Yes, that time of year has somehow come around again, with all the baubles and booze associated with it. You work hard all year and then suddenly more free time than you know what to do with is thrust upon you. But that’s why we’re here, to find some of the most entertaining events going, some uber Christmassy, some decidedly not. Here’s the December EDIT.
What to do…
Liverpool Santa Dash (2nd)
There are more scouse Santas than you can shake a snowglobe at in this annual run in Liverpool. Yes, the Santa Dash is back for its 15th year, the UK’s biggest festive 5K fun run. Up to 10,000 red, as well as blue Father Christmas outfit wearing charity runners, stilt walkers, unicycle riders and any kind of participant you can think of will be hitting the streets. The funs starts at the Pier Head at 930am.
For those who loathe the festive season, Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club is the place to head on the second of the month. Yes, The Satanic Flea Market has just the thing for those trying to avoid all the tinsel and trappings that come with this time of year. £3 gets you entry to browse for anything from comics to candles, taxidermy to tarot readings. The ultimate anti-Xmas event, although we’re told there’s still plenty of mulled wine on hand.
Winterville – Clapham (till 23rd)
There’s plenty of festive fun to be found in the capital at this time of year as you’d expect. This playground for big and little kids alike on Clapham Common, Winterville, returns again with plenty to keep even the most ADD of us entertained. There’s a Christmas craft market, fairground, Plonk golf (we’re not sure ourselves), an ice rink, a roller disco playing host to club nights, a Spiegeltent featuring the Chivaree Circus, Lucha Britannia Mexican Wrestling and lots more.
Did we mention our favourite space, The Backyard Cinema playing fave flicks like Home Alone & The Holiday? Entry is free for SW4 residents and under 16s, with most days charging a couple of quid to get in.
Oh Dickens! Christmas at Chatsworth House (till 6th Jan)
There’s plenty of Dickensian charm on offer at Derbyshire’s Chatsworth House. A representation of the author’s London has taken over the estate, with the splendour as well as squalor of Victorian shop fronts, the London Docks, Scrooge’s bed and much more. Dickens’ characters Fagin, Bill Sikes and Miss Havisham will all be on hand to help bring the theme to life.
You can also try some of the costumes on to really get into the spirit of things. There will also be a Christmas market with over 100 stalls running till December 5th.
Steam Dreams (various dates)
If you are going to visit one of the plethora of Christmas markets going on this year then you might want to think about travelling there in style. Steam Dreams Rail Co are offering some unique packages on their original steam trains ready to whisk you away from various destinations in London and the South East to some of the best Xmas markets in the country like Lincoln, Bath and Blenheim Palace. You can also visit a selection of Churches and Cathedrals which will host Carol services for passengers.
Liverpool Christmas Ice Festival (till 6th Jan)
Embrace the joys to be found in the cold at the Liverpool Christmas Ice Festival. This winter wonderland on the Pier Head allows you to get your skates on and take to the ice at the largest-ever ice rink the annual festival has provided or why not get slippy on the UK’s longest ice slide. There’s also festive street food, pop-up Christmas markets and an Apres Lodge where you can warm up with a mulled wine, hot chocolate or something a little bit stronger.
Burning the Clocks – Brighton (21st December)
The Winter Solstice means the shortest day of the year, and one to be celebrated, as it marks the road back to Spring and ever lighter days. The folk down in Brighton & Hove know how to party and their Burning of the Clocks parade is a fitting way to enjoy the solstice with a parade of paper & willow lanterns through the city ending on the beach with a huge blazing bonfire before a spectacular fireworks display. It beats watching repeats of Jingle all the Way 2 on the box.
Each year on Christmas morning brave (fools) souls step up to dive into super cold water (average below 40F) to take part in this traditional race. The name of the race comes from when Peter Pan writer Sir James Barrie presented the cup to the winner of the 1oo yard swim in 1904. Head to the south side of the Serpentine to watch all the action from the warmth of all your clothing layers.
What to Eat & Drink
Miracle at Henrietta (until 23rd)
Miracle On 9th Street, one Of New York’s favourite festive themed pop-up bars is coming to the UK for the first time at the Henrieta Hotel in London. With its nostalgic decor you’ll be transported to Christmas past as you slurp on a finely craftet cocktail such as the Snowball Old Fashioned (Butterscotch Rye, Spiced Demerara, Wormwood Bitters, Orange Zest) or A Partridge In A Pear Tree (Reposado Tequila, Pear Brandy, Mezcal, Spiced Demerara Syrup, Lime, Egg White, Club Soda, Angostura Bitters, Cinnamon).
Available alongside, guests can choose from a selection of Alpine-inspired snacks. Avoid any disappointment and email the hotel to book a drinking slot.
