Martha Alexander rounds up the best events for families in London for Christmas 2018
The Nutcracker encapsulates the spirit of the season beautifully – and has done for almost 70 years. This performance by English National Ballet features more than 100 dancers and is set to Tchaikovsky’s famous score, joins Clara and her Nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve. Audiences will be charmed as Clara’s toys come to life and join her on an extraordinary journey which takes in both a Mouse King and of course, the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Admission: From £14
When? Thursday 13 to Sunday 30 December
Where? London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4ES
Snuggle up in front of a few Christmas classics with a mince pie in hand, as Pop Up Screens takes over Hackney Showrooms for the festive season. Kicking off with Love Actually on Thursday 13 December, this year’s schedule includes the likes of Elf, Home Alone 2, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Holiday, and many more, and there’s even bonus matinee showings that are perfect for little ones.
Admission: Adults from £10; children from £6
When? Thursday 13 to Sunday 23 December
Where? Hackney Showroom, Hackney Downs Studios, Amhurst Terrace, London E8 2BT
What did Victorian children do on Christmas day? What presents did they yearn for? How did they celebrate? Experience a traditional Victorian Christmas at these Festive Weekends at the V&A – from card-making to decorating a tree, through these 30-minute family performances at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.
When? Saturday 1 to Saturday 22 December
Where? Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL
Enjoy a magical day out as Hampton Court will be transformed into a stunning festive food lover’s wonderland, full of delicious artisan food and drink with inspiring seasonal cookery demonstrations. Eat, drink and be merry, while soaking up the atmosphere with sing-along festive classics and candlelit carols by local choirs.
Admission? Adults from £19.20; children from £9.60
When? Friday 7 to Sunday 9 December
Where? Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU
One of the loveliest yuletide markets in the capital is Wintertime on the Southbank. Visitors will be able to pick up unusual presents and delicious festive foods. There’ll also be a variety of performances promising music and silliness.
When? Saturday 8 December to Sunday 6 January 2019
Where? Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
See the garden light up at after-hours spectacular Christmas at Kew. Visitors will follow a festive trail through the famous gardens with over 1m twinkling lights and thousands of laser beams. This year Kew is offering a Christmas dinner in the Botanical restaurant.
Admission: Adults from £16.50; children from £10
When? Thursday 22 November to Saturday 5 January 2019
Where? Kew Gardens, Victoria Gate, Richmond, TW9 3JR
Perfect for youngsters with boundless energy, Brat Kids Carnival is a dynamic afternoon show for children of all ages, full of mischief and madness. With a focus on self-expression, youngsters and adults alike will be agog with all of the glorious spectacles – flying acrobats and crazy clowning included.
Admission: From £10.25
When? Saturday 10 November to Sunday 30 December
Where? The Spiegeltent, Leicester Square Gardens, Leicester Square, London WC2H 7NA
The London 2012 Olympic legacy venue at Lee Valley will host an array of seasonal activities including an ice rink, curling lanes and a fun fair – complete with traditional rides. At weekends, Santa Claus will be there, ready to talk to youngsters about what they’d like for Christmas – and receive an early gift from under the tree.
Admission: Prices vary
When? Saturday 1 December to Sunday 9 January 2019
Where? Lee Valley White Water Centre, Station Road, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, EN9 1AB
Nothing feels more Christmassy than ice-skating outdoors. And where better to do it than in the elegant grounds of Somerset House, specifically in the very centre of the beautiful Edmond J. Safra Fountain courtyard? After you’ve finished, refresh with a glass of champagne (parents) or mug of hot chocolate (kids) in Fortnum’s Lodge.
Admission: Adults, £11; children, £8.50
When? Wednesday 14 November to Sunday 13 January 2019
Where? Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
Starring Dawn French, Julian Clary and Nigel Havers, Snow White at the London Palladium star-studded performance of one of the world’s best-loved fairy tales. Suitable for children ages three and over, the show includes song, dance and a hefty dose of comedy gold for all ages.
Admission: From £34.50
When? Saturday 8 December to Sunday 13 January
Where? London Palladium, 8 Argyll St, London W1F 7LA
When? Thursday 12 to Sunday 30 December
Where? London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4ES
Discover how film-makers create fire, ice and snow that never melts as the Studio Tour at Warner Bros. transforms into Hogwarts in the Snow. The Great Hall will be lined with Christmas trees and the dining tables bedecked with props showcasing a brilliant banquet.
Admission: Adults from £39; children from £31; under-fives go free
When? Saturday 17 November to Sunday 27 January 2019
Where? Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, WD25 7LR
See London Zoo as you’ve never before, illuminated by thousands of pea lights. Visitors will take in the fountains at the iconic penguin pool while listening to a host of classic Christmas tunes.
Admission: Adults, £16.50; children, £10.50
When? Friday 22 November to Tuesday 1 January 2019
Where? ZSL London Zoo, Regent’s Park, London, England NW1 4RY
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