Things To Do This Week In London: 27 November-3 December 2023

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Things to do this week is sponsored by the British Red Cross.

All week

A family standing in font of bright pink and purple neon illuminations
The Luminaze appears in Wembley Park this weekend. Image: Emergency Exit Arts

FILM FESTIVAL: The London International Animation Festival continues all week, with screenings at venues including the Garden Cinema and Barbican Cinema. Highlights including a special edition of Barbican's Family Film Club on Saturday, and a horror film special on Wednesday. Until 3 December

WINTER WONDERLAND: Huge seasonal festival Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is now in full swing, with a funfair, Christmas shows, a market, bars, food stalls an ice rink and loads more entertainment all taking place in central London. Have a read of our complete guide to Winter Wonderland 2023. Until 1 January

SEASONAL THEATRE: Not got your festive theatre trips sorted yet? Get booking! We've got a guide to pantomimes happening all over London, as well as festive dance, theatre and comedy shows, and family-friendly productions for the little ones. Many are already open (and selling out fast) so get planning.

ICE SKATING: Seems you can't swing a roll of wrapping paper at this time of year without hitting a pop-up ice rink. Nine are already open for this year, with two more due to join them next week.

THE SNOWMAN: We're walking in the aiiiiir! A free art trail of sculptures of Raymond Briggs' beloved character The Snowman is now open in and around Fleet Street. There are 12 of the frosty fellas to seek out, each one decorated by a different artist on the theme of the 12 Days of Christmas. FREE, until 5 January

TITANOSAUR: A reminder that you've only got until mid-January to see the Natural History Museum's current Titanosaur exhibition — and it's likely to get very busy around Christmas and towards the end of its run. See a cast of a skeleton of what is believed to be the biggest dinosaur species which ever lived, at a staggering 37m long. Until 14 January

THEATRE OF THE WEEK: Performance space, Collective Theatre opened in Holloway recently, and is currently staging Influence, a play about a magician, which takes a look at the distinction between truth and trickery. It's on till 2 December.

DRINK OF THE WEEK: The Lower Third on Denmark Street is never short of goings-on, its calendar packed with live music, comedy, DJs and what-not. It's also currently got a fun cocktail menu inspired by women in music, to wit: a Hounds of Love (a fruity twist on a French 75), the Back to Black (a tropical-leaning old fashioned) and Warpaint (a Manhattan-type concoction with cognac and cherry liqueur). Check out the full menu here.

Monday 27 November

A table set out with bottles of wine and plated cuts of meat
Gaucho Chancery Lane hosts a Steak and Wine Masterclass

BEEF AND WINE: Sample three cuts of sustainable steak, each paired with El Esteco’s Argentinian wines, at the Chancery Lane branch of steak restaurant Gaucho. It's the second in a series of Beef and Wine Masterclasses, guided by Gaucho’s head sommelier Marina. 6pm-6.45pm

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Is Artificial Intelligence fundamentally different from previous technological advancements?This Gresham lecture by Dr Marc Warner examines the opportunities and threats of the impending AI revolution, asks if AI differs from past technology waves, and explores measures to ensure safety. FREE, 6pm

ISLAM AND SCIENCE: University of Cambridge lecturer Tim Winter (Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad) is at the Royal Institution to give a talk about the intertwining of Islam and science throughout history. Find out about the Golden Age of Islamic civilisation, when scholars such as Ibn al-Haytham, Al-Khwarizmi and Ibn Sina helped to lay the foundation for modern scientific thought. 7pm-8.30pm

JESTER JESTERS: Weekly live new-material, stand-up comedy night Jester Jesters has been at the Betsey Trotwood in Farringdon for 10 years now, and tonight is the first of a series of special shows this week, this one featuring Sindhu Vee, Spring Day, Joe Jacobs and Jonathan Hearn, among many others. 7.30pm-10pm (and there are three more shows on Thursday)

