Lockdown is over and London is in Tier 2, meaning we can now venture out cautiously (remind yourself of the rules here). How to spend your precious new-found freedom? Check out our pick of the best Covid-secure things to do in London this weekend…
Lead image: Miracle at Henrietta © Addie Chinn
1 Connected by Light, Canary Wharf
2 Dec-27 Feb 2021
Canary Wharf’s hugely popular Winter Lights festival is off this year, to be replaced with a smaller-scale, Covid-secure version of the luminous event called Connected by Light. Specially chosen so that they can be appreciated from a distance, the curated collection of nine new light installations will bring some festive cheer to Canary Wharf while being mindful of people’s need for space. To find the lights, download the Connected by Light map from canarywharf.com and create your own journey, but make sure you don’t miss Curious Fluorious, which sees Baker & Borowski apply their own personal spin to Lewis Carroll’s iconic Alice in Wonderland with impressive sculpture-like pieces that dominate the space with an enchanting glow that makes for the perfect selfie. Free. Runs from dusk till 10pm daily.
2 Sherlock: The Official Outdoor Game, Shepherd’s Bush
From 3 December
The makers of Sherlock: The Official Live Game have brought to life a brand-new outdoor experience in a parallel narrative with the Sherlock Escape experience. Prepare to follow in the footsteps of the great detective as teams of two to six people take part in an outdoor digital mission with a twist. Mixing gameplay with story, Sherlock: The Official Outdoor Game – The Kensington Affair, uses interactive narrative for the new game in which teams have to work to unravel the plot, guided by Mycroft himself as he sends requests for information, asks for assistance with tasks and guides groups as they travel by foot across west London. The live Holmes investigation will test players skills and mental ability as they gather key evidence, find clues, crack codes and solve the mystery. Teams will be digitally assisted along their physical journey by real-world characters, animated video, voicemail and text messaging, all via the app Actionbound.
Ground Floor, West 12 Shopping Centre, Shepherd’s Bush W12 8PP; thegameisnow.com
3 Backyard Cinema, Wandsworth
From 3 December
Backyard Cinema returns from 3 December with two great winter-themed screens and experiences. As well as winter and Christmas-themed immersive cinema experiences, the converted TV studio in Wandsworth also boasts incredible drinking and dining spaces with street food from Honest Burgers and Backyard Cinema’s own artisan pizza, cocktails, craft beer and more. A Christmas experience like no other, with a build-your-own boozy hot chocolate bar, mulled wine and cider, festive live music will provide that extra sprinkle of magic to accompany your favourite seasonal classics that includes Elf, Home Alone, Love Actually, The Muppet Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. Hidden deep inside Dr Portelli’s Curiosity Shop is a secret entrance to The Snow Kingdom, a magical world, complete with an indoor waterfall. There’s also the Winter Night Garden, an enchanted forest entered via a magical wardrobe. Both offer brilliant cinematic experience for film lovers.
Capital Studios, 13 Wandsworth Plain SW18 1ET; backyardcinema.co.uk
4 Miracle on Kingdom Street at Pergola Paddington
From 3 Dec
Miracle on Kingdom Street, a rooftop winter wonderland at Pergola Paddington, was originally due to launch on 12 November, but, you know… One of summer’s most popular alfresco rooftop destinations, Pergola Paddington’s seasonal transformation will offer up a winter wonderland forest with 200 real Christmas trees, as well as warming tipples like hot toddies, and an Alpine pop-up restaurant serving raclette, boozy cheese fondue and Christmas burgers. Set across two floors, the upper deck – which is outdoors, but covered – will take the shape of a winter forest against backdrop of snow-covered hills, while the lower level will become a Bavarian-style hall with eight cosy Moët & Chandon winter lodges with log fires, cosy blankets and a private bar. A line-up of special winter events – including Christmas gospel choir singalongs, winter brunches, Christmas movie screenings, wreath-making classes and a puppy party – is soon to be announced. Open daily 12pm-10pm.
