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December in London 2013

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Comedian Ed Byrne

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Comedian Ed Byrne
Santa Run
OSS December Dip
Great Christmas Pudding Race
The Royal Ballet: The Nutcracker
Peter Pan Cup Swimming Race
The Big Game 6
Christmas Past
East London Design Show
Real Food Christmas Market
Masters Tennis
JLS
Aladdin
Midnight Mass at St Paul's Cathedral
William Hill Winter Festival
New Year's Eve Fireworks
London International Horse Show
Ed Byrne: Roaring Forties
Stephen Ward
Fuerzabruta, Roundhouse
BOING!: Travelling Light & Bristol Old Vic
Primal Scream
The Wind In The Willows
Rick Stein Live
Fortune's Fool is at the Old Vic
Richard II is at the Barbican
Two Door Cinema Club
The El. Train: The Web, Before Breakfast and The Dreamy Kid, Hoxton Hall
The Elephantom is at The Shed
American Psycho by Headlong, in rehearsal
Jameel Prize
Protest Song is at The Shed
Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People
Crafty Fox Market
Coriolanus
 

 

The year draws to a close with a suitably festive line-up including Santa Run, the Great Christmas Pudding Race, Christmas Past and The Nutcracker. Crazy winter swims, the OSS December Dip and the Peter Pan Swimming Cup, also return to test participants' hardy determination, and St Paul's Cathedral hosts another spectacular musical evening.

 
 

The Royal Ballet: The Nutcracker

The annual glittering production returns for another spectacle.

Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD

Tube: Covent Garden Station, Leicester Square Station

 

Dates: 10th December - 16th January 2013

 

Unless your name's Ebenezer Scrooge, this glittering production of E.T.A. Hoffman's 'The Nutcracker' cannot fail to get you in the Christmas spirit. As sure as putting up fairy lights, filling Christmas stockings and having too much mulled wine at the office party, watching Clara dance in front of the Christmas tree at the Royal Opera House is a truly festive thing to do. It's hard to imagine a production more indulgently sumptuous than Peter Wright's restaging of Lev Ivanov's choreography to Tchaikovsky's famous score. From the heart-warming family party of the opening scene to the appearance of the magical kingdom, the action beckons you in, helped every ballet step of the way by Julie Trevelyan Oman's gorgeous, nostalgic designs out of the late 1800s. This is pure spectacle but The Royal Ballet pulls it off with such beauty and style that it's a Christmas cracker.

 
 
 

Christmas Past

Take a step back in time and discover how Christmas was celebrated in the past.

Geffrye Museum, 136 Kingsland Road, Hackney, London, E2 8EA

Tube: Old Street Station

 

Dates: 24th November 2015 to 3rd January 2016

 

Each year the Geffrye Museum celebrates Christmas with a look at the way Christmas traditions have evolved over years at its annual 'Christmas Past' exhibition, staged at the Shoreditch museum for over 20 years. It's a timely opportunity to see the museum's period rooms decorated to reflect our changing tastes at this festive time of year. There's a programme of events and family activities which tie in with the chosen theme where you can create your own Christmas decorations and enjoy the carols by candlelight. At the end of it all, sip on mulled wine while witnessing the traditional burning of the holly and the ivy in the Geffrye Museum gardens.

 
 
 

American Psycho

Rupert Goold directs at the Almeida where he becomes new artistic director in January 2014.

Almeida Theatre, Almeida Street, Islington, London, N1 1TA

Tube: Angel Station

 

Dates: 03rd December - 01st February 2014

 

The high life in 1980s Manhattan is everything to Patrick Bateman including designer clothes and partying at the top nightclubs. In private, he deals with other forms of transgressions. And disappearances. This musical thriller at the Almeida, based on the 1991 novel by Bret Easton Ellis, is directed by Rupert Goold who becomes the theatre's new artistic director in January 2014. American Psycho is produced in collaboration with his Headlong theatre company which Goold leaves in August 2013 after eight years as artistic director to take up the reigns at the 325-seat Islington theatre, succeeding Michael Attenborough.

 
 
 

Stephen Ward

Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical, directed by five-time Olivier Award-winner Richard Eyre.