DULWICH CONCERT: Cellist Natalie Clein makes an appearance at Alleyn's School in Dulwich for a one-off concert, including works by Bach and Kodály. 7.30pm

DARTS CHAMPIONS: Ahead of the PDC World Darts Championship at Ally Pally next month, the Leicester Square Theatre hosts A Night With The Champions, bringing together all 11 past PDC World Champions for the first time, to share their memories of the competition. 7.30pm

PERSONAL FINANCE: For the final event in its series of November workshops, Big Penny Social in Walthamstow offers a personal finance session. It's led by Brian Byrnes, who is Head of Personal Finance for the app Moneybox, and covers the basics of savings, mortgages, pensions, investments and the like. You can put your questions to him via the form to book your place for the event. FREE, 8pm

MONDAYS IN LONDON: Looking for something else to do, today or any other week? Take a look at our guide to things to do in London on a Monday — we've gathered together live music venues, comedy and cabaret clubs which keep going on what is usually the quietest day of the week, along with guided walks and tours scheduled on a Monday, and a few special offers too.

Tuesday 28 November

The Somerset House ice rink seen from above at night.
Skate Dates take over the Somerset House ice rink. Image: Owen Harvey

MIGRATION FILMS: As part of the London Migration Film Festival, Bertha Dochouse in Bloomsbury screens In The Rearview, a documentary following Ukrainians as they flee their homes. The festival continues tomorrow with The Other Half, which tells the story of refugees trying to cross Greek borders. 28-29 November

A PISSEDMAS CAROL: One of the many variations of A Christmas Carol on stage in London this festive season, A Pissedmas Carol opens at Leicester Square Theatre today. It's by the Sh!t-faced Showtime team, with one cast member getting progressively more squiffy on stage throughout each show. 28 November-6 January

MARITIME BLACKWALL: How well do you know the Blackwall area? Get better acquainted with it on a walking tour led by Footprints of London guide Rob Smith, focusing on its maritime history. Hear the story of the East India Company, ships built in the Blackwall Yard, and how the area is at the heart of communications in the 21st century. 2.30pm-4.30pm

RADIOACTIVE CHRIS WHITTY: Fresh from his appearances in front of the Covid Enquiry, Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty is at Gresham College on a very different topic: how to mitigate the effects of nuclear, radiological and chemical incidents on human health. FREE, 6pm

WINTER ROMANCES: Waterstones Kensington hosts Lizzie Huxley-Jones, author of Make You Mine This Christmas, and Abiola Bello, author of Only For The Holidays. They discuss their books, and the genre of wintry romances, followed by a Q&A session, and a chance to buy copies of their books and have them signed. 6.30pm

SKATE DATES: Skate at Somerset House has teamed up with Tinder for a series of dating events on the ice. Take to the rink for a 45-minute skating session accompanied by a soundtrack by DJs from London's club scene. Age 18+. From 8pm

Sponsor message

Explore the Guildhall in all its festive glory this Tuesday‌

The Guildhall Christmas Market is back! If you fancy getting into the festive spirit in one of London’s most striking historic buildings, all while supporting the vital humanitarian work of the British Red Cross, then snap up one of the remaining tickets, pronto.

On Tuesday 28 November, you can discover stall after stall of handcrafted, artisanal, and one-of-a-kind treasures amid the Gothic grandeur of the Guildhall’s Great Hall. From fine silks to antique silverware, to premium leather goods, there’s so much to discover beneath the the Gothic arches and stained glass windows, plus plenty of festive food and drink to fuel your shopping spree.

For an even more indulgent experience, head to the Guildhall’s atmospheric crypts – fun fact, these are the oldest surviving medieval ones in London – for a two-course Christmas lunch or a champagne afternoon tea. If luck’s on your side, the market’s charity raffle and silent auction could present even more chances to treat yourself, with some truly spectacular prizes up for grabs.

Admission to the Guildhall Christmas Market costs just £7 with all funds raised going to the British Red Cross. Get your tickets now.

