The festive season is my absolute favourite time of year in London. As soon as the Halloween parties and bonfire nights come to an end, the skating rinks, German markets, winter cinemas, ski chalets and igloo inspired winter pop-ups start taking over the city. Shop windows are decorated to the nines, Christmas lights adorn the shopping streets and fairy lights twinkle in the trees, while the scent of log fires and mulled wine fills the air. Every year these winter pop-ups get bigger and better, and this year’s openings are already looking very promising. From dining in igloos to watching Christmas films in heated tipis, and from playing glow-in-the-dark mini golf in a city-centre pine forest, to watching films in a hidden snow cave, here are 21 of the best winter pop-ups in London this year.
Fulham’s popular Neverland beach has frozen over this winter, creating a fun snow-clad adult playground. Amid the snow-covered pine trees are heated lodges and cabins, lit-up igloos with dining tables, glow-in-the-dark mini golf, ping-pong tables and Prosecco pong cabin, curling lanes, and lots of fur-lined sofas for snuggling in, plus a wide range of street food vendors – including fondue! You can also BYOB and the staff will mix it into ace cocktails. Oh, and it’s dog-friendly! Winterland, 364 Wandsworth Bridge Rd, Fulham, London SW6 2TY. Open Thursday & Friday 6pm – 11pm, Saturday 12pm – 11pm, Sunday 12pm-7pm.
2. The Winter Forest
Even the corporate heart of London is joining in with the cheer this year. Broadgate’s Exchange Square, right next to Liverpool Street Station, has had an uplifting wintery make-over with a Nordic-inspired, snow-covered woodland. Here you’ll find snow-covered pine trees, three giant tipis, a pop-up tipi cinema and a Christmas market serving mulled wine, mulled cider and Baileys hot chocolates (as well as other warming drinks). The tipi cinema is showing feel-good festive movies like Elf, Miracle On 34th Street and It’s A Wonderful Life (tickets £15). Winter Forest, Liverpool Street Station.
3. Winter Rooftop Cinema
The Berkeley’s Winter Rooftop Cinema is back! This winter, watch an old-school Christmas classic at The Berkeley Hotel’s magical winter open-air cinema, complete with sparkling Christmas trees, hot chocolate and mince pies. The intimate cinema (there are only six seats) will be showing a variety of winter favourites, including Miracle on 34th Street and Elf, which you can enjoy with a glass of mulled wine, in chic wooden cabins lined with fluffy sheepskins. Tickets are priced at £70 per person and include unlimited mulled wine, hot chocolates and minced pies. From 1-31 December. Book in advance on 020 7235 6000. Address: Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RL.
4. Jimmy’s Lodge
After exploring Southbank’s winter market, escape the cold in one of the private snow globes at Jimmy’s Lodge. There’s also a chalet-style Refuge Restaurant perched on the edge of the Thames, serving melted cheese and ski-inspired treats like Raclette Burgers and Aspen Fries (book tickets in advance). Passers-by can enjoy hot toddies, butter rum, hot mojitos and mulled wine and cider by the fire pits at the heated outside bar. Tickets from £40. November 10 – 31 December. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX.
5. Ski Lodge
The Montague Hotel has transformed their outdoor area into an après ski destination, adorned with pine trees, snowmen, reindeers, falling snow and twinkling lights to get even the biggest Scrooge in the holiday spirit. Homemade flavoured schnapps and vodkas, including candy cane, butterscotch and toffee, will be served, alongside classic winter tipples like mulled wine and spiced cider. For those with a sweet tooth the decadent ‘hot choctails’ are a must. A selection of seasonally-inspired foods is also available and includes the likes of turkey schnitzel, bratwurst and deep fried camembert. The Montague will be welcoming visitors to the Ski Lodge on a drop-in basis over the weekends throughout the festive season. Open from 16 November 2017 to 20 January 2018. Call 0207 637 1001. Address: 15 Montague St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 5BJ.
6. The Snow Kingdom
To enter Backyard Cinema’s Snow Kingdom you’ll have to enter through a secret entrance, venture though an ice cave and across a frozen lake! Once inside, relax on giant beanbags and enjoy potion themed cocktails before settling under a blanket to watch a favourite festive movie (the line-up includes Beauty & the Beast, Titanic, Cool Runnings, Harry Potter, It’s a Wonderful Life and Frozen. Address: Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant & Castle. Tickets from £17.00 for an adult, £9.50 for under 12s. Date night packages from £69 for two, with snacks, prosecco and blankets included.
7. Skate Somerset House
Ease yourself into the festive spirit at London’s most popular ice rink. Skate around in the grand and imposing courtyard of Somerset House, lit up by a 40-foot Christmas tree, then warm up with a hot toddy at Fortnum’s Lodge. Skate Somerset House will also be host to Skate Lates; a series of 17 evening music events with DJs, artists and musicians taking over the rink-side decks. Strand, London WC2R 1LA.
8. Festive Film & Fizz
For a grown-up cinema experience, a £55 ticket to One Aldwych’s Festive Film & Fizz includes a three-course dinner, champagne, and a classic Christmas film in their luxurious screening room. Choose from Love Actually, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas and It’s A Wonderful Life. Address: 1 Aldwych, London WC2B 4BZ. Call 020 7300 1000.
9. Coppa Club Igloos
Coppa Club’s Tower Bridge Igloos are back and they’re as cosy as ever, with heating, snug sheepskin blankets, speakers, festive snacks and breeze-free views of the city skyline. The eight-person domes are fully booked into the new year, but daily walk-ins for chilly Londoners are available. Coppa Club, 3 Three Quays Walk, Lower Thames Street, London, EC3R 6AH.