Aldwych Theatre, Aldwych, Covent Garden, London, WC2B 4DF

Tube: Covent Garden Station, Temple Station, Holborn Station

 

Dates: 03rd December - 29th March 2014

 

The world premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Stephen Ward will open at the Aldwych Theatre in December. Directed by five-time Olivier Award-winner Richard Eyre, who is also due to direct his own adaptation of Ghosts at the Almeida Theatre, and with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the musical tells the story of a 1963 scandal that shocked society. Particularly relevant after recent media outrages, it looks back at the Profumo Affair - named after the illicit encounters between Secretary of State John Profumo and a call girl - and how free-living society physician Stephen Ward introduced the major players of this government-toppling sex and espionage scandal. Used as a scapegoat in a trial that was as symbolic to the twentieth century as Oscar Wilde's was to the nineteenth, Ward was targeted and eventually became the main victim. Featuring a book and lyrics by playwright Christopher Hampton and lyricist Don Black, the musical will put Ward's story into the spotlight.

 
 
 

Masters Tennis

Past tennis masters return to the court.

Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London, SW7 2AP

Tube: South Kensington Station

 

Dates: 04th - 08th December 2013

 

Blasts from the past battle it out in London's prettiest indoor arena in the annual Masters Tennis event at the Royal Albert Hall. Players in the ATP Champions Tour must be 35 years or older, and have been the world Number One, a Grand Slam finalist or have featured on a winning Davis Cup side - although exceptions have been made (Britain's Tim Henman, for instance). The likes of Goran Ivanisevic, Thomas Enqvist, Henman and last year's Masters and Seniors winners Fabrice Santoro and John McEnroe might have added a few pounds and lost swathes of speed and stamina over the years but they retain all the guile, poise and determination that made them champions in the first place. Expect five days of competitive singles and doubles with a healthy splash of fun as these past masters take to the court on a stage usually reserved for Brahms, Beethoven and the Beatles.

 
 
 

East London Design Show

Moe than a hundred stalls create the perfect chance to pick up a designer gift.

The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, Spitalfields, London, E1 6QL

Tube: Aldgate East Station

 

Dates: 04th - 07th December 2014

 

It may not have ‘Christmas’ in the title, but the East London Design Show is a stalwart in the seasonal shopping calendar. With over a hundred stalls filled with original and beautifully designed pieces all under one roof in Shoreditch, it’s a great place to source a designer gift for your loved ones. Shopping is the main event, but there's also a bar/café and workshops on sustainable gift wrapping, hat making and toy making.

 
 
 

Spitalfields Winter Festival

East London's hidden areas host a number of musical events.

Christ Church Spitalfields, Commercial Street, Spitalfields, London, E1 6LY

Tube: Aldgate East Station, Aldgate East Underground Station

 

Dates: 06th - 17th December 2013

 

Spitalfields' end of year musical celebration returns to warm up the winter nights. Taking place at several Spitalfields locations, the festival explores the east London area's hidden corners with early and contemporary music, musical tours, opera for under 2s, and free events which bring together global and local artists. The best thing about the biannual Spitalfields festivals (a summer festival is held in June) is the array of contrasting venues: Old Spitalfields Market comes alive with what seems like impromptu musical performances, while the stunning 18th century Hawksmoor-designed Christ Church hosts a cluster of classical concerts. Shoreditch's hip Village Underground holds some of the more contemporary offerings, and could you get a more apt setting for city-based bucolic folk than the Spitalfields City Farm?

 
 
 

Aladdin

Jo Brand is The Genie of the Ring in the New Wimbledon Theatre panto.

New Wimbledon Theatre, The Broadway, London, SW19 1QG

Tube: Wimbledon Station

 

Dates: 06th December - 12th January 2014

 

Comedienne and actress Jo Brand stars as The Genie of the Ring in Aladdin, the Christmas 2013 show at the New Wimbledon Theatre, making her pantomime debut alongside TV and stage star Matthew Kelly as Widow Twanky. They're joined by street dance troupe Flawless, aka the Peking Police Force, David Bedella as Abanazar, and West End actor Oliver Thornton who plays the title role in this festive show featuring laughter, magic and audience participation. A top line-up for one of London's most consistently reliable panto theatres. See LondonTown.com's feature on all the Shows and Pantos to see in London this Christmas.

 
 
 

The El. Train: The Web, Before Breakfast and The Dreamy Kid

Actress Ruth Wilson makes her directorial debut at Hoxton Hall.

