Things To Do This Week In London: 5-11 December 2022

All week

Gingerbread City is back! (Image from a previous year) © Luke Hayes

GINGERBREAD CITY: London's tastiest exhibition returns to Belgravia, 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 consists of five miniature cities across five different climate zones: Polar, Continental, Temperate, Dry and Tropical. 3 December 2022-2 January 2023

FROST FAIR: Back in the days when the Thames would completely freeze over, frost fairs were held on the ice. A traditional frost fair has been recreated — albeit on dry land — using a series of augmented reality installations and artworks, alongside more traditional guided walks and other events. FREE, 1 December-31 January

RAPUNZEL ON ICE: For one week only, see the story of Rapunzel retold — on ice. Actors take to the ice rink at Ally Pally for a production about the princess locked away in a tower since childhood, who finally gets a chance to escape. Hope that long hair doesn't get tangled in the blades! Age 2+. 5-12 December

ANALOGUE STORIES: A new, free display opens at Redbridge Central Library on Monday, telling the stories of employees of the former Ilford Limited photographic factory. Ilford Limited: Analogue Stories features material held in the Redbridge Museum & Heritage Centre, alongside images taken by local photographers using equipment made at the factory. FREE, 5 December-12 March

ICE SKATING: Feeling a little bit festive yet? Embrace it at one of London's Christmas ice rinks, which are open all over town. Skate in the shadow of Somerset House, Hampton Court Palace or Battersea Power Station, among others.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL: A multitude of performances of Dickens' seasonal tale A Christmas Carol are now happening across London — from the traditional, to one with a Sherlock Holmes twist. Check out our guide.

Get your skates on. Photo: Laura Reynolds/Londonist

CHRISTMAS FOR FREE: This can be an expensive time of year. We get that, which is why we've put together a guide of 10 free things to do in London at Christmas, to help you get that festive feeling without parting with your hard-earned cash.

SANTA'S GROTTOS: The man in red makes multiple appearances in London at this time of year, at grottos and meet-and-greets all over town. You'll need to book way in advance for most of them — here's the lowdown on Santa's grottos in London this year.

LIGHT FESTIVALS: London gets LIT for the festive season, and not just with Christmas lights. Illumination festivals take over botanical gardens, wetlands and palace grounds, with light tunnels, illuminated animal sculptures, fire gardens and other installations to ogle — get booking for London's best light festivals this year.

FESTIVE DRINKING: 'Tis the season for warming your cockles at cosy pop-up bars — and London is absolutely covered in them. These are our picks for winter drinking pop-ups to sink a drink or two. Miracle at Henrietta is a particular favourite, just because it's SO DAMN CHRISTMASSY.

FESTIVE FLEET STREET: There's a flurry of seasonal activity along Fleet Street right now, including craft markets, bauble making, choirs, gin crafting and more. Check out the Fleet Street Quarter website for details. Until 15 December

SORTING BRITAIN: Time's running out to see Sorting Britain: The Power of Postcodes, the current exhibition at Clerkenwell's Postal Museum. It covers the history of postcodes in London, from Victorian origins to the present day, including how machines got involved in sorting our mail, and looks at how our postcodes influence our identity. Until January 2023

DIPPY: Also closing soon is Dippy Returns at Natural History Museum, a final chance to see the replica diplodocus skeleton before its taken off display again. FREE, until January 2023

Monday 5 December

You're running out of time to see Dippy. Photo: Natural History Museum

MADE UP GAMES: Comedians Elis James and John Robins team up for an onstage live version of their radio skit, Made Up Games, which involves them going head-to-head in games invented by the audience. Expect special guests and low-budget films in the Bloomsbury Theatre show. Age 14+. 5-8 December

GREAT LONDON SMOG: 70 years after London's Great Smog, Gresham College offers a free lecture about the pollution event which led to thousands of deaths in the capital. Dr Ian Mudway, Visiting Professor of Environmental Health, looks at how our approaches to pollution have changed in the decades since, and how it's still affecting our health today. FREE, 6pm

POWER OF THE DOG: Publisher Katie Isbester and her film buff daughter Teddy continue their discussions of books made into films or TV shows with a look at 1967 book, The Power of The Dog. They focus on Season 2, Episode 3 of the Netflix version, specifically the concept of toxic masculinity shown here. FREE, 6.30pm-7.30pm

