[Photo: Andrea Pucci]
If you’re spending Christmas in London this year, you’re in for a treat! Take a Christmas Day bike ride through the beautifully quiet streets, a walking tour of the London Samuel Pepys would have known, or cheer on the Serpentine Swimming Club as they race through icy waters. Here are all the things you need to know for the best festive Xmas week in the capital. Merry Christmas everyone!
Fun things to do
Hanukkah at the Jewish Museum London, Jewish Museum, TODAY, free. Learn more about some of the Jewish Museum’s Hanukkah-related exhibits, enjoy hot drinks and doughnuts, play with dreidls and be a part of the traditional candle lighting at 5pm.
Timber!, Queen Elizabeth Hall, TONIGHT, £20-£27.50. Forget leotards and lithe bodies; they’re for sissies. There’s a new type of circus in town and it’s all about the white vests and bushy beards.
London at Christmas Walk, Trafalgar Square, TONIGHT, £15, £7.50 children (11-15), under-11s free, £39 family. The most popular of several guided tours led by young architect Ike Ijeh, this festive walk is a two-hour stroll through London’s best Christmas illuminations, starting from the Nelson’s Column side of the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree.
Elvis at The O2, North Greenwich, Mon-Wed, £9-£20, £50 family. Get ready to be all shook up, London, because we’re getting a taste of Graceland in this exhibition of more than 300 artefacts, some of which have never previously been exhibited outside Memphis.
Learn to Sew: Christmas Ornaments, The Village Haberdashery, Tuesday, £5. This drop-in workshop is designed for children aged 6+ and their parents to get crafty just before Christmas, creating felt Santas and robins to hang from the tree or mantlepiece.
Christmas Services at St Paul’s Cathedral, Paternoster Square, Tue-Wed, free. Sir Christopher Wren’s baroque masterpiece has a larger capacity than many cathedrals, but it still struggles to host the thousands of people hoping to attend their Christmas services each year. To make sure that nobody is turned away, St Paul’s will be streaming three services on a large screen just behind the building itself in Paternoster Square.
A Very Dickensian Christmas Eve, Charles Dickens Museum, Christmas Eve, £18, £10 children. Helping to make the Bloomsbury museum especially seasonal will be the cast of ‘A New York to London Carol’, who will lead visitors from room to room and through a two-country ‘Christmas Carol’.
Peter Pan Cup, Serpentine Lido, Christmas Day, free. Strictly a spectator event, unless you happen to be a regular, not to say hardy, member of the Serpentine Swimming Club, this race takes place each year on Christmas morning.
Christmas Morning 1660: The London of Samuel Pepys, Trafalgar Square, Christmas Day, £9, £7 concs. This two-hour historical walk exploring the parts of London which seventeenth-century diarist Samuel Pepys would have spent time in involves a lot of death, which isn’t the traditional topic of conversation for Christmas Day but will be a nice change from the schmaltz, at least.
Christmas Day Ride through the Streets of London, various locations, Christmas Day, free. There is surely no better day than Christmas Day for a bike ride, and not just because you’ll have some calories to work off. The city will be empty of buses, so this three-hour bike tour of central London will be a good sight less hair-raising than your average two-wheeled commute.
Christmas Fitzrovia, Fitzrovia Community Centre, Christmas Day, free. Those who find themselves on their own come Christmas Day are invited along to this afternoon of music, films, games and food at this community centre.
…or check out more events happening in London this week.
Eating and drinking
Real Food Christmas Market, Southbank Centre, Mon-Tue, free. Set in the courtyard directly behind the Royal Festival Hall, the Real Food Market serves up its regular selection of sustainably and ethically produced fine foods but with extra added seasonal goodies for this Christmas version.
The Lodge, Balham. Pop-up pro Jimmy Garcia will be packing his immersive venue with wintry dishes and hot cocktails that will have you tearing off those Christmas jumpers in no time.
…or see Time Out’s recommended restaurants.
Fylm School hosted by Simon Munnery, Soho Theatre, TONIGHT, £15. Simon Munnery is consistently one of the most innovative comedy talents out there. In this show, he broadcasts live cardboard-based sketches onto a screen on stage and introduces Fylmic stylings from his comedy pals. Joining Munnery tonight are Twitter supremo Rob Delaney and the eternally optimistic Josie Long.
Freeze!, Soho Theatre, TONIGHT, £15, £12.50 concs. Edinburgh Comedy Award-winners Tim Key and Tom Basden’s ramshackle two-hander settles at Soho Theatre for some late-night pre-Christmas fun.
James Acaster – Recognise, Soho Theatre, Mon-Tue, £10-£17.50. James Acaster is a true Time Out fave. His blissfully funny understated stand-up sucks you into his minute, quizzical world where he picks apart seemingly insignificant details.
