Festive things to do in London this December

Luxury London

17 November 2020

Ignite your Christmas spirit this December 2020 with wreath-making workshops, dazzling winter light displays, live music and toasty al fresco terraces, as well as a very special virtual performance of A Christmas Carol

17 November 2020 | Luxury London

Tate Britain's winter commission by Chila Kumari Singh Burman

On display to enjoy from now until January, Tate Briain's neoclassical facade has been given a neon makeover by Liverpudlian artist Chila Kumari Singh Burman. Entitled Remembering A Brave New World and launched to coincide with the Indian festival of Diwali, the uplifting display is festooned with multi-coloured lights, inspired by Bollywood iconography, mythological Indian motifs and pop culture references. Look out for the third eye, a traditional symbol of enlightenment, and the elephant-headed god Ganesha.

On display until 31 January 2021; Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 4RG

Cartier Christmas display on New Bond Street, Mayfair

Photography by Kalory Photo & Video, courtesy of Cartier

For those on the hunt for further festive light displays, a stroll down Bond Street reveals Cartier's spectacular Christmas decorations. The London flagship is wrapped in a supersized red bow and topped with a prowling wild cat – which has been the French maison's emblematic feline motif for more than 100 years. The panther was first adopted by Cartier in 1914, when it placed its first panther spot on a wristwatch. From 2 December, the New Bond Street boutique will display a resplendent light and music show every day at 5pm, 6pm and 7pm – certain to spread a little Christmas cheer in London this December. 

Where: Cartier, 175-177 New Bond Street, Mayfair, London W1S 4RN
Website: cartier.com

Annabel’s Christmas Fair, online

Annabel’s has launched its first ever virtual Christmas fair, offering an emporium of festive foodie treats, hampers, decorations and satin pyjama sets all wrapped in beautiful Annabel’s-themed packaging. Available to buy until the 17th December, all of the Annabel’s products will be sold in aid of The Caring Family Foundation’s Food From the Heart campaign, with 10 per cent of all sales going towards supporting children living in poverty and with food insecurity this Christmas.

When: Until 17th December
Website: christmasfair.annabels.co.uk

Wreath making workshops with Perrier-Jouët x McQueens Flowers, Mayfair

Book now for a delightfully festive afternoon with Perrier-Jouët and McQueens Flowers. Immerse yourself in foliage, pine cones and the most nostalgic scents of the season as you craft your own showstopping Christmas wreath, while sipping on Perrier-Jouët Champagne. The workshops are taking place at McQueen's new home in Mayfair, which is every bit as magical as you might expect.

When: 3, 10 and 17 December 2020
Price: £130 per person
Website: mcqueens.co.uk

A winter wonderland in Chelsea

During summer, Chelsea promptly adapted to the 'new normal' by dramatically expanding its al fresco offering across Sloane Square, Duke of York Square and Pavilion Road, which remains fully pedestrianised. This December, Chelsea has been transformed into a festive wonderland with dazzling installations, including a walk-through Silver Birch forest, a 36ft Christmas tree and majestic crowns strung across King's Road in a nod to its heritage. On Duke of York Square, diners can enjoy a heated al fresco dining area with more than 500 seats and food from Vardo, Manicomio and Polpo, as well as a festive food market on Saturdays. On Pavilion Road there is outdoor dining at Hans' Bar & Grill, Wulf & Lamb and Granger & Co. There will also be lots of festive-themed entertainment throughout the month, from complimentary horse and carriage rides outside Tiffany & Co. to live music and performances. Pop into Chelsea's array of boutiques to discover exclusive discounts, offers and gifts.

When: throughout December in Chelsea
Website: chelseachristmas.co.uk

The Wonder of Stories by Oliver Jeffers at Harrods, Knightsbridge

Harrods has partnered with celebrated children's author Oliver Jeffers to create an immersive experience, which captures the whimsy and imagination of the Brooklyn-based artist's uplifting books. Jeffers' dreamlike illustrations are brought to life through ambitious installations, enveloping visitors in his magical universe. If you're looking for a festive, family-friendly day out that is guaranteed to lift the spirits, this is it.

Harrods has also curated a special Wonder of Stories hamper, generously packed with picture books, keepsake baubles and gourmet snacks. 

Price: the Harrods x Oliver Jeffers storytelling experience is priced at £30.00 per family of six, all guests must be from the same household and the fee is fully redeemable in store; the Wonder of Stories hamper is priced at £200.00.
When: throughout December
Where: Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, SW1

Christmas at Kew, Richmond

The Palm House finale, photography by Jeff Eden, RGB Kew
Waterfalls by ITHACA at the Treetop Walkway, photography by Jeff Eden, RGB Kew

The light at the end of the 2020 tunnel comes from Kew Gardens, where the magical after-dark trail returns this Christmas. Taking a new route, the light installation will lead guests through the beautifully illuminated Rose Garden for the first time. Follow the path through a glittering tunnel of bells, past dazzling giant seed heads and majestic trees wrapped in light before arriving at the finale, a stunning light show at the Palm House Pond set to the beat of festive music.

