Festive Family Shows to see this Christmas

Nutcracker

The Nutcracker, English National Ballet,  The Coliseum

15 December – 8 January (family performance 7 January 2.30pm)

The Nutcracker is, for me, the ultimate Christmas show. I used to perform in the English National Ballet’s production at The Coliseum every winter, with a very small but special role singing in the snowflake chorus. So when I can I try to see the show, and this year I’m excited to be seeing it for the first time with my older son. Theatre designed for kids is great, but there is something extra special about seeing children enthralled by classic culture that they can continue to enjoy for years to come, and I hope an annual trip to see The Nutcracker will become a festive staple for my family. With the familiar twinkling music by Tchaikovsky, choreography by Wayne Eagling and design by Peter Farmer it is a stellar production that should not be missed. Children 5+ can see any show but book for 7 January for younger kids.

The Snowman, Peacock Theatre

19 November – 31 December (all ages)

A magical show that is just as captivating for the adults as the children. The Peacock Theatre is once again hosting this classic much-loved picture book by Raymond Briggs, with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre bringing it to life on stage. The audience will be transported to a joyful winter wonderland where a young boy meets a snowman who comes to life. Children of all ages will love the spectacle of this show which features a live orchestra, spectacular design by Ruari Murchison, magical lighting by Tim Mitchell, and amazing choreography by Robert North.

Jack

Jack and the Beanstalk, The Lyric Theatre

19 November – 7 January (ages 6+)

The Lyric Theatre are bringing this familiar tale of Jack and his magical beanstalk to life with a colourful and exciting pantomime just in time for the festive season. Expect to see outrageous outfits, great music and audience participation in this brilliant festive show. Written by Jude Christian & Sonia Jalaly and directed by Nicholai La Barrie.

Elf the musical

Elf the Musical, Dominion Theatre

14 November – 7 January (ages 5+)

This staple Christmas film is on stage for a limited run of only 8 weeks at the Dominion Theatre in central London. I recommend having a festive day out in London seeing all the decorations before settling down for the ultimate Christmas show, Elf. The brilliant tale of Buddy, the unlikely elf, as he makes the journey from his home in the North Pole to New York in search of his real father, causing lots of mischief and mayhem while also spreading some much needed Christmas cheer to Manhattan.

Crackers: a Festive Family Farce, Polka Theatre

19 November – 15 January (all ages)

The recently refurbished Polka Theatre is one of best places in London to see family-focussed theatre. They have a whole programme of holiday shows, but Crackers is perhaps the most Christmassy. Written by award-winning playwright Charles Way, this story documents the trials and tribulations of the Crackers family as they get ready for Christmas Day, with a lot of fun and silliness along the way.

Stickman

Stickman, Leicester Square Theatre

22 October – 2 January (all ages)

A charming adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Stickman story. Following the adventures of Stickman as he meets animals, gets set on fire and then tries to find his way back to the family tree. This award-winning production is from the team behind Zog, Zog and the Flying Doctors,  Tiddler and other Terrific Tales, and Tabby McTat. The show features a trio of top actors and is packed full of puppetry, songs, live music and funky moves.

Goutea by Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley

When it comes to patisserie it doesn’t get more special and spectacular than Cédric Grolet. When he opened his first patisserie outside France in February 2022, I was first in line to try his creations. Positioned inside the luxurious Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge, it is a fitting location for this legendary pastry chef.

After stunning customers with his breakfast pastries, counter tasting menu and magical fruit masterpieces, this month he has launched his much-anticipated ‘Goutea’ – a fusion of the tradition of French snacking and a more traditional British afternoon tea.

Goutea by Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley

We were seated at a beautiful corner table in the Remi Tessier designed Berkeley Cafe. The friendly staff soon appeared with appetising glasses of iced vanilla tea and poured us glasses of champagne.

The tea is available seven days a week, served at noon, 2pm and 4pm. It is priced at £85 per person, which is very reasonable when you consider the array of treats you are presented with.

