Londonist is proud media partner to South Bank London. Over the coming weeks we’ll be exploring what they have to offer and helping you make the most of a South Bank Winter.
London’s South Bank is lovely at this time of year, with its seasonal markets, twinkling festive lights, live performers and tempting street food treats. But step back from the riverside and there's a plethora of attractions, venues and restaurants putting on activities for the huge South Bank Winter programme. There's lots in store but for now, grab your kids, parents, grandparents, friends and neighbours, as we suggest ways to spend a winter's day jam-packed with family fun.
Frostival at the EDF Energy London Eye is a natural first wintry wonderland stop. Skate overlooking the Thames at Eyeskate, South Bank’s only ice rink, or take to the skies in the London Eye’s Frosty Guided capsule for a festive guided tour of the London landscape from above. There’s also live ice sculpture carving and the opportunity to warm yourself up afterwards with champagne, winter cocktail and mulled wine experiences.
Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival (15 Nov-10 Jan) is a real treasure trove of winter goodies. All are welcome to spread some winter cheer by donating unwanted coats alongside a personal message to its recipient as part of a unique project with Bernadette Russell (12 Dec-6 Jan), enjoy free Voicelab Winter Choir performances (9-23 Dec), and families can get their knit on at a free knitting workshop, with all creations donated to Age UK Lambeth (21 Dec). Grab your dance partner to take to the river for an Argentinian Tango on the Thames on 15 Dec, led by live music, demonstrations and lessons. Or, pop along to Five Go Jiving on Christmas Eve and The Boxing Day Swing Out for more opportunities to try out those dancing shoes.
If sightseeing is your aim, then hop aboard a Thames Clipper to explore London by river, experiencing some of the city’s most stunning landmarks from the water. It might be chilly, but you can warm yourself back up on 7 Dec with a good old cup of tea at the Sing-a-long-a Afternoon Tea, where guests indulge in tea, cake and champagne while humming along to show tunes as they are performed live, at London Marriott Hotel County Hall.
Theatre lovers can spend their afternoon peeking behind the scenes at the National Theatre with a backstage tour. If you can't bear to leave, then there's a reimagining of the 1929 children’s novel, Emil and the Detectives, the visually stunning musical The Light Princess and the hard-hitting Protest Song (16 Dec-11 Jan) all on stage there, while Much Ado About Nothing featuring James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave is at The Old Vic until 30 November.
Finish off your day of wintry wanderings with some fantastic food and live music. South Bank is home to dozens of delicious eateries, but for bite with a bang try Gillray’s Steakhouse on a Thursday where your food will be accompanied by free jazz music, or BB Pasta Bar which offers two nights of delicious Italian food with live jazz jams.
Wait, you want more? Primo Bar in Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hosts free jazz, soul and cabaret performances every night of the week. That’s right. Free performances. Every night. And they’re open until late so you’ll only have to wait a few hours before a new day breaks and you can start exploring the area all over again.
If you take a seasonal snap while out exploring South Bank then post it to the South Bank London Twitter using the hashtag #SouthBankWinter and London South Bank may add it to their winter photoblog, which already contains some beautiful pictures.
Coming from outside of London? London Marriott Hotel County Hall, Park Plaza County Hall, Park Plaza Riverbank, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge and Plaza on the River are all based in the area so you can kip down right by the action.