The wellies and Ray-Bans of the summer festival season are well gone. Dark nights, warm coats and fur-lined boots are here to stay, it’s winter, yay!
I’m always happy when it comes around because it brings a different mood to London. A cosy, warm feeling and a fresh air, so long as the slushy snow and rain stays away. I love seeing the shops put the Christmas decorations up too early and watching everyone moan about it, I love seeing the shoddy Christmas lights on Oxford Street and the new fashions in the windows begging me to buy them.
The winter festivals in London help to make it the coolest place to be when thoughts turn to mulled wine and chestnuts, so let’s take a look at what’s coming up from October to December in the Big Smoke…
Frieze Art Fair, 17-20 October
You’ll find this art festival in Regent’s Park. Some exhibits will charge (from £34.40) and you’ll need to book now, while others will just let you potter about for free. Great little festival that I went to a few years ago and enjoyed, but as we all know, I’m just not that into art.
London Oktoberfest, until 26 October
Who needs to go all that way to Germany when you can just pop to the Bavarian Beerhouse in Old Street or Tower Hill? Tickets are £14.50 and you’ll get a free stein, or go free on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Now in its 10th year you can also enjoy German food such as sausages and pork shanks and the barmaids bring the drinks directly to you.
The Bloomsbury Festival, 15-20 October
The Bloomsbury Festival is a free creative explosion of performance, art, music and storytelling right in the centre of London.
Halloween, 31 October
There are loads of events in London to celebrate the Halloween festival. From witching hour at the London Eye to the Torture Garden fetish weekend at the Coronet Theatre. Madame Tussauds always has a good event on if you have the money or inclination.
Real Street Food Festival, 1-3 November
This winter festival takes over the Southbank in the heart of London’s cultural hub to bring you a line-up of over 30 passionate and well-sourced street food traders, with live music, a craft beer bar, a wine bar and a cocktail bar to keep things lubricated. Go forth and eat.
Diwali on the Square, 3 November
Diwali on the Square in Trafalgar Square is celebrated by people of all nationalities, races and religions. It’s a free tribute to the festival of lights in India and attempts to creates a magical world of joy and festivity.
Lord Mayor’s Show and Fireworks, 9 November
This spectacular three-mile-long procession winds its way from Mansion House through the historic streets of the Square Mile to the Royal Courts of Justice – and it has nothing to do with Boris. He’s the mayor of London, and this parade, a tradition dating back to 1215, welcomes into office the new Lord Mayor of the City of London – this year, it’s the turn of the 686th incumbent. Around half a million spectators will watch the procession, which will begin at 11am with an
London Jazz Festival, 15-24 November
It’s the London Jazz Festival’s 21st birthday this year and they’re celebrating with a 10-day long festival that will take over many of the venues over London. Definitely one worth checking out.
Winter Wonderland, 29 November – 6 January
Hyde Park is transformed into a magical world of rides, stalls and an ice rink at the annual Winter Wonderland Festival. It’s free to get in but can end up costing quite a bit, especially if you’ve got any rugrats in tow. Take your own alcohol in if you want to get round this, although make sure you have a bit of change for a mulled wine, it’s tradition.
Don’t confuse this snowy offering with the Frieze Art Festival above. This Freeze Festival (note the spelling) is a five-day festival mixing ski and snowboard competition with live music and apres ski. It’s now the UK’s biggest winter sports and music event with 500 tonnes of real snow, a 32-metre high and 100-metre long kicker built for the LG Big Air and Alpine-themed bars and street food vendors.
Spitalfields Winter Festival, 6-17 December
East London is host to a number of musical events in and around Spitalfields. From opera to big bands to choirs there’s a whole rang of musical fun on offer over the 10 days. You do need to book tickets beforehand though.
Christmas Chocolate Festival, 13-15 December
Now this one will be a great place to pick up some last-minute Christmas presents. You can treat your tastebuds to a delectable array of Christmassy artisan delights and eat yourself sick as you go round.
Christmas, 25 December
All together now…
Click here for a hotel near Southbank, if you want.