YOUR DECEMBER AGENDA | London 2021
Hold on for deer life. Or yule be sorry.
Because Christmas is coming, and London’s almost ready to serve you up a month of joy, entertainment and festivities in its honour…
And by adopting a balanced approach to the next four weeks – one that acknowledges the continued existence of covid, and respects the government’s latest guidelines without panicking or feeling obliged to hide under the bed for a the remainder of the year – we can all take reasonable precautions WHILST SIMULTANEOUSLY digging out our Christmas jumpers; eating chocolates for breakfast; and enjoying a smorgasbord of London-based festive entertainment which this month includes immersive mysteries, glowing orbs, laser recreations of the Northern Lights, insane cabarets, last suppers, tiny miracles and a whole lot more, besides.
Behold Your December Agenda…
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Live Music at Tap & Bottle
One of our all-time favourite wine dens in London, Tap & Bottle are hosting the first in a series of live music nights to kick off the month. The interiors are a beautiful blend of cosy, mismatched furnishings and crumbling exposed brickwork, while the outside terrace – nestled amongst the chimneypots – is heated and festooned with lights. As always, there’s over 100 wines to pick from, and they’ve just launched a festive menu, too, with mince pies, mulled wine and charcuterie & cheese boards built up from neighbouring Borough Market.
Details: 2nd December | Tap & Bottle, 64 Union St, London, SE1 1SG | Book a table here
The Colourpro Photography Awards
Viewsonic, a company that specialises in ‘visual solutions’ (ie computer monitors), has decided to put on their own photography competition. Which is admittedly quite a good visual solution to a lot of stuff, including a basic desire for inspiration. After fielding 6.5k entries, they’ve whittled them down to the best 20, and put them on display in London Bridge for free. This year’s theme is ‘new adventures’, and there are some stunners in there…
Details: 2nd-4th December | Red Brick Retail Arch, London Bridge Station, SE1 9SP | Free
Boxpark: We Are 10
That’s right. Boxpark is 10 years old. And like most 10 year olds, they’re celebrating by hosting three-day festivals at all three of their shipping container villages, with DJ sets, live music from Garage Supper Club, Hip Hop Karaoke and more.
Details: 3rd – 5th December | Boxpark Shoreditch, Croydon & Wembley | Individually ticketed
Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre
You’d be hard pressed to find a more extravagant setting for a Christmas market than Hampton Court Palace – and this month they’re filling the courtyard with festive food and drink, dozens of stalls selling seasonal gifts, a bandstand with live music,
and jousting. You could even combine it with a little ice skating…
Details: 3rd – 5th December | Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Way, KT8 9AU | £25.30
The Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread City
Building an entire city out of gingerbread may sound like a half-baked idea… but when it’s constructed by architects & engineers gathered together by the Museum of Architecture, and housed within a beautiful – but nevertheless inedible – townhouse in Knightsbridge, it’s actually pretty impressive. READ MORE
Details: 4th December – 9th January 2022 | 6-7 Motcomb Street, SW1X 8JU | £8.50
An Orchestral Rendition of Daft Punk
Daft Punk fan? You’re about to get lucky. Because Re:Imagine are going to bring their 16 piece orchestra to XOYO for a live performance of the band’s most iconic hits, complete with a bespoke light show.
Details: 9th December | XOYO, 32-37 Cowper St, EC2A 4AP | £20
Miracle On Leake Street
Frankly, if you’re one of those ultra-orthodox festive revellers whose idea of Christmas doesn’t involve a subterranean, graffiti-covered tunnel, then this one might not be for you. Because Miracle on Leake Street takes place in one of those. It’s a one-day event that will involve a free screening of Home Alone (with blankets provided), a few teaser performances from next year’s VAULT Festival, a wreath making class, a skate & spray workshop, a mulled wine tutorial, plus some festive face-painting, street food stalls, annnnd giant board games. And it’s free. Miraculous indeed.
Details: 9th December | Leake Street Arches, Leake Street, SE1 | Free
The House Of Irene Adler
Irene Adler was one of the few people able to mentally compete with Sherlock Holmes, and now she’s disappeared leaving only a cryptic note… Part escape room, part theatre, part mystery, your job is to find her. This pop up show comes to us from an outfit called Immercity, who have put on a lot of shows in the past, and gotten some pretty decent reviews out of them, so it doesn’t take a super-sleuth to figure out that this is probably going to be quite good.