…or check out all the critics’ choice comedy shows.
Live music and Nightlife
The Cure, Eventim Apollo Hammersmith, Mon-Tue, prices vary. They’re not known for being a dynamic live act, but the quality of their material – ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, ‘The Love Cats’, ‘Friday I’m In Love’ and loads more, all bellowed back by a fiercely adoring crowd who’ve nostalgically backcombed what’s left of their hair – means The Cure are still well worth catching after all these years.
Alice Zawadzki + Mark Lockheart/Laura Jurd Quartet, Vortex, TONIGHT, £10, £8 adv. The Chaos Collective present their Christmas party with performances from Mark Lockheart and Laura Jurd’s quartet, featuring modal jazz with a folk/ambient twist, and vocalist Alice Zawadzki who impressed in 2014 with her superb debut album ‘China Lane’.
Winterville Spiegeltent: James Yorkston Christmas Show, Victoria Park, TONIGHT, £12.50. Ruddy-faced Scots troubadour – and member of Fife’s Fence collective – James Yorkston is clearly a big fan of Christmas. Every December he plays a special Xmas show at the Union Chapel, and this year he’s going the extra mile by getting festive at Winterville’s Spiegeltent.
…or take a look at all the live music events in London this week.
At the cinema
Dumb and Dumber To ★★★☆☆ Exactly two decades after ‘Dumb and Dumber’, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are back as cinema’s most improbably tolerable pair of morons.
Kon-Tiki ★★★★☆ This fictionalised retelling of the Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 Pacific crossing ought to come with a ‘Jackass’-style warning: don’t try this at home kids.
Unbroken ★★★☆☆ Teenage tearaway, 1930s Olympic runner, World War II prisoner-of-war survivor… Why has it taken so long for Hollywood to make a film about the incredible life of Louis Zamperini?
…or see all of the latest releases.
The Possible Impossible House, Barbican Centre, Mon-Tue, £12. ‘The Possible Impossible House’ is the first ever kids’ theatre excursion from the great experimental theatre company Forced Entertainment.
It’s a cracking kids’ yarn that’s subversively free from the happy clappy conventions of children’s theatre.
Mother Goose, Hackney Empire, Mon-Wed, £10-£32. Hackney Empire’s panto will always be London’s favourite, and that goes double this year: ‘Mother Goose’ is both a restaging of the theatre’s acclaimed 2008 show, and the return of the man who received an Olivier nod for it: Clive Rowe, London’s greatest dame, returns after a three-year absence to regain his throne.
The Little Match Girl, Lilian Baylis Studio, Mon-Wed, £16, £8.50 concs. Hip choreographer Arthur Pita’s latest dance piece, ‘The Little Match Girl’, is based on the Hans Christian Andersen story and involves a poor little match girl who is cast aside by her cruel neighbours on Christmas Eve.
Apocalypse Meow: Crisis Is Born, Purcell Room, Tuesday, £19. Australian-born cabaret star and singer Meow Meow returns to the South Bank with another belter of a show: like playing pass-the-parcel on a boozed-up, pill-popped Christmas Day at the end of the world, it’s a mad, many-layered treat: the nativity theme is established early on when she complains wryly that there was no room at the Royal Festival Hall.
…or see our theatre critics’ choices here.
This week’s best new art
A Victorian Obsession, Leighton House Museum, Mon,Wed, £10, concs £6. The former home and studio of artist and president of the Royal Academy, Frederic Lord Leighton, is Victorian decadence incarnate. It’s fitting, then, that these impressive works owned by Mexican collector Juan Antonio Pérez Simón should wind up on display here.
End User, Hayward Gallery, Mon-Tue, free. It was inevitable that the internet would have an impact on art. But you could be forgiven for not having noticed ‘internet art’ (or that it had morphed into ‘post-internet art’) over the past couple of decades among all the blockbuster shows and gallery exhibitions dedicated to the more traditional art forms that make up London’s cultural landscape. But with a major institution like the Hayward giving it some attention, maybe the tide is turning.
Nick Berkeley: The Wild Ones, The Strand Gallery, Mon-Tue, free. In 1993 Suede played the Brixton Academy. The concert was filmed and later a video ‘Love and Poison’ was released. The multimedia artist Nick Berkeley has manipulated stills from the film to create a series of limited edition prints, which have been co-signed by lead singer Brett Anderson.
Drawn by Light: The Royal Photographic Society Collection, Science Museum, Mon-Wed, free. A biggish chunk of this show of works from the Royal Photographic Society’s collection is so astounding because it is the product of artists-turned-scientists, scientists-turned-artists, self-taught geniuses and pioneering visionaries who had more in common with brave/naïve Victorian explorers than with modern ideas of what a photographer might be, or do.
…or see all London art reviews.
Best of the blog