We always knew Christmas 2020 was going to look very different from usual. But, if you saw your plans scrapped at the very last minute with the announcement that London was moving into Tier 4, then you might be facing being on your own in the city over Christmas, perhaps for the first time.
If you do find yourself alone over the holidays, rest assured there are still plenty of things to keep yourself busy with, whether you want to get into the festive spirit or avoid the tinsel trappings altogether. Aside from Zoom-calling friends and family and eating all the chocolate you can get your hands on, here’s our pick of things to do if you find yourself flying solo this festive season.
Join an online party
Christmas can be a difficult time, let alone when there are Tier 4 restrictions in place. LGBTQ+ Zoom club crew Queer House Party understands this, so its planning a virtual shindig on Christmas Day. But, unlike most events at the moment, it won’t have a Christmas theme, in fact Christmas songs are completely banned. The London collective began in lockdown to provide an online space for the LGBTQ+ community while clubs, bars and other venues were closed. So, it hopes that its Christma*s Day rave will offer some respite for queer people who find themselves away from their usual support networks. Expect a four-hour queer rave featuring drag, dance and burlesque performances from Baby, Shakona Fire, Victoria Rose, Jada Love and Romeo De La Cruz. It’s free to join, although if you can spare some cash, do consider tipping the performers.
If you want to see out the last days of 2020 with a bang, queer party starters Little Gay Brother and He.She.They are joining forces under the techno mistletoe for Love is Not Cancelled, a virtual rave on December 28. Expect bangers spinning from DJs like Absolute., Eats Everything, Ellen Allien, Peach and Syreeta, plus an epic crew of dancers and performers.
Have a laugh
Alone or not, we could all do with a good side-heaving belly laugh right now. Hoping to provide just that is Always Be Comedy. Before lockdown, it was a regular stand-up night at The Tommyfield in Kennington but it has lived on throughout the pandemic as a Zoom-based comedy club. Its Christmas Day special will see host MC James Gill provide funny segues to live and pre-recorded sets from a whole range of big-name comedians like Al Murray, Rachael Parris and Marcus Brigstocke, Jo Caufield, Lucy Beaumont, Ed Gamble, Suzi Ruffell, Seann Walsh, Sunil Patel and more.
Watch some theatre
Got some time on your hands this Christmas? Better make it highbrow. Tier 4 may have forced theatres across London to shut, but many that planned shows over the festive season have taken their productions online. English National Ballet is offering a recorded performance of its ‘Nutcracker Delights’ – a whirlwind tour of ‘The Nutcracker’ ballet’s most popular moments – available to watch for free until January. Shakespeare’s Globe’s Christmas show, hosted by Sandi Toksvig, is also available to watch online. YouTube’s 12 Days of Culture programme is broadcasting performances from London venues like the Donmar Warehouse, Royal Opera House and Sadler’s Wells for free until January 5 – it also includes Benedict Cumberbatch’s ‘Letters Live’ recorded at the Freemasons’ Hall in 2015. No repeats of ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ for you!
Tune in for a chat
Set up long before 2020 hit, Citysocializer is an app helping Londoners form new friendships through virtual events and workshops. It was created after its founder Sanchita Saha saw people moving to London and struggling to make friends in the busy city. Even on Christmas Day it doesn’t give up on its mission to get Londoners feeling friendly. Anyone can tune into its Christmas Day Festive Fun & Chat, which will be hoping to salvage some festive cheer with a virtual Christmas present unwrapping and festive jokes. And, if you do feel awkward, it’s much easier to do an Irish goodbye over Zoom.
Head out on a walk
One thing Tier 4 cannot take away from you is the freedom to put one foot in front of the other and trek across some of the prettiest parts of the city. Whether you fancy a waterside ramble or a frosty park stroll, escape your flat and pass the time away on one of these winter walks around London. Or, tour the city’s best Christmas lights. They’re free to see, they’re more festive than Noddy Holder tucking into a turkey dinner, and they’re all over the city, so chances are you won’t need to board public transport to add some sparkle to your day.
Go for a swim
While Tier 4 has shut down most things in the capital, outdoor pools can remain open under the rules, and a fair few are keeping their diving boards in action over the Christmas period. If you’re up for a chilly dip Beckenham Place Park swimming lake, Royal Docks Open Water Swimming and Parliament Hill Lido are open on the days around Christmas Day (you may need to take a cold-water swimming induction to be allowed to swim). If you don’t fancy freezing your gonads off, the mercifully heated Hampton Pool and London Fields Lido are open on Christmas Day in the morning (Tier 4 restrictions mean you must book a place in advance). Waterproof Santa hat optional.
Remember, if you or someone you know is struggling with loneliness you can find support and resources on mental health charity Mind’s website and NHS Every Mind Matters. You can also call the Samaritans on 116 123.
It’s not all lost. Christmassy things you can still do in Tier 4 London.
Get planning for 2021 with our January calendar.