The Festive Sights, Sounds and Lights of London Town


When Oxford Street’s Christmas lights were hastily illuminated in early November, most Londoners were still desperately clinging onto the last rays of a freakishly sweltering Indian summer and peeling the gory remnants of Halloween from their blood-caked tresses.

THEN some chav songstresses called The Saturdays (who?) switched on the giant electrical snowflakes and (poof!) we’d bypassed autumn only to be prematurely thrust head first into festive mayhem.

Yet despite Christmas’s grating habit of returning suspiciously early each year, come December Londoners are well into the seasonal swing of things, revelling in mulled wine merrymaking and drunkenly popping their office party cherries.

As ever, London never fails on the festive front. Fortunately it gets a little more exciting than D-list celebrities ceremoniously switching on Christmas lights to the soundtrack of syrupy pop songs.

Of course, for those at the tame end of the Yuletide spectrum there is, traditionally, ice skating at Somerset House, messiah concerts, pantomimes (always a winner) and quaint little Christmas markets to keep the kids and pensioners entertained. But, if you want to completely smash Santa off his rocker, dig a little deeper for a diverse selection of Christmas and New Year’s Eve events. Or, sit back and soak up some from our own London shortlist – for those more shadily inclined…

Rinse Boxing Day
9pm to 7am, Monday 26 December at Fabric, 77a Charterhouse Street, Farringdon EC1M 3HN
If clubbing on Boxing Day’s your bag then head to fabric for some post-Christmas partying to work off that spare seasonal tyre. There’s an incredible line up of London’s finest dubstep, house, grime and garage DJs rinsing it on the decks, including Boy Better Know, Zinc, P Money, N-Type, Youngsta, Marcus Nasty, Chef D Bridge, Oneman, Brackles Elijah & Skilliam, Alexander Nut, Tubby, Karnage and a whole host more.

The Last Tuesday Society’s New Year’s Eve Eve Masked Ball
10pm to 4am, Friday 30 December at St Matthews Church, Brixton Hill, Brixton SW2 1JF
East London’s dark Dickensian streets provide the perfect scenes for Speakeasy revelry. This shindig, however, will sit south of the river in Brixton’s fittingly macabre St Matthews’ church – but with Hackney’s effortlessly hip Last Tuesday Society at the helm it will easily rival its Shoreditch counterparts.

A warm-up party for the biggest night of the year, revellers are encouraged to ‘avoid the obscene price of drinks and taxis’ on New Year’s Eve and ‘stay in and nurse your hangover from the night before’. There will be live music from Badger Badger and DJs like The Delinquent Dandy, with ten per cent of the bar going to homeless charity CRISIS. Dress code: divine decadence (masks obligatory, clothes optional).

The Last Tuesday Society’s Animal Party
10pm to 4am, Saturday 31 December in a private warehouse at 458 Hackney Road, Hackney E2
If you’re a Last Tuesday Society disciple soldiering on from their New Year’s Eve Masked Ball the night before (see above), or if you’ve sensibly saved yourself for 2011’s big send off, this one’s a New Year’s Eve corker for London’s quirkiest creatures. Rabbits and reindeer will be out in force for the party that invites you to ‘let your tiger out of its cage’ and ‘release the beast that lurks within’. There will be a chocolate fountain, cheeseboards and cakes, with creatures of the jungle gyrating to music by Penny Metal, Captain Squid Eyes and Francois Dirty South. Come dressed as an animal and behave like the beast that you are.

NYE: White Mink Electro-Swing Speakeasy
9pm to 5am, Saturday 31 December at Bedroom Bar, 62 Rivington Street, Shoreditch EC2A 3AY
Sticking with the speakeasy theme, the increasingly popular east London electro-swing scene unites 1920s Jazz with Noughties beats for some super-charged late night fun. Set in the Bedroom Bar’s boudoir in the backstreets of Shoreditch, this venue combines low-key cool with a couple of beds, cabaret and unpretentious party vibes. For New Year’s Eve they’ve pulled out all the stops with live tunage from Molotov Jukebox, Sam and the Womp and Top Shelf Jazz plus the ‘best electro-swing DJs in town’ to see you into 2012 in full swing. Dress code: 1920 and ‘30s.

Feast New Year’s Eve Party
5pm to 5am, Saturday 31 December, 93 Feet East, 150 Brick Lane, Shoreditch E1 6RU
If you fancy a feast out east this New Year’s Eve there’ll be 12 hours of house and techno at this achingly cool Brick Lane bar and club. Guest DJs include Cocoon’s Ilario Alicante with Matt Tolfrey and Russ Yallop, alongside support from Feast regulars Liam Webb, Jamie Ward, Billy Hill and Brad Brown.

Dapper & Diamonds
7pm to 3am, Saturday 31 December, Drink Shop and Do, 9 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross N1 9DX
The creators behind the Kings Cross Drink, Shop & Do workspace and gallery invite New Year’s Evers to north London for an ‘evening of cocktails and glam’. Set in an old Victorian bathhouse cum design bar, classic brews will be expertly blended for this semi-civilised affair that will glamorously combine retro beats, arts, crafts, cakes and cocktails. A quirky alternative to the conventional New Year’s Eve experience. Tickets include a free glass of punch.

Norman Jay’s Good Times New Year’s Eve party
9pm to 5am, Saturday 31 December at Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, Battersea SW11 5TN
Norman Jay, The Nextmen and Tom Middleton unite for host Jay’s legendary New Year’s Eve party at Battersea Arts Centre. The Notting Hill Carnival veteran and his Good Times sound system returns by popular demand to bring his familiar soul, funk and house grooves to three rooms at the stunning Victorian venue on the biggest night of the party calendar. Loud Minority and Gaz’s Rockin Blues will also be in attendance with special guests yet to be announced.

First published on I Voice, Ibiza, December 2011.
© Abbey Stirling