Details: 10th December – 9th January 2022 | Babel Studios, Patshull Road, NW5 2LB | £28
For two nights only this December, General Gordon Square in Woolwich will be covered in balls. Large, illuminated balls, created by French artists Collectif Coin. This sea of glowing spheres will be completely free to wander through, and is basically just there to get selfie-hungry Londoners to visit Woolwich. And it’ll probably work.
Details: 10th-11th December | General Gordon Square, Woolwich, SE18 6FH | Free
Love Actually With A Live Orchestra
Some people may claim not to like Richard Curtis movies, but they secretly love Love Actually actually. And if you enjoy it so much you’d like to see if with a live orchestra, then you just got yourself an early Christmas present…
Details: 11th December | Events Apollo, 45 Queen Caroline St, W6 9QH | £46+
Borealis at Guildhall Yard
If you’re sick and tired of the Scandinavian countries selfishly hoarding all the Northern Lights for themselves, then you’ll be happy to hear about Borealis. It’s a completely free show by audio-visual artist Dan Archer being put on at Guildhall Yard this month, and it’ll depict a swirling, ethereal colourscape above your head. Advance tickets have sold out (they were free, after all) but there are walk-up spots available throughout each show.
Details: 11th-22nd December | Guildhall Yard, EC2V | Free
The Luna Winter Cinema
We’re about to hit the most magical phase of the Luna cycle: The Winter Cinema. Yes, after another glorious summer of star-lit pop ups, the roving big-screen specialists at Luna Cinema are dropping into a pair of iconic (and thankfully indoor) London venues for a couple of weeks this month… READ MORE
Details: 12th-23rd December | Battersea Art Centre SW11 5TN & Kensington Palace Pavilion, W8 4PX | £17.50+ (Nudge Members get 50% off)
An Evening of Cheese at Borough Market
Borough Market might just be the cheese epicentre of the city, and to prove it, they’re going to hold an entire evening dedicated to the stuff. Expect plenty of tastings, expert advice, and thousands of varieties just waiting to be sampled.
Details: 15th December, 6-8pm | Borough Market, London Bridge, SE1 1TL | Free
A spectacular, old-fashioned circus with top hatted ringmasters, life-size elephant puppets, real knife throwing, and no safety nets? Circus 1903 is going to be in tents. READ MORE
Details: 16th December – 2nd January 2022 | Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX | £25-£115
Shotgun Carousel at The Grotteaux
Shotgun Carousel – the immersive theatre/party company behind hits like The Red Palace – have decided to put on a Christmas cabaret. And by ‘cabaret’, we mean a raucous parade of burlesque bombshells, drag performers, circus stunts and comedians, all accompanied by a live band playing Christmas hits & some fancy booze to wash it all down.
Details: 16th December – 8th January | The Fireworks Factory, 11 No. 1 Street, SE18 6HD | £15.50
Winter Roof Terrace at Holmes
You’ll find this gloriously festive spot on top of the Holmes Hotel, right opposite its namesake’s house at 221b Baker Street. And while there are a lot of different festive cinema pop ups coming to London this year, this is going to be one of the more intimate spots, seating just eight each night. The reason for that will become abundantly clear when you get up there and take your seat – a fur-lined sofa, housed within your own private mini chalet. READ MORE
Details: Until 18th December | Holmes Hotel, 108 Baker Street, W1U 6LJ | £65
Lux is all about what we’re now referring to as “immersive art”. That means entire rooms with moving video walls and floors, animated sculptures, and gigantic projections. There are a dozen artists involved, each trying to blow your mind in a new and inventive way…
Details: Until 18th December | 180 Studios, 180 The Strand, WC2R 1EA | £20
The Pod is a teeny tiny pop up theatre in a church. And not just any church. The Actor’s Church in Covent Garden, the one whose grand colonnades back onto the piazza itself. It can fit 70 punters at a time, and they’re putting on a roster of innovative new shows for just £15 a pop.
