Fed up with all this festive cheer? Swap Christmas markets for a Satanic Fayre
Waltham Forest is marking the end of its reign as the first London Borough of Culture with an ethereal installation that will make Leyton’s cricket ground look like it’s sprouted a haunted urban forest. The ‘tree-like structures’ of light will appear this Friday for Forest Uprising – which launches with a night of live music and theatre performance – then shine on for three days. It’s designed by Block9, the same people who created the jaw-dropping IICON stage at Glastonbury, so you can expect them to go big or go home. Leyton Sports Ground. Tube: Leyton. Fri Dec 13-Sun Dec 15. 5pm-10pm. Free.
The Satanic Flea Market AntiChristmas Fayre is taking Christmas back to its pre-Christian roots with a Saturnalian Saturday inside the Electrowerkz nightclub. Shop from stalls filled with taxidermy, pentacles, B-movie posters, Japanese kaiju toys, tarot, retro smut, jewellery, witchy vintage clothes, handknitted skulls and other macabre merch. According to the organisers, it’s ‘suitable for open-minded adults, children with old souls and well-behaved dogs’. The only satanic panic you have to worry about here is the rush of last-minute Christmas shoppers. Electrowerkz. Tube: Angel. Sat Dec 14. £3 entry.
Is there someone in your life whose favourite film has been ‘The Craft’ since 1996? Someone who commits to the black choker necklace, whether it’s in fashion or not? Then you need to visit the Goth Shop, a temporary boutique in east London selling all things gothic, gloomy and skull-shaped. Come Christmas, you can give the gift of neon angel wings, vampire patches, a Nick Cave zine or memento mori jewellery. Nothing says Christmas like a ring to remind you of the inevitability of death. Old Truman Brewery. Shoreditch High St Overground. Until Sun Dec 15. Free entry.
Sod generic, tacky Hallmark Christmas cards and opt for darker season’s greetings instead. Put those idle hands to work at the Wishing You a Creepy Victorian Christmas Card Making Drop-In Workshop where you’ll use unsettling Victorian images, such as robins holding tiny flaming torches. To add to the eeriness of it all, you’ll craft your masterpieces in one of the oldest operating theatres in Europe; appropriate, seeing as an element of sewing is involved. The Old Operating Theatre Museum. m London Bridge. Sat Dec 14. Free with museum entry £6.50.
Did you know cuddly Santa Claus has a sinister sidekick? In Germanic folklore Krampus is a Christmas goat demon who swats kids on the naughty list with sticks and sends them to the underworld. Head to London’s oldest independent occult bookshop to join Al Ridenour, host of folk-horror podcast ‘Bone and Sickle’, for The Krampus and the Old Dark Christmas: Roots and Rebirth of the Folkloric Devil. His talk explores the folklore and history surrounding the creepy creature and you’ll find out how it may be very misunderstood. There’ll be archival video involved and a ‘drop-in by a live Krampus’. Gulp. The Atlantis Bookshop. Tube: Holborn. Dec 18. £10.
’Tis the season to get freaky, so head down to occult bookshop Treadwell’s for its Yule Fête of ghoulish games and reindeer-horn headdress selfies. If you’re brave enough, dunk your hand into the unknown for a lucky dip. As well as enjoying the festivities, you can pick up ‘Christmas’ bargains. Everything in the store is 10 percent off and look out for special satanic deals for just £6.66… Treadwell’s Books. Tube: Goodge St. Dec 19. From £5.
Glide through the overstuffed rooms of Sir John Soane’s Museum, where the walls and cabinets are filled with the many collections of neoclassical architect John Soane, including the alabaster sarcophagus of Egyptian pharaoh Seti I and paintings by William Hogarth. At this Soane Late you can witness the boozy debauchery of Hogarth’s ‘A Rake’s Progress’ by candlelight to the sound of a choir, then finish up with a mince pie and your own Sipsmith G&T (hic!). Sir John Soane’s Museum. Tube Holborn. Dec 20. £25.
Live out your dark Dickensian dreams on an evening outing that sleighs the competition. Explore Richmond Park in a traditional carriage drawn by a pair of majestic shire horses from the last working herd in London. Clip-clop your way around the park while sipping sloe gin, eating mince pies and learning about the ancient park. The guides look straight out of a Magritte painting, dressed in long black coats and bowler hats. The ride isn’t cheap, but all the money raised supports the equine therapy services of Operation Centaur, which manages the horses. Holly Lodge, Richmond Park. Tube: Richmond. Various dates until Jan 5. £145 for two, max six.
After something more trad? Find out what else is happening in London this Christmas.