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December in London 2012

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OSS December Dip

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OSS December Dip
Taste of Christmas
Taste of Christmas
Taste of Christmas
Great Christmas Pudding Race
New Year's Eve Fireworks
Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People
AEGON Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall
Santa Run
War of The Worlds - The New Generation
Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty
Peter Pan Cup Swimming Race
Unexpected Pleasures at the Deisgn Museum
Les Arts Florissants: Belshazzar
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland Weekend
The Big Game 5: Harlequins v London Irish


London's landmark year draws to a close with a host of festive happenings including the Great Christmas Pudding Race, Santa Run and the Peter Pan Cup Swimming Cup. Other highlights are international rugby at Twickenham, the East London Design Show and Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty. If you really want to make the most of the festive season check out our guide to Christmas in London.


Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Fairground rides, a giant wheel, circus, market and Magical Ice Kingdom

Hyde Park, Rangers Lodge, Belgravia, London, W2 2UH

Tube: Knightsbridge Station


Dates: 23rd November - 06th January 2013


Throughout late November and December the section of Hyde Park near Hyde Park Corner is transformed into a Winter Wonderland, complete with fairground rides, giant wheel, circus, Christmas market, food and drink stalls, Santa's grotto and, of course, an ice rink. It's the sixth consecutive year that the Winter Wonderland has come to Hyde Park and it's already a favourite in many Londoners' calendars. New for this year is the Magical Ice Kingdom, a walk-through world of ice and snow with woodland creatures and a unicorn-pulled carriage. Doing your best Torvill and Dean impersonation is a great way to embrace the cold and the Ice Rink - which surrounds the Victorian bandstand and is illuminated by 108,000 pea-lights - is the biggest of its kind in the UK. A turn on the 53-metre-high Observational Wheel offers great views over London's most popular Christmas attraction. Zippos Circus is always a hit and the show never fails to pull crowds into its heated big top when temperatures plummet while the daredevil Zippos Cirque Berserk entertain the evening crowd. The traditional Angels Christmas Market, with its wooden chalets and various Bavarian-style bars and cafes, is a hoot, as is the Spiegel Saloon, a large, festive and fully covered restaurant. Free entry to the site means you can just walk around and absorb the festive ambiance - but it will take a strong will not to succumb to the smells and fun on offer. But don't go with an empty wallet because while the whole thing is not cheap, it's such fun you'll want to get into the spirit and spend. Also, remember that advanced booking on the main attractions is advised while you'll need to buy tokens from kiosks dotted around the fair for the many rides.


QBE Autumn Internationals: England v New Zealand

All Blacks clash will be England's toughest test this winter

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

Tube: Hounslow East Station


Dates: 01st December 2012


England take on New Zealand in the last of four QBE Autumn Internationals at Twickenham in 2012. England will be on the back end of a very tough autumn period, with games against Samoa, Australia and South Africa and this match against the world champions will be the hardest of the lot. The All Blacks won the World Cup in nerve-wracking style in 2011, with an 8-7 victory France in the final just seeing them home. Their coronation at the top of the world game was arguably merely the confirmation of what many had known for years - the All Blacks have been the world's finest side for a long time. Packed wall to wall with world class players, they play rugby that is on a different plane of existence to any of the turgid play sometimes produced by England at their lowest. In Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu and Israel Dagg, they possess exceptional talent that can rip any team to shreds. Whether a new look England side will be able to pose a threat at Twickenham is difficult to predict.


Santa Run

Festive fancy dress run through Greenwich Park

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

Tube: Sloane Square Station


Dates: 01st December 2012


Join hundreds of other Santas on a festive run through Greenwich Park before relaxing afterwards with mulled wine and Christmas cake. No previous experience is needed for this fantastically festive day. Simply register, turn up on the day, collect your free Santa outfit and tackle the 5km run. The spirit of the event is to be decided solely by the participants, meaning 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 Home-Start, who help children get the best possible start in life. 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.Note: The date for this event is still to be confirmed.