Hoxton Hall, 130 Hoxton Street, Hoxton, London, N1 6SH

Tube: Old Street Station

 

Dates: 06th - 30th December 2013

 

The actress Ruth Wilson, who so memorably plays anti-heroine Alice in TV drama Luther, features in The Web and Before Breakfast, and makes her directorial debut with The Dreamy Kid, as Eugene O'Neill's three one act plays are performed at the historic Hoxton Hall. Themes of heaven and hell, of sin and redemption, are followed by a night of hard liquor and live music at O'Neill's very own New York watering hole, the Hell Hole Saloon. The plays, written between 1913 and 1918, are being presented together for the first time and tickets are sure to sell out fast.

 
 
 

Fortune's Fool

Iain Glen and Richard McCabe star in Mike Poulton's adaptation at the Old Vic.

Old Vic Theatre, 103 The Cut, South Bank, London, SE1 8NB

Tube: Waterloo Station, Southwark Station, Lambeth North Station

 

Dates: 06th December - 22nd February 2014

 

A pair of newlyweds are welcomed back to their country estate by the poor gentleman-in-residence, Kuzovkin, in Fortune's Fool which makes its West End debut at the Old Vic this winter. Iain Glen (Downton Abbey villain Sir Richard Carlisle) stars as Kuzovkin and Richard McCabe (Harold Wilson in The Audience) plays Tropatchov, his wealthy neighbour who calls round for a celebratory lunch. But as the drink flows, the day's proceedings begin to degenerate, leading to a shock revelation. Directed by Lucy Bailey.

 
 
 

Coriolanus

Tom Hiddleston and Borgen's Birgitte Sorensen star in Shakespeare's tragedy.

The Donmar Warehouse, 41 Earlham Street, Seven Dials, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9LD

Tube: Covent Garden Station, Leicester Square Station, Tottenham Court Road Station

 

Dates: 06th December - 08th February 2014

 

A starry cast including Borgen's Birgitte Sorensen (political journalist turned spin doctor Katrine Fonsmark in the Danish TV drama) and Tom Hiddleston appear in the Donmar's staging of Shakespeare's Coriolanus with Hiddleston in the demanding title role. The theatre's artistic director Josie Rourke directs the famous Rome-set tragedy of politics and revenge about a war hero who must face an angry people threatened with famine.

 
 
 

Santa Run

London is flooded with Santa lookalikes for this charity fun run.

Battersea Park, Albert Bridge Road, Battersea Park, Battersea, London, SW11 4NJ

Tube: Sloane Square Station

 

Dates: 06th December 2014

 

Join hundreds of other Santas on a festive run through a London park before relaxing afterwards with mulled wine and Christmas cake. Simply register, turn up on the day, collect your free Santa outfit and tackle the 5km or 10km run. You can decide to walk, jog or run as fast or as slow as you like. Why will everyone be dressed as Santa? Well, ignoring the obvious (the time of year), proceeds from the run will be donated to charity. If you've ever fancied a fun run through London whilst dressed as Father Christmas (and let's face it, who hasn't?) then this is the one for you.

 
 
 

OSS December Dip

Brave (crazy) swimmers take a plunge into freezing waters just for the 'fun' of it.

Parliament Hill Lido, Parliament Hill Fields, Gordon House Road, London, NW5 1LP

Tube: Belsize Park Station

 

Dates: 13th December 2014

 

This annual freezing (not to mention crazy) dip into Parliament Hill Lido takes place on the first Saturday of December. Formerly known as the 'Plum Pudding Plunge', this is the first swim of the season organised by the Outdoor Swimming Society, who each year arrange festive swims as far away and chilly as Scotland. With mince pies to dispel the inevitable goosebumps, a hot tub, chattering teeth and general merrymaking, all swimmers, donning Christmas hats, will be encouraged to attempt two widths of the lido, with the most intrepid aiming for four or six. Swimmers must register for the event, which costs £15. Make sure you bring warm clothes, a woolly hat, swimsuits and a lot of courage. They say it's good for the circulation…

 
 
 

Great Christmas Pudding Race

Eggs are replaced with puddings in this festive relay race.

Covent Garden Piazza, Covent Garden, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD

Tube: Covent Garden Station, Leicester Square Station, Charing Cross Station

 

Dates: Saturday 5th December 2015

 

You're familiar with the egg and spoon race. Well, how about the Christmas Pudding Race? Covent Garden Piazza swells with spectators as about 150 contestants in teams of six don fancy dress and race around a course strewn with flour-filled balloons, foam jets and other obstacles - all while trying to balance a Christmas pudding on a flimsy plate! The race has been going on every year since 1980 and it raises money for Cancer Research. At this time of year Covent Garden is a great place to be, with shops full of Christmas decorations and street entertainers putting on some diverting shows before and after the main event. The perfect way to break up a day of Christmas shopping in Covent Garden's collection of stylish stores. This year's date is yet to be announced but please see www.xmaspuddingrace.org.uk for the latest details.