CHARITY COMEDY: Rosie Jones, Iain Stirling, Mark Watson and Sophie Duker are among the comedians on the impressive line-up for Cracking Comedy In Aid Of Women And Children First. The fundraising show takes place at Leicester Square Theatre, in support of women, children, mothers, and babies in some of the world’s most rural, remote communities. 7.30pm

COMEDY CLUB: There are further laughs to be had at the Shakespeare pub in Barbican, where it's comedy night tonight. See pro comedians give their new material a run, for the bargain entry price of £2. 7.30pm

Tuesday 6 December

An image of folk singer Cara Dillon
Catch Cara Dillon at Union Chapel

QUEEN'S HOUSE GREENWICH: Join Guildhall Library for a free, online tour of The Queen's House, Greenwich — the first neo-classical building in Britain. The tour uses images of the house throughout the centuries to showcase the objects and furniture that used to be inside it. FREE, 2pm-3pm

JOHN RUTTER'S CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION: Kickstart your festive season with John Rutter's Christmas Celebration at the Royal Albert Hall. The composer conducts the Royal Philharmonia Orchestra in a performance of his own works along with seasonal classics — with a Christmas quiz thrown in. 3pm/7.30pm

LONDON AS CITY STATE: Journalist Dave Hill is known for his years of work covering the ins and outs of London politics. In this special London Society event, he and a panel of experts will explore a tantalising idea: "What if London became a city state?". 6.30pm-8.30pm

CARA DILLON: Irish folk singer Cara Dillon is at Islington's Union Chapel for her annual Christmas show Upon a Winter’s Night — but don't be expecting to hear Jingle Bells. Cara and her band weave Celtic and folksy rhythms alongside reverent and atmospheric carols. 7pm

CREATIVE DOODLING: Dulwich Picture Gallery hosts an online creative doodling workshop, led by artist Lisa Stickley. Under her guidance, create eight drawings over a 60-minute period — your ticket includes a copy of her book, for inspiration. 7pm-8pm

MONTY DON: Gardeners unite, and head to Barbican Hall to hear from green-fingered TV presenter and writer Monty Don. He discusses his career in gardening, his favourite gardens, and how he went about creating his own garden, Longmeadow, in Herefordshire, where Gardener's World has been filmed since 2011. 7.30pm

Wednesday  7 December

Yotam Ottolenghi on the left holding bowl & Noor Murad on the right. Seen on their cookery set with apron
Hear from Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad

LANTERN PARADE: Watch children from local primary schools take part in the annual London Bridge Christmas Lantern Parade, wending from St John's Churchyard, through Potters Field Park and Hays Galleria by the river, and ending up at London Bridge Railway Station. FREE, 4pm-4.45pm

POPLAR SINGERS: Head east for the Poplar Singers Christmas concert, an evening of festive tunes and Christmas carols. It's the community singing group's annual fundraising event, with mince pies and other festive snacks available to enjoy during the concert. 7pm

FUROSHIKI WORKSHOP: Fancy wrapping your Christmas gifts a bit differently this year? Barbican Shop hosts a Japanese Furoshiki wrapping workshop, where you can master the art of wrapping and carrying items using a single sheet of fabric. 7pm

WHISKY CLUB: The newly-launched Whisky Don Whisky Club has its December event tonight, focusing on festive drams. Head along to The Greyhound in Kew to sample five different drams, and pick up some tips for gifting whisky to others. 7.30pm-9pm

OTTOLENGHI AND MURAD: Here's one for foodies: Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad, the team behind the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen, are at Southbank Centre to introduce their latest cookbook, Extra Good Things. Pick up tips on injecting a bit of extra oomph into everyday ingredients, and put your questions to the experts. 7.30pm

Thursday 8 December

A friendly looking Scrooge smiles at Tiny Tim, on crutches
Dickens Goes to Dollywood, for Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol.

CHRISTMAS JUMPER DAY: Dig out your most festive knitwear for Save The Children's Christmas Jumper Day 2022 — it's on a Thursday this year, though you can do it on another day if that works better for you. The idea is that you get your whole workplace/school involved, with everyone donning a Christmas sweater, and making a donation to Save the Children too.

