CHRIST­MAS EV­ERY DAY

If, like rock band Wiz­zard, you ‘wish it could be Christ­mas ev­ery day’, then you’re in luck! Sam Rogg ex­plains how you can cel­e­brate a Bri­tish Christ­mas on any day in De­cem­ber…

Where London - - Contents -

A guide on how to cel­e­brate Christ­mas the Bri­tish way! From the Queen’s speech to board games, we re­veal how you can en­joy tra­di­tions on any given day this month.

De­pend­ing on how old (and hun­gover) you are, a typ­i­cal Bri­tish Christ­mas be­gins bright and early with a glass of Cham­pagne. In fact, they say that the av­er­age Bri­tish fam­ily has their first al­co­holic drink at 9.05am. Rise and shine!

Sit­u­ated in the grand sur­round­ings of St Pan­cras In­ter­na­tional sta­tion, Searcys Cham­pagne Bar opens from 7am (Mon-Sat) and 8am (Sun), should you fancy some fizz with your sun­rise. Hailed as Europe’s long­est Cham­pagne bar, this mod­ern drink­ing spot boasts stylish ban­quettes fit­ted with ‘press for Cham­pagne’ but­tons. Seats are heated, but if you’re still chilly, you can snug­gle up un­der a blan­ket while you sip your glass of bub­bly. For mil­lions of peo­ple across the coun­try, Christ­mas Day kicks off with a church ser­vice, not sur­pris­ingly given that the hol­i­day is also Je­sus Christ’s birth­day. Ev­ery morn­ing, the spec­tac­u­lar St Paul’s Cathe­dral opens its doors for morn­ing prayer (usu­ally from 7.30am). Ser­vices here are of­ten sung by the Cathe­dral Choir or vis­it­ing choirs from around the world. Even sec­u­lar vis­i­tors will en­joy mar­vel­ling at this 1,400-year-old site, which has been built and re­built five times over the cen­turies. Look out for many Christ­mas con­certs that take place this month, in­clud­ing the ever-pop­u­lar Cer­e­mony of Car­ols by Ben­jamin Brit­ten at the iconic Royal Al­bert Hall.

Some­how a bowl of ce­real just doesn’t cut it for break­fast on Christ­mas Day. Brits like to in­dulge in some­thing special, whether that’s lob­ster or a ‘full English’ with all the trim­mings.

Big enough to sat­isfy Santa him­self, Hawksmoor Guild­hall’s mam­moth ‘break­fast for two’ is a full-on feast of smoked ba­con chop, beef and mut­ton sausages, short-rib bub­ble and squeak, grilled bone mar­row, trot­ter baked beans (beans with pulled pork), eggs, mush­rooms, to­ma­toes, un­lim­ited toast and HP gravy. Too meaty? The lob­ster Bene­dict at this City favourite will leave you feel­ing just as special.

AF­TER­NOON

What would Christ­mas be with­out gifts? A lot less ex­pen­sive per­haps, but where’s the fun in that? In Bri­tain, if you’ve been good, you might get that DVD box set that you’ve been drop­ping hints about for months. Even bad girls and boys can ex­pect a pair of ques­tion­able nov­elty socks lurk­ing un­der the Christ­mas tree.

It’s a busy time of year for Santa and his many elves, but some­how he man­ages to make an ap­pear­ance at grot­tos up and down the city. Grot­tos = gifts! Catch old St Nick in­side Christ­mas in Le­ices­ter Square, Kew Gar­dens, Lon­don Zoo and the Rain­for­est Cafe, to name a few. Kids can have their photo taken with the main man be­fore re­ceiv­ing a sur­prise present.

At 3pm on Christ­mas Day, fam­i­lies gather around TV sets to watch the Queen de­liver her an­nual Christ­mas mes­sage – a tra­di­tion started in 1932 with a speech writ­ten by Rud­yard Ki­pling for King Ge­orge V. It might not be the most ex­cit­ing thing on TV that day, but Her Majesty is not one to be in­ter­viewed, so Bri­tish peo­ple rel­ish this an­nual glimpse into her char­ac­ter.

Get your royal fix out­side Buck­ing­ham Palace where the Chang­ing the Guard cer­e­mony takes place on odd dates this month (ie. 1, 3, 5 Dec, sub­ject to change). Ru­mour has it that the royal fam­ily likes to gather on Christ­mas Eve in San­dring­ham, Nor­folk, for af­ter­noon tea – ap­par­ently the roy­als love gag gifts. En­joy an af­ter­noon tea fit for a queen at The Ritz ho­tel and pick up some ma­jes­tic stock­ing-fillers at nearby Royal War­rant Holder Fort­num & Ma­son.

We may aim for Christ­mas lunch, but with must-have com­po­nents such as stuffed roast tur­key, Brus­sels sprouts, roast pota­toes, spiced red cab­bage, hon­ey­mus­tard parsnips, bread sauce and Christ­mas pud­ding – all made from scratch – it inevitably be­comes Christ­mas din­ner! And don’t for­get the crack­ers.

Let HIX May­fair do all the hard work while you sit back and en­joy an el­e­gant twist on fes­tive favourites. High­lights in­clude tur­key and stuff­ing cro­quettes with cran­berry sauce, roast breast of Ri­p­ley Es­tate pheas­ant with ch­est­nut dumpling and Christ­mas pud­ding with rum sauce (avail­able through­out Dec). Wash it down with a glass of eggnog or mulled cider, sur­rounded by orig­i­nal art­works from the likes of Rankin and Tracey Emin.

EVENING

Noth­ing brings friends and fam­i­lies to­gether (then rips them apart) like board games on Christ­mas Day. Wise Brits will arm them­selves with mince pies and mulled wine to sur­vive the spousal spats and sib­ling ri­valry that goes on.

Cluedo, Chess, Monopoly, Frus­tra­tion, Triv­ial Pur­suit, Scrabble – all the clas­sics await you at the ex­hi­bi­tion Game Plan: Board Games Re dis­cov­ered at the V&A Mu­seum of Child­hood. Get stuck in with hands-on in­ter­ac­tives while dis­cov­er­ing his­tor­i­cal board games such as The Game of the Goose, which some say dates back to 16th-cen­tury Lon­don.

By night­fall, most of us have eaten and drunk so much that there’s very lit­tle we can do ex­cept col­lapse on to a chair (or pil­low-shaped loved one) and set­tle in for a night of fes­tive film watch­ing.

Put down the re­mote con­trol and head to One Ald­wych for Film & Fizz with Cur­zon. Run­ning most Fri­days, Satur­days and Sun­days this month, these evenings give you the chance to watch a Christ­mas clas­sic in the Covent Gar­den ho­tel’s pri­vate 30-seat screen­ing room with a glass of Cham­pagne fol­lowed by a three­course meal at In­digo res­tau­rant. Choose from fam­ily favourites that in­clude Mir­a­cle on 34th Street (4-6 Dec), White Christ­mas (11-13 Dec) and It’ s a Won­der­ful Life (17-22 Dec).

Top to bot­tom: St Paul’s Cathe­dral; Cham­pagne

Clock­wise from top left: lunch at HIX May­fair; Santa’s grotto at Lon­don Zoo; Kew Gar­dens; snakes and lad­ders game at the V&A Mu­seum of Child­hood; Film & Fizz at One Ald­wych

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