 
 
 

British Military Tournament

The largest display of military theatre in the world.

Earls Court Exhibition Centre, Warwick Road, Earls Court, London, SW5 9TA

Tube: West Brompton Station, Earls Court Station

 

Dates: 07th - 08th December 2013

 

The British Military Tournament comes to Earls Court in December, bringing together the best elements from the famous Royal Tournament in the largest display of military theatre in the world. This breathtaking arena show gives visitors the opportunity to marvel at and enjoy the skill and precision of the British Armed Forces with modern battle re-enactments from recently returned active troops aided by contributions, in previous years, from celebrities like Dame Judi Dench, Joanna Lumley and Stephen Fry. It's also a great chance to show appreciation for our heroic servicemen and women.

 
 
 

Crafty Fox Market

Crafting, Christmas shopping and card making at Brixton's Dogstar.

The Dogstar, 389 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, London, SW9 8LQ

Tube: Brixton Station

 

Dates: 07th - 08th December 2013

 

The Crafty Fox Market brings tea, cake, stalls and crafting to The Dogstar in Brixton for Christmas shopping and card making on Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th December. Entry is free and the market takes up all three floors of the old Victorian pub where you'll discover around 80 stalls selling unique and designer items. You can also try your hand at making your own gifts with workshops on origami, knitting and card making. Paper-cutting designer Lisa Levis is on hand to show us how to 'draw with scissors', you can make pom poms with PomPom Quarterly (Saturday) and sew Christmas decorations with Sew Pretty (on Sunday). If all that sounds like hard work, take it easy in the tea rooms chilling out with the Crafty Fox DJs. The following weekend, on Saturday 14th December, the Crafty Fox Market moves to the CLF Art Cafe in the Bussey Building, Peckham.

 
 
 

The Elephantom

Clever puppetry and theatrical ingenuity tell the tale of a little girl and her ghost-elephant friend.

New London Theatre, Drury Lane, South Bank, London, WC2B 5PW

Tube: Holborn Station, Covent Garden Station

 

Dates: 30th June - 06th September 2014

 

A tale of a little girl and her ghost-elephant friend, The Elephantom by Ross Collins is a charming family tale. Running in The Shed throughout the Christmas period, the play focuses on a little girl who is at first delighted to have her larger-than-life friend living with her - he makes everything so much fun! However, it doesn't take long before she starts to realise that Elephantoms are simply too big for houses and he starts to get into all sorts of trouble. Through clever puppetry and theatrical ingenuity, Ben Power successfully adapts this story for the stage.

 
 
 

Rick Stein Live

We have a pair of premium tickets to give away.

London Palladium, 8 Argyll Street, Soho, London, W1F 7TF

Tube: Oxford Circus Station

 

Dates: 09th December 2013

 

Acclaimed chef and restaurateur Rick Stein talks about his culinary career as well as preparing some glorious dishes for one night only at the London Palladium on Monday 9th December. The Cornish chef who put Padstow on the map presents a one-off live theatre show in London's West End hosted and assisted by veteran celebrity chef Brian Turner CBE (familiar to TV viewers from appearances on Ready Steady Cook, Masterchef, and Anything You Can Cook). Stein will bring his travels to life - including anecdotes from his most recent TV series in India - and he'll share tips and favourite recipes for the Christmas season. We have one pair of Premium tickets to give away. See our competitions page for details.

 
 
 

Richard II

David Tennant stars in the title role in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production.

Barbican Centre, Silk Street, City, London, EC2Y 8DS

Tube: Barbican Station, Moorgate Station

 

Dates: 09th December - 25th January 2014

 

David Tennant stars as the divine King imbibed with vanity in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Richard II staged at the Barbican from 9th December 2013. With England's great houses under threat of division in Gregory Doran's production of Shakespeare's history play, the king's vanity threatens to drag his people into a bloody civil war. Tennant is joined by Oliver Ford Davies who plays the Duke of York, both of whom appeared in the Royal Shakespeare Company's acclaimed 2008 production of Hamlet.