BBC Good Food Show Winter – Birmingham (29th Nov-3rd)
Some of the biggest names in the food and drink industry will be showing up in Birmingham at the start of the month for the BBC Good Food Show Winter. The show will feature more than 450 exhibitors displaying their finest seasonal products and produce, in addition, visitors can enjoy live cooking demonstrations from the UK’s most loved chefs and experts, we’re talking Berry, Hollywood, Kerridge, Roux Jr, you get the picture, they’re not messing about here.
Plenty of cheer to be had in Litchfield mid-month with their third Xmas food fest. Free for all this two-day event will feature over 160 stalls packed with food and drink and other desirable craft products that will surely make for some nice stocking fillers.
Top local produce will be on offer including cheese, chocolate, ale and jams and there will also be plenty of chance to enjoy some hot and cold food with a hog roast, hot turkey and stuffing sandwiches or the classic roasted chestnuts. The perfect weekend in December to grab a glass of mulled wine and get into the Christmas spirit.
Scotland’s most popular Gin Festival, GinFall, returns to where it all began, the luxurious Pollokshields Burgh Hall, Glasgow. GinFall will bring you a mix of gins from Scotland and further afield, as well as premium cocktails, food & live music. They’ll be masterclasses and plenty of samples to try along the way. Good boozy pre-Christmas fun.
What to Watch…
Sorry to Bother You (7th)
This movie’s been called a bit of a game changer in many ways. Writer and director, Boots Riley is responsible for crafting this story of Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield), a hard-up chap living in his Uncle’s garage. To change his fortunes he takes a job in telesales and quickly finds out the secret to professional success.
But once he joins the shady world of the ‘powercallers’ other elements of his life start to go south, not least with his art activist girlfriend who is rallying against the corporate oppression Cassius was a part of before he moved upstairs. It’s an extremely original movie and despite it being labeled as a comedy in many ways this is no joke.
The Old Man and the Gun (7th)
Robert Redford’s final film after his announcement that he was to retire from movies is in many ways the perfect swansong. He plays gentleman bank robber Forrest Tucker, a man skilled in charming bank workers into handing over cash. And they’re not the only ones he charms with recently widowed Jewel (Sissy Spacek) also in his sights.
His role takes on little parts of the characters we’ve loved so much throughout his career, with bits of The Sundance Kid and John Hooker in The Sting. A fitting end to a great career in film.
White Boy Rick (7th)
White Boy Rick is based on the true story of Rick Wershe Jr. (Richie Merritt) who in crack riddled 80s Detriot goes from street hustler to the youngest ever undercover informant for the FBI before going onto become a big-time drug kingpin himself. Like with most drug capers things don’t go too well for Rick with a life behind bars beckoning the young dealer.
Matthew McConaughey plays his mullet-sporting blue-collar father, backed by an impressive supporting cast of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jonathan Majors and Bruce Dern.
Leading the charge of the Christmas blockbuster brigade is DC superhero Aquaman, who finally gets his own film after pitching up in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. The large chiseled frame of Jason Momoa again takes on the mighty half fish, half man who here reluctantly steps forward to lead the underwater kingdom of Atlantis against his brother Orm (Patrick Wilson).
Our hero is caught in a battle between surface dwellers that threaten his oceans and his own people, who are ready to lash out and invade the surface. Expect epic underwater battles, zingy Aquaman one-liners and Amber heard with impossibly red hair.
Free Solo (14th)
Not for the fainthearted is this documentary from National Geographic. Free Solo follows the considerable efforts of free soloist climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: climbing the face of the world’s most famous rock… the 3,000ft El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, and that’s WITHOUT a rope people. It’s an inspiring look at an athlete pushing himself to the physical and mental limit. Hold onto your seats. Free Solo is on limited release.
Just when you thought every last drop of blood had been squeezed from a franchise along comes another. This sixth installment in the Transformers film series takes us back to 1987, where Autobot Bumblebee is taking sanctuary in a Californian junkyard before the VW beetle looking machine is discovered by 18-year-old Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld ).
After bringing Bumblebee back to life the pair find themselves hunted by a government agency known as Sector 7, led by Agent Burns (WWE star John Cena) and some much more hostile Transformers. We’re quietly optimistic this will be a step in a more entertaining direction than previous outings, but at the same time aren’t expecting spellbinding cinema.
Holmes and Watson (26th)
They’ve previously proved they’re on-screen comedy gold starring together in the likes of Stepbrothers and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, but it’s been ten long years since Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly have starred together. Here the duo take on the iconic detective Sherlock Holmes and his crime-solving friend Dr. John Watson.
The pair join forces to investigate a murder at Buckingham Palace. They soon learn that they have only four days to solve the case, or the queen will become the next victim. It’s far from subtle, but it’s an enjoyable watch from two funny men who work so well together.
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