5 Kingdom Street, Paddington Central W2 6PY; pergolapaddington.com
5 The Ski Lodge at The Montague On The Gardens, Bloomsbury
3 Dec-14 Feb 2021
The Ski Lodge at The Montague On The Gardens, decked out with pine trees, falling snow, reindeer, snowmen, ski racks, piste maps and pretty fairy lights, is one of London’s top spots for a festive gathering. Not only was it London’s first ski lodge-style pop up bar, originally launched in 2011, it even won the Bronze award for Best Christmas Party Venue in The London Venue Awards 2019. And what’s a ski lodge without a little aprés-ski frivolity? Precisely. So you’ll be pleased to know that the bar serves a selection of Schnapps and flavoured vodkas, alongside other winter favourites like mulled wine and boozy hot chocolates. The alfresco pop up, located in the hotel’s courtyard, is covered and heated, with mulled wine, hot spiced cider, hot chocolate cocktails and big woolly rugs to help keep the chill at bay. Ski Passes are £38pp including an Alpine platter with mini bratwurst, turkey schnitzel and deep-fried Camembert), three seasonal drinks and access to The Ski Lodge for 90 minutes.
15 Montague Street, Bloomsbury WC1B 5BJ; montaguehotel.com
6 Skylight Christmas at Tobacco Dock
3 Dec-3 Jan
Popular east London rooftop destination, Skylight, is set for a winter overhaul that will create one of the city’s biggest Christmas destinations. To cater to social distancing guidelines, the venue will transform into Skylight Christmas at Tobacco Dock, offering a number of indoor and outdoor drinking and dining experiences including an igloo village and Après Ski Lodge bar. Located across the existing rooftop and on a new ground-level area across the Grade I-listed warehouses and cobbled lanes of Tobacco Dock, the expanded venue will also play host to a Feast in the Forest dining experience, Off-Piste Speakeasy bar, Christmas market and Christmas Cocktail Cinema Experience. You can also book cocktail experiences created by expert mixologist Sebastian Hollingworth. Special events will also take place throughout the season, including a soon-to-be-announced New Year’s Eve party. Open Thurs-Fri, 3pm-10pm & Sat-Sun, 12pm-10pm. Ticket prices vary.
Tobacco Dock, Wapping E1W 2SF; skylightlondon.com
7 Queen’s House Ice Rink, Greenwich
5 Dec-24 Jan
The ice rink at the Queen’s House in Greenwich, which made its debut last year, returns in 2020 to once more stake its claim as south London’s only outdoor ice rink. Set against the backdrop of a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site, the ‘instagrammable’ ice rink will be even bigger this year – all the better for social distancing! New measures have been introduced this year in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with hygiene standards ‘fit for royalty’ that include enhanced cleaning regimes, hand washing sanitations and staggered skate sessions to ensure there are fewer people on the ice at any one time. The Queen’s House ice rink offers the chance to skate in front of the ‘House of delight’, built especially for James I’s Queen, while also soaking up the beauty of Greenwich Park and the spectacular views across the river to Canary Wharf. Open 11am-8pm (last skate 7pm) on off-peak days and 10am-9pm (last skate 8pm) on peak days (peak dates are 12 Dec-3 Jan inclusive; super peak day is on 24 Dec). Skate hire is from £7.25 for kids and £14.50 for adults (u25s/student, £9).
Queen’s House, Greenwich SE10 9NF. For tickets see rmg.co.uk/skate
8 Miracle at Henrietta, Covent Garden
3 Dec-20 Jan
Miracle on 34th Street is crossing the pond this Christmas, thanks to innovative US-based hospitality entrepreneurs the Experimental Group. Their festively famous Miracle pop-up bar phenomenon will park up at Henrietta Hotel in Covent Garden, morphing into Miracle at Henrietta. The Christmas-themed pop-up bar, renowned across America for its creative cocktails garnished with a side of kitsch, will transport you back in time to Christmas past, with a space inspired by a 70s Christmas home featuring retro decorations and coloured lights. The nostalgic space will offer the Miracle pop-up’s renowned roster of Christmas concoctions, designed by original Experimental Cocktail Club alumni Nico de Soto and served in festive glassware. A selection of top-notch snacks, such as gnocco fritto and sardine and lemon skewers by the highly-acclaimed Italian Supper Club, are also available.
