The capital is at its finest in the festive season – the streets are aglow with lights, the ice rinks start making their appearance and nobody can deny that the whole city has a certain buzz to it. Make the most of the run up to Christmas with our guide to what’s on:
What to see and do
The immersive shopping party will include the 6pm switch-on of the sustainable, ocean-themed Carnaby light installation, which has been designed using only recycled and reusable materials. On the night, shoppers can enjoy a 20 per cent discount at over 100 shops and restaurants across the 14 streets of Carnaby including fashion and lifestyle favourites Paul Smith, Ben Sherman, ba&sh, The Kooples, MONKI, Pixi, M.A.C, Cowshed and Benefit. There will also be an Eco Glitter station offering FREE underwater-themed makeovers.
Walk like an Egyptian
The legend of Tutankhamun captured imaginations globally when his tomb was unearthed by British explorer Howard Carter and financier Lord Carnarvon in 1922.
Produced by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and IMG, and presented in London by Viking Cruises TUTANKHAMUN: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh will unveil more than 150 original objects from the tomb, 60 of which are travelling out of Egypt for the first and final time before they return for permanent display within the Grand Egyptian Museum which is currently under construction.
Recently closed in Paris, the exhibition became France’s most visited of all time with attendance of over 1.4 million. With tickets selling fast for the London showing, sell-outs are expected and advance booking is highly recommended.
Step into a painting
The National Gallery is creating an immersive exhibition of the Leonardi da Vinci painting The Virgin of the Rocks where images from the exhibition are projected onto the gallery walls enabling gallery goers to feel as though they are part of the artwork. The Gallery will becomes a painting studio, an imagined chapel and a room-sized experiment in an experience that leads you through the mind of Leonardo da Vinci to explore his masterpiece, The exhibition will be open from the 9th November.
Experience nature reinterpreted through earthly interventions, performances and soundscapes at the Royal Academy
Taking inspiration from Antony Gormley, Eco-Visionaries and Lucian Freud: The Self Portraits, the late-night opening will explore portrayals of the body and its relationship to nature and the cosmos through performance art and multi-sensory installations.
This curated contemporary programme spanning performance art, soundscapes, live music, sculpture, film, installation art and more will takeover the RA’s two-acre campus for one night. Experience botanical landscapes, industrial themed dj sets and spaces exploring the deepest corners of the cosmos.
This Christmas, Harvey Nichols has created an enchanted secret hideaway for customers to enjoy festive films, ice cream cocktails, Nordic nibbles and exclusive Saturday Schools. Take in the magical Northern Lights glistening across the building’s façade before stepping through a mystical woodland and into a winter scene complete with a never-ending night sky. Throughout November and December, a special edit of Christmas films will be showing at the Pocket Cinema, situated in the space. Films include a mixture of classics and family favourites such as Home Alone and The Muppet Christmas Carol, as well as How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street – a range of nostalgic movies to get you in the festive spirit. Tickets are priced at £20 per adult and £10 per child. The space will also host two wreath-making Saturday Schools with florist Farima Perry. Visit from Friday 8thNovember until Sunday 5th January.
For a low-key alternative to Secret Cinema, try out a snow-themed cinema experience at The Backyard Cinema in Wandsworth where guests will make their way through a winter wonderland before taking their seats in a cosy Christmas cinema to enjoy some festive favourites on screen.
From the 21st to the 24th November 30,000 hungry foodies kick off the festive season in style at Taste! When Taste! transforms East London’s Tobacco Dock into a food-and-fun-filled wonderland, with festive tipples to die for and all the shopping you need to get sorted in time for Christmas.
Where to drink
Dalloway Terrace, Bloomsbury
Head to Dalloway Terrace with its floral installation of champagne-coloured frosted foliage, natural lichen and and icy white magnolia and sample a menu that includes every winter delicacy you can imagine from fondue to pigeon pie. Then wash it all down with the aptly named Hug In A Mug (Belsazar White, Cachaça Yaguara, Chamomile Tea, Honey). The all-weather terrace is fully covered and heated, with hot water bottles, Foxford woollen blankets and a chimnea on the patio.
Mr Fogg’s Gin Emporium
Head to Mr Fogg’s Gin Emporium in Covent Garden for a Japanese inspired winter light festival. Guests will be met by a striking red Torii framing the entrance to Mr Fogg’s Tavern, with delicate hues of pink Japanese blossom adorning the exterior. Follow the lantern trail upstairs to enjoy a Japanese cocktail menu inspired by the names of Japanese festivals. Harvest Moon and Shinjiro’s Secret.
Bourne and Hollingsworth Garden Room
Ignore the uninspiring entrance through a hotel lobby and take the lift up to a gorgeous view of the city’s rooftops. Situated just yards from Leicester Square, you can look out towards Nelson’s Column and enjoy a festive menu and winter cocktails.
Where to eat
There’s nothing more comforting in winter than a beautifully cut steak cooked to perfection. Read our guide to London’s best steaks here. We’ve also been busy rounding up the best restaurants flying under the radar in Notting Hill and Marylebone.
If the festive season leaves you pining for log fires and country walks, then a trip to Sussex in the West End will soon lift your spirits. The menu at Sussex is a celebration of – you guessed it – Sussex cuisine, merging home-grown, heritage dishes with modern cooking techniques and a forward-thinking approach. Home-cured charcuterie, Sussex cheeses and wines are served up daily from a counter in the main dining room. Smoked Trout Cornettos with Blood Orange Pearls and Dill Powder; Beef & Horseradish Crackling with Burnt Onion Emulsion; and Homemade Truffled Burrata will be among the snacks to accompany the fine English wines, beers and cocktails served in the welcoming adjoining bar area.
Sussex will open on Frith Street, Soho on November 4
Located on Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia, Norma’s guests are advised to come hungry with a big group of friends and order the whole menu to share. Highlights on the Sicilian-inspired menu include Spaghettini fritters with a creamy pecorino dip; Cherrystone clams with saffron and shallot; Salt marsh lamb crudo with a lamb fat crostini and their namesake – Pasta alla norma. Desserts are also a real highlight at Norma, such as Plum and rose water cake with whipped mascarpone; Brioche, salted caramel ice cream and a bitter chocolate sauce or their house made seasonal Cannoli.
8 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 2LS