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100 festive things to do in London this December

By Stephanie Hartman

Sparkling lights, pop-up ski lodges, festive markets and carol concerts are popping up in every corner of London this December, providing festive fun aplenty. Highlights include the annual Peter Pan Cup on Christmas Day, a Santa Dash through the city and more great sounding New Year's Eve parties than you can shake a tinsel covered stick at. Make the final month of 2016 the best ever with the whopping 100 events listed below!


Dec 1-7: Redchurch Street Christmas Market Cocktails and a festive warm punch on the first weekend in December, monogramming at Modern Society Dec 1-17 and wreathmaking are all on the menu on various days of the Redchurch Christmas market.

Dec 1-Jan 15: Skate at Somerset House A glorious backdrop and special events help make a trip to this outdoor rink one of the capital's most festive outings.

Dec 1-22: Christmas at Thomas's Cafe The Christmas period sees the newly revamped Thomas's Cafe at Burberry host a series of events, demos and dinners in collaboration with The New Craftsmen who also helped redesign the space.

Dec 2: Sir John Soane's Museum: Christmas Candlelit Late A candlelit tour with festive tipples, live music, a pop-up and Christmas market in collaboration with the Benjamin Pollock's Toy Shop. Guests can also bag a cheeky 15 percent discount in the Soane Shop.

Dec 3-4: Turning Earth Winter Market Over 60 ceramicists and potters sell their wares at this Hoxton archway studio, including specially donated works and seconds from studio members to raise money for the Hackney Migrant Centre.

Dec 3-4: Everything / CSM Expect this festive design market to be brimming with fabulous products made by Central Saint Martins students and alumni spanning art, prints, books, textiles, ceramics and more.

Dec 4: Independent Ceramics Market Shop from a unique range of original items at this two-day fair offering 50 stalls from a new wave of independent ceramicists and potters.

Until Dec 4: Enchanted Woodland For an eleventh year, Syon Park's Enchanted Woodland will see the 600-year-old gardens and their 400-odd specimens of tree transformed by specially designed illuminations and lights.

Dec 4: Santa Dash You'd be forgiven for assuming that hundreds of people dressed as Santa bolting through London was some kind of festive initiation ceremony. But don't sneer at these festive friends; they're looking to raise money for charity rather than make it for themselves.

Dec 4: Satanic Flea Market : Christmas Fayre An annual demonic winter affair when you can pick up curses, spells, bespoke Satanic collectables, artworks and bones…Grab gifts such as comics and zines, tarot cards, ceramics and voodoo bottles.

Until Dec 6: Christmas Workshops at Fortnum and Mason London's luxury department store has every aspect of Christmas covered with its 2016 workshop programme.

Dec 7: Christmas Queens Join Michelle Visage and the stars of Ru-Paul's Drag Race - Alaska, Manila Luzon, Detox, Katya and Phi Phi O'Hara for the London performance of the sell-out US show.

Dec 7-8: Christmas Shopping With Andrew Logan And Zandra Rhodes Zandra Rhodes's Rainbow Penthouse in the heart of Bermondsey will be brimming with pieces from her collections this Christmas, giving design-savvy shoppers the chance to pick up some brilliant gifts in a truly fabulous setting.

Dec 7-22: Museum of Architecture Gingerbread City Opposite the V&A there's a gingerbread village growing. Visit to see the village, and buy your own plot to support the Museum of Architecture.

Dec 8-15: The Workbench: Silver Ring Christmas Workshops Carve out a unique piece of jewellery at these festive craft nights before deciding whether or not you're willing to part with it and gift it this Christmas.

Dec 9-23: Beyond the Waterfall Bompas & Parr is set to take Westfield London shoppers on a fantastical journey this Christmas, spiriting them across a lagoon, through a waterfall, to a mysterious island featuring a cocktail bar run by mythical creatures.

Dec 9-11: Whirled Open Studios Artists and makers in Loughborough Junction's Whirled Studios will be selling their wares across this open weekend, giving shoppers ample opportunity to find unique gifts for the festive season.

