Find out what beer and cocktail festivals, art exhibitions and Christmas events are on in London this December.
It’s December! When it comes to events on around town, you can be guaranteed most of them will have a festive feel. At this time of year, a host of venues are hosting festivals and activities for both children and adults to enjoy as a family. Fans of Friends, Stranger Things or The Wolf Of Wall Street will also have a chance to live for real with special immersive experiences. Of course, there will be plenty of Christmas themed fun on around town.
For a guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.
To find out where London’s Christmas pantomimes, ballets and shows are on, click here.
Discover London’s winter terraces, and Christmas cocktails menus.
- Now until 1 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 in advance, £12.50 on the door, Children under 12 free. Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bankside, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars or Waterloo. For more information, visit the London Illustration Fair website.
- Now until 1 December : William Blake’s ‘Ancient of Days’ projection
William Blake’s ambition of having his art exhibited on churches is realised as his masterpiece ‘Ancient of Days’ is projected on the dome of St Paul’s to mark his 262nd birthday. 4.30pm-9pm. Free. St Paul’s Cathedral, St. Paul’s Churchyard, City of London, EC4M 8AD (best vantage point from the Millennium Bridge). Nearest station: St Paul’s or Mansion House. See Metro Girl’s blog post for photos and video.
- Now until 1 December : Architecture of London
Exhibition of 400 years of London architecture. Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12pm-4pm. Tickets: Adults £10, concs £7. Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, City of London, EC2V 5AE. Nearest station: St Paul’s, Bank or Moorgate. For more information, visit the City of London.gov website.
- Now until 1 December : 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 times every 20 minutes from 5pm-7.40pm. Tickets: Adults £10 (Fri), £12 (Sat-Sun), Children £5. Syon Park, London Road, Brentford, TW8 8JF. Nearest station: Syon Lane. For more information, visit the Enchanted Woodland website.
- 1 December – 25 January 2020 : Big Screen on the Ice
Watch your favourite movie on ice while cosying up with blankets and hot toddies. Screening on Saturday and Sunday evenings at 5pm (family films)or 8pm (adults films). Tickets: Ice skating + film (no seats) – Adults £12, Children £11. Ice skating + film (with seating) – Adults from £16, Children from £13. Skate hire £2.50. QUEENS, 17 Queensway, W2 4PQ. Nearest stations: Queensway or Bayswater. For tickets, visit the Big Screen on the Ice website. or the QUEENS website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post for more information.
- Now until 3 December : Antony Gormley @ RA
One of the Britain’s most famous living artists displays a series of large-scale artworks in this interactive exhibition. Open daily 10am-6pm, late opening on Fri until 8pm. Tickets: £18-£22. Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD. Nearest station: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Royal Academy of Arts website. Check out Metro Girl’s review of the exhibition.
- 3 – 7 December : Pig’s 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. Tickets: (check the website). 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 : Christmas Lights Walk @ Baker Street Quarter
Explore the light installations of the Baker Street Quarter, telling the story of famous people and places from the district. 6pm. Free. Meet at 55 Baker Street, Marylebone, W1U 7DA. Nearest station: Baker Street or Marylebone. For more information, visit the Baker Street Quarter website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on this year’s lights.
- 5 December : Marylebone Lane Christmas Shopping Evening
A festive evening of live music, activities, workshop, a free cocktail at the 108 Brasserie and exclusive discounts at the area’s retailers. 5pm-8pm. Free. Marylebone Lane, Marylebone, NW1. Nearest station: Bond Street. For more information, visit the Marylebone Village website.
- 5 December : Tower Bridge & the Thames on Film
Late-night opening of Tower Bridge, featuring an illustrated talk by British Film Institute curator Simon McCallum presenting clips from the BFI National Archive’s collection of footage about London, with a particular focus the Thames. Arrive at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. Tickets: £20pp (includes a welcome drink and a return ticket to visit Tower Bridge within 12 months). Tower Bridge Learning Space, Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Road, SE1 2UP. Nearest stations: Tower Hill, Tower Gateway or London Bridge. For booking, visit the Tower Bridge website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the 125th anniversary of Tower Bridge.
- 5 December : Imperial Lates – Winter Wonderlab
Evening of science and engineering, with live demos, workshops, interactive experiments and inspiring talks. Accompanied with drinks from the bar and liquid nitrogen ice cream. 6pm-9pm. Free. Imperial College London (Main Entrance), Exhibition Road, South Kensington, SW7 2AZ. Nearest station: South Kensington. For tickets, visit Eventbrite. Read the rest of this entry
Launching this October is a rather special afternoon tea for families. Judith Kerr’s beloved children’s book The Tiger Who Came To Tea has been charming readers since 1968. Like many, I owned the book as a children and loved my parents reading it to me.
