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What’s on: The Muddy Guide 18-27 Dec 2014

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Lots to do out and about this week — even some little thing called Christmas popping up in there too.  If you’re looking to get out of the house and take yourself or your loved ones — or maybe even your family — for a treat, there’s plenty to choose from.  And lots of it’s fab.

Edward Scissorhands, Sadlers Wells, 2 Dec – 11 Jan

edward scissorhands
Matthew Bourne’s production of Edward Scissorhands has been getting five-star reviews across the board – and would make a spectacular alternative to more traditional Christmas trips to the ballet.  Metro called it a “mountain of eye candy” – and all the reviewers seem to agree that it’s a brilliant fusion of dance, musical, comedy and pathos all set to Danny Elfman’s score.  Sounds stunning.

Alice in Wonderland, Royal Opera House, 6 Dec – 16 Jan


© Johan Persson/ROH 2011

And while we’re talking ballet, the Royal Ballet is staging Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland this Christmas, and it looks as gorgeously mad and surreal as it properly should be.  It looks full of colour and humour, but takes on the darker side of Carroll’s story as well in glorious detail.  As well as dance, Christopher Wheeldon’s production also makes use of puppetry, projection and masks.

The Way Back Home, Young Vic, 11-23 Dec
 the way back home
I’m a huge fan of Oliver Jeffers’ books – ‘The Incredible Book-Eating Boy’ has long been a real a favourite in our house – and the illustrations are just so unusual and beautiful.  If you’ve got little ones to entertain, this new opera based on Jeffers’ ‘The Way Back Home’ – about a boy who finds himself stuck on the moon – sounds like a lovely choice.  Yes, it’s opera, but it’s aimed at 5 to 8 year olds – although if you haven’t got little ones, it might even be worth borrowing some.  It’s a co-production between the Young Vic, English National Opera, Opéra National de Paris and the Royal Swedish Opera, so there are some serious credentials behind this.  There’s also a free workshop based on the show, which includes storytelling, drawing and making.

Barbican Christmas Market, Barbican Centre, 13-22 Dec


The Barbican Centre is hosting 35 independent designers and artisans at the the Christmas Market in its foyer this month, with a range of vintage and new clothes, arts and crafts, jewellry, books and toys – as well as the requisite mulled wine and mince pies.

London International Horse Show, Olympia, 16-22 Dec

If you fancy a break from all that culture and shopping, the London International Horse Show might make a change.  Seven of the world’s top ten ranked show jumpers will be competing, including the world number one Scott Brash.  There’s also a top-rate driving competition with the current world champion going up against last year’s winner, as well as world-record holders competing in the dressage.  If horses are your thing, it’s not to be missed.

Real Food Christmas Market, Southbank Centre, 19-23 Dec

 real food market

The Real Food Market on the Southbank is holding its 5-day Christmas Market in the courtyard right behind the Festival Hall.  It’s all about sustainably and ethically sourced and produced food, and sounds like there are all kinds of festive treats – charcuterie, cheese, sweets, craft beer – as well as, you’ve guessed it, mulled wine and mince pies.

Carols on the hour, St Albans Abbey, 20 Dec, 11am – 4pm

st albans 

The annual Christmas market in the walled Vintry Gardens by St Albans Abbey has been going on since 27 November, but there’s an extra festive touch on 20 December with carols on the hour, every hour from 11am to 4pm, in the 11th-century cathedral.  It’s a magnificent setting for some properly traditional Christmas favourites.

 Stevie Wonderland Christmas Rollerboogie, Shapes, Hackney Wick, 20 Dec, 5pm-late
 stevie wonderland
Or perhaps something a little less traditional is more up your street?  Get your skates on and get down to Hackney Wick hang-out Shapes for the Stevie Wonderland party night .  Shake your booty on the roller rink – assuming you can stay on your feet – or just hang out on the heated terrace and beat your besties at table football, fill up on festive street food, fling back cocktails, or enjoy yet more mulled wine.

Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, Moscow City Ballet, Watford Colosseum, 21-24 Dec


If you like your ballet, there’s plenty to enjoy in Watford this Christmas with the Moscow City Ballet performing not one but two favourites – Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and The Nutcracker — at the Watford Colosseum. Swan Lake is the signature piece of the company’s repetoire, and their Nutcracker is an original interpretation by their artistic director, Smirnov-Govolanov.

Xmas Princess School, Inn on the Park, Verulamium Park, St Albans, 23 Dec, 10am – 1pm

If there’s a little princess who needs occupying once school’s out, then Xmas Princess School might be just the thing – and it potentially buys you three hours of uninterrupted last-minute shopping time in St Albans.  She’ll be busy dancing, listening to stories, enjoying a make over, doing arts and crafts, decorating cookies and more besides – all with a properly pink princess theme.  It’s £30 per princess, with siblings at just £15, and it’s put on by local themed party company Wish Upon A Party.  Sounds gorgeous and glittery.

A Handmade Christmas, Hertford Museum, 23 Dec 10.30 am – 3.30pm


Picture copyright On Topic Media PTY LTD.

Lots of sparkly and magical – and Christmassy – craft activities are on offer at Hertford Museum if you have small folk who need entertaining and like that sort of thing.  It’s just £1.50 per child – a total steal – and you don’t even have to book.  Just turn up and before long you too will be sticky and covered in glitter.

Ashridge Post-Christmas walk, Ashridge Estate, Berkhamsted,  27 Dec, 10am – 12 noon
 ashridge snow
And when it’s all over, you can walk off all that turkey and pud up at Ashridge, near Berkhamsted.  Get your boots on for the Post-Christmas Trail — a bracing guided walk through the scenic loveliness of the Ashridge Estate — and then top your exertions off with (ooo, let me guess this time!) mulled wine and a mince pie.  You’ll have to book for this one: call 01442 851227.

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