Whats on in London – December 2012

Carnaby Street, London at Christmas.

Carnaby Street, London at Christmas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Winter has definitely arrived. Its freezing!!! Don’t hide out at home though – there is an amazing array of fun things to do in the capital this month that you won’t want to miss! From ice-skating to christmas shopping, to eating your way around Southbank, there’s sure to be something that will take your fancy. If your calendar isn’t full already, its sure to be after you’ve taken a look at these great events.

The Gadget Show Live – 30 November – 2 December 2012

If you love gadgets of all sizes, shapes and sounds, then you won’t want to miss the Gadget Show live at the Excel London. This promises to be a show for the whole family, but I have a feeling that it will be dad that will be pushing to go to this one! You can’t blame him – there will be the latest and greatest in tech items, a gaming stage where you can try out the latest games and take part in mass gaming competitions, and a live Gadget Show Test Track where your kids can try out toys such as Razor’s E300 Electric Scooter to Barbie Dolls before you buy. Maybe send dad out with the kids for some mummy time 🙂

Chelsea Physic Garden Christmas Fair – 1 -2 December 2012

Visit London’s oldest botanic garden in winter from 10am – 4pm  and browse a range of stalls (in a heated marquee) selling garden paraphernalia, jewellery, cashmere knits, children’s clothes, pottery, chocolates, leather goods and other unusual gifts. Go with the whole family or with some girlfriends for mummy time. Tickets cost £5 per adult and under 16s are free! For more information, go to http://www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk/Fairs/fair.htm

Trafalgar Square Tree Ceremony – 6 December 2012

This is no ordinary lighting ceremony. A seasonal symbol in London since 1947, the Christmas tree in this square is a gift from the Norwegians in remembrance of WWII when Norway was forced to surrender to the Nazis and Norway’s royal family fled to London. Get into the Christmas spirit and see this towering spruce be lit up and enjoy the carols in the countdown to Christmas.

The Notting Hill Late Night Shopping Event – 6 December 2012

If you love shopping the boutiques in Notting Hill, then you won’t want to miss this event. For one night only boutiques such as Agent Provocateur, Maje, Helmut Lang, Paul Smith and Sandro (just to name a few) will be offering customers special pre-Christmas discounts, special offers and limited edition products.

The little ones don’t miss out either as they get to embark on a treasure hunt involving C de C, No Added Sugar (15% off in store), Bonpoint, Marie Chantal, I Love Gorgeous (15% off), Caramel Baby and Nanos. Simply visit one of the participating stores from 3pm, pick up a map and start the hunt. The prize draw will be at 7pm at No Added Sugar. Take advantage of the exclusive discounts alongside refreshments. Grab the shopping map here.

Feast Christmas Banquet – 6 – 9 December 2012

If I wasn’t already going to the Taste of Christmas festival, I would be coming here, to the Feast Christmas Banquet in Islington Square at the former North London Mail Centre. Set over 3 days, this festival brings together London’s street food heroes with a hand picked selection of the capital’s most exciting chefs. The lineup includes HIX, Mishkin’s, Ceviche, Gordon Ramsay’s York and Albany as well as Lucky Chip, Big Apple Hot Dogs, Lily Vanilli, Yum Bun and Pizza Pilgrims. There will be some fabulous cocktails and live entertainment in the evenings. This would be a great date night on Saturday (open from Midday – 11pm) or with the whole family on Sunday (Midday – 8pm).  Tickets are £7.50 available from here. Tickets are sold on for Thursday and Friday nights!

Taste of Christmas – 7 – 9 December 2012

If you loved Taste of London, I’ve got good news for you… You don’t have to wait until next Summer for another Taste. Taste of Christmas is on from 7 – 9 December 2012 at Excel London and offers you the opportunity to sample food from some of London’s finest restaurants, shop for gastronomic delights and watch your favourite celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and Michel Roux in action. Perfect for a day out for the whole family and for a limited time you can get 2 standard tickets for £32, saving you £15. Just click here and pick a day!

Chocolate Festival at Southbank Centre Square – 7 – 9 December 2012

The Chocolate Festival returns to Southbank this festive season.  As well as the chance to buy from the world’s best chocolatiers, including William Curley and Damian Allsop, visitors to this outdoor chocolate fest (in the square behind the Royal Festival Hall) will be able to create their own chocolate bar with a little help from Choco Me and make Christmas chocolates in a free workshop run by Scandinavian chef Trine Hahnemann. A great day out for the whole family. Visit between 11am – 8pm on Friday and Saturday and 11am – 6pm on Sunday.

