It’s the classic phrase; “new year, new me” and yet on New Year’s Day there’s the tendency to feel a little worse for wear due to the previous night’s shenanigans. But we’re here, not only to wish you a very happy New Year, but to divulge all of the events happening across the city in case you can pucker up some energy. There’s ice-skating, light displays, the traditional New Year’s Day parade, and a fair few rooftops to hair of the dog it! Which leaves not much else to say but have an oh, so fabulous time!
New Year's Day Parade
We can’t quite believe that this New Year’s Day Parade will be in its 33rd year on the 1st of January 2019 – posing the question of, what on earth were people doing before this? There will be more than 8,500 performers representing 20 countries taking part and we’re praying that our sore heads will make it down there for the action. The New Year’s Day Parade is a real American-style extravganza, with bands flying across from the USA to wow you senseless. The 2.2-mile route begins at the Ritz Hotel, taking in Piccadilly Circus, Lower Regent Street, Pall Mall, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and Big Ben. See you there!
The Gingerbread City
Is London the food capital of the world? Or is it Paris? Or maybe somewhere in the far east, Tokyo perhaps? No, the food capital of the world is, in fact, inside the V&A. Because there’s an entire city made of actual food. If you’ve ever spent a an afternoon making Gingerbread houses, hours spent arduously trying to get the icing to stick that pitched roof together without collapsing the entire property, then spare a thought for the guys who came up with this; the The Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread City. The annual exhibition brings together architects, designers and engineers to create an entire metropolis constructed entirely of gingerbread. The RSJ-free zone is meant to connect the public with architecture, and the best way to do that is appealing to our innate love of gingerbread. The result is intricate designs, gingerbread houses, businesses and civic buildings, and in fact everything that the gingerbread men and women who will presumably populate this city will need. Now in its third year, the innovative exhibition will not only inspire any budding Bake Off Lutyens, but will also get you in the mood for Christmas. Partly through the overtly Christmassy feel to the whole endeavour, but also because of the sweet sweet whiff of gingerbread.
Where: The V&A, Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge, SW7 2RL
Bumper Cars On Ice? Yes Please!
Bumper cars on ice. You and I both know that, in those four words, I’ve already conveyed all the facts you need to know so that you’re 100% sold. Here’s the link for tickets, I’m not paid by the word anyway, so thank me later and read this article complaining about Harrods instead. Or this one about slugs.
In case anyone’s still reading, there are a couple of catches (it’s in Elephant and a £6 session lasts about the length of an average YouTube video), but otherwise it really is as good as it sounds. Actual dodgems on actual ice. Presumably along the way someone with a physics GCSE stepped in and pointed out that mixing actual bumper cars (famously powered by mains electricity) and water might be sort of not a great plan, so instead of the usual setup (itinerant market town fairground, lapsed Health and Safety certificate and so on) expect a whole professional ice rink, no constant sparks raining down on you, or being told off for actually bumping the bumper cars and, importantly, even more fun.
We all know how enjoyable bumper cars are, right? Well picture that mayhem but on ice. Add in DJs, lights and street food and you’ve basically got a winning formula.
Keepin’ Bussey At This Winter Rooftop
“Hello Babes” reads the pink luminous sign at Bussey Rooftop directed at customers as they enter the festive paradise. And yet it seems the biggest babes are the ones behind the re-opening because they’ve given us the gift of food, drinks galore and #viewgoals as the famed Peckham location transforms just for Christmas.
That’s right; Bussey Rooftop Bar is set to open for the first time this winter and they’ve gone all seasonal on us! Up until March you can recline under the twinkle of fairy lights whilst taking in views of London. It’s pretty much the ideal spot to keep a watchful eye out for Santa as he zooms past in his sleigh so that’s a plus! There’s a new drink on offer, the Mint Espresso Martini to tickle the taste buds. And who said happy hour needs to last just one hour? Bussey is going whole hog and offering up 2-4-1 drinks for two hours, between 5-7pm on weeknights. We’re going to end up on the naughty list at this rate, what with the incentive of happy hour, but it’s Christmas after all so hey-ho, ho, ho!
