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50 wicked things happening in London this weekend

Brandon A

[Photo: Brandon A]

This weekend is all about Christmas shopping! There are heaps of pop-up markets, fairs and fêtes dotted across town, perfect for picking up lovely festive gifts. If you’re a total wizard and already have your shopping locked down, or you’re avoiding it until Christmas Eve, there’s still plenty of other fun to be had. Bugged Out are hosting a free party in Victoria Park, tons of top notch comedians are landing at the Soho Theatre, and a new exhibition of Andy Warhol’s prints has just opened. Here are all the best things happening this weekend…

Fun things to do

A Very Glamorous Christmas, Design Museum, Saturday, free. Head to the Design Museum for a drop-in decoration-making workshop, gift wrapping in the shop and chocolate and biscuit tastings. All Voices, Hackney and Islington Community Choir will be performing, providing the perfect soundtrack to your Christmas shopping.

Santacon, secret London location, Saturday, free. Have an extra jolly holiday season by dressing up as the man of the moment and running around London at this ‘non-profit, non-political, non-religious and non-sensical’ celebration of Christmas cheer.

Christmas Pudding Race, Covent Garden, Saturday, free. The thirty-fourth Christmas Pudding Race takes place this Saturday and will see teams in fancy dress make their way around the Covent Garden race track to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Afternoon Tea Dance, Old Finsbury Town Hall, Saturday, £4-£10. Art of the Dog host this dance with a difference. Set in a beautiful art deco hall, dance troupe The Ragroof Players will provide demonstrations, group lessons and partner dances.

Hackney Flea-Mas Market, Abney Hall, Sat-Sun, free. Stock up on everything you need to make your life look more like it fell out of an interior design magazine from decades gone by at this festive version of the regular vintage market.

Monocle Christmas Market, Midori House, Sat-Sun, free. The Monocle Christmas Market is back for a second year, with stalls selling chic and stylish gifts from across the globe. Live reindeer and Santa himself will also make an appearance.

Crafty Fox Christmas Market, Brixton, Sat-Sun, free. The family-run craft market for emerging designers and makers returns to the Dogstar for their annual festive event, with over 40 handpicked stalls selling a range of jewellery, prints, homewares and clothing.

Santa and his Huskies, London Wetland Centre, Sat-Sun, free with admission. You may not see any reindeer pulling sleighs this Christmas, but the London Wetland Centre has some handsome huskies ready and waiting to take younger children (aged eight and under) for a spin.

Kit Neale Pop Up, Hoxton, Sat-Sun. Nab up to 70 percent off past season collections at this beautifully presented pop up shop from menswear designer Kit Neale. Open every weekend until Dec 21.

Intrude, South Bank, Sat-Sun, free. Five seven metre-tall illuminated rabbits will be hopping, sorry, popping up all over the Southbank Centre site as part of its Winter Festival.

Spitalfields City Farm Winter Market, Spitalfields, Sunday, free. The farm is hosting stalls selling handmade cards and non-mass-produced presents, as well as Christmas tress themselves, and will be invoking a non-jarring festive atmosphere with carol singing, mulled wine and seasonal family activities.

Ewen Spencer talk and film screening, Londonnewcastle, Sunday, free. As part of ’89:14 – A Street Style Journey’, an exhibition celebrating seminal moments in British streetwear from 1989 to 2014, photographer Ewen Spencer will be presenting a talk on his ‘Open Mic’ project, followed by a screening of the film.

RCA Christmas Fête, South Kensington, all weekend, free. The RCA’s Student Union organise this traditional market, which sees homemade gifts, Christmas treats and a series of performances and events take over the space.

Winterville, Victoria Park, all weekend, free. Forget the frozen north – the place you’ll want to be this Christmas is the cool east or, to be more specific, Winterville in Victoria Park. So what will be on offer? Not just the obligatory outdoor ice rink. There’ll be a roller disco, too, with DJs provided by some of London’s hottest promoters.

Etsy House, Great Newport Street, all weekend, free. We’ve lost many an hour trawling Etsy for cute handmade stuff, so we’re happy to hear that this Christmas, the online marketplace is heading to London for its first UK pop-up shop.

The London Illustration Fair, Hoxton, all weekend, £5. London’s only illustration-dedicated fair returns with a three-day event of artist-led stands, workshops, live DJs and pop-up food stalls.

