Do you get excited at the mere mention of the word 'Christmas'? Is your diary jam-packed with things to do and places to go during the festive season? Then you'll love our run down of events leading up to Christmas and beyond. Take a look and see what else you can squeeze into your diary before the year is out. Here's a few things to do, people to see, places to go...
1. Stock up on festive tipple: New Italian wine shop Vini Italiani was set up by a group of Italian friends who wanted to create an experience store for lovers of Italian wines and spirits.
Why it's great: There are 600 labels to choose from along with beers, grappa and amari, and Vini Italiani hosts regular tastings and wine-appreciation classes. For Christmas they recommend Rossi di Montalcino 2009, Podere Brizio, which works brilliantly with wild turkey and cranberry sauce or the Aglianico Talento 2007, Capolino Perlingieri, which was made for quaffing with roasted game. If you don't get a chance to visit you can stock up on winter wines in the Distilleries Terres Rouges promotion at ACHICA this weekend.
Our Facebook status could read: Veni, Vidi, and we tried lots of delicious wine.
2. After Christmas shopping (whether it's online or out and about), treat yourself to a fancy supper at Wabi London: Having opened Nobu Melbourne, Mr M Scott Hallsworth has gone at it alone with Wabi, a restaurant serving Japanese cuisine with a distinctively modern European twist.
Why it's great: You can sit at the sushi bar and watch Hallsworth’s team as they prepare your food or bag yourself a table and enjoy dishes like foie gras martini with umeshu jelly, teas smoked duck tataki with burnt ginger amaze sauce, and round off your supper with iced yuzu nougat parfait with green apple sorbet and warm white chocolate.
Our Facebook status could read: We've been suitably spoilt.
3. Visit a Christmas Market. How about Manchester Christmas market, from 17 November-23 December? A staple in the Mancurian festivities, Manchester’s Christmas market sees its streets lined with quaint chalets selling goodies from local producers as well as their European counterparts.
Why it's great: You can also sample delicacies from around Europe, from Gluhwein to Paella.
Our Facebook status could read: We’ve just eaten our way around Europe – and no carbon footprint!
4. Stir up this Sunday at Divertimenti - Sunday 25th December:
Why it's great: If your palate is too refined for shop-bought Christmas puds, even those Heston ones with oranges in the middle that sell for a fortune on eBay, Divertimenti is running a workshop just for you. During Stir Up Sunday! The Complete Guide to Christmas Baking with Rachel Green, the renowned baker will share with you the time-honoured recipes passed-down through her family. You’ll come away from the four-hour session with a Dundee cake, a Christmas pud for two and mince pies. Remember to book online before you visit.
Our Facebook status could read: This year, we’re MAKING our cake and eating it!
5. Visit the Taste of Christmas 2012, Excel London, 7-9 December: Plan your festive feasting with some of the best chefs in the capital as they take to the stage to demonstrate how to go about creating the perfect Christmas goodies.
Why it's great: As well as cookery master-classes and cheese and wine tastings there will be pop-up versions of some of London’s leading restaurants and if you’re lucky you’ll even get a glimpse of Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who are going to be sharing their festive culinary secrets on the opening day.
Our Facebook status could read: We’re checking out Jamie’s Yule Dinners (geddit!)
6. Enjoy Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's Christmas cracker, Surrey, 8 December: If you're already sick of out-of-tune carol singers and hankering after some quality tunes, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is on hand to remind you that there is more to Christmas music than Cliff Richard and the X Factor winner.
Why it's great: This year’s Christmas Cracker is filled with ‘tasteful’ seasonal classics including Handel’s Messiah: Hallelujah Chorus, White Christmas, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas and more. There will also be sing-along carols, courtesy of the Croydon Philharmonic Choir.
Our Facebook status could read: We’ll name that tune in five!
7. Enjoy Boxing Day at the greyhound racing in Peterborough: By Boxing Day you might have had enough of little things running around frantically, but these little blighters are different – they could even win you back some of all that money you’ve splashed out during the festive season.
