The capital is gearing up for this year’s festive season in a big way. From the lights and crowds of Oxford Street to small, seasonal markets all over town, there is plenty to get you in the mood. Here are some of our recommendations:
Bored of the traditional stories? How about a world première? Award-winning children’s author Philip Ridley’s new play will open at the Southwark Playhouse on 7 December. "Feathers in the Snow" is an epic tale about the importance of home spanning over 500 years. A large cast will feature characters such as a talking leopard, a greedy king, a sea witch and a devious dolphin. There is also a revamped version of "Cinderella", titled "Midnight’s Pumpkin", running from 8 December to 13 January, 2013, at the Battersea Arts Centre. Created by the Kneehigh Theatre company, which specialises in creating events and experiences as opposed to just a play, the show will feature music, dancing and other forms of audience involvement.
For a more active festive excursion, head to one of the city’s specially created ice rinks. The Natural History Museum has been providing seasonal skaters with a grand backdrop for a few years now, but this is the first time it will have a Christmas tree in the centre of the rink. Tickets are available from £11.50 for adults during off-peak hours or £31 for a family ticket (two adults and two children). When you’re done, be sure to check out the stunning pictures inside the museum at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.
Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland has more of a fairground feel with rides and a circus providing extra excitement. The ice rink is the biggest in the country with a Victorian bandstand in the middle. The Christmas mood is enhanced by over 100,000 fairy lights that hang over the rink and make skating after dark an appealing prospect. Although most activities are ticketed (including the skating), entrance to the site, including the Christmas market, is free.
Everyone knows that if you're willing to wait till after Crimbo for gifts, your chances of scoring big increase drastically. Harrods has already started the festivities online, and the in-store sale kicks off on the 26 at 10am. If Harrods is a bit high-end, and you prefer spending your time deciphering picture-based instructions for furniture, hit IKEA for savings of up to 50%. This one is already in full swing, and continues till 13 January. And 50% off is also the percentage to aim for at Habitat, where the sale is on till 21 January in store and online. Fortnum & Mason, John Lewis and Peter Jones all start on the 27, and Harvey Nic's, Liberty, Selfridges and the Westfields East and West start on the 26 December.