Joey Tamburello
Joey Tamburello


LONDON LIFE • December 2018

Five of London’s quirkiest festive experiences

You’ve had your fill of ice rinks, mince pies and Christmas lights, so what more is there to do in London this December? London-based writer Joey Tamburello unveils five of the British capital’s more curious winter experiences, from festive film sets to a miniature gingerbread metropolis 

A wizarding winter

What's on: Get up close and personal with the iconic Harry Potter film sets as they transform into a magical winter wonderland at London’s Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour. Pad through rows of shimmering Christmas trees in Hogwarts’ Great Hall, which is decked out in festive finery,  before diving into a feast of butter beers and chocolate frogs at one of the long tables. Then head into the Gryffindor Common Room for more treats, as never before seen items come to life, including Christmas cards made by the cast during their time on set.
Top tip: You’ll need to take a taxi from Watford Junction to the Studios, so leave early to make time for the whole tour.  
Closest station: Watford Junction
When: Until 27 January 2019
Price: £39 for adults, £31 for children (5-15); under 5s go free but do need a ticket to enter

A wizarding winter

Baked bliss

What’s on: Created by Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design for the Museum of Architecture (MoA) and the Victoria & Albert Museum, this miniature Gingerbread City is made up of sugar and spice and all things nice. Each structure, including an impressive castle, was crafted out of frosted sugar, candy canes, icing and even edible paper (check out the roof tiles). Visitors have an opportunity to purchase a plot of the city, and funds go to the MoA’s upcoming exhibitions.
Top tip: Book in for a workshop so you can recreate your own city at home.
Closest Tube station: South Kensington
When: 8 December 2018  to 6 January 2019
Price: £6 for adults, free for children under 12

Baked bliss

I do igloo

What’s on: Is it possible to have a toasty night in an igloo? For the third year running, Coppa Club’s alpine-style igloos are back in London’s Tower Hill, furnished with sheepskin blankets, fairy lights and outdoor heaters. An optional Christmas menu - running between 20 November and 31 December 2018 - features slow-cooked pork belly and wild mushroom mezzelune (hearty Tyrolean pasta), along with scrumptious desserts like warmly spiced brownie and black treacle poached pear. There are eight seater igloos and igloos dotted with tables of two and four, all complemented by spectacular views of the Thames and city in deliciously snug surroundings.
Top tip: Check the group's social media page for updates on bookings, or try your luck with the restaurant's one walk-in igloo.
Closest Tube station: Tower Hill
When: Until Spring 2019, when the igloos will switch up their festive theme
Price: £34.95 for three Christmas courses and nibbles

I do igloo

Run Santa, run

What’s on: Ditch the sleigh and take to east London’s Victoria Park this month for an invigorating sprint with hundreds of runners dressed up as Father Christmas at the London Santa Run event. Choose between a 5k or 10k run to raise money for one of the chosen charities, which include Save The Children, Dogs Trust and Mind. Get pumped up by motivational Christmas carollers en route and look out for helpful elves, on hand to dish out energy-boosting mince pies along the way.
Top tip: Worried about finding the best garb? Fret not! Organisers provide participants with free costumes. 
Closest Tube station: Mile End
When: 2 December 2018
Price: £25 to enter

Run Santa run

’Twas the night before Christmas

What’s on: Leicester Square’s Prince Charles Cinema is a great place to catch classic films on the big screen and, continuing its annual tradition, the cinema will be hosting a festive film marathon. Grab your comfiest pyjamas, a haul of seasonal snacks and prepare for hours of jubilation, with screenings of Elf and Gremlins as well as cult classics Die Hard and Home Alone on the roster.
Top tip: Seating is unreserved, so arrive early to get a good spot.
Closest Tube station: Leicester Square
When: 15 December 2018
Price: £20 for non-members

‘Twas the night before Christmas

This article has been tagged Destination, Travel Tips