Great Christmas Pudding Race

Covent Garden Piazza swells with spectators to see who will win the Christmas Pudding Race

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

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


Dates: 01st December 2012


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. 


Daniil Trifonov: Scriabin, Liszt and Chopin

Young Russian pianist makes his Southbank Centre debut

Southbank Centre: Queen Elizabeth Hall, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London, SE1 8XX

Tube: Waterloo Station, Embankment Underground Station


Dates: 04th December 2012


Acclaimed Russian concert pianist Daniil Trifonov makes his hotly anticipated Southbank Centre debut recital with this night of Scriabin, Liszt and Chopin at Queen Elizabeth Hall. Still only 21, Trifonov is quickly emerging as one of the most outstanding pianists of his generation, praised by the Financial Times for his "tenderness ... and demonic element". The New York Times has lauded Trifonov's "scintillating technique and virtuosic flair," adding: "also a thoughtful artist, he can play with soft-spoken delicacy". Winner of the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, the piano sensation plays sonatas by Alexander Scriabin and Franz Liszt before concluding with Fryderyk Chopin's 24 Preludes, Op.28. Trifonov returns to the Southbank nine days later to perform Sergei Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto with the Philharmonic in what should be another sell-out performance by one of classical music's most exciting talents.


American Idiot

Stage show centred on songs from Green Day's Grammy award-winning album

Arts Theatre, 6-7 Great Newport Street, London, WC2H 7JB

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


Dates: 17th July to 27th September 2015


When Green Day's Grammy award-winning multi-platinum album American Idiot was released in 2004, the unique 'rock opera' format drew many to lament the fact that it wasn't actually a stage production. Well, worry no longer. Based around songs from both American Idiot and the subsequent album 21st Century Breakdown, the show tells the captivating story of three lifelong friends and their quest to escape the safety of post 9/11 suburbia. The show has been described by The New York Times as "thrilling" and "emotionally charged" and there's even a feature film version in development, produced by Tom Hanks.


Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty

Matthew Bourne re-imagines the classic fairytale on the 25th anniversary of his company

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

Tube: Angel Station


Dates: 1st December 2015 to 24th January 2016


The famous ballet classic Sleeping Beauty hits the London stage in Matthew Bourne's re-imagining of the iconic classic at Sadler's Wells. The choreographer is renowned for his revolutionary adaptations of classic works and this production of Tchaikovsky's 1889 ballet is no different as the heroine of the piece, Aurora, wakes up in 2011 and, in a radical twist on the original tale, doesn't fall in love at first sight. Bourne describes the modern age that she wakes up in as "a world more mysterious and wonderful than any fairy story". He has also produced modern versions of Swan Lake and Nutcracker! and the Sleeping Beauty revival will be part of the 25th anniversary of his famous New Adventures dance company.


AEGON Masters Tennis

Top quality tennis at the Royal Albert Hall

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

Tube: South Kensington Station


Dates: 03rd - 07th December 2014


The highlight of the ATP Champions Tour is definitely the AEGON Masters Tennis event at the Royal Albert Hall as blasts from the past battle it out in London's prettiest indoor arena. To play in the tournament players must, at one time, have been the world Number One, a Grand Slam finalist or a player on a winning Davis Cup side (with exception of certain invited players) - so that means top quality. These guys might have lost a few ounces of speed and stamina over the years but they retain all the guile, poise and determination that made them champions in the first place. Last year, American John McEnroe won his fifth Masters title as he battled to a 6-2, 6-4 win over former Wimbledon finalist Pat Cash on a stage usually reserved for Brahms, Beethoven and the Beatles. Expect a few days of competitive tennis with a healthy splash of fun as these past masters take to the court once again.


