1. Grotto Outré
This is a wholly different kind of Christmas pop-up. Enter through an icy kingdom where the stairway to Outré awaits. All week long Grotto Outré is giving you something special: kicking off with Festive Film Nights on Mondays, Bingo Bonanza on Tuesdays, Quizmas Wednesdays and on Throwback Thursdays the reigns are handed over to you to control the playlist, find the magical track and banish Scrooges ghost’s forever to win an Outré prize. On Fridays and Saturdays expect outrageous club nights with UK DJs including Grotto resident Mrs Claws, and when the jingle bells chime, be ready to Swap-a-HoHo – stay close to that festive washing line as an item of clothing must be exchanged. On Sundays, recharge with Smokin’ Bloody Marys and live acoustic tunes. If you’re good, then you get Christmassy cocktails like Mince Pie Martinis — made with mince mix, toffee vodka, plum, apricot, lemon and a touch of sugar. Or get a bit vegetal with The Fairy’s Kiss — a mix of gin, petit pois, lemon, sugar, cranberry sauce, cranberry and apple. And if you want to go “Off Your Sled”, you can throw back a shot of tequila, cinnamon and a slice of orange.
Tickets range from £10 to £35.
28 November-21 December. Red Gallery, 1-3 Rivington Street, EC2A 3DT.
2. Ho-Ho-Hot Tub Christmas
Hot tubs. Cinema. Music. Dancing. This is Christmas on another level. Grab a few mates and book a whole tubs (or risk it for a biscuit and make some new friends). If you like a bit more adventure and debauchery for your movie night out, then this is it. From screenings of Elf to Gremlins to Die Hard to Love Actually, there’s a taste of something for everyone. And if you love some karaoke, then book in for 14 December and sing your heart out with lucky voice. There’s plenty to drink and nibbles to eat, plus the end of the night usually results in an impromptu hot tub dance party. Never been to one? Well now’s your chance.
Individual tickets are £35.
2-18 December. Former Shoreditch Underground station, E1 5ER.
3. the little match girl passion + Karolaoke
This ain’t your average Christmas concert, Opera Erratica and The Coveryard are putting on an all-interactive music theatre EXTRAVAGANZA. Staging an all-night transition from winter cold and isolation to warmth and festive cheer. Expect plenty of sing-a-long pop and classical crossover covers as well as carol arrangements.
Tickets are £15 (£18 on the door).
11-12 December, 7.30pm. Shapes, 117 Wallis Road, E9 5LN.
4. Nordic Yulefest
Things have gone a bit Scandi in London this Christmas season, and this one in particular is going all out. Expect a birch tree-filled fairyland with sheepskin-laden nooks, marzipan pigs and the charismatic Tomte (or Santa Claus as some may call him) leading the festivities. Your ticket will include a Christmas cocktail, four courses of Nordic feasting, games, dancing and plenty of unbridled tomfoolery. And if you just want the frolicking, then book yourself a “Late Night Frolic” ticket for £20 — lets you in after the eating and lets you stay for all the partying.
Brunch is £55 a head. Dinner is £75 a head.
6-21 December. Every Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner. 1 Kingsland Road, E2 8AA.
5. Palace of the Snow Queen
It’s a Cabaret-cum-circus in a secret Shoreditch location. From wintery themed décor to gourmet winter fare to theatrical circus and cabaret performances, this is a one-stop shop.
Standard ticket is £79. Show and after-party only is £25.
4-19 December. 6pm-2am. Secret location.
6. Pop-Up Screens
An inside-out cinema, where the wardrobe is outside (aka the entryway) and the snow is IN. Screening films like National Lampoons: Chrismas Vacation to the Muppets Christmas Carol to Trading Places — you can go family-friendly or a bit edgy. There will be typical cinema treats like popcorn and bags of sweets. And also, there will be snow. Inside. Snow inside.
Tickets are £20.
12-23 December. 1pm and 8:30pm screenings. 20th Century Theatre, 291 Westbourne Grove, W11 2QA.
7. Skate At Somerset House
Now this might seem more classical than alternative, but with club nights, an après-skate lounge and Glad Tidings Tuesdays — you’ll do a bit more than just glide around in circles. Oh, and did we mention this is probably the most beautiful ice rink in London? Well now we did.
Tickets from £7.50.
11 November-11 January. Somerset House, The Strand, WC2R 1LA.
— Sasha Filimonov, @SashaSips