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32 fabulous things to do in London this weekend

Alexandra Sims

It’s a momentous weekend in London. Not only is the festive spirit still ringing around the capital but the Night Overground is finally here. When you’re not marvelling at being able to get to New Cross at 2am, there’s always a Christmas rage room, carols by candlelight and a Japanese Christmas market to fill up your two days of freedom. 


Christmas Canopy Market. West Handyside Canopy. Sat-Sun. Free entry. Clutch hot booze and wander around this lovely canopy-covered Christmas market.

‘From Life’. Royal Academy of Art. Until Mar 11. £12. See paintings, drawings and virtual reality art all done from life. Some of the works here are worth the admission price on their own.

‘How to Win Against History’. Young Vic. Until Dec 30. £20-£25. Watch this barking mad musical about Victorian nobleman Henry Paget. Everything about it is winningly bizarre.

BBZ x Tate Exchange. Tate Modern. Sat-Sun. Free. How do communities of queer, trans and intersex people of colour grow? What’s their importance? Those are just a couple of the questions asked at the BBZ collective’s four-day Tate Takeover. There’ll be parties, co-working spaces, talks and even a pop-up barbershop.

Cook For Syria. 36 Monmouth St. Until Dec 24. Free entry. The Cook For Syria project has popped up with food from Imad’s Syrian Kitchen, delicious guest bakes and charity cookbooks for sale. Drop in until Christmas Eve.

John Lewis Christmas Masterclasses. John Lewis. Sat-Sun. Prices vary. The folks at John Lewis are throwing a series of festive workshops to get your home ship-shape for the festive season. On Saturday, do drop in for a table-dressing masterclass and on Sunday learn how to trim tinsel and wrap presents from the experts.

All Decked Out. 15 Bateman St. Sat-Sun. Free. Jump a human-sized snow globe and a bespoke Christmas display at this pop-up from Refinery29 and The While you’re there have a go on the arcade grab machine, which is stocked with discounts and gifts, and shop for pressies at the changing pop-up shop.

Rudolph’s Rage Room. Secret Location. Sat-Sun. £18. Slip into a red jumpsuit and a hard hat, grab a baseball bat and smash the bejesus out of a room full of carefully arranged Christmas decorations. Choose your favourite Christmas soundtrack and watch those shards of bauble fly.

Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic. V&A. Until Apr 8. £8. The V&A draw extensively from their collection of drawings, letters, photographs and manuscripts to tell the story of the tremendous success of Hundred Acre Wood’s world-famous resident.

The Gingerbread City. 27 Thurloe St. Until Dec 22. Free. See two floors’ worth of biscuity streets and buildings, masterminded by London’s architects and urban planners at the Museum of Architecture. Let’s get ready to crumble.

Natural History Museum Ice Rink. Natural History Museum. Until Jan 7. £12.65. Slide around on London’s most enchanting ice rink, thanks to its beautiful backdrop of Alfred Waterhouse’s buildings, a row of trees dripping in fairy lights and a majestic Christmas tree in the middle of the ice. It’s a London Christmas classic.


Epping Forest Frost Fair. 6 Rangers Rd. Sat-Sun. Free entry, £4 for five workshops. If you go down to the woods today, you’ll find a sleigh-bound Frost Queen, an ‘après-ski’-style terrace and stalls peddling goods from local Chingford makers. Do it!

Carols by Candlelight. Union Chapel. Sun. Free. This Islington church is an absolute stunner and it’s going to look even better all lit up by hundreds of little flames at this evening carol session.

Xylem and Phloem: Yoga, Brunch and Wreath Building. Blank100. Sat. £70. Spend Saturday stretching, feasting and making at this Zen-sounding workshop. Get a dose of yoga and meditation before getting stuck into brunch and wreath-building.

Soul Wax. Roundhouse. TONIGHT and Sat. £22.50. The Dewaele brothers kick off the winter leg of their tour at Camden’s Roundhouse. With a seven-piece band in tow, including three live drummers, expect nothing less than a pair of mind-blowing nights.


