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Shiori Kase as Clara, James Forbat as The Nutcracker and Fabian Reimar as Drosslymyer (c) Laurent Liotardo

The Best Family Events in London this December

5 December 2017 Eva de Valk

Are you in the mood for lots of seasonal family fun? We certainly hope so, because that’s pretty much all you’re getting this month. Oh, and some ABBA.

If you are more about spectating than participating, we’ve got you covered as well. Slightly wacky entertainment can be had at the Great Christmas Pudding Race, which takes place in Covent Garden each year. On 2 December, teams will attempt to tackle an obstacle course without dropping th  eir puddings, which can make for some pretty tense viewing. Those who are more serious about their sports, or who just enjoy watching other people suffer, might consider a Christmas Day visit to the Peter Pan Cup. This involves members of the local swim club taking the plunge in the very cold water of the Serpentine, preferably while enjoying a hot chocolate yourself.


Image credit: Great Pudding Race 2016
 
The Geffrye Museum – a museum dedicated to showing the changes to London home life since 1600 - is absolutely worth a visit any time of year. This month is extra special, however, as each of the museum’s time travelling living rooms has been decked out with period-typical decorations and music. Visitors can find out how Christmas celebrations have changed over the past 400 years, and try their hand at a variety of seasonal activities, including a workshop where you can make your own festive decorations on 9 December. Entry to the museum is free, but there is a charge to join in some of the extra workshops.

A tour of London’s Christmas lights is another great way to get the whole family into the festive spirit, and there are plenty of places to get your fairy light fix. Kew Gardens hosts its usual holiday extravaganza, with a trail of over one million lights guiding the way through the park. The Palm House will be lit up with a laser show, and visitors can also warm up in the ‘Fire Garden’. Christmas at Kew Gardens is on until 1 January; ticket prices start at £16 for adults, with family discounts available. For some free sparkle, the Carnaby Street Christmas lights are always highly recommended.

If you’re feeling decidedly un-Christmassy, check out Southbank Centre’s new exhibition ABBA: Super Troupers, opening on 14 December. Billed as an immersive experience, this big new show will include items from the ABBA museum in Stockholm alongside pieces from private collections. Objects on display will include personal photos, handwritten notes and original costumes. Knowing the Swedish superstars’, um, vibrant style, this should make for a colourful outing. While you’re there, why not have a look around some of the other activities on offer during Southbank Centre’s Wintertime festival (until 4 January). There will be the usual Christmas market, free workshops including Nordic crafts and an ABBA dance class, and lots of carolling.

Last but not least, it wouldn’t be the festive season without a panto on every street corner, so this roundup would be incomplete without a mention of some the most weird and wonderful ones. The Hackney Empire usually takes the top spot in the panto listings, but since The New Wimbledon Theatre have managed to steal away everybody’s favourite dame Clive Rowe, it could be a tight race this year. Check out both the Empire’s Cinderella and Wimbledon’s Jack in the Beanstalk if you want to do a proper compare and contrast. For a more off-beat panto experience, try the King’s Head Theatre’s King Tut: A Pyramid Panto or Theatre Royal Stratford East’s Rapunzel, or go classic with Dick Whittington at the London Palladium.

If you can’t bear the thought of sitting through another round of ‘he’s behind you’, you might also consider a trip to one of the theatres that aren’t in on the panto game. The Nutcracker is always a sure-fire Christmas hit – on at both the Royal Opera House and the Coliseum, so take your pick – or consider interactive dance show Sponge at Battersea Arts Centre if you need to keep some very little ones entertained.


Image credit: Sponge at Battersea Arts Centre

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