It’s hard to believe now, but there was actually a time before the South Bank Christmas Market got started. We Londoners used to get little more than some LED lights on the trees east of Waterloo Bridge. How times change – the whole of the South Bank has developed dramatically over the last 10 years, and Christmas around Waterloo now means not just a market but a whole complex of stalls, shows and pop-up bars. That’s the beauty of the South Bank at this time of year: you can just drop in to mooch around the stalls, or book theatre tickets and make an evening of it. Since it’s just over Waterloo Bridge, it’s the perfect addition to a Christmas break at Strand Palace Hotel.
Here are a few of the highlights to look out for this year…
Here’s something a bit different for the winter season: instead of ice skating, strap on a pair of rollerboots and enjoy a retro roller-disco right beside the Thames. Trust us, you’ve forgotten how much fun it is – and it’s much easier to balance than it is on ice, so it’s ideal if you’re not a confident skater or have little ones in tow.
The new wave of fruit-flavoured ciders have taken Britain by storm over the last few years, and at Christmas hot spiced cider has become almost as popular as mulled wine. So it’s perhaps no surprise to see cider brand Rekorderling creating a pop-up bar on the South Bank this season. But what a pop-up bar it is. Two storeys high, it’s decked out like a cosy-yet-arty Scandinavian house, and packed with special winter beverages and Scandi street food.
Get in quick to catch the end of the traditional Christmas Market that lines the South Bank each year – it’s only in town until December 24. Until then, it’ll be serving up the usual winning mix of handmade gifts, sweet treats, street food and mulled wine. Soak up the atmosphere, grab a snack and pick up a few last-minute stocking-fillers.
Choirs, dancers and spoken word artists will be adding to the atmosphere along the South Bank throughout the season, with several free performances a day in the run-up to Christmas. The programme starts on December 4 and runs right up to December 22.
It’s that time of year again… The clowns are coming pic.twitter.com/Q0VKncvAYu
— Slava’s Snowshow (@SlavasSnowshow) November 10, 2015
After 20 years of performances all over the world, and five years of Christmas shows on the South Bank, Slava’s Snowshow is firmly established as a London favourite. A barnstorming mix of comedy, dance and smart special effects, it runs right up to January 3, with performances on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day (none on Christmas Day).
If Slava is the old hand, the new kid on the block is We Are The Monsters, a 45-minute performance aimed at the youngest visitors. Expect weird costumes, ingenious dance routines, and a chance to ‘meet’ one of the monsters after the show.
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