December’s arrived in London and there’s so much going on that you’re spoilt for choice in terms of spending time in the capital.  Whether you want to wander in famous old buildings, stroll in Hyde Park, boo and hiss at a good old-fashioned panto or enjoy a fine meal, you’re covered.  Bring a bit of festive cheer to your life and, on our recommendation, try out some of the following activities.  In the meantime, whatever your background or faith, here at La Gaffe we wish you happy holidays…

1. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Perhaps one of London’s most high-profile event of December, Hyde Park will come alive for the month of December.  Throughout the month, Winter Wonderland will be in full swing with all kinds of activities designed to spread cheer.  Live music, endless fairground rides, Cirque Berserk and even Paddington on Ice…what’s not to enjoy?

Photo of courtesy of campaignlive.co.uk

Plan Your Visit

There will be plenty of Christmas Markets too, as well as all kinds of food and drink stalls for sale.   And what better way to spend a winter evening than soaking up the atmosphere with friends and a glass of hot mulled wine?

Winter Wonderland is open every day in December, save for Christmas Day, from 10 am to 10 pm.  Entry itself is free although many of the attractions do require tickets.

2. Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum

the Natural History Museum in South Kensington is a fantastic place to spend a few hours, whether you’re interested in gemstones, Blue Whales, biology or volcanoes (it’s a huge place!)  But this museum really takes on new life in the winter when the outside area is converted into an ice rink!

Phpy courtesy of spottedbylocals.com.

https://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/ice-rink.html

Against the backdrop of the beautiful building, and with the trees around the rink lit up and a huge Christmas tree in the centre, it’s a wonderful way to spend an evening.  And if you like the idea of viewing the spectacle, rather than participating, well fear not as there is a viewing balcony and an indoor Bar/Cafe too.

Admittedly, it’s a costly evening out but it’s also a memorable and magical experience and the setting is so pretty and romantic that it’s the perfect place to bring your beau!

 

3. Christmas at Kew Gardens

London’s Kew boasts the world’s largest botanical gardens and this month they will come alive with a special trail, illuminated with a million glittering lights.  Now in its seventh year, this after-dark path will include some old favourites – the Fire Garden, Holly Bushes and Tunnel of Light – and some new attractions besides.

Photo courtesy of eveningstandard.co.uk

https://www.kew.org/kew-gardens/whats-on/christmas

This year, the Temperance House will be illuminated with lasers, a dazzling arch that leads to Treetop Walk and a fabulous finale at the Palm House Pond.  The trail itself will be about 2.5 kilometres and is estimated to take75 minutes to walk along.

There’s also hot chocolate and hot cider (amongst a few other beverages) on sale as well as a carousel and helter skelter for the kids.  Tickets can be purchased online.

4. Dick Whittington and his Cat, Hackney Empire

There’s nothing more traditional at this time of year than attending a pantomime and the Hackney Empire, in East London, has got to be one of the best places to attend one.

Musical comedy that’s perfect for all the family awaits you in the form of Dick Whittington and his Cat – a boy, his cat, the search for streets paved with gold and the bells of Bow that called out to him “Turn again Whittington, Lord Mayor of London.”

Dick Whittington and His Cat

Photo courtesy of arthurlloyd.co.uk

The Hackney Empire is over 100 years old, built in 1901 and designed to operate as a music hall.   One of London’s first theatres to boast electric lights and central heating, it was threatened with demolition in the mid 1908’s but a campaign to save it means that it’s still going strong today.

And it’s annual offering , with slapstick comedy, colourful costumes and plenty of singing and dancing is perfect for a fun night out.

Come on…who doesn’t love a pantomime?

 

 

 

 

5.  New Year’s Eve Dinner

We couldn’t finish this year’s set of blogs without a mention of our own restaurant and, as usual, we’ll be offering a special New Year’s Eve menu here at La Gaffe.  Our charming establishment has been going over 50 years now and 31st December tends to be a popular evening.  

Come early then go off for your own plans (a quiet night in or watching  fireworks on Hampstead Heath) or join us later in the evening and ring in 2020 with us.  Rack of lamb, sea bass, spaghetti Gaffe?  Whether you’re a carnivore or veggie, like rich food or something very simple. we’ve got you covered.

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We also offer a wide range of Italian wines and beers as well as some very tempting cocktails…perfect for special evenings such as this.

Negroni, anyone?  And a Happy New Year to all of you!

