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Fifteen Festive Things Do in South Bank

October 14th, 2019 | by Tom Harrow-Smith

Fifteen Festive Things Do in South Bank

Whether you're in search of festive family fun, looking for somewhere unique to take a break from the Christmas Shopping, or something altogether more sophisticated to enjoy with a friend or loved one, South Bank has plenty to offer this festive season. From traditional mince pies and mulled wine to alternative events check out this guide for some of the best things to do this Christmas.

  • Squidsoup Installation

    The words Squid Soup may not be the first words that spring to mind when you think of Christmas, but rest assured, this breathtaking light installation will certainly get you in the spirit. Past installations have included Kew Gardens’ Bloom, Salisbury Cathedral’s Wave, and Desert Wave from Burning Man. And this December the ceiling of the Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer will lit up by 200 beautiful orbs, creating a swirling, sweeping swarm of light. 

    Not your ordinary Christmas light display, this is a must see and better yet completely free to view anytime you happen to be in the South Bank this festive season. 

    7 December - 7 January

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    Southbank Centre
  • A Christmas Carol

    The quintessential, Dickensian yuletide tale returns to The Old Vic stage once again on 23 November. Starring Peep Show's Paterson Joseph  (AKA Alan Johnson) as the miserly and ill-tempered Ebeneezer Scrooge in Jack Thorne's (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) new adaptation. The auditorium will be full to the brim with mince pies, music and merriment for this unique staging of the classic story. Need I say any more?

    From 23 November

    Book Tickets

    The Old Vic
  • Miracle on Leake Street

    A Christmas screening spectacular that will warm the cockles of every cottonheaded ninny muggins this side of the candy cane mountain. For the second year running, South Bank London and WeAreWaterloo have joined forces for a night of free festivities in Leake Street, whose graffiti clad arches will once again be transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with snow, Christmas cabaret and more.

    The main event sees a free screening of Christmas classic Elf projected on our own cinema screen in the tunnel walls, but on the night there will be much more on offer, including a VAULT Christmas party, Christmas Wreath-making workshops and even a guest appearance from the Grinch. Plus, the Lower Marsh Market traders will be on hand to keep you topped up throughout the evening with great food and of course, mulled wine!

    17 December

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    Leake Street Arches
  • Morley College Winter Fair

    Pick up unique handcrafted gifts for Christmas, enjoy live performances and demonstrations and take part in taster sessions happening throughout the day. All with a glass of mulled wine and mince pie in hand!

    The free event offers something for everyone with arts and crafts stalls, a lively programme of music and dance performances, delicious street food, raffle tickets, family activities and more.

    1 December 

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    Morley College
  • Black Beauty

    It's hard to get enough of classic, heartwarming, family stories at Christmas time, so why not join Southbank Centre for a five-star retelling of the much-loved tale of one brave horse.

    Saddle up, jump on and gallop headlong into a story where loneliness gives way to hope, friends become heroes, and courage saves the day. Blending storytelling, music and puppetry, this vibrant re-telling of Black Beauty offers fun and adventure for fans of the book, lovers of the classic TV show and those brand new to the tale.

    14 December - 5 January

    Book Tickets

    Southbank Centre
  • Just Vibez Caribbean Christmas

    Fancy warming up your December with a bit of Caribbean sun? While we can't promise you white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, you can still soak up the spirit of the islands with a traditional Caribbean festive party as the DJ's from Just Vibez. They will be bringing a packed program of events with Calypso, Parang, performances, stories and more.

    14 December, 4.30pm

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    Southbank Centre
  • Winter Market

    Eat, drink and be merry beside the River Thames at Southbank Centre's Winter Market. Traders from around the world offer an array of handmade gifts and delicious street food. There will be Alpine lodges and chalets aplenty, as winter themed pop-ups will be offering indulgent delights from cheese fondues and venison hot dogs. How could you say no?

    The Circus Bar will even be screening holiday favourites in their secret 'Winter Pop-up Cinema', so you can nestle down with a bean bag and catch the likes of Home Alone, Love Actually and plenty of Disney classics.

    8 November - 5 January

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    Southbank Centre
  • Christmas Storytelling with Michael Rosen

    Come gather round The Old Vic stage for some seasonal storytelling with much loved author and former Children's Laureate Michael Rosen as he reads some of his own favourites. The auditorium will have already been transformed especially for the production of A Christmas Carol, so it will prove to be the perfect setting for some festive storytelling magic.

    14 December

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    The Old Vic
  • A Sancho Panza Christmas Cracker

    Notorious London partystarters Jimmy K Tel and Matt Brown bring the sound of Sancho Panza to Spiritland Royal Festival Hall. From warehouses to disco boats, clubs to carnival, Sancho Panza have been a part of London's musical landscape for two decades and their takeover night happens right in the middle of the festive fiesta season.

