We are getting closer and closer to Christmas and London is buzzing. Here are some ideas on what you can do this weekend from 13 to 15 December.
ENCHANTED ELTHAM: This is the second weekend for this year’s Enchanted Eltham. The light entertainment offers glittering tunnels, disco balls and talking trees around Eltham Palace. Follow the family-friendly path through the grounds before toasting marshmallows on a fire pit, or venturing on the Victorian fairground rides. Eltham Palace, £12, 12-15 December (and next weekend)
PINOCCHIO ON ICE: Fairy tale Pinocchio retold on ice by a troupe of talented skaters ranging from adults to young kids. Watch the story in a family-friendly performance, featuring classical and modern music. Alexandra Palace, £15.50/£13, 13-16 December
CIRCUS FEST: A festival of circus arts comes to Greenwich for two days. Get involved in circus workshops and master trapeze, acrobalance or juggling, or simply watch the masters at work in extraordinary performances. There’s a particular circus room for under 5s, to ease them into things gently. Aircraft Circus Academy (Greenwich), £14/£12, 14-15 December
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS BY BUS: For those who want to see London’s Christmas lights in a fancy way and from the comfort of a vintage bus. The bus leaves from Covent Garden to tour Embankment, Piccadilly, Regent Street and Trafalgar Square. London Transport Museum (Covent Garden), £17, 14-15 December (and next weekend)
BLACK BEAUTY: Probably the best family-friendly show in London this Christmas, Black Beauty is opening on Saturday. Puppetry features heavily, but think pantomime donkey rather than War Horse-style costumes. Storytelling and music also in the show, which has got five* reviews for its performances elsewhere. Southbank Centre, £20/£15, 14 December-5 January
ICE SKATING: At Royal Palaces, in the middle of Covent Garden and on rooftops…London’s Christmas ice rinks are very much open. Pick one venue here — or why not try to get around all of them by New Year? There’s a new addition to the line-up this weekend as City Island’s ice rink is opening on Thursday.
Saturday 14 December
URBAN BODIES: This is the very last occasion to see Urban Bodies, a free exhibition about the performance in the City over the summer, and where people danced and free run through the area in surprising ways. New London Architecture (City of London), just turn up, it’s free until 14 December
FAMILY SING ALONG The kids are all excited about Christma. Take them to Westminster Abbey where they can make their decorations, hear Christmas stories, see the Nativity crib, and join in the carol singing with the Westminster Abbey Choir. You just have to turn up; it’s free at Westminster Abbey Chapter House 10 am-2 pm.
VICTORIA AND ALBERT: Discover why robins are often on Christmas cards and see where the geese were traditionally fattened for Christmas dinner. Join Royal Parks for a guided walk through Kensington Gardens, focusing on the festive traditions that Victoria and Albert themselves introduced to the country. Kensington Gardens, £10, 10.30 am-12 pm
ARCHITECTURE OF VICTORIA: Learn about the architecture in the Victoria area of London on this guided walk by The London Ambler. See byzantine and classical towers, Italianate townhouses, multi-levelled tenements, mansion blocks and modernist townscapes that don’t often make it into the books. St James the Less Church (Pimlico), £12/£10, 10.30 am-12.30 pm
CRISIS ICEBREAKER: Grasp the chilly weather with an icy dip in Brockwell Lido and help the homelessness charity Crisis. Swim a width of the pool (27m), and collect sponsorship money for it. Brockwell Lido, £28.87+£50 sponsorship, 11 am-2 pm.
WAR HERITAGE DAY: If you have any stories, objects, memories or anything relating to the second world war, take them along to National Army Museum’s heritage day. Volunteers are there to tell you more about them, take photos and add them to the museum’s own records, as well as answering any questions you may have. Free, just turn up at the National Army Museum (Chelsea), 11 am-3 pm.
ILLUSTRATION FAIR: Have an arty day out at House of Illustration’s fair. Browse and buy artworks by a range of artists, including limited edition prints and handmade cards. Free entry, just turn up at GranarySquare (King’s Cross), 11 am-5 pm.
GOSPEL CHRISTMAS: The London Community Gospel Choir performs a special Christmas concert in the fantastic surroundings of the Royal Albert Hall. The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra provides the backing track as the singers warble merry songs including Joy to the World and Oh Holy Night. Royal Albert Hall, £35-£90,7.30pm
ALAN TITCHMARSH: Gardening legend Alan Titchmarsh hosts an evening of festive entertainment and music. The London Philharmonic Choir and the London Concert Orchestra perform a mix of traditional and modern Christmas carols. Southbank Centre, £16.50-£49.50, 8 pm.
Sunday 15 December
WINTER CINEMA: Luna Cinema’s festive season at Kensington Palace begins today, with a screening of rom-com Love Actually. Over the coming week, Elf, Home Alone and other festive classics are screened in the Pavilion in the palace areas. Kensington Palace, £18.50, 15-22 December
SPARKLEFEST: Celebrate the winter holidays with a family-friendly light-themed festival. Sparklefest ties in with the current Rembrandt’s Light exhibition, and includes candlelit storytelling, light drawing workshops, and other activities. Dulwich Picture Gallery, £8/£7, 10 am-5 pm.
PANTO HORSE RACE: The 10th annual London Pantomime Horse Race takes place on the streets of Greenwich, and there’s a Star Wars theme this year. The day starts with a free, open-air Star Wars show featuring Jedis, stormtroopers and Princess Leia before over 30 teams don their horse Star Wars costumes for a route around Greenwich, with several pubs stops along the way. Free to watch, just turn up, Greenwich, pre-race ceremony 11.30 am/race starts at 1 pm.
DECK THE HOUSE: The former residence of poet John Keats is inviting the public in for a family-friendly day of making Christmas decorations. Keats House (Hampstead), just turn up, it’s free 2 pm-4 pm.
HEATHER SMALL: Electric Ballrooms is hosting a Christmas soul night, headlined by Heather Small, previously the singer of M People. R&B singer Imaani, soul singer Zalon Thompson and the London Soul Choir are amongst the other artists, and the event supports Cancer Research UK and Macmillan. Electric Ballroom (Camden), £20, 6 pm-1 am
WINTER CONCERT: End the weekend with a final Christmas concert. The Grand Union Orchestra, where musicians and singers from all over the world, playing pieces learnt this year. Rich Mix (Shoreditch), £8, 6.30 pm
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