December diary

The Germans have imported their famous Christmas markets to London this month, with handicrafts, gluhwein and gingerbread. And on the designer front, strong local competition could ensure a cooler yule
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Covent Garden at Christmas
Covent Garden at Christmas

Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland

This is the third year for this fun family festive fair. A visit to Father Christmas - and his rather large elves - is free on the bandstand on Serpentine Road in Hyde Park, from 12 noon to 4pm. It's the focus for the German Christmas market spread all around in wooden chalets, plus fairground rides for children. Nearby is a big wheel - now a London Christmas landmark. An outdoor skating rink is billed as Europe's largest, taking up to 400 skaters an hour. New for 2009 is Zippo's Christmas Circus, with a 45 minute show in a heated big top.
Open from 10am to 10pm every day except Christmas Day itself.

Cologne Christmas Market on the South Bank

Filling the area between the London Eye and the Royal Festival Hall are around 60 traditionally decorated wooden chalets selling hand-made gifts, such as wooden toys, delicate glass tree ornaments, and candles. Sip a warming glühwein, enjoy a bratwurst or snack on roasted nuts, gingerbread hearts, and German treats. There's a carousel for the children with traditional Christmas music. And Father Christmas is telling stories in Santa's Secret Village.
Until 23 December.;;

Taste of Christmas at ExCel

Take a driverless train to Docklands and get stuck in to the Christmas season at this celebratory fair backed by Waitrose and AEG-Electrolux.
4-6 December; ExCel, One Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, E16; book on 0871 230 7132;

Shopping in The Brompton Quarter

The idiosyncratic shops clustered around South Kensington tube have a special Christmas Shopping Evening on Thursday 3 December from 4pm to 8pm. Enjoy Christmas lights, mulled wine, mince pies and other Christmas treats, including sales promotions. Try newly-arrived Mint, for unique design (; or browse Few and Far, stocked by the inimitable Priscilla Carluccio (; Skandium do neat Nordic treats (; and Divertimenti has high-style kitchen essentials ( Star guest is Thorsten van Elten (teller of tales of the design unexpected), filling a "pop-up shop" with original gifts from pigeon lights to giant teacups (2 to 13 December; 1 North Terrace, SW3;
For more details of the shopping evening and other Brompton events, go to

Truman Brewery Christmas Market

The All I Want for Xmas Emporium runs over three weekends (3 to 6 December;10 to 13 December; and 17 to 20 December). Find design, fashion, art, crafts, decorations, food and inspired gifts spread over the rambling first floor of an atmospheric old brick building.
Entrance free; Thursdays 5pm to 9pm; Fridays 12noon to 6pm; Saturdays 10am to 6pm; Sundays 10am to 6pm. Truman Brewery, E1; entrances from Ely's Yard, 15 Hanbury Street and 81 Brick Lane; call 020 7770 6007;

New Bloomsbury

Lambs Conduit and Rugby Streets, WC1 are collectively nicknamed New Bloomsbury - an area with charm in spades. It is crammed with specialist shops, which include Kennards for food-lovers with a Santa's grotto and homeware specialists Ben Pentreath and Something, for original home accessories. At a special shopping event on Thursday 10 December, find art, fashion, jewellery, design, lighting, books, toys, flowers, Christmas hampers and more, with a 10 per cent discount in many shops.

London Potters Annual Exhibition

2 to 16 December at the Morley Gallery, 61 Westminster Bridge Rd, London SW1 7HT. See

Wildboars Bowls by AIGA at Hidden Art Open Studios
Wildboars Bowls by AIGA at Hidden Art Open Studios

Covent Garden

Right in the heart of London, Covent Garden has an enormous 40ft Christmas tree and a 37ft topiary reindeer, plus an arresting installation from "light curators" United Visual Artists. There are also fun - and instructive - workshops for kids, story-telling and a "real food" market.
Call 020 3047 2555;

Hidden Art Open Studios

Over 30 studios and workshops in the East End throw open their doors on the weekend of 5 and 6 December. Meet the makers, discover/discuss their work, and maybe buy an extra special gift. Or commission a post-Christmas present for your home. Download a map from

V&A Museum of Childhood

Open now until 10 January: Wonderland, an exhibition by East London Printmakers which explores fairy tales, myths and folk tales from around the world in over 80 artworks. Fifty artists present such familiar figures as Hansel and Gretel, and The Ugly Duckling, and introduce folklore from outside Europe. This is the stuff of good and evil, quests and heroes, love and friendship. An evening for adults on Thursday 3 December includes a drop-in print-making workshop. Families can make an artist's book together in workshops on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 December, from 12noon to 2pm, and from 2.30pm to 4pm.
For more details, and other activities, go to; Cambridge Heath Road, E2; call 020 8983 5200.

Themes & Variations

This unique shop was selling design art way before the term was coined. Now they are celebrating their 25th anniversary with a show of very special pieces called Then, Now and Beyond at 231 Westbourne Grove, W11.
Call 020 7727 5531;

The Geffrye Museum

Set in 18th century almshouses, this delightful museum has a full programme of Christmas events, including festive decorations for their charming period rooms. And workshops include "vintage decorations" on 5 December, and "swags and garlands" on 12 December. A seasonal talk on Christmas decorations is on 12 December.
136 Kingsland Road, E2; 020 7739 9893;

Puffin by Chloe Harford at Richmond Craft Fair
Puffin by Chloe Harford at Richmond Craft Fair

London Silver Vaults

Running now until 30 January: "At the Dressing Table" (spread over 30 shops) is a selling exhibition of personal effects from the 1700s to the 1960s. There are Georgian brushes and boxes, Victorian heated tongs and button-hooks, and 20th century jewellery cases and travel sets.
Corner of Chancery Lane and Southampton Buildings, WC2; 020 7242 3844;

Art and Designer Craft Show, Richmond

Carefully selected artists/designers/makers are showing high-quality ceramics, furniture, knitwear, clothing and accessories, jewellery, handbags, book safes, millinery, batik, photographic art, glassware, textiles, woodcarving, silversmithing, pewterware, sculpture, metal wall art, prints, sculpture and more.
From 4 to 6 December, 10am to 5pm daily. Admission: £4; over 65s: £3; accompanied under 14's free. Queen Charlotte Hall (part of the adult education centre), Parkshot, Richmond. More details: 01622 747 325; at

London Glassblowing Christmas open house and sale

This internationally-famous workshop is now in the heart of vibrant Bermondsey Street, almost opposite Zandra Rhodes zany fashion museum. The sale - with more than generous prices - runs until 6 December, 11am to 5pm daily, with late night openings on Thursday 3 and Friday 4 December until 9.30pm. Enjoy free admission, nearby parking, continuous - and spectacular - hot furnace demos, mince pies and mulled wine.
62-66 Bermondsey Street, SE1; 0207 403 2800;

India and Beyond at Anthony Outred

Feast your eyes on exotic craftsmanship and rich materials at this selling exhibition of furniture and works of art from British India and Ceylon.
Open until 12 December; 72 Pimlico Road, SW1; www.

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