10. Skylight at Tobacco Dock
Head for East London’s Tobacco Dock to experience a thoroughly urban neon-lit winter playground and London’s only rooftop ice rink. There’ll be delicious seasonal drinks, fondue and street food, DJs, ice hockey shooting, indoor and outdoor heated areas, and the some of the best views in the city. Skylight, Pennington St. Car Park entrance, Wapping, London E1W 2SF. Free entry. 12pm-11pm.
11. Woody Bear Winter Rooftop
Put your feet up after your Christmas shopping and escape the Oxford Street crowds at this winter rooftop pop-up, serving grilled cheese sandwiches and the London Raclette on potatoes served from a 6kg wheel. And what festive event would be complete without some belly warming cocktails? Well, at Woody Bear you’ll have them on tap, with the Hot Gin Punch served from a coin-operated cocktail dispenser. 1 November – end of December. Between 4 -10pm. 535 Oxford St, London W1C 1LY
12. Winter Lodge
Artisanal gin brand Monkey 47 has helped transform The Rosewood’s courtyard into a rustic winter lodge, serving mulled sloe gin, strudel cocktails, Christmas pate and signature mince pies. Address: 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN.
13. Piste Winter Bar
Complete with fur-lined seats and antlers hung on the walls, Piste Winter Bar will make you feel like you’ve just come off the slopes. Sip on a ‘Last Christmas’ cocktail of Gin, Cointreau, Cherry & Cinnamon Purée, Apple Juice & Lemon. From early November 2017 – early May 2018. 3-4 Archer Street, South Soho, London W1D 7AP.
14. Rooftop garden
Another rooftop pop-up on Oxford Street to help you escape the heaving hordes of Christmas shoppers. On the roof of John Lewis you’ll be able to sing along to Christmas tunes at rooftop pub The Gardeners’ Arms, and indulge in traditional British festive fare courtesy of The Ethicurean, sip mulled negronis and cuddle up in cosy bookable lodges. Open until 24 December, 300 Oxford Street W1C 1DX.
15. Christmas at Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens are transforming into a magical after-dark experience this winter. As twilight falls, the magic begins with numerous winter inspired features, including a glittering mile-long trail of Christmas trees and a tunnel of lights. Perfect for a family day out, there’s a Victorian carousel and other family rides, plus Father Christmas and his elves will keep children entertained as they busily prepare Christmas gifts in the grotto. There are also some tasteful Christmas pop-up shops selling market gifts – perfect for stocking fillers. Christmas at Kew Gardens takes place from 22 November to 1 January between 5-10pm. Ferry Lane, TW9 3AF.
16. The Dalloway Terrace
Worth a visit purely for the Instagram opportunities, this beautiful terrace has been transformed into a winter wonderland for the festive period by Nikki Tibbles at Wild at Heart. There’s cheesey fondue, mulled cocktails and Pierre Marcolini boozy hot chocolates, for a festive tipple or two. But get in there quick, as they are booking up fast! Book here. Address: 16-22 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3NN.
17. Moroccan Medina Winter Rooftop
The Queen of Hoxton‘s rooftop in Shoreditch will be transformed into a Moroccan hideaway this winter, adorned with vibrant tiles, lanterns and their popular wigwam. Expect spiced hot buttered rum and pomegranate bellinis, lamb and apricot tagine and vegan mezze boards on offer. From 26 October – end of March. Address: 1 Curtain Road, Shoreditch EC2A 3JX.
18. South Pole Saloon
Brixton Beach has returned as the South Pole Saloon, a debauched dive bar run by rebel elves, The Snowman and The Sugar Plum Fairy, ready to warm the cockles of all those coldly un-festive hearts. Here you’ll find woodland lodges, multiple bars, Candy Caner Cabins, live music, interactive entertainment, creative cocktails and festive street food by the likes of Vudu Food, Mac to the Future, Fancy Funkin Chicken and The Lambassadors. Open from 23 November until 1 January 2018. Pope’s Road, Brixton SW9 8JH.
19. Pop-Up Screens
Pop-up screens are back with a winter makeover! This time taking over the Hackney Showroom, pop-up screens will be showing your favourite festive flicks from 8-24 December. The line-up includes Christmas classics such as Home Alone, Love Actually and Elf. Hackney Showroom, Hackney Downs Studios, Amhurst Terrace, London E8 2BT.
20. Winter Terrace
Kensington’s Roof Gardens (with its famous pink flamingos) is one of summer’s hottest hangouts, but don’t discount it during the winter months. Babylon Restaurant transforms during the winter months with a fully heated terrace, blankets, a cheese menu and warming cocktails, so that you can admire the city skyline safe from the winter chill. With hot water bottles, blankets and heaters also provided, there’s no fear of Jack Frost nipping at anyone’s toes! Open until Friday December 22nd. Address: 99 Kensington High Street W8 5SA.
Not a Christmas pop-up exactly, but well worth adding to your diary, Alcotraz is London’s first prison-themed cocktail bar. Inspired by America’s most infamous prison which housed some of the world’s most difficult and dangerous felons during its operation, this three month pop-up concept replicates the eerie atmosphere and mystery associated with prison life. From the orange jumpsuits on arrival to the real metallic cells, Alcotraz offers complete escapism, whilst serving delicious, experimental cocktails using liquor that visiting convicts will have smuggled in past the guards. Address: 212 Brick Ln, London E1 6SA.