There’s plenty to see and do in the Capital this Christmas, from ice skating to park walks. Here are our top 5 Christmassy London treats…
1. Kew Gardens is great spot for bracing a winter walk with the family – ideal to work off all those calories. And for the little ones, there’s also a vintage carousel (pictured top) on Kew Palace Lawn (until Jan 6 10.30am-4pm; £2), and hands-on activity sessions in the Orangery restaurant, based on festive plants and trees (every Wed & Sun noon-2pm). Once Christmas is over, you are invited to bring your tree (minus decorations) for recycling by the arboretum team (from Boxing Day to mid-January) and from Boxing Day, Santa’s Grotto becomes a space for storytelling and shadow puppetry (Dec 26-Jan 6 11am, noon, 2pm, 3pm). [Picture Credit RBG Kew].
2. Christmas in London isn’t complete without whizzing around the skating rink at Somerset House and don’t worry if you’re not au fait with skates or even skating as you can always stay warm with a glass of mulled wine and watch from the side lines. Set within Somerset House’s 18th-century courtyard, Skate at Somerset House is open until 6th January. [Picture Credit: David Jensen].
3. If all the above sounds like too much activity and a cocktail is more your style, how about the Winter Festival Bar on London’s Southbank? Set within the Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer by the River Thames, the bar offers drinks and festive treats including winter Pimms, mulled wine, spiced apple juice and mince pies. It’s all part of the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival so there’s plenty of activity going on from Christmas markets (three to choose from) to Christmas ballroom dancing.
4. If you fancy a bit of Dickens, head to St Paul’s tube station for a Boxing Day walk that looks at the London of Shakespeare and Dickens, exploring how the city inspired both these literary writers. (Wednesday, Dec 26 11am, £9, £7 over-65s, full-time students).
5. And finally are you all set for New Year’s Eve? If you were thinking of a quiet night in with a bottle of wine and an old film, think again. Get your glad rags on and head down to the Royal Festival Hall for its Vintage New Year’s Eve Party. This glamorous extravaganza will be filled with live music, DJs and period cocktails. Set up by Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway , the event will feature glamorous pop-up nightclubs, beauty parlours, dance classes, a 1940s swing orchestra and so much more. Let the countdown commence.
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