DOLLY PARTON: London's chockful of performances of A Christmas Carol this year, but none intrigues us more than Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol, which opens at Southbank Centre today. Alas, the Queen of Country herself doesn't appear, but she did write the soundtrack, setting Dickens' festive novel in Tennessee in the 1930s. Like we say, intriguing. 8 December-8 January

IMPERIAL LATES: Imperial College keeps its doors open late in South Kensington for an evening with the theme 'Look Up', marking 50 years since man last set foot on the moon. Activities including crafting, a quiz, a live podcast recording, fairground games, a musical performance and more. FREE, 6pm-9pm

THE HOLIDAY: If The Holiday is your favourite Christmas film, get yourself to Barbican for a screening of the 2006 transatlantic rom-com, accompanied by a live performance of the score. Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black star in the story of two women agreeing to swap houses for the festive period. Find other festive film screenings in London this year. 7.30pm

DRUNK WOMEN SOLVING CRIME: Be in the audience for a live version of the Drunk Women Solving Crime podcast at Leicester Square Theatre. Watch as a tipsy panel including Hannah George, Catie Wilkins and Taylor Glenn test out their drunk detective skills and solve true crime cases, helped along by special guests. 9.30pm

Friday 9 December

Luna Cinema's Christmas season begins on Saturday

ELF: Backyard Cinema's festive schedule offers two chances to see Elf today — one at midday, and one at midnight, for all you night owls. Kick back in immersive, Northern Lights-themed surroundings to watch Buddy's antics on the big screen. 12pm/midnight

CHRISTMAS LECTURE: The annual Royal Observatory Christmas lecture is scheduled for tonight, taking place in the Peter Harrison Planetarium. This year, the focus is on the latest research on Mars, including the use of rovers to investigate the Red Planet. Prof Sanjeev Gupta of Imperial College London gives the lecture. 7pm-8pm

AFGHANISTAN'S MOST VULNERABLE: Journalist and author Lynne O'Donnell hosts a discussion about how Afghanistan's most vulnerable people have been impacted, more than a year since Western powers pulled out of Afghanistan and the Taliban seized power. Hear about the lives of women and girls. LGBTQ+ people, journalists, former soldiers and government employees, who suffer violence and repression under the regime. 7pm-8.30pm

ARABS ARE NOT FUNNY: Comedy night Arabs Are Not Funny! sees comedians with roots in the Arab world showcasing their talents and attempting to prove the naysayers wrong. Tonight's line-up in the Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall includes Sami Abu Wardeh, Omar Badawy, Esther Manito, Fathiya, and Mo Magaleo. 9.30pm

Saturday 10 December

Crafty Fox Market is at King's Cross on Sunday

LUNA WINTER CINEMA: Pop-up film venue Luna Winter Cinema launches its festive season today, taking over the Kensington Palace Pavilion. Home Alone is first up on the programme, with festive classics including Love Actually, The Holiday and last Christmas to follow in the next fortnight. The Pavilion, right outside the palace itself, has been decked out in festive finery for the occasion. 10-23 December

DESIGN YOUR OWN: The Postal Museum has a pretty busy programme of Christmas activities this year, including a festively decorated Mail Rail. Today, the museum holds an arts-and-crafts workshop in which you can design your own gift wrap and tags. Print, colour, cut and paste to give a creative touch to gift giving this year. 10.30am-4pm

STEPNEY CHRISTMAS FAIR: Christmas shopping while supporting animals? Don't mind if we do. The Stepney City Farm Christmas fair brings together 35 stalls selling food, drink and festive gifts and crafts, with a brass band performing throughout the day. 10am-4pm

CHRISTMAS PJ PARTY: Take the kids along to the Charles Dickens Museum for a Christmas PJ Party. Turn up in your pyjamas for a morning of games, crafts, hot chocolate, and a screening of The Muppet Christmas Carol. There's a prize for the most festive nightwear, and your ticket includes museum entry so you can explore it afterwards. 10.30am-12.30pm

REGENCY BAKING: The kitchens at Sir John Soane's Museum have been gloriously restored, and children aged 7-10 are invited to get stuck into some Regency baking today, crafting cake and biscuits. Workshop includes a tour of the museum. 11am-3pm

SWEETIE CHRISTMAS: Valence House in Dagenham hosts A Sweetie Christmas, featuring a Christmas Market with local stallholders, a tree trail and festive crafts. Santa's in town too, although you'll need to book tickets in person at the reception. 11am-5pm

HOME ALONE IN CONCERT: 'Tis the season for Christmas films aplenty, and today it's the turn of Home Alone to get the live orchestra treatment. Head to the Royal Albert Hall to see a young Macaulay Culkin get into all sorts of capers, while the Cinematic Sinfonia performs the score, live. 2.30pm/7.30pm

