What’s on in London in December

By Melissa Lawford

Photography Alexey Fedoren/Getty Images

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November 2017

Heading to London for a Christmas escape? Melissa Lawford, rounds up the latest places to grab a warming bite to eat, and the spots to get swept up into (or escape from) the capital’s festive rush.

Only have a few hours?

Things to do

Wrap up warm and head to Kew Gardens for their winter festivities. As you wander through the iconic gardens you’ll find singing trees, giant baubles, light shows and plenty of warming treats – don’t miss the Palm House’s laser spectacular.

Join the choir in the neo-Byzantine hall of Westminster Cathedral for the Victoria Charity Carol Concert, where ticket prices include drinks on the roof garden of Cardinal Place next door.

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Where to eat

While the sashimi is spectacular, the newly renovated Ginza Onodera just off Piccadilly is also one of the few Japanese restaurants in London that specialises in teppan-yaki (using an iron grill) and robata (skewers slow-cooked over charcoal). Try the black cod saikyo-yaki.

Indulge in the festive menu at the Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows, starting with the velouté of chestnut with bacon, oyster and toasted brioche. Get the sommelier to advise you on your wine pairings, and then finish by dipping into the ‘Cocktail Passport’ menu – try a ‘trip’ to Uruguay.

  • Feast on luxury Japanese small plates at Green Park’s Ginza Onodera.

    Sweet n’ saké

    Try the restaurant’s signature cactus-fed turbot – prepared in the traditional ‘kobujime’ style of curing fish between kombu seaweed to intensify the flavour.£36 each-way

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  • Lace up your skates at iconic Somerset House with the Fortnum & Mason ice rink © James Bryant.

    Later skater

    Next to the ice rink you’ll find Fortnum’s Lodge, where you can head for a post-skate mulled wine.£257 pp

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  • Get into the festive spirit at Westminster’s Victoria Charity Carol Concert © James McCauley.

    Deck the halls

    You can experience the famous Westminster Abbey organ, installed for the Coronation of King George VI back in 1937, free of charge every Sunday afternoon.£156 pp

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Making a day of it?

Things to do

Head to Spitalfields to Dennis Severs’ House and step back in time as you wander into the installation of an 18th-century Christmas set in the past home of Huguenot silk weavers.

Catch the highlights of the Spitalfields Music Festival, which includes the London premiere of Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s In The Light of Air. The London Contemporary Orchestra will be surrounded by a responsive lighting installation that will dim and glow in rhythm with their breath.

Then refine your curling skills at Roof East in Stratford, where six open-air, neon-lit lanes overlook the City skyline. Retro skiwear is encouraged.

Where to eat

Treat yourself to a festive afternoon tea at The Dorchester. Enjoy the sound of Christmas carols from a children’s choir as you sip on Laurent-Perrier NV Champagne and taste the seasonal Christmas-themed menu – don’t worry, you’ll still be served their traditional warm scones with clotted cream and jam.

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Step back in time as you wander into the installation of an 18th-century Christmas set in the past home of Huguenot silk weavers.

On a stopover?

Things to do

Get on your bike to see the best of illuminated London, with a Christmas lights tour from The London Bicycle Tour Company. You’ll venture on a whistle-stop trip around the twinkling lights of the city, from Carnaby Street to Covent Garden.

Need warming up? Pop along to the South Bank and head into the sauna perched on the rooftop of the Queen Elizabeth Hall – it’s promises spectacular views of the Thames and London skyline. Then escape along the river to the Greenwich Winter Time Festival in the historic grounds of the Old Royal Naval College.

  • Slide into action with the winter festivities at Roof East, Stratford.

    Call the shots

    Roof East at Stratford Shopping Centre boasts London’s only rooftop curling club, but also an après-ski lodge bar and cosy rooftop igloos.£110 pp

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Where to eat

Go all out with the game tasting menu at Jamavar – the palatial Indian restaurant on Mount Street in Mayfair will give you a whirlwind tour of Indian cuisine.

If fine wine and fondue is more your cup of tea, stop by Fortnum & Mason’s Lodge pop-up at Somerset House’s Skate, for sharing dishes and a tipsy hot chocolate, before heading on to the ice in the famous courtyard.

Mulled wine fans will want to head to Time Out London’s Hotboozapalooza at Flat Iron Square’s après ski-themed bar. While you won’t find mulled wine per se, you’ll be able to taste your way through a menu of classic cocktails given a warming twist – think hot gin punch, and warming spiced rum.

Where to stay

Bed down for the night at The Stafford near St James’s Park. The hotel is ideal for cosy nights in, with its extraordinary historic surroundings and plush, sumptuous interiors, and well-stocked American Bar – perfect for a nightcap.

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