas tree © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 20189 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 NovemberCountry Living Christmas

Handmade gifts from hundreds of artisan designers and makers. There will also be a lifestyle theatre with experts giving talks and demonstrations, 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.

Winter Wonderland Christmas market © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Shop till you drop with a thoroughly festive atmosphere

  • 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 websiteRead the rest of this entry

Happy Christmas to my readers (and a few tips if you’re staying put in the capital)

Wishing all Memoirs Of A Metro Girl readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Wishing readers of Memoirs Of A Metro Girl a Happy Christmas

Wow, what a year! Here we are again, it’s Christmas Eve and we’re all ready for some down time to relax. If you are working over Christmas, I feel your pain, I’ve worked Christmas Day before and it’s tough working while getting major FOMO.

It’s that time of year when London gets the quietest it can. A mass exodus leaves the capital’s population dramatically shrunken with many bars, restaurants and shops closing up for days. I was out having Christmas drinks with some friends last night and was loving how quiet it was and easy to get a seat everywhere we went.

Wishing all my readers a merry Christmas and hope you’re having a good one wherever you are. I’ll be having another London Christmas as usual, still no white one is sight.

If you’re staying in the capital over the festive period, here’s a few things on around town if you do venture out:

  • Try a spot of ice-skating on one of the capital’s pop-up ice rinks, including one on a rooftop with a view of London’s skyline, Skylight.
  • Get merry this Christmas with a festive cocktail from one of these London bars.
  • For a general guide to what’s on in December, check out this post.
  • Party with Santa’s naughty elves with live music, winter warmers, street food and more at the South Pole Saloon.
  • Start planning your New Year’s Eve with my Metro Girl’s guide to the best parties in town.

See you in 2018 for more exploring the capital!

Metro Girl

Where to get merry this Christmas: Guide to London’s festive cocktails

Skylon on the South Bank have looked to the night sky and the planets to inspire their winter cocktail menu.

As we approach Christmas, our social lives are busier than ever as we meet up with friends, family and work colleagues to celebrate the end of another year. While mulled wine can easily be found in many pubs and bars, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. With some of the world’s best cocktail bars in the capital, it’s no wonder that London’s mixologists have created some special festive concoctions for the Christmas period.

Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to the capital’s best festive cocktails this 2017 season.

  • Skylon

South Bank bar and restaurant Skylon have looked to the night sky for inspiration with their festive cocktail menu. Each drink is based on the eight planets of the Solar System. Mars (Campari, Ciroc infused hibiscus, Martini Rosso), Jupiter (Tanqueray 10, Staibano creamy limoncello, mulled wine reduction), Mercury (Ciroc infused thyme, Masticha, Lemongrass, Sherbet Prosecco), Uranus (Ciroc, passion fruit and chilly syrup), Venus (Ciroc, truffle oil, cacao blanco, Prosecco), Saturn (Zacapa 23 infused caramel, Liquor 43, angostura bitter), Neptune (Ciroc, Blue Caracao infused pineapple, lemon grass sugar syrup) and Earth (J.W Blue label, Hennessey fine cognac, red and dry vermouth, angostura bitter). Drinks range from £12.50-£14.50. On sale until 31 January 2018.

Skylon, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo.

© One Aldwych

A Christmas Cheer at One Aldwych Lobby Bar

  • The Lobby Bar @ One Aldwych

Enjoy a touch of luxury at the lavish Lobby Bar at the One Aldwych Hotel. They’ve teamed up with Perrier-Jouët Brut Champagne to create five limited-edition drinks. Christmas Club – inspired by Home Alone. (Home-made orange liqueur, raspberry syrup, fresh lemon juice, topped up with Perrier-Jouët Brut), Golden Snitch – inspired by Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Havana 7 rum, Antica Formula, Lapponia blueberry liqueur, blueberry cheesecake flavour, sugar syrup, fresh lemon juice, topped up with Perrier-Jouët Brut), Carol Fizz – inspired by A Christmas Carol (Plymouth gin, rhubarb liqueur, framboise liqueur, elderflower cordial, fresh lemon juice, gold leaf, topped up with Perrier-Jouët Brut), Nutcracker (Beluga Russian vodka, fig liqueur, green apple purée, drops of cardamom bitters, topped up with Perrier-Jouët Brut) and Royal Santa – inspired by Miracle on 34th Street (Home-made hibiscus liqueur, fresh pomegranate juice, cinnamon foam, topped with Perrier-Jouët Brut).

One Aldwych, 1 Aldwych, Covent Garden, WC2B 4BZ. Nearest stations: Covent Garden or Temple.

  • Charlotte’s W5

Cosy up in Charlotte’s Winter Terrace from Sipsmith, featuring blankets, fairy lights, hot cocktails and roasted chestnuts. Winter Sloe Gin (Sipsmith Sloe Gin, cinnamon, star anise and apple), Winter Negroni Sipsmith (London Dry Gin, Campari, sweet vermouth and rooibos tea) and the Hot Espresso Martini (Sipsmith Sipping Vodka, Electric coffee and vanilla cream).

Charlotte’s W5, Longfield Avenue, Ealing, W5 2UQ. Nearest station: Ealing BroadwayRead the rest of this entry

Music, dance and giving back at the ‘Art for Love’ Christmas festival at Devonshire Square

Devonshire Square © Patrizia Ilaria Sechi

Help those less fortunate at Devonshire Square’s Giving Tree during the ‘Art for Love’ festival
© Patrizia Ilaria Sechi

December is finally here so the Christmas countdown can really begin. This month, Londoners will be entertained with a festive extravaganza with music, dance, ice skating and more. The ‘Art for Love’ festival will take place in Devonshire Square’s historic Western Courtyard, with lunchtime and after-work performances.

The events are:

Of course, Christmas is all about the spirit of giving so Devonshire Square will be teaming up with homeless charity The Connection to grant Christmas wishes and raise money for an important cause. Taking centre stage will be the Christmas Giving Tree, featuring wishes written on paper hearts. You can help them come true by writing ‘honoured’ on them and pledging to make that special request a reality. Surrounding the trees will be the stunning ‘Twilight Trees’ installation by artist Susie Reid, featuring sparkling cherry trees covered in illuminated blossom.

Amidst all the entertainment and festive fun will be plenty of restaurant and bars in the square if you’re feeling peckish, including Mac & Wild, Cinnamon Kitchen and Pitt Cue. Located in the City of London, just a short walk from Liverpool Street or Spitalfields Market, Devonshire Square is a historic business and entertainment quarter, dating back to the 18th century.

  • Art For Love Christmas Festival takes place from 1-19 December 2017. At Devonshire Square (Western Courtyard), City of London, EC2M. Nearest stations: Liverpool Street or Aldgate. For more information, visit the Devonshire Square website.

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

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