Christmas By The River
Said to be London’s most picturesque festive market, Christmas by the River is back at London Bridge City (between London Bridge and Tower Bridge) for six weeks from Tuesday 26 November 2019 to Sunday 5 January 2010.
There are over 70 festival stalls at this unique riverside Christmas shopping experience with a vintage ski theme this year. The Scoop, outside City Hall, has a ski-themed bar and there is live music too. Visitors of all ages can enjoy the free arts and craft workshops from Christmas wreath making to Christmas jumper decorating in support of Save the Children.
Southbank Centre Winter Market
The Winter Market is back outside the Southbank Centre too from 8 November 2019 to 5 January 2020. It’s lovely for seasonal goodies, twinkling lights and warming drinks.
The wooden chalets have traders from around the world offering an array of handmade gifts and delicious street food. And there’s an alpine-style lodge called Bar Under the Bridge featuring heated chalet booths, fleece rugs, board games and ping pong tables. The Circus Bar is back in front of the Royal Festival Hall and you can take your drinks to the secret cinema to nestle down in a bean bag and enjoy a holiday classic. Jimmy’s Lodge is next to Waterloo Bridge serving traditional alpine fondue, venison hot dogs and aspen fries, and there are private igloos overlooking the River Thames.
The regular food market is also open Friday to Sunday in Southbank Centre Square, Belvedere Road.
From 21 November 2019 to 5 January 2020, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is back again too. This is ‘full-on, in your face’ Christmas fun. Open daily from 10am to 10pm, this year boasts even more attractions plus returning favourites including the UK’s biggest outdoor Ice Rink, Bar Ice, Zippos Christmas Circus and Cirque Berserk and the Magical Ice Kingdom with A Christmas Carol as this year’s theme.
The giant wheel is even more ‘giant’ this year as it is the tallest transportable Giant Wheel in the world at an impressive 70m. Paddington™ On Ice should be fun and Mr. Men & Little Miss – The Show is perfect for the youngest members of the family. Another new is the Season Ride Pass that gives easy access to all of the rides at Winter Wonderland, from roller coasters to fun houses.
Come in the evening for the Winter Wonderland Comedy Club, on Thursdays to Saturdays at 9pm until 21 December in the MegaDome. It showcases established stand-up comedians along with up and coming comics in a fast-paced 45-minute session.
And in the early evening in the MegaDome, Cirque Berserk returns with an all-new, dystopian-themed circus show. Back by popular demand, The Globe of Death returns with motorcyclists reaching speeds of 60mph as they hurtle around the giant steel cage. It’s a fast-paced, full-throttle thrill like no other.
2019 is the 20th anniversary of Skate at Somerset House and they are celebrating with London’s first-ever 24-hour skating event on 7 December 2019. Skate under the stars or enjoy the major winter exhibition long into the night, without the crowds.
7 December 2019 is a great day at Somerset House as it’s also the first day of The Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread City. Over 100 leading architects, engineers and designers were challenged to create a futuristic city made entirely of gingerbread. This year’s theme is ‘transport’ so we can expect a mini edible urban landscape that explores imaginative new ways of moving around our densely populated cities.
The Gingerbread City is an annual exhibition, now in its fourth year, organised by Museum of Architecture. Its aim is to connect the public with architecture in an exciting way and spark important conversations around cities and how we live in them. Visitors can peek inside sectional buildings, understand how city planners interact with natural landscapes and be inspired by the creativity and dexterity of some of the UK’s top architects and designers.
On until 5 January 2020, there are gingerbread house-making workshops too.
Get ready to spend your Money, Money, Money as ABBA: Super Troupers The Exhibition is at The O2 from 6 December 2019 to 31 August 2020. This new and immersive experience charts the Swedish pop sensation’s music, lyrics, creative process and influence as one of the most iconic pop bands of the modern age.
It takes an up-close and personal look at each individual member of the group – Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid (“Frida”) Lyngstad – and what made them all so integral to the band’s success.
There are a series of atmospheric rooms, exploring each of ABBA’s 8 multi-million selling albums, alongside the band’s personal and public journey. We get to see objects from ABBA The Museum and other archives, some of which have not previously been on display in the UK.
Obviously, there’s a great musical soundtrack to your visit so you can say Thank You For The Music and have a bit of a boogie at the end.
Continuing its Christmas tradition of presenting a Nutcracker production each year since 1950, English National Ballet’s Nutcracker returns this festive season. Over 100 dancers and musicians bring to life the popular Tchaikovsky score featuring the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Waltz of the Flowers, performed live by English National Ballet Philharmonic.
