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Festive fun, frolics and food as ‘Christmess’ comes to Borough Market

Santa goes wild at Christmess

When it comes to Christmas, it can often feel like children get the most excitement out of the festive season. However, in the run-up to Yuletide, a festive pop-up is giving us grown-ups the chance for some seasonal fun.

Launching at Borough Market on 15 November for six weeks is Christmess, an opportunity to visit a naughty and anarchistic world featuring St Nicky and his pals. An old Victorian warehouse is being transformed for a new instalment from supper club supremos Slap Ya Papa and artistic collective Marbles & Ware. Guests can check out Mama Claus’ hidden parlour-come-blues room, and a Santa’s Whiskey Grotto. Expect plenty of entertainment with live music, Santa’s little helpers and plenty of Christmas sparkle. Be sure not to miss the Green Fairy granting wishes in the hidden absinthe bar.

Finally, revellers will head to the dining room for a 12 dish lunch or dinner, featuring the likes of Cajun roasted turkey and candied yams. Table etiquette will go out the window with diners encouraged to drink a lot and dance on the tables.

Meanwhile, during the day downstairs will be workshops so you can make your own Christmas presents or decoration, such as floral wreath weaving, beeswax candle making, writing workshops, yoga and life drawing.

  • Christmess @ The Imaginarium, Hunter Penrose, 32 Southwark Street, London Bridge, SE1 1TU. Nearest station: London Bridge. Tickets from £55 (dinner). For more information and booking, visit the Christmess website.

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

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Guide to Christmas markets and fairs in London 2017

When it comes to looking for Christmas presents, many of us are tired of the same old stuff flogged at the high street chains and want to find something a bit more original or unique. Well, fortunately Christmas markets are more popular than ever with long-term and one-off and weekend ones popping up all over the capital. As well as giving you the opportunity to browse dozens of stalls, many also have plenty of festive fun and entertainment to really get you in the mood.

Long-term markets 

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Santa’s on his way!

  • 10 November – 4 January 2018 : South Bank Winter Market

Wooden chalets selling festive food, drink, gifts and treats alongside the riverbank 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.

  • 10 November – 7 January 2018Christmas in Leicester Square

The West End’s famous square will feature a Christmas market and Santa’s Grotto. A Spiegeltent will play host shows including A Christmas Carol, Al Murray: The Pub Landlord, Austentatious, Black Cat Cabaret, Fascinating Aida, House of Burlesque 2.0 and more. 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.

  • 10 November  – 8 January 2018 : Winter Market @ The Winter Forest

Festive market at the new winter installation at Broadgate. Also including food and drink stalls, Tipi cinema, and art exhibitions. Free entry. Exchange Square, Broadgate, EC2. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit The Winter Forest website.

  • 17 November – 1 January 2018 : 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.

  • 30 November – 3 January 2018London Bridge Presents Christmas By The River

A market featuring food, drink, craft and gift stalls across The Scoop More London, Hay’s Galleria and London Bridge City Pier. 11am-7pm. Free entry. Queen’s Walk and Hay’s Galleria, SE1 2DB. Nearest station: London Bridge or Tower Hill. For more information, visit the Tudor Markets website.

One-off or short-term Christmas fairs

  • 8 – 12 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, tea room and Cava bar. Opening times vary. Tickets: Adults £14.50, Children £8.50, Under 5s free. Business Design Centre, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information and tickets, visit the Country Living Fair website.

  • 9 November : Carnaby Christmas Party

Shopping party including the countdown to the famous Carnaby Christmas lights switch on at 6pm. An exciting and immersive light switch on will take place at 6pm to launch the brand-new Christmas lights, with legendary DJ Norman Jay MBE on the decks. Enjoy a 20% discount at over 100 brands in Carnaby. 5pm-9pm. Carnaby London, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby London website.

  • 16 November : Festive 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 live music from Some Voices choir and switching on the Christmas lights. The boutiques and eateries will be offering 20% discount. 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.