Dec 10: Mushpit Christmas Card Workshop Join Bertie and Char, the girls behind Mushpit magazine for this madcap festive workshop at the magCulture shop.

Dec 13: Alternative Christmas Carols Join Jeanette Winterson and the School of Life choir for some irreverent renditions of Mariah Carey's festive classic and a cup of mulled wine.

Dec 13: ChildLine's Merry Little Christmas Carol Concert Celebrate ChildLine's thirtieth birthday with Russell Watson and BBC Young Chorister of the Year, Angus Benson at a very Christmassy St Paul's Cathedral.

Dec 13-14: Some Voices presents Christmas Movies London’s coolest choir (all 400 of them) will be belting out their unique take on Christmas film classics and cult favourites.

Dec 14: Man vs Santa Santa's clearly the reigning champ when it comes to eating mince pies – he eats millions on Christmas Eve alone for goddess sake! But for those who think they could come in a close second, the 'Man vs Santa' event is just the ticket.

Dec 16-17: The London Children’s Book Fair This celebration of brilliant children's books and illustration is a great opportunity to meet award-winning authors, get books signed and get the little ones involved in creative workshops and activities.

Dec 16-Apr 23: Adventures in Moominland A major new immersive, interactive exhibition presents new insights into author Tove Jansson’s life and influences with rare archive objects and illustrations built into the experience.

Dec 17: Yule Rock! Get your lungs ready to belt out some serious seasonal cheer at this enormous Christmas singalong organised by the people behind The Sunday Assembly.

Dec 25: Peter Pan Cup Strictly a spectator event, unless you happen to be a regular, not to say hardy, member of the Serpentine Swimming Club, the Peter Pan Cup race takes place each year on Christmas morning.

Dec 26: Boxing Day Orienteering Work off your second serving of Christmas dinner by taking part in this Boxing Day orienteering event in the open parkland and wooded areas of Trent Park.

Dec 31: New Year's Eve at the Natural History Museum Sing Auld Lang Syne round the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum's first-ever NYE ball hosted in collaboration with Guilty Pleasures.

Until Jan 14: Gods Own Junkyard: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life This annual exhibition showcases the glorious neon works of the late Chris Bracey who created God's Own Junkyard in Walthamstow.

Dumpling Shack Pop-Up


Dec 1-10: Dumpling Shack Pop-Up Dumpling Shack can usually be found on Broadway Market, but for a limited time you can dine on their signature parcels of joy in central London.

Dec 1-22: Christmas Gin Masterclass Mash Up Experience pre-class snacks, six gin cocktails, a masterclass in gin cocktail-making and an exclusive sip of Sipsmith's mince pie gin at this festive booze pop-up, plus half a dozen samples to take home.

Dec 1-Jan 19: Rekorderlig Cider Lodge Cider cocktails made to order (hot, cold, and some made with Rekorderlig's new spiced plum cider), fire pits, Swedish food and a photo booth make the Cider Lodge a neat riverside drinking hole on the Southbank this Christmas.

Dec 5-7: Kraken Black Christmas It's back to black at this series of foodie happenings hosted by rum makers, Kraken. Over three nights, guests can dine on a festive supper created using black seasonal produce, paired with noir cocktails and a special Christmas gift.

Dec 7-8: Christmas Feast - The Italian Way Enjoy a four-course Italian Christmas feast in the heart of Hackney with Chuffed And Stuffed, care of chef Anton Petrov (previously at VanillaBlack).

Dec 7-18: Wednesday Winter Warmers Go for bratwurst and beer, cheese and wine or cake and cocktails in the cosy Coalhouse this December, in the heart of the newly-opened Woodberry Wetlands nature reserve.

Dec 12: KinoVino Christmas With Chef Oliver Rowe An unforgettable Christmas dinner party inspired by one of the most iconic food films in history – Babette’s Feast.

