Whiteleys Christmas Grotto
November 17–December 24
In support of the National Literacy Trust’s Young Readers Programme, The jolly Santa Claus in Whiteleys in Bayswater will be giving away age-appropriate books to every child who visits him in his cosy grotto. As well as the £2 donation for visiting the grotto going towards the National Literacy Trust, visitors to the shopping centre who donate to the campaign will receive a personalised Christmas card with an exclusive drawing by illustrators including Axel Scheffler and Lauren Child.
Southbank Centre Christmas Market
November 18–December 24
Peruse over sixty German wooden chalets and pick up unique artisanal gifts for friends and family at the Southbank Centre’s charming Christmas market. Children will love sampling scrumptious Bratwurst sausages and roasted chestnuts then the whole family can hop on a traditional carousel for a truly nostalgic noël.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
November 18–January 3
London’s largest winter event based in Hyde Park is a festive feast for the senses including an enormous outdoor rink surrounded by twinkly pea-lights, a Bavarian village offering warming winter eats and a chance to meet Santa Claus himself.
Head to Selfridges for an afternoon of magical fun with a very special visitor, The Gruffalo. Young fans of the classic children’s story will have opportunity to meet the gentle giant himself, listen to special readings, have their face painted and enter a competition to see The Gruffalo Live on tour.
The Spiegel Saloon
November 18–January 3
Housed within Hyde Park’s wonderful Winter Wonderland this inviting Spiegel Tent is as cosy and inviting as a tray of mince pies. Once inside the traditional circular travelling ballroom families can tuck into some hearty seasonal fare (including a keenly priced children’s menu) and soak up the fabulous festive atmosphere.
Set Up For Santa
Children who wish to be included in Santa Clause’s “nice” list this year may well wish to participate in this Christmas preparation session at Sutton House. Learn how to write the perfect Christmas letter, make stockings and decorate delicious mince pies in preparation for that all-important visit from Father Christmas.
November 30–January 8
It is a rare person whose heart-string has not been tugged by the book or animated adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ magical children’s tale, The Snowman. Now in its 14th year, the live dance adaptation of the classic weepy brings dazzling choreography, moving live music and plenty of festive fun for families to The Peacock Theatre.
November 30–December 14
Only a matter of metres from where A.A Milne wrote the treasured childhood stories, Winne-the-pooh is returning to Fulham Road for a charming exhibition in rare bookshop, Peter Harrington. Fans of the honey-loving bear will find first editions, original artwork, manuscripts, photographs and contemporary artefacts, with many of the items for sale.
Festive Family Quest
Sign up online, pack a map and join in this interactive Christmas trail designed especially for families. Receiving clues by text message, this wintry walking trail by HiddenCity includes two cosy café stops and plenty of opportunity to take in the festive sights, smells and tastes of London. Groups who fancy a little friendly competition can up the ante by splitting into two teams and battling it out for the accolade of ultimate festive family!
Interactive Giant Advent Calendar
The countdown to Christmas is being played out on a colossal scale at Tower Bridge this year with a giant Victorian advent calendar. On arrival children will be asked to select a candy cane from a giant Christmas tree, one of which on each day will allow the lucky recipient to open that day’s door on the impressive two metre high wooden calendar.
Storytelling at Somerset house
December 3, 10, 11, 13, 14, 17, 22
Curl up beside the glamorous New-York inspired Tiffany & Co tree at Somerset House for one of these fabulous storytelling sessions. Top children’s authors will be on hand to spin the yarn to families and children of all ages in the grand setting of this year’s Skate At Somerset House season complete with outdoor rink, Tiffany Shop, and winter eats courtesy of Michelin-starred chef, Tom Aikens.
Family Christmas Concert
December 3, 10, 17
Enjoy some splendid seasonal singing at Ham House And Gardenand look out for a surprise visitor who will lavish a special festive gift on all of the children in attendance.
Walking In A Winter Woodenland
Chic Danish furniture design company, Republic of Fritz Hansen, will be transformed into a santa's workshop for one day with festive families invited to join in some Christmas decoration making. Parents looking for unique gifts can peruse the store's selection of ice-cool Scandinavian interiors with a toasty mulled wine to sup and a selection of Danish delicacies to nibble.
A Child's Christmas In Wales
Snuggle up within a special Christmas space at The Forge in Camden while narrator Morgan James transports you to Christmas past with a special reading of Dylan Thomas' festive poem A Child's Christmas In Wales. Sumptuous hot chocolate and festive cookies will be provided by Sicilian restaurant, Caponata whilst a live musical accompaniment should ramp up the festive factor at this family-friendly literary event.
We Make London Christmas Pop-Up Shopping Experience
Now in its third year this arty shopping event in Battersea Arts Centre sees a group of like minded artists and craftspeople coming together to sell their unique and affordable wares. This is to be the eighth successful event from the We Make London collective and will provide an opportunity to pick up artisanal handcrafted gifts in a relaxed and inspirational setting.
Loretta’s ROCA Christmas Carol Concert
A truly festive experience atSt John’s Hyde Park Crescent awaits, with carols, festive readings, a silent auction, a visit from santa face painting and Christmas stalls. As well as enjoying a fabulous day out all proceeds will go towards raising funds for Ovarian Cancer Action. Tickets are available from 0300 4564 700.
A charmingly nostalgic noël can be had by visitors to Museum Of London and Museum Of London Docklands when they visit this Victorian grotto, complete with traditional decorations. Children can share their Christmas dreams with Father Christmas, receive a special gift and have a photograph taken with the man himself.
Christmas At Kew Gardens
December 10–January 1
A full calendar of festive activities for families will be on offer at Kew Gardens including face-painting, Santa’s Grotto, a traditional carousel and, after Christmas Day, a tree recycling amnesty with the arboretum team.
Christmas Activities For Kids
Have a joyeux noël at The French Institute in Kensington with a weekend full of charmingly chic activities including bilingual storytelling, seasonal cinéma and tucking into traditional Christmas cuisine à la française.
Carol singing in the courtyard
The stately courtyard at Hampton Court Palace makes a fine setting for a carol singing session. Wrap up warm for these evening sessions which will see families and courtiers alike promenading around the palace singing seasonal songs
Michael Morpurgo’s On Angel Wings
The National Theatre is the place to watch this inspired re-telling of the Christmas story with a performance from Morpurgo himself and historic carolling woven within.
December 27–January 1
Bah humbug! Those who are looking for an antidote to the relentless cheer of the festive season can come along to the Museum Of London and the Museum Of London Docklands to meet the most miserly man of all, Scrooge. Old Ebenezer will be setting up his own grotto for children feeling the post-Christmas blues. He may even hand out a few presents… if you’re very lucky.
The Enchanted Palace
Until January 3
Catch this interactive experience at Kensington Palace where history meets fashion and art installations to enchanting effect. Take in displays of courtly costume created by designers including Vivienne Westwood and Boudicca while you wander the state apartments, discovering the history of the beautiful building and the seven princesses who once lived there.