  • 18 November : Christmas Market @ St John at Hampstead

Christmas market in church crypt, featuring gifts, treats and presents, cake, coffee and more. 11am-2pm. Free entry. St John-at-Hampstead Church, Church Row, Hampstead, NW3 6UU. Nearest station: Hampstead. For more information, visit the church website.

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Skate on London’s highest ice rink at Skylight

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Enjoy a twirl on London’s highest ice rink at Skylight

Following its launch earlier this year, Skylight became a popular summer destination for rooftop drinking, food and games. Although many rooftop venues have closed for the winter, the Tobacco Quay destination has had a festive makeover. Launching last week, Skylight has been transformed for the winter season with the installation of an ice rink. Although smaller than other alfresco rinks, the Skylight one’s unique selling point is it offers fabulous views of the London skyline while you skate.

I went along to the launch last week having previously visited the venue in the summer and was impressed by how much it had changed. Despite anticipating it would be chilly and windy, I was pleasantly surprised. The top level features two bars – one enclosed in a heated tent and a pergola – heated too – with plenty of seating and blankets if you’re feeling cold. The lower-level is enclosed and include a fondue station, bar, lots of neon and alpine-esque furry seating and day beds. It’s a warm and cosy place which makes a great retreat after a whirl on the ice. There’s also an ice hockey slap shot outside if you’re looking to let off some steam.

Skylight London © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Skylight offers a rink, alfresco and undercover drinking, hockey shot and fondue

The bars serve a wide range of beers, cider, spirits, winter cocktails and mulled wine. We tried the Apple Crumble, a rum and apple concoction that certainly gave us a warm and fuzzy feeling. Meanwhile, cheese fans will be in their element with the fondue station.

Overall, it’s a great, versatile destination for a wintry night out. The abundance of heating means you’re unlikely to be cold for long, which would usually be my main aversion to outdoor winter venues. There was plenty to keep us occupied and it was a nice change to have a great view while ice-skating. Instagrammers will find there’s plenty of material to pose against with Skylight’s neon and stunning vistas.

  • Skylight, Tobacco Quay (Pennington Street entrance), Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. Free entry to Skylight. Under 18s allowed until 6pm. Open 2 November 2017 – 14 January 2018. Skating tickets: £10 (45 minutes). For booking, visit the Skylight London website.
Skylight London © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The various bars serve a range of spirits, beers, ciders and winter cocktails

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

For a guide to London’s open-air ice rinks this winter, click here.

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Music from your favourite films performed live on the Dreamworks Animation in Concert UK tour 

Over the years, Dreamworks have entertained millions of families with their animated movies. This December, fans will have the chance to listen some of the songs from the films performed live as the Dreamworks Animation in Concert UK tour comes to the capital.

Coming to London for one night only, the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra will be accompanying some of the favourite moments from Dreamworks’ most popular films. Families will be entertained with 20 years of animation and music scores by Hans Zimmer, Harry Gregson-Williams, John Powell, Alexandre Desplat, Alan Silvestri, Danny Elfman and many others. Scenes from Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon will be projected on the big screen in HD as they are accompanied by live music. Children and adults alike will be enthralled as the music is played in full live splendour.

Carol Nygren, Vice President, Worldwide Live Entertainment, Universal Brand Development, said: “We are excited to bring the stunning music of DreamWorks Animation composers to life on stage to be showcased in this great and fun event for music and movie fans of all ages.”

  • Dreamworks Animation in Concert UK tour comes to London on 1 December 2017. From 6pm. Tickets start from £28.32. Wembley SSE Arena, Arena Square, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0AA. Nearest station: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. For tickets, visit the Dreamworks SeeTickets website.

For the latest what’s on in London guide, click here.

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Guide to London’s open-air and pop-up ice rinks this winter 2017/2018

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Break the ice on a rink (and hopefully no bones!)

It’s that time of year again. With the temperatures dropping and the lights a twinkling, it’s no surprise many people want to take to the ice. As usual, there are a host of pop-up, open air rinks on around town. Many are accompanied by other wintry activities and festive food and drink offerings. Here’s a guide to open-air and pop-up ice skating in London this winter season.

