Alternative Christmas events in London

If festive tradition isn't your thing, check out these weird and wonderful Christmas events taking place in London this winter
Swimmers Compete For The Peter Pan Cup In The Icy Waters Of The Serpentine
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By Time Out London Things To Do |
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Listen, we love a good old-fashioned Christmas. Mulled wine, festive marketscarol services and ice skating, winter wonderlands: it’s all good stuff when you’re in the right mood. But there's nothing wrong with trying something a little different once in a while. Thankfully, London is blessed with all the alternative festive events that you could ever want, so get out of your festive comfort zone have yourself a quirky little Christmas in 2018. 

RECOMMENDED: Find more festive fun with our guide to Christmas in London

Alternative Christmas events in London

© Luke Hayes
Things to do, Exhibitions

Museum of Architecture Gingerbread City

icon-location-pin V&A, Brompton
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An gingerbread village usually appears in London in the run up to Christmas. Visit to see the village, and buy your own plot to support the Museum of Architecture. 

Best buildings in London: Smithfield Market
© Cedric Weber
Things to do, Food and drink events

Hart's of Smithfield Christmas Auction

'Spend your money and take your chance' is the rather mysterious advice given to the 1,500-odd Londoners expected to turn up to Smithfield meat market for what must be London's most boisterous Christmas traditions. Harts of Smithfield run an auction just before Christmas each year, flogging great hunks of every kind of meat at bargain prices. 

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Things to do, Quirky events

Peter Pan Cup

icon-location-pin Serpentine Lido, Knightsbridge
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Strictly a spectator event, unless you happen to be a regular, not to say hardy, member of the Serpentine Swimming Club, the Peter Pan Cup race takes place each year on Christmas morning. 

Things to do, Quirky events

The Great Christmas Pudding Race

icon-location-pin Covent Garden Piazza, Covent Garden
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Watch runners try to navitage through foam slaloms and other inflatable hazards whilst balancing a plate of Christmas pud. All the wackiness is for a good cause for Cancer Research UK. Take part, or just turn up on the day to laugh and point. 

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Things to do, Markets and fairs

Doggy Style Christmas Market

icon-location-pin 26 Leake St, Waterloo
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Wait, come back, it’s not what you think (you dirty puppy).
This market is all about canine chic. Billed as the largest indoor market for hounds and their owners you’ll find Leake Street packed with stalls full of treats for our four-legged friends, including luxe dog accessories from Teddy Maximus and Barc London and bio-organic dog food from The Rockster. Happy howlidays. 

Things to do, Markets and fairs

Cockpit Arts Christmas Open Studios

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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Open studios are a great chance to support indie designer-makers and pick up unique Christmas gifts you won't find on the high street. Check out the work of 170 people selling furniture, lighting, jewellery, fashion accessories, clothing, ceramics, silverware and tree decorations, and have a look around the studios where it was all made.  

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MKIMAGES
Things to do, Markets and fairs

Art Car Boot Fair Christmas Wrap Party

icon-location-pin The Workshop, Lambeth
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Art Car Boot Fair is your chance to meet and barter with all your favourite artists as they flog their work from... you guessed it, a car boot. Say hello to the likes of Bob & Roberta Smith, Mr Bingo, Juno Calpyso and Gavin Turk. But it is the Christmas special, so look out for new additions like pass the art parcel, art bingo and the Secret Santa Casino.  

Things to do, Festivals

Winterville

icon-location-pin Clapham Common, Clapham
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Ok, so its essentially a Christmas wonderland, but Winterville’s festive events are anything but generic. Instead of your usual carol singers, Mariah & Friendz will be bringing two drag extravaganzas to the ‘main event’ tent – a child-friendly performance of their variety show Splat, and an adult spectacle in the evening (December 9) – while The Cocoa Butter Club (November 25) will be serving up burlesque performance art set to Motown and soul. Did we mention Lucha Britannia’s Mexican wrestling match (December 6)?

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Chiswick House, After Dark
© James Wicks
Things to do, Late openings

After Dark

icon-location-pin Chiswick House and Gardens, Chiswick
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Not fussed about London’s traditional festive high street lights? Designer Nick Gray is messing with the Christmas rule book over at Chiswick House. This new celebration of illumination is scrapping baubles and Santa in favour of a super slick light display responding to the eighteenth-century grounds. 

Things to do, Quirky events

The London Pantomime Horse Race: Film/TV Edition

icon-location-pin Devonport House, Greenwich

Forget the Grand National, there’s real horsey fun to be had at the ninth London Pantomime Horse Race. This year you can expect to see the likes of Austin Powers, Indiana Jones, Father Ted and more. 

Try something new in the run up to Christmas

Things to do, Classes and workshops

Weird and wonderful hobbies in London

Bored? You need to get yourself a new hobby. And we're not talking stamp collecting here – we're talking alternative, freaky, fun activities, like trapezing, making wine and learning to paddleboard.

Find more Christmas fun in London

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