Find more winter rooftops here
The Absolutely Bonkers Alice In Wonderland Lantern Festival
We all love Christmas lights don’t we? Whether it’s a smattering of fairy lights here and there, to full blown light displays in cul de sacs. Whichever display lights up your life, there’s no denying they’re awesome. Which is why we think you’re going to love this one…
This winter, you can fall down the rabbit hole at a lantern display based around Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, for six weeks only! There’ll be full blown lantern replicas of the famed Wonderland characters, including the Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, White Rabbit, playing cards and, larger than life, Alice herself. Not short of stuff to do, there’ll be 29 interactive scenes in total alongside 16o giant lanterns to retell the classic. You’ll wander across a giant chess board, sashay through the looking glass and take part in a whole hoo-ha of immersive events, carefully twirling around lanterns up to six metres high and 16 metres wide! Set in the winter wonderland that is Southwark Park, the festival makes for marvellous photo opportunities.
To keep you warm whilst you wander, there’ll be steaming cups of mulled wine and food and drink galore, making this display definitely one for the family! There’ll also be the opportunity to see Father Christmas at the end – have you been naughty or nice? I guess we’ll find out won’t we…
Somerset House, the home of the London skating rink (unless you include the actual Thames, which used to freeze most winters), is open again in the Edmond J. Safra Fountain courtyard. And it’s not just the enormous skating rink you have to look forward to, enjoy the Fortnum’s Lodge pop-up as well this winter.
Where: Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA
Christmas At Kew
Kew after dark sees over one million (yes one million) Christmas lights sparkling away, for a sixth year running. If you want to skip the kew, and get your hands on some tickets instead then you’ll enjoy an evening at The Botanical restaurant for a traditional Christmas dinner feast, with two sittings available either at 5 or 8pm. It’s kinda destined to be a good night with nothing being done in half measure, what with ONE MILLION lights and all. The display will be set across a two-kilometre trail with scented fire gardens and huge baubles along the way.
Harry Potter In The Snow
Harry up and look at this! Hogwarts has had a festive makeover and we may just love it more than Ron does Hermione. The spellbinding occurrence is taking place at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter and features a festive gathering of glittering Christmas trees, flaming Christmas puddings set upon tables in a Great Hall replica and special effects galore.
Instagram has already played host to thousands of #hogwartsinthesnow and we can vouch for it looking totes spectacular after having a scroll (and getting distracted from everything else we were meant to be doing!) The top section of the hall has been transformed into a Yule Ball; essentially one of the most magical places you’ve ever seen with icicles, magical instruments and more adorning the space. You’ll be able to wander into Gryffindor common room and take in sights of Christmas treats. And there’ll also be a huge display of props from the films… whether or not you’ll wander into one of the stars themselves well, that wouldbe Sirius-ly cool. Topping off the fun, you’ll drift past a Hogwarts castle model under a blanket of snow, making this an idyllic day-out and perfect spot to grab some snaps for the old Insta feed. For those who can’t get enough, and after the exhaustion of having so much fun, you can reload by diving into a two-course meal set amongst the magical surroundings. Dinner In The Great Hall features a dining experience like no other, allowing you to enjoy dessert served on Platform 9 and 3/4… running into the wall not advisable!
ZSL's London Zoo
Cute animals and shiny, sparkly lights – what could be better? ZSL London Zoo are putting on a show with a whole host of illuminations involved, singing trees and animal sculptures. Not quite up there with Kew’s one million lights, but there will be 100,000 glistening pea-lights above you, plus they’ve got animals so it kinda evens things out. Take yourself a mulled wine along (or three), this is definitely one for the kids.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is the natural place to start any guide to London’s outdoor skating rinks. Whizz round and round under the gaze of this, one of London’s most majestic buildings, and afterwards grab a warming drink at the Café Bar.
Where: Cromwell Road, Kensington, SW7 5BD