Sutton House Christmas Craft Fair and Santa’s Grotto – 8 – 9 December 2012

If you have a hankering for a traditional English Christmas, then why not take the kids to Sutton House in East London where Father Christmas makes room in his busy schedule to attend this weekend of craft workshops, carols, mulled wine and mince pies. The grotto is open from 11am – 5pm both days. This is a perfect day out for the whole family – the kids may not appreciate the history, but you will get to as they are kept busy with all things Santa.

Wetland Wonderland Weekend – 8 – 9 December 2012

If there weren’t so many amazing events going on this weekend, this would definitely be in my calendar! Instead, I will be following my stomach to Taste of Christmas and celebrating my daughter’s birthday. If, however, you happen to have a day free, and have never visited the Wetland, now would be the time! This weekend promises to be truly magical. If your kids haven’t seen Santa yet, this is the place to take them. Forget Westfield and Whiteleys and take them to a more authentic setting where they will get to visit Santa in a log cabin grotto set among firs and pine trees. They will think they’re in the North Pole (if it happens to snow). There will be Huskies providing free sleigh rides for under 8s, arts and crafts sessions and even entertainment by Merlin the Magician and his friends! Visit between 10am-12.30pm and 1 – 4pm and bring £5 for Santa’s grotto. A great day out for the whole family.

Curtain Up Christmas Market – 9 December 2012

If you watch Casualty, Emmerdale or Coronation Street, then you’ll get a kick out of seeing some of your favourite actors at this Christmas market at St Marys Abbotts Centre, Vicarage Gate W8 4HN. There will be 40 stalls offering: collectables, crafts, jewellery, bunting, handbags, cakes and more. Refreshments will be provided by MasterChef semi-finalist Julia Gray. Open from 11am – 4pm. Entry costs £1.50 and all entrance fees will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Society. Bring along the whole family.

Real Food Christmas Market at Southbank Centre Square – 14 – 16 and 20-23 December 2012

If you love food, and going to food events, then you can’t go past the Southbank Centre. Not to be confused with the Southbank Centre Christmas Market which runs throughout December along the river, the Real Food Market Christmas Market at Southbank Centre Square serves up seasonal gastronomic goodies such as charcuterie, cheeses, chutneys and pickles, along with mince pies and mulled wine for sale. Another great outing for the whole family, its open from 12pm to 8pm Thursday, 11am-8pm Friday and Saturday and 12pm – 6pm on Sunday.

Ascot Christmas Family Fun Raceday – 22 December 2012

For a different kind of Christmas celebration with the whole family, take the kids along to Ascot’s Christmas Family Fun Raceday.  If you like going to the races but haven’t managed to go because of the kids, then you now have the perfect opportunity! While you can enjoy the Jumps racing, your kids will be spoilt with surprises from Santa. They will get to visit Santa in his grotto, take a ride at the fairground and even meet Santa’s reindeer!  Unfortunately, it comes at a price – tickets cost from £18 per person- but under 18s are free.

Walking with Dinosaurs – 26 December 2012 – 6 January 2013

If your kids are into dinosaurs, then you won’t want to miss this mind blowing show for the whole family! This arena spectacular at the O2 is based on the award-winning BBC television series Walking With Dinosaurs. You and your kids will be mesmerised by Tyrannosaurus Rex and his awe-inspiring life-size pre-historic friends. The show starts at 7pm and runs for 1 hour 20mins with an interval. The show is recommended for kids from the age of 3 and children under 2 can sit on your lap for free. Tickets cost from £29 per person.

My daughter is crazy about dinosaurs at the moment and she is going to be beside herself (hopefully in a good way) when she sees these amazing creatures. If you think your kids will stay awake for the performance, and won’t run out of the arena in mortal fear, then grab your tickets here. It promises to be unforgettable!

THROUGHOUT DECEMBER

Christmas at Kew – throughout December

Wrap up the kids warmly and head to London’s Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew for a sackload of seasonal activities. There is a vintage carousel on the Palace Lawn, festive face painting and seasonal walks, and a chance for the kids to see Santa. The kids will love wandering around the impressive gardens and will be dazzled by its centrepiece – Kew’s magnificent Christmas tree.

Time Out are offering half price tickets to Kew Gardens until Monday 3 December. At only £7.25 per person, don’t miss out!

Camden Lock Christmas Market – Thursdays until 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 – until 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.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland – until 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!

Somerset House Ice Rink – until 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 – until 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/

Natural History Museum Ice Rink – until 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

Disney Pop-up at Harrods – until January 2013

This is a must-visit for for kids, especially young girls who are besotted with anything Disney princess related. Harrods has unveiled this pink, sparkly 7000 square foot pop up for the festive season where children can snap up limited edition goodies, get the royal treatment in the princess parlour and join in jolly Disney themed activity sessions. Apparently its like stepping into your very own Disney film.

Open from 10am – 8pm Mon – Sat and 11.30am – 6pm Sunday at Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road SW1X 7XL.

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