Price: From £19.50
When: 4 December - 17 January
Where: Kew, Richmond, TW9
Website: kew.org

Love Actually in concert, Hammersmith

“If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around”, especially if you find yourself at Hammersmith Apollo between 17-20 December, when arguably the best Christmas film of all time, Love Actually, will be played alongside music from a live orchestra. Enjoy a live rendition of Chris Armstrong’s iconic score while watching the festive flick on the big screen.

Price: From £65
When: 17-20 December
Where: Eventim Apollo, 45 Queen Caroline Street, W6
Website: eventim.co.uk

Miracle at Henrietta, Covent Garden

Bad Santa and Jolly Koala might sound like a list of Netflix holiday movies, but they’re actually two cocktails being served at Henrietta Hotel’s Christmas pop-up bar this winter. Transporting you back to the 1970s with retro decorations and coloured fairy lights, Miracle at Henrietta is tucked away in the hotel’s mezzanine, where guests can enjoy festive-themed cocktails whipped up by Experimental Cocktail Club-alumni Nico de Soto, alongside snacks such as sardine and lemon skewers and farinata and parmesan. Can’t get there before Christmas? Visit in January, when the pop-up will relaunch as The Extended Christmas Story by Miracle.

Discover more of London's festive pop-ups here

When: 3 December — 20 January (closed on 24, 25 and 31 December and 1 January)
Where: 14-15 Henrietta Street, WC2E
Website: henriettahotel.com

Festive Wishes from The Savoy, Strand

Your wish is The Savoy’s command. The five-star hotel is asking everyone to nominate a friend or family member deserving of a special treat this Christmas for the chance to gift them a unique experience at The Savoy, such as afternoon tea or a cocktail masterclass. Each wish requires a minimum donation of £5, with the proceeds to be shared equally between charities Hospitality Action and The Connection at St Martin in the Fields. The wish can be made virtually or in person at the hotel’s wishing well, with the hotel randomly selecting one person a day until Christmas Day. Look out for the winner on The Savoy’s social media channels.

When: Until 25 December
Where: The Savoy, Strand, WC2R
Website: savoychristmas.com

Joy Bomb installation, Mayfair

Artist Amy Broch has made a career out of bringing joy to the world with her fabulous installations, but it wasn’t until her husband Sean was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) that her artworks took on a new meaning. Having discovered that happiness was linked to better treatment outcomes for ALS patients, Broch set out to create multi-sensory installations that produce happy moments for their viewers, with proceeds from every installation going to the ALS research programme Healy Center in memory of Sean, who passed away in May. The latest can be found at 48 Brook Street, where live actors will be performing amongst a dazzling display of purple glitter, inflatable flowers and lilac teddy bears throughout December.

When: Until 3 January (actors will be on-site from 12pm-8pm on Fridays and Saturdays, with the exception of Chistmas week, when they will be on-site on 23rd and 24th December with limited hours).
Where: 48 Brook Street, W1S
Website: joybomblondon.com

Selfridges’ Christmas market

Selfridges has unveiled its first ever Christmas market in partnership with Street Feast founder Dominic Cools-Lartigue. Nine of London’s best street food traders have parked up on Edwards Mews, offering seasonal fodder such as bratwurst, mulled wine and buttered rum, along with traditional dishes hailing the likes of North India and Venezuela. There are also a number of boutique stalls selling Christmas decorations, wreaths, trees and gifts, along with a helter-skelter and carousel fairground rides to keep you entertained.

When: Until 3 January, 4-9pm on weekdays, 12-9pm on weekends
Where: Edwards Mews, at the rear of Selfridges London, W1A
Website: selfridges.com

Borough Market’s Festive Kitchen

Olia Hercules, photography by Elena Heatherwick

For three weeks in December, Borough Market is going virtual with a Christmas festival featuring culinary masterclasses and digital cook-alongs hosted by some of London’s best chefs and market traders. Alongside discussions with Anna Jones and cooking tips from Romy Gill, there will be six live cooking demonstrations from the likes of Angela Clutton, Olia Hercules and Edd Kimber. Viewers based in London can order a recipe kit filled with ingredients from the market to be delivered direct to their door.

When: 2-18 December
Website: christmas.boroughmarket.org.uk

In Camera: A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic


We're used to seeing Andrew Lincoln on our TV screens at Christmas as Love Actually’s infatuated Mark, who is in love with his best friend’s wife, but this year he’ll be appearing as a slightly less pathetic — but perhaps no less creepier — character as he takes the starring role of Scrooge in In Camera: A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic. Directed by Jack Thorne for the fourth year, the festive show will be live streamed from The Old Vic stage, with live musicians, a cast of 18 performers and the complete theatrical works, from lighting to costumes. Audiences only need to by one ticket to watch as a group from a single screen and it is up to you how much you would like to pay, with prices starting from £10 and going up to £80 for a souvenir ticket, which includes a limited edition poster.

Price: From £10
Website: oldvictheatre.com


Read more: the best winter bars in London 2020