50 first dates: The best ways to find love in London this Christmas

Katie Strick
Easy glider: the Standard's Katie Strick tries curling at Queens ice rink in Bayswater: Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures

Those summer flings were fun but winter is the time to seek a mate. That guy you met at Glastonbury stopped texting months ago, and the waiter you met in Hydra is no longer begging you to come back and visit.

Suddenly the prospect of having someone to Netflix and chill with seems more appealing. Being single for the office Christmas party would be dangerous after last year, and you have to keep warm somehow. No wonder they call it “cuffing” season.

The festive period brings just the romance you need: London is glittering with lights, the city is studded with ice rinks, and mistletoe is hanging auspiciously in doorways. It’s time to re-download Tinder and hit up that guy who’s been messaging you for months. Get your skates on: here are the 50 finest first dates.

1. Bowl each other over with a game of curling under a giant disco ball at Queens ice rink.

From £12.50, 17 Queensway, W2, queens.london/sliders

2. Hole up with a Leicester Square hot toddy at the Hampshire Lounge Bar’s rustic winter lodge.

£6, 21 Irving Street, WC2, atthehampshireloungebar.co.uk

3. Roll around in a giant ball pit at Chroma’s immersive light and play installation in Waterloo tunnels.

Free, Nov 29-Dec 17, Tunnel One gallery, SE1, houseofvanslondon.com

Ever popular: Pop Brixton

4. See into each other’s soul at Pop Brixton’s Not Quite Jazz two-day festival.

Free, tonight and tomorrow, 49 Brixton Station Road, SW9, popbrixton.org

5. Channel your inner distiller and craft your own tipple at Fever Tree’s Gin School.

£45, until Dec 20, Merchant House, EC4, designmynight.com

6. Harness up and take in the 360-degree view Up at the 02. For maximum romantic vibes, try the sunset or twilight climb.

From £36, The O2, SE10, theo2.co.uk

7. Feast on hearty Highland haggis pops in one of Mac & Wild’s heated winter hunting lodges, each with its own serving lad or lassie.

£5.50, 9A Devonshire Square, EC2, macandwild.com

8. Show off your ball skills with a round of urban golf and cocktails at Swingers. Just don’t get the name confused with something else.

From £10, 8 Brown’s Buildings, EC3, swingersldn.com

9. Work out together with a session at Paola’s Bodybarre with Boxerina, a mixture of barre and boxing.

£28, across London, paolasbodybarre.com

10. Be a true lady or gentleman and don your finest 1940s attire at Cahoots underground bar.

Free, 13 Kingly Court, W1, cahoots-london.com

Next-generation ping-pong: Bounce

11. Play next-generation ping-pong on the new Wonderball video gaming tables at Bounce.

From £13, 121 Holborn, EC1, bouncepingpong.com

12. Get messy in the kitchen at the Landmark London’s cake- decorating masterclass. Champagne and canapés are included and competition is encouraged.

£130, Nov 29, 222 Marylebone Road, NW1, landmarklondon.co.uk

13. Break the ice with Connect 4 speed dating at Eis Haus frozen bar.

£5, Dec 7, London Bridge City’s Christmas by the River, SE1, smudgedlipstick.co.uk

14. Henry VIII was so good at dates he had six wives — channel the Tudor king at the London Shuffle Club on Brick Lane.

From £40, The Truman Brewery, E1, londonshuffle.com

15. Feast on Scandi pizzas made with seawater at the London branch of Copenhagen favourite Mother at Battersea Power Station.

From £7.50, 2 Arches Lane, SW11, motherrestaurant.co.uk

Bowl to glory: All Star Lanes

16. All Star Lanes is serving up Christmas dinner burgers, salt beef and pickle fritters and an eggnog crème brûlée alongside your skittling until Christmas.

From £36, across London, allstarlanes.co.uk

17. Swipe right for your perfect cocktail just as you swiped for each other using Be At One’s new app, Drinkr — but will you both opt for the same one?

£5, across London, beatone.co.uk

16. Laugh your way to love at one of the legendary Comedy Store’s live stand-up nights. You’d be wise not sit in the front row unless you’re prepared to be picked on.

From £9, 1a Oxendon Street, SW1, thecomedystore.co.uk

19. If gazing into each other’s eyes for three courses seems intense, break it up with a romantic stroll past London’s landmarks on the Walking Dinner, where you visit a different restaurant for each of your three courses, with a curated route between them.

£59, 12 Waterloo Place, SW1, walkingdinner.com

20. Melt each other’s hearts with a cheddar fondue at the Cheese & Charcuterie Festival.

£6, Nov 22, Guildhall Yard, EC2, finefoodmarkets.co.uk

21. Get Dutch courage with a seasonal sloe gin at Sipsmith’s Winter Warming Terrace.

£8.50, Charlotte’s W5, charlottes.co.uk

22. Get your skates on at Skylight’s neon-lit rooftop ice rink, complete with street food, DJs, outdoor heaters and ice hockey shooting.

From £10, Pennington Street, E1, skylightlondon.com

23. Sit back and watch a festive film with popcorn and mulled wine in the Tipi cinema at Exchange Square’s Winter Forest. There’s a good range of films, from Elf to Beauty and the Beast.

