Things to do this week is sponsored by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
HAIR EXHIBITION: Horniman Museum has just opened its latest exhibition, Hair: Untold Stories. Be among the first to see artworks and films by a range of artists, all on the topic of the importance of hair in society. A special hair shop installation by Korantema Anyimadu explores the experiences of Black women and non-binary people with their hair in the UK. Horniman Museum (Forest Hill), free, booking required, 4 December 2021-19 June 2022
FESTIVE KITCHEN: Foodies can get their fill at Borough Market's Festive Kitchen, a three-day event featuring live demos, tasting and masterclasses, all free to attend. Head to Middle Row between 11am and 4pm for events hosted by food writers Angela Clutton, Ed Smith and Jenny Chandler, covering everything from cheesemaking to wine pairing to knife sharpening to festive table decorations. Full programme here. Borough Market, free, just turn up, 7-9 December
MOSCONI CUP: One of the biggest events in the pool calendar, the Mosconi Cup, takes place at Alexandra Palace over four evenings. Watch Team Europe and Team USA battle it out to be crowned champions. Alexandra Palace, from £20, book ahead, 7-10 December
LAST CHANCE: It's the final week of Life on the Home Front, a free exhibition offering an insight into what life was like here in Britain during the second world war. Original letters, photographs and leaflets all feature, covering topics such as rationing, bombings and evacuation. British Library, free, just turn up, until 11 December
GINGERBREAD CITY: A model town made of gingerbread and other sweet treats is now open in London. The Gingerbread City is the work of architects and civil engineers, who construct scaled-down buildings, bridges and other infrastructure from the festive biscuit, with sweets used as decorations. This year's theme is nature and rewilding, so we're hoping for some forests and wetlands to ogle too. 6-7 Motcomb Street (Belgravia), £14 adult/£8.50 child, book ahead, 4 December 2021-9 January 2022
GOOD DEEDS: Seen Londonist's reverse advent calendar yet? It's packed full of good deeds to do every day before Christmas, to help those less fortunate. From volunteering to donating goods to attending fundraising events, there's a way you can help, regardless of how much time or cash you have to spare.
Monday 6 December
TAMDHU X BRINDISA: Whisky brand Tamdhu teams up with Spanish restaurant Brindisa for three nights of tasting events, pairing Tamdhu's latest product with cuts of jamón ibérico. Guided by experts from both companies, compare and contrast tasting notes. Brindisa (Borough Market), £95, book ahead, 6-8 December
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: If you’d like to view central London’s many dazzling lights in the company of an experienced tour guide, then try this 90-minutes amble. You’ll take in little-known alleyways, brightly lit shops and some of the West End’s best illuminations — all while hearing the history of the lights. Charing Cross, £15, book ahead, 7pm-8.30pm (repeated 13 December)
HAMLET AND SHE: From Fanny Furnival in 1741, to Maxine Peake in 2014, what does it mean for a woman to play the role of the eponymous prince in Shakespeare's Hamlet? Maxine Peake and Michelle Terry — who in 2018 was the first woman to play the role on the Globe stage — chat to the Globe’s Co-Director of Education, Professor Farah Karim-Cooper about their experiences. Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (Shakespeare's Globe), £5-£15, book ahead, 7.30pm
HAPPY MONDAYS: Comedy night Happy Mondays brings together Shazia Mirza, Josh Jones, Philipp Carl Kostelecky, Sam Deards and Roman Harris for a night of news gags, all hosted by MC Sion James. Amersham Arms (New Cross), £7, book ahead, 8pm-10.30pm
Tuesday 7 December
TUBE EXTENSION: Plenty of people (ourselves included) went a bit potty for the new Northern line extension — but how well do you know the area around Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station? Guide Diane Burstein leads a tour of the area, looking at its industrial past and its glittering present. £15, book ahead, 1.30pm-3.30pm
GREEK BEATS: Gastrobar INO brings a two day celebration of Greek music, food, and cocktail culture to Soho, with a festive slant. Charcoal Beats runs across 7-8 December evenings — expect Greek small plates hot off the charcoal grill, Christmassy twists on their usual cocktail list, and DJ Costis on the decks. From 6pm
PUB HISTORY: We consider ourselves fairly knowledgable about all things pub-related in London — heck, we wrote a book about it — so we love the sound of this London Metropolitan Archives talk which explores the history of the London pub. Find out how the capital's inns and taverns evolved to meet the changing needs of Londoners over time. Online event, £5, book ahead, 2pm-3pm
CAROLS FROM LAMBETH: Tickets to the charity carol concert in Lambeth Palace have sold out, but you can still watch a free livestream from the beautiful Grand Hall — and perhaps join in with a singalong at home. Online event, free, book ahead, 7pm-8.30pm
Cracking Christmas pop-ups in Kensington and Chelsea
Things are getting seriously Christmassy in Kensington and Chelsea! This week sees the launch of a brand new pop-up market outside Kensington Town Hall — just off Kensington High Street — where you can pick up unique artisan gifts, indulge in scrumptious seasonal fare, and enjoy an array of live performances from Thursday 9 until Sunday 12 December.
