Time’s running out for an appointment with Santa
CHRISTMAS THEATRE: London‘s theatre scene is at its best at Christmas. If you fancy catching a show, check out our guides to the best pantomimes, best festive comedy shows, best Christmas dance shows, family-friendly performances and the best all-round festive options.
CHRISTMAS MARKETS: If you’re in the midst of a Christmas shopping panic, fear not — our guide to London‘s Christmas markets and fairs is on hand to guide you to your nearest scented candle, box of fudge or twinkly Christmas ornament.
ICE SKATING: At Royal Palaces, on rooftops and in the middle of Covent Garden, London‘s festive ice rinks are very much open for business. Here’s our guide to festive skating in London to help you pick which one to visit — or why not try to get round them all by New Year?
CAROL CONCERTS: Start warming up your vocal chords for London‘s myriad Christmas carol concerts. From grand events in abbeys and cathedrals, to smaller events raising money for worthwhile causes, take a look at our guide to the top Christmas carol concerts in London. Throughout December
SANTA’S GROTTOS: Time’s running out for children to have a word with the man in red before the big day. If you reckon they’re on the nice list this year, browse our pick of the best Santa’s grottos in London, and see if you can blag a last-minute appointment.
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: Not managed to see London‘s Christmas lights yet? Take an evening out of the festive madness and wander the West End. We’ve put together a guide to this year’s illuminations, including a map to help you plan your route. If you can stretch to the cost of a bus fare, that’s a slightly easier way to see them.
CHILDHOOD MEMORIES: Memory expert Professor Martin Conway gives a talk about childhood memories. Find out why we often experience fictional memories of events that didn’t actually happen, particularly in childhood. He also addresses some of the claims about memory that can be found on the internet. National Theatre, £9/£6, book ahead, 6pm
CAROL CONCERT: Actor Tim McInnerny, comedian Rory Bremner and actress and comedian Jenny Éclair are among the famous faces giving readings at the Lord’s Taverners carol concert. Festive music comes courtesy of the St Marylebone Parish Church Choir. St Marylebone Parish Church, £25, book ahead, 6.30pm-8pm
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL POLITICS: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Politics podcast records a Christmas version in front of a live audience. Political commentator Steve Richards presents a look back over a lively year in British politics, and forward to what 2020 is likely to have in store. Kings Place (King’s Cross), £12.50, book ahead, 7pm
AUSTENTATIOUS: Jane Austen improv comedy troupe Austentatious perform their last London show of the year. See the cast of comedy performers put together a brand new show right in front of you. It’s designed like a ‘lost’ Jane Austen novel, and based on nothing more than a title suggested by the audience. Fortune Theatre (Covent Garden), from £35, book ahead, 7.30pm
PALACE TOUR: Get to know Fulham Palace a bit better on a history tour of the building. Find out about the different Bishops of London who lived there over a 1,300 year period, and how they shaped the palace into what it is today. The history of the 13-acre garden is also covered. Fulham Palace, £6, just turn up, 12.30pm-1.30pm
BABY BROADWAY: The whole family from newborns to grandparents is invited to sing and dance the afternoon away at Baby Broadway’s Christmas special. Well-known tunes from musicals and Christmas songs are performed by West End singers, with bubbles, puppets and other interactive elements to keep younger family members entertained. The Other Palace (Victoria), £6-£13, book ahead, 3.30pm
STAR WARS: Popcorn at the ready — there’s a Star Wars triple bill in east London. Relive Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, before being one of the first to see Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker when it’s released at midnight. Rich Mix (Shoreditch), £20, book ahead, 6pm
SNOWY STARRY NIGHT: Pop-Up Painting wants you to add a winter twist to your own version of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Put paint to canvas with a glass of prosecco in hand, and an expert artist nearby to offer you any guidance you need. Urban Meadow (Notting Hill), £35.99, book ahead, 7.30pm-10pm
