Don’t miss out on the best of this year’s festive season entertainment in London.  WORDS: Elizabeth Eun

Maybe it’s those atmospheric chilly evenings or the promise of a glass of mulled wine in a snug pub afterwards, but nowhere else does Christmas entertainment quite like London.

Treading the boards: Pantos

Chrissie creds:

What could be more fun than men dressed as women, bawdy humour and throwing sweets? Pantomimes are a huge feature of Britain’s unique Christmas charm.

Here’s our tip for the season: “He’s behind you!”

Do it: Aladdin takes the crown for most performed panto this year, with several versions in town. But with ex-Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson swapping the red cossie for a stint as the genie, New Wimbledon Theatre’s version is likely to be the one on most Christmas lists.

» New Wimbledon Theatre, 93 The Broadway, SW19 1QG  ( Dec 4-Jan 10. £16-£29

Meanwhile, over on the East side, Aladdin is pretty much your last chance to see inside the incredible Hackney Empire before it shuts down for nine months for a major refurb.

» Hackney Empire, 291 Mare St, E8 1EJ (  Nov 28-Jan 9. £9.50-£22.50

For something a little more grown-up try Sinderfella, an adults-only panto showing in the heart of the West End.

» Leicester Square Theatre, 5 Leicester Pl, WC2H 7BX (020 7432 4220). Dec 4-30. £15-£19.50

Into The Hoods: A London Fairytale is an urban fable complete with a soundtrack courtesy of Gorrillaz, Massive Attack, Jay-Z, Basement Jaxx and Kanye. Like a panto, but with street cred.

» Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX  ( Dec 16-Jan 10. £15 -27.50 

Men in Tights: A Night at the Ballet

Chrissie creds: Nothing says Christmas like a delicate winter dreamland peopled by willowy ballerinas.

Do it: Lose yourself in The Nutcracker’s magical world of sugar plum fairies and Tchaikovsky’s brilliant music at this seasonal ballet.

» London Coliseum, St Martin’s Ln, WC2N 4ES Leicester Square ( Dec 16-Jan 3. £8-£60

Men in tutus performing Swan Lake? Take a swig of edgy with your Christmas sherry as Matthew Bourne turns tradition upside down in his all-male version of the classic ballet.

» Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Ave London, EC1R 4TN Angel ( Dec 10-31. £10-£50

All ye faithful: Carol concerts 

Chrissie creds: It doesn’t get more Christmassy than carols, and the Brits pour such dedication into their songs about yuletide you’ll want to tralalala along.

Do it: Rug up and enjoy a free carol service in one of London’s most iconic outdoor squares. BYO candles and mince pies.

» Trafalgar Square, SW1,  ( Dec 7- 21. Free

If you haven’t yet seen inside London’s extraordinary St Paul’s Cathedral, grab this chance to be awestruck by the interior while getting into the spirit.

» St Paul’s Churchyard, EC4M 8AD, ( Dec 3-25. Free

Stray a little from the traditional at the grand Royal Albert Hall. Special events include an evening featuring Rufus and Martha Wainwright, along with guests Boy George and Dawn French.

» Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP High Street Kensington ( From Dec 7. £25-£70


Midnight Mass

London has so many gobsmackingly impressive churches you don’t need to be highly religious to get along to midnight mass.

The much-loved St Martin-in-the-Fields and both St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey will hold services on Christmas Eve – an excellent chance to see the interiors of these wonderful buildings.

The weeks before Christmas are also a great time to visit St Martin-in-the-Fields’ atmospheric Café in the Crypt for a mince pie afternoon tea.

St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 4JJ, ( Dec 24,11.30pm.

Westminster Abbey, Parliament Square, SW1P 3PA, ( Dec 24, 11.30pm.

St Paul’s Cathedral, St Paul’s Churchyard, EC4M 8AD, ( Dec 24, 11.30pm


Chrissie Lights

What better way to cap off a night of panto, carols or ballet than a rugged-up wander through the winter wonderland of London’s world-renowned Christmas lit streets.

The best lights are usually found around the West End’s shopping district of Oxford and Regent Streets, although your local high street will have a good showing too.

Markets galore

Call them kitsch if you will, but that’s kind of the point with these knick-knack laden stalls.

» Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, SW1X 7RL  

» Covent Garden Deluxe Christmas Market, Covent Garden Piazza, WC2E 9DD