ICE SKATING: Still not plucked up the courage to take to the ice? London’s ice rinks are starting to get busy now that Christmas is on everyone’s minds, so booking is recommended. Once you’ve had a go, retreat to the nearest cafe-bar for a mulled wine or hot chocolate and a mince pie.
CHRISTMAS MARKETS: Feeling the pressure to get your Christmas shopping done? Fear not, these Christmas markets and fairs will help you find a unique gift for almost anyone — and perhaps a little something for yourself too.
SANTA’S GROTTOS: If the kids are chatting incessantly about a certain man’s impending visit, take them to one of the many Santa’s Grottos all over town, and see their faces light up when they meet him.
ENCHANTED ELTHAM: It’s the first weekend of Enchanted Eltham, a light festival which sees the buildings and moat of Eltham Palace illuminated. After you’ve followed the trail, warm up with mulled wine and toasted marshmallows, or browse the gift shop. More info on this and other lights festivals in London. Eltham Palace, £7.50-£12, book ahead, 6-9 December (also 13-16 December and 20-22 December)
CHRISTMAS FILMS: From swimming pools to floating docks, and posh hotels to pop-up cinemas, there’s a veritable feast of Christmas film screenings in London this winter. They’re selling out fast, but this weekend there are still tickets for The Snowman Immersive Experience and Muppets Christmas Carol.
CHRISTMAS IN LONDON: If all that’s not enough festivity for you, take a look at our guide to spending Christmas in London, for other ways to get into the yule spirit.
EEL PIE ISLAND: You may not even have heard of Eel Pie Island, but this weekend there’s a rare chance to meet the artists who work on this spit of land in the middle of the Thames. Visit them in their studios, and buy their work directly from them, cutting out on commission fees. Eel Pie Island (Twickenham), free entry, just turn up, 11am-5pm, 8-9 December
LONDON FILM WEEK: This week-long film festival brings a series of premiere and preview screenings of new films to London. This weekend, attend the European premiere of Are You Glad I’m Here, about a millennial American girl who befriends a Lebanese housewife, or the UK premiere of M, a documentary about an Orthodox Jew in Tel Aviv who was raped by members of his community. Full programme here. Regent Street Cinema, various prices, book ahead, 4-10 December
PEPPA PIG LIVE: A favourite of kids all across the world, Peppa Pig and her porcine buddies come to the stage for a festive show in which Peppa, George and their school friends are preparing for a camping trip in the woods. Theatre Royal Haymarket, from £12, book ahead, 8 December-6 January
Things to do on Saturday 8 December
DOGS OF INSTAGRAM: Everything you need to know about 2018, wrapped up in one event: 70 dogs that have found fame on Instagram gather in one place (presumably with their owners) to greet their fans. Dog themed activities and competitions take place throughout the day, and complimentary food and drink is available. 14 Bedford Square (Fitzrovia), £13, book ahead, 9.30am-6pm
FORESHORE WALK: Join experts from the Thames Foreshore Programme for a walk along the shore of the Thames at Isleworth, and get an insight into the prehistoric, Anglo-Saxon and post-medieval archaeology of the area. Town Wharf Pub (old Isleworth), £10, book ahead, 10.30am-12.30pm
GREAT ESTATES: Marylebone and Mayfair are both posh areas of London, but they used to sit right beside slums and workhouses. This guided walk follows the route of the River Tyburn to show the historical contrasts of the areas. Marylebone Parish Church, £10-£12, book ahead, 10.30am-12.30pm
WINNIE THE POOH: Framed Film Club — Barbican’s film club for kids and their families — screens A Very Merry Pooh Year, a festive animation starring AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and friends. Kids must be accompanied by adults, and adults must be accompanied by kids. Barbican Cinema, £3.50/£2.50, book ahead, 11am
SANTA CON: Don a Santa suit and make your way through the streets of London spreading Christmas cheer and handing out gifts. Two routes wind through the capital (you’ll be assigned one when you sign up), with all the Santas converging on a central location at the end. Santa suit mandatory. £5-£20 (donated to charity), book ahead, 11am-5pm
