Discover London’s Top Winter Events
It’s nearly Christmas. Again. Start gearing up by getting stuck into London’s most exciting winter events.
The rinks have already started opening up and, by the end of the month, you’ll barely be able to stroll through London without happening upon one of them. Canada Square will be brimming with skaters and also boasts a rinkside bar for the the less adventurous at Canary Wharf (£10-£12; until Feb 20).
You can get your skates on at Henry VIII’s former residence as well and skate in the stunning surroundings of Hampton Court Palace (£10-£11.50; Nov 27-Jan 9) . Alternatively, get Thames-side in the courtyards of the grand Somerset House (£10.50-£13; Nov 23-Jan 23) . Out west in She-Bu, combine skating with a spot of Xmas shopping at the colossal Westfield London (£9.50-£10.50; until Jan 2) .
One of the most spectacular rinks will be in the historic grounds of the Tower of London (£10-£12; Nov 20-Jan 9) . You can head to the leafy surrounds of South Kensington to skate at the Natural History Museum (£11.50-£13; until Jan 9) . Go up up for a ride and then come down for a skate at London Eye (£10.50; Nov 20-Jan 5) . Or head east to Liverpool St at Broadgate (from £9; until Jan 23).
By the end of the month, every other mildly recognisable soap star will be pulling on their tights to perform as panto season kicks off. Following on from Pamela Anderson’s appearance in Aladdin last year, David Hasselhoff will portray Captain Hook in Peter Pan (from £15; Dec 10-Jan 16).
The Beck Theatre is an annual hotspot for pantos and will this year host Sleeping Beauty (from £17.50; Dec 11-Jan 2).
Cash in your magic beans for a ticket to the Hackney Empire’s Jack And The Beanstalk (from £10.75; Nov 27-Jan 9).
Visit the North Pole with a flying snowman in the classic children’s tale, The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre (from £12; Dec 1-Jan 9).
The Gruffalo may be mightiest creature in the forest but can he be outsmarted by a mouse? The Gruffalo is hiding away at the Garrick Theatre for the cold winter months. (from £13; Nov 24-Jan 16).
Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (from £18.70; Dec 13-Jan 3) boasts an all-star cast, including Madeline Duggan from EastEnders.
The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future are on the move in A Christmas Carol (from £10; Dec 7-Jan 15). All through the packed house, not a creature will be stirring at Night Before Christmas at the Ambassador Theatre (from £10; Dec 7-Dec 24).
Bagpuss is more a Christmas show than a panto, but this fat, old cat remains a favourite. See him at the Soho Theatre (from £13.50; Dec 9-Jan 9).
What would the festive season be without an actual festival – or, at least, a fair? The big one is Winter Wonderland (from £4.50; Nov 19-Jan 4) in Hyde Park, which kicks off next week. There’s plenty of rides and stalls to help you spend your cash.
Also in Hyde Park, the legendary Zippo is again staging his Christmas Circus (£8; Nov 19-Jan 4) with an assortment of clowns, fire-eaters and acrobats.
The Museum of London also hosts a Festive Fair (free; Dec 9) with a focus on arts and crafts, but also with bars and live music once the sun goes down.
Something Completely Different…
If you’re looking for a slightly more unconventional way to ring in the festive season, London throws up its share of quirky events. If you fancy a wintry stroll through the rolling grounds of Kew Gardens, (£13.50; Dec 11-23) here’s plenty of Christmas action to keep you in the right spirit. You can take advantage of the shopping options on-site or hang around for a visit from Santa Claus.
The fellow in red and white is already in training for the 5km charity running race Santa Dash (Nov 28), which contributes much-needed funds to Mencap. You can also check out Christmas at the Geffrye Museum (free; Nov 23-Jan 2) –the stately rooms all decked out to offer a glimpse of festive traditions dating back 400 years.
– Tom Sturrock