Published: 15 December, 2011
by BIANCA LONDON
One of the city's most impressive skating rinks offering lessons, club nights and dance workouts led by English National Ballet. This year’s sponsors, Tiffany and Co, add real class and charm to the atmospheric décor.
• Somerset House, The Strand, WC2R 1LA, until January 22, tickets from £7.50, 0844 447 1520, www.somersethouse.org.uk/ice-rink/
Natural History Museum
A seasonal highlight geared for the kids against a beautiful historic backdrop.
• Natural History Museum South Kensington, Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD, until January 8, tickets from £8.50 with family discounts, 0844 847 1576, www.nhm.ac.uk/
Get your skates on with the whole family at the city’s classically Christmassy ice-skating haunt. The festive fair debuts a Christmas circus and observation wheel for all-round family fun.
• Winter Wonderland Hyde Park, Rangers Lodge W2 2UH, until January 3, From £9 with family discounts,
020 7298 2100, www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/
Traditional Christmas Market
Explore and sample a traditional German Christmas filled with bratwurst, gingerbread and arts and crafts in 60 chalets on Queen’s Walk until December 24 at part of the Southbank Winter Festival. Round off the shopping with a visit to one of the seasonal family shows: Slava’s Snowshow (December 17-January 8), Murmurs (December 20-January 2), and The Bollywood Trip (until December 18). Full details on the website.
• Queen’s Walk, Southbank, SE1, 11am-8pm Monday-Thursday; 10am-10pm Friday and Saturday; 10am-8pm Sunday, 0844 847 9910
Real Food Christmas Market
Also at the Southbank, this daily food market offering scrumptious seasonal staples from mince pies and wild game to cheeses and mulled wine. Food busker John Quilter will be providing a bit of street theatre three times day. Check the website for details.
• Southbank Centre Square, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX, 12-8pm daily (12-6pm Sunday) until December 23: 020 7370 8628. www.realfoodfestival.co.uk/markets/real-food-market-at-southbank-centre/...
Covent Garden Piazza
The piazza showcases an amazing and enchanting Christmas display with animated nativity scenes, seasonal goodies, choir singers and a special appearance from Rudolf and friends on Saturday December 17 at the South Piazza.
Visual artist Martha Fiennes has created a digital Nativity scene in the North Piazza, which has b een coded to evolve and change randomly during the period (daily from 11am-7pm until January 2)
• Covent Garden Piazza, WC2, 020 7836 9136, www.coventgardenlondonuk.com/
Of Cabbages and Kings
Sip mulled apple juice whilst surveying collections of festive gifts showcased by local designers and craftspeople.
• Abney Hall, 73a Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0AS, December 17 and 18, 11am-5pm, 020 7254 0060,
Storytelling at Somerset House
A magical literary day out listening to stories beside the Christmas tree with the chance to have books signed by the authors.
• Somerset House, The Strand, WC2R 1LA, until December 24, 020 7845 4600, www.somersethouse.org.uk
The Enchanted Christmas House
Lapland comes to London and gives children the chance to visit the elves’ workshop and Mrs Claus’ sitting room after a puppet performance and cake decoration session.
• Enchanted Chritmas House, 2-18 Britannia Row, N1 8PA, until December 24, £49, family ticket £159. 020 3227 3200, www.christmas.enchantedhouse.net/
A Georgian Christmas
Fenton House in Hampstead opens for the first time during winter to offer visitors magical melodies, family trails and high tea in a divinely decorative location.
• A Georgian Christmas, Fenton House, Hampstead Grove, NW3 6SP, until December 18. From £3. 020 7435 3471,
Come along and meet Antarctic animals in the heart of London, and Rudolf, Dancer, Donna and Blitzen will be walking around the zoo daily.
• Reindeer Lodge, ZSL London Zoo, Regent’s Park, NW1 4RY, until December 24. Tickets cost £5 (in addition to the zoo entry; under-2s free), 020 7722 3333, www.zsl.org/christmas.
Harry Potter Muggle Tour
A wintery walking tour guides Potter enthusiasts through film locations with a fair share of seasonal surprises. Tuesdays 2.30pm and 6.30pm; Saturdays and Sundays 11am.
• Muggle Tour, Starts at London Bridge and ends in Leicester Square, approx 2 hours. Tickets cost £15, 0791 741 1374, www.muggletours.co.uk/
Bank of England countdown to 2012
During the festive break, from December 19 to 23* and 28 to 30*, the Bank of England Museum is getting a head start for 2012.
Visitors of all ages will be given the chance to add their own designs of gold, banknotes and other museum exhibits to a calendar to take home. All materials provided.
There’s more family fun activities, including banknote jigsaws, a roller ball game, interactive displays and the opportunity for some safe cracking.
You can also take control of a virtual hot air balloon and chart it on a stable course to simulate the role of the Bank in keeping inflation steady.
And try lifting a genuine gold bar with a current value of over £400,000 – weighing 13kg!
