Christmas is just around the corner and there are heaps of events around town to get you in the spirit of things.
From ice skating in front of the Tower of London to eating your way around the capital’s best food fairs, there is something here for everyone.
Distract yourself from the dreary grey skies and start booking up your weekends with these great events:
Spirit of Christmas Fair – 30 October 2012 – 4 November 2012
The Spirit of Christmas Fair is held in association with House & Garden at London Olympia. You will get plenty of inspiration for your christmas decorating and shopping here. There is even a champagne bar! The main drawcard for me at least is that entry to this fair includes entry to the Conde Naste Luxury Travel Fair. If you like luxury travel then this is a great place to pick up ideas for your next trip. I went last year with the whole family, and while it was definitely inspiring, the trips and hotels on offer weren’t exactly kid friendly. Probably best to come for some mummy time with your friends.
Wowcher is currently offering two late-night tickets to the Spirit of Christmas Fair for £18 instead of £25.80: http://www.wowcher.co.uk
Harrod’s famous Christmas lights – 1 November 2012
Arrive at the store by 6.45pm for this magical event for the whole family. Plus, be among the first to view Harrods’ Christmas windows – featuring a collection of stunning gowns inspired by 10 original Disney Princess Dresses and designed by the world’s leading fashion houses.
Natural History Museum Ice Rink – 2 November 2012 – 6 January 2013
I missed out on ice skating last year as I was pregnant with my third child. This time I’m planning on hitting up all the outside ice skating rinks I can find! This one is definitely on my wish list. Book your tickets for the whole family here: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/ice-rink/tickets/prices-sessions/index.html
Harrods Parade – 3 November 2012
Celebrate the start of the festive season with Father Christmas and a host of friends, including Disney special guests, in the Harrods Parade. The parade will take place at 8am where it will weave its way down Brompton Road culminating in the opening of the store at 9am. I went to the parade several years ago now when I didn’t have kids and it was spectacular. Get there early though with the whole family as it gets extremely busy!
Oxford Street Christmas Lights 2012 – 5 November 2012
You know its Christmas when you’re walking down Oxford Street illuminated by its many twinkly Christmas lights. Robbie Williams will be switching on the lights this year and he’ll be supported by pop sensation Leona Lewis and four-piece boy band, Lawson. Perfect for the whole family, if you want to attend this year’s switching-on ceremony which is sponsored by Marmite (I hate this stuff, there’s no substitute for Vegemite but I’m sure that’s no reflection on how wonderful the lights will be) you will need a ticket! To apply for free tickets, visit the Heart 106.2 website at www.heart.co.uk.
BBC Good Food Show London – 9 -11 November 2012
The BBC Good Food Show is perfect for a day out with the whole family and is on from 9 to 11 November 2012 at Olympia London. If you like food and wine, then you don’t want to miss out on this extravaganza. Highlights of the show include a Producer’s Village where you can shop for gourmet delicacies, a Restaurant Experience where you can sample food from some of London’s best eateries, top celebrity chefs from your favourite tv programmes and entry into the Wine Show.
For half price tickets to the BBC Good Food Show, on any day, including Saturday, simply enter the code “wine” when buying tickets here: https://www.theticketfactory.com/gfsl/online/
School Show – 10 – 11 November 2012
If you’re considering putting your children into a private school, then you should definitely attend the Independent School Show at Battersea Park Evolution Centre, Battersea Park, SW11 4NJ. There will be representatives from a diverse range of schools that you can talk to and even an Education Theatre where you can listen to speakers covering topics such as fees, tutoring, parenting methods and other related topics.
It costs £10 per adult at the door and children under 5 are free (although I’m not sure how keen they will be on this one!). Its open on Saturday from 10am – 5pm and on Sunday from 10.30am – 4.30pm.
Ideal Home Show at Christmas – 14-18 November 2012
This is the biggest Christmas show in London and has something for everyone. There are over 600 exhibitors spread over 6 sections including Interiors, Food & Drink, Home Improvements, Fashion & Beauty, Technology and Gifts. Its a great day out for the whole family.
Get 2 tickets for the price of 1 by quoting “Taste” at http://www.idealhomeshowchristmas.co.uk. Offer ends 31 October! Kids 15 and under go free.
Camden Lock Christmas Market – Thursdays from 15 November 2012 – 20 December 2012
If you’re looking to go to a Christmas Market in a bit of an alternative location, then look no further than these Night Markets at Camden Lock. From 5pm – 10pm, you can enjoy magical decorations, mulled wine, amazing shopping and a variety of entertainment that changes each week. On 15 November, the Lower Market Hall turns into a cupcake extravaganza. 22 November will host a vintage fair together with dance lessons from the Swing Patrol. If you’re looking to fill your christmas stockings, then 13 December is the night for you when The Duck Pond Artisan Market brings gorgeous arts and crafts to the Market Hall. Sounds like you could go every Thursday night and it would be like going to a different market each time! This would be great for a date night when you can kick on at one of the crazy Camden bars afterwards. For more details, check out: http://camdenlockmarket.com/events.php#more_events
Southbank Centre Christmas Market – 16 November 2012 – 24 December 2012
Southbank is a fantastic day out for the whole family. You have the real food market for the foodies in the family and plenty of fun outside activities for the kids including sand play by the river and even a carousel. Now that Christmas is around the corner, the Southbank Centre Christmas market has returned to Queen’s walk which is now lined with traditional German-style wooden huts. The market will be selling traditional Christmas fare such as mulled wine, gingerbread and Bratwurst. There’s even a stall for kids where they can make Christmas cards and a “pocket money stall” with affordable gifts for family and friends. You might even get to hear some carols! This is a perfect day out for the whole family to get you in the Christmas mood. You can visit Monday to Friday 11am – 10pm and Saturdays & Sundays 10am – 10pm.
