Christmas lovers waiting with bated breath for Santa’s sleigh can get an early seasonal thrill, indulging in the traditions of our fellow Europeans and their grey-bearded holy man, known as Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas.
On 5 and 6 December kids (and grown-ups) in Holland, Belgium and parts of France nervously await the visit of the red-robed Saint to bring presents and sweets. Although it is customary to celebrate the feast with family at home, here's a round-up of where to go for Sinterklaas celebrations and saint-spotting around London.
The Dutch Church’ Sinterklaas Feast for Kids
Sinterklaas pays a visit to the church in Austin Friars, EC2N 2HA on Sunday 3 December to celebrate his birthday with the children in London. The party includes singing, entertainment, refreshments and treats. But it's entrance only for children with at least one Dutch parent please. Pre-registration is required.
Dutch Pub ‘De Hems’
Sinterklaas drops by London’s only Dutch bar on Macclesfield Street W1 on Monday 5 December. The Saint and his helpers will give presents to those who’ve been good and treat those that have been naughty with a firm spank from the ‘roe’ - a chimney sweep's broom made of willow branches. There will be traditional sweets and a Dutch DJ plays tunes until closing time at midnight. Entrance is free, like the Facebook page.
My Old Dutch Pancake House
On the Saint's big birthday spoil yourself with typical savory and sweet pancakes from Holland as well as traditional Dutch starters and desserts at the Old Dutch Pancake House in Holborn and Kensington. On Monday 5 December any pancake will cost just £5.
Knightsbridge Charity Event
Those willing to step in the Saint’s shoes and give a little extra to charity this year you can get tickets to St Pauls Knightsbridge Foundation Carol Service. Besides carols, readings, mulled wine and Terry Wogan, St Nicholas will appear with gifts for the children on Tuesday 6 December at 6.30pm (£50 for adults, £25 children).
House of St. Nicholas at Winter Wonderland
Last year St. Nicholas allegedly made a visit to Hyde Park and walked around the magical Winter Wonderland on 6 December. Though this year’s plans are not public yet, but organiser Anna Hope says this may change nearer the time... Either way, make sure to visit the House of St Nicholas for a well-deserved beer and some chants. Entrance to the park is free.
St Nicholas Parade
St Nicholas visits Christmas shoppers on 10 December. Sing along to the carols or steal a handshake from the Saint when he passes through Marble Arch and Oxford Street between 12-3 pm. The parade starts at the Annunciation Anglican Church on Bryanston Street. Donations of gifts for children in need are welcome.
Awareness Christmas at Holy Trinity Sloane Square
Another charity event where you can get a taste of the Sinterklaas spirit is at Holy Trinity Sloane Square on 13 December. The Christmas celebration features carols, guest readers, music from the English Chamber Choir and a visit from St Nicholas himself. From 7pm (tickets £20 adults, £10 children).
By Elke Willemsen
Image from My Old Dutch Restaurants Facebook page.