£15, Exchange Square, EC2, thewinterforest.broadgate.co.uk

24. Revisit childhood and race real-life, human-sized Mario Karts around a track in a Harringay warehouse. Costumes are provided.

£10, Dec 2 and 3, ExFed Warehouse, N4, designmynight.com

Get messy: Dip & Flip

25. Get messy with burgers soaked in gravy at Dip & Flip. There’s a gravy fountain so your love can flow...

From £6.20, across London, dipandflip.co.uk

26. Rosewood London’s courtyard has been transformed into an enchanting winter lodge with Monkey 47 gin inspired by Germany’s Black Forest.

Free, holborndiningroom.com/monkey47winterlodge

27. Watch high-kicking showgirls, jaw-dropping acrobats, comic street singers and musicians at the Black Cat Cabaret in Leicester Square.

From £24, Christmas in Leicester Square, WC2, theblackcat.info

28. Dip into an alpine fondue at Jimmy Garcia’s festive Thames-side pop-up The Lodge on the River.

From £40, Southbank Centre, SE1, jimmyslodge.com

29. If you prefer double dates or even dates with 17 other people, Binaural Dinner Date is hosting an experiential, immersive dating experience for nine pairs at a time at Theatre Royal Stratford East.

£10, Nov 16-Dec 3, Gerry’s Kitchen, E15, stratfordeast.com

30. Be serenaded by the carol singers around the marshmallow fire pit at Battersea Park’s enchanting Christmas market.

Free, Pear Tree Café, SW11, peartreecafe.co.uk

31. Compare tastes at Twinings’ flagship tea store on the Strand.

£30, 216 Strand, WC2, twinings.co.uk

32. Enjoy a film and fizz with a screening of The Snowman at the Curzon, followed by a three-course dinner at Indigo.

From £55, tonight and tomorrow, 1 Aldwych, WC2, filmandfizz.designmynight.com

33. Sip on a Scandi take on mulled wine next to a log fire at Thor’s Festive Viking Tipi Bar.

£4.30, Regent’s Place Plaza, NW1, thorstipi.com

Warm up: drink a butterbeer at the Warner Bros Studio Tour

34. Drink butterbeer and dress up for the Yule ball in Hogwart’s great hall at Warner Bros Studio Tour.

From £37, Nov 18-Jan 28, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, near Watford, wbstudiotour.co.uk

35. Book a spot in the Club Room at Cambridge Street Kitchen for live music from three acoustic artists, nibbles and drinks.

Free, Dec 3, 52 Cambridge Street, SW1, cambridgestreet.co.uk

36. Warm your cockles with a hot G&T at the Sipsmith Frost Fair at The Green Room Garden Bar.

£8, National Theatre, SE1, nationaltheatre.org.uk

37. Let your date spiral out of control with live music and cheesy song requests at Piano Works.

From £10, 113-117 Farringdon Road, EC1, pianoworks.bar

38. Devour some aphrodisiacs from the oyster cart at Chiltern Firehouse.

From £4, 1 Chiltern Street, W1, chilternfirehouse.com

39. If you are worried about making conversation, watch a 3D animated show on your tablecloth at Le Petit Chef’s pop-up dining experience.

£95, TT Liquor, E2, dinnertimestory.com

London icon: the Natural History Museum

40. Explore stinging scorpions and biting black mambas after hours at the Natural History Museum’s Lates.

Free, Nov 24 and 26, Cromwell Road, SW7, nhm.ac.uk

41. At Flight Club’s Brunch Social you’ll get two hours of darts, prosecco and endless pizza — for as long as you want the date to last.

From £30, Dec 16 and 17, 2A Worship Street, EC2, flight-club.designmynight.com

42. Plan ahead and book a free slot at Sky Garden to enjoy 360-degree views over the city from 37 floors up.

Free, 20 Fenchurch Street, EC3, skygarden.london

43. For liquid libido, little basement bar Behind This Wall serves up an oyster in a cocktail.

£10, 411 Mare Street, E8, behindthiswall.com

44. Answer all your most burning questions about wine before date number two at a free workshop by A Grape Night In.

Free, Dec 18, Christmas by the River, SE1, eventbrite.co.uk

45. Dare to try the edible scorpion on top of the Fear the Jungle cocktail at Gong bar in the Shard.

£18, Shangri-La Hotel, SE1, gong-shangri-la.com

46. Dine after hours at 3am, 40 floors up at Duck & Waffle.

Room with a view: Duck and Waffle

From £3.50, Heron Tower, EC2, duckandwaffle.com

47. Get your hearts racing with a SKAlectrics race at The Four Thieves.

Free, 51 Lavender Gardens, SW11, fourthieves.pub

48. Lift your spirits at BYOC (Bring Your Own Cocktail) where the bartenders will concoct personalised drinks for you.

£25, across London, byoc.co.uk

49. Shake up your own cocktails inspired by a landmark or famous Clapham character at Minnow.

£15, Nov 21 and 28, 21 The Pavement, SW4

50. Make a splash on a high-speed Thames Rib Experience along the Thames.

From £26.50, across London, thamesribexperience.com

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