Winter is coming to London, but there’s no need to fret or go into a state of hibernation. There are still plenty of fantastic things to see and do in the capital as the end of the year approaches and the temperatures drop. The light, warm evenings may have departed for another year, and miss them we will, but London is still a fantastic city to visit out of season. This is the case whether you’re coming to the capital for a weekend break or an extended trip.
Here are some great ideas for a day out in London during winter 2015-16:
1. Natural History Museum Ice Rink
October 29th 2015 – January 3rd 2016
For a fun outdoor activity in the centre of the capital, you can pay a trip to the Natural History Museum Ice Rink, which is open between the end of October and just after new year. This attraction is always a huge hit with families, couples and groups of friends. The winter haven is set just outside the grand old museum in South Kensington, where it is surrounded by 80,000 fairy lights and a 40-foot Christmas Tree. There are plenty of other attractions at the rink, including the Christmas chalet and stalls selling food, drink and gifts.
Nearest Tube stations: South Kensington (4-minute walk), Gloucester Road (6-minute walk), High Street Kensington (13-minute walk)
2. Southbank Centre Winter Festival
December 4th 2015 – January 4th 2016
Another popular attraction which returns to London each year is the Southbank Centre Winter Festival. The arts venue is transformed into a festive wonderland, where visitors can enjoy live music and other performances, take part in free activities and enjoy food and drink with friends and family. The La Soiree cabaret show returns in 2015, as does Slava’s Snowshow. The Bump Rollerdisco is expected to be a smash hit this year.
Nearest Tube stations: Waterloo (5-minute walk), Lambeth North (10-minute walk), Southwark (10-minute walk)
3. Fashioning Winter
November 11th 2015 – January 11th 2016
Between November and January, nine displays will appear at Somerset House, looking at winter fashion trends over the generations. The displays – which will be curated by industry experts – will be on show at various locations in the public areas of Somerset House, to coincide with the opening of the ice rink. Items set to be displayed include illustrated postcards of chic Parisians in their winter clothing, a 1920s Burberry ski suit, a pair of 1936-37 ice skates, and videos of Narnia-inspired catwalk shows from Alexander McQueen in 1999.
Nearest Tube stations: Temple (3-minute walk), Embankment (6-minute walk), Covent Garden (7-minute walk)
4. Noel Fielding
November 18th,19th, 20th
Absurdist comedian Noel Fielding – best known as one half of the award-winning comedy duo ‘The Mighty Boosh’ – is performing a series of gigs in London this November. Fans can expect the unexpected at ‘An Evening with Noel Fielding’ at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley (November 18th), New Wimbledon Theatre in south London (November 19th) and Fairfield Hall in Croydon (November 20th). Mike Fielding – aka Naboo – is among the supporting cast for this exciting new show, which is sure to offer Fielding’s unique brand stand-up, live animation, music and fancy dress.
Nearest Tube/mainline railway stations: Bromley South (6-minute walk), London (Wimbledon, 5-minute walk), Croydon (East Croydon, 4-minute walk)
5. The Enchanted WoodLand
November 20th to December 6th
2015 is the 10th anniversary of the Enchanted Woodland, which gives visitors the chance to enjoy a unique stroll through the delightful Syon Park at night. You can follow an illuminated trail through Capability Brown gardens and the historic arboretum, then take in the ornamental lake and end up at the spectacular Great Conservatory. What could be better for a romantic evening out or an enchanting night with the whole family?
Nearest mainline railway stations: Syon Park (1-minute walk), Brentford (12-minute walk)
6. Christmas at Kew Garden
November 25th to January 2nd
An alternative nighttime garden experience to Syon Park is Christmas at Kew Gardens, which features a new winter trail for 2015. The one-mile path traverses the famous Botanical Gardens in the west of the capital, with dancing illuminated fountains and glowing waterside reflections among the highlights. Visitors can enjoy the Choir of Holly Bushes, Tunnel of Lights and scented Fire Garden, and then have fun on the vintage rides which will be in place at the gardens.
Nearest Tube station: Kew Gardens (1-minute)
November 26th to December 23rd
There’s a feast of fun to be enjoyed at Winterville in Victoria Park between late November and Christmas. Highlights include the ice rink, spiegeltent, circus, pantomime and cinema, which offer the chance to while away many hours. There will be plenty of opportunities to eat and drink, with cuisine available from around the world. For those who have Christmas presents to buy, there will be many stalls to choose from at the Christmas market, Bizarre Bazaar and Pop Shop.
Nearest Tube stations: Mile End (12-minute walk), Bethnal Green (13-minute walk), Stepney Green (14-minute walk)
8. The Godfather Live
On the back of the sold-out world premier of ‘The Godfather Live’ in 2014, this celebration of the cinematic classic returns to the Royal Albert Hall on Monday November 2nd. Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 masterpiece – which starred Marlon Brando and Al Pacino – will be shown on a big screen while Nino Rota’s score is performed simultaneously by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Justin Freer. Classical and contemporary culture will merge here to spectacular effect at one of the world’s finest performance venues.
Nearest Tube station: South Kensington (10-minute walk), Gloucester Road (10-minute walk), High Street Kensington (12-minute walk)
9. Hackney Flea-mas Market
December 12th – 13th
Over one weekend in mid-December, Hackney Flea Market will take on a festive theme. Visitors will be able to purchase all manner of trendy, handmade and one-of-a-kind items – many of which will make ideal Christmas presents for friends and loved ones. Carol singers will be on-site to provide some festive cheer, while there will be plenty of tasty Christmas treats to eat and drink.
Nearest mainline railway stations: Stoke Newington (6-minute walk), Rectory Road (9-minute walk)