    13 December

    Book

    Spiritland
  • Cocktails at Sea Containers London

    Christmas may be a time where you're focusing on spoiling others, but you still need to remember to treat yourself. Where better to do so than at the top of Sea Containers London rooftop bar? This Winter 12th Knot is lighting up pink, inspired by the Arctic Lights and of course... Rosé! Expect Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé, along with a selection of cocktails inspired by the innovative Laurent-Perrier range. 

    Full of twinkling lights, splashes of pink and with a true wintery feel, 12th Knot’s arctic inspired terrace provides a lively playground to explore this season. And whilst the idea of sitting out on the rooftop at this time of year may send a chill down your spine, there is no need to pack an extra layer, as 12th Knot are fully prepared with plenty of snuggly blankets and cushions so you can take in those spectacular panoramic views without feeling the need to rush back inside. 

    Find Out More

    Sea Containers London
  • Musicals! The Greatest Show on Screen

    It's not just the festive season you should be celebrating, BFI Southbank are also celebrating Musical Season in 'The Greatest Show on Screen'. Whether you feel like watching something Christmassy or simply catching one of your all time faves, with sled-loads of screenings throughout the month, chances are you'll find something that catches your eye. It just isn't Christmas if you can't catch up with some great films!

    Running throughout December

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    BFI Southbank
  • Circus 1903

    Be transported back to the golden age of the circus acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, trapeze and high-wire performers and more! There will even be sensational life-sized elephants created by the puppeteers behind the War Horse production at the National Theatre. Including the 'Brazilian Wheel of Death', Circus 1903 boasts a huge cast of jaw-dropping and dangerous acts from all corners of the globe. 

    19 December - 5 January

    Book Tickets

    Southbank Centre
  • Dazzle

    Need some inspiration for Christmas gift ideas? A month long exhibition running throughout December at Oxo Tower Wharf will be showcasing the best of contemporary jewellery and wearable art. If you haven't been before, Dazzle is somewhat of a South Bank staple, now in it's 37th year, having previously spent time at National Theatre it moved to it's new home in gallery@oxo seven years ago. This latest event will feature a host of new makers alongside established makers and guest exhibitors from complimentary disciplines such as leather bags, hand made scarves and contemporary hand made prints. You don't even need to be in the mood to buy, just pop along (it's free!) and admire some outstanding and dazzling designs.

    1 December - 5 January

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    Oxo Tower Wharf
  • Shrek's Grotto

    This Christmas, step into Shrek's world and journey through Far Far Away where you will explore 12 laugh-out-loud fairytale themed live shows and meet Shrek and his DreamWorks friends. Then step into Shrek's swamp where Santa’s Grotto awaits. See your child’s face light up as they meet Santa and receive a gift from the big man himself (Santa that is, not Shrek…)!

    To be able to visit this 'Winter Wonderland Far Far Away' all you need to do is buy a regular entry ticket to Shrek's Adventure as it's all included. Be warned, the grotto is not open every day, so check the website for specific dates.

    23 November - 24 December

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    Shrek’s Adventure! London
  • Festive Afternoon Tea

    Indulge in home-made Christmas scones, traditional mince pies and gingerbread, with views over the Houses of Parliament and River Thames from the comfort of County Hall's library room, which is kept almost just as it was in the days of the Greater London Council.

    This festive season Marriott County Hall will be hosting a Christmas inspired Afternoon Tea. Sit back and take time off worrying about planning for the big day itself by relaxing in this unique setting amongst the 4,000 plus original books plus stunning views. Not a queue or shopping aisle in sight!

    Available from late November to early January

    Reserve a Table

    London Marriott Hotel County Hall

Find The Venues

  • 1 - Southbank Centre

    Belvedere Road
    London
    SE1 8XX 

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  • 2 - The Old Vic

    The Old Vic
    The Cut
    London
    SE1 8NB 

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  • 3 - Leake Street Arches

    Leake St, Lambeth, London SE1 7NN

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  • 4 - Morley College

    61 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7HT

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  • 5 - Southbank Centre

    Belvedere Road
    London
    SE1 8XX 

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  • 6 - Southbank Centre

    Belvedere Road
    London
    SE1 8XX 

    Learn More
  • 7 - Southbank Centre

    Belvedere Road
    London
    SE1 8XX 

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  • 8 - The Old Vic

    The Old Vic
    The Cut
    London
    SE1 8NB 

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  • 9 - Spiritland

    Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 8XX

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  • 10 - Sea Containers London

    Sea Containers London, 20 Upper Ground, South Bank London SE1 9PD 

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  • 11 - BFI Southbank

    Belvedere Road
    London
    SE1 8XT 

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  • 12 - Southbank Centre

    Belvedere Road
    London
    SE1 8XX 

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  • 13 - Oxo Tower Wharf

    The Oxo Tower
    Bargehouse Street
    South Bank
    London SE1 9PH 

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  • 14 - Shrek’s Adventure! London

    County Hall
    Riverside Building
    Westminster Bridge Road
    London
    SE1 7PB 

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  • 15 - London Marriott Hotel County Hall

    London County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, Lambeth, South Bank London SE1 7PB

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