We round up some of our favourite places to unwind with the kids this festive season
Best for: Meeting Father Christmas
Belgravia – and in particular Elizabeth Street – is always beautifully lit up around the festive period, and this year it is launching its very first Father Christmas in Residence, in partnership with award-winning cake designer Peggy Porschen. Father Christmas’s newest residence promises to be an authentic adaptation of his North Pole abode, with a gloriously nostalgic living room complete with roaring log fire, lavish sofas and an opulent Victorian Christmas tree. Families can kick back as Father Christmas reads one of his favourite Christmas tales, and enjoy festive treats from Peggy Porschen, plus a surprise to take home. And don’t forget to have your photo with the big man himself! There will also be plenty of free goings-on happening on Elizabeth Street from Sunday 3 December, including craft stalls, children’s entertainment, choirs, brass bands and seasonal food and drink.
Father Christmas in Residence from Saturday 9 to Wednesday 20 December; £5 per child and accompanying adult. All proceeds will be donated to the national children’s literacy charity Beanstalk. Visit 141 Ebury Street, London SW1W 9QW
Best for: Crafts and carols
Christmas by the River in London Bridge City will not only showcase a brilliant festive market this month, but there’s a schedule of themed workshops happening, too. Jumpers For Joy will be hosted by Brixton fashion boutique Make Do and Mend, giving you the chance to jazz up your sweater with a range of materials and a sleigh full of tools. Families can also join the pro musical improv team from The Nursery Theatre to write their very own Christmas carol. Talk about finishing your day on a high note…
Jumpers For Joy, Friday 15 December at 1pm. Christmas Carol Writing, Wednesday 20 December, 1pm. Both workshops are free, simply sign up online. Visit The Pier event space, London Bridge City SE1 2DB
Best for: Rooftop views
Enjoy a family weekend skate while taking in the sights at Skylight at Tobacco Dock. As well as the brilliant ice rink, there’s ice hockey, delicious cheese and chocolate fondue, seasonal cocktails, areas to cosy up in for lunch, and a whole lot more.
Open for families 12pm to 6pm Saturday and Sunday. Skating from £10 each. Visit Tobacco Dock, Pennington Street Entrance, Wapping, London E1W 2SF
Best for: Those with a sweet tooth
London’s iconic hotels are a dream to visit at Christmas time, and The Savoy is no exception as it’s transformed into a festive wonderland for December. Begin your visit by spotting its extravagant Christmas tree decorated by British perfume house Penhaligon’s, and the standout gingerbread hut created by pastry chef Ludwig Hely. Then take a trip to the hotel’s in-house gourmet coffee counter Melba for a mouthwatering selection of decadent hot chocolates and sumptuous toppings, including crushed macaron, cookie dough and crunchy chocolate pearls. Drinks can be finished off with a drizzle of chocolate or salted caramel sauce. And if you can manage one of its éclairs (ahem…we’re sure you can), check out the new sherry trifle and dark chocolate, and mulled wine flavours.
Melba is open daily until 7pm, excluding Sundays. Visit The Savoy, Strand, London WC2R 0EU
Best for: A eclectic grotto
For a ‘parallel’ world where Christmas has been cancelled and St Nicky is leading the revolution, head over to the Imaginarium – a pop-up arts space in an old Victorian warehouse on Southwark Street. Embrace the anarchy with creative collage fun at the topsy-turvy world of St Nicky’s Drawing Centre, have a go at beeswax candle making and shop the festive market for quirky gifts, such as neon signs, hand-drawn illustrations and ceramics. There will also be immersive theatre, live jazz and blues music for adults.
St Nicky’s Drawing Centre workshop, Saturday 9 December, 1pm to 3pm. Candle-making workshop, Saturday 2 and Sunday 10 December, 12pm to 1pm. Visit 32 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TU
Best for: Date night
Back to Christmas by the River in the capital’s London Bridge City now, and Eis Haus brings its ski-inspired ice bar to the banks of the Thames for five weeks. The urban alpine resort will showcase everything from whimsically lit-up ice carvings to live DJs, gondolas and a full programme of events, all wrapped around a sub-zero bar. Recline on the ice throne while you sip drinks from frozen glasses, warm up outdoors with a hot toddy, and take in the festive sights, sounds and smells of the free Christmas market around you. A super-cool nightspot that adventure-seeking couples will love.
Open daily, 12pm to 10pm. Experience tickets from £15 each; the Apres Ski Bar and entertainment are free. Visit London Bridge City, 2A More London Riverside, London SE1 2DB