 
 
 

The Elephantom

Ben Power adapts this charming tale for the stage.

New London Theatre, Drury Lane, South Bank, London, WC2B 5PW

Tube: Holborn Station, Covent Garden Station

 

Dates: 30th June - 06th September 2014

 

A tale of a little girl and her ghost-elephant friend, The Elephantom by Ross Collins is a charming family tale. Running in The Shed throughout the Christmas period, the play focuses on a little girl who is at first delighted to have her larger-than-life friend living with her - he makes everything so much fun! However, it doesn't take long before she starts to realise that Elephantoms are simply too big for houses and he starts to get into all sorts of trouble. Through clever puppetry and theatrical ingenuity, Ben Power successfully adapts this story for the stage.

 
 
 

Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People

Seasonal science, satire and silliness.

Bloomsbury Theatre, 15 Gordon Street, Bloomsbury, London, WC1H 0AH

Tube: Euston Square Station, Euston Station, Warren Street Station

 

Dates: 10th - 20th December 2013

 

Following five years of sell-out success, Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People returns with a fine line-up of intellectuals, musicians and comedians on a mission to take the Christ out of Christmas. Appearing at the Bloomsbury Theatre are Pappy's, Alexei Sayle (both Sunday 15th December), Rich Herring (17th December), and Marcus Brigstocke (22nd December) who are joined by Robin Ince, Joanna Neary, George Egg, Josie Long (except 11th), Grace Petrie and Steve Pretty's Origin of the Pieces, among others, for science, satire and silliness. In many ways, it's testament to the Church of England's genial tolerance that this tongue-in-cheeky event can take place with so little complaint, but it offers great entertainment for atheists who've reached the seasonal saturation point. Shows in previous years have proved extremely popular and tickets usually sell out so get in there quick.

 
 
 

Jameel Prize 2013

Ten shortlisted artists compete for a £25,000 prize.

Victoria and Albert (V & A) Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2RL

Tube: South Kensington Station

 

Dates: 11th December - 21st April 2014

 

The biennial Jameel Prize, which encourages contemporary artists and designers to take their inspiration from Islamic traditions of craft and design, returns to the Victoria & Albert Museum for the third time in 2013. The work of the 10 shortlisted finalists competing for the £25,000 prize can be seen at the museum from 11th December 2013.

 
 
 

Primal Scream

Bobby Gillespie's psychedelic rockers promote their tenth album, More Light

Brixton Academy, 211 Stockwell Road, Brixton, London, SW9 9SL

Tube: Brixton Station

 

Dates: 11th December 2013

 

On the back of their glorious Glastonbury performance, Bobby Gillespie's hard-partying, Glasgow-based alternative rock outfit Primal Scream announced three December shows in the UK, starting with this Wednesday night bonanza at the Brixton O2 Academy . The flamboyant lead singer and his band released More Light, their 10th studio album, in May to critical acclaim, with NME's 8/10 review claiming Primal Scream's "voodoo grooves and swirling psychedelia" were "as inventive and relevant as they've ever been". Ahead of this December gig, the band release their latest single 'Invisible City' in August followed by a slot at the iTunes Festival at the Roundhouse in September.

 
 
 

The Wind In The Willows

Tony Robinson plays Kenneth Grahame in the Royal Opera House production.

Duchess Theatre, Catherine Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2B 5LA

Tube: Covent Garden Station, Temple Station

 

Dates: 11th December - 01st February 2014

 

Tony Robinson plays Kenneth Grahame in the Royal Opera House production of The Wind in the Willows which plays at the Duchess Theatre for an eight week Christmas season. Will Kemp, who first came to fame as the lead swan in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, reprises his role as Ratty in Kenneth Grahame's tale of four friends - including the reckless Mr Toad - which fuses dance, song, music and puppetry. Will Tuckett directs and choreographs and the narration is written by the former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion. Suitbale for over 5s.

 
 
 

Christmas Chocolate Festival

Treat your taste buds to a delectable array of Christmassy artisan delights.

Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, South Bank, London, N1 0QH

Tube: Angel Station

 

Dates: 12th - 14th December 2014

 

The Chocolate Festival makes a welcome return this December with a special Christmassy offering. With a delectable array of artisan delights to tickle your taste buds, the festival is the ideal opportunity to indulge yourself and take home tasty Christmas presents. There will be top chocolatiers such as William Curley, Damian Allsop and Co-Couture in attendance and, as always, there will be dozens of stalls all showcasing chocolate and chocolate products, such as hot chocolate, chocolate cakes, crepes, churros, a chocolate fountain, self-making kits and much more. After all, Christmas is the time for indulgence%u2026

 
 
 

Ed Byrne: Roaring Forties

Irish comic gives out his clarion cry: 'I'm in my Forties. Hear me roar!'

Hammersmith Apollo, 45 Queen Caroline Street, London, W6 9QH

Tube: Hammersmith Station

 

Dates: 13th December 2013

 

Join unrivalled observational stand-up Ed Byrne as he talks an audience at the Hammersmith Apollo through what it's like when a self-confessed "miserable old git" since the age of 23 hits the Roaring Forties. Pedantic and whimsical, the long-haired Irish comic always excels with his chatty brand of observational comedy and colourful anecdotes, which often shimmy into the realm of unscripted innovative threads and mock vitriol. Although a regular on shows such as Mock The Week (Dara O'Briain is his best friend), Have I Got News For You, Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Father Ted, Dubliner Byrne, for many, is perhaps best remembered for his scathing dissection of the Alanis Morissette song Ironic: "When was the last time you were stuck in an ironic traffic jam?". Rather ominously, this Friday 13th gig from Byrne concludes a UK tour starting in August at the Edinburgh Festival. While other men hitting middle age may experience a crisis that prompts the purchase of a sportscar, father Byrne embraces turning 40 with open arms. A coming of age from a seasoned comic, to be sure.

 
 
 

Two Door Cinema Club

London's O2 will be the biggest headline show to date for the Northern Irish band.

The O2 Arena, Peninsula Square, London, SE10 0BB

Tube: North Greenwich Station

 

Dates: 13th December 2013

 

Two Door Cinema Club have confirmed that they will be playing at London's O2 Arena this December. Playing to the 20,000 capacity venue, it will be the biggest headline show to date for the Northern Irish band and will be in support of their upcoming EP Changing of the Seasons. The announcement was made on the same day that the band's latest single, eponymous to the EP, received its worldwide first play on BBC Radio 1, which marks the first release since singing to major record label Parlophone. Produced by electronic maestro Madeon, the band's new three-song EP is expected to lean more towards the dance genre than their previous offerings and will create an exciting addition for the concert's set list. Marking another pinnacle in the band's career, guitarist Sam Halliday stated "It feels like a huge achievement, it is the thing we have been working very hard towards for a long time but at the same time we feel confident and ready that we are experienced enough and have got enough fans and enough songs and enough records behind us to headline The O2."

 
 
 

London International Horse Show

The UK's only World Cup dressage qualifier, show jumping, trotting ground and shopping.

Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, London, W14 8UX

Tube: Kensington (Olympia) Station

 

Dates: 16th - 22nd December 2014

 

London's annual equestrian fiesta graces Olympia once more for a full week of galloping, jumping and pinpoint dressage steps. There's enough to please everybody at the London International Horse Show, with the UK's only World Cup dressage qualifier, spectacular show jumping competitions, and some fantastic equestrian shopping opportunities. As well as the elegant steeds trotting around, there are usually some dog-related competitions too, including a canine agility contest. The grand finale is an enormous festive parade with hundreds of horses, costumes and music combining to a spectacular climax.

 
 
 

Protest Song

A one-man show that explores the reality of the Occupy movement.

National Theatre, South Bank, South Bank, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX

Tube: Temple Station, Waterloo Station

 

Dates: 16th December - 11th January 2014

 

After sleeping on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral for many years, Danny is shocked when one morning he awakes to find himself surrounded by a canvas city. Consequently caught up in the last occupation of London, he develops into an unlikely hero. Running at The Shed over the Christmas period, Protest Song by Tim Price is a one-man show that explores the reality of the Occupy movement. Welsh film star Rhys Ifans take the role of Danny.

 
 
 

Protest Song

Rhys Ifans takes the role of Danny in this one man show.

National Theatre, South Bank, South Bank, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX

Tube: Temple Station, Waterloo Station

 

Dates: 16th December - 11th January 2014

 

After sleeping on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral for many years, Danny is shocked when one morning he awakes to find himself surrounded by a canvas city. Consequently caught up in the last occupation of London, he develops into an unlikely hero. Running at The Shed over the Christmas period, Protest Song by Tim Price is a one-man show that explores the reality of the Occupy movement. Welsh film star Rhys Ifans take the role of Danny.

