Things to do this weekend is sponsored by In Kingston.
ENCHANTED ELTHAM: Light festival Enchanted Eltham is back, offering glittering tunnels, disco balls and talking trees around the moat of Eltham Palace. Follow the family-friendly trail through the grounds before toasting marshmallows on a fire pit, or trying out the Victorian fairground rides. Eltham Palace, £12, book ahead, 5-8 December (and weekends until 22 December
FESTIVE FAYRE: Stock up your kitchen for Christmas at Hampton Court Palace’s Festive Fayre. The food festival features live cookery demos from Michel Roux Jr, Alex Hollywood, Chris Bavin, Barney Desmazery and Marcus Bean, plus producers selling everything from booze to cheese to coffee to sweets. Tuck into street food to power you through the day, and enjoy live festive music on the bandstand. Hampton Court Palace, included in palace admission, book ahead, 6-8 December
LONDON THAT NEVER WAS: It’s the final weekend of The London That Never Was, a free exhibition of building design and plans that never came to fruition. A crystal Tower Bridge a and a pyramid looming over Primrose Hill are some of the designs on display. Guildhall Art Gallery, free, just turn up, until 8 December
GINGERBREAD CITY: No drooling at the back! A model city made entirely from gingerbread goes on display this weekend. Several teams of architects, designers and engineers have worked on Gingerbread City, creating buildings, bridges and other structures as part of a competition. Somerset House, £9, book ahead, 7 November-5 January
WINTER WONDERLAND: London’s huge free festive funfair rumbles on in Hyde Park. Visit Winter Wonderland for rides, market stalls, food and drink, circus shows, ice skating, an ice sculpture exhibition theatre shows and more. Hyde Park, free entry (charge for attractions), just turn up, until 5 January
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: Most of London’s Christmas lights are now switched on, so why not spend an evening wandering around seeing them all? We’ve put together a guide to the best lights in central London, including when, where and how to see them, either on foot, by bus, or by bike. We’ve even included a map. Read the full guide.
CHRISTMAS MARKETS: If the arrival of December has got you in a Christmas shopping panic, fear not — our guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs is on hand to guide you to your nearest scented candle, box of fudge or twinkly Christmas ornament.
ICE SKATING: At Royal Palaces, on rooftops and in the middle of Covent Garden, London’s festive ice rinks are very much open for business. Here’s our guide to festive skating in London to help you pick which one to visit — or why not try to get round them all by New Year?
SANTAS GROTTOS: Father Christmas is very much in demand at this time of year, but he’s still got a few appointments left at grottos all over the capital for kids on the nice list who want to meet him.
Festive treats and oodles of Christmas spirit in Kingston-upon-Thames
Get your fix of festive cheer — away from the hustle and bustle — at Kingston Christmas Market. With log cabins, steaming mugs of mulled wine, and a fire-pit to keep you nice and toasty, this picturesque market town hosts a soothingly traditional yuletide celebration — and it’s all just 25 minutes from central London.
So don your cosiest jumper, grab your Oyster card, and get thee to the royal borough’s Ancient Market Place, where a panoply of festive treats awaits. We’re talking stalls of hand-crafted stocking fillers ranging from scented candles to speciality cheese, plus a cracking selection of street food, including waffles, roast pork rolls, and German Bratwurst. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up some marshmallows to toast at the fire-pit (lit Thursday to Sunday from 4pm).
On top of all that, there’s a gorgeous vintage carousel to keep the kids entertained, a live entertainment stage, and a crafts marquee outside the Grade I listed All Saints Church. Away from the market, you’ve got a fantastic selection of shops at your disposal, too — from Apple to & Other Stories, and Waterstones to Whistles. Click here to plan your festive visit.
