Each and every year we tend to repeat the same activities.
We go to Christmas markets and buy all manner of festive things we don’t really need. We eat, drink and dance the night away at winter pop-ups scattered about the City. We ice skate in the shadows of historic buildings, watch Christmas shows and we add another terrible holiday jumper to the wardrobe.
Now, don’t get us wrong, we certainly love participating in all these traditional past times – especially the purchase of novelty Christmas clothing. But there has got to be more. Something a little alternative to enjoy or, at the very least, use to make everyone else we know jealous.
So, in that spirit, we’ve compiled a short list of the very best things to do around the City which will make this year just that extra bit special.
Harts of Smithfield Christmas Auction
Each Christmas Eve in the City, a lively meat auction takes place that few people have heard of. The butchers in Smithfield meat market almost giveaway some of the biggest and best cuts of meat throughout the day, but only to the highest bidder in a heated auction. It’s where only the savviest Londoners go when they want to make an affordable Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Just bring some cash and wave it up in the air as you try to take home a bagful of beef, lamb, pork or turkey.
A few will even get the chance to flip a coin to decide whether they get their meat for free. It just adds to the feverish auction atmosphere. And those out there who can’t bear the thought of waiting until Christmas Eve to buy their turkey should still rock up just to witness this quirky London tradition.
24 December, 10.30am
Smithfield Market EC1A 9PS
Christmas with Charles Dickens
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to experience a Victorian Christmas, like that described in Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol? Well, those who are still enchanted by this classic can do just that. The Charles Dickens Museum has been transformed for Christmas 2018, giving visitors a glimpse into how the festive season was celebrated by the author himself.
Guests can partake in costumed Christmas walks with professional actors, watch live performances of A Christmas Carol, and spend Christmas Eve in the museum while eating mince pies and sipping on mulled wine. Staff are even hosting some late-night events to celebrate 175 years since his famous novel was first published. Here, you get to escape back to Christmas past, a time before the holidays became so manic and consumer-centric.
Until 31 December
48 Doughty Street WC1N 2LX
Volunteer around the City
At this time of year, people cry out “treat yo’ self” more than ever. But sometimes you need to give a little love back to the local community. And Crisis are just the people who need support from Londoners throughout the festive period. The charity organises the largest volunteering initiative in the country and need over 10,000 do-gooders for a huge variety of roles.
People can simply work in the soup kitchens or help manage donations. It’s not intensive labour, but goes a long way to brightening up someone’s day, or even year. There are even chances to run feel-good activities such as massages, cookery sessions, and craft workshops, and you can volunteer with friends, too. Just find a date when you’re free and sign up online. Crisis takes care of the rest.
Devonshire Club Cinema
There are several winter-themed cinemas around London, but the one at the Devonshire Club is especially good this year. For one, the terrace is almost exclusively only open to private members throughout the year, making the opportunity for us non-members to steal ourselves in a rare treat.
Guests can indulge in one of the club’s special edition picnic hampers with hot dogs, popcorn, welsh rarebit, and a whole flask of boozy hot chocolate. Plus, staff are well stocked with all the necessary blankets, hot water bottles and outdoor heaters. All you need to do is curl up and fall into the festive spirit while watching films like Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life.
Until 21 December
Devonshire Club, 5 Devonshire Square EC2M 4YD