Things To Do In London This Weekend: 13-14 December 2014

All weekend

Join in a weekend of family activities at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Photo: Gary Etchell

CHRISTMAS MARKETS: Starting to panic about the Christmas shopping? Get yourself down to one of London's Christmas markets and fairs for unique gifts that you won't get on the high street.

PUB: Just want to kick back and relax with a pint and a packet of pork scratchings? Our pubs guide has information about all the best pubs in London, organised by area for your convenience. Find a boozer nearby, try a new place, or see if your local’s in there.

ICE SKATING: What better way to get festive than by going ice skating? Twinkly lights, elegant gliding — it's enough to melt the heart of even the most resilient of Scrooges. London’s seasonal ice rinks are mostly open for business now — book ahead for the run-up to Christmas and beyond.

FREE GIGS: From the beginning of the month until 24 December, St Pancras International hosts a series of free choir gigs inside the station. The Christmas music programme includes 30 performances by charities across the UK, including the Salvation Army and the Amy Winehouse Foundation — check full programme. Free, until 24 December

CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL: Over 50 exhibitors of the good stuff take over the Islington Business Design Centre for a weekend of chocolate heaven. As well as a chance to do that Christmas shopping, expect demos, tasters, and even a cocoa spa. £7/£8, prebook, 12-14 December

ZOMBIE ROOM: Trapped in a Room with a Zombie sees 12 people put  in a room with a zombie that's chained to the wall! Hidden in the room is a key that unlocks the door to freedom. To find the key, participants must locate clues and solve riddles throughout the room, while the zombie's chain gets longer. Within an hour, the zombie will be able to reach everyone in the room. You are given 60 minutes to find the clues, solve the puzzles, unlock the door and escape the room.  The experience has so far been US-only but this is its opening weekend in London. £28, prebook, 12-14 December

SCI-FI WEEKENDER: Supported by the BFI and Film London, The Out of This World Sci Fi weekender takes place at The Proud Archivist in Haggerston, with three days of talks, screenings and parties exploring galaxies far, far away.£40, prebook, 12-14 December

BRIXTON: Crafty Fox Market is at The Bussey Building in Peckham this weekend, with over 50 stalls plus workshops, DJs and drinks. 13-14 December, 12pm-6pm

OLYMPIC PARK: There's a free weekend of festive family fun at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Listen to Christmas choirs, go on a Hackney Experience Tour around the Park, watch an outdoor theatre production or join a Fairytales After Dark story tour. There will also be festive funfair rides and arts and crafts, and a chance to meet Santa at the ArcelorMittal Orbit. Free, just turn up, 13-14 December

FASHION WEEKEND: The Oval Space in Kennington hosts a Christmas Fashion Weekend: there will be more than 30 designers, music and drinks. Tickets are £3 for a single day, £5 for the weekend pass or free between 7pm-9pm on Saturday — check website for full information. 13-14 December

CITY ROAD LOCK: This weekend you have a rare opportunity to venture to the bottom of City Road Lock in Angel and walk along the original Victorian, 200-year-old brickwork and see one of the finest examples of working heritage in the world up close. The open weekend is part of a national programme of events showcasing restoration work by the Canal & River Trust. 13-14 December, 10am-3pm both days

Saturday 13 December

Learn the art of coffee at Drink Shop Dash

REINDEER: Victoria Station promises us a Christmas at Victoria event, with lots of prizes and freebies throughout the day. The highlight will be the appearance of reindeer between 10am and 4pm. No web link available. Free, just turn up, 7am-7pm

OPEN DAY: Barking and Dagenham Police Station opens its doors to the public today. The event is aimed especially at families, providing visitors with a rare and behind-the-scenes glimpse of their local police and to see some of the specialist units, equipment and resources that the MPS has at its disposal. Free, just turn up, 10am-3pm

WESTMINSTER WALK: Walk with old maps exploring the parish of Westminster beyond the Abbey. There are whole streets of houses built in the early 1700s and buildings with hidden stories waiting to be told, including the first Women’s Parliament of 1907, the school built around a workhouse and the oldest youth club in the world. Meeting place revealed on booking. £10/£8, prebook by email oldmapken@yahoo.co.uk, 11am