Saturday 7 December
CHRISTMAS PUDDING RACE: Chaos takes over Covent Garden in the form of the Great Christmas Pudding Race. Teams in fancy dress go head-to-head in a festive obstacle course around the area, all while balancing a Christmas pudding on a tray — and best of all, it raises money for charity. Covent Garden, free to watch (donations welcome)/£75 registration plus sponsorship per team, 11am-1pm
OLD FLO: Take a free guided art and architecture walk around Canary Wharf, celebrating Henry Moore’s sculpture Draped Seated Woman — otherwise known as Old Flo. Hear about the architecture of the area too, and learn about some of its key features. Cabot Square (Canary Wharf), free, book ahead, 11am-1pm
CHELSEA CHRISTMAS: Christmas comes to Chelsea today, in the form of a Christmas shopping event taking place around Duke of York Square, Sloane Square and King’s Road. As well as discounts and event in many stores, there’s a food market, carol singing, complimentary horse and carriage rides, and Father Christmas might even make an appearance. Chelsea, free, just turn up, 11am-4.30pm
DIY ART MARKET: Got some Christmas shopping to do? Head to the DIY Art Market to browse and buy work by emerging artists and independent publishers. Expect ceramics, zines, independent publications, originals, patches, comics, custom t-shirts & tote bags, art prints, risograph and screen prints, jewellery, and artist books. Rich Mix (Shoreditch), £1 entry, just turn up, from 11am
EXPLORE ZOOLOGY: Take the kids along to the Grant Museum of Zoology to get hands-on with some of the curious specimens in its collection. Specimens that are usually behind glass are out on tables waiting to be inspected, with museum experts around to talk you through them. Grant Museum of Zoology (UCL), free, just turn up, 1pm-4pm
ALADDIN: The whole family’s welcome at this screening of the recently-released film Aladdin, starring Will Smith as the Genie. There’s a creative workshop before the film where children can make their own magic carpet, using fabric, felt or thread. Harris Academy South Norwood, £5-£6.50, book ahead, 1pm-4pm
CHRISTMAS CONCERT: The Enfield Community Singers perform a concert of Christmas songs in the Long Gallery at Forty Hall. Expect to hear a mix of traditional carols and more modern festive songs, from Away In A Manger to Jingle Bells — and you’re invited to join in with some of them too. Forty Hall (Enfield), £10, book ahead, 1.30pm
GHOST CARIBOU: See giant, illuminated creatures — part-caribou, part-spirit — come alive on the streets of Hounslow. Ghost Caribou is a free performance which uses music, song an shadow puppets for a family-friendly storytelling session. There’s a performance at 6.30pm, or see the puppets roaming the area on walkabouts at 2pm and 4pm. Bell Square (Hounslow), free, just turn up, 2pm/4pm/6.30pm
GIN AND SWING: Don your best 1940s togs and head to the RAF Museum for a festive evening of dancing and drinking. Master swing dancing at workshops and classes, show off your new steps with the soundtrack of a live band, and keep refreshed at the gin-heavy bar. RAF Museum (Hendon), £7-£17, book ahead, 6.30pm-10pm
ALL NIGHTER: Somerset House celebrates the 20th anniversary of its ice rink, and the current 24/7 show, with a skate and exhibition all-nighter. Experience one — or both — through the night as the site stays open. Well, that’s one way to beat the crowds… Somerset House, £8 for skating and exhibition, book ahead, 11pm-8am
Sunday 8 December
DOGGY CHRISTMAS JUMPER DAY: Take your pooch along to be involved in at attempt to break the world record for the largest gathering of dogs and dog lovers in Christmas jumpers. It’s in aid of Save The Children, so a tombola, carol singing and other fundraising activities, along with the record-breaking photo at 12pm. Peartree Cafe (Battersea Park), free, book ahead, 10am-2pm
SANTA DASH: Don a Santa suit and join 3,000 other runners, joggers and walkers in a Santa Dash in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity. The suit is provided when you sign up to either a 5k or 10k route, with a brass band, Christmas choir and face painters providing festive entertainment at the finish line. Brockwell Park, various prices, book ahead, 10am-2pm
CHRISTMAS STORYTELLING: Brompton Cemetery hosts Christmas storytelling sessions in its North Lodge today, and there’s also a chance to make Christmas cards, with all materials provided. Brompton Cemetery, free, just turn up, 11am-3pm
WINTER MARKET: Browse stalls by local artists and craftspeople, and enjoy workshops and live music at the ArtsDepot Winter Market. There’s a sensory play class for little ones, and creative workshops for adults too. ArtsDepot (North Finchley), free, just turn up, 11am-4pm
DICK WHITTINGTON: Fulham Palace hosts a pantomime rendition of Dick Whittington (oh no it doesn’t…), telling the story of a man who heads to London to find those famous streets paved with gold. It’s a very relaxed performance, so is suitable for smaller children and those who may find the traditional theatre setting challenging. Fulham Palace, £12, book ahead, 11am-12.30pm
CHRISTMAS CRACKERS: Kids getting excited about Christmas? Take them along to Museum of London Docklands to learn about the history of the Christmas cracker (spoiler: it was invented in London), and make their own to take home. Museum of London Docklands, free, just turn up, 11.30am/2pm
RAVE & BOWL: Big Fish Little Fish hosts one of its legendary family raves at Bloomsbury Lanes. Intersperse family-friendly raving with bowling at an afternoon of crafts, bubbles, balloons and snow. Bloomsbury Lanes, £10/£7, book ahead, 12.30pm-2.30pm
E.T. IN CONCERT: Watch Stephen Spielberg’s heartwarming 1982 film E.T. on the large screen, accompanied by a live soundtrack performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra. See a lost alien make friends with 10-year-old Elliott, as John Williams’ famous score plays. Royal Albert Hall, £18-£78, book ahead, 1.30pm/7pm
JINGLE BELL JIVE: If you missed Saturday’s Gin and Swing at the RAF Museum, head to the National Army Museum tonight for a similar event. Jingle Bell Jive features music from the South London Jazz Orchestra, dance lessons from SwingDanceUK, and a bar open all night. National Army Museum (Chelsea), £18, book ahead, 6pm-10.30pm