Wintertime at Southbank Centre has a feast of offerings capturing the magic of winter. This is the final season of Southbank Centre’s year-long exploration into Nordic arts and culture. Highlights include the Wintertime Market and a one of a kind Finnish Rooftop Sauna.
The Christmas Market sees alpine chalets lined across Queen’s Walk offering global street food, artisan gifts and more from 10 November to 30 December 2017.
Celebrating a key part of Finnish culture, Southbank Centre has brought a unique sauna experience to the heart of London for a limited time only. Above the bustle, on the roof garden of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, you can enjoy a Finnish Rooftop Sauna experience until 30 December.
Combining beautiful Nordic design with a bespoke artistic commission, the sauna is a collaboration with MA students from Aalto University, Helsinki (Pedro Pablo Garcia Alcazar, Markus Holste, Monica Romagnoli and Miki Sordi) and Finnish sculptor Jaakko Pernu. Specially designed with translucent walls, the complex filters light through, brightening up dark winter nights.
Changing rooms and shower facilities are located on each side before entering the sauna. Inside the sauna, visitors can warm up and wind down with temperatures reaching 90C, then cool down in the open air, or with cold water buckets, whilst enjoying exclusive views over the Thames.
Talks, debates and performances are also available inside the sauna in the special Sauna Sundays series.
The Swedish pop sensation returns to Waterloo for the ABBA: Super Troupers exhibition from 14 December 2017 to 29 April 2018. On at the Southbank Centre, it’s a brand new, immersive exhibition looking at their music, lyrics, creative process and the irrefutable influence as one of the most iconic pop bands of the modern age.
Objects from ABBA The Museum and private archives have been brought together in the UK for the first time, charting the success of the global pop sensation from their individual careers to their Eurovision Song Contest win and subsequent international stardom, as they topped the charts worldwide from 1974 to 1982.
The guided exhibition transports audiences on a journey through previously unseen archive material including original costumes, handwritten notes and sketches, personal photographs, music and instruments, plus album artwork, photography and film.
Theatrical backdrops recreate some of the most significant events from their heyday – including a hotel room, music studio and the disco – and provide context to the evolution of their creative process and their enduring appeal, from the Mamma Mia! phenomenon to their multi-million record sales worldwide.
Tower of London Ice Rink
The Tower of London Ice Rink is back in the dry moat from 17 November 2017 to 2 January 2018. It’s a fantastic skating venue next to this historic landmark, especially in the evenings when the fortress walls are lit up.
Head inside the Tower for Medieval Christmas celebrations from 27 to 31 December. Revel in the festivities with King Richard III, Queen Anne Neville, and the knights and ladies of medieval England along with music, dance and games. With jesters and minstrels adding to the entertainment, explore how the Tower wasn’t just a prison and a fortress but a palace fit for a royal celebration.
Charles Dickens Museum
A new exhibition at the Charles Dickens Museum explores how Dickens reinvented Christmas. A Ghost of an Idea: Unwrapping A Christmas Carol opens on 29 November 2017 and remains until 25 February 2018.
It reveals how a campaigning article about the injustices of child labour turned into a story that continues to inspire, more than 170 years after its publication. Written in six weeks in the winter of 1843 (to ensure its publication before Christmas), A Christmas Carol sold 6,000 copies in the six days between its release and Christmas Eve that same year and has never been out of print since.
The exhibition looks at the story’s success, legacy and continued enormous popularity, a great example of which is the new film The Man Who Invented Christmas, which opens in the UK on 1 December and stars Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens. The Museum has devoted a whole section of the exhibition to original costumes from the film as well as examples of its set and costume designs, props and other production material.
The Museum is dressed for the festive season throughout and the exhibition has a rare display of the original pencil sketches by John Leech that became illustrations for the first edition of A Christmas Carol.
This exhibition is just one of the special events celebrating Christmas at the Museum this month. Other events include atmospheric candlelit evening openings, late-night openings and special performances.
