Christmas at The Charles Dickens Museum
No-one else captures the true glory of Christmas quite like Charles Dickens and the London town-house museum which bears his name, once the home Dickens shared with his family prior to becoming internationally famous, is gearing up for their busiest time of the year. Join them from 1st December 2015 to 6th January 2016 for atmospheric candlelit evenings (16th, 23th & 30th December), late-night openings, and costumed tours of the house, to readings of A Christmas Carol by acclaimed Dickens performers, a Christmas walk through the streets of London (23rd December), or a festive day of celebration on Christmas Eve itself. The museum will also present A Christmas Carol Reimagined, a new exhibition exploring the themes of perhaps Dickens’s most enduring work, A Christmas Carol. Written in just six weeks during the winter of 1843, the work sold 6,000 copies in the six days between its release and Christmas Eve that same year and has never been out of print since.
Christmas at the Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty St, London WC1N 2LX. For more information and tickets visit the website.
English National Ballet’s Nutcracker
Some Christmas traditions are impossible to tire of, and one of which is a trip to the London Coliseum to see English National Ballet’s mesmerising production of Nutcracker, seen by an audience of over 70,000 in 2014. This version by Wayne Eagling returns from 16th December 2015 – 10th January 2016 and features over 100 dancers, a live orchestra and exquisite sets which bring to life the story of how an Edwardian household comes to life one Christmas Eve, with Clara (played by the company’s Artistic Director and Lead Principal, Tamara Rojo on selected performances) and her enchanted Nutcracker doll discovering a magical world, where she battles with the Mouse King and meets a handsome stranger. As the air grows colder, Clara and her valiant Nutcracker take a hot air balloon ride across London to the glistening Land of Snow where her adventure really begins. Ticket prices, which start at just £14, are a snip of the price of the Royal Opera House’s version, and for an equally fine production in our opinion.
For more information and to purchase tickets visit the website.
London’s Answer to Après-ski
Located in a genteel Georgian town-house in Bloomsbury, the Montague on the Gardens hotel will delight guests with their very own Ski Lodge from mid November 2015 until mid January 2016, complete with pine trees, falling snow, reindeer, snowmen, ski racks, piste maps and strings of fairy lights and lanterns, with the centrepiece of this après-ski extravaganza being the bar serving mulled wine, flavoured vodkas, schnapps and alcoholic ‘choc-tails’. There are even blankets to ensure you stay nice and toasty, but don’t forget to don your Christmas jumper for the ‘Selfie Booth’. Ski Lodge passes (£25) should be booked in advance and include your choice of 3 drinks along with a festive platter including a mini turkey burger, bratwurst sausage and deep fried Camembert – yum!
Ski Lodge at Montague on the Gardens, 15 Montague St, London WC1B 5BJ. For more information and party bookings visit the website.
Silent Nights at the Dennis Severs’ House
There is no better time of year to immerse yourself in the unique time-capsule of the Dennis Severs’ House in Spitalfields than during their magical Christmas installation. See the house in all its decked-out glory with a ‘Silent Night’ tour, taking place on selected evenings from 5pm-9pm between 30th November 2015 to 6th January 2016 (£17.50 pp). Giving visitors a 45-minute glimpse of ten rooms of this original Huguenot house the tour allows visitors to time-travel thanks to highly imaginative still life recreations of what it was like to live in this area of London from 1724 and 1914. From ‘The Cellar’ to ‘The Withdrawing Room’, the fact that these tours are conducted in silence only adds to the intrigue. The ‘Exclusive Silent Night’ option (£50) is meanwhile ideal for those who wish to linger a bit longer, with mulled wine and mince pies served in a room of your choosing following the tour.
Silent Night Tours at the Dennis Severs‘ House, 18 Folgate Street, London, E1 6BX. For more information and tickets visit the website.
Jim Broadbent in A Christmas Carol
Whilst you might think that Jim Broadbent is just too jolly nice to play Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, he will be reprising his acclaimed performance of the character, who finally seeks redemption following the visitations of the ghosts of Past, Present and Future, at the Noël Coward Theatre from 30th November 2015 to 30th January 2016. The play by Patrick Barlow has been faithfully adapted from the original Charles Dickens’ novel and will be directed by Phelim McDermott. Four other actors (Adeel Akhtar, Amelia Bullmore, Keir Charles and Samantha Spiro) will also star, alongside puppeteers Jack Parker and Kim Scope who cleverly assist in the telling of the story, but with the Academy Award-winning Broadbent, as the poster-boy it’s no wonder that tickets are hard to come by. A friendly word of warning, if tickets sell out you too will be shouting ‘bah humbug!’
A Christmas Carol at the Noël Coward Theatre, 85-88 St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4AU. For more information and tickets visit the website.
The Milestone’s Festive Afternoon Tea & Carols at Kensington Palace
Located just a stone’s throw from Kensington Gardens, the luxury boutique Milestone Hotel is the perfect venue for a spot of indulgence before or after a visit to Kensington Palace, who will be hosting a series of Christmas events including Victorian Christmas themed tours and Carol Singing evenings with a finale sing-song around their 30ft tree concluding a festive-themed glimpse at the State Apartments. Continue to revel in this traditional festive atmosphere by taking your Festive Champagne Tea (launching on 24th November) in the Milestone’s sumptuous Park Lounge, where you will enjoy a generous selection of sandwiches, freshly baked scones with Devonshire clotted cream and home-made preserves, along with a tier of suitably Christmas-inspired fancy cakes and free flowing loose leaf tea.
Festive Afternoon Tea at The Milestone Hotel, 1 Kensington Court, London, W8 5DL, from 24th November, 1-2 Kensington Ct, London, W8 5DL. For more information and reservations visit the website.
A Sensational Late Night at the Sir John Soane Museum
Tickets are now on sale for Sensational Lates: Taste at the Soane Museum on the 4th December. The museum was once the extraordinary home of Sir John Soane, one of the greatest English architects, who built and lived here. Having collected a treasure-trove of curiosities, the house has been preserved as it was at the time of Soane’s death nearly 180 years ago and visitors can view his fascinating and unique hoard of antiquities, furniture, sculptures and paintings, including work by Hogarth, Turner and Canaletto. During this atmospheric evening event you’ll find the hallways and chambers illuminated by the flickering glow of candles, along with edible chocolate art from AVM Curiosities and cocktails in abundance. Ticket holders will also be offered a 10% discount in the shop, the ideal opportunity for a spot of rather quirky Christmas shopping.
Sensational Lates: Taste at the Sir John Soane Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3BP. Tickets are priced at £30 for arrival at either 6.30pm or 7.30pm. Evening ends at 9.30pm. For more information and to book tickets visit the website.
Christmas at Kew
Enjoy a Boxing Day walk like no other with Kew Garden’s seasonal illuminations. Taking place now until 2 January 2016 (not open on 30 November, 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 24 and 25 December 2015) there is a new trail for 2015, with the one-mile path winding its way through the famous botanic gardens in a magical after-dark experience which features lights, vintage fairground rides, photo opportunities galore and plenty of warming festive food and drink such as toasted marshmallows, roast chestnuts, mulled wine and hot chocolate. Santa and his elves will also be on hand to greet younger visitors. Timed entry tickets (adults £16, children between 4-16 £10) are now on sale, with advanced booking essential due to the popularity of the event. Admission is from 5pm with 30 minute intervals until 8.15pm.
For more information on Christmas at Kew and to book tickets, visit the website.
The Festival of Light at Longleat
Europe’s largest ever display of Chinese lanterns will once again transform Longleat from 13th November 2015 – 3rd January 2016 into a glowing winter wonderland, with thousands of new lanterns alongside previous favourites. Celebrating the age-old tradition of Chinese lanterns, hand crafted in silk, the breathtaking designs allow visitors to explore a world of myths and legends, whilst including giant recreations of some of the safari park’s most famous animal residents. Discover the Terracotta Army, the Great Wall and the mischievous Monkey King – all set against the stunning backdrop of Longleat House. Make a day of it by visiting the authentic Chinese market selling traditional handmade crafts, hop aboard the Santa Express Train, practise your pirouettes on the ice rink, and explore the winter safari before warming up in the seasonally decorated house. Additional charges may apply.
Festival of Light at Longleat, Warminster, Wiltshire BA12 7NW. Full adult ticket £28.95. For more information and tickets visit the website.
Bath Christmas Market
With over 170 traditional wooden chalets lining the streets of Bath, along with the spectacular backdrop of the illuminated Bath Abbey, it’s undoubtedly the most charming Christmas market in the UK and returns this year from 26th November – 13th December to entice Christmas shoppers with handmade crafts, gourmet food and unique gifts, all with an emphasis on companies from the South West. Exhibitors include the Snowdonia Cheese Company, The Bath Gin Company and The Welsh Slate Shop. There will also be a tempting array of food stalls to help warm you up when it gets chilly such as Bratwurst from Green Park Brasserie, chocolate waffles from The Bath Waffle Co, pulled pork courtesy of The Great Stone Baker and a selection of caramel nuts, warm chestnuts and mulled wine available from Chou Chou Nuts Over You.
With help planning your visit to Bath Christmas Market visit the website.
‘A Georgian Christmas’ No.1 Royal Crescent
For a fascinating glimpse at how the Georgians celebrated Christmas above and below stairs, visit Bath’s impressive No.1 Royal Crescent from 23rd November – Sunday 13th December, when the rooms will be filled with Christmas floral displays. Built between 1767 – 1774 to the designs of the architect John Wood the Younger, the Royal Crescent represents the highest point of Palladian architecture in Bath, with No.1 being the first house to be built and originally providing luxury accommodation for the aristocratic visitors who came to ‘take the waters’ and enjoy the social season. Managed by the Bath Preservation Trust, each room in the house is an exquisite example of Georgian interior design with authentic furniture, paintings and textiles. ‘A Georgian Christmas’ is free with normal admission charge.
For more information on visiting No.1 Royal Crescent, Bath, visit the website.
Christmas Carols Afternoon Tea at Coworth Park
Coworth Park, a member of the prestigious Dorchester Collection, and only 45 minutes from London, will be pulling out all the stops this year to create a very sophisticated winter wonderland for guests. Their popular Christmas Carols Afternoon tea takes place in the Drawing Room on weekends from Saturday 21st November to Sunday 20th December (£47.50 including a glass of Champagne), and whilst it goes without saying that there will be plenty of edible delights and mince pies, the addition of singers makes this experience a guaranteed sell-out. Meanwhile, the Festive Afternoon Tea will take place on weekdays until Wednesday 23rd December (£39 with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Brut, £29 without). Quite possibly the most enjoyable way to take time out from writing lists or wrapping – this is one annual indulgence we simply couldn’t do without.
Coworth Park, Blacknest Road, Ascot, Berkshire, SL5 7SE. For more information on the Christmas Carols Tea or the Festive Afternoon Tea visit the website or telephone 01344 630542.