Maintaining and strengthening relationships are as important as success and prosperity. And in a large metropolis Like London, this can get overlooked during busy times. That’s why old Yuletide traditions like candlelit vigils and Christmas carol singing should go hand in hand with hi-tech secular alternatives. It’s also why London, with its history and innovations, is able to present a friendly and giving face to the world – Christmas in the Capital is for everyone.
Despite being released only fifteen years ago, Love Actually is an established Christmas classic and ranks alongside White Christmas and The Snowman as a must-watch part of the festive season. This version has the film being accompanied by a live orchestra and much of the enjoyment comes from seeing how these expert musicians react to the comic moments that crop up during this heart-warming story.
The interweaving plot follows a number of couples as they struggle to find the true meaning of life, love and the spirit of Christmas. With a cast that is made up of a large chunk of the UK’s premier acting talent, there are plenty of memorable moments and even though some of the attitudes have dated slightly, the silliness of some of the romantic set pieces is still worth rewatching.
It may come as a surprise to those of us that only associate Ronald McDonald with clown costumes and burger adverts that the charity of the same name has been established for over thirty years. In that time, they have created living spaces for families with seriously ill children, giving them the opportunity to stay together as they face the daunting task ahead.
This Christmas concert in aid of the charity takes place in the intimate setting of St Martin in the Fields and consists of traditional carols, poetry and stories. There will be performances by the English National Opera Chorus (They’re based just next door), the Welsh London Rugby Club Choir and acclaimed musicians, Emma Johnson (clarinet) and Isy King (piano).
Every year since the secession of the World War 2 hostilities, the people and government of Norway have presented Londoners with a giant tree as a token of thanks and solidarity. This expression of gratitude and hope stands alongside a statue of one of our greatest heroes, Lord Nelson and forms a suitable backdrop to all sorts of seasonal activities.
During the time leading up to December 25, choirs of all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life will sing a selection of carols, hymns and festive favourites as the tree is spectacularly lit up. Live brass bands will also be on heavy rotation. Stalls selling Christmas treats like mince pies and mulled wine will help fend off the cold and everybody is invited to join in with the singing.
A charity fun run with a lot of emphasis on fun, this popular event involves racing around Covent Garden dressed in the most outlandish costumes you can come up with – inflatable santas, dinosaurs, smartphones – anything goes! But it’s not all about running. There are a number of wacky obstacles to get over and some challenges to complete as well with the main objective being the balancing of a Christmas pudding on a tray throughout.
The event is in aid of Cancer Research UK and teams of contestants are welcome as are office groups with each runner being required to raise his or her own sponsorship. Fancy dress is basically mandatory: and why not? Entertainment is provided by The Roxys, a glamorous vocal jazz group that specialises in reimagined pop covers and soulful harmonies.
Cutting-edge trends aren’t confined to the fashion and tech industries anymore. The SAMPLE event covers beauty and homeware which are two areas that are tailor-made for the social media age. Here, you can find plenty of examples of gifts that are not available to buy on the average high street and you’ll also be inspired by the sheer inventiveness behind some of the items.
Quirky and eclectic brands take pride of place at SAMPLE. Independent designers display their products in a way that is both humorous and approachable and the event is free of the relentless hard sell that typifies most corporate-backed spaces. Take time out from browsing to enjoy a vintage cinema, informal wine tastings, DJ sets and discussions about design and culture.
Standing at over 25 metres, the Scandinavian spruce tree is an imposing presence in the heart of the West End. In true Norwegian fashion, the lights that decorate the tree tell a story. Made up of vertical rows of white light bulbs the effect is to recall the snowy winters that are so much part of life in the far north and are the source for many tales and legends.
The tree is a mark of respect for Britain’s position as a leader in the fight against oppression and the lighting up ceremony is suitably restrained, yet very moving. In the same week there will be a blessing of the crib in nearby St Martin in the Fields church, followed by a candlelit procession to the tree.
Examining some of the artefacts preserved by the Museum of London, you get a sense of not only the history of this great city, but also its geography and climate changes. The frost fair phenomenon is a case in point and the museum has rightly dedicated a whole series of events to highlight it.
Lower temperatures and slower moving currents caused the River Thames to freeze over in the past and the fairs were the Londoners response to the extra room that resulted. Attractions included temporary pubs, shops, gambling houses and even football pitches as everyone from prince to pauper got their skates on! The river no longer freezes but the museum has organised plenty to keep young minds active, such as interactive workshops, enchanting performances and arts and crafts.
Christmas is traditionally a time when we think of others, yet it can also be a time of unthinking carelessness as we swamp the environment with packaging and wrapping. Popping along to this alternative market is a chance to make a difference and to focus minds on sustainability. To this end, some of the UK’s best independent, sustainable businesses will gather in East London to point the way towards easier and greener gifting.
On show will be great gift ideas from over 50 unique zero waste brands as well as plenty of advice and information on running your own sustainable start up. There will be hot mulled wine, dispensed via a mug deposit scheme, vegan street food and live music at the end of the evening.
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