It’s almost time to unwrap your presents, and wrap up the year.
And to see 2021 out in style, there’s plenty of events with which to lavish your nearest and dearest – from crafting cocktails by candlelight in one of the most magically lit parts of London, to festive movie singalongs, jaw-dropping live entertainment and spooky Christmas ghost stories.
It’s your Christmas agenda…
It’s a classic for a reason. Every year it seems to come back even bigger, and this year there’s London’s largest outdoor ice rink; rollercoasters and rides; ice slides; circus acts; street food; mulled wine; firepits and tipis; ice sculpting workshops and… a 70m observation wheel. READ MORE
Details: 10am-10pm (open until 3rd January, every day except Christmas Day) | Hyde Park, W2 2UH | Entry £5/7.50, but you can redeem this against activities booked in advance
Carols on Columbia Road
Every Wednesday in the run up to Christmas, Columbia Road‘s traders keep their doors open late for a little mulled wine-fuelled shopping. And to ensure the whole street is brimming with festive cheer, you’ll find singers (accompanied this year by a brass quintet) holding an open air carolling sesh.
Details: 5-9pm | Outside The Royal Oak, 73 Columbia Road, London E2 7RG | Free
Circus 1903 is all about old-school spectacle. Settling into the Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall, they’ll be showcasing the kinds of feats that health and safety did away with years ago: acts like knife-throwers; trapeze artists and acrobats without safety nets; and an all-new act called the ‘Brazilian wheel of death’. Thankfully, the one tradition they haven’t revived is the use of live animals – instead, they’ve collaborated with the War Horse designers to create jaw-dropping, life-sized puppets instead… READ MORE
Details: 11am, 3pm and 7.30pm (runs until 2nd January) | Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX | £25-115
La La Land: The Soundtrack
If you were a particular fan of the ‘la la’ part of La La Land, you can hear a full orchestral rendition of the film’s music at The Jazz Café on the 22nd, courtesy of the 16-piece NÜWA orchestra. They’ll be playing through the whole soundtrack, as well as other classic show tunes from the golden era of Hollywood.
Details: 7-10.30pm | Jazz Café, 5 Parkway,Camden, NW1 7PG | £16.50/£20-25 for a table in the restaurant
Cocktails by Candlelight
If you haven’t been around Seven Dials yet this season, the lights alone are worth a visit. It looks seriously Christmassy. And you’ll have a good excuse to go if you book into this intimate masterclass, where you’ll get to craft your own festively scented candle and learn to make two different gin cocktails, just in time for Christmas.
Details: 1pm, 4pm, 7pm (other dates available too) | 15 Short’s Gardens, London WC2H 9AT | £49 (inc. welcome drink)
The Haunted Man
The Haunted Man was the last of Dickens’ Christmas books (yeah, plural). And this Christmas eve eve, it’ll be brought to vivid life by actor James Swanton, who’s pretty much crafted an entire career out of playing the Victorian bard. It promises to combine ‘gothic chills and warming Christmas spirit’, and it’s all being performed in Dickens’ old house to boot.
Details: 16th (6pm), 17th (4pm) & 23rd December (12pm) | Charles Dickens Museum, 48-49 Doughty Street, WC1N 2LX | £22
The Muppet Christmas Carol Sing-Along
Watching the greatest felt-based Christmas movie of all time can only be improved by one thing: getting to sing your little heart out to ‘One More Sleep ‘Til Christmas’ and it actually being entirely accurate. For your peace of mind, they’re also checking vaccine passes or for negative tests, and they’re reintroducing spaced out seating, too.
Details: 3.30pm (multiple other screenings available too) | Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BY | £13
Ice Skating at JW3
JW3’s piazza is transformed every year to become home to their ice rink, which is surrounded with warming seasonal food, mulled wine and hot choco. It’s also open on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
Details: 10am-7pm | 341-351 Finchley Road, NW3 6ET | £17
Elf Screening at Backyard Cinema’s Christmas Extravaganza
Sure, you could watch Elf at home in your pyjamas. Or, you could mosey along to the art deco jewel that is The Troxy in Limehouse, listen to a live choir perform parts of the soundtrack on top of a giant box of Quality Streets, hear an original Christmas tale by George The Poet, and watch Elf on the big screen… in your pyjamas. READ MORE
Details: 3.30pm | Troxy, 490 Commercial Road, London E1 0HX | From £26, book here
The Peter Pan Cup
On Christmas Day, it’s always important to remember those less fortunate – like the people who have signed up to swim a 100-yard race along the freezing cold Serpentine. The shock of the water is so potentially heart attack-inducing that the race is only open to seasoned wild swimmers, but it makes for a great spectator sport (followed by a walk around the park) on Christmas morning.
Details: 9am | Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park | Free
Free Vintage Bus Tour
This Christmas Day, a vintage 1950s Routemaster bus will be mastering its old route once again, for free. If you’re anywhere near the ol’ 430 in south-west London (it shuttles between Roehampton and Putney Bridge), you can hop on or off any time you like.