Hot Box

Eating and drinking

Hot Box, Spitalfields. If you’ve got a carnivorous craving, allow us to point you in the direction of the smokin’ new Spitalfields barbecue joint Hot Box. They’ll be serving their lovingly smoked beef short ribs, jalapeno hot link sausage sandwiches and other delights at a very tasty 50 percent off until Monday.

Bar Termini, Soho. Bar Termini does two things: coffee and cocktails. Coffee is overseen by Marco Arrigo, head of quality for Illy, who has probably trained more baristas – and trained them rigorously – than anyone else in the UK. Cocktails are supervised by Tony Conigliaro, the alco-alchemist behind 69 Colebrooke Row and Zetter Town House, among others. Teams don’t get much dreamier than this.

Enchanted Nordic Yulefest, Old Street, Sat-Sun, £55-£75. Constructed in a Shoreditch studio, the Yulefest is split into two parts: brunch and dinner. Both feature a welcome Christmas cocktail, followed by a four-course Nordic-inspired festive feast from Scandi restaurateurs Fika, plus games, treats and after-grub grooving at the Dance of Candlelight.

The Christmas Hamper, The Bedford, Sat-Sun, free. Pop-up wine events organisers A Grape Night In have rounded up their favourite local producers and asked them to bring their very best (and most festive) goodies.

The Absolut ‘Art Exchange Hub’, Rivington Shoreditch, all weekend. Vodka brand Absolut has teamed up with Rivington Grill in Shoreditch to create the ‘Art Exchange Hub’ where guests can create their own piece of artwork while enjoying Andy Warhol-inspired cocktails.

Romesh Ranganathan


Romesh Ranganathan – Rom Wasn’t Built in a Day, Soho Theatre, Fri-Sat, £10-£17.50. Romesh Ranganathan was nominated for Best Newcomer at the 2013 Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards, but made the leap to the main prize list this year for this wonderfully grumpy show.

Alfie Brown – Divorced from Reality (and My Wife), Soho Theatre, Fri-Sat, £12.50, £10 concs. Alfie Brown is quickly establishing himself as one of the gutsiest, most compelling voices on the comedy circuit.

Heroes Grotto of Comedy, Throgmortons, Fri-Sat, £6. It’s the brainchild of Bob Slayer, who runs some ace venues at the Edinburgh Fringe, and the Grotto will play host to shows featuring Stewart Lee, Josie Long, John Kearns and many more.

Funz and Gamez, Soho Theatre, Sat-Sun, £10, £30 family ticket for four. The biggest joke of ‘Funz and Gamez’ – which won the Panel Prize at the 2014 Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards – is that this chaotic, gloriously silly show is for kids.


Live music

Metronomy, Alexandra Palace, TONIGHT, £21.50. It’s been a long time since Metronomy was just Joe Mount’s bedroom pop project in sleepy Totnes, Devon. Four albums and a headline slot at the Royal Albert Hall later, and with a shiny, rounded live line-up – with drummer Anna Prior laying down the beats at the back – Metronomy perform songs from their latest album at a big gig in London.

Smashing Pumpkins, Koko, TONIGHT, £55. Billy Corgan and his current crop of Pumpkins were last seen rocking Wembley Arena, so this intimate show (to preview material from not one but two new albums, both due in 2015) will be a real treat for devotees of the ’90s alternative scene.

Vessels, The Lexington, Saturday, £9. From Yorkshire’s psychedelic underground come five men brewing up blistering, majestic post-rock soundscapes with techno inflections. It’s the kind of music you can both dance to and get lost in. Far out.

Julian Casablancas and The Voidz, The Coronet, Sunday, £22.50. The Strokes’ frontman brings his new band to the UK to play a date in support of their latest album ‘Tyranny’.

Winterville Spiegeltent


Winterville Spiegeltent: Bugged Out Free For All, Victoria Park, TONIGHT, free. Party pros Bugged Out are hosting a series of full-fat fun weekly club nights at the Spigeltent in Winterville. Great news by itself, but best of all is that they’re absolutely free.

Rinse – Late, Tate Britain, TONIGHT, free. Rinse take over Tate Britain for this late event celebrating 20 years of the station. They’ve curated an evening of music and fashion that includes workshops, masterclasses and installations from the likes of Venus X, Katie Eary and Koreless.

Rhythm Parlour, Peckham, Saturday, £20 (haircut), beard trim (£10), free to attend. Get your beard trimmed while you soak up some disco bliss at pop-up musical barber shop The Rhythm Parlour, set in Rye Wax Records in Peckham’s Bussey Building.