From this week, The Savoy hotel has teamed up with publishers HarperCollins to create a unique children’s afternoon tea inspired by the classic book as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. This food and drink extravaganza will be the five-star hotel’s first dedicated children’s afternoon tea offering in its 129 year history. The variety of treats are drawn from the tea that Sophie and her mum shared with the visiting tiger. The Savoy’s pastry team have dreamed up an enchanting menu served on bespoke chinaware inspired by the book. The stunning china will also be available to buy from Savoy Tea.
The menu is as follows:
- Sophie’s Sandwiches
Peanut Butter & Jam Bites; Red Leicester Cheese Whirl; and Honey Roast Ham Finger Sandwiches.
- Tiger Scones
Freshly-baked stripy scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.
- Treats with the Tiger
Sophie’s Tights (Blue and pink Battenberg), The Milkman Special (Vanilla yoghurt, raspberry compote), Mummy’s Cookie Crumbs (Dark chocolate cookie dipped in chocolate); Tiger Food (Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting); and Owp! (Handmade marzipan tiger).
Accompanying the food will be a choice of hot or cold drink, including Vanilla Black Tea; Blackcurrant & Hibiscus Tea; Tiger Hot Chocolate (Served with cream and tiger stripes) or Orange juice.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea menu will be available for children at the first two sittings of Afternoon Tea in The Savoy’s iconic Thames Foyer. Adults may prefer the Traditional Afternoon Tea, Champagne Afternoon Tea and High Tea, which will continue to be offered.
- The Savoy’s special edition The Tiger Who Came to Tea at The Savoy, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 0EZ. Nearest station: Embankment, Charing Cross or Temple. Available Mon-Fri afternoons for the first two sittings from 8 October 2018. Price: £40 per child (aged 5-12years). Dress code: Smart casual. For more information booking, visit The Savoy’s website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in February, click here.
This post is taking part in #CulturedKids, sharing cultural blog posts aimed at children. Thanks to Catherine at Cultured Wednesdays for getting me involved.
Sci-fi is one of the most popular film genres today, with the huge success of the Star Wars franchise and Avatar as prime examples. While many people buy downloads or DVDs of their favourite films, nothing compares to seeing those sweeping space vistas on the big screen.
This spring, Backyard Cinema have created an immersive cinematic experience to watch your favourite sci-fi movie. Known for their themed screenings of both new and classic movies, their latest offering, Mission To Mars is their most ambitious yet. Following on from previous themes such as their most recent Snow Kingdom, as well as Miami Beach and The Lost World, this experience takes film fans literally out of this world.
Backyard Cinema is located in the corner of foodie haven Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant and Castle. After a quick dinner of spaghetti al vongole, we headed to BC’s box office to grab our tickets before preparing for Phase One of our intergalactic experience. The entrance has been suitably decked out as a mission control or a space centre, which reminded me of film sets from many classic space movies. Your journey starts with being security scanned, before proceeding through a metallic corridor to board the shuttle to the spacecraft launch pad. The shuttle is similar to ones you ride at the airport, with vibrating special effects creating the feeling of moving fast and a video featuring a space stewardess advising you on what to expect. The whole entrance process really builds up the spacey atmosphere and adds a sense of excitement to what would usually be a fairly normal entertainment experience.
Finally, you arrive at the ‘spacecraft’ itself, full of bean bag seating, the flight deck screen and the space station bar. We headed to the latter to purchase some of the brilliantly branded drinks and snacks, such as the ‘Martian Mai-Tai’ and space invader sweets. Not only did the cocktails fit the theme perfectly, the pouch serving was so handy and practical for a dark cinema as I have been known to spill a few drinks in the past.
After settling down into our beanbags, we had some pre-flight entertainment as an astronaut actor hauled an audience member to the flight deck to help prepare for launch. The space safety demonstration, followed by ‘take-off’, made sure anyone who wasn’t already in the sci-fi mood by now, certainly soon would be. While the adults surrounding me were certainly enjoying the introductions, I think children will particularly love the drama of it all. Finally, it was time for the movie, with the one in question being 1996 classic Independence Day. I’ve seen the film a few times over the years, more recently on TV, and it’s so much better on the big screen. The horror of watching international landmarks like the Empire State Building being blown to smithereens by aliens is fully realised in wide-screen. The US President’s patriotic ‘our Independence Day’ speech and the British Army’s ridiculous ‘oh blimey, tally ho’ accents had us all in stitches, two comedy moments I don’t think the director had in mind.
