Things To Do This Weekend In London: 1-2 December 2018

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Things to do this weekend is sponsored by the National Army Museum.

All weekend

Somerset House is one of many ice skating options.

CHRISTMAS IN LONDON: It's December, which means... it's CHRISTMAAAAAS. Find all you need to know about the festive season in the capital on our Christmas in London page. We'll be updating it with more useful info and top tips as the big day gets closer, so keep checking back for yuletide inspiration.

ICE SKATING: London's ice rinks are open for business. Pick from museums, palaces and rooftops — as you practice your twirls and swirls... or, if you're anything like us, cling to the edge for dear life. Not a skater? Most of them have bars or cafes nearby where you can warm up with a mulled wine or hot chocolate and watch the action.

SANTA'S GROTTOS: If the kids have been nice this year (or they need some gentle persuasion to remain nice throughout December...) take them to see Father Christmas. Santa's grottos are popping up all over the capital — one's even free, though whether the lengthy queue is worth saving a few quid is up to you.

CHRISTMAS MARKETS: Feeling the pressure to get your Christmas shopping done now that it's December? Check out the plethora of Christmas markets and fairs taking place across the capital, for gifts that are a bit different to what you'll find on the high street.

WINTER FASHION WEEKEND: Catwalk shows, pop-up boutiques, live music and store discounts are all part of the Winter Fashion Weekend in Canary Wharf — one to hit up if you've not got your Christmas party outfit sorted yet. Canary Wharf, free, just turn up, 30 November-2 December

TREE PLANTING: Events take place all over London this week to get people involved in planting trees in their local area. Find your nearest event on this map, and be part of making London even greener. London-wide, free, just turn up, 1-2 December, 10am-4pm

ELF ON THE SHELF: As most parents know, today's the day a certain cheeky Elf puts in an appearance. Go one further by meeting Santa's official Scout Elf at Hamleys and taking part in storytelling, colouring and Elf-themed games. Hamleys (Regent Street), free, just turn up, 12pm-4pm, 1-2 December

LAST CHANCE: You've only got until next weekend to see the Royal Academy's Oceania exhibition. A staggering 10,000 islands make up Oceania, and these totem poles, sculptures and other artefacts offer an insight into some of these cultures. It's a fascinating exhibition, although some of the labels would benefit from more detail. Royal Academy, £20, book ahead, until 10 December 2018

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Finding beauty amid brutality: Alfred Munnings' war paintings go on display

Halt on the March by a Stream at Nesle, Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum

At first glance, it looks like an ordinary, if strikingly beautiful, pastoral scene. But these are no ordinary men — or horses. As an official first world war artist with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, Alfred Munnings was tasked with capturing their Cavalry Brigade and Forestry Corps during the final year of the war.

He went on to become one of England’s finest and most revered equestrian artists. He was knighted in 1944, when he was also elected President of the Royal Academy of Arts and, on his death, his ashes were interred at St Paul’s Cathedral. Despite these significant marks of his life in London, he remains relatively unknown among the great artists of British history.

For the first time in a century, Munnings’ wartime paintings are being exhibited together in the UK; see more than 40 of these poignant paintings and discover a unique new perspective on an otherwise brutal four years.

Alfred Munnings: War Artist, 1918 is open 30 November 2018 - 3 March 2019 at the National Army Museum, Chelsea. Tickets cost £6 and can be bought here.

Things to do on Saturday 1 December

Last chance to see this exhibition about Ruth Ellis

KEATS 200: The Keats House Museum in Hampstead launches its Keats200 programme of events, marking two centuries since the most productive years of the poet's (short) life. It begins with a walk to the house for the ceremonial opening (the walk has now sold out), followed by a day of talks, readings, discussions and tours. Keats House (Hampstead), free, just turn up for activities, house open 11am-5pm

LAST DAY: It's the final day of this exhibition about Ruth Ellis, the last woman in Britain to be sentenced to capital punishment. Artist Christina Reihill has recreated the prison cell in which Ellis spent time after shooting her lover dead. Bermondsey Project Space, free entry, just turn up, 11am-6pm

FORTEAN LONDON: If ghosts, UFOs and zombies are up your street... well, we'd recommend moving house. But if you've got an interest in all things strange, head to London Fortean Society's Christmas gathering for talks about these topics and more, plus a book sale so you can take the oddness home with you. Backyard Bar & Kitchen (Bethnal Green), £15/£10, book ahead, 12pm-6pm

THAMES ARCHITECTURE: Architect Benedict O'Looney talks you through the buildings you see alongside the river as you venture up and down the Thames on a boat. Battersea Power Station, the new American Embassy, Portcullis House, Somerset House and The Shard all feature. Age 7+. Departs from Crown Pier (Blackfriars). £35.50, book ahead, 1pm