Dec 16-18: Ginvent Gin lovers best make their way to this three-day pop-up in the heart of Soho. The Gin Foundry will be on hand with plenty of juniper berry drinks and a booze-filled countdown to Christmas.

Dec 17: Artusi and Zest Italian restaurant Artusi (awarded five stars by Time Out) and Israeli restaurant Zest join forces for one night only, rustling up a six-course tasting menu with optional wine pairing.

Dec 17: The Bloody Brunch Club Douse yourself in bloody marys to a soundtrack of soul, funk and reggae and screenings of classic childhood films.

Dec 17-18: Tootsmas The team behind Tootopia return just in time for Christmas. 2016's offering brings vendors such as Saffa Hut, The Gravy Train and Gyoza Guys who'll be serving up warming festive treats.

Dec 29: Tate Tap Takeover On the last Thursday of each month, the taps at the Tate Modern are taken over by a British craft brewery.

Until Jan 31: Mac and Wild's Pop-Up In The City Seafood and game gurus Mac & Wild are popping up in the city with their award-winning burgers which are sure to warm up your lunch breaks.

Check out all the new restaurant openings this month or ski lodge bars if you're feeling festive 



Christmas pop-up cinema in London

Dec 1-23: Winter Film Club at the Electric Theatre in Peckham Right through December, outdoor cinema Rooftop Film Club is stepping indoors – popping up Peckham’s beautifully dilapidated Electric Theatre.

Dec 8-18: Pop-up film grotto in Hackney This festive film pop-up is one place you can guarantee snow this Christmas. The Hackney Showroom is getting transformed into a winter wonderland grotto (with a hidden entrance at the back of wardrobe).

Dec 14-18: Christmas With The Stars Catch a thoroughly festive flick at this series of pop-up screenings in the heart of London. The National Gallery will be showing the likes of 'It's A Wonderful Life' and 'Love Actually', while Leffe will be supplying complimentary glasses of Christmassy beer.

Until Jan 6: Backyard Cinema's Winter Night Garden Backyard Cinema is staying at the Mercato Metropolitano Italian food market this Christmas, but they are swapping their jungle for a winter night garden.

Opening this month

Dec 2: Moana The Disney legends behind 'The Little Mermaid' and 'Aladdin' are back with a brilliant tale of a badass Polynesian princess who must save her island from destruction, with the help of a mansplaining demi-god (voiced by the Rock).

Dec 9: Life, Animated This funny and moving doc is the story of how Disney movies helped an autistic boy to connect with the world. 

Dec 16: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story The first in the Star Wars world's spin-offs hits screens on December 16, starring Felicity Jones and Riz Ahmed as leaders of rebel agents stealing the plans to the Empire's new weapon, the Death Star.

Dec 21: Passengers Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt star in this sci-fi romance as two space travellers who wake up in their sleeping pods from Cryosleep 90 years too early on a journey deep into space. 


Dec 1: Great Ytene Dreamy, psychedelic and shimmering guitar-pop foursome from London.

Dec 2: The Julie Ruin The Julie Ruin is back: Kathleen Hanna revived the project as a full band in 2010, and the group released its debut album, 'Run Fast', in September 2013.

Dec 4: Soul II Soul Jazzie B and his classic soul-jazz collective bring their infectious, sun-struck funk, house and reggae riddims to the stage.

Dec 5-7: Roy Ayers Expect all the much-sampled rare groove classics, like 'Everybody Loves the Sunshine', 'Mystic Voyage', 'Love Will Bring Us Back Together' and 'We Live in Brooklyn'.

Dec 6: Emmy the Great Emma-Lee Moss was a key member of the west London acoustic scene that launched the careers of Noah And The Whale and Johnny Flynn, and has released two albums of brilliantly brittle alt folk that suggest a youth spent listening to The Moldy Peaches, Diane Cluck and Arab Strap.

Dec 6-7: Nicolas Jaar This NYC-born maker of 'organic electronic music' tinges his beautiful soundscapes with dub, jazz and experimental touches.

