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Winter in London

The best things to do in London this winter 2022

Venture out into the cold this season with our pick of the best things to do in London this winter

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Things To Do Editors
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Put down the cocoa – hiding under a blanket is not an option in winter 2022. So what if temperatures are plummeting? Your social life is heating up with exciting new launches, exhibitions, and great new things to do in London. Side around a glitzy London ice rink, visit a gingerbread city and catch exciting new theatre productions. Here’s your guide to making the most of London in December 2022, past Christmas, through the New Year and into January and February 2023. 

RECOMMENDED: More amazing things to do in London

The best things to do in London this winter 2022

  • Things to do
  • Ice skating
  • Aldwych

What’s a London Christmas, without Somerset House’s iconic ice rink? Skate around the grand neoclassical courtyard on this huge, 900-square-metre outdoor rink, with a 40ft Christmas tree plonked in the middle for maximum Insta-potential. But, the best bit? The legendary weekend Skate Lates are back, bringing banging DJ sets from the city’s best club nights and selectors rinkside. This year the line-up includes Pxssy Palace, Girls of Grime and comedian James Acaster. 

 

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Islington

Still riding high from his breakout turn as Connell in ‘Normal People’, Paul Mescal makes his post-fame return to the stage in the iconic role of Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams’s peerless ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. Though Mescal is undoubtedly the numero uno draw in Rebecca Frecknall’s production, there’s a terrific supporting cast, with Lydia Wilson as Blanche Dubois and Anjana Vasan as Stella. It’s now sold out, but day tickets will be available if you’re prepared to queue.  

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  • Art
  • Bankside

Magdalena Abakanowicz’s ‘Abkans’ are massive woven sculptures that look like the type of bizarre, organic creation you’d expect to discover buried in the deepest reaches of a rain forest. Made in the 60s and 70s, the ‘Abkans’ cemented the artist’s reputation - as well they should’ve, because these towering, raw shapes are absolutely brilliant. And, as luck would have it, you can see a whole load of them in Tate Modern’s huge Blavatnik Building this Autumn. If that wasn’t reason enough to go, they’re also showing some of the Polish artist’s other large-scale works, including ‘War Games’, sculptures making use of felled tree trunks. 

Marvel at the Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread City
  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Belgravia

The Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread City is back with impressive models made of dough. Feast your eyes on an imaginary city made by architecture firms, who were invited to pick a plot on the masterplan and respond to a brief set by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design. This year’s exhibition presents not just one edible city but five miniature cities across five different climate zones: Polar, Continental, Temperate, Dry and Tropical.

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  • Things to do
  • Food and drink events
  • Covent Garden

Dreaming of a kitsch Christmas? New York's famous Miracle on Ninth Street bar is popping up in London for the festive season, bringing ’50s Christmas decorations, nostalgic alpine-themed accessories and creative takes on old school cocktails to Covent Garden. Think of the ’60s stop-motion version of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and you'll have your finger on the vibe of this wistful pop-up. Grab a seat at the bar, described as a ‘chalet living room on Christmas Eve’, and sip on a Snowball Old Fashioned or a Christmapoliton served in vintage, festive glassware. Soak it up with snacks from Italian Supper Club.

  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
  • Shoreditch

Looking for a unique gift to give your loved ones this Christmas? Get down to the Christmas Independent Ceramics Market where you’ll find everyone from students to established artists selling their wares. Expect everything from cups to art sculptures straight from the hands of over 100 makers themselves. The market will also liven up your shopping experience with a sound system, mulled wine and festive food. Smashing. 

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  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • South Bank

If it often feels like London at Christmas is simply wall-to-wall stage versions of Charles Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’, then it still seems unlikely that anybody had Dolly Parton writing a new musical version on their 2022 bingo card. Nonetheless: here it is. This is the first major outing for the show which sees the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge relocated to an East Tennessee mining town at the height of the Great Depression, with all-original songs and lyrics from Ms Parton herself. This does look like a relatively earnest endeavour that serves as a tribute to the working-class poor of Appalachia. Still, it’s hardly going to be without festive sparkle.

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Waterloo

Does the world need an all-singing version of the life story of Nelson Mandela? We’re about to find out! New musical ‘Mandela’ – fully endorsed by the iconic South African leader’s family – has been in development for some time. With Broadway director Schele Williams and Broadway writer Laiona Michelle at the helm, it isn’t hard to see where this musical is intended to end up – this season at the hip Young Vic is presumably a final litmus test before the show is launched upon the Great White Way. 

