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36 fabulous things to do in London this weekend

Alexandra Sims

Winter’s kicking in, so London’s been taken over by festive pop-ups. Spend the weekend gorging on fondue next to a rooftop ice rink and sipping mulled wine in a Nordic forest. Or forgo the festivities to watch moving films about queer identity at Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest and see a show of contemporary Russian protest art at the Saatchi Gallery. It’s all happening this weekend. 


Hamleys Christmas Toy Parade. Regent St. Sun. Free. Paddington Bear, Sonic the Hedgehog, Scooby-Doo and the Wacky Races gang will be storming Regent Street with dancers and a marching band in tow for this annual parade.

World Press Photo exhibition. Royal Festival Hall. Until Nov 20. Free. Celebrating powerful photojournalism, this annual photography competition is hugely popular, with more than 80,000 submissions for 2017. Get lost in the 152 winning images at this moving exhibition.  

Coppa Club. Three Quays Walk. Ongoing. Prices vary. Last year, London lost its collective shit over this restaurant’s riverside PVC igloos. Now they’re back and snuggly as ever. Jump in and tuck into festive snacks under a sheepskin blanket.

Little Gay Brother. Omeara. Sat. £13.20. Anything-goes crew Little Gay Brother are back at this sweet London Bridge venue with their inclusive, extrovert and amazingly fun parties. Expect a strong troupe of dancers and performers. 

The Winter Forest. Exchange Square. Ongoing. Free entry. The corporate belly of London is currently overgrown with a Nordic wood. Explore this sylvan mini-village with warming drinks, a pop-up market and tipi cinema.

The Ethicurean at the Gardening Society. John Lewis, Oxford St. Ongoing. Free entry, book ahead. Escape stressful Oxford Street by clambering up to the roof of John Lewis, where you’ll find a Christmassy village green. Join in a festive sing-a-long at the Gardener’s Arms pub and sip warm negronis. Oh yes!

‘Impulse’. Pace Gallery. Ongoing. Free. Step into rooms full of gorgeous mid-century American abstract painting at this exhibition of five artists who were part of a thriving East Coast scene. This is abstract art at its liveliest.

Woody Bear. 535 Oxford St. Ongoing. Free entry. The Woody Bear rooftop is ready for winter with fairground rides, tables made from logs and oodles of steaming gin punch.  

‘North: Fashioning Identity’. Somerset House. Ongoing. £7. Drag your eyes away from the capital and direct your gaze up north, where it’s not so grim after all. See fashion, photos and art inspired by culturally vital bits of the UK.

‘Curses!’ by Bompas & Parr. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology UCL. Sat-Sun. £6. Tour this lair of hexed objects and listen to superstitious stories before clambering into a Bompas & Parr chamber that’s designed to make you feel cursed.

Tower of London Ice Rink. Ongoing. £14.50. Whizz around one of London’s most famous landmarks: this rink is in the Tower of London’s dry moat. There’ll be food and drink on the sidelines for those who prefer to watch.

‘Glengarry Glen Ross’. Playhouse Theatre. Ongoing. £15-£85. Christian Slater stars in David Mamet’s classic play about warring real estate agents. Go for Mamet’s brutal writing.

London Mithraeum Bloomberg Space. 12 Walbrook. Sat-Sun. Free. Have a peek around this restored Roman temple in the basement of the Bloomberg HQ and wander around the hidden hangout of an ancient cult.

‘Picturing Prince: Photographs by Steve Parke’. Proud Central. Ongoing. Free. See intimate portraits of the megastar at this exhibition of photos of the purple one by his former official photographer.


Humble Grape. 11-13 Theberton St. Have a weekend tipple at the third branch of this independent wine bar. Go for fine wine in an unpretentious atmosphere. 

Ayurvedic Man: Encounters with Indian Medicine. Wellcome Collection. Ongoing. Free. Discover how this centuries-old yet ever-changing set of medical practices founded in India has influenced and been influenced by Western medicine.    


Moroccan Medina. Queen of Hoxton. Ongoing. Free, book ahead. This Shoreditch rooftop is curiously balmy this winter. Inspired by the Majorelle Garden in Marrakesh, the spot has been transformed by giant cacti, fairy lights, lanterns and firepits. Sip a gin-spiked mint tea up there in a wigwam snug. 

Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest. Various Hackney venues. Sat-Sun. Prices vary. Settle in for films and panel talks that are all about unpacking what it’s like to be queer around the world. Don’t miss a screening of ‘Paris Is Voguing’ at Hackney Showroom on Saturday and ‘Hot to Trot’ at the Castle Cinema on Sunday, plus loads more over the weekend.

‘A Disappearing Exhibition II: Vinyl’. A-side B-side Gallery. Sat. Free. Art and vinyl fiends should hurry to Hackney for this awesome exhibition. You can nab one-off record sleeves – for free! – on Saturday night.

#BakeForSyria. Old Spitalfields Market. Sat. Free entry. Fill your face for Unicef at Old Spitalfields Market, where Ottolenghi, Bread Ahead, Dominique Ansel and more are taking part in this charity bake sale.

New Business: Fort Romeau. The Pickle Factory. Sat. £12-£13.50. The management gurus at New Business have headhunted Fort Romeau to play at the perfectly formed Pickle Factory all night long. Set your brain to ‘out of office’ and get partying.

Shep’s. 392 Kingsland Rd. Head to our bar of the week, a Haggerston cocktail joint serving ace Korean eats. Go for a date night, nightcap, any time – you won’t find a cooler spot for intimate sipping.

Christmas Tour at Dennis Severs’ House18 Folgate St. Sun. £17.50. Step into an eighteenth-century Christmas and find freshly wrapped presents, carollers and a sweet-smelling festive dinner.

Skylight. Tobacco Dock. Ongoing. £10. Slip and slide on London’s first and only rooftop ice rink. You can also have a go at ice hockey shooting or tuck into fondue and hot booze with a gorgeous view over the city.

Newham Word Festival. Various venues. Sat-Sun. Prices vary. Celebrate written and spoken word with local artists, authors and illustrators. They’ll take part in debates, storytelling sessions, performances and readings.

Canary Wharf Ice Rink. Canada Square Park. Ongoing. From £14.50. This rink is back, filling the business district with frosty fun. Skate down the icy path that breaks off from the main rink and is lined with sparkling trees.  


Brilliant Vauxhall. Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. Sat. Free. See fire installations, a giant illuminated book of fables and a chat-bot you can interact with at this tech-fuelled celebration of light.

Crafty Fox Market. Mercato Metropolitano. Sat. Free entry. Stock up on prints, cards, ceramics, textiles and homeware at this market showcasing the UK’s best indie makers – all with a sweet soundtrack and mulled wine in hand.

IWM Short Film Festival. Imperial War Museum. Sat-Sun. Prices vary. Watch gripping short films covering topics such as the Syrian conflict, suffragette surgeons and modern terrorism, as part of the IWM’s superb current exhibition ‘Age of Terror: Art Since 9/11’.


Jon Snow: Colour Is My Brand. Design Museum. Ongoing. Free. The Channel 4 newsreader has a pretty eye-popping collection of ties. Find out all about them at this exhibition exploring the design process behind his rainbow-hued neckwear.

Winterland. Wandsworth Bridge Rd. Ongoing. From £5, book ahead. The once summery Neverland beach in Fulham has frozen over for Christmas. Now it’s Winterland, with an enchanted forest, neon-lit curling lanes, mini golf, prosecco pong, lodges and, of course, heated igloos. 

Enchanted Woodland. Syon Park. Ongoing. £10, £5 child. For the twelfth year, the 600-year-old gardens at Syon Park have been transformed by a stunning spectacle of multicoloured and interactive lights.

‘Art Riot: Post-Soviet Actionism’. Saatchi Gallery. Ongoing. Free. It’s the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution, so the Saatchi Gallery is putting on a show of contemporary Russian protest art. See images of Pussy Riot performing illegally in a Moscow cathedral and of Pyotr Pavlensky, the guy who nailed his nuts to Red Square.

‘Venom: Killer and Cure’. Natural History Museum. Ongoing. £9. Meet terrifying specimens that are ending and saving lives with their secretions at this intriguing exhibition.

Natural History Museum Ice Rink. Ongoing. £8.80. Arguably London’s most enchanting ice rink, thanks to the beautiful backdrop of Alfred Waterhouse’s buildings and a row of trees dripping with fairy lights.

‘Ferrari: Under the Skin’. Design Museum. Ongoing. £8. Petrolheads better get into gear because Ferrari turns 70 this year – and to celebrate, the Design Museum is being taken over by a host of the glamorous motors. 


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Grab these great offers: 
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