POLITICAL PODCAST: Matt Forde hosts a Christmas special of his Political Party Podcast, with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and with house band MP4, the UK’s only cross-party rock band, as special guests. It’s aimed at everyone, regardless of political allegiance. Bloomsbury Theatre, £24.50, book ahead, 8pm
CIRCUS 1903: After a successful run last Christmas, Circus 1903 returns to London. Portrayed as a turn-of-the-(20th)-century production, it conjures up the golden age of circus, with jugglers, contortionists, trapeze artists and even elephants — using puppets instead of real animals. Southbank Centre, from £29.50, book ahead, 19 December-5 January
BIG BAND CHRISTMAS: Jazz musician and composer Guy Barker leads a big band in a rendition of festive hits at the Royal Albert Hall. Expect a swinging evening of jazz classics, unearthed treasures and Christmas oddities, with special guests including jazz singer and BBC Radio 2 presenter Clare Teal. Royal Albert Hall, £18-£80.50, book ahead, 7.30pm
FILMS TO BE BURIED WITH: Comedian Nish Kumar is the special guest at a special festive edition of podcast Films To Be Buried With. He chats to host Brett Goldstein about the best films of the last decade, across a variety of genres. BFI Southbank, £12-£15, book ahead, 9pm
UNASHAMEDLY CHRISTMAS: Nicky Gayner’s Unashamedly Christmas is a musical cabaret session, with the singer tackling old time classics, pop hits and a few surprises, live on stage. Wilton’s (Limehouse), £6-£18, book ahead, 1.30pm
WIFI WARS: The Royal Institution hosts a Christmas edition of WiFi Wars, a regular event where the audience plays along in an interactive gaming session. Bring your tablet or phone along to go head to head with hosts Steve McNeil and Rob Sedgebeer, and special guests. Money raised is split between The Miscarriage Association, The Alzheimer’s Society and The Royal Institution. Royal Institution (Mayfair), £16/£10/£7, book ahead, 7pm-9pm
CATHEDRAL CONCERT: The Southwark Cathedral Choir performs Handel’s famous masterpiece Messiah, as well as well-known Christmas carols, by candlelight. The Chameleon Arts Orchestra provides accompaniment to the all-male choir. Age 5+. Southwark Cathedral, £16/£14, book ahead, 7.30pm-9pm
FESTIVE CARRIAGE RIDES: Richmond Park isn’t the only place offering festive carriage rides this season. 30-minute rides, accompanied by costumed footmen, are offered as an alternative way to explore Morden Hall Park. Blankets are provided, but you’re advised to dress warm. Morden Hall Park, £11.25-£16, book ahead, 21-22 December
ROYAL ALBERT HALL CAROLS: There’s still time to squeeze a few more carols in before the big day, as the Royal Albert Hall hosts four days of special concerts. Sing along to traditional carols and more modern interpretations, performed by a variety of musicians including the Royal Choral Society, National Youth Choir of Great Britain, and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Royal Albert Hall, £20-£90, book ahead, 21-24 December
BEN ELTON: Comedy writer Ben Elton hosts and headlines an evening of laughs to raise money for disability charity Scope. Comedians Jo Coffey, Kae Kurd, Chris McCausland, Shazia Mirza and Tim Renkow are also on the programme. O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, from £22, book ahead, 6.30pm
12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: Take a festive-focused guided walk around the City of London, and learn about its links with the 12 Days of Christmas song, and other festive folklore. Find out about the link between a 4th Century saint and Rudolph, and the reason why Santa Claus is Red. St Paul’s Station, £12/£9, book ahead, 12pm-2pm
DICKENS OF A CITY: Learn about the London of author Charles Dickens on this walking tour of the south London areas he would have been familiar with. See the sites of old inns and counting houses which inspired his writing. St George the Martyr (Borough), £12/£9, book ahead, 2.30pm-4.30pm
MIRACLE OF MIRACLES: New documentary Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles shows how a collection of Yiddish short stories became a popular musical in the form of Fiddler on the Roof. Find out how it was hard to get the show going in the first place, and how it’s enjoyed international success since. Bertha DocHouse (Bloomsbury), £9/£7/£5, book ahead, 4pm