Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my Christmas in Sydney. Sun was out, bums were out, BBQs and beers were a must. But nothing screams “CHRISTMAS” like the London feasts, so here’s what to do during the Christmas holidays here in London town.
Christmas Carols in Columbia Road
I first ran into the Christmas markets and carols at Columbia Road by chance in 2016, while walking around the area on an icy December night. Imagine groups of jolly locals serving mulled wine and singing Christmas carols. You can see this every Wednesday from 7 to 9 pm until Christmas day. Christmas in the East End just rocks.
Y’all know I probably don’t sound super Italian, but I’m as Italian as it gets. So imagine my face when I got to Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant and Castle and found Pandoro and Panettone teamed up with hot chocolate for £5! And a fucking tagliatelle Christmas tree. Yup, you read right. A Christmas tree. Made with pasta. Just take me back already!
Mercato Metropolitano has expanded its opening hours for the holidays, turning its garden into a French style chalet with crepes, mulled wine, champagne and blankets but the real fun is on the inside. I’m talking Christmas lights, mulled wine, Italian Christmas food and a wintery wine bar where my friend and I indulged in Sardinian Cannonau (a strong red wine), cheese and charcuterie.
This was my second time at Mercato Metropolitano, but I enjoyed even more because I discovered The Italian Job, their craft beer stand, serving Mondo beer, London’s first Italian craft lager. Plus, I got to dip my panettone in a hot chocolate that was miles away from the milk and chocolate powder combo you get in London and that was actually thicker than my thighs. I’d say a pre-Christmas evening here is a winner.
Christmas at Peggy Porschen
If you follow me on Instagram (and if you don’t, just follow me already) you’ve probably read about my day at Peggy Porschen Cakes in Belgravia. If you’re interested in people watching and in a case study into modern life, prepare to queue for a cupcake or a cake outside this gem of a shop while a fuckton of Instagram influencers will frown at you for standing in their way for a perfect shot.
Another one off the bucket list. Went to #Belgravia’s Christmas markets over the weekend and I finally got to try @peggyporschenofficial. Pretty good case study for the state of life in 2K17 – as I was waiting to be seated, a parade of @instagram influencers attempted to take the iconic picture in front of the door. One showed up in a black lace leotard and a see-through skirt (temperature: 3 C). Another one (Southern Italian) kept swearing like only my fellow countrymen/women do because people who dgaf about her Insta shot got in her way to get cake. Another influencer was about 5 years old but she was more into cake than the picture – her mum’s idea, I guess. That being said, I did take my picture and I loved the cake, so overall the pantomime and the 🍰 were worth the wait. #instalols
One of them showed up in a black lace leotard and a see-through skirt despite the nearly below zero temperature – I kid you not. Although a bit pricey (you spend about a tenner for a cappuccino and a slice of cake), Peggy Porschen is pretty and it looks like your five-year-old self’s Christmas fantasy at this time of year… plus, the cake is massive so it’s essentially a lunch.
This girl over here is NOT a chip fan. In fact, I personally believe chips are a poor excuse for an aperitivo. If someone in Italy comes to me with chips during happy hour I’m like, sure, where’s the charcuterie board though. However, Hipchips in Old Compton Street, which claims to be rìthe world’s first crisp and dip cafe, did lure me in with their “whole Christmas dinner in dips” menu. And they blew my mind.
The “Christmas Dinner Box” includes five varieties of savoury and sweet crisps paired with sweet and savoury dips: smoked salmon and pickled cucumbers as a starter, a traditional Christmas turkey dinner with cranberry and stuffing for main and for that ultimate festive finish – a sweet Christmas pudding and brandy sauce dip.
The café looks really fun with potato artwork at the back, the crisps boxes look so fancy they could contain Agent Provocateur underwear, but a massive box actually only costs £11.50. And it’s a proper meal, as in it will fill you up. The real Christmas crackers were the turkey dinner and the Christmas pudding dips so make sure you get those!
Christmas Afternoon Tea at sketch London
sketch is already one of London’s favourite afternoon tea spots, so you can’t miss their take on Christmas. The Christmas Afternoon Tea features Bûche de Noëls cakes like this one over here.
Aside from tea, for the occasion the space features Chris Levine’s “Silent Light” mind-blowing laser, light and sound installation. Plus, sketch’s iconic egg pods have now been turned into a Christmas forest and its Lecture Room & Library features a Christmas Tree made by four of London’s leading florists.
Christmas Dinner at The Water Poet
The iconic, endearing Norton Folgate pub The Water Poet will be my family’s Christmas dinner venue of choice this year. With a Christmas dinner menu starting at about £35 per guest, the Poet will be serving classics like roast parsnip soup, turkey with all the trimmings and Christmas pudding in one of East London’s most memorable alleys. Can’t wait!
New Year’s Eve
NYE at Skylight London
Where better to bring in the new year than on a rooftop overlooking London’s iconic skyline? Although the firework display won’t be visible from Skylight, the urban skate bar, ice rink and Tobacco Dock roof terrace will help you see into the New Year together with multiple bars, heated seating areas, booths, pergola and the inevitable dance floor.
I started my 25th Birthday celebrations there and it’s a one-of-a-kind place for sure, also thanks to cheese and chocolate fondue which make every party better. Just make sure you’re a big crowd, cause you can’t book for groups of under 10 people.
- Entry £15
- Tickets: https://www.tickettannoy.com/event/SjMvznFXOUqRtYpuhrtEVw