London is a veritable winter wonderland leading up to Christmas. The days may be cold but the streets are sparkling with festive cheer and magic weaves between millions of glittering orbs; the grey mornings can be transformed into a snow-globe worthy scene by nightfall. Being blessed with such archetypal chilly weather, there are an abundance of special events and themed, wintery treats across and even above the capital throughout the season. Here is our guide to the very best.
Skate at Somerset House with Fortnum and Mason
A famed and traditional past time for the colder climate, ice skating at Somerset House is a perfect way to absorb the city's seasonal spirit within the courtyards of the neoclassical masterpiece made only more majestic by the 40 foot Christmas tree that graces it at this time of year.
The partnership of royally-approved institution Fortnum and Mason means that après-skate options are glamorous and delicious in equal measure. Afternoon-skaters can enjoy English high-tea and scones in the specially recreated version of the Piccadilly store just beside the rink, or those who prefer more fizz to their evenings can opt for champagne and truffles post-skate.
York & Albany Winter Cabin by Gordon Ramsay, Regent's Park
Pop-ups come and go, as their name suggests, but one which cannot be missed is the quintessentially British winter hunting cabin hosted at Gordon Ramsay's York and Albany restaurant and townhouse.
Stepping into the cabin is a Narnia-like moment for the senses with its traditional tartan décor, burning log fire and beribboned winter wreaths, one can hardly believe they're just steps away from Regent's Park. Warm, buttered, rum hot chocolate and spiced Bloody Marys are on the menu twinned with paired delicacies. Hire the whole cabin for a party of 12 or enjoy a cosy evening with just a close few.
Until the end of February 2015 www.gordonramsay.com/yorkandalbany
Festivities at The Ritz, Christmas Day Luncheon & Private dining
If you're spending Christmas away from home or would like the privilege of not flexing your culinary skills on the big day, The Ritz, a thoroughly London establishment has a deliciously decadent home away from home just for you.
The iconic hotel's seasonal offering includes private dining in a Grade II listed 18th century townhouse designed by William Kent for special events. Family-orientated fun begins as the clock strikes Christmas Eve with a dinner and dance gala in the hotel's lavish restaurant. Carol-singing in the Palm Court over afternoon tea and a visit from Santa Claus during a six-course luncheon menu in the Music Room will be sure to make for a memorable Christmas.
Wine & Champagne Tasting at Berry Bros. & Rudd
The vineyards may be far from the capital, but wine tasting, as Audrey said about Paris, is always a good idea. An afternoon spent in the cellars deep beneath the St. James' Street store of Berry Bros. & Rudd, sommeliers and wine connoisseurs with a 300-year rich history involving hiding Napoleon III and aiding alcohol smugglers in Prohibition-Era America, is sure to be an educational one.
Winter highlights include tutored wisdom over vintage at King's Ginger liqueur and Bollinger champagne tasting sessions and even a Caribbean Christmas and rum cocktails evening. The pleasure of pairing good food and fine wine now has an added sprinkling of festive cheer.
High Tea & New Year's Eve Ball: Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard
Reaching soaring new heights, the recently opened Shangri-La hotel, elevated 128 metres above the City within the arrestingly beautiful architecture of The Shard, offers a fresh experience of traditional afternoon tea.
With its Asian roots Shangri-La adds Chinese cinnamon to twist The Nutcracker, its unique take on mulled wine alongside the Bollinger Champagne on menu at its 52nd floor bar. New Year's Eve celebrated up in the clouds at the black-tie Shangri-La themed ball comes with the added bonus of recuperating post-dance in one of its rooms with panoramic views. There is nothing quite like the novelty of seeing things from a new perspective.
The Snowman - Peacock Theatre
Childhood epic The Snowman book and subsequent animation comes to life at the Peacock Theatre for an enrapturing show by Sadler's Wells. Raymond Briggs' classic adapted for the stage with a live orchestra, haunting ballet choreography and ingenious set design is the perfect show for a family day out.
As the adventure unfolds and the characters fly through the snowy sky to meet reindeer and dancing penguins in a shimmering woodland all will be spellbound and mesmerised by this firm favourite of London tradition. After all, the child-like magic of make-believe is the real romance of Christmas.
Until 4th January 2015 www.sadlerswells.com
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