20. November 2017

On Course for a Classic Christmas: explore London’s festive heritage as a family

Christmas is about traditions old and new, and London’s seasonal customs wind back hundreds of years. There are cultural quirks to entertain everyone, from little ones to adults, and even to occasionally unimpressed teenagers. Many of the Christmassy conventions are best explored en famille, so get everyone together and watch the laughing last all day as you sample the London’s festive family frolics.


Make your first big meal of the day something fun, filling, and extra friendly. The perfect place to gorge on crepes, family style, is My Old Dutch - the ultimate pancake house for adults and children alike. The original establishment began dishing out hot crepes to devoted patrons in 1958, and now they have several locations across London. Create your own pancake from a standard base and select your favourites from huge range of sweet and savoury toppings, including lashings of the much loved spread: Nutella.

My Old Dutch

Top Tip: While the children are busy rolling and chomping, don’t forget to try some of the classic Dutch savouries: Kassballen are dangerously moreish deep fried balls of mozzarella, cheddar cheese, onion and breadcrumbs, served with sour cream.

Once you’ve had your fill of batter-y goodness, stretch those legs and set out for the wonderful Southbank Centre Winter Festival.

SouthBank Centre

Brilliantly located right on the Thames with views up and down the river, the Southbank Centre boasts yet another year of ingenious programming. Between lunchtime performances from folk duo Ninebarrow and Vintage New Year’s Eve Parties, the festival will provide something thrilling for everyone. Magical shows for the young and young at heart are par for the course, too, and kids will love exploring the musical instruments carved from ice. Adults can pick up a few mulled wines at the Southbank winter market just outside, and then cross the river and wander over to St Paul’s to admire the cathedral in the afternoon light.


Once you’ve spent a little time wrapped up in the warm auditoriums of the Southbank Centre or clutching cups of hot wine, it’ll be time to face the festive elements: Ice Skating at Somerset House is an absolute must if you’re in London at Christmas. 

Somerset House

This stunning building has been standing since 1547 and survived the Great Fire of London, so it’s still here to play host to crowds of children in mittens and woollen hats as they glide (and tumble) on the picturesque ice rink in the central courtyard. This year’s season will feature ‘Skate Lates’, a programme of specially curated music nights, and as usual the West Wing of Somerset House will transform into Fortnum & Mason’s Christmas Arcade. So lace up your skates, pull on your gloves, and hold on to the barrier nice and tight.

If you make your booking well in advance, you can emerge from the majestic arches of Somerset House (hopefully exhilarated and rosy cheeked) and head for an early dinner in the West End before making your way to a performance of Dick Whittington at the London Palladium.

Dick Whittington @ London Palladium

With an all-star cast, a budget-blowing set, lots of laughs and plenty of innuendo, this production promises to have adults and children in stitches throughout. The “naughtier” jokes will go flying over the kids’ heads and leave adults chuckling for hours, while dance troupe Diversity will have the little ones captivated with their gravity-defying routines. Get ready to boo and hiss your heart out!


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Explore London’s festive heritage