Details: Until 22nd December | St Paul’s Church, Bedford St, WC2E 9ED | £15
The TOY Project
North London charity The TOY Project have opened a pop up shop selling pre-loved toys… in Selfridges. It’s all part of a plan to change the fate of toys that would otherwise go to landfill, and it’ll likely shock you how many cool, collectible, limited ed toys people are apparently willing to part with. They’re accepting further donations should you feel the need to rid yourself of an irreplaceable part of your childhood, and they’ll be open until the eve of Christmas Eve.
Details: Until December 23rd | Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB
Electric Winter at Between The Bridges
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. The Bridges: Hungerford and Westminster, next to the Southbank Centre. The Between: a raucous pop-up covered terrace with street food vendors, bars, live music, festive film screenings and massaoke. READ MORE
Details: Tuesday – Sunday, until 23rd December | Queen’s Walk, South Bank, SE1 7PB
My Last Supper with Jay Rayner
Jay Rayner, a man who eats for a living, is thinking about death. Specifically, what one last thing he would eat before he makes his last, thoroughly satisfied shuffle off this mortal coil. In this show, he’ll examine people’s fascination with last meals, explore his own, and get you to design yours. All while you eat.
Details: 27th December | Brasserie Zédel, 20 Sherwood Street, W1F 7ED | £30
What do you get when you cross lawn bowls with crazy golf, pinball, neon, and alcohol? Either a lifetime ban from the village social club, or Pinbowlz… READ MORE
Details: Until 31st December | Unit 5, Bohemia Place, Hackney, E8 1DU | £9-11
The Drop is an immersive show that comes to us from a company called Swamp Motel (apparently, they’ve won awards) and which takes place in an unassuming five storey building in Aldgate. Inside that building is a seedy criminal underworld, and your job is to navigate it, come out alive, and endure something called “The Drop” at the end of it all… READ MORE
Details: Throughout December | 55 Aldgate High Street, EC3N 1AL | £40
This year, Winter Wonderland had to get rid of the ol’ free-for-all policy in a bid to control crowd numbers, which means that a) you’ll have to get a ticket in advance, and b) at least hypothetically, you’ll have fewer queues to endure before strolling through an enchanting ice kingdom; drinking mulled wine at the Christmas market; and indulging your love of European rollercoasters… READ MORE
Details: Until 3rd January 2022 | Hyde Park, London W2 | £5
La Clique has fired the human cannonball. They’ve let the trapeze artist go. They’ve gone for the juggler. Because their version of a circus is an Olivier award-winning, all-adult, all-risque, burlesque, cabaret, and sideshow cocktail. And it’s back in London for the winter… READ MORE
Details: Until 8th January | Leicester Square, WC2H 7NA | £21+
Christmas Tours at Dennis Severs’ House
Dennis Severs’ House, the time-warping Spitalfields townhouse decorated by an eccentric artist to look like a kind of 3D painting has been given a festive makeover for the winter seasons, and if you book in for a Silent Night tour you’ll be able to explore the house after hours, where it’s lit entirely by candlelight and crackling log fires.
