Last updated on April 19th, 2022
This time last year, the struggle was real when it was time to pen my Londoness Loves December and all things Christmas. The festive pickings were slim, to say the least. But the good news is there are plenty of cultural outings in London this holiday season including all sorts of goodies in our museums, galleries and theatres – not to mention 1,598,752 adaptations of A Christmas Carol (just kidding of course) So let’s get those bells a-jingling, those chestnuts steaming and the mistletoe hanging for my round-up of some of the best things to do this December in London.
Concerts and Music
The Battersea Dogs Home Christmas Carol concert is back, and you would be off your woofer not to go to this one. As well as festive carols, mulled wine and mince pies, you’ll be treated to a very special guard of honour from some of the Battersea dogs. 2 and 3 December. Book here.
You’ll be spoilt for choice with the opera and oratorio, Christmas classics, festive favourites and seasonal songs at Cadogan Hall this December. More here.
Settle down for a 3-course dinner and an atmospheric evening with Fidelio Orchestra Café’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Actor Tama Matheson breathes fresh life into Dickens who takes to the stage to tell his moving tale of Scrooge, Marley, Tiny Tim and all those Christmas ghosts. He is accompanied by an atmospheric soundscape of Christmas carols performed by a string trio from the London Mozart Players and a quartet from Trinity School London. Book here.
The magical St Martin-in-the-Fields is the backdrop for a series of wonderful Christmas concerts, including some of the world’s most popular carols. More here.
Southwark Cathedral invites you to one of the highlights of the festive season, an evening of traditional Christmas carols performed by the Boys and Gentlemen of the Cathedral choir, as well as Benjamin Britten’s masterpiece, A Ceremony of Carols. Date: Friday 17 December at 7.30pm. Book here.
You’ll need to dig deep for this Christmas concert, but it’s all in aid of The Childhood Trust and features big names such as Jack Savoretti, Birdy & Laura Wright, David Walliams and Edward Enninful. A party at the Londoner Hotel follows the concert. Book (£150) tickets here.
Join the Handel and Hendrix museum for their annual Christmas Showcase at St George’s Hanover Square on Tuesday 14th of December 2021. Book here.
Debut brings their signature style Christmas Concert to the awe-inspiring Thames Tunnel Shaft at Brunel Museum, where the night includes festive favourites, sing-along carols and mulled cider. Book here.
Travel back in time at the Royal Festival Hall for a concert of carols and seasonal classics, staged in full 18th-century costume in an evocative candlelit-style setting. 11 December at 7.30pm. Book here.
Stage & Screen
See a vibrant new adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic tale A Christmas Carol in the magnificent unique setting of the Painted Hall, known as Britain’s Sistine Chapel. This atmospheric musical show, featuring original songs and music, will be performed live by a cast of actor musicians. 3 to 23 December. Book here.
Backyard Cinema is taking over the art deco Troxy during December with their Christmas Movie Spectacular. There will be singing, dancing, music, live performance followed by Elf, Home Alone or Love Actually. Book here.
Elizabeth Gaskell’s famous seasonal ghost story is brought to the stage for the very first time, in a thrilling, frightening and original adaptation at Wilton’s Music Hall. Book here.
Stephen Mangan stars in the Old Vic’s annual adaptation of A Christmas Carol. The production has Having just won five Tony Awards including Best Original Score. Book here.
Over 100 dancers and musicians bring Nutcracker to life with exquisite dancing, beautiful sets and Tchaikovsky’s popular score played live at the English National Opera. Book here.
Selina Helliwell’s newest play The Formidable Lizzie Boone will be hitting the Hen & Chickens stage in London, after a successful run at the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival. Book here.
A Musical Theatre Christmas at the Actors’ Church – a one-night only festive concert in the heart of Covent Garden – will feature festive favourites from the musical theatre cannon, traditional carols, and more. 5 December 2021. Book here.
European Arts Company is returning to Greenwich Theatre with its authentic adaptation of A Christmas Carol, starring John O’Connor (Before We Die, Channel 4). The production will be in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital, which Dickens helped to found. Book tickets here.
Museums and Galleries
The Museum of Architecture’s popular, festive and mouthwateringly edible The Gingerbread City exhibition returns to London this December. In a new pop-up location at 6-7 Motcomb Street, Belgravia, this year’s exhibition will explore the theme: nature in the city. The exhibition champions sustainable design ideas and building innovation on a mini scale and opens on the 4 December. More here.
Charles Dickens’s London home is once again transformed for Christmas. Savour the sights, sounds and scents of the rooms where Dickens and his family celebrated Christmas – with holly and ivy decking the halls, beautiful Victorian decorations throughout and a whole host of other festive surprises to discover. Special events include a virtual performance of A Christmas Carol filmed by candlelight; Dominic Gerrard’s solo performance of one of Dickens’s lesser-known festive tales: The Chimes; the Christmas Housemaid’s tour; a reading of Dickens’s Christmas ghost stories; and more. Check the Charles Dickens Museum website for further information.
This Winter’s London Art Week celebrates 40 exciting in-gallery and auction house exhibitions featuring works of art from ancient to modern. It is accompanied by an enlightening programme of live and online talks, tours, and the third LAW Symposium. More here.
Tasha Marks, award-winning artist and founder of AVM Curiosities, is hosting an unusual festive concert at Chiswick House on 9 December. Winter Notes is a multi-sensory exploration of the house, pairing three musicians with three bespoke fragrances – each designed to complement their performances. Guests will be welcomed with a complementary Winter Tom Collins cocktail, made with Chiswick House’s own camellia and cedar gin, and treated to a series of performances that weave throughout the building. Book here.
Step back in time and experience the Benjamin Franklin House in true eighteenth-century style this winter with the festive candlelit tours. Enjoy mulled wine and mince pies in Franklin’s parlour before exploring the House and its unique history. 2 December. Book here.
An annual treat not to be missed is the Christmas Past installation at the Museum of the Home. The Rooms Through Time are decorated to reflect how people have celebrated Christmas and other Winter events over the past 400 years. Free entry.
This Christmas, prepare to be swept up in a whimsical world of planets and stars in Palace of Stardust, an enchanting new after-hours light trail at Hampton Court Palace. As dusk falls across this magnificent former royal home, an atmospheric, fantastical wonderland of clocks, moons, planets and sundials is just waiting to be discovered. Visitors will lose track of time as they explore the historic cobbled courtyards and gardens, filled with magical illuminations inspired by the palace’s famous astronomical clock; the ticking Tudor heart of Hampton Court installed by command of King Henry VIII. 8 December – 3 January. Book here.
Feature image: Dickens Museum – Lewis Bush