Whether you’re crazy about Christmas or simply want to sip some delicious mulled wine, there’s no need to travel to European Christmas markets to get your festive fix: London, with its plethora of yuletide festivals, theatrical extravaganzas and twinkling streets, really does have it all.
However, some of the capital’s most popular Christmas events are sure to sell out, so it pays to get your tickets early. Here are our recommendations for unmissable festive events that need to be booked now.
Snow White at the London Palladium
The first pantomime to be shown at Soho’s London Palladium was Dick Whittington and his Cat in 1914 – and the venue’s Christmassy offerings remain as popular today as they were back then. Home to the capital’s most talked-about pantomime – 2017’s production bagged a prestigious Olivier award – the Palladium attracts big names and even bigger audiences.
This year’s show is the classic fairy tale Snow White, and will star Dawn French, Julian Clary, and Nigel Havers (to name but a few). Visitors should not expect a ‘standard’ retelling of this familiar tale, because at the Palladium there are always surprises in store – but one thing is certain: the panto will be lavish, spectacular, and full of laughter!
Snow White runs from 8th December 2018 – 13th January 2019. Book tickets at snowwhitepalladium.com.
Skating at Somerset House
What better way to show off your skating skills (or lack of) than with a trip across the frozen courtyard of Somerset House? The Fortnum & Mason outdoor ice rink returns in November 2018, allowing skaters to enjoy magnificent views of Somerset House whilst basking in the twinkling glow provided by an amazing 40ft tall Christmas tree.
There’s more to the rink than whizzing around the ice, though; throughout the season there will be club nights, ‘skate lates’ sessions, and delicious food on offer (we highly recommend the champagne and chocolate fondue for two at Fortnum’s Lodge).
Skating at Somerset House runs from 14th November 2018 – 13th January 2019. Book tickets at somersethouse.org.uk.
The beauty of Kew Gardens is breathtaking to behold: and whilst the grounds themselves are a must-see at any time of the year, the winter trail is truly unmissable. Now in its sixth year, Kew promises that the Christmas experience will be ‘bigger than ever before’, with thousands of laser beams and over a million twinkling lights casting a wintry glow over the spectacular gardens.
There’s plenty of festive cheer, too, with colourful illuminations, fairground rides, and the aroma of roasting chestnuts filling the air.
2018 also offers another opportunity to explore an iconic site under a twinkling glow: the chance to walk London Zoo’s first ever winter extravaganza (which has been designed by the team at Kew, so expectations are very high!). Visitors will experience the historic location and buildings as never before by following a one-mile illuminated pathway through the zoo whilst the animals are tucked up in bed.
Christmas at Kew runs from 22nd November 2018 – 5th January 2019 and can be booked at christmasatkew.seetickets.com. Christmas at ZSL London Zoo runs from 22nd November 2018 – 1st January 2019 and can be booked at christmasatlondonzoo.seetickets.com.
Winter Wonderland: The Snowman Experience
Hyde Park’s famous tribute to Christmas is back again in 2018 and promises to be bigger and better than ever. Entry is free, and there’s plenty to see and do – from ice rinks, to fairground rides, to Christmas markets. There’s even a child-friendly ‘Santa Land’ attraction complete with Santa’s grotto.
This year, however, we’re especially excited about Winter Wonderland’s collaboration with Backyard Cinema. Famous for their multi-sensory film experiences, Backyard Cinema are running a series of ‘immersive cinematic adventures’ around the classic festive film The Snowman. This world-exclusive production promises to make visitors ‘feel like [they’re] flying with The Snowman™’ by embarking on a ‘Christmas journey like no other’ that is ‘guaranteed to fill the whole family with Christmas cheer and wonder.’
The Snowman Experience runs from 22nd November 2018 – 6th January 2019 . Buy tickets at hydeparkwinterwonderland.com.
The Nutcracker by Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky is arguably the world’s most beloved ballet; and it’s become a mainstay of festivities in the capital, with several performances taking place over the Christmas season.
The famous story – which tells of Clara, a little girl who is given a magical Nutcracker on Christmas Eve and, as a result, goes on a fantastical journey to the Kingdom of the Sweets, meeting mice, fairies, angels and even snowflakes on the way – is always a delight to experience, especially for children.
If you’re thinking of taking the family to a London performance during the yuletide season, the Royal Ballet’s famous annual production (at the Royal Opera House) and the English National Ballet version (at the Coliseum) are the ones to watch: but they do sell out very quickly, so don’t hesitate when it comes to booking tickets!
Both performances take place in historic London theatres, so it’s almost worth the price of the ticket alone just to experience these majestic settings. The Royal Opera House has been one of the most eminent London theatres since the 1800s; and the London Coliseum, which first opened to the public in 1904, is the largest theatre in the West End.
The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House runs from 3rd December 2018 – 15th January 2019. Tickets can be booked at roh.org.uk. The Nutcracker at the Coliseum runs from 13th – 30th December 2018. Tickets can be booked at ballet.org.uk.
And Don’t Forget…
If you’re planning a festive trip to London between November and January, UnderTheDoormat are here to help with all your accommodation needs. Our portfolio of handpicked homes will provide the perfect base for exploring the city – wherever your plans may take you.