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27 wonderful things to do in London this weekend

Alexandra Sims

The weekend’s back again and it’s brought a whole load of festive fun with it. Catch the Pantomime Horse Race – one of London’s more barmy Christmas traditions, slide down a glowing Christmas tree and pick up gifts for gothic grinches at the Satanic Flea Market!


Christmas by the River. London Bridge City. Until Jan 3. Free. Stuff your stockings with artisan goodies and cosy woolly accessories from this riverside market. It comes with some swoonworthy views.

Kehinde Wiley: In Search of the Miraculous. Stephen Friedman. Until Jan 27. Free. This show is full of new paintings by the man chosen to paint the official portrait of Obama. It’s beautiful, thought-provoking and uplifting.

Give a Knit. Somerset House. Sat. £6. Get crafty with eco-friendly designers who’ll be showing you how to upcycle, embellish and rework clothing for a fresh winter wardrobe.

Carols by Candlelight. Westminster Chapel. Sun. Free. Even Scrooges will be belting out ‘Silent Night’ by the end of this atmospheric candlelit carol service in aid of Westminster Foodbank.

Pantomime Horse Race. Devonport House Greenwich. Sun. Free to watch. Panto season is upon us, which means it’s time for a very silly London tradition. This annual race through the streets of Greenwich involves dubious-looking horses, zebras, cows and maybe even ostriches running full pelt. This year it’s in aid of YouCan Youth Cancer Support.

Kati Heck: Heimlich Manoeuvre. Sadie Coles HQ. Until Feb 10. Free. See big drunken paintings of big drunken scenes. Heck knows how to paint a heck of a good time.


This Stuff Matters. Islington Central Library. Sat. Free. Dig around in the archives and you’ll discover a hidden history of street life via a fascinating array of news, maps and photographs collected by the Museum of Homelessness.  

Slideatron. Wembley Park. Until Jan 2. Free. What’s more lit than a giant LED Christmas tree? One you can slide down of course. Yes, it’s a festive helter-skelter – and it has landed in Wembley.

Jolly Hobbies Japanese Christmas Market. St Mary’s Parish Hall. Sun. Free. Head to Crouch End for the seventh Japanese Christmas market to pick up handmade printed fabrics, gyoza and ceramics.

Winter Fair. King Henry’s Walk Garden. Sat. Free. Join the poet John Hegley, musician Diego Brown and St Nick for a musical winter fair with roast chestnuts, mulled wine, wreath-making and a grotto for kids.


Satanic Flea Market. Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. Sun. £3. Allergic to all this tinsel and goodwill? Shop for prints, zines, books, toys and films for the goth in your life, between glasses of mulled wine and tarot readings.

Toddla T’s Steezey Wonderland. Oval Space. Sat. £17.50. Toddla’s been throwing parties at Christmas time for years all with one aim: to bring carnival fun to wintry London. With an energetic dancehall and garage line-up, this night will be no different.

Independent Ceramics Market. Rich Mix. Sun. Free. Get your hands on unique and original ceramics from over 60 innovative ceramicists and DIY potters at this fab, kooky market.

Two-colour Risograph Image Making Workshop. Hato Press. Sat. £45. If you’re a pro gift-giver but lack wrapping skills, hotfoot it down to Hato; they’ll school you in pattern-making and printing your own bespoke wrapping paper.


Handmade Palace Heritage Craft Market. Crystal Palace Subway. Sat. £2 donation. A group of 30 makers and designers are taking over the beautiful Crystal Palace Subway for this day-long market. Pick up handmade gifts and treats ahead of Christmas, void of the Oxford Street crowds.

Peckham Levels. Peckham Town Centre Car Park, SE15 4TG. The latest addition to Peckham’s multi-storey car park on Rye Lane opens this weekend. Have a snoop around seven floors of art studios, yoga studios, photographers’ darkrooms, a flamingo-decorated cocktail bar and a new nightlife and music venue, Ghost Notes.

Canova Hall. 250 Ferndale Rd, SW9 8BQ. Scoff down hazelnut espresso martinis and truffle-topped pizza at this grand art deco bar in Brixton. It’s our bar of the week.  

The Ministry of Making Christmas Fair. Peckham Pelican. Sun. Free entry. Swing by the Peckham Pelican ahead of Christmas and you’ll find artists and makers selling handcrafted gifts to shoppers who are after something a little different.

LondonSwedes’ Lucia Nights. Asylum Chapel. Sun. From £20. For a third year running, the all-female choir, LondonSwedes, are returning to the beautiful Asylum Chapel in Peckham with candlelit processions, candle crowns and festive songs.


Portobello Winter Festival. Portobello Rd. Sat-Sun. Free. Warm up with a jig to live calypso at west London’s festive fair. If that fails, there’s always the rum shack to get toasty in.

Stecca. 14 Hollywood Rd, SW10 9HY. Don’t miss a large helping of the dreamy cannoli at our restaurant of the week – a top-notch Italian in the heart of Chelsea.

Rose Wylie: Quack Quack. Serpentine Sackler. Until Feb 11. Free. Wander through rooms full of late-career paintings of cartoonish, colourful brilliance. Wylie seriously deserves your attention.

Goats. Royal Court. Until Dec 30. £12-£45. Watch our theatre show of the week, a darkly surreal drama about daily life in war-torn Syria. And it features actual, real-life goats.

Gingerbread City. 27 Thurloe St. Until Dec 22. £3. Feast your eyes on a city made entirely from gingerbread. For this sweet event, architecture firms have made some seriously creative biscuit buildings on their allocated ‘sites’.

Female Founders Present. Eccleston Yards. Sat-Sun. £5 donation. Pick up stylish gifts for a good cause at this Christmas shopping event showcasing 50 female-founded businesses. Grab organic cotton underwear from Project Pico, treats from Rococo Chocolates and hand-thrown pottery made by Hannah Bould.

Parliament Square. Bush Theatre. Until Jan 6. £17.50. Don’t miss this hugely original new play by James Fritz. It’s a chewy, powerful exploration of politics and idealism.

Botanical Paper Art: Mistletoe. Oasis. Sat. £39. Get crafty with paper artist Hannah Miles, who’ll show you how to create beautiful mistletoe decorations using paper.


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