 
 
 

Real Food Christmas Market

The weekly market turns festive with a whole range of seasonal produce.

Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London, SE1 8XX

Tube: Waterloo Station, Embankment Underground Station

 

Dates: 19th - 22nd December 2013

 

The Southbank Centre's weekly Real Food Market turns festive in the lead up to Christmas – an ideal chance to pick up some last minute culinary delights. Located in the square on the Waterloo Station side of the Southbank Centre, the Christmas Real Food Market will boast a whole range of seasonal produce such as wild game, ham, charcuterie, pies, cheeses, chutneys, pickles, cakes and chocolates as well as Christmas staples like mince pies and mulled wine. This is high quality but affordable stuff – and with kind staff from carefully selected producers, plus a taste-before-you-buy policy, it's a relaxed place to make your unique Yule-time food purchases.

 
 
 

BOING!: Travelling Light & Bristol Old Vic

Waiting for Santa to arrive on the most magical night of the year, dance for over 3s.

Sadler's Wells: Lilian Baylis Theatre, Rosebery Avenue, Clerkenwell, London, EC1R 4TN

Tube: Angel Station

 

Dates: 20th December - 05th January 2014

 

Set on Christmas Eve, BOING! captures the delirious excitement of waiting for Santa to arrive on the most magical night of the year, making it an enchanting family show that everyone over 3 will enjoy. A collaborative dance-theatre work from Travelling Light and Bristol Old Vic, with Champloo founders Wilkie Branson and Joel Daniel performing, transforming their bed into a trampoline, and performing comedic and acrobatic skills, and break-dancing. Children's theatre specialist Sally Cookson directs.

 
 
 

JLS

The boys return with more energetic dance routines and catchy pop tunes.

The O2 Arena, Peninsula Square, London, SE10 0BB

Tube: North Greenwich Station

 

Dates: 21st - 22nd December 2013

 

Since bursting onto the 'X Factor' scene in 2008, JLS have continued on an upward journey in their music career. Now, promoting their new studio album 'Evolution', the foursome will be taking over the O2 Arena for two nights. Working with a number of high flying American producers, this album offers a more mature sound from the band: "It's full of taut, sophisticated pop that nods to Justin Timberlake circa 2002, Timbaland circa 1999 and even some of Nicki Minaj's more experimental beats." (The Guardian) However, fans can be sure to expect the usual perfectly synchronised dance moves, cheeky winks and, of course, Aston's famed back flips on this tour. 

 
 
 

Fuerzabruta

The fastest selling show in the Roundhouse's history returns.

Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, London, NW1 8EH

Tube: Chalk Farm Station

 

Dates: 23rd December - 02nd March 2014

 

Following its sell-out success in 2006 and a triumphant limited run in 2012, Fuerzabruta returns to London for an extended run in 2013. With its title meaning brute force, the show has pushed its way to the top and is the fastest selling show in the Roundhouse's history. With incredible visual effects - including its iconic image of a man bursting full throttle through a series of walls and a scene of a watery world suspended just inches above the audience - it is an all-encompassing theatrical experience that engulfs the audience and all their senses. As well as the visual effects, it also includes impressive acrobatic stunts and is a show that "leaves you dazzled by its physical bravura and technical skill" (The Guardian).

Audiences are advised that this show is not suitable for young children and strobe lighting and water are heavily involved.

 
 
 

Midnight Mass at St Paul's Cathedral

The famous domed cathedral is filled with the soaring sounds of the Cathedral Choir.

St Paul's Cathedral, St Paul's Churchyard, City, London, EC4M 8AD

Tube: St. Paul's Station, Mansion House Station, Blackfriars Station

 

Dates: 24th December 2014

 

Sir Christopher Wren's magnificent St Paul's Cathedral, viewed by many as the spiritual home of Great Britain, is a wonderful place to be on the night before Christmas when the Choir of St Paul's Cathedral is joined by Barbican Brass to mark the first Eucharist of Christmas. This is one of many Christmas celebrations held at the cathedral throughout December. Demand is so great that St Paul's puts on a series of special events but the high point has to be the Midnight Mass service. The cathedral's famous dome, which peaks over the top of London's skyline from miles around, fills with the soaring sounds of the Cathedral Choir. In candlelit, majestic surroundings in the middle of the city, this is the perfect place to usher in Christmas Day before wrapping up warm and making your way home through the magically deserted streets. See LondonTown.com's Christmas Carols feature for more information on seasonal singing across the capital.