OUTDOOR SWIM: The seventh annual December Dip takes place at Parliament Hill Lido on Hampstead Heath. The events this year include Fancy Dress Dippers, Bobble Hat Breastrokers (1-2 widths, 30-60m), Freezing Freestylers (one length, 60m) and Arctic Adventurers (up to 240m). £16/£20 for entrants, £2 for spectators, from 11am

COFFEE TASTING: Drink Shop Do in King's Cross has a sister coffee shop, Drink Shop Dash, where regular Saturday coffee tastings are held. Led by trained baristas, learn the coffee basics, how to taste it like a pro and get advice on how to whip up a banging brew at home. £15, prebook, 11am

PEXMAS: The day long event at Holly Grove Park in Peckham offers a festive atmosphere for shopping, with carollers and food. Pexmas aims to support local traders and groups. Free, just turn up, 11am-7pm

TASTING TOUR: Led by artist Lucy Harrison, this walk will visit some of Ilford’s most intriguing food outlets for a range of tastes sampling Turkish, Polish and Asian cuisines. Meeting point is The Exchange — vegetarian options as well. Free, prebook by emailing info@goodcompanyilford.co.uk, 11am-1pm

STRAND ODDITIES: Discovering London tour guide Peter Berthoud leads an Oddities of the Strand tour walk along a former beach taking in London’s — possibly the world’s — first wine bar, the scene of an elephant’s execution and the oldest family-run shop of its type on earth. £10-£12, prebook, 11am.

FREEDOM WALK: Join CoolTan Arts CoolWalks on a free guided public walk through Camberwell and Brixton to discover the area's freedom fighters. Start at Camberwell Library. Free, just turn up, 12.30pm

FREE GIG: The Gamelan Christmas Chimes holds a live performance at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. Enjoy Javanese gamelan, shadow-puppetry and dance performances. Free, just turn up, 1pm-6pm

NAUGHTY OR NICE HUNT: Operation Naughty or Nice is a Street Game style treasure hunt Mrs Claus needs help as some of Santa’s Naughty or Nice list has been deleted. Players need solve the clues to repair it before Santa finds out. Starting at The Piccadilly Institute, players work in teams, exploring London’s heritage and Christmas decorations, for the answers to puzzles and challenges.  There will be plenty of Christmas surprises, prizes for the winners and an early evening party and a glass of Christmas cheer for all. £15, prebook, 2pm

RIVER ARCHITECTURE: Open City's boat-based architecture tour of the Thames departs from Festival Pier, and heads upstream to Battersea Power Station before heading back east to pass sites such as The Shard, Somerset House and Tower Bridge, all illuminated at night. £35.50, prebook, 2pm

HERITAGE WALK: Explore Brixton Market and its surrounding area with a guided walk organised by the Brixton Society. You can prebook your place by emailing marketwalks@brixtonsociety.org.uk and pay on the day. £3, prebook, 2.30pm

BISHOPSGATE INSTITUTE: Join a philosophy discussion chaired by author Anja Steinbauer, co-founder of the London School of Philosophy, taking place at Bishopsgate Institute. The discussion will focus on philosophy during the First World War. Free, just turn up, 2.30pm

FAMILY CONCERT: Join the London Gay Symphonic Winds for its third annual Christmas concert, at St Sepulchre-Without-Newgate on Holborn Viaduct. The family friendly event includes works by Leroy Anderson, Gustav Holst, John Williams’s Home Alone Soundtrack, and a few carols to sing along to. £8, prebook, 3pm

GIFTING WORKSHOP: Struggling with the Christmas shopping? Why not make gifts at The Book Club's Gifting Workshop? The two-hour workshop by There She Glows involves instruction on creating all natural, non toxic homemade skin care products. You'll leave with a pulse point perfume, body scrub, face moisturiser and herbal bath bags. £30, prebook, 4-6pm

VARIETY SHOW: Hot off the heels of the Royal Variety Show, The Cinema Museum in Kennington presents its own variety show. Volunteers have scoured the archives for classic performances from Johnny Mathis, Eartha Kitt, the Everly Brothers and the Mamas and the Papas, plus there's comedy, tricks and illusions and more. £8.50/£6.50, prebook, 7.30pm

COMEDY: Pack yourself into the garage-masquerading-as-a-venue that is King's Cross's Invisible Dot for their Saturday Night show, with the rather marvellous Mike Wozniak, Nish Kumar and Lolly Adefope. £10. prebook, 8pm

Sunday 14 December

London Gay Symphony Orchestra performs its first ever family concert

SUNDAY ROAST: Nothing says Sunday like a full roast dinner. Have a look at our choice of the best Sunday roasts in London, or check out your other food options.