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

  • 26 October – 7 January 2018Natural History Museum Ice Rink

A 1,000 square metre rink in the gardens of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. Opening hours vary. Session times last 1 hour. Adults from £12.65, Children 12 and under from £8.80. Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 5BD. Nearest station: South Kensington. To book, visit the Natural History Museum website.

  • 2 November – 14 January 2018 : Skylight London

London’s highest ice rink surface on top of Tobacco Dock’s car park. Features alfresco and covered bars, fondue and ice hockey slap shot. Under 18s allowed until 6pm. Free entry to Skylight. Skating tickets: £10 (45 minutes). Skylight, Tobacco Quay, Pennington Street entrance, Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. For booking, visit the Skylight London website. For Metro Girl’s review, click here.

  • 4 November – 24 February 2018 : Ice Rink Canary Wharf

Skate over ice in the middle of the soaring skyscrapers of Canary Wharf. Non-skaters can watch the action from the bar or street food stalls. Session times last 1 hour. Opening times vary. Adults £9.95-£16.95, Children £9.95-£10.95. Canada Square Park, E14 5AB. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. To book, visit the Ice Rink Canary Wharf website.

  • 15 November – 14 January 2018Skate at Somerset House with Fortnum & Mason

One of the original pop-up ice rinks located in the courtyard of Somerset House. As well as general skating, they also host club nights on ice and skate lessons. Session times last 1 hour and are from 10am until 10.30pm (later for club nights and New Year’s Eve). Tickets start from £8.90. Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. To book, visit the Somerset House website.  Read the rest of this entry

Backyard Cinema Snow Kingdom review: Travel through an ice cave to a fantastical festive film screening

© Backyard Cinema

Travel through an ice cave to reach Backyard Cinema’s Snow Kingdom

Now November is here and the clocks have gone back, it’s all getting a bit festive. The nights are drawing in and it’s getting a bit cold and gloomy outside, so no wonder we have a need to brighten up our evenings. The appeal of cosying up in front of your favourite movie seems that bit more appealing. This winter, roaming cinema club Backyard Cinema’s new Snow Kingdom theme is bringing a bit of fairy tale magic to your favourite festive film.

To those uninitiated, Backyard Cinema create immersive cinematic experiences in various unique venues. I’ve previously watched their Romeo + Juliet screening accompanied by a live choir in a church and their ‘Lost World’ and ‘Miami Beach’ themes in their current home at Mercato Metropolitano. The premise of their latest theme is a ‘hidden ice kingdom buried in London’.

Backyard Cinema is located in the street food haven of Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant and Castle. There’s a host of Italian and other international food and drink stalls, so you could easily make a night of it and come for dinner before watching a movie. The entrance to Backyard Cinema is certainly intriguing with a small tunnel beckoning you in. An attendant outside offers you a lamp to guide you on your journey through to the Snow Kingdom, which certainly adds a touch of magic to proceedings and provides good Instagram fodder. The entrance and the subsequent ice cave are fabulous, you’ve really got to applaud BC for their great set design. We carefully edged our way over the moving drawbridge through the ice cave, before arriving at the warm enclaves of the screening room.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Cosy up on a beanbag and watch a classic festive film in the grand surroundings

Before heading to our seats, we popped to the bar serving a choice of winter warmers, craft beer, bubbly, snacks and other refreshments. As it was still quite warm in the capital on the night of my visit, I wasn’t quite ready for a hot toddy so opted for my usual g&t with a packet of sweets and gourmet popcorn to share. The screening room itself was decked out like a ballroom in a grand castle, with chandeliers, tapestries and a throne. On the night in question, we were there to seeing the new live action Beauty And The Beast. We grabbed a pair of bean bags loungers near the front and settled down to watch Emma Watson and co. The surroundings of the Snow Kingdom could easily be the film’s setting of the Beast’s castle so they complemented each other well.

Through a combination of the setting and the film itself, we were certainly transported to a magical kingdom for the evening, so I would definitely recommend to everyone for a festive and fun night out. Children in particular will love the journey through the ice cave, while Instagrammers have a lot of posing potential with the throne and the drawbridge. Over the season, BC will be screening a selection of festive and family classic to new releases, such as the Princess Bride, E.T., Labyrinth, Harry Potter, Baby Driver, La La Land, so there’s something for everyone. A lot of screenings running up until Christmas are sold out already so I’d advise booking asap if you’re interested.

