FOCUS Favourites December 2018

The most festive time of the year, December is no less rich of things to do and discover.
This issue of the FOCUS Favourites suggests some traditional outings and some unusual ones

Book in advance: Wimbledon UK Ballot

ends 31 December 2018

The ballot is public and open to everyone. Entry to the Public Ballot does not automatically entitle applicants to tickets for Wimbledon, but to a place in the draw for tickets. It is not possible to request tickets for specific days or courts, as the day and court offered are chosen randomly by a computerised selection process.

Closing date to request application forms is 15 December 2018. Do not miss it!

Sport: The Peter Pan Cup

25 December

On the morning of the 25th, members of the Serpentine Swimming  Club will take part in the traditional Christmas day race in Hyde Park. Don’t worry, members of the Serpentine Club practice every Saturday, so the cold conditions are nothing new!

The 100m swim race on 25 December usually starts at 9am and takes place on the south bank of the lake, close to the Serpentine Cafe. Spectators are welcome, but you are advised to wrap up warm!

Come down to watch the race, a great start to Christmas Day before opening presents. 

Not to be missed: Winter Wonderland

22 November 2018 – 6 January 2019

Winter wonderland is back again in the famous Hyde Park London. The event itself is free to enter, just paying for rides and carnival activities. This year it is offering ice skating, circus shows as well as a christmas market and many rides. The traditional German Christmas Market is one not to be missed, offering over 200 chalets overflowing with knick knacks. Winter Wonderland is open every day except Christmas Day, located in Hyde Park bring the whole family down to have a fun day! 

Children: Circus 1903
19 December – 5 January

Book tickets for Circus 1903 at Royal Festival Hall and enjoy the thrills and daredevil entertainment with the whole family this Christmas. The show has everything one might need from a circus including  acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, trapeze and high wire performers. Amongst the spectacular stunts and the impressive contortions the show includes live-sized elephants from the award-winning puppetry team behind War Horse. As part of the Southbank Centre‘s Winter Festival this American circus company takes us back to 1903, the golden age of circus.

Day trip: Winchester Christmas market
17-20 December

Two hours away from London you will find the largest Christmas market in the South of England, with around 100 pretty wooden chalets housed in Cathedral Close, alongside an open-air skating ring.  The Winchester Christmas market is recognised as one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe because of its unique location. Close to half a million visitors are attracted by the medieval market each year and enjoy the festive spirit of Christmas. There is a great range of craft items, Christmas decoration, jewellery, artwork and wooden toys. There is plenty of food and drink at the Christmas Market, selling festive favourites – mull wine, bratwurst, mince pies and stollen.
To make the most of your visit, take time to see the Nativity scene at the far end of the British Crafts Village and also inside the Cathedral.

Festival: BBC Good Food Feast – Hampton Court Palace 

7-9 December 

If you love food, are a foodie and want to try new and fun foods, this is the place to be.

A  great  day out  for  the  whole  family, to

enjoy a great selection of artisan produce, amazing street food and an incredible lineup of various cooks and chefs. Not only this, but there will be lots of entertainment and live music set up too! Chefs will get the chance to test out the new products and present new techniques. 

All of this will be taking place within the Historic Hampton Court Palace. Book your tickets online in advance to save, however tickets are also available at the door! 

Restaurant: Roti King 

Situated outside Euston station, this restaurant is easily overlooked. The little Chinese-Malay restaurant is located in the basement on Doric Way. However, it is not to be missed. As the name states, rotis  (fluffy pancakes) are their speciality and is recommended to order this when eating here. Their Roti Canai special comes with two pieces of their freshly made roti, along side some curry dhal, costing you only £4.50. Despite this not being the most elegant sit-down dinner, it is an unmissable experience. Recommended as some of the best Roti in London, one can do either  a take-away or eat in, enjoying the delicious Chinese-Malay mix wherever. 

Dance: Christmas at the Dancehouse in Manchester

6-8 december

There are still tickets available at the Dancehouse in Manchester for a Christmas Ballet show. 

The theatre’s resident student company performs an exciting two act dance to musical classics such as ‘The Skater’s Waltz’ and ‘Walking in the Air’, also contemporary pieces based on Frozen’s ‘Do you want to build a Snowman?’ and Anastasia’s ‘Once Upon a December‘. 

The journey continues into the the Kingdom of Sweets, where you will meet exotic dancers from distant lands and the Sugar Plum Fairy from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. 

Music: The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO)


The London Symphony Orchestra is one of the oldest of London’s symphony orchestras. Founded in 1904 by a group of players the LSO was organised on co-operative lines with all players sharing the profit. Since 1982 the Barbican Centre in the City of London has been home to the Orchestra. As part of the end-of-year celebrations, the Barbican organises a wide range of festive concerts, perfectly capturing  the spirit of Christmas. Below you’ll find  a selection of events. For more information please have a look at the barbican website.

20.12. Christmas classics with Silent Night, Joy of the World, Fantasia of Christmas carols…

21.12. The Glory of Christmas with Ave Maria, Hallelujah, The Twelve Days of Christmas…

22.12. Jingle Bell Christmas with Jingle Bell Rock, Last Christmas, All I want is you…

Theatre: The Snowman

22 November – 30 December

Time to take the kids to The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre this Christmas. This very well known and much-loved festive tale returns to the Peacock Theatre for a record breaking 21st Year!!. With a wonderful mix of storytelling, spectacle and magic it is a perfect Christmas outing for the whole family. Based upon the book by Raymond Briggs The Snowman has transported generations of children and their families into the wintery world of a young boy and his magical snowman who comes to life on Christmas Eve. Music and lyrics by Howard Blake, including Walking in the Air, set design by Tim Mitchell, choreography by Robert North and directed by Bill Alexander.

Hidden gems: Festive Horse Drawn Carriage Rides

15-23 December

 What can be more magical than a horse carriage ride in the busy Christmas time? Enjoy the leisurely pace of the horses, the sound of the hoofs and bells, watch the wildlife up close and experience the beautiful landscape of Richmond Park in all it’s glory. Snuggle under a blanket and have some sloe gin and a mince pie to get into the festive spirit. The remarkable and memorable experience with two Shire Horses begins at Holly Lodge for a 60 minutes ride through the park in all it’s winter beauty. There are three rides per day. Please have a look at the website for the correct time and day. The purchase of one £140 ticket admits two people. A wonderful gift for Christmas.

Art: Space Shifters

until 6 January 2019

Featuring 20 international artists, this group exhibition brings together sculptures and installations over a period of 50 years, that disrupt the visitor‘s sense of space. You are part of illusion-creating sculptures which play with light and space and  mess with your mind. From the minute you walk in, you are reflected, doubled,  twisted  and  turned.  

Many of these innovative, minimalist sculptures are constructed from reflective or translucent materials like glass, resin, stainless steel and mirrors. With the dates from 1966 to 2018, this exhibition boasts a great diversity in its art. Participating artists include Jeppe Hein, Roni Horn, Anish Kapoor, Yayoi Kusama and Alicja Kwade. The Space Shifter exhibition at the Hayward Gallery is very popular. Please make sure to book your ticket in advance.