If you're spending London in Christmas you're in for a total treat! Take a guided walk around a super quiet city, watch the Serpentine Swimming Club plunge into icy waters, or sit down for a turkey dinner at one of the restaurants opening for scrumptious roasts. Have a perfect Christmas week with all the events we've found below.
Things to do
Sara Pascoe’s Christmas Assembly, Battersea Arts Centre, Mon-Wed, £12. Don't expect much Jesus chat at this human-focused celebration of all things Christmas – apparently gods are welcome but only 'if they arrange their own seating'.
London at Christmas Walk, Trafalgar Square, Mon, Wed, £15, £7.50 11-15 years, free under-10s, £39 family. The most popular of several guided tours led by young architect Ike Ijeh, this festive walk is a two-hour stroll through London's best Christmas illuminations, starting from the Nelson's Column side of the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree.
In House Christmas Shop, 67 Redchurch Street, Mon-Thu, free. Jet Swan has an eye for stylish stock and her Christmas pop-up is brimming with a beautiful selection of gifts, homeware, antique pieces, festive wrapping and cards. Prices range from £1-£300.
WrapperSnapper, Boxpark, Tue-Thu, from £2.50 per wrap. If your gift wrapping skills never quite do your perfectly chosen presents justice, make a stop off at Boxpark before Christmas where WrapperSnapper will be able to add the finishing touches for you.
Christmas Fitzrovia, Fitzrovia Community Centre, Christmas Day, free. Those who find themselves on their own come Christmas Day are invited along to this afternoon of music, films, games and food at a community centre in Fitzrovia. The event which is now in its second year is free to attend, but guests are asked to bring a small children's gift which will be donated to a local children's ward at the end of the day.
Peter Pan Cup, Serpentine Lido, Christmas Day, free. 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.
Christmas Day Charles Dickens London Walk, various, Christmas Day, £10, £8 concs. This two-hour walk will explore the London streets which the author would have known 150 years ago, seeing the nooks, crannies and alleyways which inspired (and even feature in) 'Great Expectations', 'David Copperfield', 'Oliver Twist' and 'The Pickwick Papers'.
Boxing Day Orienteering, Trent Park, Boxing Day, £7, £3 concs. 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. The course is suitable for newcomers to the adventure sport, as well as families and runners wanting to test their navigation skills.
Society of Imaginary Friends Soiree, Karamel Restaurant, Sun, free. This family-friendly show is a testbed for professional musicians, comedians and poets to try out their latest material. A number of short films will be screened throughout the night and a handful of DJs will be spinning tracks in-between acts and into the small hours once the performances have finished.
Eating and drinking
Real Food Christmas Market, King's Cross St Pancras, Mon-Wed, free. The festive edition of the Real Food Market will be bringing tasty snacks and tempting treats to the square just outside King's Cross St Pancras station in 2015. Stalls will be offering up a selection of sustainably and ethically produced fine foods but with extra added seasonal goodies.
Forest Restaurant and Cabin Bar, Selfridges, all week. Just because it's so cold you're wearing tights under jeans doesn't mean you can't drink on a rooftop. Des McDonald (of Q Grill, Vintage Salt and Holborn Dining Room fame) has transformed the roof of Selfridges into an autumnal woodland for this wintry pop-up.
House of Godo, 90 Piccadilly, all week. Chow down on hearty Italian dishes such as penne rigate with lobster and mezzo paccheri with fassone beef ragu at this three-month pop-up in the middle of Mayfair.
London restaurants open on Christmas Day. Looking for a traditional Christmas meal, but without all the faff? Or perhaps turkey isn’t your thing, but you’d still like to dine out on 25 December? The Time Out Food Editors round up the best places to eat on Christmas Day 2015.
…or check out the latest restaurant reviews.
Trevor Noah – Lost in Translation, Eventim Apollo Hammersmith, Mon-Tue, £20. Slick, smooth, smart and sublimely funny South African stand-up Trevor Noah hits the Hammersmith Apollo with his new tour, 'Lost in Translation'. The 30-year-old comic is a household name in his homecountry, and is quickly becoming one in the UK too.
Diane Chorley's Ding Dong Merrily Diane, Soho Theatre, Mon-Wed, £17.50, £15 concs. The regular Queen of Caaanvey, Diane Chorley, gets into the festive spirit for her annual Christmas bash. In the ’80s, Chorley's club was the place to be seen in the Essex area. But after the police got wind of some dodgy operations, Diane was sent to prison and the club shut up shop. She's reformed now, though. And so have her band, The Buffet.