Details: Until 9th January | Dennis Severs’ House, 18 Folgate Street, E1 6BX | £20, book here
The Epping Ongar Light Fantastic
Move over Polar Express, there’s a new magical railway in town. It’s called the slightly less catchy ‘Epping Ongar Light Fantastic’, and you can book it now, for illuminated steam train journeys across a festively bedecked light trail. READ MORE
Details: Until 9th January 2022 | North Weald station, CM16 6BT | £20
Midnight Swims at Hampton Pool
Hampton Pool is London’s only lido to be heated all year round. And that’s quite a crucial detail, given the fact that they’re opening up the pool for their annual series of midnight winter swims this month. READ MORE
Details: Until 9th January | High Street, Hampton, TW12 2ST | £12
Fulham Beach, the sandy Thames-side resort, was pretty popular this summer. But now they’ve converted it into Winterland, and well, things have snowballed. Now, you can find a cosy, alpine pop up, with fur-lined private chalets, a hunting lodge full of hot cocktails, and a whole lot of bubbling, melted cheese. READ MORE
Details: Until 30th January | Winterland, Wandsworth Bridge Road, SW6 2TY | £12
Your Christmas Agenda
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Yes, the period immediately before Christmas, when you get to go to all the best festive events in our fair capital, from candlelit carols to pop up cinemas in a frozen forest; rooftop bars serving mulled cocktails to private igloos filled with fondue and wine… READ YOUR CHRISTMAS AGENDA
New Year’s Eve
The London fireworks may have been cancelled this year, but you can still see out 2021 with a bang thanks to our roundup of the most raucous, unusual, and downright entertaining NYE escapades to get up to in London this year. There’s live music on a Dutch cargo boat; dinner and dancing in a Clerkenwell townhouse; burlesque beneath an ancient meat market, and a strange place with hypnotic floor-to-ceiling visuals… READ THE FULL NYE AGENDA
Go to an Ice Rink
There are very few things more relaxing than strapping a pair of knives to your feet and attempting to balance on them, on ice. After drinking mulled wine. So why not do it at one of London’s best ice rinks… TAKE A SPIN
Head to a Pub With A Fireplace
If your cockles are feeling anything less than 100% warmed, then you need to get yourself down to one of these pubs, all with open, roaring fireplaces… GET TOASTY
Take In A Winter Light Show
Looking for a little light entertainment? Well, you’ve come to the wrong place. Because these festive displays have a lot… ILLUMINATE YOURSELF
Go to a Festive Market
If you hate mulled wine, twinkly lights and talented artisans, look away now. Because what follows is a list of Christmas markets and fairs that are exceedingly full of festive cheer… SHOP AWAY
See some Christmas Lights
All too often, Christmas lights are just a long string of disappointments. But all your festive anticipation is more than justified this year, with a lineup of displays to put Elf to shame… SEE THE LIGHTS
A Taste of Porto
The Disappearing Dining Club has reappeared. They’re back at their quite incongruously permanent (and beautiful) north London gastropub home, The Dartmouth Arms, to bring you a series of weekly, Portuguese-style supperclubs called A Taste of Porto. Walking in, you’ll get a welcome cocktail, then settle in for a multi-course feast of food inspired by the Douro Valley – think smoked pepper & saffron soup, slow roast pork belly & black bean stew, etc. It’ll all be put together by the DDC’s head chef Fred Bolin, and it’s all paired with some rare, vintage and unusual ports… READ MORE
Details: 1st & 8th December | The Dartmouth Arms, 35 York Rise, NW5 1SP | £45pp
Four Corners at Rondo La Cave
These glorious slabs of pizza are the work of Detroit-style dough-spinners Four Corners. They’re going to be settling in for the next three months at Rondo La Cave, the subterranean natural wine bar in Holborn that’s designed to host an ever-changing series of residencies in its kitchens. They’ve teamed up with an International Pizza Consultant, Anthony Falco, to create toppings like the Vodka Meatball (meatballs, vodka sauce, parmigiano) and the Beef & Onions (smoked entrecote, white onions and pomegranate molasses), which you’ll be able to wash down with those hand-picked bottles from small-scale growers.
Details: From 1st December | Rondo La Cave (underneath The Hoxton), 199-206 High Holborn, WC1V 7BD | Book here
The crème de la ice-crème is opening a pop up shop in Covent Garden for five days this month, serving toasty waffles topped with your pick of their two limited edition festive flavours: Rum Salted Caramel & Biscuit, and Irish Whiskey & Chocolate Waffle. Mmm, double waffle.
Details: 1st – 5th December | 140 Long Acre, WC2E 9AD
It’s time to put your waistband into gentle training for the upcoming festive period – and there are worse places to do that than The Cheese Bar in Camden, who are bringing back Fondue Thursdays for the winter months. Every week they’ll be serving their set menu of three British cheese starters, fondue and a side for £23pp – or for a couple of quid more, you can plump for that month’s special restaurant collab fondue. First up is Bone Daddies, who are adding a Japanese twist to the pot with their Cornish Gouda & Yuzu number…
Details: Thursdays throughout December | The Cheese Bar, Unit 93-94 Camden Stables Market, London NW1 8AH | £23/25
Ixta Belfrage at The Hoxton
Ixta Belfrage’s cooking is a unique fusion of cuisine from Brazil, her mother’s home country; Italy, where she spent her childhood years; and Mexico, where she still has family. Basically, it’s like nothing you’ve ever had before, and she’s taking over the pans at The Hoxton’s restaurant in Southwark for one night only, serving up confit prawn and grilled pineapple tostadas; spatchcock chicken with plantain; and a macadamia miso caramel bomba to finish. Plus, each course will be served alongside a specially paired beer from Camden Town Brewery.