Dec 7: Talib Kweli Brooklyn native Kweli helped set a new benchmark for conscious rap through his collaborations with DJ Hi-Tek and Mos Def.

Dec 7: Shura Fans of Blood Orange, Kindness, Haim and first-album Jessie Ware: Shura will be your new jam.

Dec 7: Clean Bandit New material from the smart pop four-piece who mix dance beats with classical strings.

Dec 14: Cate Le Bon With her beguiling voice and bewitching psych-folk-pop numbers, Welsh singer Ms Le Bon is well versed in charming the pants off a crowd.

Dec 15: Primal Scream Bobby Gillespie’s ragtag bunch sounded fully revitalised on their last album ‘More Light’, which straddled scruffy rock anthems, baggy house, Stones-y blues revivalism and grubby electro.

Dec 16: Slow Club The boy-girl indie-pop-folk duo play a London date to support their third album, cracking out sweet, Bright Eyes-style tunes.


Dec 1: Totem Bass X AC&C X Boko! Boko! Travelling party Totem Bass bring their friendly, up-for-it vibes to Kingsland Road and are joined by radio show AC&C and gender-inclusive afrobeats crew Boko! Boko!

Dec 2: Acrylic London DJ Q, Amy Becker, Sami Baha, Mungo and Grandmixxer will be performing deck duties bringing a range of UK funky, reggaeton, hip hop, dancehall, grime and garage to the house.

Dec 2: High Fashion Technique: Marcel Vogel A night of warped disco, house, tropicale, afro-freak out, hot tub steamers, sweat drenchers, pool party anthems, hug your mum bangers, pilate jams and much much more.

Dec 2-3: The Hydra Underground party pros The Hydra are back with a top-quality programme, bulging with more globally renowned DJ talent.

Dec 3: Toddla T's Winter Carnival Sheffield bashment hero Toddla T throws enough colour, carnival atmosphere and dancefloor-melting hot tunes at winter to drown out any chills.

Dec 3: Burn Down The Disco: Peter Doherty v Alex Turner Night Residents spin indie and rock'n'roll tunes to mark the release of Doherty's solo album and Turner's Last Shadow Puppets EP.

Dec 3-17: Club De Fromage Christmas Party Slow Alfie and his merry band of elves will be supplying Christmas songs all night. Come in fancy dress and jump the queue and dance the night away.

Dec 4: Sundays At Phonox: Moomin & Shanti Celeste Smallville label affiliate Moomin joins rising Bristolian star Shanti Celeste behind the decks for the evening and night.

Dec 8: Rave 4 Refugees Launch 1 A special club event to raise awareness for refugees, with big names in the electronic music scene performing, including dance legends Faithless, Daphni, Eats Everything, Jon Hopkins and Skream.

Dec 9: Heidi + Mathew Jonson (Live) + Mike Servito XOYO resident Heidi, Matthew Jonson and Mike Servito supply an infectious fusion of catchy hooks, emotive chords and deep house grooves.

Dec 9: The Funk, Soul & Rare Groove Review Xmas Special Yes, the FS&RGR lot take their vinyl very seriously but that doesn't get in the way of creating nights of reckless abandon and dancing mayhem.

Dec 9: Nao (DJ set) The singer spins her selection of electronic, funk, R&B and soul.

Dec 10: Hot Chip DJs Christmas Party Hot Chip descend on Bloc with a full band DJ squad for typically eclectic sets that rides a Christmas sleigh over genres, laughing and dancing all the way.

Dec 31: Oval Space Music x Percolate present NYE A double-venue NYE bash is the must-do party for the electronic music devotees this year.

Dec 31: New Years Eve: Julio Bashmore & HAAi Dance your way into the New Year with Bristolian house-leaning DJ Julio Bashmore in the fine acoustics of Phonox.

Dec 31: Bugged Out - NYE Former Fabric favourites Erol Alkan, Andrew Weatherall and friends line up eight hours of techno, disco, psych, acid and eclectic surprises until 5am for Bugged Out's stellar end-of-year event.