Funz and Gamez Tooz, Soho Theatre, Mon-Wed, £12.50, £40 family ticket. Bring your kidz – or don't! – to this gloriously silly comedy show, hosted by Phil Ellis. Yes, technically, Funz and Gamez (which won the Panel Prize at the 2014 Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award) is for children. But it's just as funz for adultz.
Freeze!, Soho Theatre , Tue-Wed, £15. Tim Key and Tom Basden's ramshackle two-hander – 'Freeze!' – settles at Soho Theatre for some late-night pre-Christmas fun. The shambolic pair expertly blend sketches, poems and weird films. Sublime lunacy.
Monkey Business Jewish Xmas Eve Matzo Ball Special, Holiday Inn Camden Lock, Christmas Eve, £17.50, £15 concs. Tonight, the Monkey Business Comedy Club hosts its annual 'Jewish Matzo Ball Comedy Special', featuring spots from Lenny Biege (aka Steve Furst), Adam Bloom, Lewis Schaffer, Simon Schatzberger as Woody Allen(ish), introduced by MC Martin Besserman.
…or check out all the critics’ choice comedy shows
© Josep Molina
Live music and nightlife
Ensemble Correspondances: A la venue de Noël, Wigmore Hall, Wed, £15-£36. Marc-Antoine Charpentier represents the high point of the French Baroque. If any evidence is needed then check out his exquisite six-part motet ‘Litanies de la Vierge’, performed with other tender and devout Christmas music by the vocal and instrumental Ensemble Correspondances.
Rinse Boxing Day, Ministry of Sound, Boxing Day, £14-£19 adv. Ever-impressive label, party crew and radio station Rinse host their annual Boxing Day mash-up – and as usual, it looks like a belter.
Liane Carroll's Christmas Carol, Ronnie Scott's, Sat-Sun, £25-£42.50. Anyone who hasn’t seen Carroll is missing a treat. A barnstorming pianist and gravel-voiced, hugely emotive vocalist who brings a ‘been there’ quality to everything she sings, she can shift gears from gentle ballad to hardcore soulful swing in a split second.
…or take a look at all the live music events in London this week.
Scrooge, Prince Charles Cinema, TONIGHT, £8, £4 concs. The Prince Charles Cinema’s month of festive favourites continues with the cosy, terribly British 1951 version of Charles Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’.
Or at the cinema...
In the Heart of the Sea ★★★☆☆ When Chris Hemsworth starts waving his harpoon around, this lively tale of eighteenth-century whale-hunters is hard to resist.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens ★★★★★ JJ Abrams's Star Wars reboot is as thrilling and playful as anyone could have hoped – a masterly revival of old themes and faces.
…or see all of the latest releases.
Bull, Young Vic, Mon-Thu, £10-£25. Mike Bartlett's dark comedy about warring work colleagues returns to the Young Vic.
The Nutcracker, Royal Opera House, Mon-Thu, £5-£117. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without ‘The Nutcracker’. Tchaikovsky’s 1892 piece, with its dancing dolls, feisty mice and fairies, all sugared over with snowflakes and delicious music, is probably the most popular ballet in the world.
Dick Whittington, Wilton's Music Hall, Tue-Thu, Sat, £20-£30, £10-£15 concs. There's slapstick and magic galore at Wilton's historic panto.
Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Donmar Warehouse, all week, £10-£37.50. Dominic West returns to the Donmar for Josie Rourke's enjoyable revival of this saucy classic.
…or see our theatre critics’ choices.
Art to catch before Christmas
Jim Shaw, Simon Lee, Mon-Tue, free. You don’t have to be an art history whiz or need to know the New Testament inside-out to get Jim Shaw’s culturally rich and brilliantly absurd paintings. However, it might help to do so, in order to really get the cutting wit of this Los Angeles-based artist.
Intellectual Barbarians: The Kibbo Kift Kindred, Whitechapel Gallery, Tue-Wed, free. Kibbo Kift is a phrase from an archaic Cheshire dialect. Meaning ‘to show great strength’, it was the name given to an organisation active in 1920s and ’30s Britain. The Kibbo Kift Kindred combined the anti-industrialist sentiments of the nineteenth-century Luddites and the gung-ho ethos of the Scouts, and anticipated the spiritualism of hippy counterculture by three decades.
Gavin Turk: Wittgenstein’s Dream, Freud Museum, Wed-Thu, Sun, free. For this exhibition of new and existing works by YBA alumnus Gavin Turk, the master of logic is positioned as a prankster, set to disrupt fellow countryman Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical propositions – all set in Freud’s former Hampstead home.
…or see all London art reviews.
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