Silent Disco at The View from The Shard, London Bridge, Fri-Sat, £37.50. The silent disco phenomenon reaches new heights at these exclusive Time Out events. Pick your channel and choose your side as three DJs battle it out over separate wireless channels, playing the best in pop, rock and party classics, while you dance the night away at 1,000ft.

Winterville Spiegeltent: Gay Bingo Christmas Show, Victoria Park, Sunday, £20. The gay bingo gang – Jonny Woo, John Sizzle and Ma Butcher – are back for a Christmas special at Winterville.

hot tub cinema


Hot Tub Christmas Cinema, Former Shoreditch Underground Station, all weekend, £28-£35 (individual tickets, minimum purchase two tickets). Don’t say you didn’t expect it. We’ve had Hot Tub Cinema, Hot Tub Halloween Cinema, Pillow Cinema and now Hot Tub Christmas Cinema. It’s the logical next step in warm watery world domination from the ever-savvy HTC crew.

2014 Disability Film Festival, Stratford, all weekend, free. The third annual Together! Disability Film Festival takes place this weekend, showcasing films made over the last 18 months, and appearances from special guests.

Or at the cinema…

Black Sea ★★★★☆ ‘Last King of Scotland’ helmer Kevin MacDonald directs Jude Law and a ragtag gaggle of beloved character actors including Michael Smiley, Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy in this treasure-seeking submarine drama.

Penguins of Madagascar ★★★☆☆ A SWAT team of penguins – Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private – take on an octopus called Dave. He’s concocted a mwah-ha-ha plan to steal all the penguins in the world.

St. Vincent ★★★☆☆ Theodore Melfi’s crowd-pleasing yet dangerously sentimental wacky-neighbor dramedy.

Mother Goose


Mother Goose, Hackney Empire, all weekend, £10-£32. Hackney Empire’s yearly festive offering is pretty much the panto equivalent of royalty. That’s mainly been down to hilariously naughty scripts, Susie McKenna’s direction and a great dame – in recent years the inimitable Clive Rowe was hailed as one of the best.

Grimm Tales, Bargehouse, all weekend, £45, £20 concs. ‘Grimm Tales’ is a great night and a great success, each of the stories relayed with love and invention by the two casts dotted about the Bargehouse.

Cindermouse, Little Angel Theatre, all weekend, £14, £12 concs. Some panto-lite call-and-response, sparingly deployed, comes at just the right points to keep the energy up. It’s a winning show from a miniature theatre that radiates charm.

‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, all weekend, £10-£45. Is it perverse to describe a production lit entirely by candlelight as electric? Possibly, but the sexual energy emanating from this dynamic, lucid production certainly deserves to be measured in volts rather than flickering flames.

Conflict, Time, Photography

This week’s best new art

Conflict, Time, Photography, Tate Modern, all weekend, £13.10, £11.30 concs. Conflict has an immeasurable impact on civilisations, landscapes, countries, cities, towns, loved ones and our memories. So a photographic exhibition about war might not strike you as an engagingly rewarding blockbuster show. But this enlightening and thoughtful survey at the Tate Modern is exactly that.

Andy Warhol: Love is a Pink Cake, A&D Gallery, Fri-Sat, free. There’s nothing soupy about this show of Warhol’s loved up print series. The pop artist started to self publish books and print portfolios in the early 1950s, which were used to showcase his sense of design and humour to prospective clients.

Apartment: Style Cruise, Canal, Fri-Sat, free. The gallery transforms into a wintery-themed flat for this crafts-based show that coincides with the Haggerston Riviera Winter Festival weekend (Dec 4-7).

Bolt, GRAD: Gallery For Russian Arts And Design, all weekend, free. In 1931, Shostakovich’s ballet ‘Bolt’ was banned by the Soviet authorities after its premiere. Featuring real hammers and machines, the experimental industrial production is now brought to life in this vibrant exhibition, organised in collaboration with the St Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music.

And finally

Win… tickets to one of seven great New Year’s Eve parties or a whisky blending experience and dinner for 12 at Bam-Bou

Grab… £15 tickets to ‘Made in Dagenham’ at the Adelphi Theatre

Book… these gigs while you still can

Best of the blog

Why are loads of young people leaving London?

Winterville in Victoria Park: worth a visit for the food alone

Ten reasons not to leave London, EVER

102 cracking things happening in London this December

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