Feelin Christmassy or simply a Harry Potter fan all the way? This one is for you.
While mountain hamlets or Austrian Christmas markets are quite wonderful, the absolute twist in the winter wonderland stays in London. Yes, I will always say this is the capital of the world and my impulses to just catch a flight and go see a play or an opera at the ROH are ruining me, but in terms of magic, there is an unbeatable concoction here: hip meets culture meets excess meets technology meets genius in London. It’s Diagon Alley just about everywhere.
So, leaving aside the obvious, like the Shepherd’s pie, the Gordon Ramsey Grill or the high street shopping, here are a few magical things for the happy few who are in London this December:
The fantasy shows
Dress to the occasion and go see Don Quixote or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at the Royal Opera House. The cultural affair is perfected by the fantastic decors and scenography. The world outside ceases to exist while you dream the impossible dream and tune in the musical have-it-all. Of course to be able to do that you have to be a little pragmatic and book tickets in time; I already got mine and December is almost fully booked.
Grimm Tales for Young and Old at The Bargehouse
You a fan of fantasy and haven’t read Grimm Tales? I didn’t think so. But try living it in the spooky Bargehouse haunted by wandering actors making you part of the tale. The raw four-storey venue is a blank canvas event space that provides an unusual setting for all sorts of events, but this one is a grim twist. grimm-tales.co.uk
In the same nightmarish tone, here’s another crazy favorite: Tim Burton. On December 12 they are doing a show featuring the music in Tim Burton’s films, including Edward Scissorhands and A Nightmare Before Christmas, plus Batman and Alice in Wonderland, accompanied by edited scenes from the movies. At the Royal Albert Hall, where else. royalalberthall.com
The Real Love test: the presents you want to keep for yourself
I don’t really care about long hours spent wandering endless department stores; not when there’s such a frenzy outside! December is a love story for the young at heart: the toy shops, the Christmas markets, the artisans’ folly, chocolates, gingerbread, outfits for costume parties, cuddly thingies for the lazy, snowed-in days at home – oh, a world of happiness!
Long story short, don’t plan much but enter the merry-go-round: Covent Garden because it’s Covent Garden, organic food at the Farmers’ markets (there is one in each neighbourhood, glory to the one in Southbank), Borough Market for the best oysters, rare cured meats and rarest ingredients, Camden Market (Lock and Inverness) for the vibe and the chaos and the fabulous handicraft everywhere.
The Fairytale Walks and playgrounds
Just wander and wonder: the Christmas lights that transform Trafalgar, Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond street, the Southbank
The Christmas fairs: a classical Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park or the hip alternative Winterville at Victoria Park? Both, actually!
And then there is the skating mania: you don’t even have to know how to do it. Just believe everything is possible in wonderland and go onto the ice with a skating penguin to help. Eyeskate under London Eye or do it in style at the Somerset House skating rink
I won’t even begin to explain the necessity of a trip to Warner Bros Studios in London. I only say: the great hall is lined with Chrismas trees and all the Dobbys in the kitchen have cooked tones of puddings to fill the house tables to excess.