Hackney Flea-Mas Market. Abney Public Hall. Sat-Sun. Free. Is your home in thrall to the ghost of interior design past? Well, you should definitely hit up this homely version of the regular Hackney vintage market.

The Nelsons Head. 32 Horatio St, E2 7SB. Check out our bar of the week. This cosy, old-school pub is conveniently close to Columbia Road. Go for a beery session as down-to-earth as nature intended.

Birdsong Festive Feminist Concept Store. 11 Pearson St. Until Dec 19. Free entry. Ethical elves can browse beautiful sustainable fashion, homewares and more at this feelgood pop-up. There’s also events, discussions and craft workshops.

Madame D. 76 Commercial St, E1 6LY. Never tried Himalayan food? Don’t miss a visit to our restaurant of the week, which comes from the team behind Gunpowder. Go for the chilli beef puffs and the HFC – that’s Himalayan Fried Chicken, of course.

Moving Lines Fundraiser. Stour Space. Sun. £5. Spread good cheer and head to Hackney for a jam-packed day of art, music, film screenings, talks and workshops in support of Help Refugees. 

Hato Christmas Market. 6a Scawfell St. Sun. Free entry. Pick up unusual gifts from cult artists and Japanese brands at this festive event, where you can print your own Christmas wrapping paper (fancy!). Proceeds go to arts charity Intoart.

Dennis Severs’ House by Candlelight. Dennis Severs’ House. Until Jan 4. £17.50. Every year this time capsule of Spitalfields history is fitted with a Christmas installation. Each room is packed with wrapped presents and decorations bathed in candlelight and the glow from the fireplace. Book an evening visit.

Snow Slide. East Village. Sat. Free. Twenty tonnes of real snow. That’s what’s being used to create the 25-metre ‘snow slide’ arriving in East Village, Stratford this week. All visitors need to do is grab a rubber ring and hop on board. (It’s suitable for all ages, even big kids).

Libreria All-Nighter. Libreria. Sat. Free. To celebrate the launch of the hallelujah-inducing Night Overground, London’s hippest bookshop is throwing a culture-filled all-nighter with live music, poetry and storytelling, plus you can scoff mince pies and browse books into the small hours.


Enchanted Eltham Palace. Eltham Palace. Until Dec 23. £12. Wend your way around a twinkling trail of medieval-themed illuminations in the grounds of this atmospheric art deco mansion.

Midnight Apothecary Christmas Sing-A-Longa. Brunel Museum. Sat. £8. Step into the Brunel Museum’s not-at-all-secret underground chamber for a rowdy Christmas sing-song, before heading up to the roof garden where hot toddies and warming firepits await.

Horniman Christmas Fair. Horniman Museum. Sat. Free. Dozens of stalls selling arts, crafts, gifts and treats gather in the lovely Horniman Museum for a traditional Christmas fair. As well as shopping, there’ll be mulled wine, workshops, festive tunes, music and dancing.

A Moomin Winter’s Day. Dulwich Gallery. Sat-Sun. £8, £14 with exhibition entry. Join in a bauble-making workshop, handcraft some Moomin puppets and listen to Scandinavian storytelling at this special event celebrating the gallery’s Tove Jansson exhibition.

Carols in the Market Yard. Deptford Market Yard. Sat. Free. Huddle up in Deptford Market Yard for this community carol service. Belt out festive tunes, meet Santa, tuck into hot food or bop along to the Salvation Army band.


Christmas at Ham House. Ham House. Sat-Sun. From £10.80. This lavish Stuart house and grounds has come over all seasonal. Meet Santa in his cosy grotto and experience an authentic Restoration Christmas complete with music, food and festivities. 

Christmas at Kew. Kew Gardens. Until Jan 1. £18.50. See the botanical garden’s magnificent seasonal makeover as it gets all lit up with gorgeous illuminations. Follow a mile-long, twinkling trail past a flickering Fire Garden, kaleidoscopic projections and giant flora-inspired lights.


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