What’s Going On December 4th?
This time of year is, for most of us, the time in which our schedules are at their most full, and we are at our busiest, rushing around and trying to get everything done in time for the big day.
But what if you have guests, or perhaps children, who need entertaining? What if you are having a festive breakdown and just need a break from it all; a few hours to spend just doing something you enjoy?
Here, I have come up with a few fun things you can do to take your mind off the stresses of the season, and start enjoying the holidays instead! This has been a tricky post in a lot of ways, because obviously I couldn’t plan days out in every town or city across the world, as much as I would have loved too; consequently, I have focused mainly on what’s going on in London at the moment, because that is where I spend most of my time. Sorry if that’s a bit far away for you!
On the plus side, it’s really easy to find things to do in your local area, even if you just google what’s going on; I’d love to hear all about what you’ve been up too and how you have been spending your holidays – who knows, one day I might find myself needing something to do where you are!
So, here’s my list of suggestions as to what’s going on this month.
Every year, Hyde Park is transformed into a magical fairground complete with a sparkling ferris wheel, an ice rink, a circus, and a whole host of other wonders, all of which come together to make one of the city’s most popular attractions at this time of year; Winter Wonderland.
With something for everyone, it is easy to see why Winter Wonderland has become a staple activity in many people’s holiday plans. With its myriad of market stalls selling everything from unique Christmas gifts to festive culinary delights, it is an ideal place to do all your gift shopping, and the many cafes which line the market provide a choice of warm venues to rest your legs and pick up a hot drink. There is even a bar on a Christmassy carousel, which spins slowly around in a circle, and if you’re around later in the evening, bars based in ski lodges and winter cabins open their doors to welcome you in with a friendly atmosphere and live music.
Whilst Winter Wonderland itself is free to enter, you do have to pay for tickets for some of the larger attractions, including Zippos Circus, the ice skating rink, many of the rides and Santa Land (although, you can meet Santa here, so what’s the downside?)
Open until January 5th, Winter Wonderland is truly something I would recommend to anyone, due to its huge variety of attractions; if you’re interested, more information can be found on the Winter Wonderland website here.
If you’re looking to escape the festivities all together, and if you’re a bit of an art/design geek like myself, why not explore one of the many exhibitions on in the various museums around town; not one of which are related to Christmas in any way.
The Victoria and Albert Museum, in my opinion, always put on a good show, and their current exhibition, “Club to Catwalk; London Fashion in the 1980s,” looks to be no exception. Showcasing almost 100 outfits, the exhibition traces the way in which the capital’s vibrant club scene influenced designers such as Betty Jackson, Katherine Hamnett, and John Galliano, who’s various bold, experimental designs were to change the face of fashion forever. The love affair between club and catwalk is a fascinating one, and it is especially intriguing to see how this creative relationship spawned various movements, such as New Romanticism, and completely reinvented the way in which fashion functioned, from the level of the catwalk to the level of the streets. The exhibition is on until February 16th, and prices start at £5.70. Find out more here.
Following the theme of influential fashion designers, the Design Museum is currently celebrating the work of Paul Smith in an exhibition they are calling (funnily enough) “HELLO MY NAME IS PAUL SMITH.” The Design Museum follows the development of this British label from its humble beginnings in Nottingham, to the global success in which it basks today. Exploring the unique mind of one of fashion’s most inventive, wittiest designers, from his past influences to his plans for the future, “HELLO MY NAME IS PAUL SMITH” is on until March 9th, with tickets costing from £8.40. Have a look here for more information.
If you’re into the more artistic side of life, there are quite a few exhibitions celebrating some of the most influential art from the past century, two of which are “Paul Klee – Making Visible” at the Tate Modern, and “Pop Art Design” at the Barbican.
Klee’s highly experimental style has made his work some of the most recognisable of the past century. Influenced by some of the most innovative movements of the early 20th Century, such as Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism, his own influence can be felt far and wide, particularly on abstraction and colour theory. The Tate Modern’s exhibition aims to rediscover Klee’s work by displaying his pieces alongside eachother, in the manner in which the artist originally intended. Prices start at £14.50, and the exhibit is running until March 9th; read more about it here.
Meanwhile, the Barbican’s “Pop Art Design” explores one of the most influential and well known artistic movements in history, bringing together more than 200 works from over 70 artists, including such household names as Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Hamilton and Andy Warhol. The first exhibit to explore the relationship between Pop Artists and designers, “Pop Art Design” is at the Barbican until February 9th, with tickets costing upwards from £8. Find out more here.
If all those exhibitions don’t float your boat, why not just go shopping? The lights on and around Oxford Street are as spectacular as usual, and there is nowhere better to do your Christmas shopping, from several flagship high street stores, to department stores such as John Lewis, Liberty of London, and Selfridges. This years lights have undergone a revamp too, making them even more of a must see; inspired by falling snow, the entire mile of Oxford Street has been covered in a blanket of light and baubles, creating that magical Christmassy feel. Awww.
Maybe a play is more your thing; it’s certainly always an easy option if you have kids! See “The Gruffalow” at the Lyric Theatre until January 12th, or take in one of the many pantomimes around the city (after all, what’s Christmas without a good old fashioned panto?) Choose from “Aladdin” at the New Wimbledon Theatre, “Puss In Boots” at the Hackney Empire, “Jack in the Beanstalk” at the Lyric Hammersmith, or don’t choose at all, and see “Potted Panto” at the Vaudeville; an extravaganza which spoils you by going through seven classic panto stories in one sitting.
I’d probably avoid that last one if you’re not a big Christmas fan.
Last but not least, why not go ice skating at the beautiful Somerset House? The exquisite setting would make for such a romantic evening out (unless, of course, you’re me, and you broke your arm on the last occasion you attempted to ice skate), or you could try one of the ice rink’s club nights, which features music from some of the top DJs of the moment, as well as a rink-side cocktail bar; although, you’d have to be a braver person than me to mix alcohol with ice skating.
Plus, while you’re there, have a look at the current exhibition on designer Isabella Blow, the woman who launched the careers of Sophie Dahl, Stella Tennant, Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy, amongst others. Costing from £12 and running until March 2nd, the exhibition is sure to be just incredible; have a look here to learn more.
There are so many more things I could suggest – Christmas markets, carol concerts, musicals and craft-based events amongst them – but this post is already far too long! However, please tell me if you’ve found anything fun to do in London (or anywhere else for that matter) that I haven’t mentioned here.
Happy December 4th!