FROST FAIRS: There was a time when the Thames used to freeze so solidly that an elephant could cross it. Hear about the frost fairs that used to be held on the frozen river at this family storytelling session. Age 5+. Museum of London, free, just turn up, 1pm/2pm/3pm

CREATURE CREATIONS: UCL's Grant Museum of Zoology is home to some weird and wonderful creatures. Recreate some of them in paper form — or invent your own, brand new creature — at this family art session. Grant Museum of Zoology (Warren Street), free, just turn up, 1.30pm-4.30pm

POWER OF LOVE: The Power of Love is a musical celebration of the lives of people lost to AIDS. Acts include electropop band Indigo Face, internationally renowned flautist Niall O'Riordan, London International Gospel Choir, plus drag queens and plenty of dancing. All profits going to The Terrence Higgins Trust. The Tabernacle (Notting Hill), £17.50-£40, book ahead, 7pm-11pm

AFRICAN MUSIC: Celebrate all things African, with live music, drumming workshops, food, drink, arts and crafts and stalls. Ghana, Congo DRC, Gambia and Senegal are some of the countries represented. Rich Mix (Shoreditch), £12.50, book ahead, 7pm (drumming, dancing and singing workshops from midday — separate booking required)

Things to do on Sunday 2 December

Take part in a Santa Dash to raise money for Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice

SANTA DASH: Run, jog, walk or even dance your way around this sponsored 5km course in a Santa suit, to raise money for Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice. Emphasis is on fun, so don't worry if you're not the speediest Santa around — just enjoy it. Open to adults, kids, and even dogs. Danson Park (Bexleyheath), £20/£10, just turn up, 10am

FAMILY SINGALONG: Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler are the duo behind children's picture books The Gruffalo and The Highway Rat. Today they're celebrating another of their creations, Zog, with songs, stories and drawings. Zog himself is expected to make an appearance. Southbank Centre, £15 adult/£7 child, book ahead, 11am

CROYDON AIRPORT: Not somewhere you've ever jetted off from, but Croydon Airport was home to the world's first air traffic control tower. This monthly public open day is a chance to take a guided tour of the micro-museum all about the airport's history. Croydon Airport Visitor Centre, free (donations welcome), just turn up, 11am-4pm

KIRKALDY MUSEUM: Today's the monthly opening of the Kirkaldy Testing Museum, a building built to house a unique bit of industrial heritage. David Kirkaldy's testing machine was a kind of Victorian independent lab for checking whether building materials were strong enough to handle the job. Time your visit right and you might see the machine in action — there are plenty of other machines and industrial heritage items to see too. We visited in 2015. Kirkaldy Testing Museum (Southwark), £5/£4, just turn up, 11am-5pm

POVERTY MAPS: Join Footprints of London guide Sean Patterson for a walk following the route taken by Charles Booth in 1899 when he was researching to create his famous poverty maps. Learn about Lenin's time in the area, find out who the Sausage King of London was, and follow the hidden River Fleet as you go. Meet at St John's Square (Clerkenwell), £9-£12, book ahead, 2pm-4.30pm

DRAWBRIDGE BRITAIN: Where did Britain's hostile attitude towards immigrants originate? Following the recent incident in which members of the Windrush Generation were denied access to healthcare and housing — and even deported — Thinking On Sunday looks at how the errors occurred. Conway Hall (Holborn), £8/£4, book ahead, 3pm-4.30pm

CHANUKAH: People of all faiths are welcome at this community event to mark the lighting of Islington's Menorah. The first night of Chanukah is celebrated with Jewish food, drink, music, games and performances  — if you've never played dreidel before, or always wondered what latke is, this is your chance to find out. Islington Green, free, just turn up, 5pm-7pm

SPICE GIRLS: Celebrating that you got Spice Girls tickets? Commiserating that you missed out? The Book Club has your back either way, with a Ginger Spice stand in hosting an evening of 90s-themed quizzes and games — think Generation Game meets Blankety Blank. The Book Club (Shoreditch), £3, book ahead, 6.30pm-10pm

CHORAL CHRISTMAS: The LSO Brass Ensemble and a 300-person choir perform Christmas favourites at this concert celebrating the first Sunday of Advent — and you're invited to sing along with them. Barbican, £12-£32, book ahead, 7pm

HIDDEN JAZZ CLUB: Tenor sax player Binker Golding is the star of tonight's Hidden Jazz Club, a regular, intimate concert in an unlikely setting. Meet at Pop Brixton, £18, book ahead, 7.30pm-9.30pm