On top of that, the one and only Portobello Market will be opening every Sunday up to Christmas for a special festive edition. What's more, there's a massive hamper of goodies from treasured local businesses up for grabs as part of a new photography competition — just snap a few pictures of your favourite festive spots in the borough for the chance to win.
You'll find all the details on the Kensington and Chelsea website — keep tabs on its Christmas advent calendar for more festive events and promotions.
Wednesday 8 December
PALACE OF STARDUST: One of our picks for the best light festivals in London this winter, the Palace of Stardust opens and Hampton Court Palace today. New for this year, the celestial-themed after hours trail is based on the building's astronomical clock. Moons, planets, clocks and a sundial all feature in lantern, projection and illumination form as you wander through the cobbled courtyard and extensive gardens. Hampton Court Palace, £12.50 adult/£8 child, book ahead, 8 December 2021-3 January 2022
BRING IT ON: Believe it or not, it's 21 years since cheerleading film Bring It On was released. Now, it's coming to London in the form of a musical, fresh off the Broadway stage and with more back flips than you can shake a pom-pom at. Olympic gymnast Louis Smith and Love Island winner Amber Davies star. Southbank Centre, from £15, book ahead, 8 December 2021-22 January 2022
SALVATION ARMY: Celebrate Christmas with The Salvation Army at the charity's spectacular annual Royal Albert Hall concert. The programme includes spoken-word readings and live music from the likes of the International Staff Band and International Staff Songsters, with a few celebrity guests thrown into the mix. Royal Albert Hall, from £21.93, book ahead, 8pm
Thursday 9 December
ENCHANTED ELTHAM: It wouldn't be December in London without an overabundance of light festivals, so here's another one. Enchanted at Eltham winds through the grounds of Eltham Palace, featuring an illuminated bridge, a light maze and plenty of other interactive exhibits, as well as a Victorian fairground and a firepit for toasting marshmallows. Eltham Palace, from £14 adult/£9.50 child, book ahead, 9-30 December
BROTHERS IN ARMS: Today, the National Army Museum opens a new exhibition, Brothers in Arms, telling the story of eight men from the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry. The elite British tank regiment fought its way across northwest Europe in the final stages of the second world war. National Army Museum (Chelsea), free, book ahead, 9 December 2021-6 May 2022
CAROL NOSTALGIA: The idea of memory is examined through the medium of Christmas carols at this Gresham College lecture by Professor Jeremy Summerly. He explores the way the sound of a familiar carol transports us back to our own childhood experiences at home, in church, or out in the cold. Barnard's Inn Hall (Holborn) or online, free, book ahead, 6pm
LEWIS CARROLL: 150 years after Through The Looking Glass was published, the British Library asks what's so great about author Lewis Carroll. Authors Joyce Carol Oates, Patrice Lawrence and Irenosen Okojie form a panel to discuss the eternal appeal of Carroll's work, while political cartoonist Chris Riddell illustrates the event live on stage. British Library, £13, book ahead, 7pm-8.30pm
CRICK CRACK CLUB: Performance storytelling event Crick Crack Club hosts a Christmas special, full of festive fairytales. Sitar player Sheema Mukherjee performs carols with a twist, with storytellers Tim Ralphs and Ben Haggarty among those also on the line-up. Christmas jumpers and festive finery very much encouraged. Rich Mix (Shoreditch), £12.50, book ahead, 7.30pm
PARASTRONAUTS: As the European Space Agency opens its astronaut programme to candidates with physical disabilities, the Science Museum looks at what an inclusive approach to human spaceflight means. Paralympic medallist Ade Adepitan chairs a panel of experts who discuss the benefits and challenges of diversifying the space research workforce in this way, and consider what the recruitment and training process for parastronauts may entail. Online event, free, book ahead, 7.30pm-8.45pm
BABA YAGA: South East London Folklore Society brings back its live talks with an event focusing on Russian folklore witch Baba Yaga. The evening consists of a presentation about Baba Yaga, a Q&A session, and a performance of an original song. Electric Elephant Cafe, £5, booking recommended, 8pm (or there's an online presentation next Thursday)
Friday 10 December
CHRISTMAS JUMPER DAY: Today is Save The Children's Christmas Jumper Day, when people are encouraged to wear their most ridiculous festive knitwear for the day, and make a donation to the charity. If you're looking to upgrade your wardrobe for this year's event, check out these London-themed Christmas jumpers.
