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Eight dreamy ways to see London by candlelight this winter

By
Kmccabe
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Electricity? Who needs it? See London by candlelight at these great events: 

Glassblowing by Candlelight

Want to see some real live glassblowing? Visit this professional London studio and watch molten sand transform into a Christmas bauble before your very eyes while chowing down on mince pies. The unusual craft will be demonstrated by candlelight, giving it that coal-stained industrial-era England vibe. If you’re feeling fortuitous, enter the lucky dip for a chance to try the technique yourself. Let it blow, let it blow, let it blow. London Glassblowing Studio & Gallery. London Bridge. Thu Dec 14. Free.

Dennis Severs’ House

Mr Severs had a fair bit of time on his hands. Back in the late ’70s, guided by what he called ‘English light’, Severs ploughed his energy into creating 18 Folgate Street, a home that doubles up as a time capsule of Spitalfields history. Using archives, old photographs and antiques picked up for a steal on E1’s stalls, he created a living portrait of a family of Huguenot silk-weavers spanning 1724 to the beginning of the twentieth century. Now every year Dennis Severs’ House is fitted with a Christmas installation. Each room is packed to the rafters with wrapped presents and decorations, all bathed in candlelight and the glow from the fireplace. Book an evening visit for the best atmosphere. It’s both heartwarming and a little creepy. A healthy balance. Dennis Severs’ House. Liverpool St. Until Jan 4. £17.50.

Dennis Severs’ House

Midnight Apothecary Christmas Sing-A-Longa

Step into the Brunel Museum’s Grand Entrance Hall and into its not-at-all-secret underground chamber for a rowdy sing-song. Before you know it, you’ll be arm-in-arm with someone you’ve never met shouting the wrong verse of ‘Fairytale of New York’ over a wine-stained song sheet. Hang out in a candlelit grotto, and when you’ve strained your vocal chords with that ‘All I Want for Christmas’ high note, head up to the Brunel’s rooftop garden where hot toddies await. Get some slow-roasted comfort grub from Pan London in the Engine House or just chill by the campfire toasting marshmallows. Do less with s’more. Brunel Museum. Rotherhithe Overground. Sat Dec 16. £8.

Candlelit Yin Yoga

Take a break from all the ‘but it’s Christmaaaaas it’s fiiiine’ wine-swilling with a stretchy yoga session. Gleaming candle flames fill the studio for this class, which is focused on holding lengthy postures. The heat will be lowered to 34 degrees to help ease you into realignment and opening poses. Don’t worry, the candles are kept in special paper lampshades, so there’s no chance of burning a hole in the crotch of your leggings. Centric: 3Tribes. Crouch Hill Overground. Class times and dates vary. Drop in from £12 or take five classes for £40 (introductory offer only). Book online at www.yogacentric.co.uk.

Eat by candlelight at The Lido Café

Some outdoor swimming pools cover up for Christmas, but not the Brockwell Lido. Nope, she’s got her fairy lights on and she’s ready for a brisk December dip. But if you’d prefer to spend the winter evenings eating pork belly instead of smuggling peanuts, you can sit down for a poolside meal at The Lido Café. All of the tables will be illuminated by a candle, with views over the water. Too bad you’ll be too busy scoffing figs and beer mac ‘n’ cheese to notice. The Lido Cafe. Herne Hill rail. Until Dec 22. Three courses for £29.

Midnight Apothecary

Carols by Candlelight

You could visit the Union Chapel to hear Noddy Holder do a nine-hour set on a broken kazoo and still leave saying it was transcendent. Even if you’ve never used the word transcendent in your life. Why? Because this Islington church is an absolute stunner. And it’s going to look even better when lit up by hundreds of little flames at this evening carol session. It’s a church event (remember it’s got Chapel right there in the name) so this one is free. Get there early, as anaconda-type queues are a usual feature at any Union Chapel concert. But it’ll be worth it when you pull up a literal pew in the midst of all that gothic revival architecture. Union Chapel. Highbury & Islington. Dec 17. Free.

‘Messiah’ by Candlelight

The Mozart Festival Orchestra will be pulling on their ‘Amadeus’ wigs and tail-coats for this gloaming concert at the Royal Festival Hall. But instead of one of Wolfie’s compositions on their music stands, they’ll have Handel’s masterpiece: ‘Messiah’. There won’t be a single overhead light in the auditorium, as candelabras will be carefully placed across the stage. Should have called it ‘Handel with candles’. Much clearer. Royal Festival Hall. Waterloo. Fri Dec 15. £16.50-£48.50.

Lucia Nights

LondonSwedes Lucia Nights

For the third year running, LondonSwedes are returning to Peckham with candlelit processions, candle crowns and festive songs. The all-female choir will be led by professional singer Cecilia Stalin. It all stems from the Christian feast known as Saint Lucy’s Day (which goes by the simpler ‘Lucia’ in Sweden). The venue’s name might suggest otherwise, but Asylum Chapel is a hauntingly beautiful spot, all distressed walls and exposed nineteenth-century stone salvaged from a WWII bombing. It’s the kind of place a magazine would recommend for a ‘rustic’ wedding, but let’s not ruin it. Asylum Chapel. Queens Rd Peckham Overground. Until Thu Dec 14. £20-£30, £10-£15 child.

More festive activities? Read our pick of alternative Christmas events in London

Check out our guide to the cosiest winter pop-ups in the city, and the best things to do in London this winter

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