 
 
 

Peter Pan Cup Swimming Race

A hardy bunch of swimmers risk hypothermia to win the honour of the cup.

Serpentine Boating Lake, The Boat House, Serpentine Road, Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH

Tube: Knightsbridge Station

 

Dates: 25th December 2014

 

This lot are a hardy bunch but tradition is tradition and members of the Serpentine Swimming Club have been plunging themselves into the lake's icy waters every Christmas Day since 1864. At temperatures of below four degrees Celsius in winter, the swimmers will want to get a wiggle on so it's lucky that they are all in hot pursuit of the prestigious Peter Pan Cup. The name of the 100 yard race dates back to 1904 when J.M Barrie, the creator of the boy who refused to grow up, presented the first cup. While most of us are still tucked up in bed or delving into our stocking as the competitors line up (and pretend not to shiver) for their 9am start, a jolly crowd gathers to witness the spectacle. It's a great way to get some fresh air on Christmas morning and you'll feel like you've earned your post-lunch snooze. Behind you, Hyde Park offers a wonderful wintry landscape and, if you want to continue the Peter Pan theme, why not nip across to see the famous statue in Kensington Gardens. It was so cold and snowy in 2010 that the race had to be cancelled - although some intrepid souls still broke holes in the ice in order to have a quick dip. LondonTown's Christmas Day and Boxing Day feature has more inspiration and ideas - there's plenty to do in London even on the two quietest days of the year.

 
 
 

William Hill Winter Festival

One of three Grade 1 races on Boxing Day.

Kempton Park, Staines Road East, Sunbury-on-Thames, London, TW16 5AQ

Tube: Heathrow Terminal 4 Station

 

Dates: 26th - 27th December 2014

 

The King George VI Chase is the showpiece event at the two day post-Christmas 'William Hill Winter Festival' at Kempton Park, the closest racecourse to central London. The King George VI is one of three Grade 1 races on Boxing Day, the best of the two days of racing. Both days are a great opportunity for racing fans to get a piece of the action so get your tickets early to avoid disappointment. With 12 races in total across the two days, the Winter Festival is the mid-season jump racing event you simply cannot afford to miss (provided you hedge your bets correctly). It's also a great opportunity to leave the parents-in-law at home (in front of the James Bond repeats on TV) and get some festive fresh air.

 
 
 

The Big Game 6

The firm fixture in the Aviva Premiership returns.

Twickenham Stadium, Rugby Road, Twickenham, London, TW1 1DZ

Tube: Hounslow East Station

 

Dates: 28th December 2013

 

The 'Big Game' has become a firm fixture in the Aviva Premiership calendar as Harlequins swap their smaller Stoop Stadium for the hearty home of English rugby with a festive fixture at Twickenham against one of their league rivals. This is the sixth 'Big Game' since the inaugural fixture back in 2008 against Leicester Tigers; since then, the Quins have faced the London Wasps, Saracens and London Irish (twice). It's still a mystery who will line up in front of what has been a sell-out crowd in recent years: a capacity 82,000 fans makes the 'Big Game' the world's best-attended rugby union regular season game. Taking place on the first Saturday after Christmas, this promises to be a real cracker of a clash - and with ticket prices as low as £10 for adults and £5 for children, the Big Game 6 will be an ideal stocking filler for any rugby fan.

 
 
 

New Year's Eve Fireworks

The colossal fireworks display says farewell to 2013 with a bang.

London Eye , Jubilee Gardens, South Bank, South Bank, London, SE1 7PB

Tube: Embankment Underground Station, Westminster Station, Waterloo Station

 

Dates: 31st December 2013

 

The annual New Year's Eve Fireworks display, launched from the foot of the London Eye and from rafts on the Thames, is visible from most of central London: the basic rule is that if you can see the London Eye, you'll be able to see the show. They cram enough firepower for an hour-long display into ten explosive minutes, lighting up the sky for miles around. The best views are from Victoria Embankment, the South Bank, and Westminster Bridge and Waterloo Bridge. Hungerford Bridge is closed after 8pm and there's also no entry to Westminster Bridge after this time. Go to www.london.gov.uk/newyearseve for full details.

 
 
Sophie Wallace

EDITOR

Sophie Wallace

25th April 2015

 

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