Despite December’s arrival and the very real prospect of drowning in eggnog, Champagne, dry turkey and seasonally overpriced tat, not everything at the moment has to revolve around Christmas (although there's plenty of fun to be had). Why focus on one day at the end of the year when there’s so much joy to be found elsewhere beforehand?
There are restaurants, wine bars, pop-ups and the best culture going to explore, away from the shopping. Still, it's hard to escape it at the moment so there's still a little festive fun to be had. But whether you're after a weekend watching the twinkling lights or ignoring it altogether, here's what to get up to.
The hot table: Sune
Opening this weekend is Sune, from hospitality power couple Honey Spencer and Charlie Sims. The full menu has been confirmed and looks a treat, with ricotta gnudi, octopus and ‘nduja alongside eggs, chips and anchovies added to the line-up. With Sims running the room, Spencer pouring the glasses and chef Micheal Robbins on the hobs, Sune will undoubtedly be a hit. Book now, before it’s all booked up.
From November 29, 129A Pritchard's Road, E2 9AP, sune.restaurant
The old favourite: Tendril
The food at Tendril is almost entirely plant-based — with the exception of the Brie, because vegan cheese doesn't quite cut it. It’s richly flavoured, sumptuous stuff with dishes like the crispy potato with remoulade and the spiced chipotle mushroom a pair of must-orders. For anyone braving the busy shopping crowds this weekend, Tendril should provide much-needed sanctuary.
5 Princes Street, W1B 2LQ, tendrilkitchen.co.uk
The drinking den: The Devonshire
The Devonshire has quickly become London’s favourite pub. With Oisin Rogers and Charlie Carroll at the helm, this seemed somewhat inevitable and thanks to Ashley Palmer-Watts (of Fat Duck and Dinner by Heston), the upstairs restaurant is booked out too. But go for the boozer, hunker down in a leather-bound corner and get cosy. The Guinness is some of London’s finest. Sláinte.
17 Denman Street, W1D 7HW, devonshiresoho.co.uk
The art fix: Nick Cave at Holtermann Fine Art
On display at the Holtermann is the first solo London exhibition by artist Nick Cave (no, not that one). Here, the American artist showcases a small selection of new sculptures including the powerful Chain Reaction, a four-metre-tall work of interlinked forearms, evoking the solidarity, anguish and struggle experienced by black Americans in the wake of the George Floyd killing.
Until December 20, 30 Cork Street, W1S 3NG, holtermannfineart.com
The gig: Sleaford Mods
Post-punk revivalists Sleaford Mods come to Ally Pally this weekend with their distinctive sound. With lyrics that often revolve around austerity and the state of British politics, they are almost an anti-music group, despire a familiar (see West End Girls) yet abrasive (see UK GRIM) identity. A Hot Chip DJ set and stand-up from comedian Stewart Lee open this weekend’s show.
December 2, Alexandra Palace, N22 7AY, alexandrapalaceevents.seetickets.com
The other gig: Unsigned Showcase
There's a last chance to grab tickets for this show, which promises a line up of up-and-comers — which means it could just be a chance to see a star before they hit the big time. The Amex Gold Unsigned Showcase is a night of six unsigned artists — Kianja, Harleighblu, Riya Gadher, Simon A, Abz Winter and BABY — who'll each perform at the Dome, the Tufnell Park spot that helped break Blur, The White Stripes, and Florence and The Machine. Also performing will be Mike Skinner of the Streets, who'll DJ. Tickets are £10.
November 30, The Dome, NW5 1HL, seetickets.com
The ticket to book now (for later): Ben Lippett wine and snacks
Ben Lippett has been gracing our feeds for years and lately has been putting together some of London’s most in-demand supper clubs. On December 8 and 9, Lippett returns to Mother Superior in Nunhead for two nights of delicious dining with the latest of his Wine Snacks dinners. Expect dishes like pork and smoked eel terrine and jerusalem artichokes with bitter leaves and lemon. This one will likely sell out, so nab a ticket while you still can.
December 8 & 9, 26 Nunhead Green, SE15 3QF, mothersuperior.co.uk
The festive ticket to book now (for later): Guy Barker’s Big Band Christmas
The eighth annual edition of Guy Barker’s Big Band Christmas returns to the Royal Albert Hall this December with special guests Clare Teal, Vanessa Haynes, Joe Stilgoe and Giacomo Smith all featuring. Expect big band jazz standards alongside festive favourites designed to get even the Grinchiest Scrooge in the festive spirit.
December 20, Royal Albert Hall, South Kensington, SW7 2AP, royalalberthall.com
The festive socialising: Jack & Boule, South Bank
Gathering the group and fighting off the cold seems a sensible way to spend some time this weekend and boules is as good a reason as any to do just that. Winter warming cocktails and street food from the likes of Jimmy’s Burger and Rico Burrito make this one a must. Plus they’re giving away free boules sessions for the first 100 people to book. Allez!
Use code FREECOURT to nab a complimentary session, until January, 101 Upper Ground, SE1 9PP, jackandboule.com