Details: 15th December | Albie, The Hoxton, 40 Blackfriars Road, SE1 8NY | £55 – Book here
Ordinarily, a pop up selling sandwiches wouldn’t exactly be earthshattering news. But this pop up comes from JKS, the restaurant group responsible for Gymkhana, BAO, Hoppers, Lyle’s and more. And these sandwiches are made with freshly baked Vietnamese bánh mì, which is then stuffed with the likes of red roast pork, lemongrass meatballs, fermented sausage and fried tofu. There’ll be a new sandwich each week of the six-week pop up, and you can also get your hands on a whipped egg coffee (it’s weird, but delicious), a salted plum soda, and a ‘Bia Hoi’ beer.
Details: Until 17th December | 30 Rupert Street W1D 6DL | Bookings are available for groups of 6+ via email@example.com
The Raclette Bar x The Secret Winter Garden
Push past the fur coats hanging up in the old wardrobe at The Regent in Balham, and instead of finding a frostbitten land of perennial winter overseen by a malevolent witch, you’ll find a perfectly charming winter retreat with igloos, a heated terrace under a canopy of ivy and twinkly lights, and a pop up from The Raclette Bar – who are serving melted cheese, grill-your-own veggies and Alpine meats, and bottomless sides of fries, pickles, potatoes and more…
Details: Open weekdays from 5pm, weekends from 11am | The Regent, 21 Chestnut Grove, Balham, London SW12 8JB | Book here, menu £27pp
A series of Studio 54-inspired supperclubs in a Leyton warehouse, brought to you by the good people behind The Jellied Eel pop ups and realised through a dazzling combination of retro props and furnishings; free Champagne; fondue; live musicians and circus performers. And a 1970s caravan slap-bang in the middle of the room, that’s available for private hire. READ MORE
Details: Thurs-Sun until 30th January | Patchworks, 258 Church Road, London, E10 7JQ | £34-85
Along with ice skating, mulled wine, the Oxford Street lights, an abundance of Christmas markets and fairs, carol singing, and an inevitable shortage of turkeys, Jimmy Garcia’s “Snow Globes” on The Southbank are becoming something of a winter tradition in London. And now they’re back, along with an Alpine terrace for mulled cider and wild boar hot dogs… READ MORE
Details: Until 3rd January | Outside the Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX | Book here
Ling Ling’s at The Gun Well St
The Modern Chinese-Vietnamese outfit has landed at The Gun E9, and this time (alongside their ever-changing menu of small plates) they’re running special collab dinners with other pop up kitchens and serving up Asian-inspired Sunday roasts every week.
Details: Open Wed-Sun | The Gun, 235 Well St, London E9 6RG | Book here
Filthy Buns (aka John & Debs) have extended their residency at Dalston’s 3 Compasses, where they’re cooking up ludicrously large, jaw-dislocating burgers. They’re all made with 45 day dry-aged beef from The Ginger Pig butchers, sandwiched in between brioche buns with outrageous bedfollows: this here is the Millionaire Short Rib, boosting that beef patty with beer-braised short rib, Swiss cheese & beer BBQ glaze, smoky gravy mayo and Biscoffy peanut butter.
Details: Open for dinner daily, plus lunch on weekends | The Three Compasses, 99 Dalston Lane, E8 1NH | Book here
Calling your restaurant Tacos Padre might sound like a pretty big claim. But when you’ve worked at Mexico City’s Pujol – currently ranked 12th on the World’s 50 Best list – it’s probably a fair one to make. After years of pop ups around the world, Nick Fitzgerald’s taqueria has landed a relatively permanent home in Borough Market Kitchen. Towards the end of the week, the festoon lighting fires up and the kitchen starts plating up beef short rib, chicken asado and cauliflower ‘al pastor’ tacos, alongside frozen margaritas and guest dishes like Michelada oysters.
