We’ve reached the most festive month of the year so embrace the sparkle and start singing along to Christmas tunes as December in London is magical.
If you would like to find some unusual gifts, while enjoying a mulled wine or hot chocolate, then head to the South Bank and Bankside Christmas markets.
Between Tower Bridge and London Bridge is the London Bridge City Christmas Market with over 100 wooden chalets/stalls.
The markets are open into the evenings which makes this a great month for a late night stroll next to The River Thames. Even if you don’t need to buy anything it can be fun to browse and soak up the atmosphere, as well as the tasty treats on offer.
Embrace the sparkle with Dazzle at gallery@oxo (OXO Tower, South Bank) where you can find the perfect jewellery for your Christmas outfit or a unique gift.
Dazzle is an annual exhibition of contemporary jewellery that has been running for over 30 years. This is where you can find handmade, unique work by more than 80 designers, ranging from the big, collectible names to rising stars. This year also includes handmade leather bags, scarves and knitted ‘wearable sculptures’ too.
There’s a late night Christmas themed shopping evening on 3 December when all of the OXO Tower shops will stay open until 8pm, with live Christmas music, special offers and, in Dazzle’s case, a gift wrapping service between 4 and 8pm.
There’s a wonderful free nostalgic exhibition at Somerset House this winter. TINTIN: Hergé’s Masterpiece is on until the end of January and explores the evolution of the artwork of Hergé, from the simplicity of early newspaper strips to the genre-defining graphic work of the later books.
The exhibition is open until 9pm on Thursdays and Friday and would be great to combine with a trip to the iconic Somerset House Ice Rink in the courtyard.
Goodnight Mister Tom
There’s a 10 week season of this much loved children’s classic at the Duke of York’s Theatre from 11 December to 20 February 2016. It’s the 35th anniversary of Michelle Magorian’s wonderfully uplifting tale and it is brought to life in this excellent stage adaptation.
Set during the dangerous build up to the Second World War, Goodnight Mister Tom follows young William Beech, who is evacuated to the idyllic English countryside and forges a remarkable and heart-warming friendship with the elderly recluse, Tom Oakley, played by David Troughton. All is perfect until William is suddenly summoned by his mother back to London.
IWM Out-of-Hours Tours
If you’d like to know more about the First World War, the Imperial War Museum offers evening tours of their First World War galleries on Saturdays at 6-7pm. Pre-booking is essential.
Height of Winter
The View From The Shard has a winter special created by Bompas & Parr (included with a standard ticket). It’s a sensory experience bringing together the ideas of perfumers, composers, psychologists and professors of visual culture (we’re told). While admiring the views you can also enjoy gem-studded snow dunes, a touch-responsive iridescent grotto and carolling plants. Total bonkersness but wonderful too.
The Barbican annual Christmas concert is on Monday 21 December. Featuring the Royal Philharmonic Brass, the City of London Choir perform traditional carols along with contemporary pieces too.
Greenwich is easily reached from the London Bridge area by Thames Clippers. Go on Saturday 13 December and you’ll see the annual London Pantomime Horse Race which is a lot of fun. The pre-race shenanigans are from midday and the race starts at 1pm.
Then head inside the National Maritime Museum where the latest major exhibition is now open. Samuel Pepys: Plague, Fire, Revolution is the largest ever exhibition about the famous diarist with 200 objects from national and international museums, galleries and private collections.
If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the Things to Do in London in December 2015 from Kensington House Hotel, our sister hotel.
You may be lucky enough to get a ticket for this month but in case not this would also make a wonderful Christmas gift. Book ahead for an Exclusive Guided Tour of The State Rooms of Buckingham Palace on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in January.
We all need a good laugh in the new year and these events at the Southbank Centre stand out in January. Stewart Lee: A Room With A Stew – Marathon Nights is on 9 to 11 January at the Royal Festival Hall. It’s a marathon of stand-up comedy for Lee’s new BBC2 TV series. And Dave Gorman – Gets Straight To The Point* (*The PowerPoint), on 21 January, means more top comedy and an impressive PowerPoint presentation.
And a future art exhibition that sounds amazing is Botticelli and Treasures from the Hamilton Collection. Thirty of Botticelli’s exquisite drawings for Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ alongside a selection of outstanding Renaissance illuminated manuscripts will be on display at The Courtauld Gallery from 18 February.
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 the About.com London Travel site and AboutLondonLaura.com and contributes to many other publications while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival that of our Queen. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.