FAMILY FUN: Looking for something to do with your children today? The V&A Museum has plenty of free drop-in workshops. Activities include museum tours, drawing and design activities. Check the website for timing and events' details.

WINE SALE: The Great New Zealand Wine Cellar has a wine sale in Brixton, showcasing and selling a range of New Zealand wines. Rare bottles will be available to purchase without the retail markups. £5, prebook, 8.45am-2pm

VINTAGE MARKET: Mid Century Market is on at Cecil Sharp House today, with plenty of clothes stalls inspired by the style of the 1950s. There will also be records and homeware on sale, as well as a vintage hair salon and barber — all in rockabilly style. £3pp, just turn up, 10.30am-4pm

SHARDLAKE: Fans of CJ Sansom's fictional lawyer-detective can follow in his Tudor footsteps with a guided walk around Shardlake's London. The walk, led by Paula Cooze, includes scenes from the latest novel, Lamentation. Meet at Temple tube. £9, just turn up, 10.35am for 10.45am start

PANTO HORSE RACE: In Greenwich, the London Pantomime Horse Race takes place, raising money for Demelza Hospice.Over 40 Panto horses – not to mention the odd cow and zebra – take part in the fun-packed comedy race through the streets of Greenwich, and this year there's a sci-fi theme. TV horse-racing pundit John McCririck  hosts the event. Prebook to take part, from 11am (race at 1pm)

GIFT FAIR: Head to Chelsea Old Town Hall for the Chelsea Christmas Gift Fair, where you can browse fashion items for both men and women, homewares, children’s toys and clothes, plus food products. Today is the last day of the fair. £3 entry, 12pm-5pm

LONDON FOLKLORE: Watch Bexleyheath's local Morris troupe perform a traditional Mummers play at The Red House in Bexleyheath. Free, 1.30pm

CEMETERY CONCERT: The Fieri Consort, made up of ensemble singers from London, will put on a special Christmas concert at Brompton Cemetery Chapel. Fieri will be performing much loved carols such as Silent Night, O Christmas Tree, and The Holly and the Ivy. Profits from the concert will go towards supporting a lottery funding application by The Royal Parks to carry out a programme of improvements, including the restoration of the chapel.£5-£15, 2.30pm

BOOK LAUNCH: Head to Cineworld on Haymarket for the launch of coffee expert Chris Ward's second  book, GROUNDED: Coffee Lovers' Guide To Life. The event includes a free screening black comedy film, Birdman. Free, prebook, 3.30pm-5.30pm

FAMILY CONCERT: London Gay Symphony Orchestra present their first ever Family Concert, introduced by actress Nina Wadia. It features Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Ravel’s Mother Goose, highlights from Grieg’s Peer Gynt and more. Expect some seasonal surprises and the obligatory mulled wine and mince pies, and instrument demos in the interval with opportunities to have a go. £5-£12, prebook, 5pm

THE SHEPHERD: See an original adaptation of the classic aviation Christmas tale, Frederick Forsyth’s The Shepherd, at St Clement Danes on Strand. The perfomance is introduced by Frederick Forsyth himself, and raises money for the RAF Benevolent Fund. £12, prebook, 5.30pm

COMEDY: go8-bit is a night mixing comedy with classic video gaming — this is its Christmas special. Head for the Backyard Comedy Club in Bethnal Green to see Alexis Dubus, Bec Hill, Chris Coltrane, Nish Kumar and loads more, hosted by McNeil and Pamphilon. £9.90, prebook, 6.30pm


Give the gift of Pact this Christmas

Want to be as buzzing as these guys on Christmas Day? You know what to do

Love coffee? We recommend you try out Pact Coffee. We first met them last year and have since become loyal customers of theirs. This London start-up is on a mission to get the UK drinking better, fresher coffee by delivering it straight to our homes and offices. Now, clearly in the festive spirit, they're offering new customers their first 250g bag for only £1 with free next-day delivery, just use the code LONDONISTXMAS at checkout. Get yours here, or for more info and T&Cs click here.

They also offer coffee Christmas gift bundles for the caffeine lover in your life, check those out here.

This weekend’s Things To Do In London is sponsored by Pact.


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