Backyard Cinema has certainly delivered with their most ambitious theme yet. Children and adults alike will enjoy this immersive build-up to watching a sci-fi film. There’s plenty of classics and new releases coming up in the next few months, with matinees available during the Easter holidays and weekends so I certainly recommend booking soon, as they’re likely to sell out.
- Backyard Cinema: Mission To Mars is on from now until 6 September 2018. Backyard Cinema, Mercato Metropolitano, 42 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, SE1 6DR. Nearest station: Elephant & Castle or Borough. Tickets: Adults from £17.50, Children (under 12) from £9.50. Date night package for two: £75 (includes snacks, bottle of Prosecco and blankets). For booking and listings, visit the Backyard Cinema website.
This post is taking part in #CulturedKids, sharing cultural blog posts aimed at children. Thanks to Diary Of A Londoness for getting me involved.
It’s the spookiest time of the year. It’s not only the Americans that go crazy for the annual scarefest with a host of daytime and nighttime events on for both children and adult on in London. With Halloween falling on a Tuesday this year, we can expect to see ghoulish events kicking off a bit earlier. As half-term holidays are the week before, there’s plenty of Halloween-themed fun for kids in the lead up to the 31 October. Meanwhile, for party animals, there’s plenty of late-night revelry, or for a calmer alternative, there’s special meals and film screenings.
- 1 October – 6 November : The Death Express @ The London Dungeon
Step aboard the Death Express, an old railway transporting the dead. Explore the history of London’s most gruesome residents and crimes. Tickets from £21 (timed entry). London Dungeon, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the London Dungeon website. For Metro Girl’s review of the London Dungeon, click here.
- 17 – 31 October : The Quarter of Curiosity Shop
Newburgh Quarter will be hosting a fortnight of Halloween fun, including a Halloween florist selling posies and bouquets in spooky shades. Also including series of free workshops, including Halloween Headdress making, potion cocktail making, pumpkin planters and a Halloween make-up masterclasses. The Quarter of Curiosity Shop, 2 Newburgh Street, Soho, W1F 7RD. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby website.
- 21 – 31 October : Boo At The Zoo
A week of fiendish fun at London Zoo including Halloween-themed activities, pumpkin carving, crafts and animal demonstrations. Open 10am-5pm. Activities are free with entry to zoo. Entrance tickets: Adults £24.50, Child £18.00 (cheaper online). London Zoo, Regent’s Park, Marylebone, NW1 4RY. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Camden Town. For booking, visit the ZSL website.
- 21 – 28 October : Spookfest @ London Museum of Water & Steam
Learn the secret history of the engine houses, enjoy a ride on the ghost train, a trip through the creepy wood and Halloween craft activities. Tickets: adults £12.50, children £5.50. London Museum of Water & Steam, Kew Bridge Road, Brentford, TW8 0EF. Nearest station: Kew Bridge. For more information, visit the London Museum of Water & Steam website.
- 23 – 27 October : Half-Term Horrors @ Eltham Palace
Creepy family fun at the Medieval and Art Deco Eltham Palace. Including costume competitions and pumpkin carving. Book a time slot at 11am, 12pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm. Tickets: Adults £14.40, Children £8.60. Eltham Palace, Court Yard, Eltham, Greenwich, SE9 5QE. Nearest station: Eltham or Mottingham. For more information, visit English Heritage website. For Metro Girl’s review of Eltham Palace, click here.
- 24 October : Family Day: Hallowe’en @ Benjamin Franklin House
A spooky family day with spooky 18th century stories told by Polly Hewson and gruesome games for 5-11 year olds. 4-5pm. Free, but advanced booking recommend. Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, Westminster, WC2N 5NG. Nearest stations: Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information, visit the Benjamin Franklin House website.
- 25 – 29 October : Four Legged Phantoms @ Sutton House
Halloween fun and games in a Tudor manor, including a ghost hunt and spooky stories. Fancy dress encouraged. Halloween activities are free with normal entry. Tickets: Adults £6, Children £3. Sutton House, 2-4 Homerton High Street, Hackney, E9 6JQ. Nearest station: Homerton. For more information, visit the National Trust website.
- 26 October : Crafty Pumpkin Fun @ Chiswick House
Children can enjoy pumpkin carving in the kitchen garden of Chiswick House. For 4-11 year olds. 10am-4pm. Tickets: £7 per child with accompanying adult (booking in advance recommended). Chiswick House, Chiswick, W4. Nearest station: Chiswick or Chiswick Park. For booking, visit the Chiswick House website.