Guildhall Christmas Market, 28 November, 10.30am - 7pm at the Guildhall.

Wednesday 29 November

Boy George wearing a pink hat and purple glitter eyeshadow
Hear from Boy George at Southbank Centre. Photo: Dean Stockings

ANTIQUES MARKET: The November edition of the Wembley Park Antiques Market takes over Canada Gardens with a collection of stalls selling antiques, collectables, salvage, vintage homeware, jewellery, furniture and more. FREE ENTRY, 7.30am-4pm

IRAN: In a busy week for Gresham College's public talks, Dr Shabnam Holliday updates us on recent developments in Iran, and the growing rebellion against gender-based, race-based, and religion-based violence. FREE, 6pm

BOOK TALK: Author Harry Nicholas is at the Vagina Museum to discuss his book, A Trans Man Walks Into A Gay Bar, and to talk about his experiences of finding himself single for the first time in his adult life — as a trans-masculine and newly out gay man. 7pm-8.30pm

COMEDY: Sara Barron, Patrick Monahan, Kuan-wen Huang and Katie Green are all on the line-up at Comedy at The Rose in Fulham, hosted by MC Sion James. Your ticket includes a burger and chips before the show. 7pm-10pm

DRAG BINGO: Just May — drag performer and competitor on Ru Paul's Drag Race UK — commandeers the Prince of Wales in Brixton for an evening of drag bingo, with prizes to be won. Oh, and it's happy hour all evening on a Wednesday... 7pm-11pm

BOY GEORGE: Singer-songwriter Boy George is at Southbank Centre to discuss his new book, Karma: The Autobiography, which tracks his music career from the 1970s to the present day. 7.30pm

CHARLES DICKENS: Did you know that Charles Dickens had a sister, who he wanted to keep secret, or that he tried to conceal the faith of his Jewish relatives? Not many people did until recently. Most of what we knew was taken from a biography written by his close friend John Forster 150 years ago, but now newly-accessible archives have revealed gaps and inconsistencies in accounts of Dickens' life. Hear about it from author Helena Kelly, in an online talk hosted by the National Archives. 7.30pm-8.30pm

MAKINGS OF A MURDERER: David Swindle, AKA The Scottish Detective, is at The Broadway in Barking with his one man show, The Makings of a Murderer. It's one for true crime fans as Swindle — responsible for bringing serial killer Peter Tobin to justice — talks about what makes a serial killer, and what the early warning signs are. 7.30pm

Thursday 30 November

London Incidental Orchestra in the middle of a performance
London Incidental Orchestra perform a Winter Concert

FONDUE THURSDAYS: As temperatures plummet, and Christmas beckons, there's one thing that's on the minds of many of us... cheese! Specifically, hot cheese! The Cheese Bar in Camden, and The Cheese Barge in Paddington host 'Fondue Thursdays', a collaborative series with celebrated chefs each creating their own take on the cheese fondue. Thursdays until March 2024

SPARKLE IN THE PARK: Residents of the Royal Borough of Greenwich are invited to Sparkle in the Park, a free, family-friendly light festival through Avery Hill Park. Wander through after dark, illuminated by fairy lights. FREE, 30 November-3 December

THE ENFIELD HAUNTING: Catherine Tate and David Threlfall star in the world premiere of new play The Enfield Haunting at Ambassadors Theatre. It's based on a true story of a family who claimed to experience supernatural activity in their home in Enfield in 1977. 30 November-2 March

ABORTION: In a free Gresham lecture, Prof Leslie Thomas KC looks at the current state of abortion law in the UK, as well as its recent history. FREE, 6pm

FEMINIST ARCHITECTURE: Heard the term 'feminist architecture' and wondered what it actually means? Head to Rich Mix to find out — five speakers give short talks about what the phrase means to them, and what it is that makes a building feminist or otherwise. 6.30pm

