It’s the second part of my Christmas preview, out of…how many? Who knows? Depends how I feel really. Anyway, there’s a whole load of fun stuff you can do in London next month to really get into that Christmassy spirit.
Let’s start with the free things – a wander through Central London to look at all the pretty lights. Eva and I walked from Green Park to Wardour Street the other day, and she was enchanted by the window displays in Waterstones, Fortnum&Mason and The Ritz. Then she threw a massive tantrum because she liked the look of the Chinese lanterns in Chinatown and didn’t fancy going to Mummy’s office, where there were no lanterns of any sort. But let’s skim over that.
The lights on Regent St and Oxford St are the most famous ones, obviously, but they aren’t that exciting. Bond Street is pretty and I always love Covent Garden at Christmas. This year they have a Lego Santa! We need to go. And then there’s the Southbank, where the annual Christmas market is already up and running. Wonder if the wooden ties will be there this year?
People often ask me about Winter Wonderland with a toddler – well, we went there a few years back and it was pretty full on. This year, a better option looks to be Winterville in Victoria Park, Hackney which features a fairground and ice rink but also a roller disco and some very East London food options – craft beer and street food. Our friends Big Fish Little Fish are also holding a very special party there on the 23rd of December. I suspect Christmassy fancy dress will be mandatory. There’s also an ice rink and Christmas market at Canary Wharf if you fancy a skate among the skyscrapers.
Another nice idea is the Christmas Weekend at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on 13th and 14th December – there are fairytales after dark, a festive family run and Santa at the Orbit. Plus arts and crafts and Christmas choirs!
Further afield, there’s a brand new attraction opening today in Tunbridge Wells – Father Christmas Land, complete with tinsel train and Santa’s grotto. It may be a bit of a trek from London but it sounds like a lovely day out. I’ve also heard tell of some exciting Christmas events down in Hampshire, at Butser Ancient Farm including a Roman Christmas. Bob’s sister may be involved.
If this all sounds a bit exhausting, let me outline some more laidback options for you. Our old local, the Tea House Theatre, is running another season of Christmas films, this time chosen by the kids themselves. Vote for your favourites here! It’s also next to a brand new attraction – the Vauxhall Christmas Tree Maze. And for those days when you don’t even want to leave the house, there’s a whole festive programme on CBeebies with Christmas specials from our favourite shows – the Furchester Hotel has its own Santa (“Monster Monster”), Rebecca plays at being an elf in “Let’s Play”, the Dinopaws follow a star and there are special adventures from Sarah&Duck, the Octonauts and Q Pootle 5. Plus, of course, the CBeebies panto. It’s awesome.
Failing any of that, just go to Tesco. It has a Christmas tree, you can buy them a gingerbread snowman from Costa….what else does a toddler need?