Looking to have yourself a merry little alternative Christmas in London? Here’s a sampling of my top recommendations of things to do in London this December 2019 including Christmas lights, some festive theatre, carols and concerts. There’s also a few free things to do this Christmas in London. It’s time to get your frosty on and ring-a-ling into Christmas.
Go on an alternative Christmas Lights Tour
Come and explore London’s sparkling 2019 Christmas lights on this fun-filled walking tour with Katie Wignall of Look Up London. You’ll get the opportunity to see festive decorations and hear unusual, sordid and magical historical tales of the area. From luxurious Mayfair to the bright lights of Soho, you will discover Christmas scenes off the beaten track. Don’t worry, you’ll see the main sights too, of course. Halfway through the Yuletide walk, you’ll have a mulled wine pit stop (on the house) in a traditional Mayfair pub. 22 November to 22 December. More information here.
If you want a list of the best lights around this tinsel town, then take a look at Catherine’s Best Christmas Lights in London post.
Catch some alternative Christmas theatre in London
I’ll start with the fun stuff: Cinderella at Trafalgar Studios is where our favourite rags to riches girl is getting a drag makeover with Baga Chipz from RuPauls Drag Race UK. Oscar Wilde’s spooky ‘The Canterville Ghost’ is playing at the Unicorn Theatre in a show the whole family will enjoy. Circus 1903 makes a Southbank comeback this winter and you can read my review of last year’s show here.
Catch some Christmas favourites at Sadler’s Wells: the classic ‘Little Match Girl’ and Matthew Bourne’s ‘The Red Shoes.’ Wilton’s, the oldest Grand Music Hall in the world, provides the magical backdrop for A Christmas Carol starring Scrooge as you’ve never known her. And finally, for a real slice of alternative Christmas in London, head over to one of London’s most mysterious venues, the Middle Temple Hall, for A Christmas Carol’ adapted by Antic Disposition.
Do some free things in London this Christmas
Save your pennies and pop along to some free events in London this Christmas including the Great Christmas Pudding Race as well as Santas on the Run. Over at the Museum of London Docklands, you can travel back in time to Victorian London in the immersive family event, ‘A Docklands Christmas Carol.’
Free Christmas Carols in London
On the 1 December, head over to Fulham Palace for some Carols in the Courtyard. The London Gay Men’s Chorus returns to Liberty on the 8 December where they will be joined by Liberty’s very own choir, bringing a spectacular show to the Central Atrium.
The Choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields will be singing carols around the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square on the 5 December. Join the Choir again on Christmas Eve for the Parish Carol Service, but arrive early as the church gets very full. Enjoy a free Advent Carol Service at St Paul’s Cathedral on the 30 November and 1 December. Sing-along to some free Christmas carols at Westminster Chapel on the 15 Dec. Westminster Cathedral has its annual glorious and free Christmas Carols by Candelight, but you’ve missed the boat this year if you haven’t already got tickets. Plan ahead for next year, and make sure you’re one of the first to click your way into one of these glorious concerts. I’ve done it two years running with little effort.
Croon away to classic Christmas carols and concerts
One of my favourite annual Christmas outings is an evening spent with Miss Hope Springs and her Christmas Agogo at Zédels. She puts the fun and the fabulous in Christmas. Raise your voices in the festive atmosphere of Charterhouse’s Jacobean Chapel on the 3 December. The ever-popular Battersea Christmas Carol is back on the 5 and 13 December with an evening of mince pies, mulled wine, carols and a guard of honour by some of their beloved dogs. Woof! An annual favourite, the Christmas Music by Candlelight returns to St John’s Smith Square on the 12 December. Horace Walpole’s gothic Strawberry Hill House is hosting a Christmas concert on the 15 December with a programme which will include ‘Gloria’ by Vivaldi and traditional carols. The Garden Museum is hosting an evening of festive song with the Grove Singers on the 15th.
Dan Jones, Giles Coren and Tessa Dunlop are part of the lineup for the Carols by Candlelight at St James’ Clerkenwell. The evening includes a glass of sparkling wine and a mince pie. In Chelsea’s Cadogan Hall, spend the evening in the company of actor Hugh Bonneville and toast the Christmas spirit with Charles Dickens and the London Philharmonic Choir.
Get creative this Christmas
Shilpa Reddy, Queen of wreath-making and one of the London Evening Standard’s most recommended is wreathing her magic in various locations this Christmas. All her materials are natural and compostable, and you’ll even be able to re-use your wreath rings next year.
Over at the Battersea Power Station, Moyses Stevens is holding several wreath-making classes as well as workshops on how to spruce up your Christmas table. Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham is the gothic setting for a wreath-making class on the 1 December whilst over in the Duke of York Square, the Chelsea Physic Garden is also running three wreath-making classes on the 7 December. The Charterhouse is hosting several wreath-making workshops over the 7 and 12 December.
Spend Christmas with the Royal Family
Help Victoria prepare Kensington Palace for Christmas, and create your own Victorian tree decoration or toy for you to take home. Visit Windsor Castle’s towering 20-foot Nordmann Fir in St George’s Hall. And to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the births of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 2019, the Octagon Dining Room features a special display of gifts exchanged between the royal couple during the Christmases they spent together. Or join Dash and Rex, the royal dogs, in a musical storytelling tour around the Royal Mews to help save Christmas! Father Christmas’s sleigh has broken and Christmas may have to be cancelled if a replacement can’t be found in the Royal Mews.
Wander around some Christmas markets and fairs in London
Kingston’s Christmas market is open for yuletide business from the 14 November to 24 December. Get into the spirit with the Christmas Fair at Burgh House in pretty Hampstead on the 7 December. Enjoy festive shopping in the stunning setting of Strawberry Hill House on December 17. Battersea Power Station’s Grade II listed Coaling Jetty is transformed into a Winter Village with a market and plenty of places to eat, drink and be merry. There’s also a kid’s skating rink and one of London’s only curling lanes. On 14 and 15 December, sip a seasonal cocktail as you shop from 20 makers and designers at the Truman Brewery. Greenwich Market is all Christmassy this winter with a Santa’s Grotto and plenty of festive shopping.
Do you have any ideas for an alternative Christmas in London? Do let me know in the comments below.
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