Unexpected Pleasures

Gain an insight into contemporary jewellery at the Design Museum

Design Museum, 28 Shad Thames, Bankside, London, SE1 2YD

Tube: Tower Hill Station


Dates: 05th December - 03rd March 2013


Visitors to the Design Museum will find Unexpected Pleasures there, a temporary jewellery exhibition which invites us to consider the pleasures of wearing such personal adornment and which examines the meanings associated with these portable designs. Curated by Melbourne jeweller Dr. Susan Cohn, one of the prominent jewellers selected for the show is David Watkins, the Wolverhampton born designer who designed the medals for the London 2012 Olympics. He's joined by other UK talents including Wendy Ramshaw who is best known for her geometric designs, and Hans Stofer who worked as a turbine engineer before training as a jeweller and silversmith. The exhibition is divided into three sections: Worn Out, celebrating the experience of wearing jewellery; Linking Links which looks at the ways in which meaning and narratives are expressed in jewellery; and A Fine Line which gives an insight into contemporary jewellery. The exhibition features over 130 jewellers and is a celebration of the art form, from the point of view of both the designer and the wearer.


East London Design Show

More than 100 of the best independent product, interior and jewellery designers in London

Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, Shoreditch, London, EC1V 9LT

Tube: Old Street Station


Dates: 06th - 09th December 2012


For a refreshing and alternative shopping experience in the lead up to Christmas then try the annual East London Design Show at Shoreditch Town Hall. Forget the humdrum conformity of the high street and seek out some stylish surprises from over one hundred of the best independent product, interior and jewellery designers in London - all under one roof. The wares range from ceramics to clothes, to jewellery and furniture, and there's also stationary, children's toys, lighting, art and homewares, plus the requisite array of zany gimcracks and cheerios. Expect something a little sleeker, funkier and less folksy and dated than the craft goods you'll find in the German Markets around town. Who knows, you might even be buying a future design classic. Shopping is the main event, but there's also a bar/cafe and workshops on sustainable gift-wrapping, hat making and toy making.


Taste of Christmas

Cookery celebrities share their top tips for making this festive season the tastiest yet

ExCel London Exhibition Centre, One Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, London, E16 1XL

Tube: Canning Town Station


Dates: 07th - 09th December 2012


A record number of food lovers turned up to watch Jamie Oliver and Hugh-Fearnley Whittingstall join culinary forces at the 2011 Taste of Christmas show at the ExCel and we can expect equally high standards at the event this year. More than 30,000 visitors enjoyed a Michelin star-studded line up last year which included Gary Rhodes, Rachel Allen and Michel Roux Jr, who described the event as "the perfect place for passionate foodies to get inspiration and enjoy a festive gastronomic heaven." This year, the organisers say the culinary celebrations will be even bigger and better with the kings and queens of cookery teaming up to share their top tips for making this festive season the tastiest yet. As well as the opportunity to take part in live cooking demonstrations you can give your Christmas a gourmet makeover and shop for top seasonal ingredients to inject some inspirational spark into your family's tried and tested festive classics. There will be a multitude of food stalls from top London restaurants such as Benares, Roast and Rhodes W1, as well as advice and inspiration from renowned foodies. It's perfectly possible to complete all your Christmas food shopping under one roof at the ExCel, as long as you ignore the distractions of tastings and the food demonstration theatre.


OSS December Dip

Brave swimmers take a festive plunge in the icy waters of Parliament Hill Lido

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

Tube: Belsize Park Station


Dates: 08th December 2012


It's one of those crazy British Christmas traditions that no one can quite fathom: every year, swimmers around the UK take a festive plunge in icy waters all in the name of a bit of bravado and exhilaration (not to mention hypothermia). The annual freezing dip into Parliament Hill Lido takes place on the first Saturday of December. The December Dip, formerly known as the 'Plum Pudding Plunge', is the first swim of the season organised by the Outdoor Swimming Society, who each year organise 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 can register for the event, which costs £15, at the Outdoor Swimming Society website. Make sure you bring some warm clothes, a woolly hat, a swimming costume / trunks and a lot of courage. They say it's good for the circulation...


