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Forget tacky Santas and overplayed festive songs – the run-up to Christmas doesn’t have to be naff.

By the time the big day comes around, you’ll have had your fill of mulled wine and all the sparkly lights will be giving you a headache.
So as the countdown to Christmas begins, make sure your diary is chock-full of cool activities and must-do events – luckily, London is brimming with them. Here’s our pick of the best...

Of course you’ll want to go ice-skating, but this Christmas, do it in style. Somerset House is joining forces with Vintage Festival to bring retro-themed events to its rink club schedule.

Kicking off this Wednesday for three nights, get into the spirit of the Forties, Fifties and Sixties respectively.

The first event will see DJs Tim Hellzapoppin’ and Rob Be-Bo playing swing and jive; on Thursday, dance teachers and DJs Kav Kavanagh and Suzy Q will be blasting rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly; while Soul Casino on Friday will see skaters glide to the sounds of deep funk, northern, rare groove, classic soul and authentic R&B.

“The Vintage Festival will bring a new dimension to Somerset House,” organiser Jack Hemingway says. “Hopefully they will be the most glamorous nights it’s seen.

"We’re encouraging people to dress up – with style spotters giving prizes to those who’ve made the biggest effort.

“It’s great to have a mix of people who are really into the scene and those who just dress up for one night.”

As well as some semblance of a vintage outfit, basic skating skills are probably required, although there are no explicit rules about hanging on to the side all night. However, collisions are inevitable.

“There will be a few,” Hemingway adds. “Even before people have a few drinks!”



If you’re not up to clubbing on ice, but like the sound of the vintage nights, spectators are welcome at the bar and you’ll be able to listen to the tunes from the safety of dry land.

Less physically challenging, but mentally more slippery, the Southbank Centre is presenting Australian cabaret performer Meow Meow’s version of The Little Match Girl (Dec 13-20).

But the classic tale of a girl who turns to her dreams as she freezes in the cold will be given a firm twist by Meow.

“I’ve used Hans Christian Andersen’s story as a springboard for my show but I was thinking, ‘what if those women left out in the cold had power?’” Meow says.

“I’m not just thinking of the frail creature Anderson invented, but a night of wild women on fire. It’s going to be an eyeful!”

Meow warns the audience to expect the unexpected in a show which won rave reviews during its sold-out run at the Sydney Festival.

“There may be some high-flying shenanigans, the likes of which I doubt the Queen Liz Hall has ever experienced – and there will be sequins,” she says.

With its singing, dancing and cabaret-inspired performance, the show is high-energy and, with only one day off for Christmas, Meow says: “Usually crowd-surfing is the closest thing I have to a lie-down.” Suddenly, skating sounds easy.

Somerset House Ice Rink Club Nights. £8.45+
The Strand, WC2R 1LA 
Tube | Temple
somersethouse.org.uk/ice-rink/club-nights

Meow Meow’s Little Match Girl. £15+

Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX  
Tube | Waterloo  
southbankcentre.co.uk


Read more: Christmas events and activites in London, from pantomime and ice-skating to winter wonderland



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The countdown to Christmas has begun! Celebrate with cool festive activities and must-do events in London
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