CHRISTMAS CAROLS: Not another carol concert but a chance to learn about the history of carols. The study day will cover the origins of Christmas carols, whether Henry VIII really wrote one, and what wassailing is. You should leave with some fascinating facts and trivia to share over Christmas dinner. Southbank Centre, £25, book ahead, 12pm
OPEN COCKPITS: It’s not every day you get to climb inside the cockpit or cab of vehicles including Hurricanes, Hawker Typhoons and Stuka Bombers. To celebrate 100 years of the RAF, the RAF Museum is opening the cockpits of 100 aircraft, vehicles and boats to the public (50 in London and 50 at the Cosford museum). RAF Museum (Colindale), £13.50, book ahead, 1pm-4pm/6pm-9pm
HAVEN’T STOPPED DANCING YET: A festive twist on this regular party night, aimed at disco-goers old enough to remember the best tunes of the 70s and 80s the first time round, and anyone else who loves a good boogie. Blackheath Halls, £15-£18, book ahead, 7pm-midnight
CLASSICAL CONCERT: Violinist Harriet Mackenzie and the Celoniatus Ensemble perform a nature-inspired programme of music featuring Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, juxtaposed with the heat of Argentinian tango in Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. St Mary’s Church (Rotherhithe), £14/£10/£8, book ahead, 7.45pm
LIVE MUSIC: Musical trio Jaywalkers bring their Americana inspired sound to Camden, as part of a UK-wide tour to promote their new album, Time To Save The World. Think Country and Bluegrass tracks, with a Johnny Cash cover thrown in. The Green Note (Camden), £10, book ahead, 8.30pm
Things to do on Sunday 9 December
HOUSEMAID’S TOUR: The Dickens Museum always looks fantastic when decorated for Christmas, and this is a chance to see it before it opens to the public for the day. An actor playing the role of the Dickens family’s housemaid invites you into their home while they’re out, and spills some of their secrets. Dickens Museum (Bloomsbury), £18/£14/£10 book ahead, 10am/10.45am/11.30am
MR SELFRIDGE: The man behind the department store (and the TV show) is just part of this walking tour, which gives a detailed history of the department stores of the West End. Find out where the first Debenhams was, what Liberty has to do with the Royal Navy, and learn about a bet placed between Mr Selfridge and Harrods. Oxford Circus, £12/£9, book ahead, 11am-12.30pm
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: If you’re firmly of the belief that the BBC serialisation of Pride & Prejudice is superior to the film starring Kiera Knightley then a) you’re right and b) you’ll want to be at this marathon screening of all six episodes. Tuck into themed refreshments between episodes, and get ready to swoon at *that* Colin Firth scene all over again. The event raises money for The Red Box Project, The Book Club (Shoreditch), £5, book ahead, 1pm-9pm
PINK JUKEBOX: Pink Jukebox is a Latin and Ballroom dancing club for members of the LGBT community and their friends. Learn the steps in classes, then put them into practice in the social dances that follow. Bishopsgate Institute (Liverpool Street), £12, book ahead, 2pm
BLESSING THE CRIB: This special ceremony is a dramatisation of the Nativity featuring carols, music, prayer… and a live donkey. It’s led by the Choir and Clergy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, with the Lakeside Brass Quintet providing the music. Trafalgar Square, free, just turn up, 5.30pm-6.30pm
GARETH MALONE: The Welsh choirmaster, best known for his reality TV show The Choir, performs a concert with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, featuring carols, singalongs, and other festive offerings. Alexandra Palace, £28.75-£50.75, book ahead, 7.30pm
SPRINGSTEEN TRIBUTE: Bruce Springsteen tribute act The Boss performs a medley of the singer’s greatest hits live on stage. Past reviews have described it as “the definitive Springsteen tribute”, definitely one to hit up if you’re a fan. The Half Moon (Putney), £13/£15, book ahead, 8pm
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