12 magical things to do this Christmas
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12 magical things to do this Christmas

December 09, 2019

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

Christmas tree at Windsor Castle
© Royal Collection Trust / Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019
Horses lined up for racing event
DECEMBER 20 – 21

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

A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic mid-performance
© Manuel Harlan
Christmas ballet production in London
© 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

Milan brightly coloured clothing stall
© Dolce & Gabbana
La Scala in Milan before performance with crowd taking seats
© 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

Typewriter with historical documents surrounding it
© SET Spazio Eventi Tirso
Gospel Festival in Rome with singers on stage
© 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


Swan Lake

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

Swan Lake ballet production in Paris
Ballet dancer mid-performance
© 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

Los Angeles

The Nutcracker

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

The Nutcracker ballet performance in Los Angeles
© Reed Hutchinson for Los Angeles Ballet
Enchanted Forest with colourful lights in Los Angeles

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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