Goutea by Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley

The goutea menu will evolve with the changing seasons, but I’m sure certain elements will remain the same. There are some recognisable afternoon tea staples, for example – a perfectly delicate scone sandwich filled with jam and clotted cream. The savoury features are rather more unusual – an intricate avocado tart (topped with with an egg) and a trompe – l’œil burrata topped with balsamic dressing which reveals a vibrant tomato gel and basil pesto when cut open. A mini comté and bacon quiche is delivered to the table to enjoy warm. I really appreciated that each guest is given their own stand of patisserie, there is no sharing here… thank god, because you’ll want it all to yourself.

Goutea by Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley

When it comes to the sweet part of the tea there is a real variety on offer, nothing is too sweet or heavy. The Autumn menu includes a classic Paris Brest, a pistachio cookie, Grolet’s iconic vanilla flower and a signature green apple, filled with fresh apple and dill. It’s difficult to choose a favourite, but the apple was perhaps the most beautiful, both in appearance and taste. I was beginning to lament the tea coming to a close…  but then a waiter appeared with a tray of freshly baked madeleines, I was full but it is difficult to resist the smell of just-out-the-oven Cédric Grolet madeleines.

Just as I thought I couldn’t be surprised and excited by another afternoon tea Cédric Grolet has come up with an experience that truly wows. Trust the French to add a little magic to the tired British tradition of eating tea and cake. Bravo chef.

For more information and to book Goutea by Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley click here.

I was invited to this tea as a guest of The Berkeley.

Aman Spa at The Connaught

The Aman spas are found in some of the world’s most prestigious and beautiful hotels, so it didn’t surprise me when I discovered The Connaught was home to the UK’s flagship Aman spa. This hotel already has my heart, thanks to the exemplary restaurants, award-winning bar and second-to-none service, so I was delighted to be visiting this time in a wellness and relaxation capacity.

Aman spa

Despite being located in the very heart of Mayfair, the Aman spa feels completely removed from busy London life. It’s found on the lower ground floor, tucked away from the hotel hubbub, and every part is truly dedicated to total tranquility. Unlike some spas The Aman spa at The Connaught will not overload your senses, the music and scents are kept to a subtle minimum – which allowed me to switch off very quickly surrendering myself to the calming environment.

Aman spa

If you can arrive with plenty of time to unwind and use the stunning pool. After changing into an enveloping bathrobe I sat here for a little while sipping a nourishing ginger and honey tea and awaiting my therapist.

Aman spa

The treatments are split into three categories… Grounding, Purifying and Nourishing. There are four treatments available within each: Massage, Body Polish, Face Ritual and the Journey – which encompasses all three treatments. There are also specialist options for Pregnancy and Reiki – a gentle and specialist method of healing.

Aman spa

Each treatment begins with a foot ritual, a soothing soak and massage which gently begins your Aman experience. My treatment was nourishing and pampering – a revitalising back scrub exfoliated and refreshing my skin before a massage tailored to address my exact needs. I drifted in and out of sleep as the experienced therapist applied more pressure to the areas of tension, melting away my uncomfortable knots, combined with more gentle strokes to the less aggravated ligaments. The treatment finished with a short facial boost, smoothing the skin and adding essential moisture to my tired face! After 90 minutes in the treatment room I felt completely at ease. The final minutes were spent having the most blissful head massage. I didn’t want it to end…

Aman spa

The spa changing rooms are small but fully equipped with everything you need to get washed and ready for the rest of the day. I loved the fig & vanilla body wash and shampoo that left me feeling and smelling nice for my afternoon of meetings. Don’t forget to spritz some Aman purifying ocean mist on your face before leaving the comforting Aman cocoon!

Aman spa

The Aman Spa at The Connaught is the first Aman Spa to be built outside the renowned Aman resorts, a true one of a kind. Those looking for a short escape from the stresses of everyday London life will be so thankful to have discovered such a wonderful oasis, you will leave feeling transformed and truly relaxed.

I was a guest of the Aman Spa at The Connaught. More information and book a treatment here.