  • Backyard Cinema: Snow Kingdom is on from now until early 2018. Backyard Cinema, Mercato Metropolitano, 42 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, SE1 6DR. Nearest station: Elephant & Castle. Tickets from £17. For booking and listings, visit the Backyard Cinema website.

For the latest what’s on guide, click here.

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Discovering the origins of Somerset House on the Historical Highlights Tour

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The Historical Highlights Tour explores the history and secrets of Somerset House

Somerset House is one of my favourite London buildings. It’s so versatile, full of history, is beautiful to look at and has a wealth of entertainment and art options. The current building we see today dates back to the 18th and 19th century, but its history goes way back to the 16th century. With over 450 years of history on the site, there’s a lot to take in. However, the Historical Highlights Tour, which takes place every week is a good place to start.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Gravestones from the former Catholic chapel are now hidden under the courtyard

The first large house on the site was a two-storey property, which started to be built in 1547. It was a home for the Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (1500-1552), who was given the land by his brother-in-law King Henry VIII. He served as Lord Protector of England for the first two years of his nephew King Edward VI’s (1537-1553) reign from 1547-1549, who was only nine when he came to the Throne. However, Somerset was overthrown in October 1549 and was executed on Tower Hill in 1552. His house, known as Somerset Place, was taken into the crown’s possession, with the future Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) living there during her half-sister Queen Mary’s (1516-1558) reign. However, the house hadn’t been completed decades later, with 16th century historian John Stow (1524/25-1605) referring to Somerset Place as still ‘yet unfinished’ in 1598 – over 50 years after building work started.

By 1603, Anne of Denmark (1574-1619), Queen Consort to King James I of England (or James VI of Scotland) was given Somerset Place for her London residence, with it renamed Denmark House in her honour. Anne enrolled architect Inigo Jones (1573-1652), among others, to make some improvements and additions to the long neglected house. Following Anne’s death, Jones designed a chapel in 1636 where her daughter-in-law, Henrietta Maria of France (1609-1669), wife of King Charles I, could quietly worship as a Roman Catholic, when Protestant was the dominant religion of the time. A small cemetery was established outside the chapel, with some of the 17th century gravestones being shown during the tour.  Read the rest of this entry

Beauty And The Feast review: A fabulous and playful immersive, theatrical dinner experience

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Beauty and the Feast is a camp, high-energy and fun immersive cabaret dining experience

Arriving for Beauty and the Feast at The Vaults underneath Waterloo station, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. The show had been billed as a pantomime and dinner experience, which gave a hint of things to come. I’ve been to The Vaults quite a few times and love the venue for its versatility. We entered from the Leake Street tunnel entrance and the fairy tale vibe started immediately as we walked through the ‘magic mirror’ to the bar area. The bar was like a theatre set, with a melange of vintage furniture, old theatre seating, a disco ball, neon signs and drapes. We were one of the early arrivals so grabbed a suitably fantastically named cocktail to set the tone for the evening. As the bar got busier, a few characters mingled with the audience, breaking the ‘fourth wall’ as we enjoyed a chat with Fairy Liquid, the compere of the evening.

With everyone suitably loosened up with a couple of drinks, Fairy Liquid set up the evening’s agenda, with the panto itself loosely based on Beauty And The Beast. It isn’t long before the ‘Beauty’, aka Belle, arrives, in full Georgian drag splendour. Moving on to the dining room, the set design is amazing and really transports us to an 18th century French château with drapes and chandeliers. It’s a buffet, supper club setting so be prepared to make new acquaintances over your meal. The feast itself is very fairy tale like, featuring roast pumpkins, cauliflower cheese, plump sausages and blue cheesecake, followed by a ginger jelly and coconut ice cream dessert served in a tea cups [no chipped china ;-)] with mushroom-shaped meringues.

