10 Ways To Have An Historic Christmas In London

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 48 months ago
10 Ways To Have An Historic Christmas In London

Beyond Retro Christmas Pop-Up Shop at Old Street station

Ah, the ironic retro Christmas jumper — one of those phenomenons that's become SO ironic it's, like, pretty much NOT ironic anymore? So it is with no sense of irony at all that we encourage you to celebrate Christmasses of yore by popping into the Beyond Retro Christmas Pop-Up Shop in Old Street station, and get yourself kitted out with a vintage woolly pully that screams '1970s knit catalogue/fondue orgy'. £1 from every sale goes to Save the Children. Until 31 December

This fella's got the hang of Christmas time travel.

Christmas Past: 400 Years of Seasonal Traditions in English Homes at The Geffrye

Stick your nose into 11 Christmastime living rooms spanning 400 years at The Geffrye museum in Hoxton — everything from tables laden with typical 17th century feasts, to 1970s Formica side-tables adorned with fake plastic (Christmas) trees. There's an accompanying series of events including fireside stories, a candlelight concert and the traditional burning of the Christmas greenery. 25 November-4 January, free entry, prices for special events vary

Silent Night at Dennis Severs' House

Dennis Severs' House is a time machine in itself — this Folgate Street address paints a 'still life drama' with a 17th century Huguenot family at the centre (although you never see them). As ever, the household is festooning itself silly for Christmas, each room painstakingly adorned with authentic decorations and bathed in candlelight. 30 November-5 January, tickets £17.50

Dennis Severs' House in full Christmas garb. Photo by Roelof Bakker.

Santa's Grotto at Sailortown, Museum of London Docklands

As is fast becoming tradition, Museum of London Docklands' Sailortown — in ersatz 19th century Wapping — gets a festive touch-up in December. The stores, workshops and hovels become all the comelier for it but there's even better news for kids — Father Christmas (a proper Victorian Father Christmas, not any of your Tim Allen nonsense) is in residence for much of the month. Although he's still calling himself Santa, not Father Christmas, which we're not sure about. 6-23 December, £7.35 per child including gift

Swing Patrol Christmas Extravaganza in The Ballroom, Southbank

Not every Christmas party has to involve singing along to Band Aid and Wham! on loop until it's just not funny anymore. Be classy this Crimbo and sashay along to Swing Patrol's Christmas Extravaganza. Bedecked in your vintage best, jive away to properly cool festive hits underneath a ceiling of stars. Swing Patrol are a friendly bunch who welcome newbies, so don't worry if you're not up to Fred/Ginger/someone from Strictly standard just yet. 14 December, tickets £15-40

Opera Holland Park carol singers at Cecil Court

Prefer your carol singers looking like they've stumbled off a Quality Street tin? You'll want to catch the excellent Opera Holland Park carollers as they descend on Cecil Court in mid-December. They're belting out festive faves replete with top hats, bonnets and gas lamps. 12 December, free

The First Christmas at Imperial War Museum

Get the kids involved in a communal art event at Imperial War Museum where you can use Princess Mary gift tins from WWI to inspire your own tree trinkets. You'll also discover what life was like for those on active service, as well as for the men and women on the Home Front during Christmas 1914. Many had believed the war would be over by then. 20-23 and 27-31 December, free

A Very Dickensian Christmas at Charles Dickens Museum

Charles Dickens  may not have invented Christmas but he certainly yanked it back into the public consciousness (and is one of the main reasons so many of London's historical Christmas events are set in the author's era). It's fitting, then to celebrate Christmas Eve in Dickens' former Doughty Street abode, replete with festive greenery, a pudding-making workshop, and a talk from Dickens scholar Professor Michael Slater. In the festive lead-up, the museum is hosting a cracking programme of treats, including Dickensian walks, a reading of A Christmas Carol, and something called 'Bah Humbug Tuesdays', which we hope involves muttering under your breath at anyone who looks remotely happy. 24 December, £18 adults, £10 children

Smoking Apples Theatre company is at the Dickens Museum.

Mrs Hudson's Christmas Cracker at Wilton's Music Hall

She may only have a supporting role in the Sherlock Holmes stories, but this year Mrs Hudson is hosting her very own festive shindig at Wilton's Music Hall in the East End. In a recreation of her 221b Baker Street kitchen, Mrs Hudson is joined by a multitude of guests including tatty magicians, cod ventriloquists and lady boxers. There'll also be mulled wine and a finale starring a certain Mr Moriaty. 2-31 December, tickets £20-35

Tudor Christmas at Hampton Court Palace

Henry VIII threw a decent party and this festive season Hampton Court Palace gives us, the great unwashed, a chance to join in. But all is not well in Henry's crib this Yuletide: the king is ill, and the rumour among the courtiers is that he might only be a couple of mince pies away from an early demise. Expect hunks of meat roasting in the kitchen, dancing, singing, a fire-eating fool, and conspiratorial whispering aplenty. Just like Xmas at home then. 27 December-1 January. Included in price of palace ticket

Which historic festive happenings are you looking forward to this year? Let us known in the comments.

Last Updated 18 November 2014