Winter Wonderland Weekend

Father Christmas, Santa's Grotto, husky dogs and mince pies

WWT London Wetland Centre, Queen Elizabeth Walk, Barnes, London, SW13 9WT

Tube: Ravenscourt Park Station


Dates: 08th - 09th December 2012


Experience the magic of a festive visit to Father Christmas and his huskies at WWT London Wetland Centre this December. Children (age eight and under) can enjoy a free husky sleigh ride and have their photos taken with the cuddly dogs as a special seasonal souvenir. The Winter Wonderland Weekend also boats a cosy Santa's Grotto set among firs and pine trees where Father Christmas will be giving out goody bags to children with the help of Merlin the Magician and two splendid shire horses, Griffin and Pride. Christmas arts and crafts sessions are on offer too, while guests can stretch their legs with a wintery stroll around the scenic walkways set amongst the lakes, meadows and ponds of this 105-acre wildlife oasis in Barnes. The Water's Edge Café will have festive treats for sale, such as mince pies and mulled wine. Talking of wine - the grown-ups can take part in wine tastings throughout the weekend, while for the children, there'll be Christmas tastings of old-fashioned sweets and chocolates.


Katherine Jenkins

The Welsh opera singer takes to the Royal Albert Hall stage for a special Christmas concert

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

Tube: South Kensington Station


Dates: 10th December 2012


Katherine Jenkins has successfully broken down the barriers between opera and the public and has become one of Britain's favourite singers. The beautiful star has sold millions of albums, won a Brit award and performed worldwide with acclaimed artists including Andrea Bocelli and Placido Domingo. This December, Katherine will be taking to the stage at the Royal Albert Hall for a special Christmas concert. Accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra and London Philharmonic, the singer will perform songs from her new album as well as a number of Christmas carols. Special guests The band of the Welsh Guards and The Boy Choristers of St George's Chapel will also feature.


English National Ballet: The Nutcracker

A glittering production of E.T.A. Hoffman's famous fairytale

London Coliseum - English National Opera (ENO), St Martin's Lane, Covent Garden, London, WC2N 4ES

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


Dates: 12th December - 05th 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 Wayne Eagling'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. This is pure spectacle but The Royal Ballet pulls it off with such beauty and style that it's a Christmas cracker...


Les Arts Florissants: Belshazzar

Baroque musical ensemble perform Handel's famous oratorio

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

Tube: Barbican Station, Moorgate Station


Dates: 13th December 2012


Celebrated Caen-based French Baroque musical ensemble Les Arts Florissants perform Handel's famous oratorio Belshazzar at Barbican Hall this December. The great biblical drama tells the story of the fall of Babylon at the hands of Cyrus the Great and the subsequent freeing of the Jewish nation. Conducted by William Christie, Les Arts Florissants take on Handel's hit features world-class soloists Allan Clayton (tenor) in the title role, Rosemary Joshua (soprano) as Nitocris, Sarah Connolly (mezzo-soprano) as Cyrus, Iestyn Davies (countertenor) as Daniel and Christopher Purves (bass) as Gobrias.


Real Food Christmas Market

A whole range of seasonal produce and Christmas inspired culinary delights

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

Tube: Waterloo Station, Embankment Underground Station


Dates: 19th - 23rd December 2014


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 in 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.


War of The Worlds - The New Generation

HG Wells' epic science fiction drama comes to life at London's Wembley and O2 arenas

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

Tube: North Greenwich Station


Dates: 15th December 2012


HG Wells' epic science fiction drama The War of The Worlds comes (almost literally) to life at Wembley Arena and The O2 Arena this December. Jeff Wayne's musical recreation of the story has had huge success on the stage and now, thanks to modern technology, gets even better as it arrives in 3D holography in London this Christmas. The story will be accompanied by full live band, strings and state-of-the-art special effects and illusions. Internationally adored Irish actor Liam Neeson leads the new cast and acts as George Herbert, the stories narrator. Following in the great footsteps of Richard Burton, who starred in the original cast over thirty years ago. Neeson will appear in 3 forms, as a full body hologram interacting with live actors, as an 11-foot holographic head floating over the stage and finally, projected onto a humongous 100-foot wide 'animation wall.' It promises to be a truly spectacular sight and a really unique chance to see this classic story told in its most technologically advanced state to date. With generations of devoted fans, this ground-breaking modern interpretation is sure to dazzle audiences of all ages and looks set to be a silver-screen sell-out. Tickets go on sale at 9am on the 25th November 2012.


