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Ten great reasons to get out and explore London this Winter

Posted at 3:30 pm, December 6, 2014 in Arts & Entertainment, Food & Drink

queen of hoxton wigwambam

Don’t succumb to the sofa. There are loads of cold-weather events worth leaving the house for. Eddy Frankel and Jonny Ensall pick the highlights.

For an East End pow wow
WigWamBam at Queen of Hoxton
It’s a bit of a surprise, once you’ve climbed the stairs of megapub the Queen of Hoxton, to emerge breathlessly into a giant wigwam – but it’s a nice, warming one, like finding a tenner in an old pair of thermal trousers. Drink mugs of hot buttered rum, toast marshmallows on an open fire and take part in events including an origami class (Tuesday December 2) and cocktail-making with foraged ingredients (Saturday December 6). The sign above the door sums things up: ‘All good things are wild and free.’ Quite. Queen of Hoxton, 1-5 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3JX.  Liverpool St.

winter festival southbank

For seeing the Thames twinkle
Winter Festival at the Southbank Centre
As if a stroll beside the river wasn’t magical enough, the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival with NatWest has transformed the Thames-side path into a bustling Christmas Market – a fattening kingdom of glühwein and bratwurst all decked out with fairy lights. The festival also includes family-friendly shows you can book now, such as ‘Timber!’ (December 21- 31) from Canadian circus troupe Cirque Alfonse, and precipitation-based crowdpleaser ‘Slava’s Snowshow’ (December 17-January 5). Or simply hang out in the fairytale Christmas-tree maze (£4). Take that, SAD syndrome! Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX.  Waterloo.  Jan 11.

National Gallery. Photo: Jamie Coster© Jamie Coster

For art that makes you shiver
Peder Balke at the National Gallery
You know where’s cold? Norway. So, as a bona fide Norwegian, nineteenth-century Romantic painter Peder Balke knew a thing or two about temperatures that can freeze snot. His innovative paintings in this National Gallery show are desolate, snowy and haunting enough to give you goosebumps. National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN.  Charing Cross.  Apr 12.

the dance before christmas

For a heartwarming hootenanny
The Dance Before Christmas at The Vaults
Few winter parties will be quite as warming as The Dance Before Christmas. Held in the atmospheric Vaults below Waterloo station, it promises immersive storytelling, booze and – most importantly – hits from Hackney Colliery Band; because there’s nothing like a bit of brass to make you feel like all is right with the world. Leake St, SE1 7NN.  Waterloo. Sat Dec 6, Dec 13.

fun and gamez

For just kidding around
‘Funz and Gamez’ at Soho Theatre
Sure, this surprise Edinburgh Fringe comedy hit is aimed at the little ’uns, but it’s the adults who are really laughing. Comedian Phil Ellis appears as a dejected children’s stand-up (full of important life lessons like ‘Don’t get too attached to your nanna’), accompanied by a keyboard-playing dog and a tatty elf. Unpatronising and wonderfully daft, it’s one of the few occasions when the phrase ‘fun for all the family’ rings true. Soho Theatre, 21 Dean St, W1D 3NE.  Tottenham Court Rd. Sat Dec 6  Jan 4.

the enchanted woodland

For lights, cameras, trees
Enchanted Woodland in Syon Park
See nature given a makeover at London’s fanciest forest, the Enchanted Woodland (now in its last weekend). Wind around Syon Park’s illuminated foliage, gawping and snapping pics like you’re at a Beyoncé gig. Tree-mendous. Syon House and Park, TW8 8JF.  Gunnersbury. Fri Dec 5  Sun Dec 7.


For more mirth than you can shake a snowball at
Winterville in Victoria Park
This is the big one: a whole festival devoted to cosy, feelgood activities, laced with east London coolness. At Victoria Park’s Winterville there’ll be an ice rink, rollerdisco, spiegeltent, horsedrawn carriage rides and, that most festive of attractions, a ‘wall of death’. Could this debut year be the beginning of a grand new tradition? We hope so. Victoria Park, E3 5SN.  Bethnal Green. Tue Dec 2  Jan 1.

Edward Scissorhands

For a ballet that’s a cut above
‘Edward Scissorhands’ at Sadler’s Wells
You might not think there’s anything particularly seasonal about watching a scissor-handed madman prancing about on stage, but the ballet version of Tim Burton’s 1990 wintry film classic is undoubtedly a chilling tale, as well as a tour de force of modern dance. It’s back in London for the first time in years. Don’t miss it. Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, EC1R 4TN.  Angel. Tue Dec 2  Jan 11.


For nippy nippers
‘Antarctica’ at Battersea Arts Centre
The latest show from mischievous theatre company Little Bulb, ‘Antarctica’ is for ages two to six, and features a trio of performers and puppets who journey to the South Pole in search of new creatures. It’s sure to be seriously silly. Lavender Hill, SW11 5TN. Clapham Junction Overground. Tue Dec 2  Jan 4.

lines in ice © british library© British Library

For pioneering history
‘Lines in the Ice: Seeking the Northwest Passage’ at The British Library
For centuries, explorers sought a waterway to connect the north Atlantic and the north Pacific oceans – 400 years of tragedy and failure. This exhibition charts the heroic hunt for the Northwest Passage. Not that winter ought to be about things going to shit, but this will at least put your crummy commute into some sort of perspective. British Library, 96 Euston Rd, NW1 2DB.  King’s Cross.  Mar 29.

For more great things to do over this month take a look here.

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