Dec 31: Flamingo Pier NYE with Psychemagik & Bill Brewster Party people Flamingo Pier set up a mini festival in the Wick this NYE so you can wander from the forest disco to the souk-style chill-out loft via a house party at The Brewshed and a bar stocked with prosecco, and delicious beers from Wick brewery Crate.

Find more Christmas nights in London and New Year's Eve parties too.


Dec 2-Jan 14: Wild Honey It's been quite the year for Anton Chekhov's untitled, unfinished, discarded debut play: a version completed bu David Hare received a cracking production at the National Theatre under the name 'Platanov', and now Hampstead Theatre scores a bit of a coup in getting a new version from the legendary Michael Frayn.

Dec 5-Mar 21: Hedda Gabler Ruth Wilson stars in the NT debut for director Ivo van Hove.

Dec 6-Jan 7: Benighted The Old Red Lion's spine-chilling Christmas show is an adaptation of 'Benighted', the haunted house novel that inspired a host of imitators - 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' included.

Dec 9- Jan 15: Cinderella Panto returns to central London's most iconic theatre with a genuinely all-star cast.

Dec 9- Feb 18: Saint Joan Something of a stage regular these days, Gemma Arterton makes her Donmar debut in the title role of Bernard Shaw's great play 'Saint Joan', aka Joan of Arc.

Dec 10-Feb 18: Art A twentieth-anniversary revival of Matthew Warchus's blockbuster comedy.

Until Jan 8: Sleeping Beauty With heaps of zany energy, lurid costumes, a chortle-worthy dame and budget East End prices, Hackney's panto is typically one of the best out there. 

Until Jan 14: Once in a Lifetime Harry Enfield leads the cast of this classic Hollywood satire.

Until Jan 21: Mary Stuart Juliet Stephenson and Lia Williams toss for the roles of Mary and Elizabeth in Schiller's great tragedy.

Until May 16: Dreamgirls The swinging '60s girl group musical comes to London featuring 'Glee' star Amber Riley.


Dec 1-Jan 31: David Bailey: NW1 Thirty-four years ago, photographer David Bailey released his book 'NW1': a series of images of Camden and Primrose Hill, where he had lived for decades. To tie in with the book's re-printing, publishers HENI are holding an exhibition of these poignant images from yesteryear.

Dec 1-Apr 2: Robert Rauschenberg Over the course of his 60-year career, Rauschenberg reinvented, reused, recycled and revolutionised himself so many times that walking around this retrospective feels like stumbling through a textbook on twentieth-century art history.

Dec 1-May 21: Making Nature: How we See Animals This show – another marvellous quirk from the Wellcome – brings together over 100 artefacts to look at our complex relationship with animals. 

Dec 2-Jan 28: Bruce McLean: A Hot Sunset And Shade Paintings McLean was part of that group of St Martins students from the 1960s, who loved nothing more than pissing off their tutors with weird, outlandish, provocative works of art.

Dec 3-23: Chloe Sells: Measuring Infinity The American-born photographer works in the darkroom, and creates seductive and complex images, often working into the pictures with paint and marker pens.

Dec 7-Mar 26: Australia's Impressionists Impressionism isn't all about cancan dancers and lilies floating on ponds – down in the southern hemisphere, Australia cultivated its own particular take on what's often considered an exclusively European movement.

Dec 8-Feb 12: Lucy Raven: Edge Of Tomorrow The first UK solo exhibition of the New York-based artist, Lucy Raven.

Dec 8-Feb 12: Zaha Hadid In this retrospective, it will be the late Iraqi-British architect's drawings and paintings on display – in, appropriately, the Sackler extension, which was designed by her firm in 2013.

Dec 9-Feb 4: Ken Price: A Survey of Sculptures and Drawings, 1959-2006 American artist Price entered into the nascent LA art scene in the Fifties, and made a name for himself in ceramics. They baffled critics, who had no idea what to make of these bright, jolly cups and mugs.



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