Andre Rieu & His Johann Strauss Orchestra

One of the most celebrated classical artists of our time

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

Tube: North Greenwich Station


Dates: 16th - 17th December 2012


With more than 30 million albums sold globally and a string of sell-out tours under his belt, Andre Rieu is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated classical artists of our time. Known for his animated and jubilant concerts Rieu's audiences are often found out of their seats and waltzing in the aisles. The Dutch musician arrives in town with his 60-piece Johann Strauss Orchestra and his trusty 1667 Stradivarius violin to give fans two unforgettable evenings at the world's largest dome this December. Rieu created the Johann Strauss orchestra in 1987 and has been performing and touring the world with them ever since. He has become one of the world's most respected and renowned violinists and conductors. A second date at the O2 Arena has already been added due to popular demand for the show.


Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People

Stewart Lee, Chris Addison and Richard Herring put the comedy into Christmas

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

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


Dates: 10th - 20th December 2013


Following four 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 Stewart Lee (16th December), Chris Addison (18th, 19th), Richard Herring (16th, 17th, 18th), who are joining the likes of Josie Long, Grace Petrie, Tony Law and Frisky and Mannish on stage for four nights of 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 for 16th December, when London steampunk band The Men that Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing join the line-up to deliver their unique sound of "crusty punk meets cockney sing-songs", have already sold out.


Slava's Snowshow

Theatrical clowning and stunning spectacle make this a Christmas treat

Southbank Centre: Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London, SE1 8XX

Tube: Waterloo Station, Embankment Underground Station


Dates: 17th December - 07th January 2014


The multi-award winning sensation, Slava's Snowshow has delighted audiences in over 80 cities around the world including New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Hong Kong and Moscow. And now this visual masterpiece returns to London after a popular run this time last year for another 3-week season at the Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre this Christmas. Loved by children and adults alike, Slava's Snowshow is a combination of theatrical clowning and stunning spectacle performed by the internationally renowned company of clowns lead by Slava Polunin. Experience a unique dream-like world which culminates in a breathtaking blizzard leaving you (literally) knee deep in snow! The Independent was moved to describe it as "simply thrilling - an unmissable comedy masterpiece." Recommended for ages 8 and above, this is definitely one not to miss.


Midnight Mass at St Paul's Cathedral

The perfect place to spend the night before Christmas

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 2012


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. All you need is a fresh coating of snow to settle...


Peter Pan Cup Swimming Race

People have plunging into the Serpentine's icy waters every Christmas Day since 1864


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. You must have competed in the entire Winter Series to take part. Spectators are welcome and the race starts on the south bank of the lake close to The Lido Cafe.


The Big Game 5: Harlequins v London Irish

The world's best-attended regular-season rugby union game returns

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

Tube: Hounslow East Station


Dates: 29th December 2012


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 Christmas clash at Twickenham against one of their league rivals. In this year's fifth Big Game, Quins take on London Irish in a repeat of the 2010 fixture, which saw the "home" side win 28-18. Last year things were not so rosy for Harlequins: going into the game with an all-conquering record of 11 wins in the Premiership, they slumped to a 11-19 defeat to Saracens in front of a capacity 82,000 crowd at Twickenham - a global rugby union attendance record for a regular-season game. This year the annual showpiece clash comes closer to New Year than Christmas, but you can still expect it to be a cracker of a game. With tickets as low as £10 for adults and £5 for children, the Big Game 5 is an ideal stocking filler for any rugby fan. Got to for more information.


New Year's Eve Fireworks

Head into central London to see in the New Year 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 2012


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.

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