GOTHIC CHRISTMAS: The folks from London Month of the Dead are back at Guy's Chapel, this time with an eerily enchanting Victorian magic lantern show. 19th century phantasmagoric images are projected onto the walls with live piano accompaniment. 7pm

CHRISTMAS PODCAST RECORDING: Trivia podcast No Such Thing As A Fish — created by the makers of QI — hosts a live recording at Bloomsbury Theatre. Catch the presenting team Dan, James, Anna and Andy in a festive and very nerdy show. 7.30pm

A DICKENSIAN CHRISTMAS: Head to Southbank Centre for A Dickensian Christmas — an evening of Victorian carols, classics and a selection of readings from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Performers include the London Concert Brass and City of London Choir, presented by actor Stephen Mangan. 8pm

Sunday 11 December

The things you find at a Satanic Flea Market... Photo: Elizabeth McCafferty/Londonist

CATFORD FOOD MARKET: Pick up Xmas stocking fillers from the likes of Catford Fire and Pat & Pinkys, while tucking into amazing food from Raastawala, and Mandala Himalayan Dumplings. There are plenty of festive drinks at Catford Food Market too, courtesy of Catford Rhumarrange, Lamad Wine and more. 10am-4pm

CRAFTY FOX MARKET: We've never walked away from a Crafty Fox Market without being tempted into a cheeky purchase or two, so we reckon the Christmas market in King's Cross will be a good bet for ticking a few bits off your Christmas shopping list. Over 100 specially selected traders are taking part, selling everything from jewellery to art prints, scrunchies, t-shirts, badges, plant pots and other ceramics, stationery... you get the picture. 11am-5pm

ANTI-CHRISTMAS FAYRE: The team behind the Satanic Flea Market — which we visited in October — hold an Anti-Christmas Fayre. The dark arts and crafts event has 90 stalls selling oddities including, underground fashion, cultural relics, vintage clothing, unusual toys, occult trinkets, obscure records, bric-a-brac, human skulls, taxidermy, and more. Safe to say, you won't find a lavender candle and box of fudge for Aunt Doris here. 12pm-6pm

CHRISTMAS WIND ORCHESTRA: If Crafty Fox Market (above) isn't enough to tempt you to King's Cross today, how about the Big Christmas Wind Orchestra and Choir's afternoon festival? Head to Granary Square for free performances by a variety of musicians and singers, all performing familiar festive tunes. FREE, 12.30pm-4pm

THE NUTCRACKER: Barbican Cinema hosts an Encore screening of The Nutcracker at Royal Opera House — that's a recording of the production, filmed at the ROH earlier this week. Watch Clara's charming Christmas Eve adventure involving her enchanted Nutcracker, the Mouse King and the Sugar Plum Fairy, all accompanied by Tchaikovsky's famous score. 2pm

LONDON SCREENTALK: Finish up your week with a screening of London, the film shot by artist Patrick Keiller over an 11-month period in 1992, offering an insight to life in the capital at that time. 30 years on, Keiller is in conversation with writer Owen Hatherley about the changes — and similarities — between then and now. 3pm

GHOST STORIES: A one-man show by Nunkie Theatre tells the ghost stories of M. R. James by candlelight, in the atmospheric surroundings of Guy's Chapel near London Bridge. Tickets include a free gin punch... just hold onto it tight, so you don't throw it in the air at a really scary bit. 7pm

Urban oddity of the week

A stone relief sculpture of Charles Dickens and some of his famous characters

As we're in Scrooge season, have you ever found the famous miser chiselled out of stone? You can spot him top left in this wonderful relief sculpture on Marylebone Road. It marks the site of one of Dickens's many London homes, and includes many of his most famous characters. See how many you can identify. To see the mural in real life, head to the corner of Marylebone Road and Marylebone High Street.

Good cause of the week

Two people dressed as snowmen run through the streets of London
Image: Cancer Research UK

Planning on an indulgent Christmas? Burn off those excess calories by signing up for Cancer Research UK's London Winter Run. The 10 km race takes place on Sunday 5 February, and spaces are filling up fast. It's a bit special, this one. The route goes through the streets of central London, with roads closed to traffic. All proceeds will go towards helping the charity fight cancer. Find out more about the event, and sign up here.