12 magical things to do this Christmas
Whether wrapping up warm in Europe or enjoying a balmier holiday season stateside, this winter delivers more than enough festive sparkle for a memorable Christmas. Our family friendly festive edit takes in a dazzling line-up of shows, concerts and seasonal markets guaranteed to appeal to all ages.
Christmas at Windsor Castle
A festive tradition since the 12th century, the immense, twinkling Nordmann Fir tree in St George’s Hall is undoubtedly the centrepiece of Christmas at Windsor Castle. It’s not the only seasonal highlight to encourage a visit, though. Time your arrival for a carol concert, when local and school choirs gather to channel the Christmas spirit with a run of traditional classics.
Windsor Castle, Windsor SL4 1NJ
+44 (0)30 3123 7304
© Royal Collection Trust / Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019
Christmas Racing Weekend
From festive menus and mince pies to seasonal cocktails and carol singing, Ascot Racecourse is awash with festive spirit during its Christmas Racing Weekend. Enrol little ones in the Ascot Elf Academy where Mrs Christmas regales with enthralling festive tales, and toast an exhilarating run of steeple chases as well as one of the most prestigious long-distance hurdle races in Britain.
Ascot Racecourse, High St, Ascot SL5 7JX
+44 (0)34 4346 3000
A Christmas Carol
Prolific British playwright Jack Thorne’s inspired adaptation of the Dickens classic returns to The Old Vic for a third year running. This freshest iteration of A Christmas Carol stars British TV favourite Paterson Joseph as Ebenezer Scrooge, and uplifts with its usual ingenious mix of wit, humour, music and, of course, everyone’s favourite
‘bah, humbug’ character.
The Old Vic, The Cut, Lambeth, London SE1 8NB
+44 (0)34 4871 7628
© Manuel Harlan
© Annabel Moeller
Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall
At the cutting edge of London’s cultural scene since 1871, the Royal Albert Hall puts on an extraordinary run of seasonal shows to celebrate Christmas this year. Its engaging programme of music, theatre and performance has something to inspire all tastes: traditionalists can settle back with a classic carol concert, while jazz enthusiasts can enjoy an evening of frothy improvisation.
Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London SW7 2AP
+44 (0)20 7589 8212
Dolce & Gabbana Christmas Market
Quintessential Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana has a notorious predilection for extroverted colour pops and look-at-me prints. It’s no surprise, then, that its Christmas market, erected as a pop-up in its cool Corso Venezia boutique, delivers a cacophony of glittering pomp and vibrant colour clashes. Step inside to soak up an utterly unique and – naturally –impossibly stylish festive spirit.
Corso Venezia 7, Corso Venezia, 7, 20121 Milan
+39 02 7600 4091
© Dolce & Gabbana
© Brescia Amisano Teatro alla Scala
La Prima – Tosca
In keeping with tradition, La Scala’s new opera season gets underway on December 10. Along with the opening night’s cultural significance, La Prima is also an exclusive event that’s well-attended by the darlings of Milan’s polite society. Puccini’s Tosca takes the stage at the start of December, with conductor Riccardo Chailly navigating its dramatic arias with aplomb.
Teatro alla Scala, Via Filodrammatici, 2, 20121 Milan
+39 02 7200 3744
Frida Kahlo. The Chaos Within
Legendary artist and creative powerhouse Frida Kahlo has captured the attention of audiences since she posthumously rose to fame in the 1970s. For an intimate insight into her daily life, step inside Casa Azul, the house she inhabited for most of her life. The residence has been recreated for this interactive exhibition, with photographic works offering a precious glimpse of the Mexican icon’s muses.
SET Spazio Eventi Tirso, Via Tirso, 14, 00198 Rome
+39 38 8850 7930
© SET Spazio Eventi Tirso
© Musacchio Iannielo
Harlem Gospel Choir at Rome Gospel Festival
Rome’s popular annual Gospel Festival draws together international choirs and gospel groups, many of which hail from the United States, for a unique sonorous celebration of the festive season. This year, the world-class Harlem Gospel Choir – famed for their collaborations with the likes of Diana Ross and Sinéad O’Connor – harness the religious spirit of Christmas with their emotive a cappella.
Auditorium Parco della Musica, Via Pietro de Coubertin, 30, 00196 Rome
+39 68 0241 281
This year, the Kiev National Ballet brings its technically brilliant troupe to the prestigious Théâtre des Champs-Elysées once more. Following last year’s charming rendition of The Nutcracker, Swan Lake pirouettes across the stage to Tchaikovsky’s beloved score with an exquisitely executed tale of love and acceptance.
Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, 15 avenue Montaigne, 75008 Paris
+33 (0)1 49 52 50 50
© Svetlana Loboff OnP
This medieval romance tells of the struggles of Raymonda and Jean de Brienne, who battles for his beloved’s affections in the face of the Saracen chief Abderam. Marius Petipa’s ballet is often cited as a quintessential example of the classical style, and was a piece often tackled by the legendary Rudolf Nureyev, both before and after he defected to the west.
Opéra Bastille, Place de la Bastille, 75012 Paris
+33 (0)892 89 90 90
Flying the flag for a favourite festive tradition is Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Follow Clara’s delightful adventures as she encounters dancing snowflakes, the Mouse King, and, of course, the glittering Palace of Dolls. The Los Angeles Ballet sets this timeless tale in California, 1912, with many recognisable backdrops and a number of witty LA twists adding a unique edge.
Various locations (Cerritos Center, Alex Theatre, Royce Hall, Dolby Theatre, Redondo Beach)
+1 310 998 7782
© Reed Hutchinson for Los Angeles Ballet
Enchanted: Forest of Light
Side-step the city’s bustle for a magical evening stroll through the Descanso Garden’s Enchanted Forest of Light. Open only after dark, visitors are invited to wander along an immersive, mile-long route, marvelling at colourful light displays and electrifying illuminations from start to show-stopping finish.
Decanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011
+1 818 949 4200
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