- 26 – 29 October : Trick Or Treat Afternoon Tea
Foodies will love this afternoon tea with a spooky twist. Featuring black iced ghoul cupcakes, brownie coffins, blood orange tart and pumpkin sponge rolls. There will also be pumpkin carving classes in the café on Hallows Eve. Afternoon tea: £21.50pp (includes pot of tea or coffee). Bluebird, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest stations: Fulham Broadway, South Kensington or Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Bluebird website.
- 28 October : Trick Or Treat Run
A Halloween-themed charity run of either 2km, 5km or 10km around a closed park course. For adults and children, fancy dress encouraged. Prizes for the best costumes. Runs at 1.30pm and 5.30pm. Entrance fees start from £12 (adults) and £6 (children) depending on mileage. Richmond Park, Richmond, TW10 5HS. Nearest station: North Sheen, Richmond or Hampton Wick. For more information and to register, visit the Human Race website. Read the rest of this entry
Spring is (hopefully) in full swing and with Easter Holidays kicking off at the beginning of the month, there’s plenty going on both during and after the school holidays. With the hope of warmer weather, some events and festivals are starting to venture outside. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for some balmier weather.
- 30 March – 12 April : Chorus Festival
Festival celebrating singing as a group, featuring concerts, warm-ups and workshops. Tickets range from free to £38. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit the Southbank Centre website.
- 2 – 5 April : London International Ska Festival
Four day festival of ska music featuring Lee Scratch Perry, Steel Pulse, Derrick Harriot, Gentleman’s Dub Club, Rico Rodriguez, Freddie Notes and Sir Horace Upton Collective (from The Specials) among others, at venues across the capital, including the Jazz Café and the Forum. Wristbands for the whole festival £141, individual gigs range from £5 to £25. For more information and tickets, visit the London International Ska Festival website.
- 2 – 5 April : Le Beat Bespoke Festival
Indoor music festival returns celebrating 21st Century Modernist and Sixties inspired underground music culture. Featuring live bands, DJs, record fair, market, guest clubs, all-nighters and Go Go dancers. Tickets: Individual gig tickets vary, or 3 day pass £53, 4 day pass £61. 229 The Venue, 229 Great Portland Street, W1W 5PN. Nearest station: Great Portland Street or Oxford Circus. For more information, visit Le Beat Bespoke website.
- Now until 6 April : Ideal Home Show
A place of inspiration for homeowners including interiors, fittings and gardens. Includes plenty of opportunities to buy things both big and small for the house and food. Celebrity ambassadors in attendance include Alan Titchmarsh. Gregg Wallace, Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, George Clarke, Katie Piper, Martin Lewis, and Suzi Perry. Tickets: Adults £12 (weekday) or £14 (weekend). Kensington Olympia, Hammersmith Road, W14 8UX. Nearest tube/overland: Kensington Olympia. For more information and tickets, visit the Ideal Home Show website.
- 9 April – 19 July : Udderbelly Festival
Udderbelly returns to the Southbank for a seventh year, featuring three months of comedy, circus, cabaret and family shows at affordable prices in an inflatable upside down cow venue. Jubilee Gardens, off Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For more information and tickets, visit the Udderbelly website.
- 10 April : Spicy Friday – Friday Late @ Museum Of Brands
Late night adults-only opening of the Museum Of Brands, with spicy being the theme this month. Discover sauces, test your chili tolerance. Entrance includes free drink on arrival, themed cocktails, drinks and snacks, live entertainment and a spicy Time Tunnel trail. Tickets; £10. Museum Of Brands, 2 Colville Mews, off Lonsdale Road, Notting Hill, W11 2AR. Nearest tube: Notting Hill Gate. For more information and booking, visit the Museum Of Brands website.
- 10 April : Historic Punch gets Medieval
Late night event at the British Library, featuring Historic Punch, the salon of conversation, expert talks, and gin-laced concoctions as guests explore the quirkier aspects of Medieval life. 6.30-9.30pm. Tickets: £25. The British Library, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB. Nearest station: Euston, St Pancras or King’s Cross. For more information and booking, visit the British Library website.
- 11 April : Oxbridge Boat Race
Watch the historic annual boat race between the Cambridge and Oxford University crews. Thousands will line the banks between Putney Bridge and Mortlake to watch the action. Starts at 5.55pm. Free. Nearest stations: Putney Bridge, Hammersmith, Ravenscourt Park, Stamford Brook, East Putney, Barnes Bridge or Chiswick. For more information, visit the Boat Race website.