Henrietta Hotel, 14-15 Henrietta Street WC2E 8QH; henriettahotel.com
9 Tiffany x Harrods Luxury Gifts Pop-up
From 3 December
The Tiffany x Harrods Luxury Gifts Pop-up brings a little bit of New York Christmas to London. The exclusive edit of luxury gifting and experiences features features some beautiful jewellery, homewares and even to pet accessories from the iconic brand, as well as complimentary one-of-a-kind masterclasses and experiences. From cocktail masterclasses with the Tiffany Cocktail Set to wine tasting with the Glassware set and table styling with the Tableware set, as well as diamond workshops and gemology classes with Tiffany’s Chief Gemologist.
87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge SW3 1RT; harrods.com
10 Christmas at Kew, Kew Gardens
4 Dec-17 Jan
Kew Gardens are magical all year round, but at Christmas they are extra special, thanks to the hugely popular annual after-dark trail. Now in its eight year, the trail will embark on a new route, leading you for the first time through the beautifully illuminated Rose Garden. Old favourites and brand new light installations include a glittering tunnel of bells, giant illuminated seed heads and a dazzling treetop waterfall, where beams of light interplay in a breath-taking aerial dance. The iconic Temperate House will be a beautiful spectrum of Christmas colour with dynamic laser projections, and you can also stroll through the Tunnel of Light, twinkling with thousands of fairy lights. Plus, the much-anticipated Palm House Pond finale returns with a light show playing to an atmospheric soundtrack of festive classics. Street food vendors and festive drinks available. Adults from £17.50, ages 16-24 from £9, ages 4-15 from £5.50.
Kew Gardens, Kew, Richmond TW9 3AE; kew.org
11 Horse-drawn Carriage Rides of Richmond Park
5 Dec-3 Jan
The crisp air, the clip clop of hooves, jingle of bells, and the sight of the park’s famous deer and wildlife up close… Richmond Park’s famous horse-drawn carriage rides are back this Christmas, offering you the chance to experience the beauty of a wintery Richmond Park like never before. The 90-minute experience begins at Holly Lodge, where you’ll be met with sloe gin and a mince pie to get you into the spirit of things. You’ll then hop aboard the six-person carriage (ideal for social bubbles) to enjoy a 60-minute ride through the park pulled by majestic Shire horses. The rides are run by Operation Centaur, which works to promote working horses, like the now-rare Shire horse. Tickets are priced £450 for a carriage of six, including refreshments and a behind-the-scenes tour of the working stables. Unfortunately, due to social distancing guidelines, tickets are not available in pairs this year.
To book see eventbrite.co.uk
12 All That Jazz! Ronnie’s Cabaret Brunches, Soho
From 5 December
West End star Cassidy Janson is to host brand new weekly slot at the legendary Ronnie Scott’s in Soho. Originally due to launch on 14 November, All That Jazz! is a new cabaret brunch hosted by 2020 Olivier award-winner, Cassidy Janson. Musical theatre has long had a powerful affinity with jazz, from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess to John Kander’s Chicago, it has welcomed the swinging syncopation, the thrilling saxophones and hot brass that lend productions a certain razzle dazzle. Each week, Cassidy invites a special West End star, most of whom have been unable to perform since March due to Covid, to join her for a musical theatre celebration. Tickets from £55pp including a two-course brunch and two cocktails. Saturdays from 11am-2pm.
47 Frith Street, Soho W1D 4HT; ronniescotts.co.uk
13 Luna Drive-In Cinema at Copthall Stadium, Hendon
From 5 December
Home to Saracens rugby club, Copthall Stadium (formerly Allianz Park) will be the London host for the Luna Drive In Cinema. With the screen sitting in the shadow of the imposing stadium, there’s no better setting than this in which to enjoy some classic drive in cinema. Iconic winter films will be shown on giant HD screens with in-car digital sound, a contactless food and drink service, themed food hampers available to pre-order, loos on site and a fully Covid-secure environment. Festive screenings kick off with Home Alone and Love Actually on 5 December, running through till 22 December with the likes of Elf, Frozen, Last Christmas, The Greatest Showman, A Nightmare Before Christmas and more hitting the big screen. Tickets from £35 per car.