Somerset House Ice Rink – 16 November 2012 – 6 January 2013
The grand 18th Century courtyard at Somerset House provides this 900m square ice rink with one of the most impressive skating backdrops in town. I still haven’t been to Somerset House and for those of you like me, now would be the time! The skate school offers lessons for beginners and there are special Penguin Club session for kids (Nov 17, 18, 24, 25, Dec 1, 2, 8, 9) as well as late night skates and club nights with DJs on selected dates which would be perfect for date night. Tom’s skate lounge, a rinkside bar and lounge serves drinks and snacks through the day. New this year, is the Christmas Arcade so even if you don’t skate, you can always shop! See www.timeout.com/iceskating for more information.
Tower of London Ice Rink – 17 November 2012 – 6 January 2013
What better setting for an ice rink than the iconic Tower of London? Sessions here last an hour and its best to book in advance. This is of course perfect for the whole family. However, do consider coming here with your other half for a date night as its beautifully illuminated after dark. Book your tickets here: http://www.toweroflondonicerink.com/
Chilli Stand Off – 17 November 2012
I recently subscribed to Urban Junkies and learnt about this fantastic event that my husband will be absolutely crazy about! Eight of London’s best chefs will each cook their take on Tex Mex favourite, chilli con carne. Among the contenders will be Dishoom, Gizzi Erskine, Lucky Chip, The Ribman and Masterchef winner Tim Anderson. There’ll be two tasting sessions (the winner will be announced at 8pm) along with tequila, Texan beer, live music, a Milk & Honey bar, and dessert from Gelupo and the Meringue Girls. Its a winning combination of comfort food, cocktails and ice cream. How can you resist?!
The event takes place at Oval Space, an awesome first floor warehouse in Hackney very close to Broadway Market. Tickets for the day cost £40 to taste all eight chillies and include two Texan beers, a tequila cocktail, a scoop of delicious chocolate chilli ice cream from Gelupa and some Tweat Up surprises on the day.
Carnaby 20% Shopping Party – 22 November 2012
Carnaby Street will be hosting a huge Rolling Stones themed shopping party on 22 November from 5 – 9pm. The Rolling Stones have apparently just celebrated 50 years in the rock business and Carnaby Street want to celebrate! The good news is that you’re invited! What does this mean exactly?
It means that you get to benefit from 20% off on purchases from more than 100 shops, restaurants and bars in and around Carnaby Street. It sounds like a perfect mummy time event where you can really let your hair down and enjoy live music, DJs, a beauty bar, and even a free Illamasqua rock chick makeover (if you really want to go all out!). Bitter Sweet will be hosting a pop up bar in Kingly Court, serving complimentary signature cocktails with Beefeater Gin. For details of all the activities on offer and to register for your free ticket, go to: http://www.carnaby.co.uk/static_content.cfm?page_id=46
Bond Street Christmas Lights Switch-On – 22 November 2012
Bond Street switches on its Christmas lights, hailing the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. If you’ve survived the Witching Hour and you’re feeling adventurous, head out and join in the celebration from 6 – 10pm with carol singers, reindeer, stilt walkers and hot chestnut sellers. Don’t miss the secret special guest at 6pm who will be flicking the switch.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland – 23 November 2012 – 5 January 2013
This is probably my favourite event over Christmas. Last year we took our 2 girls, then 1 and 3, and they had a ball. This event is huge! There is an ice skating rink, a mini fun park just for the kids complete with mini ferris wheel, bouncing castle, carousel and even a Santa’s Grotto. If the kids get bored of the mini fun park there are plenty of bigger rides scattered through the park like the spinning tea cups, rollercoaster, flying chairs in addition to the usual hair raising amusement park favourites.
There is something for everyone here. I particularly like the Christmas market and the Bavarian village with the delicious frites with mayonnaise and mulled red wine. This event is perfect for the whole family but it would also make a really fun date night with your other half! Go when its dark when its all lit up. Just make sure you rug up the kids!
Christmas Dollshouse Festival – 24 November 2012
Apparently you don’t even have to like dollhouses or be a child to enjoy this event which is on at the Kensington Town Hall. That being said, if you do have a child, then you can be sure that they will be delighted to see the world in miniature – from the little houses to the tiny pieces of cutlery on the miniature tables inside. If the temptation to touch gets too much for the little ones, there will be activities for them in the afternoon to keep them occupied! Tickets for entry after 1pm on Saturday cost £6 per person on the door. Children under 2 are free of charge.
Seven Dials Shopping Party – 29 November 2012
This seems to be the month of shopping parties! If you missed out on the Carnaby 20% Shopping Party, then pop in to Seven Dials and St Martin’s Courtyard on 29 November from 5 – 9pm when many businesses in the area will be offering a 20% discount on their wares. Its not all shopping either, you can just turn up and enjoy the free cocktails, live music, makeovers and maybe take home a goodie bag. Grab some girlfriends and do some christmas shopping – and have fun doing it! Register for your ticket here: http://www.sevendials.co.uk/standard