• Bank of England Museum, Bartholomew Lane, EC2R 8AH, Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm (10am to 1pm where indicated*) closed on public and bank holidays, 02076015545, www.bankofengland.co.uk/education/museum/
The Wallace Collection
Various activities on offer over the holiday:
The Little Draw (until December 4) – meet the new Little Draw artist Julia Iwasz, whose work explores the connections between photography and drawing, involving the erasure and reconstruction of images, highlighting conflict between the real and the illusory.
Celebrate Chanukah (until December 19): Hear the story of Chanukah and find out about the amazing variety of lights and candlesticks on display at the Wallace Collection. Children can then make their own clay Chanukah – the special candle holder – to take home.
Christmas Crackers! (until December 20): Make a fun cracker and belt out some carols with the Wallace Collection’s Emma Bryant and Edwina Mileham. And bring a cracking joke!
Winter Wonderland (until December 29): Children can join artist Agnieszka Arabska and create their decorative snowflake or star to decorate a wintery window. Get inspired by patterns, furniture, ceiling roses and chandeliers before using a special paint, glitter and gold to transfer the design into a shimmering and ornamental sticker. Tickets cost £7.
• Details of all events from The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, W1U 3BN, 020 7563 9527, www.wallacecollection.org/
Christmas at Charles Dickens Mueseum
An intimate insight into how one of Britain’s best-loved authors would have spent the Christmas period. Mulled wine and Victorian Christmas customs won’t go a miss. Tickets from £5.
• Christmas at Charles Dickens’s Museum, 48 Doughty Street, WC1N 2LX, until December 26, 02074052127, www.dickensmuseum.com
London Transport Museum
At the London Transport Museum there’s a Mosaics event (until December 23), taking inspiration from the museum’s bright and varied tile collection and mosaic artworks, families can make gorgeous mosaic coasters and wall hangings as fabulous gifts to take home.
Kite-making workshops (until January 3): Mark the coming of the 2012 Games and fly colours and flags high in the sky on hand-crafted kites.
Design a kite from card and fabric and tie New Year’s resolutions to the tail, set goals and aim to keep them or complete them by the summer.
Story time (until January 3): Little visitors can hear stories about a Duck in a Truck and the Little London Red train’s adventures.
• Details of all events at the London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Market, 41 Covent Garden Piazza, WC2E 7BB, 020 7379 6344
Visit Father Christmas’s grotto, ride a carousel and take a guided seasonal stroll through the enchanted woodland.
• Kew Gardens, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, until January 1, tickets from £11.90, 020 8332 5655, www.kew.org
Doctor Who Experience
An alternative Christmas treat taking visitors on a time-travelling experience through the popular show’s Christmas props.
• Doctor Who Experience, Olympia, Hammersmith Rd, W14 8UX, until December 21, tickets from £5, www.doctorwhoexperience.com
Personalised Grotto Experience
Children have the opportunity to become film stars by entering an animated world of 3D and helping Elbow the Elf on his Christmas journey.
• Westfield Stratford, Great Eastern Road, E20, until December 24: 020 3371 2300, uk.westfield.com/santas-grotto
Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!
Celebrate the 20th anniversary of a sugar-sweet comedy classic. Until January 22. Tickets from £10.
• Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, EC1R 4TN, until January 22: 0844 412 4300, www.sadlerswells.com/
Swallows and Amazons
An all-singing, fun-filled rendition of Arthur Ransome’s classic children’s book. Until January 14. From £12.
• Vaudeville Theatre, 404 The Strand, WC2, 020 7907 7071
Zippos Christmas Circus
A bitesize cultural Christmas show exploring worldy Christmas celebrations.
• Hyde Park, until January 3: Tickets from £8.50. 020 729 82100, www.zipposcircus.co.uk/
Santa Claus and the Christmas Adventure
An interactive musical experience with fake snow, seasonal treats and the jolly man in red.
• Ambassadors Theatre, until December 31. Tickets from £8. 020 7907 7017
A multi-award winning clowning comedy that promises to transport the audience to a dreamy world and warm their hearts in the wintery weather.
• Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1, until January 8. Tickets from £20, 0870 380 0400, www.southbankcentre.co.uk
A brand-new, all-dancing family show bringing storybook characters to life on a magical Christmas journey.
• Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Until December 31, tickets from £10.50. 020 7304 4000, www.roh.org.uk/
Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales
Andersen’s fairytales are brought to life by Red Table Theatre, a talented ensemble using nothing but their own creativity, and an assortment of odds and ends they found lying around in a corner of their old upstairs attic.
• Pleasance Theatre, Carpenters Mews, North Road, Islington N7 9EF, until December 31. Tickets from £9. 020 7609 1800, www.pleasance.co.uk
A delightful Christmas tradition with evocative musical talent and dance galore.
• Peacock Theatre, Peacock Place, Islington N1 1YG, until January 8. Tickets from £12 with family discounts, 020 7907 7071, www.sadlerswells.com/