So it’s Christmas time again, the presents are under the tree, the mistletoe is up and the mulled wine is brewing. But if you want to add a little more excitement to your festive season beyond the usual turkey dinner, Queen’s speech and inevitable EastEnders festive mayhem, then the good news is that there are plenty of ways to celebrate it in the capital – whatever your age. Whether you want to take advantage of the school holidays and have an outing with the kids, snap up a few festive bargains, show off your skating skills or find another way to spice up the season, there’s more than enough to while away the time between the first batch of mulled wine and the last ditch moments of celebration as we prepare to enter 2016.
If you’ve never been to London’s famous horticultural heaven, then now’s your chance, with certain free activities inside the grounds to keep all the family entertained. For the younger visitor there’s a Victorian-style carousel, face painting and the chance to see Santa in his woodland grotto (until December 23); after Christmas they’re offering you the chance to take your tree for recycling. Failing that, you can just take a wander through the grounds in a bid to walk off all that turkey.
9 Take a festive trip to the cinema
Christmas is traditionally a time for blockbuster movies to make their cinema debut – not to mention the appearance of the ‘awards season’ films which might just go on to win Oscars – and this year is no exception. If it’s blockbuster fun you’re after you could check out Star Wars: the Force Awakens or James Bond’s Spectre, currently showing at cinemas all over the UK. Or you could wait until Boxing Day to watch Snoopy and Charlie Brown: A Peanuts Movie or The Good Dinosaur with children.
8 Check out a pantomime
Everybody loves a bit of pantomime at Christmas (Oh no they don’t! Oh yes they do! etc), and as usual London is stuffed to the gills with famous faces putting on silly costumes and acting out some thinly disguised fairytale for the benefit of their shouty audience. Highlights this year include an enchanting and timeless trip to Neverland, with Hollywood star Verne Troyer, comedians Marcus Brigstocke and Jarred Christmas plus dance troupe Flawless starring Peter Pan at New Wimbledon Theatre. Stars of stage and screen Hayley Mills and Matthew Kelly will appear in this year’s panto Cinderella at the Richmond Theatre (until Sunday January 10) Jo Brand, making her panto debut, in Aladdin at the New Wimbledon Theatre (also until January 12), and Jack and the Beanstalk at the Beck Theatre in Hayes (until January 2).