Details: 9:30am-4pm | From Roehampton Danebury Avenue & Putney Bridge Station | Free
Swing By One of These Cosy Pubs
We’ve picked out some of the loveliest pubs (and a couple of cocktail bars) that are open on Christmas Day – perfect for a mulled wine after a long walk. See where’s open
Hot Tub Boats
Dispel any family tension that’s been brewing over the festive period by getting everyone to strip down to their swimmers, and take a cruise around the City’s waterways in a floating hot tub. And don’t worry, you can stock it up with booze. READ MORE
Details: 10-7pm | West India Quay, Off Hertsmere Road, Canary Wharf, London E14 4AL | £225 for up to 7 people (festive discounts available)
Rooftop Cinema at Holmes Hotel
If you’re wondering what’s showing at this twinkly rooftop cinema on Boxing Day, it’s Love, Actually. You’ll start your evening with a special seasonal tasting menu (with Champagne) in the restaurant downstairs, before heading up to your own fur-lined chalet-style booth for one of the most romantic film screenings in town… READ MORE
Details: From 5.30pm (multiple dates available) | Kitchen at Holmes, 108, Baker Street, London, W1U 6LJ | £55
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 been commissioned by the Museum of Architecture, it’s actually pretty impressive, with over 100 artists, engineers and architects constructing their own sugar-dusted, fairy-lit gingerbread edifices… READ MORE
Details: 9am-9pm (runs until 9th January) | 6-7 Motcomb Street, Knightsbridge, SW1X 8JU | £8.50
A dazzling patchwork of cabaret, burlesque, circus and vaudeville, La Clique’s a raucous, risqué and fun-filled night featuring, amongst others, burlesque inside a giant balloon, a sword-swallowing fire-eater, and the third generation of Skating Willers… READ MORE
Details: 7.30pm (on until 8th January) | The Spiegeltent, Leicester Square, WC2H 7NA | From £21
London Fields Lido
Don’t worry. It’s heated to 25 degrees all year round. Plus, if you do happen to take a refreshing post-Crimbo dip in the London Fields Lido, you can reward yourself with the city’s flakiest, creamiest, booziest mince pie-croissants from Pophams afterwards.
Details: 6.30am-9pm | London Fields West Side, E8 3EU | £5.25
Live Music Nights at Coupette
The hazy orange glow of old Tiffany lamps and a bar top covered in French libertines makes Coupette a particularly cosy cocktail bar to retreat to over Twixtmas. And on Tuesdays they run live music nights, where your £10 ticket will net you two welcome drinks and a whole evening of entertainment.
Details: From 8.35pm | Coupette, 423 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AN | £10
Netil 360’s Rooftop Sauna
For centuries the Finns have celebrated Christmas with a good old sauna, and you can follow suit at Netil360. Their rooftop is currently home to four hand-crafted saunas, which you can privately hire for sessions of 45 minutes to 2 hours 15, all of which are capped off with a relaxing drink by a firepit, overlooking east London…
Details: Open from 27th December | Netil360, 1 Westgate St, Hackney, London, E8 3RL | From £13.50pp
See the Christmas Lights
You know one thing that doesn’t close over Christmas? The power station. Which is pretty much the only thing necessary to keep the ol’ Christmas lights on, for you to marvel at. And London’s got a whole lot of them…
Details: Across London | Free
Enchanted Eltham Palace
This glorious lights trail has been going for a couple of years now, and the team have got it down to a tee. You’ll stroll round the grounds of Eltham Palace – which is basically a medieval castle hiding out in Greenwich – taking in the colourfully illuminated moat, animated projections onto the walls of the Great Hall, and dozens of other spectacular installations. Plus there’s mulled wine stands, marshmallows for toasting and a mini fairground to boot.
Details: Tickets still available until 30th December | Eltham Palace, Greenwich, SE9 5QE | £14
The Magic Circle Christmas Shows
As always, London’s magicians have got something up their sleeves. The elusive Magic Circle are throwing open the doors to their HQ, where you can explore their museum (full of all kinds of fascinating, mysterious artefacts) with a drink in hand before going in to the theatre for a festive show full of tricks, illusions and slapstick performed by some of the country’s best magicians. READ MORE
Details: 22nd – 30th December, 2 & 7pm | 12 Stephenson Way, NW1 2HD | From £10.50
Dennis Severs’ Christmas Openings
For those who don’t know, Dennis Severs’ House is a bit like a historical time capsule. In fact, it’s like ten time capsules in one. Because each of the ten rooms in this Georgian-era Spitalfields townhouse have been decorated with a different historical style, so as to evoke the sensation that the occupants just left. There’s food on the table. Embers in the fireplace. And this month, there’s a Christmas frozen in time, complete with mince pies, mulled wine, and more.
Details: Timeslots still available 7.15 – 9pm (runs until 9th January) | 18 Folgate St, Spitalfields, E1 6BX | £20, book ahead
Rooftop drinks, skating, bottomless cocktails – it’s all in your dedicated New Year’s Eve Agenda.
Main image: Dennis Severs House
Want MORE? Check out our whole round-up of festive things to do in London.