Things to do this week is sponsored by London Transport Museum.
CHANUKAH IN LONDON: London's usual Chanukah celebrations have been scaled back this year, but the large menorah will still be lit in Trafalgar Square each night, just without the usual fuss. Other menorahs will be in place in Crouch End and Islington throughout Chanukah, and the London Eye will be illuminated for Chanukah on 5 December. Trafalgar Square, free, just turn up, 28 November-5 December
DRAWING PRIZE: 114 exceptional drawings were selected from a staggering 3,300 entries for the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize. This week is your last chance to check out the winners. Trinity Buoy Wharf, free, just turn up, 11am-4pm daily, until 5 December
FLOATING FILMS: Grab a deckchair and a blanket, and settle in for an al fresco evening of festive movies at St Katharine Docks’ Floating Film Festival. During the week you can catch the likes of Elf, Last Christmas and Arthur Christmas. Mulled wine and hot chocolate is available too. St Katharine Docks, £15 per film, book ahead, 29 November-5 December
SQUID SOUP: A trippy new light installation takes up residence in Greenwich Peninsula to accompany the festivities. Wave by Squid Soup uses light, sound and movement to create an interactive experience via dozens of colourful orbs above visitors' heads. If it looks familiar, that's probably because it's been installed elsewhere in London, including Belgravia and South Bank, in previous years. Greenwich Peninsula, free, just turn up (expect to queue at busy periods), from 29 November
CHRISTMAS FAIRS: There's a plethora of Christmas markets and fairs taking place in London this week, offering ample opportunities to get your Christmas shopping done. Choose from the Forty Hall Christmas Fayre (3-5 December), Hampton Court Palace Festive Fayre (3-5 December), The Christmas Makers Market at Benk & Bo (4 December), Community Market at House of Vans (4 December), Crafty Fox Christmas Market at Mercato Metropolitano (4-5 December), or The Beautiful & Useful Craft Fair at the Garden Museum (5 December).
Monday 29 November
JESTER JESTERS: For 12 years, above-a-pub comedy night Jester Jesters has invited up-and-coming comedians to sharpen their sets in front of an audience (we’ve been a few times and can confirm it’s excellent). Today, they’re celebrating their birthday with multiple sets. The Betsey Trotwood (Farringdon), pay what you want (minimum £3), book ahead, sets at 3.45pm, 6pm and 8.15pm
WOMEN IN SCIENCE FICTION: Today's Gresham College lecture sees Professor Jim Endersby discuss what fantasies of artificial women (think Stepford Wives) tell us about societal assumptions by their (usually male) creators that the original or superior human form is male. Barnard's Inn Hall (Holborn) or online, free, book ahead, 6pm-7pm
CHARITY CATWALK: Vernon Kay hosts Catwalk To A Cure, a charity fashion show in aid of Parkinson's UK. Enjoy a glass of prosecco and canapés as models take to the catwalk to showcase the latest designs from clothing, jewellery and accessories designers. Proud Embankment, from £20, book ahead, 6.30pm
Tuesday 30 November
ROUTEMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: Londonist contributor Harry Rosehill has only gone and written a book about Routemasters, and he's launching it at Stanfords tonight. Routemasters of the Universe looks at the brilliant and bizarre places all over the world where London's iconic buses have ended up, from Stockholm to Sri Lanka. Get a sneak preview of the book here, and head to tonight's event to hear from Harry. Stanfords (Covent Garden), £5 (including wine), book ahead, 6.30pm-8pm
CHARITY CAROLS: The impressive St James's Church hosts an evening of carols, performances and festive readings, along with a silent auction, all raising money for The Childhood Trust and The Quintessentially Foundation. Tickets aren't cheap, but include a festive party at The Londoner hotel afterwards. St James's (Piccadilly), £150, book ahead, 7pm
Ticket alert: Hidden London tours are back!
Tube fanatics, this is not a drill: London Transport Museum's legendary disused station tours are making a very welcome return, and tickets go on sale this week, just in time for your Christmas shopping!
These four in-person Hidden London tours have been on pause for almost two years, but from January 2022 you'll once again have the chance to descend beneath the streets of London and explore parts of the tube network that time forgot.
Uncover the wartime secrets of the now-defunct Down Street station, where Winston Churchill once took refuge from the Blitz. Explore the 1960s time capsule that is the labyrinth of tunnels beneath Euston. Follow in the footsteps of Hollywood stars at Aldwych — now a popular location for film and TV shoots. And marvel at the maze of disused tunnel and track at Moorgate, one of the oldest London Underground stations.