Why it's great: Peterborough Greyhounds is open today for a special afternoon meeting, with the first race kicking off at noon. The purpose built stadium boasts eight bars and a cafeteria and is the perfect antidote to the traditional sales scrums that normally dominate Boxing Day.
Our Facebook status could read: We just won a pony on a pooch!
8. Plan your New Year's Eve:Of course you want your New Year’s Eve to go with a bang and there are plenty of firework displays around the country to help you make sure it does. If last year’s offering was anything to go by – the budget for fireworks was a whopping £313,000 and around 250,000 people watched them go off – London’s Southbank will be the hot ticket come midnight on December 31st, with a display expected to last around 10 minutes.
Up in Edinburgh, meanwhile, there’s an impressive three days of Hogmanay celebrations, which include a traditional Keilidh as well as the world famous street party and torchlight procession (limited tickets, get yours soon, edinburghshogmanay.org), concerts and more and culminating in a massive firework display. If you’d rather see the New Year in in ice skates though, Cardiff is the place for you. This year’s Cardiff Winter Wonderland (cardiffswinterwonderland.com) features a NYE Midnight Skating Session – make sure you book well in advance – a funfair and lots of free music.
Our Facebook status could read: Can we take our ear plugs out yet?
9. Skate at Somerset House: Hailed as London’s most glamorous ice rink, the skate at Somerset House has a backdrop that is part turn-of-the-century France and part fairytale town square and, because it’s open until late-January is the perfect way to hold on to your festive glow.
Why it's great: There are sessions throughout the day, some with music, and a welcoming bar selling mulled wine for a post-twirl warm up.
Our Facebook status could read: Quick, someone play Ravel’s Bolero, we’re going skating!
10. Plan an escape to The Bear of Rodborough, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire: Set in 300 acres of National Trust land, the recently refurbished Bear of Rodborough (a 300-year-old former coaching inn) oozes English charm with cosy bedrooms (we loved the duvets!), exposed brick walls and roaring open fires. If you can tear yourself away from your room or the welcoming bar, there is plenty to see and do in the neighbourhood, including bracing country walks through Pride and Prejudice country (the 1995 adaptation was shot at nearby Luckington) and sight-seeing olde-English style at Easton Grey, the village that time forgot, a cluster of ancient cottages huddled around a humpbacked bridge. The Bear is also dog friendly – so if you were wondering what to buy Fido for Christmas this year, an overnighter here might be the perfect gift!
Idea we’re going to steal: The bedding at the Bear gives a modern twist to classic jacquard and floral prints. We’re going to invest in a bright and colourful throw to warm up our cool white sheets.
Our Facebook status could read: We’re going out for a walk. If Mr Darcy calls, tell him to wait in the bar.
11. Get away to The Crown, Amersham, Buckinghamshire: If Soho House New York is your spiritual home, you’ll love the Crown. The interiors are the work of design-guru Ilse Crawford (who just happened to ‘do’ SHNY) and are all white walls, high-thread count sheets and Scandi-tastic throws and dotted with sturdy design-y wooden furniture. The hotel is also home to the Crown Chop House that serves hearty classic British dishes, and has a welcoming bar complete with obligatory open fire. Interesting fact: One of the rooms at The Crown featured in Four Weddings and a Funeral: the scene where Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell got it on!)
Idea we’re going to steal: We’re going to invest in a rocking chair - one next to the bed not only transforms your space into a brilliant reading corner, it also doubles as an impromptu clothes horse for when you fling your clothes off after one too many glasses of mulled wine.
Our Facebook status could read: We’re dreaming of a white Christmas (serene white walls and bedding...pure bliss.)
(Pic credit: Kois Miah)
For beautiful bedding, Christmas gifts and homewares for your abode, shop at ACHICA
For beautiful furniture, accessories and daily design ideas for your home and lifestyle,
shop at ACHICA.
Steven Short, Guest Editor
View all posts by Steven Short, Guest Editor