Details: Taqueria Sat 12-5pm, dinner Thurs-Sat 6.30-10pm | The Borough Market Kitchen, Winchester Walk, Jubilee Place, SE1 5AG | Book here
This winter Sipsmith is hosting a Zestival, which here means “a festival celebrating gins distilled with lemon, lime and orange by whipping said gins into a series of theatrical cocktails and serving them atop an exclusive, candlelit Soho rooftop alongside paired snacks, live music on Sundays, and a pop up bar serving bespoke Tony’s Chocolonely hot chocolates“. READ MORE
Details: 1st – 5th December | Ham Yard Hotel, 1 Ham Yard, London, W1D 7DT | £25-45
Dante & Paradiso at The Churchill Bar
The Churchill Bar in Marylebone is playing host to two of the World’s Best Bars this month – and by a strange twist of fate they happen to be called Dante and Paradiso. The former is an NYC bar which hit #1 in 2019, and specialises in spritzers and aperitivi; the latter is a theatrical speakeasy in Barcelona, accessed through the back of a pastrami fridge. They’ll each be serving up a unique menu especially for the takeovers (from 5pm/6pm till 10pm respectively), and it all chimes quite nicely with the announcement of this year’s list on 7th December.
Details: 5th & 8th December | The Churchill Bar & Terrace, 30 Portman Square, London W1H 7BH | Walk-ins
The Clumsies at Hotbox
You can pretty much go on The World’s Best Bar crawl this month, since Athens legends The Clumsies are popping up at Hotbox the same week as Dante and Paradiso. They’ll be serving up a menu of classic serves like But First Coffee, which marries vodka, coffee, jasmine mead and mango vermouth, and the X-Tasis, combining buttered aged rum, passionfruit, pineapple, and fermented milky Oolong tea. And we can assure you that despite the name, they’ll be very good at it.
Details: 8th & 9th December | Hotbox, 46-48 Commercial Street, London, E1 6LT | Book here, or just walk in
Veuve Clicquot Le Tram
Veuve Clicquot’s retro, funicular-shaped pop-up bar has returned to Selfridges. A trampagne bar, if you will. You can get it here in all kinds of interesting serves – including an edition designed to be enjoyed over ice with a red pepper garnish – as well as a couple of signature Champagne cocktails, which you can enjoy propped up at the bar lining the tram’s windows, or inside the special listening booth lounge at the front, where you can play your own favourite song through retro speakers.
Details: Open daily until end of January 2022 | Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, London, W1A 1AB | Walk-in
The Winter Forest at 100 Wardour Street
Soho’s all-day restaurant and live music den has been given the festive once-over for the winter season, with snow-dusted trees; twinkling lights; baubles and furry throws everywhere you look. And to cap it all off, they’ve partnered with Belvedere Vodka to serve up a mini-menu of Christmas specials, like the Naughty But Nice, which adds white cacao and cold brew liqueur and tops it off with whipped cream, and Under The Mistletoe, which marries cranberry, chocolate, cherry juice and vanilla essence.
Details: Until 31st December | 100 Wardour Street, W1F 0TN | Reserve via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 314 4000
Coravin Wine & Bubbles Bar
So, this entire pop up is basically one big advertisement for the fancy Coravin machines that keep wine fresh after the bottle has been opened. But that’s not exactly a terrible thing, considering that you can get a whole load of excellent wines by the glass here, that you might otherwise have ever gotten the chance to sample. In fact, there’ll be 300 types of vino available by the glass (princes range from £9 to, er, £850) with 50 champagnes & sparkling wines that stay effervescent long after the cork is gone. So, it might be worth popping in.
Details: Open Tues-Sat until January 2022 | 4-7 Lancashire Court, London W1S 1EY | Book here
Alice in Winterland
The Queen of Hoxton usually does something spectacular with its rooftop space each season, but this time they’ve really gone down the rabbit hole. The entire building is wearing an ‘Alice In Winterland’ themed hat, with Cheshire Cats, teacup cocktails, shisha pipes, and random little shot bottles that say ‘drink me’ on them… READ MORE
Details: Open daily throughout December | The Queen of Hoxton, 1 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3JX | Book here
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