There is a trio of Royal Shakespeare Company performances available at the Barbican Theatre.
Season Director Angus Jackson steers the thrilling action of Shakespeare’s epic political tragedy Julius Caesar. On from 24 November 2017 to 20 January 2018, see the race to claim the empire spiral out of control.
Caesar returns from war, an all-conquering hero, but mutiny is rumbling through the corridors of power. Although Brutus loves Caesar, he is persuaded to kill him for the greater good, and like all conspirators loses control of the consequences.
One of Shakespeare’s greatest love stories, Antony & Cleopatra is on from 30 November 2017 to 20 January 2018.
Following Caesar’s assassination, Mark Antony has reached the heights of power. Now he neglects his empire for a life of decadent seduction with his mistress, Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. Torn between love and duty, his military brilliance deserts him, and his passion leads the lovers to their tragic end.
The decay of Rome reaches vicious depths in Shakespeare’s most brutal and bloody play, Titus Andronicus. Blanche McIntyre directs the epic conclusion of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Rome season at the Barbican Theatre.
Titus is a ruler exhausted by war and loss. He relinquishes power but leaves Rome in disorder. Rape, cannibalism and severed body parts fill the moral void at the heart of this corrupt world.
Shakespeare’s gory revenge depicts murder as entertainment. As the body count piles up, the tragedy poses questions about the nature of sexuality, family, class and society. Performances from 7 December 2017 to 19 January 2018.
On from 1 December at the National Theatre, Pinocchio includes songs and score from the Walt Disney film. This spectacular new production brings together the director of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and the writer of Matilda the Musical.
On a quest to be truly alive, Pinocchio leaves Geppetto’s workshop with Jiminy Cricket in tow. Their electrifying adventure takes them from alpine forests to Pleasure Island to the bottom of the ocean.
Get ready to sing along to I’ve Got No Strings as Pinocchio comes to life as never before.
Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) produced some of the most memorable art of the early twentieth century and this is the most comprehensive UK survey of his work.
At Tate Modern from 23 November 2017 to 2 April 2018, visitors to Modigliani can enjoy a new integrated virtual reality experience. The first of its kind at Tate, the virtual reality room brings visitors closer into the artist’s world, enriching their understanding of his life and art. Headsets provide an immersive layer of interpretation as visitors are invited to step into early twentieth century Paris. Drawing on archival material and new research, the experience recreates aspects of Modigliani’s adopted city, bringing his historical context to life.
The show has a range of his iconic portraits and the largest ever group of nudes to be shown in this country. The artist’s lesser-known work in sculpture is also featured, bringing together a substantial group of his Heads made before the First World War.
If you would like even more ideas for this month, have a look at the Things to Do in London in December 2017 from Kensington House Hotel, our sister hotel.
If you haven’t had too crazy a night for New Year’s Eve you may want to get out and enjoy the London New Year’s Day Parade on 1 January 2018. There are marching bands, cheerleaders, dancers, and acrobats to be seen in this fun parade through central London.
Or you could welcome in the new year at the Twelfth Night Celebrations on Sunday 7 January 2018. It’s a free afternoon mixing ancient Midwinter seasonal customs and contemporary festivity. It takes place in the Bankside area outside Shakespeare’s Globe theatre with a concluding procession to the George Inn pub.
Later in the month on 18-21 January, London Lumiere is back. It’s the UK’s largest light festival and was so much fun last year. More than 40 UK and international artists will reimagine London’s iconic architecture and streets, transforming the city into a dazzling nocturnal art exhibition. It’s all free and this year it’s taking place north and south of the River Thames.
Do check out the latest offers as London Bridge Hotel has weekend rates from as low as £99. You can sign up for special offer alerts here. And when you can’t be at the hotel, you can try making the Quarter Bar’s cocktails with these recipes.
Laura Porter writes AboutLondonLaura.com and contributes to many other publications while maintaining an impressive afternoon tea addiction. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.