In between courses, we were treated to interludes of performance, with Belle and the Beast avoiding each other like the plague to the chagrin of Fairy Liquid, who is intent on getting them together with the encouragement of the audience. The climax of the feast gives us the happy ending we expect with the night getting suitably raucous with pop anthems, dancing on the table and some striptease. By this point, the audience were suitably tipsy and had really embraced the camp and spectacle of the event. With the cheesy soundtrack and constant flow of alcohol, it’s no surprise the evening ends on rather higher spirits than you would expect from a typical theatre experience. If you like immersive experiences with a high dose of booze, music and fabulousness, then check out Beauty and the Feast while it’s still on.

  • Beauty And The Feast is on from 6 October 2017 – 4 January 2018 at The Vaults (entrance via Leake Street tunnel), Launcelot Street, Waterloo, SE1 7AD. Nearest station: Waterloo. Shows run from Tues-Sun. Door open 6.30pm, Show starts 7.30pm. Age 16+. Tickets start from £35 (includes dinner, dessert and DJs). For booking, visit The Vaults website.
© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

The dining room looks straight out of a fairy tale French château

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Ghoulish costumes and a good cause at KIDS charity’s Halloween party at Tramp

KIDS charity Halloween party

Get in touch with your ghoulish side at KIDS charity’s Halloween party at Tramp

Want to celebrate Halloween, but still haven’t sorted your plans? Well, why not party for a good cause this weekend at KIDS charity’s Halloween bash at iconic London nightclub Tramp.

The fabulous St James venue is hosting a Halloween bash on Friday 27 October with all funds raised going to charity. You can expect a night of spooky festivities, ghoulishly glamorous costumes, cocktails and dancing. Kicking off at 8pm, guests will enjoy complimentary cocktail and canapés, with DJs keeping them entertained until the early hours.

All money raised on the night will go towards supporting disabled children, young people and their families. The price of a ticket will pay for a disabled child to attend two KIDS play group sessions. The KIDS charity was established in 1970 and now provides over 120 different services and works with 80 local authorities across the country. In 2016, KIDS helped over 13,500 children and their families.

Tramp is one of the capital’s most exclusive private members’ clubs with a glittering history dating back to 1969. Over the decades, Tramp has hosted royalty and entertainment legends Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Keith Moon, Rod Stewart, George Best, Jack Nicholson, Steve McQueen and Sir Michael Caine, among many others. Many celebrities have celebrated their wedding receptions at the club, including Peter Sellers, Joan Collins, Liza Minnelli and Ringo Starr. More recently, the likes of Rihanna, Drake, David Beckham, Kate Moss, Noel Gallagher have partied the night away at Tramp.

  • The KIDS Halloween Party takes place on Friday 27 October 2017 at Tramp, 40 Jermyn Street, St. James’s, SW1Y 6DN. Nearest station: Green Park. 8pm-3am. Tickets: £40 (must be purchased in advance). For tickets, visit the KIDS charity website.

For a guide to what else is on over Halloween, click here.

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Party back in time at Home Front: Immersive Time Travel experience

© Partygeek

If you’re a fan of vintage or would love to time-travel, this new immersive experience could be right up your street. This December, revellers will have the chance to journey back to World War II with live music, adventures, cocktails and more.

‘Home Front: Immersive Time Travel’ will explore the untold stories from the 1940s, from the often ignored perspective of women, homosexuals and colonial soldiers. Upon arrival, guests will be asked a question and their answer can bring them in nine different directions. Follow your own story as you fight to get out of escape rooms, enjoy intimate performances and are forced to make a decision about your character’s future. Once your journey is completed, you’ll find out who your character was and their decision. The characters are based on real-life people, including a famous fighter pilot who lived openly as a homosexual, an Indian princess-turned-spy and other less well known London figures.

Time travellers will also be entertained with a live swing band and drinks from five separately themed bars. Guests’ entrance time will be staggered, with a range of ticket packages on sale.

  • Home Front: Immersive Time Travel takes place on 2 December 2017 at a secret east London location. 5.15pm-10.30pm. Tickets start from £25. For booking, visit DesignMyNight.

For the latest what’s on in London guide, click here.

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