Fun things to do in London in December in 2012?
December 17, 2012 12:08 PM   Subscribe

Tell someone who's pretty familiar with London what there is to do between December 20 and the first week of January.

I'm looking for fun and interesting cultural things to do in London during the holidays. Impossible, right? That's why I'm here.

I'm a pretty old London hand (got family there, have probably spent 3-4 of my 25 years on this earth there). I only say this because I don't need the "essential things to see in London when you visit," since I've probably already seen it or decided it wasn't worth the time or cash.

I don't go to London so often anymore so when I do get a chance to go I want to make the most of my time.

In order to make this question productive, here's a list of the things I'm already planning on seeing, so if anyone can think of anything similar or something that someone who would go to these things would also enjoy going to, please drop a comment and help me enjoy my time in London! Thanks in advance.

-[play] The Dark Earth and the Light Sky @ Almeida
-[film] My Learned Friend @ BFI
-[film] Chasing Ice @ ICA
-[exhibition] Cartier-Bresson @ Somerset House
posted by anewnadir to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The Shunt theatre events are usually good, creepy fun with intriguing uses of found spaces. Booking for the current one is here.
posted by howfar at 12:25 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know if there are still tickets available, but the Hollywood Costume exhibition at the V&A is well worth a look.

You should also check out the lineup at the Prince Charles Cinema (Indiana Jones marathon on the 27th, awww yis).
posted by fight or flight at 12:29 PM on December 17, 2012

Time out London have a good events calendar. I'm sure there will be things which interest you here.
posted by Laura_J at 12:44 PM on December 17, 2012

I always pop in to the British Museum and the Wellcome Gallery to see what they've got on. In particular, I am kicking myself that I haven't arranged to go and see the British Museum exhibition on the significance of drinking in asian cultures.
posted by kadia_a at 12:46 PM on December 17, 2012

Laura_J: I should have added that I spent a good amount of time browsing TimeOut before posting this question as part of necessary due diligence. Thanks for the answers so far, y'all.
posted by anewnadir at 12:59 PM on December 17, 2012

Does the first week extend to the 6th, and are you okay with hey-nonny-nonnery? If so, try the Twelfth Night celebrations on Bankside.

Otherwise, as you're up for Cartier-Bresson, maybe a completely different type of photography over in Greenwich? The Ansel Adams at the Maritime Museum is getting pretty good reviews.

While we're talking about photography, I loved loved loved Everything Was Moving at the Barbican, and while we're talking about the Barbican perhaps you'll be the one person who finds the right time to go when you don't have to queue for the Rain Room. If you do happen to find yourself there on a Sunday, have a look at the conservatory. And if you are there on a Sunday, you'll also be near to Columbia Road Market (no idea how touristy this is considered these days but I still love it), the Geffrye Museum (who as you can see have their own Christmas gubbins on) and Kingsland Road's glut of Vietnamese restaurants if you happen to like Vietnamese food.
posted by calico at 1:01 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Plan a visit to the Dennis Sever's house in Spitalfields. Unfortunately I found out about during my last visit to London and due to limited hours couldn't visit, so I can't speak from personal experience, but it sounds like a truly unique and fascinating experience, part historical home, part art installation. I think that they have special events during the holiday season.
posted by kaybdc at 2:03 PM on December 17, 2012

Oops sorry, the Rain Room is here.
posted by calico at 2:15 PM on December 17, 2012

(Still getting used to the edit window and my own capacity for stupid copy-paste mistakes...)

Columbia Road Flower Market

Geffrye Museum
posted by calico at 2:21 PM on December 17, 2012

kaybdc: I had heard of Severs's house before, but the only event that seems fun is the one where you get to drink mulled wine and eat pies. Unfortunately it costs like 50 quid or something p/p. I'll look into it again.
posted by anewnadir at 2:42 PM on December 17, 2012

What I did on my last London trip was make a lot of day trips to Bath, Oxford, Cambridge and Liverpool( which wasn't my original plan, but I found out that the Liverpool Tate had a Lewis Carroll exhibit).
posted by brujita at 2:54 PM on December 17, 2012

I always see something at National Theater and have yet to be disappointed. (ok, last two out of two trips, but seriously the shows were so amazing).
posted by bquarters at 3:25 PM on December 17, 2012

I live in London, and here are some of the things I'm planning to do in the capital over the Christmas break:

You can currently book online for free entry to Kew Gardens between Saturday 22nd December and Friday 4th January. Print your ticket at home and take it with you on the day you visit. You won't get free entry if you just turn up - you must book in advance, but considering tickets usually cost £14.50 each, it's really worth taking advantage of the offer. The ticket includes access to all glasshouses, gardens and the David Nash exhibition.

There's an exhibition called Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men at the Museum of London. The blurb: "In 2006, Museum of London archaeologists excavated a burial ground at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. What they found was both extraordinary and unexpected. The excavation revealed some 262 burials. In the confusing mix of bones was extensive evidence of dissection, autopsy and amputation, bones wired for teaching, and animals dissected for comparative anatomy. Dating from a key period – that of the Anatomy Act of 1832 – the discovery is one of the most significant in the UK, offering fresh insight into early 19th century dissection and the trade in dead bodies." Entry is £9.

The Wellcome Collection has a free exhibition called Death: A Self-portrait. The blurb; "Our major winter exhibition showcases some 300 works from a unique collection devoted to the iconography of death and our complex and contradictory attitudes towards it. Assembled by Richard Harris, a former antique print dealer based in Chicago, the collection is spectacularly diverse, including art works, historical artefacts, scientific specimens and ephemera from across the world. Rare prints by Rembrandt, Dürer and Goya will be displayed alongside anatomical drawings, war art and antique metamorphic postcards; human remains will be juxtaposed with Renaissance vanitas paintings and twentieth century installations celebrating Mexico’s Day of the Dead."
posted by hot soup girl at 3:28 PM on December 17, 2012

I saw Fuerzabruta at the Roundhouse some years ago and it was a blast. I see they've brought it back, during just the time you're looking for.
posted by yankeefog at 3:59 AM on December 18, 2012

I would not recommend attempting day trips out of the city at that time of year, particularly with the planned rail strike affecting the routes North. (Also, for people in the UK, London-Liverpool isn't seen as a daytrip - I'm impressed you managed it, especially given our crappy rail network...) London is nice between Christmas and New Year - it gets quiet if you avoid the shopping areas, and I like leaving work early just as the light turns blue-grey. Kew Gardens would be lovely at this time of year, I'd be tempted if I had a day off.

The queues at MEATliquor should be quiet at this time of year. I'd recommend going just for the pickle fries and a Dead Hippie, and if you don't like it, at least you can complain about the hype with impunity.

You might know about this, but the Taylor-Wessing portrait exhibition is on at the National Portrait Gallery, and I always really enjoy it.
posted by mippy at 6:53 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

IanVisits rounds up all sorts of tours and one-off events that are the sort of thing you would like to find in Time Out's Around Town section but rarely do. I'm constantly amazed the site doesn't have a higher profile.

If you like films you should also check out the fantastic Whirled Art cinema at Loughborough Junction. It's a private members' cinema but you can buy one-day passes. It's a really atmospheric little place with great staff. Might be worth coupling with dinner/drinks at Brixton Village, which is ten minutes walk away.

There's some great Christmas comedy on during the next week in London too - I'd really recommend Tony Law or the superb rolling line-ups for Nine Godless Carols, which include many MeFi favourites such as Ben Goldacre and Stewart Lee.
posted by garlicsmack at 8:59 AM on December 19, 2012

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