BANGLADESH 50: Mark 50 years of Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan with a special series of events. Bangladesh 50 includes poetry, live music, a film screening and a panel discussion about the challenges and celebrations of independence, comparing Bangladesh then and now. Rich Mix (Shoreditch), various prices, book ahead, 10-16 December
KEHINDE WILEY: Works by American painter Kehinde Wiley — best-known for new takes on Old Masters works featuring people of colour — go on display at the National Gallery. The new artworks include both paintings and films, showcasing Wiley's take on European Romanticism. National Gallery, free entry, book ahead, 10 December 2021-18 April 2022
OUR WAR: Author and journalist Christopher Somerville chats about his book, Our War. He tracked down men and women across the globe who served in the second world war under the British Commonwealth and heard their stories, many of which had never been told before. Some looked back on the war with positive ideas of patriotism, while others experienced racism and torture. National Army Museum (Chelsea) or online, free, book ahead, 12pm
GLOBOSCOPE: Head to General Gordon Square after dark to wander through a sea of more than 200 illuminated spheres. Artistic installation Globoscope is the work of French artists Collectif Coin. General Gordon Square (Woolwich), free, just turn up, 5pm-9pm 10-11 December
SEASONAL HITS: Hear the live version of seasonal album NOW That's What I Call Christmas. Choir Capital Voices perform festive hits such as Fairytale of New York, All I Want For Christmas and Stay Another Day. Southbank Centre, £16.50-£45, book ahead, 7.30pm
Saturday 11 December
HIDDEN RIVER: The River Effra is one of London's better known 'hidden rivers'. It flows from Upper Norwood to the Thames at Vauxhall, passing through Brixton and giving us Effra Road. Today, there's a chance to walk the whole nine miles (or a shorter section) in the company of knowledgable guide Jenni Bowley. Westow Park, £25 (for full walk), book ahead, 10am-4.30pm
FILM FAIR: If you love all things film-related, head to the Film Fair to stock up on memorabilia, merchandise, collectables, DVDs, Blu-Rays, VHS tapes, and more, across the classic, horror, cult and sci-fi genres. Actors Diane Keen and Marianne Morris are among the special guests. Conway Hall (Holborn), £5, book ahead, 10.30am-4pm
FREE BANKSIDE TOUR: From Dickens to pantomime dames, many of the things that are synonymous with Christmas have their roots in Bankside. Join Mr Londoner, aka blue badge tour guide Antony Robbins, and delve into this remarkable neighbourhood’s fascinating festive past. Free hot chocolate, too. Bedale Street, free, book ahead, 11.30am-1pm
MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL: You can't even mention this film in Londonist circles without a certain member of the team bursting into rhapsodies about how it's the best film ever made. If you happen to agree with him, you can watch Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and co starring in the animated film version of Dickens' classic novel, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra performing the score live. Oh, and if you see a chap in the audience joining in with gusto, he's nothing to do with us... promise. Royal Albert Hall, from £21.50, book ahead, 2.30pm/7pm
THE SNOWMAN: Cabinet of Living Cinema put on a family-friendly screening of festive classic The Snowman, accompanied by a live score performed by the audience. Take part in a short rehearsal and sound effects workshop before the screening. Altogether now: We're walking in the aaaiiiir. Gunnersbury Park Museum, £10, book ahead, 2.30pm
VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS: Discover how the Victorians celebrated Christmas, and how Dickens wove its magic into his stories, with this guided walk round the Square Mile with guide Hazel Baker. St Paul’s Cathedral, £15, book ahead, 3pm-4.30pm (both Sat & Sun)
Sunday 12 December
PIPPI LONGSTOCKING: The 75th anniversary of children's book Pippi Longstocking is celebrated with a special performance and talk at the Museum of the Home. Storyteller Sofie Miller takes on the role of the strongest girl in the world (£8/£7, book ahead, 10.30am/2pm) and award-winning storyteller Lauren Child takes part in a Q&A about illustrating a more recent version of the book (£10/£8, book ahead, 12pm).
CHRISTMAS MOVIES: Soundtracks from the likes of Elf, The Snowman, Home Alone and It's A Wonderful Life are performed live by the Philharmonia Orchestra, in a special Christmas movie concert. Southbank Centre, £19.50-£50, book ahead, 3pm
GUILTY FEMINIST: Comedian and screenwriter Deborah Frances-White and guests record an episode of The Guilty Feminist podcast in front of a live audience. They discuss the big topics all 21st century feminists agree on, whilst confessing their insecurities, hypocrisies and fears that undermine their principles. Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (Shakespeare's Globe), £10-£25, book ahead, 6pm
Urban oddity of the week
As we saw in Thursday's listings, Lewis Carroll's Alice Through the Looking Glass is 150 years old this month. But did you know there's a sculpture of Alice passing through the mirror within a short hop of London?
This peculiar art work can be found in the grounds of Guildford Castle in Surrey (a beautiful town to explore, by the way, just 32 minutes out of Waterloo). The sculpture was created by Jeanne Argent in 1990, and is modelled on her daughter Anne.
Guildford was a favourite town of Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Dodgson). He often rented a house called Chestnuts close to the sculpture site for family breaks. He also died and is buried in the town. Another sculpture showing Alice watching the White Rabbit can be found elsewhere in the town.
Good cause of the week
Would you jump into a freezing cold pool of water to help vulnerable and homeless people? On Saturday, 11 December, Crisis will be fundraising at Brockwell Lido between noon and 2pm. There's a £29.06 entry fee (and £150 sponsorship target), which will go to their homeless causes. Take a solo dip, swim a length, or take part in a team relay.
For more good causes and charity events over the festive period, see our 'reverse advent calendar' of suggestions.