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  • Things to do
  • Spitalfields

Experience Dennis Severs’ House decorated for Christmas. This ornate Huguenot house tucked down a backstreet in Spitalfields is a real-life time capsule. Part museum, part art piece, its rooms are decorated to recreate the surroundings of a family home between 1724 and 1914 as if the inhabitants had just left moments before. It gets a seasonal make-over for Christmas with gingerbread figures and figgy pudding mix laid out in the 18th-century kitchen, Christmas trees covered in crimson decorations and a lavish holiday feast set out on the dining room table. Book an after-dark ‘Silent Night’ tour to see it glowing with candlelight. 

  • Things to do
  • Quirky events

Canary Wharf isn’t high on our list of London spots to hit up if you’re looking for cheeriness, but every January, a warm, glowy feeling descends on the financial district thanks to this annual spectacular. Between January 18 and 28, the area’s towering skyscrapers become the backdrop for Winter Lights, a collection of illuminating artworks, installations and interactive experiences.

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  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Charing Cross Road

Rising non-binary star Emma Corrin – aka Princess Diana in ‘The Crown’ – takes on the role of literature’s most famous gender non-conformist in Neil Bartlett’s new stage adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s ‘Orlando’. The classic 1928 novel follows the eponymous Orlando, an immortal being born male during the reign of Elizabeth, who goes on to live for another 300 years sporadically changing gender and, frankly, has a bloody good time doing it. Michael Grandage directs, with the rest of the casting TBC.

  • Theatre
  • Comedy
  • Piccadilly Circus

‘The Unfriend’ sees erstwhile ‘Doctor Who’ head writer Steven Moffat make his debut as a playwright in partnership with his ‘Sherlock’ collaborator Mark Gatiss (who makes his debut as a stage director). The social satire has already been a hit at Chichester Festival Theatre, and follows English couple Peter and Debbie who befriend an eccentric, Trump-loving old lady named Elsa while on holiday in the US. They agree to stay in touch and finally look her up online when she invites herself to stay – only to make a horrifying discovery. Reece Shearsmith, Amanda Abbington and Frances Barber reprise their roles from the original 2022 Chichester run.

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  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Covent Garden

Now well into his eighties, former ‘Star Trek’ actor George Takei has famously reinvented himself as a liberal LGBT Twitter icon. But he can still cut it on stage too: at an age where most of his peers have long retired, Takei comes to London for a 13-week-stint next year with the UK premiere of his musical ‘Allegiance’. Written by Jay Kuo with Marc Acito and Lorenzo Thione, the musical is inspired by Takei’s own memories of growing up in a Japanese internment camp in the US for a portion of the Second World War. 

  • Theatre
  • Shakespeare
  • South Bank

In a maverick move that nonetheless now feels strangely like it was inevitably going to happen, Sean Holmes directs the first ever Shakespeare’s Globe production to be staged in both of its venues, that is to say the outdoor Globe Theatre and indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. With its location-jumping, time-hopping, tone-shifting story, ‘The Winter’s Tale’ makes perfect sense (well, kind of) for this sort of treatment, with the action starting off in the Wamamaker’s starchy Sicilia, and moving to the wilderness of Bohemia – that is to say the outdoor Globe Theatre, which is going to be pretty chilly at the start of the run.

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  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Waterloo

Originally commissioned as a dance show, ‘Sylvia’ was reconceived as a full-blown musical and its initial 2018 run at the Old Vic (reviewed below) was declared to be a work-in-progress. Its 2023 run – with Beverley Knight returning to star – will be its official 'world premiere’. It’s a potted – albeit lengthy – history of the suffragette movement, both enthralling and, sometimes, actively exhilarating.

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Kew

Over a million lights and festive sounds return to Kew Gardens for its annual Christmas light trail – now a key date in London’s festive calendar. Wander an illuminated path through the 300-acre World Heritage Site through glistening tunnels of light, dancing lakeside reflections and trees drenched in jewel-like colour. As usual, there’ll be warming winter snacks and a Santa’s grotto. 

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  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Covent Garden

Sam Mendes’s recent forays onto the stage – ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, ‘King Lear’, ‘The Ferryman’ –  have all been bombastic, blockbuster-style affairs that sparkle with the traces of his Hollywood success. But he tamps it down with ‘The Lehman Trilogy’, an epic but fairly modest three-actor play that charts the story of the Lehman brothers and the institutions that would go on to bear their names. It’s basically a really, really good history lecture beautifully framed by Mendes's team.

  • Art
  • Piccadilly

You've got to wade throughout a lot of male names in the history of modernism before you get to any women, but they were there, and they were pivotal. This show aims to celebrate three of those women – Paula Modersohn-Becker, Käthe Kollwitz, Gabriele Münter and Marianne Werefkin – all working in Germany in the early twentieth century, and all having a huge impact on the birth of modernism. 

Find more inspiration this winter

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