Beautiful during the summer and delightfully festive during the colder months: a repeat visit to South Bank is necessary throughout the year to experience some of the seasonal delights stretching along the Thames.
And this Christmas, you’ll find a huge selection of wonderfully wintery events taking place to suit every style and budget…
Wander around Coin Street
Gabriel’s Wharf Magical Christmas caused such a stir in 2017 that it’s returning again for another year of twinkly festive paradise. Organised by social enterprise Coin Street Community Builders, it’s the perfect place to relax with a coffee or a nice meal to the backdrop of a glittering central Christmas Tree. While you’re there, have a browse of the Dazzle Jewellery Exhibition for unique, handcrafted bags, scarves and jewellery. You’ll get your Christmas list ticked off in no time.
Watch a classic film at the House of Vans cinema
The festive season is notorious for being a serious drain on the purse, so we’re very happy to hear that House of Vans’ free cinema will be open and screening a host of crowd-pleasing films over the Christmas period. This completely free (FREE!) cinema will be showing current and classic films and all you need to do is check the programme for dates and info. It’s also one of London’s most quirky and original cinemas – you’ll hear the occasional rumble of trains overhead as it’s directly underneath Waterloo station. House of Vans also has a great American-style diner, serving amazing burgers and fries (not free, alas), called The Wall SE1. Make a night of it!
Grab some festive bargains at Southbank Centre’s winter market
Southbank Centre definitely pulls out all the stops when it comes to the making the most out of the festive season. Their legendary winter market is jam-packed with festive treats, including cinnamon swirls, German sausage and mulled wine, as well as lovely handmade trinkets – the most enjoyable way to find that perfect gift with a full stomach. And if you really want to make a day out of it, make sure to schedule a stop at Southbank Centre to catch one of their festive shows.
Party the night away at Sea Life Aquarium
We might not usually spend our Christmas period amongst the fish but we’ll make an exception for this event. The Sea Life Aquarium during the festive season is almost certainly one that will definitely go down as a party to remember. To set this party off, there’s a prosecco reception amidst some of the world’s most beautiful marine life, followed by an exclusive interactive greeting from professional divers inside a shark tank. Definitely exciting, and maybe one you’ll have to explain to your friends twice before they completely understand. Throughout the night, you can wander through the glowing Ocean Tunnels whilst munching on a mix of traditional British and exotic Indian cuisine, and then party the night away to mix of Christmas and pop classics.
Enjoy “A Christmas Carol” at Old Vic Theatre
For a truly traditional Christmas treat, don’t miss out on A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic – one of London’s oldest, and certainly best-loved theatres. This version features Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and also “mince pies, music and merriment” – what more could you want? After the show, take a visit upstairs to Mark’s Bar (by Mark Hix), located at the Dress Circle and Upper Circle bars, for a post-performance drink. It’s also open until 2am Thursday to Saturday, making it the ideal place for late-night drinking in Waterloo.
See the Christmas sights from above at the London Eye
There are so many incredible Christmas light displays all over the capital that it’s almost impossible to catch a sight of all of them. Unless, of course, you position yourself somewhere high up where you can gaze at the entirety of London in one easy journey. Enter: the London Eye! So this year, transport yourself 135 metres up into the sky above the glittering London skyline with a glass of crisp Pommery champagne in hand.
Do some Christmas shopping at Morley College
It’s a fact: There’s no such thing as too many Christmas markets (and there are plenty to look around), which is why we couldn’t help but include the annual Morley Winter Fair. Filled top to bottom with all sorts of unique delights like clothing, jewellery, crafts, pottery, textiles and festive decorations, you’ll easily be able to walk away with presents for everyone from your parents, to your co-workers and your pet (not in order of importance, of course). Also on the day you’ll find live performances and demonstrations, taster sessions and the unforgettable mulled wine and mince pies a-plenty.
Sort your New Year’s Eve Plans: Oxo and Skylon
No one can deny that London is an incredible place to be on New Year’s Eve but there are SO many different things to do that it can be impossible to even know where to start. For a particularly stylish evening, eat, drink and be merry until the early hours at OXO with a 3-course meal and live music on both the Restaurant and Brasserie. Or, if you’re determined to view the famed fireworks but didn’t get a chance to grab tickets, head to Skylon. Their sufficiently-high-up floor to ceiling windows promise glorious views of the midnight London fireworks display. There’ll also be a luxurious tasting menu, champagne on the Royal Festival Hall terrace and live music from Tokyo band.
This post was sponsored by South Bank London. Nearest stations are Waterloo, Embankment, Lambeth North and Southwark.