London is firing on all cylinders once again in time for the festive season and there is much fun to be had in the capital. From horse-drawn carriage rides to Christmas food markets and chic wreath-making classes to carols by candlelight, we have handpicked the best experiences in London for you to bookmark this December.
The unveiling of the annual Christmas tree at this Mayfair institution is often signalled as the official start of the festive season — and for good reason. This year, Claridge’s invited long-time friend and collaborator Kally Ellis, founder of renowned floral designers McQueen’s Flowers to design its tree and the result is an Art Deco-inspired masterpiece. The frosted, natural-shaped tree drips with garlands of crystals and glass pendant creating a frozen dreamscape in the hotel’s grand lobby. Bring on the Roaring Twenties we say.
Claridge’s, Brook Street, Mayfair, W1;
We might not be in store for a normal Christmas, but there are many traditions we can stick to including a beautiful festive wreath for our front door. This year, flex your green fingers and make your own at one of Petersham Nurseries’ socially distanced pop-up classes, using its classic combination of winter foliage, festive berries and seed heads. The £150 ticket includes light refreshments — and, of course, you get to take your creation home with you.
Selected dates from 7-15 December at Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden and Richmond;
In addition to its Blue Box Cafe, which has updated with a new wintery menu of food and cocktails (order the Tiffany Martini), Tiffany & Co is opening a gifting pop-up at the Knightsbridge store. Shop its sumptuous Globetrotter luggage sets, legacy diamonds and enjoy its curation of imaginative experiences which include wine tasting sessions to accompany its barware set and a masterclass with a gemologist.
Available from the Tiffany & Co pop up store at
Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, SW1
What could be more wholesome and festive than sloe gin, mince pies and a horse-drawn carriage ride through Richmond Park in December? You will start at Holly Lodge, meeting your majestic hooved chauffeurs (Shire horses) before snuggling under blankets and setting off on an hour long tour of the park and its wintery beauty and wildlife. Taking up to six guests, the cosy carriages cost £450 — and proceeds from the horse drawn rides will help fund sustainable conservation initiatives with the working Shire horses in The Royal Parks. Remember to wrap up warm.
Selected dates until 3 January;
Fans of the pastel-drenched @accidentallywesanderson will be delighted to hear that Hackney is hosting an immersive pop-up dedicated to the runaway Instagram account. Stepping into what will feel like a Wes Anderson set, you will be celebrating the launch of AWA creator Wally Kaval’s new book, which explores the stories behind the builds and landscapes featured on the account. Early birds will have a chance to snap up limited numbers of the book and prints.
4-23 December at The Old Bank Vault, 283 Hackney Road, E2;
To celebrate the end of lockdown, Selfridges has revamped its summer market on Edward Mews with a distinctly Christmassy feel. Joining forces with Dominic Cools-Lartigue of Street Feast, it has added a line-up of festive-appropriate traders including Cheese Wheel — who whip up fresh pasta in a giant Grand Padano wheel — and Sicilian Goods, who will be offering a selection of Christmas sweet treats perfect for Italophiles. To make it extra seasonal, there will be mulled wine and hot rum cocktails as well as trees, wreaths and decorations to buy.
From 3 December and daily throughout December at Edward Mews, Marylebone, W1;
For anyone lamenting the absence of London’s most iconic ice skating rink, Somerset House has come up with a pretty wonderful Christmas alternative. Its courtyard will be filled with a scattering of stylish winter domes, which can seat up to six guests for a festive feast. Book in for lunch, supper or afternoon tea — expect a set menu of delights such as jammie dodger cupcakes, homemade scones, and whipped popcorn cheesecake.
3 December to 1 January; Somerset House, Strand, Wc2;
The Christopher Wren-designed St James’s church on Piccadilly will be throwing open its doors for a musical spectacular this Christmas — and all by candlelight. The musicians of the Piccadilly Sinfonietta will perform a roster of timeless works including Vivaldi’s Winter, Handel’s Messiah and Corelli’s Christmas Concerto. Book a spot for your household or your social bubble — it’s an evening that is guaranteed to make you feel very festive.
19 December at St James’s Piccadilly, 197 Piccadilly, W1;
Would it truly be Christmas without the Nutcracker? The Royal Opera House will be staging 17 performances of Peter Wright’s Christmas classic. As well as the feted Christmas tree and snowflake scenes, the production will feature a new scene for Christmas 2020: a battle scene between the Nutcracker, the Mouse King and their armies. Dress up in your finest, pop some champagne pre-show and settle in for a sublime evening soundtracked by Tchaikovsky’s divine score.
From 11 December to 3 January at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, WC2;
Some people are determined not to let Corona get in the way of a good cause — and one such person is Like Martineau, who organises an annual candlelit carol concert in memory of his sister Alice with proceeds going to the cystic fibrosis trust set up in her name. This year, it is going virtual, meaning you can join Dame Judi Dench, Damian Lewis and the Winchester College Choral Choir for its 18th edition. Recorded in St Luke’s Church in Chelsea and Abbey Road Studios, it will be streamed via YouTube.
On 17 December;