Since its premiere in 2010, this festive family favourite has been seen by over 660,000 people, and continues to attract new audiences, with 70% of 2018’s audience members first-time attenders at the London Coliseum. It’s on from 11 December 2019 to 5 January 2020.
Flea at Vinegar Yard
The regular flea market in Flat Iron Square has relocated to Vinegar Yard, right by London Bridge Station. Here you can find all kinds of vintage clothes, jewellery, homeware and books displayed among the repurposed shipping containers. It’s overlooked by an old train-carriage installation to help you find the place. Entrance is free, and the market is on every weekend.
Inspired by European markets, Flea at Vinegar Yard is a vintage and makers market that takes place every Saturday from 11am to 6pm and Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Find yourself something fabulous and unusual then enjoy the food, bars and Pop Up shops that are open all week.
Festive Candlelit Tour
The only remaining home of one of the Founding Father’s of America, Benjamin Franklin House has Festive Candlelit Tours this month on Thursday 5, Thursday 12 and Thursday 19 December 2019. The tours are at 6.30pm to 9.30pm.
They invite you to step back in time and experience the House in true eighteenth-century style this winter. You get to enjoy mulled wine and mince pies in Franklin’s parlour before exploring the House and its unique history.
Hogarth After Hours
Another evening opportunity is at the Sir John Soane’s Museum London on Friday 6 December 2019. Hogarth After Hours allows you to visit after normal opening hours, with the Museum dramatically lit by spotlights. You get to explore the museum accompanied by a Sipsmith Gin & Tonic.
Displayed throughout the museum’s idiosyncratic spaces, you can see all of Hogarth’s surviving painted series for the first time. The exhibition demonstrates how Hogarth’s ‘Modern Moral Subjects’ married the idea of progress with the moral geography of London. One-hour expert-led tours are available throughout the evening.
Charles Dickens Museum
Beautiful Books: Dickens and the Business of Christmas is at the Charles Dickens Museum from 20 November 2019 to 19 April 2020. This new exhibition explores Dickens’s enduring impact on modern Christmas and includes the world’s first printed Christmas card.
It shows how Dickens’s A Christmas Carol began a series of books that would shape and colour Christmas in ways that we still recognise today. 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 it has never been out of print since. You can also see letters between Dickens and his publisher as well as the earliest sketches of Scrooge, Fezziwig and the Christmas ghosts by John Leech that would adorn the 1843 first edition.
The exhibition also has a wealth of extravagantly decorated editions, stamped, cloth-bound books illustrated with woodcuts and steel plate engravings, gift books, almanacs such as Forget-Me-Not and The Keepsake, and even a collection of tiny books.
If you would like even more ideas for this month, do have a look at last month’s recommendations as many are still valid for December too.
English National Ballet has its 70th Anniversary in 2020. As part of its 70th anniversary season, English National Ballet will celebrate its history with three specially curated gala performances at the London Coliseum on 17 and 18 January 2020.
The gala performances celebrate the countless dancers, choreographers, artists, musicians, artisans, technicians and audience members who have been part of the English National Ballet family. Showcasing the world-class talent of the entire Company, alongside the future stars of the ballet world from English National Ballet School, the programme includes some of the most important and groundbreaking works that make up English National Ballet’s diverse repertoire.
The Royal Academy’s Picasso and Paper opens on 25 January 2020. This is the most comprehensive exhibition devoted to Picasso’s imaginative and original uses of paper ever to be held. Bringing together over 300 works and encompassing Picasso’s entire prolific 80-year career, this ground-breaking exhibition will focus on the myriad ways in which the artist worked both on and with paper, and will offer new insights into his creative spirit and working methods.
The London Art Fair 2020 returns to the UK capital from 22 to 26 January 2020 to open the international art calendar. The Fair connects seasoned and aspiring collectors with the best galleries from around the world, providing an opportunity to discover exceptional modern and contemporary art. In addition to over 100 exhibiting galleries, the Fair features acclaimed curated spaces including Photo50, The Fair’s annual exhibition of contemporary photography, and Platform with the theme Threading Forms, bringing to the fore a selection of artists who are embracing the potential and challenging the limitations of thread in contemporary art.
Next year is Beethoven 250 so you can expect a year-long celebration of the 250th Anniversary of Beethoven’s birth throughout 2020. Southbank Centre has Beethoven events from January to June 2020.
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, on Instagram as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.
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