rom a bevy of firework displays and Bonfire Night parties to the arrival of the first festive events of the season, November is a wonderful month for the capital’s social butterflies. Whether you’re looking to wine and dine at London’s newest restaurants, get your Christmas shopping started early, or reacquaint yourself with some of the city’s best cultural institutions, there’s no excuse for an empty diary. Here’s our guide to the best things to do in London in November 2021.
The day out: Ice Rink Canary Wharf
Grab your scarf and gloves, winter is officially here and that means one thing only: it’s time to get your skates on. As ever, an array of ice rinks will be on offer in the capital this season but, as far as we’re concerned, none are quite as magical as Canary Wharf’s. Set against one of the world’s most famous skyscrapers, this year the ice rink boasts a mammoth 18-week run with up to 11 sessions running each day – so you have no excuse not to be a pro by spring. Surrounded by twinkling fairy lights, it’s the perfect option for a romantic first date or a day out with the kids and, thanks to the addition of a transparent canopy, rain will never cancel play.
The hotels: The Gantry and The Westin London City
In need of somewhere to put up out-of-town family over the festive season? Two new hotels opening in the capital this month are sure to impress. First up is the newest addition to Marriott’s five-star Westin hotels collection, The Westin London City. Styling itself as a wellness hotel, a state-of-the-art gym, pool and full-service spa are on offer, alongside a wine bar with panoramic views over the Thames and an all-day dining restaurant. There’s also a ballroom big enough to accommodate 200 people if you’ve yet to plan that work Christmas party.
A little further east, The Gantry in Stratford will offer 291 rooms alongside a range of drinking and dining venues. On the ground floor, The Stratford Grocer & Co will house an artisanal food market, deli and coffee shop, while the first floor will be home to the hotel’s main restaurant, Union Social. Sicilian chef Salvatore Coco is working the pots and pans while drinks are by award-winning mixologist Walter Pintus – who has curated a range of hard seltzers, English sparkling wines, proseccos and champagnes for the restaurant’s dedicated sparkling bar. From spring 2022, The Gantry will also boast East London’s highest rooftop bar, taking over the 18th floor and alfresco terrace with live music, DJs and unbeatable views.
The bar: Coravin Wine & Bubbles
When Coravin debuted its revolutionary wine preservation system – which allows for a glass to be poured without uncorking the bottle – it opened up a whole new world of fine wines to oenophiles without the budget for pricey bottles. The brand is now taking the logical next step by opening its first pop-up bar in Mayfair. The cellar, as you may have guessed, is extensive, with more than 300 bottles, ranging from Chateau Petrus to the ‘Super Tuscan’ Sassicaia on offer, alongside the longest list of champagnes and sparkling wines available by the glass in the UK.
The culture: Giselle, Purcell Sessions and Breakthrough Women in Film
Escape the winter chill and cosy up with some culture at one of London’s most famous venues this month. For dance fans, the classic ballet Giselle returns to the Royal Opera House for a month-long run by the Royal Ballet. Principals Cesar Corrales and Marcelino Sambe will make their debuts in this not-to-be-missed Peter Wright production full of love, tragedy and mercy.
More of a music lover? This November, the Southbank Centre kicks off its new, year-round Purcell Sessions programme. Hosted in the intimate surrounds of the Purcell Room, this wide-ranging series invites musicians and artists from a huge span of genres to collaborate, perform and experiment. This month’s highlights include the futuristic folk stylings of Lyra Pramuk, classical-meets-electronic beats from London-Contemporary-Orchestra-founder and Frank-Ocean-collaborator Robert Ames, and new work from American experimental composer Laurel Halo.
Finally, the Bulgari hotel will reprise its Breakthrough Women in Film series for the fourth time, showcasing the work of young female filmmakers and highlighting female-driven narratives in a series of screenings, starting in November and ending on International Women’s Day in March. Must-sees include Birds of Paradise, Sarah Adina Smith’s coming of age story about two girls fighting for a contract with the Opéra national de Paris, and Céline Sciamma’s mysterious mother-and-daughter tale Petite Maman.
The restaurants: Fallow and The Barbary Next Door
Two London foodie favourites will be capitalising on their success with new openings this month – and we recommend you get your booking in early. Following its pop-up at 10 Heddon Street earlier this year, sustainability-focused eatery Fallow has found a permanent site in St James’s, which will allow the restaurant to expand to 150 covers across a main dining room, terrace and chef’s counter. As with the original restaurant, an emphasis on whole-animal butchery prevails, with menu highlights including dairy cow rib of beef, cull ewe mutton chop, smoked gem lettuce and salmon belly with marrowbone brioche and chives.
Over in Covent Garden, meanwhile, Zoe and Layo Paskin, owners of the popular The Barbary restaurant, will open an adjacent eatery aptly named The Barbary Next Door. Styled as a relaxed neighbourhood restaurant, food will centre on the flavours of Moorish Spain and North Africa, with treats such as ktefa pastries, tirshi pumpkin salad, tangines and sea bass ceviche served across breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The festive event: Chelsea Christmas light switch on
Get the most wonderful time of the year off to a truly magical start with a day of celebrations and festive fun in Chelsea. Kicking off at 2pm, guests can enjoy live entertainment around the neighbourhood, pick up gourmet treats at the Fine Food Market in Duke of York Square and sip festive cocktails on the Sloane Square winter terrace while taking in the ambiance of the King’s Road, which will be partially pedestrianised for the first time ever. Of course, Father Christmas will be in attendance, helping a deserving local child turn on the Christmas lights at 5pm. We defy you not to leave full of festive cheer.
The pop-ups: La Maison Couture and Veuve Clicquot Le Tram
Looking to start ticking off that Christmas list? Two pop-ups taking place at Selfridges this November are offering great gifts for even the trickiest customers. If you’re buying for a magpie, La Maison Couture will be taking up residency in the Luxury Accessories Hall as part of Selfridge’s Project Earth campaign. Showcasing a curated selection of ethical jewellery brands, including Sophie Theakston, Olivia Grace and Myriam Soseilos, expect a beautiful range of fine and demi-fine jewellery to suit all tastes.
Veuve Clicquot, meanwhile, has created an innovative concept that allows shoppers to indulge in a festive tipple while browsing for gifts. Le Tram acts as a bar and concept shop where guests can pull up a seat at the retro bar and order from a menu of champagnes and cocktails (snag yourself a spot in the lounge and you can even play your own music) while having personalised bottles of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label created to take home. We call that a win-win.
The festival: Shameless!
For many, the events of the past few months have sparked a desire to do something to help tackle the dangers facing women and girls both in the UK and across the globe. With this in mind, WOW (Women of the World) has announced the inaugural Shameless! Festival of Activism Against Sexual Violence, which will take place at Battersea Arts Centre this November. The one-day event aims to confront and change attitudes towards sexual violence, with speakers including Emily Ratajkowski, WOW founder Jude Kelly, Everyday Sexism’s Laura Bates and Black Minds founder Rachel Nwokoro.
27 November, thewowfoundation.com