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December 2021 / Diary / by Ali Howard

Culture Fix: December 2021

Film

Christmas on Screen
Throughout December, BFI Southbank

Catching a classic Christmas movie is an essential part of December’s seasonal buzz – and you can rely on BFI Southbank to deliver a programme that guarantees all the feels. This month we’re treated to a wealth of special festive screenings, from the frightful (Gremlins; The Nightmare Before Christmas), to the magical (Miracle on 34th Street; It’s a Wonderful Life), and the unreservedly joyous (The Muppet Christmas Carol). Don’t miss Ernst Lubitsch’s 1940 classic The Shop Around The Corner. James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan play two ambitious rivals on a gossip-ridden sales floor, who, in the hectic run-up to Christmas, conduct an anonymous romance by letter. While you may recognise the plot of You’ve Got Mail, the original romantic comedy remains unrivalled – and happens to be perfect festive fare.

Belvedere Road, SE1 (bfi.org.uk)

Charity concert

Alzheimer’s Society Carols at Christmas
15 December, Southwark Cathedral

Whether you’re a regular on a church pew or simply a seasonal visitor, this special service in magnificent surrounds is not to be missed. Hosted by author, broadcaster and restaurant critic Grace Dent, Carols at Christmas is a marvellous riot of celebratory singing. Join in the classic carolling with the gospel choir, Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalists Shalom Chorale, singer-songwriter Bea Anderson and The Voice contestants Classical Reflection – and take in celebrity readings and musical performances full of yuletide magic. For those unable to attend in person, the event will be live-streamed, while proceeds will raise vital funds for those affected by dementia.

London Bridge, SE1 (alzheimers.org.uk/carols)

Craft

Creative Christmas
Throughout December, Great Northern Hotel

While many look to escape the Capital for family tidings, others relish in staying put. If, like us, you love Christmas in the city, make sure you have King’s Cross on the itinerary. This December, The Great Northern Hotel joins forces with neighbouring Coal Drops Yard to host an unmissable festive craft-filled offering. Visitors can enjoy a relaxed Champagne brunch or lunch at the hotel’s Plum + Spilt Milk restaurant before getting creative in a workshop over the road. Under the guidance of some seriously skilled artisans you can create unique personalised gifts. You’ll also find a pop up curling rink and Christmas markets galore in this buzzy London quarter. Why not treat yourself to an overnight stay to maximise the festivities. The Creative Christmas package starts from £165 for two people.

Contact info@plumandspiltmilk.com to book. Pancras Road, N1C (020 3388 0800; gnhlondon.com/offers/get-crafty-this-christmas/)

Music

Highgate International Chamber Music Festival
3-5 December, St. Anne’s Church

The glorious Grade II listed St. Anne’s is set to be filled with music once again as this much-loved pre-Christmas treat returns to Highgate. The festival’s 2021 line-up features some of the world’s most renowned musicians including Alina Ibragimova MBE, Julian Bliss, Isata Kanneh-Mason and Nicholas Daniel OBE, who’ll explore masterworks alongside lesser-known gems. Festival co-director and founder Ashok Klouda says, “Like many organisations around the country, we were sadly unable to hold live events in 2020. We are therefore thrilled to be bringing live music-making back to Highgate this year, with an extraordinary group of artists joining us to perform this highly varied programme of chamber music.”

106 Highgate West Hill, N6 (07827 928054; chambermusicfestival.co.uk)

Ballet

Nutcracker!
7 December-30 January, Sadler’s Wells

Christmas in London just wouldn’t be the same without Matthew Bourne. This year, the acclaimed choreographer revisits his seasonal classic, celebrating its 30th anniversary and marking 10 years since its last staging at Sadler’s Wells. The Nutcracker is indeed a festive staple but Bourne’s newly designed and reimagined Nutcracker! (note the exclamation point) promises a wonderfully irreverent interpretation. And that’s largely thanks to Anthony Ward’s candy bright sets and costumes. Combined with Tchaikovsky’s rousing score, and of course, Bourne’s dazzling choreography, audiences old and new are in for a delectable show full of wit, pathos and magical fantasy.

Rosebery Avenue, EC1R (020 7863 8000; sadlerswells.com)