Your guide to festivals in London, including music, food, comedy and the arts
- Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
- Ready Steady Colour
- Chatsworth Road Sunday Market
- Carnaval del Pueblo
- Snapshots Christmas Festival
Great festivals taking place in the capital
Do you find yourself ruining the lead up to Christmas by scoffing your whole chocolate calendar on December 1? Greenwich's living advent calendar will ensure a little bit of suspense stays with you all the way to Christmas Eve. One by one shops, homes, schools and pubs will reveal their displays until December 24. The 2013 theme is Heaven and Earth. Go online to find a map of the venues and timings.
If the buzz of Oxford Street leaves you cold, this alternative Christmas destination could be just the thing. Centred around the piazza but also taking in some of the streets radiating from it, Covent Garden Christmas offers a wide range of festive treats, all of them beginning on Wednesday November 6 when the lights are switched on at 6pm. A range of other activities throughout the festive period includes the opening of a Lego advent calendar window every day from November 14 to
Strictly a spectator event, unless you happen to be a regular, not to say hardy, member of the Serpentine Swimming Club, this race takes place each year on Christmas morning. The organisers point out that unless you're accustomed to swimming in extremely cold water (temperatures of below 40 degrees F are the norm), an impromptu dip could be the last swim you ever take – so you can't join the Club on the day and take part. Much better anyway to make watching the race the focus
- Critics choice
Heralding the start of 2014, London's official New Year firework display from The London Eye and barges in the Thames is certain to be a spectacular show against a stunning backdrop. The display will be broadcast live on BBC One. If you're planning to head into town to watch the fireworks live, don't leave it too late or you may find yourself being turned away. Good viewing spots are limited (designated viewing areas along the Thames fill up by around 9pm). Don't make for the
The annual London New Year's Day Parade features 10,000 performers representing 20 countries, including Pearly Kings and Queens, cheerleaders, marching bands, dancers and representatives from West End shows. The American-style extravaganza of musicians – a number of bands from the USA fly over to take part – dancers, acrobats, clowns and floats twirl, march and drum a 2.2-mile route beginning at the Ritz Hotel, taking in Piccadilly Circus, Lower Regent Street, Pall Mall,
Zippos Circus perform their new show, complete with wheel of death, spinning acrobats, knife throwing and high wire acts at the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park this year.
The performers of The Lions Part revisit ancient midwinter traditions on Bankside, near Shakespeare’s Globe. The festivities begin with the arrival of the Holly Man (a Christmas variation on the pagan Green Man), who will travel up the Thames aboard the waterman’s cutter Trinity Tide. Then the Bankside Mummers and London Beadle join in ‘wassails’ – toasts to the prosperity of the crowd, the river and the Globe theatre. A freestyle Mummers’ Play based on the story of
Hundreds of exhibitors display boats of every shape, size and variety at the annual London Boat Show, including some lined up along the quarter mile of dock wall beside the ExCeL Centre. As well as a number of brand-new vessels making their debut at this show, there will be second-hand boats on sale in the marina - and the usual plethora of experts and adventurers on hand to talk you through what's on offer. Note: up to two under-15s enter for free if accompanied by a paying
TEDx's annual EastEnd event returns for another all-dayer fuelled by discussion, performance and pre-recorded talks that celebrate the power of ideas. Live speakers on the day include Mark Easton, the BBC's home affairs editor, research scientist and blogger Brooke Magnanti (aka Belle de Jour), Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, Andrew Merritt and Paul Smyth, the creators of FARM:shop and author/consultant Leandro Herrero. Plus a special appearance from the 2013
Dutch artist Rombout Frieling has created some rather unusual wind-powered illuminations for Middle Dock’s winter display this year. The little fluttering lights are called Flumens and are arranged in the shape of sails that are responsive to the breeze. Head down after dusk to catch the full effect. The lights are viewable 24 hours a day. For more Christmas lights, see our feature.
The Canary Wharf Ice Rink returns to its spot surrounded by soaring towers. Skaters can glide across the 1,100m sq rink, down a dram in the rinkside bar or just watch the action from the viewing gallery. There's also a glittering skate path through trees lit by fairy lights. Under-13s must be accompanied on the ice by an adult. On Dec 4, 11 and 18, Heineken's 'Design Night' project will take over The Lounge bar at the ice rink between 6pm and 11pm and feature special guest DJs
An annual festival of music, comedy, performance, interaction and theatre taking place throughout half term, with appearances by children's writers and entertainers. Last year the two weeks were successfully curated by children from local schools – known collectively as the Festival Ideas Cloud – so they're at it again for 2014. The kids will even be helping run the place by assisting light technicians, programme sales and on the tannoy. Announced so far is the chance for 100
The rink, returning for the twenty eighth year but in a new location in Exchange Square. The rink is open well into February, hosting hourly skating sessions and offering the opportunity for schools and individuals to book lessons. Bar BBQ will be rinkside offering craft beers, cocktails and food from its charcoal grill. Skates are included in the price, or bring your own (speed skates are not permitted). The rink gets busy so online booking is recommended. Under-13s must be
For two months, Hush's Mayfair courtyard will be decked out like a winter wonderland, where you can fulfil all your vintage skiing and sledding fantasies. Well, perhaps not the actual sports, but the idea of being snuggled up in a ski shack on a mountain top surrounded by snow. Hot water bottles will be on hand, as will bespoke blankets and a themed menu; enjoy baked vacherin mont d'or (a brie-like cheese) with bread and a 'Courchevel 1850', a signature cocktail named after the
Tickets to 'The Nutcracker'
A tour of Shakespeare's Globe
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