Tickets go on public sale Friday 3 December — click here to get yours.
Wednesday 1 December
SPARKLE IN THE PARK: Last year, the borough of Greenwich came alive with Sparkle in the Park. It's back for a second year, this time taking over Maryon Park with a light trail, fire art, performances, food and drink. Maryon Park (Charlton), free, just turn up, 1-5 December
EVER AFTER GARDEN: From today, Grosvenor Square is alight with 25,000 glowing white roses, as The Ever After Garden returns. The beautiful installation is a fundraiser for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, offering people somewhere to remember absent loved ones in the run-up to Christmas, and for £10 you can dedicate a rose to someone. Grosvenor Square, free to visit, just turn up, 1-23 December
LIFE BETWEEN ISLANDS: 70 years of Caribbean-British art is celebrated in Tate Britain's new exhibition, Life Between Islands. Paintings, photograph, fashion, film and sculpture all feature, with works by both Caribbean artists who made their home in Britain, and British artists whose work has been influenced and inspired by the Caribbean. Tate Britain, £16, book ahead, 1 December 2021-3 April 2022
PALACE AT CHRISTMAS: See Fulham Palace decked out in all its Christmas finery on this special festive tour. Find out how Christmas traditions at the palace have changed throughout time, and how the bishops and their families who lived there would have celebrated. Fulham Palace, £8, book ahead, 2pm-3.15pm
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: Fancy yourself as a bit of a travel photographer? Pick up some tips from award-winning photographer Nori Jemil, who's at Stanfords to talk about her new book, The Travel Photographer's Way. It covers how, when and why to take photos, with some technical tips and examples of her own work. Stanfords (Covent Garden), £5 (including wine), book ahead, 6.30pm-8pm
Thursday 2 December
MUSEUM LATE: Explore the Museum of London after dark in a seasonal late opening, which includes craft beer and Christmas shopping. Pick up decorations, gifts and unique pieces by London-based makers, courtesy of a collaboration with Craft Central. The craft fair ties in with new exhibition London Making Now. Museum of London, free, book ahead, 5.30pm
TRAFALGAR SQUARE TREE: Tonight's the night! After making a lengthy journey from Oslo, the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is illuminated for this year in a lighting ceremony this evening. Gather around the tree for music, speeches, and the all-important pressing of the button. Trafalgar Square, free, just turn up, 6pm
CANINE CAROLS: Among all of London's carol concerts, we have a soft spot for the Battersea Christmas Carol Concert, not least because they bring dogs into the church to form a canine guard of honour. Naturally, money raised goes back into the work Battersea does for dogs and cats, and there's a chance to purchase Battersea gifts at the end of the concert. Really though, we're here for the dogs. St Luke's Church (Chelsea). £22-£32, book ahead, 7.30pm, 2-3 December
GAY MEN’S CHORUS: The London Gay Men’s Chorus is 30 years old, and they’re celebrating in style, with one heck of a party, featuring some special guests. Better wear something glam for this one. Clapham Grand (Clapham Junction), from £11, book ahead, 7.30pm, 2-4 December
BOROUGH MARKET LATES: Tonight's the first of four festive late night openings at Borough Market, giving you a chance to stock up on festive produce, or meet friends for a catch-up over food from one of the market's many street food traders, from vegetarian Indian dishes at Horn Ok Please to Tel Aviv-style stuffed pittas at Shuk. Borough Market, free, just turn up, until 9pm
Friday 3 December
BEETHOVEN: British Library unveils a new exhibition dedicated to the life and work of the great composer Beethoven. Find out about the challenges he faced, including a battle against hearing loss, and see objects including manuscripts handwritten by the man himself. British Library, £8, book ahead, 3 December 2021-24 April 2022
PLAGUE TOUR: Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year is a scintillating account of the 1665 pandemic (written as a first-hand account, but highly embellished given that the author was only five in that year). Starting at Aldgate, tour guide Rob Smith brings to life many of the sites and stories mentioned in the text. Aldgate station, £9-£12, book ahead, 2pm-4pm
CHRISTMAS INSTA: Hone your Instagram skills on this festive workshop. Hazel, a professional digital marketer and tour guide with a diploma in photography will point out unusual or little-known historical facts about each site on this tour. Meeting point near Waterloo Bridge, £15, book ahead, 6pm