WINTER CONCERT: The London Incidental Orchestra presents a Winter Warmers concert, which sees them perform works by the likes of Mozart, Haydn, and Strauss. Takes place at St Gabriel's Church in Pimlico, and offers an informal setting, open to classical music lovers and those new to the genre. 7.30pm

MONTY PYTHON: Kennington's Cinema Museum hosts a 35mm screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the 1975 film written by and starring Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, based on the medieval legend of King Arthur. If you've seen it, it needs no further introduction, and if you haven't... well, here's your chance. 7.30pm

FARM MURDER MYSTERY: Here's a rather unusual night out on a farm: a murder mystery evening set in a pop-up Alpine ski lodge, in which participants have to solve clues to solve the mystery, with twists along the way. Takes place at Vauxhall City Farm. Age 18+. 7.30pm-9.30pm

Friday 1 December

David Swindle wearing a suit and tie, with a wall of photos behind him
Catch The Makings of a Murderer by David Swindle at The Broadway in Barking on Wednesday

QUEERIOSITIES: Queeriosities — a makers’ market led by LGBTQ+ creatives — returns to the Museum of the Home in Hoxton, with more than 40 vendors offering a selection of  ceramics, paintings, sculpture, textiles, books, ephemera, homeware and gifts. 1-3 December

FESTIVE FAYRE: Head to the Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre for Christmas grub galore. Wander among the courtyards and grounds perusing artisan food stalls selling everything from Christmas pudding and brownies to chocolate, cheese, biltong, coffee, cakes — plus gallons of booze. 1-10 December

WWI DOGS: In the summer of 1918, newspapers across Britain appealed for 'More War Dogs'; this free National Army Museum/online talk from Emma Worrall explores the stories of brave pooches who served their country. FREE, 12pm

CHRISTMAS ANTHEMS: Catch Christmas anthems by Mariah Carey, The Pogues, East 17 and more performed live on stage by 10-piece brass band Old Dirty Brasstards. The party takes place at Between The Bridges on South Bank, which has plenty of bars and street food stalls to power you through the evening. 7pm

MATT STORM: Juju's Bar and Stage in Spitalfields welcomes Matt Storm for his debut at the venue; he and his band fuse jazz, soul and indie — and support comes from Danniella Dee. FREE, From 7pm

WEST END SONGS: The City Academy Encore Choir performs a concert of West End songs at St Giles Cripplegate church in Barbican. 50+ choir members team up with a live band and a special guest West End singer for renditions of songs from Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Hairspray, Frozen and other popular shows. 8pm

Saturday 2 December

Ivo Graham wearing a black shirt over a white t-shirt, looking at the camera.
Ivo Graham DJs at Scared To Dance.

EEL PIE ISLAND: The secretive Eel Pie Island in west London has one of its open weekends, inviting the public to cross the footbridge and step foot inside the artist studios and meet the people who work there. Browse and buy ceramics, oil paintings, jewellery, ceramic sculptures and more. 2-3 December

GINGERBREAD CITY: London's tastiest exhibition returns, showcasing model buildings, transport hubs and other cityscapes, designed and created by teams of architects and engineers, and made from gingerbread and other sweet treats. This year's Gingerbread City has a watery theme, and takes place at Westfield White City. 2 December-7 January

LUMINAZE: A free to visit neon light maze, The Luminaze pitches up just off Olympic Way in Wembley Park for a month from today. It's a walkthrough installation, with a specially curated soundscape, all centring around the 4-foot tall centrepiece, The Hourglass. FREE, 2 December-2 January

IAN NAIRN TOUR: Open City hosts a walking tour exploring Pimlico, home of the late architectural critic Ian Nairn. You'll visit Nairn's old haunts, listen to extracts of his writing, and decide if his views stand up in 2023. 11am-1.30pm

WINTER FESTIVAL: Poplar Union hosts a day-long Winter Festival to celebrate the festive season, kicking off with a treasure trail tea party for younger kids and their carers, followed by storytelling, family yoga, a juggling workshop, singalongs, crafts, and other activities, culminating in an open mic session. FREE, 11.30am-9pm

UNVERSED: Keats House in Hampstead hosts two performances of Unversed, a new theatre show about a young actor who has got her hands on a discarded copy of Shakespeare’s first folio, but is faced with the problem that the parts are all too out of reach for women to play on the public stage. 2pm/7.30pm

QUEER DEATH CAFE: Deptford's Matchstick Piehouse hosts monthly LGBTQ+ discussion and peer-support space, Queer Death Cafe. The floor is open for shame-free discussions of experiences, with an incite to to listen, learn and share. 3pm-5pm

SCARED TO DANCE: Alternative club night Scared to Dance has bagged comedian Ivo Graham as guest DJ for tonight's event at The Victoria in Dalston. Expect to hear tunes from the likes of The Beatles, the Beach Boys, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, New Order, the Manic Street Preachers and many more. 10pm

Sunday 3 December

A collection of minature houses made from gingerbread and decorated with icing
The Gingerbread City opens on Saturday. Photo: Londonist (from a previous year)

UPCYCLING WORKSHOP: Got an item of clothing in need of repair? Take it along to Tipis on the Green in Parsons Green, and learn the basics of sewing and embroidering to visibly mend it, adding colour, texture and character as part of the repair process. 10am-11.30am

TUNNEL TRIP: The Canal Museum in King's Cross offers some of its seasonal mince pie tunnel trips. Board a canal boat at the museum and ride it through the Islington tunnel and back to St Pancras, with a guide offering commentary along the way. Everyone receives a mince pie and warm fruit punch (or tea/coffee) to enjoy along the route, which lasts approximately an hour. 10.30am-2.45pm

A DAY WITH MOG: Take the kids along to Waterstones on Piccadilly for activities with Mog the cat from Judith Kerr's children's book, Mog the Forgetful Cat. Have teatime with Mog, followed by storytime and other activities, as well as a chance to get some photos with Mog. 11am

VINTAGE FAIR: In need of a Christmas party outfit with a bit of flair? Get yourself to Chelsea Old Town Hall for the final Frock Me Vintage Fair of the year. 60 dealers from the UK and further afield are present, selling rare vintage and antique clothing, jewellery and textiles. It's not unusual for vintage British labels such as Ossie Clark, Bill Gibb and Biba to be found at the event. 11am-5.30pm

TUNES ON TAP: Layla & Aleks T host Tunes On Tap at Spit & Sawdust in Elephant & Castle — with live performers playing choons for four hours straight. Grab a drink or two while you listen — there's a good selection of craft beer from the likes of Crate, Orbit and Five Points. 4pm-8pm

HAMPSTEAD TOUR: Join Footprints of London guide Marilyn Greene for a walking tour around Hampstead after dark, giving you a chance to see the streets illuminated by old-fashioned lamps, as well as the current Christmas lights. Wind through the back streets learning more about the area's history as you go. 4.30pm-6pm

GENTLE STRANGER: Bloomsbury's Horse Hospital hosts an 'unlistening party' for the new album by indie-folk outfit Gentle Stranger, featuring readings, video screenings and other visuals — plus the chance to hear tracks from Inner Winter. 7pm-11.30pm

Good cause of the week

Save the Union Chapel organ! The much-loved Islington church and live venue houses one of the finest organs in the world, built in 1877 by 'Father’ Henry Willis, whose portfolio includes St Paul's Cathedral and the Royal Albert Hall. The organ was specifically designed and built for the Grade I listed Victorian jewel. What makes the organ at Union Chapel even more special is its fully functioning original water hydraulics, which can be used as an alternative to the electric blowing system.  

However, after 146 years of dedicated service, the organ is at risk and needs £130,000 of urgent repairs. With a large amount of funding applications now submitted and a provisional date for repair booked for January 2024, Union Chapel are therefore launching an urgent fundraising appeal and asking members of the public to help save their rare and historic organ.

If you'd like to help with the appeal follow this link for further details.