First up and unmissable to those passing by is the Winter Market. Here, stalls standing shoulder-to-shoulder along the South Bank providing a warming glow to passing visitors. Wander between the cosy Alpine lodges and take your pick of handmade gifts and warming street food from around the world served up until 10pm. Beneath the twinkling lights and with a venison hot dog in hand, the winter chill will soon melt away.
Those in search of wide-eyed dazzlement should head inside the big top tent, where Circus 1903 is transporting visitors back to the golden age of circus. Joining the troupe of acrobats, contortionists, jugglers and brazen trapeze artists are life-sized elephants. Don't worry, they're not real, but breathtaking puppets created by the team behind the National Theatre’s War Horse.
Squidsoup's installation at Southbank Centre
There’s also a free-to-see exhibition in the Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer, courtesy of immersive installation specialists Squidsoup, which sees 200 glowing orbs suspended from the ceiling. The swirling, sweeping swarm of light and sound belongs to a series of works that includes Kew Gardens’ Bloom, Salisbury Cathedral’s Wave, and Desert Wave from Burning Man.
Meanwhile, inside the Southbank Centre itself, a vibrant and critically acclaimed re-telling of Black Beauty (14 December – 5 January) is a highlight of the venue’s winter season. Blending storytelling, music and puppetry, the production by Red Bridge Arts and Traverse Theatre Company offers something for fans of Anna Sewell’s book, lovers of the classic TV show it spawned, and those new to the tale. Saddle up and prepare to gallop through the heartwarming adventures of one very brave horse.
Thankfully, the fun does not stop once Christmas is over. Southbank Centre is welcoming in 2020 in style with its New Year's Eve Spectacular party. Pick your decade – from the Roaring Twenties to present day – and dress to impress. You’ll spend the night dance to live acts and DJs in one of six themed pop-up nightclubs before heading outside to watch the fireworks explode across the sky.
|What||Winter Festival at the Southbank Centre|
|Where||Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
08 Nov 19 – 05 Jan 20, Times vary
|Price||£Free (some events ticketed)|
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|