CHRISTMAS NIGHT MARKET: A collab between BlackEatsLdn and Bohemia Place Markets, the Christmas Night Market's back with a celebration of London's Black-owned, independent businesses, street food traders, and artisan creators. Smash through your Christmas gift shopping, knock back a mulled wine or four, and snack on festive food from traders like Ethiopian vegan Fikre Kitchen. Bohemia Place (Hackney), entry free though £2 donation welcome, book ahead, 6pm-10pm
MUSEUM AFTER DARK: Spend the evening playing games at London Transport Museum's late night opening. Explore the galleries after dark with a scavenger hunt, then grab a drink from the bar and settle down to work your way through the collection of transport-themed board games. London Transport Museum (Covent Garden), £12, book ahead, 6.30pm
Saturday 4 December
GRAPHIC ART FAIR: Kick off your Christmas shopping at the They Made This graphic art fair, picking up limited edition artwork from as little as £15. There’s also a chance to try your hand at screen printing, or commission your own artwork from residence artists. Protein Studios (Shoreditch), free, just turn up, 4-5 December
GINGERBREAD CITY: After a 2020 hiatus, London's most delicious exhibition is back, in a brand new location. The Gingerbread City comes to Belgravia, with buildings, bridges and other structures made from the festive biscuit, designed and made by teams of architects. The 2019 incarnation had a working train set running through the middle of it, so we've got high hopes. 6-7 Motcomb Street (Belgravia), £14 adult/£8.50 child, book ahead, 4 December 2021-9 January 2022
TUDORFEST: For one day only, experts in all things Tudor take over the British Library for TudorFest. Hear from historians Tracy Borman, Suzannah Lipscomb, author Nathen Amin and Prof Nandini Das on topics such as fashion and LGBT+ history in the period. British Library, £10 per event/day pass £30, book ahead, 12pm-7.15pm
BABA YAGA: Embark on a fire and music-filled journey through the great dark woods in the company of the Russian witch Baba Yaga, as told by London Dreamtime and Cunning Folk. Suitable for all ages. Grand Junction (Warwick Avenue), free with suggested donation, book ahead, 12pm-2pm
YE OLDE BATTERSEA: The gleaming towers around Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station are in marked contrast to the area’s long, storied history. Tour guide Diane Burstein invites you to explore the older treasures of the area, starting in Battersea Park and continuing through the historic streets to St Mary’s church. Battersea Power Station, £15, book ahead, 1.30pm-3.30pm
Sunday 5 December
PUP CRAWL: Don your festive jumper and spruce up your pooch in seasonal attire, for this pup crawl across Millennium Bridge from one pub to another. Expect festive entertainment, mince pies, prosecco and ‘puppaccinos’. The Happenstance (St Paul’s), £22, book ahead, 11am-2pm
TREASURE HUNT: Here's a novel way to explore Soho. Take part in a festive treasure hunt, solving cryptic clues as you move around the streets. Piccadilly Circus, £15, book ahead, various times from 12pm
FESTIVE MUSIC: 300 (or so) musicians from the Big Christmas Wind Orchestra and Choir are braving the elements, to perform an outdoor set of festive numbers — both carols and pop. If you’re in the area, make sure you stop by for a yuletide groove. Granary Square (King’s Cross), free, just turn up, 1pm-4pm
CEMETERY TOUR: The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery run regular tours of this evocative space, on select Sundays throughout the year. Today is one of those. Small groups of up to 20 will be led by a tour guide who will explain the notable monuments and history of the site. Kensal Green Cemetery, £12, book ahead, 2pm-4pm
LONDON LIONS: Fancy seeing some live basketball? The London Lions men’s team take on the Manchester Giants at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this afternoon. Go and cheer the local side on. Copper Box Arena (Stratford), from £16.50, book ahead, play starts 4pm
Urban oddity of the week
Harry Rosehill's new book about the many reuses of Routemaster buses (see Tuesday) reminds us of one of our favourite London street names. Routemaster Close was built on the site of West Ham Bus Garage in Plaistow, which closed in 1992.
Good cause of the week
Here's how to do your Christmas shopping and help refugee communities at the same time. Anqa is an online marketplace for refugee business owners. The site includes everything from food and drink, to handicrafts, to fashion items, all marketed by business owners from refugee backgrounds.
Better yet, the site is holding a real-world Christmas pop-up from 2-5 December in Dray Walk (Brick Lane). Browse products from 15 refugee businesses, including "Syrian baklava, local honey, original art & photography, slow fashion, jewellery, ceramics and more". Look out, too, for food tastings and workshops.
According to TERN, the charity behind the initiative, "Every time you buy from Anqa, you make a big difference to the refugee entrepreneurs in our collective, enabling them to grow their businesses and take control of their own futures." Full details here.