Happy New Year from us all at La Gaffe!

January might be a chilly month in the capital, and the mood a little quieter after the festive period, but there’s still plenty to do – music, ballet, theatre, exhibitions and – even better – lots of free events to enjoy.  So wrap up warm and get yourself off to one of the events we’ve suggested below.  And if you’re not in the mood for any of them, then feel free to drop in on us for a coffee, light bite, or some authentic Italian cuisine…

  1. New Year’s Day Parade in Central London

Shake off the cobwebs (and your hangovers) and get out into central London for the annual New Year’s Day Parade.  Beginning at the Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly and winding its way through some grand streets to Parliament Square, there will be over 8,000 carnival dancers, marching bands. acrobats, cheerleaders partaking, as well as some obligatory giant balloons.

A surprising part of the Parade line-up are the marching bands, of whom many come over from American high schools!

And another fun fact – each London Borough submits a float and these are judged by foreign ambassadors and high commissioners.  All the money raised from this Parade goes to charity – around £1.5 million has been raised over the years for a number of non-profits.

The parade usually attracts around half a million(or more) spectators so be prepared for a bit of a crush.  It’s also shown on tv (and watched by an estimated 300 million viewers), as a way of showcasing London to those who’ve never been, but if you’re in the capital, you’ve no excuse not to go in person.

1st January 2020, from 12 noon onwards.

Nearest tubes:  Green Park, Piccadilly, Leicester Square and Westminster

2. Sleeping Beauty at the Royal Opera House

The Sleeping Beauty is a particularly beautiful ballet and, as the Royal Opera House themselves admit, it holds a special place in their heart since this was the first production put on after World War II at their new location in Covent Garden.  (They found a spectacular Prima Donna for the occasions too with the world-famous Margot Fonteyn dancing Aurora).

Photo courtesy of roh.org.uk

www.roh.org.uk

What’s even better is that if you can’t get hold of a coveted ticket (and they are both costly and in short supply) you will be able to watch the production on one of many big screens around London.  With its enchanting score

Selected dates throughout January.

Bow Street, Covent Garden, London WC2 and selected cinemas across the capital

3 London International Mime Festival at the Barbican

Fancy learning more about mime – that is the technique or art of portraying a character, mood, narration or ideas by using gestures and bodily movements, rather than speech.

Photo courtesy of Ockham’s Razor
© Ockham’s Razor

There are all kinds of elements that make a mime artist great – body language, hand gestures and facial expressions. This festival offers cinema, a performance for children, and Nick Lehane’s ‘Chimpanzee’ – a heartbreaking puppet play about memories of the animal’s captivity in a human home.

https://www.barbican.org.uk/whats-on/tag/london-international-mime-festival-2020

Indulge in some fun culture.  The festival runs from Tuesday 14th to Saturday 18th January

Barbican, Silk Street, London EC2

4. Madonna at the London Palladium

Love her or hate her, she’s one of the great icons of our age and she’s back on stage this month, giving it her all.  Madonna (or Madge, as we love to call her) is giving a series of concerts at the London Palladium. She might be in her sixties but her catchy music, dynamic dance routines and extraordinary stage persona has made the best-selling female recording artist of all time according to Guinness World Records

Photo courtesy of timeout.com.

Whether it’s disco, dance, pop or electronic, we’re sure this ‘Material Girl’ will be on form, performing her tried-and-tested classics to a few more contemporary numbers.

The American singer, songwriter and actress kicks off her “Madame X” tour in the capital at the end of the month.

Opening night – Sunday 26th January at 8.30 pm

Palladium, 8 Argyll Street, London W1 (Tel: 020 7087 7755)

5. Chinese New Year

It’s the Year of the Rat, in Chinese culture, and outside of Asia London has it’s largest ex-pat community.  Come and be part of the amazing celebrations that will go on in the capital’s Chinatown area (in the centre of the city, between Trafalger Square and Shaftesbury Avenue)

Photo courtesy of secretldn.com

There will be martial arts displays, colourful parades, Dragon dances, traditional music and plenty of tasty street food to keep you going throughout the day.  There will also be plenty of family-friendly activities, which make it a perfect activity for kids.

https://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/whats-on/chinese-new-year/about

Oh, and for aspiring amateur photographers, it’s the perfect opportunity to bring a camera because the colours have to be seen to be believed

January 2020 (exact dates tbc).  Free entry.

Nearest tubes: Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus.