There’s been a lot of lost time being made up for over the last few months. Reuniting with friends and family, staying out past 10 in your local pub, finally trying out that snazzy new restaurant so you can taste something other than your own cooking. All of which often comes with throwing back a few pints or sipping on cocktails until the sun is nothing but a faint memory. Now though, we wouldn’t blame you if you were on the hunt for a day out that doesn’t come with a dreaded hangover or a hefty drink-fuelled price tag.
We’ve rounded up some of the best alcohol-free things to do in London, which will not only leave you feeling fresh as a daisy the next day, but also might entice your non-drinking friends out to show you a good time without a drop of booze involved.
1. Glide around one of London’s many magical ice rinks
Strap on your skates and wear something cosy. Whether you consider yourself a seasoned pro or are looking to finally bury that Bambi nickname, London has plenty of ice rinks where you can go for a graceful glide this festive season. One of which is at the Natural History Museum (sadly, this is its last year so snap up the chance while you can) so you can pair an enlightening wander around exhibits with a bit of sliding and swooshing around a twinkling Christmas tree. Alcohol will be the last thing on your mind when you take your first tentative steps onto the ice and concentrate on staying upright.
2. Soak up the natural delights of Kew Gardens
London’s very own slice of paradise, Kew Gardens always makes for an enchanting day out. The UNESCO world heritage site is home to over 50,000 living plants and full of hidden havens where you can inhale the mingling scents of many different flora and fauna. Take a wander over to the Japanese gardens for a moment of mindfulness in the Chokushi-Mon gateway, head up to the treetop walkway to discover the wildlife that thrives in the thick tangle of the canopy or go for a magical stroll through the bamboo garden.
There’ll be no place for booze here, there’s a murder to solve. Murder Mystery: Murder on the Underground invites you to put your detective skills to the test in the rarely-trodden tunnels under the city. Gather up your friends to question suspects and solve clues before the killer strikes again. Minds will need to be as sharp as a tack to uncover the perpetrator of this heinous crime. The only intoxication you’ll encounter is the euphoria of another murderer behind bars after a job well done.
4. Dance the day away at an intergalactic sober rave (November 28)
Put on your spacesuits, sci-fi sequins and shiniest moon boots. Morning Gloryville, purveyors of the original sober rave, invite you to leave the booze at home and let loose on The Steel Yard dance floor this November 28. Kicking off at 10am, with six hours of fabulously infectious music to follow, there’ll be plenty of time for you to get lost in pumping beats and soak in the energy of a blissfully dancing crowd. The intergalactic theme is the perfect excuse to get creative with your outfit, while healthy food and drinks are at hand to fuel your no doubt brilliant moves. Get your tickets here.
5. Get lost in the magic of film at Backyard Cinema
Backyard Cinema is no ordinary cinema. The venue immerses you in fictional worlds with enchanting decor, beautiful props and interactive experiences that will have you stumbling through fur-coat-filled cupboards into mystical forests, and wandering through a secret waterfall into a frosty snow kingdom. At the end of the adventure you can sink into pillowy beanbags and watch a film on the big screen with a big bucket of popcorn. Backyard Cinema can be found at Capital Studios in Wandsworth, or – for the festive season – taking over the Troxy with a Christmas movie spectacular. Course, if you don’t fancy venturing out, you could always crash at home for a Netflix binge marathon.
Tis the season for London to be lit up. With Christmas on our doorstep many places have been sprinkling a dose of magic onto their idyllic settings with mesmerising light installations. Discover a rainbow of colours reflecting off rippling waters and spidery tree branches at Eltham Palace. Stroll through the timed flurries of snow at Covent Garden to see the dazzling lights lacing the piazza. Feast your eyes on the kaleidoscopic flutter of butterflies (and a glittering rainbow) spreading a message of hope and change above Carnaby Street. Of course, if you get peckish, these spots all have plenty of festive options to choose from.
The apocalyptic stakes of Netflix’s Dave Bautista-starring Army of The Dead have become a (virtual) reality and you have been tasked with saving the helpless civilians trapped behind the walls of zombie-infested Las Vegas. You’ll need your head on a swivel and reflexes as sharp as a knife as you put on your VR headset and find yourself faced with a swarm of blood-thirsty zombies. Keep your finger on the trigger as you embark on this perilous mission, every jolt of the gun and nearby explosion may ripple through you but if you keep cool and rescue the targets, you’ll be rewarded with exclusive merchandise and a photo op at the end.
8. Catch up with friends over a delectable dessert at Whipped
Forget cocktails and beer, it’s time for cookie dough and brownies. This mouth-watering dessert bar is designed for all you sweet tooth’s out there, with cheesecakes and chunky cookies galore that will pop in your dreams for days to follow. The drool-worthy Whipped has branches in Covent Garden and Brixton Market, each serving up a cornucopia of delicious goods that can be washed down with a hearty milkshake or cockle-warming coffee. The palate-blessing magician behind these creations? Co-founder and trained chef Alice Churchill, who has over fourteen years of high-end patisserie experience under her belt. Pull up a seat and dig into a honey-coma cookie pie or red velvet and brownie cheesecake, you won’t regret it.
Who says the pubs get to have all the fun? This cheese crawl will take you on a journey around some dairy-filled hot spots around the city. With stops at Fortnum & Mason, the official cheese suppliers (among other luxury delights no doubt) for the royals, and London’s often overlooked gem Little Italy (but you might want to avoid the drunk cheeses if you’re dead set on an alcohol-free day) you’ll soon be belly full with the gouda stuff.
10. Admire the enchanting artistry at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition
No need to fly over to Italy, you can admire the fascinating details of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel without stepping foot outside London. This immersive exhibit allows you to get up close to the iconic frescos using a combination of high-definition photos and a special printing technique that will make feel as if you are right there; staring at the painted ceiling among the stunning Renaissance architecture. This is a unique chance to examine every brushstroke and intricate finishing touches from a new perspective. Grab tickets here.
11. Unleash your competitive side at one of London’s crazy golf courses
One thing that London is definitely not short of are opportunities for a bit of healthy competition. Crazy golf in particular has a way of making even the most chilled player grit their teeth and clutch their golf clubs in determination. You can challenge your friends to hit the ball around on a number of brilliant courses around the city, including the psychedelic wonderland of Plonk in Camden Market, where a group of film set designers put their minds together to create a fabulously interactive course.
12. Step into an immersive board game at Monopoly Lifesized
After a year of scrambling for entertainment in the form of board games and aimless wanders through the city, the two have been combined for an immersive adventure. You’ll be transported to the world of Monopoly, making your way around the board as you face challenges, escape rooms and even a mini Mayfair heist. Each bit of success will earn you rewards such as properties and money, one step further towards building your own empire. All the usual culprits, from missing a turn because you’ve ended up in jail to the tense gamble of a chance card, are also very much a reality here.
13. Work up a sweat at a neon-lit disco fitness class
No, we don’t mean go out with your friends to Inferno’s and stand there in awkward discomfort, having a miserable time. This is a different kind of disco. Clubbercise features fitness classes that feel like a night out. Fun, easy-to-follow dance fitness routines using rave glow sticks to club anthems from 90′s classics to the latest chart hits taught in a darkened room with disco lights. There are over 2,000 classes worldwide, with many in London and surrounding areas so you are sure to find one not far from your doorstep.