Spread Christmas cheer this weekend with some of London’s best things to do on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
FESTIVE CARRIAGE RIDES: Richmond Park isn’t the only place offering festive carriage rides this season. 30-minute rides, accompanied by costumed footmen, are provided as an alternative way to explore Morden Hall Park. Blankets are provided, but you’re advised to dress warmly. 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
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: Having a last-minute 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. You’ll be able to pick up a glass of mulled wine at most of them too.
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 — most of them run through until New Year, but it’s the final weekend of the City Island rink.
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, look for the best Santa’s grottos in London, and see if you can blag a last-minute appointment.
THE SNOWMAN: For kids (and adults) who are fans of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, there’s a free festive sculpture trail by the river. Twelve large models of the frosty fellow have been unveiled, each one designed to represent a different day from the 12 Days of Christmas song. London Bridge City, free, just turn up, until 5 January 2020
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: Not managed to see London’s Christmas lights yet? Take some time 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 more comfortable way to see them.
CHRISTMAS IN LONDON: If all of that’s not enough festivity for you, have a browse of our Christmas in London guide for other festive things to do in the capital over the coming weeks.
Discover the wilder side of Bingo this weekend at Electric Brixton
Lip sync battles. Conga lines. Rave rounds. This is Bingo — but not as your nana knows it. Bingo Loco has given the game a thoroughly modern make-over, hosting sell-out shows in incredible venues all over the world. And now it’s coming to London.
Bingo Loco’s extra special Christmas show is happening this Saturday at Electric Brixton. With a DJ playing your favourite nineties and noughties bangers, glowsticks galore, and plenty of chances to win big, it’s ideal for a festive night out.
Prizes range from the sublime (the jackpot is a holiday in a mystery European location), to the bizarre (some Bingo Loco-ers have walked away with lawn-mowers), and you’ve got extra chances to win novelty goodies in dance-offs and lip-sync battles between all that dabbing. The fun kicks off at 6 pm on Saturday 21 December, and tickets cost £20. Get yours here, and get ready to discover the wilder side of Bingo.
Saturday 21 December
LIGHT UP NINE ELMS: It’s the final night of light installation Light Up Nine Elms. See illustrations of the nine elm trees — that the area is named and famed for — by artist Pippa Taylor projected onto buildings nearby. The illuminations, commissioned by Wandsworth Council, come to life after dark. Follow a special route around the area, or follow your nose and see what you can spot. Nine Elms, it’s free, just turn up, until 21 December.
FROST FAIR FESTIVAL: Take the kids along to Museum of London Docklands to learn about the frost fairs that used to take place on the Thames when it froze over. Take part in games and workshops, enjoy live performances and have a go at arts and crafts, all designed to recreate the special events. Museum of London Docklands, free, just turn up, 12 pm
CLASSIC CARS: The monthly gathering of classic cars returns to Lower Marsh in Waterloo. Apply for a parking spot if you’ve got a motor you want to show off, otherwise, just turn up and wander among classic vehicles of yesteryear. Lower Marsh (Waterloo), free, just turn up, 12 pm-3 pm
BOOZE AND THE BOROUGH: Footprints of London guide David Charnick leads a booze-themed guided walk around Borough. Learn about the area’s alcohol-laced history, including London’s largest brewery. The Shard, £12/£9, book ahead, 2.30 pm-4.30 pm
LEGENDS AND LEGACIES: London’s older LGBT+ community is celebrated at a festive variety show. The Legends & Legacies Yuletide Special is organised by LGBT+ support charity Opening Doors London and performance artist XNTHONY, and features a wealth of festive cabaret. Southbank Centre, free, just turn up, 4.30pm
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
SARA PASCOE: Comedian Sara Pascoe headlines a comedy show in aid of Mums In Need. Deborah Frances-White, Lou Sanders, Tiff Stevenson and Steen Raskopoulos also appear in the festive show. Bloomsbury Theatre, £15/£10, book ahead, 7.45pm
Sunday 22 December
WARWICK AVENUE WANDER: Join Living London for a festive canal-side wander from Warwick Avenue to Westbourne Park. Visit London’s oldest gardening centre, wander through the whimsical Meanwhile Community Gardens and see Erno Goldfinger’s iconic Trellick Tower, hearing stories of the people and communities that make the spaces so special as you go. Warwick Avenue, £15, book ahead, 11 am-1.30 pm
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 connection between a 4th Century saint and Rudolph, and the reason why Santa Claus is Red. St Paul’s Station, £12/£9, book ahead, 12 pm-2 pm
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, 2.30 pm-4.30 pm.
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, 4 pm.
CAROL SERVICE: All Souls Langham Place holds the closing of its Christmas carols services. A live choir and orchestra present some of the nation’s favourite Christmas carols, with festive readings and a short talk on the Nativity tale. All Souls Langham Place, just turn up, 4.30 pm/6.30 pm. It’s free.
MENORAH LIGHTING: Yes, it’s Christmas, but also, Chanukah. Celebrate the Jewish festival at Islington’s Menorah Lighting event, open to everyone. See the world’s first kinetic laser menorah lit, hear sci-fi Chanukah tales, and experience live music. Islington Green, just turn up at 5 pm-7 pm, it’s free.
WORDS UNWRAPPED: Enjoy a festive celebration of storytelling at Words Unwrapped. Up-and-coming poets and fabulists regale the audience with warming winter tales. Southbank Centre, free, you just have to turn up at 5.30 pm.