Greenlands Lane, Hendon NW4 1RL; lunadriveincinema.com
14 Fizz and Flow Prosecco & Yoga Sessions at Chelsea Funhouse
6 & 20 December
Pop the cork and prepare to get bendy with bubbles – Pop Up Yoga Club has partnered with the coolest new venue on the King’s Road, Chelsea Funhouse – for a series of prosecco and yoga sessions. The Fizz and Flow (socially distanced and covid-safe) class will offer 60-minutes of Vinyasa flow paired with a glass of bubbly and disco beats in Chelsea Black, the venue’s uber-cool bar. The tipsy class will be followed by brunch in the adult playground’s leading restaurant, Jolie, featuring classic French dishes with a twist. The stretchy Sunday morning classes will take place on 6 & 20 December and 17 & 31 January, kicking off at 10.45am. Classes are £35, including a glass of bubbly, brunch and a hot drink. Plus, you can upgrade to two hours of bottomless prosecco with your food for an additional £25pp. Suitable for all levels.
459 King’s Road, Chelsea SW10 0LR; popupyogaclub.com
15 Republic of YOUmanity Lockdown Photography Project, Kensington & Chelsea
Until 13 December
Shops around Kensington and Chelsea launched the Republic of YOUmanity photography project during lockdown 2.0, transforming them into pop-up galleries. Each shop is displaying an image shot by American award-winning photographer David Taggart, with some 30 shops featuring window displays of giant-size photos symbolising humanity and community in situ until 13 December. Participating retailers include interior design firm Linley, jeweller Laurence Coste, designers Catherine Prevost and Melissa Odabash, restaurants Aubaine and Daphne’s, and upmarket pet shop Love My Human. The thought-provoking images of people across the world, captured during the photographer’s decades of globe-trotting, are on sale to the public at a fraction of Taggart’s usual price. All proceeds will be donated to CW+, the official charity of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (CWFT). This initiative is generously supported by the Youmanity Charitable Organisation.
5 Things to do online this weekend
Not ready to venture out yet? All is not lost, there’s still plenty of virtual fun to be had.
Here’s our top 5…
1 Spitalfields Music Festival at Home
Recorded as live using state-of-the-art filming techniques, Spitalfields Music Festival at Home will put women composers front and centre with world premieres, singer-songwriters and early choral music sitting side by side. The 2020 Festival will continue to bring artists, audiences and communities together, during these unprecedented circumstances, to celebrate the extensive range and transformative power of classical music. Programme highlights include Baroque ensemble Dunedin Consort presenting Lagrime mie: Songs of Prayer and Solitude and the premiere of eight short commissions by female composers as part of Fast Food, Fast Music. 3pm-10pm. Tickets £15.
2 Online Crafty Fox Market
Crafty Fox Market, which can usually be found at Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant & Castle, is hosting an online market this weekend from 11am-5pm. Shop original gift ideas from craft kits (the new lockdown essential), to jewellery and accessories, artisan beauty goods, homewares, curiosities and cute things for kids. The online market will be hosted online at craftyfoxmarket.co.uk and on social media channels like Instagram. You can also discover and shop from unique indie designers and makers daily via Crafty Fox Market’s online directory at shoppingwithsoul.co.uk.
3 Kensington Mums x The Glorious Edit Christmas Shopping Fair, Online
Kensington Mums is partnering with The Glorious Edit for a Christmas online shopping spectacular. The Glorious Edit is a carefully curated collection of 80 of the best independent brands, saving you precious time when it comes to hunting out new and interesting gift ideas. The event will also raise money for the MeeTwo mental health app, which provides free, safe and anonymous support to young people. Shoppers are invited to donate a voluntary £4 entrance fee, but will also get a Glorious Edit code that gets you exclusive offers across all brands, ranging from 10% to 25% off.
4 Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair: The Online Edition
Until 13 December
The Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair goes online this year. The unique open-call process creates opportunities for upcoming artists to sit alongside some of the most prominent international printmakers and dealers, while the rigorous selection process means collectors have access to only the highest calibre of original contemporary print. As well as buying directly from artists working in the unique craft of printmaking – from etching and lithography, to woodblock and screen-printing – you can also take part in an accompanying programme of online talks, panel discussions and demonstrations.
5 Camberwell Arts Online Winter Programme
Until 8 December
Camberwell Arts will be hosting an online Open Studios and Digital Marketplace this festive season. Running from Saturday 28 November to Sunday 8 December, the Open Studios programme will feature a mix of live-streams on social media, pre-recorded studio walk-throughs and a facility to book in-person studio visits with artists. The digital marketplace will offer sales directly through the Camberwell Arts website, making it a great spot to hunt out unique Christmas gifts. The virtual Artists Open Studios are particularly fun!