Get into the Christmas spirit!

Get into the Christmas spirit!

From orphans’ christmas parties to volunteering at homeless shelters, from carols in Trafalgar Square to outdoor iceskating – there’s plenty to do in London this Christmas season.

Our pick of the Christmas parties:

Cool Christmas at The Slug
If you’re looking for a place to kick on to after Christmas lunch, head on down to The Slug in Wimbledon. Doors open 5pm, and if you come down dressed as Santa you have the chance to win a trip to Iceland. What an awesome Christmas present! There’ll be 2 DJs playing all the best rock, pop, dance and indie anthems to keep you feeling festive well into the wee hours. www.wimbledonslug.co.uk

Orphan’s Xmas party at The Walkabout
Not heading home to see the folks? Don’t spend the festive season on your own – join the other Christmas orphans at The Walkabout Shepherds Bush. Doors open midday with free entry before 10pm. Christmas lunch is on offer for the bargain price of £10, with three options to choose from, but don’t forget to pre-book your table. Tickets: www.shebuwalkie.co.uk

Rides at Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park

Out and about in London:

Christmas markets
There’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than browsing traditional German markets at Christmas with gingerbread and gluhwein, and London has a great range of Christmas markets dotted around town. Along London’s Southbank, near the London Eye, there’s Cologne Christmas Markets, which is hosting a Chocolate Festival from Dec 10 -12. Greenwich Christmas Market (SE10) will be open every day in December, with more than 150 traders selling arts and crafts, antiques, collectibles, vintage, gifts and hot food. Spitalfields Market (E1) comes alive with Christmas activity in December with late-night shopping, the Winter Arts Market on every Thurs-Sun until 19 Dec and the Celebrate with Song choir performances at lunchtimes and evenings from 13-17 Dec. There’s also Leadenhall Market in Central London (EC3) and Crafty Fox Christmas Pop-up Market in Brixton (W8) on Dec 11.

Christmas shopping by the Thames
Doesn’t a cruise along the River Thames sound a civilised way of getting your Christmas shopping done this year? City Cruises’ sightseeing service operates between the four major destination piers – Westminster, London Eye, Tower and Greenwich – and is a scenic way to visit the Christmas markets around London this winter. London Eye Pier is ideal for Cologne Christmas Markets and Greenwich Christmas Market is a short walk from Greenwich Pier. Unlimited trips along the Thames are yours for the day for as little at £13. www.citycruises.com/riverred.htm

Swimming in the Serpentine
While most of us can think of better ways to spend Christmas morning, members of the Serpentine Swimming Club will be competing in the “Peter Pan Cup” Christmas Morning Handicap Swim. This annual event takes place at 9am and sees members meet in Hyde Park and swim 100 yards across the icy waters of The Serpentine. www.serpentineswimmingclub.com

Winter Wonderland
If you can’t escape the cold, you might as well embrace it! And what better way than heading down to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Entry is free, you just pay for the attractions that interest you – the event boasts the largest outdoor ice rink in the capital, Christmas markets, observation wheels, fun fair rides and Santa’s Grotto. Sip a hot chocolate and watch the other skaters, do some Christmas shopping, or sample some of the amazing food on offer. www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com

The gift that keeps on giving
For some, Christmas can be a lonely and depressing time. You can help spread some Christmas cheer this year by becoming a volunteer with Crisis. This charity provides Christmas Centres across London from 23-30 December that offer vital companionship, hot meals and warmth. This year they’re expecting more than 2,500 guests and they need to find more than 8,000 volunteers to make it happen, from those willing to ‘muck in’ and help out anywhere to people with particular skills like dentists, hairdressers, lorry drivers and performers. www.crisis.org.uk

Carol singing in Trafalgar Square
Each year since 1947, a Christmas tree has been given to the people of London from the people of Norway in gratitude for Britain’s support for Norway during World War II. The tree is usually a Norwegian spruce over 20 metres high and 50 – 60 years old. It’s felled in November each year, makes its way to the UK by sea and to the Square on the back of a truck. As far as Christmas trees go it’s very PC – it is decorated using energy efficient bulbs and is later composted into mulch. Every evening until December 22 there’s carol singing in the square near the tree, raising funds for voluntary or charitable organisations. www.london.gov.uk

Christmas lights and window displays
Get your shopping done and take a look at London’s gorgeous Christmas lights at the same time. There are plenty of great photo opportunities at South Molton Street and Brook Street, Regent Street, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden Piazza, Marylebone High St, Oxford Street and Carnaby Street.

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