THE LONDON ARTISAN: Christmas shopping made easy. This two-day curated marketplace brings together over 60 of the capital’s finest designer-makers, all under one roof. Expect a unique selection of jewellery, ceramics, clothing, homewares, cards and gifts suitable for all the family. A must for those passionate about handcrafted and sustainable goods. The Old Truman Brewery, free entry, just turn up, 15-16 December, 11am-6pm (sponsor)
ICE SKATING: London’s ice rinks are in their peak right now, and are a great place to go for a festive atmosphere. Booking is recommended though, as they’ll be busy this close to Christmas. Once you’ve had a go, retreat to the nearest cafe-bar for a mulled wine or hot chocolate and a mince pie.
LIGHT FESTIVALS: London’s so lit right now; pick from light and lantern festivals at London Zoo, Kew Gardens, Chiswick House, Eltham Palace and Southwark Park. Booking required for all — and you’ll definitely want to take a camera.
CHRISTMAS MARKETS: Feeling the pressure to get your Christmas shopping done? Fear not, these Christmas markets and fairs will help you find a unique gift for almost anyone — and perhaps a little something for yourself too.
SANTA’S GROTTOS: If the kids are chatting incessantly about a certain man’s impending visit, take them to one of the many Santa’s Grottos all over town, and see their faces light up when they meet him.
CHRISTMAS IN LONDON: If all that’s not enough festivity for you, take a look at our guide to spending Christmas in London, for other ways to get into the yule spirit.
PIRATE TREASURE HUNT: Go hunting for treasure on a real ship. Look our for a skull and crossbones as you explore the different decks of the Golden Hinde — there’s a prize for pirates who find them all. The Golden Hinde (Bankside), included in admission (£5), just turn up, 15-16 December
CIRCUS FESTIVAL: Learn the arts of trapeze, acrobalance or juggling through workshops at the inaugural Greenwich Circus Festival, or if you’d rather stay on solid ground, head for one of the shows and watch the experts at work. Aircraft Circus Academy (Woolwich), £14-£19.50, book ahead, 15-16 December
WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY: See a festive special of TV comedy improv show Whose Line Is It Anyway? performed live on stage. Colin Mochrie, Josie Lawrence, Charles Esten, Mike McShane, Brad Sherwood, and Jeff Davis take instructions from brave members of the audience. Royal Albert Hall, £30-£65, book ahead, 15-16 December
Things to do on Saturday 15 December
GRUFFALO TRAIL: Oh look! Oh no! It’s a Gruffalo! Parents, if this is a familiar refrain in your house, don’t miss the last day of the Gruffalo Trail. His footprints have appeared all through Stratford — follow them to find secret clues hidden in five businesses around the area, then claim your free Gruffalo sticker. Stratford Town Centre, free, just turn up, 10am-4pm
CARIBBEAN CHRISTMAS: Find out how Christmas is celebrated in the Caribbean at this family-friendly day of traditional music, stories and performances, followed by a party in the Ballroom. Southbank Centre, free, just turn up, 12pm
CLASSIC CARS: The monthly gathering of classic cars and motorbikes returns to Waterloo, parking up in the market so you can have a gander and take a few photos of vehicles from bygone years. Lower Marsh (Waterloo), free, just turn up, 12pm-4pm
WILD WINTER FAYRE: Celebrate Christmas with the animals at Spitalfields City Farm’s winter fayre. Activities include tours of the farm, Christmas crafts, gift and food stalls, Santa’s grotto, and carols sung by the East London Evensong Choir. Spitalfields City Farm, free entry (donations welcome), just turn up, 12pm-2pm
CHILLY SWIM: Brave the chilly outdoor waters of Brockwell Lido for a sponsored swim in aid of homelessness charity Crisis. Sign up individually to swim a width (or just jump in and straight back out), or grab some friends and take part in a team relay. Fancy dress encouraged. Brockwell Lido, £28.18, book ahead, 12.30pm-2pm
BABUSHKA LEGEND: Introduce the kids to the festive story of Babushka, a Russian folk tale about an old woman who makes the journey to see baby Jesus, giving gifts to people she meets along the way. Storytelling is followed by a craft session. Museum of London, free, just turn up, 1pm/2pm/3pm
12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: This guided walk traces the legends and stories of the 12 Days of Christmas carol, and reveals some other little-known links between the City of London and Christmas traditions. St Paul’s, £12/£9, book ahead, 1pm-3pm
DINOSAURS: This family-friendly show brings various dinosaur species to the streets of Hounslow — dodge out of their way to avoid being squashed. Bell Square (Hounslow), free, just turn up, 1pm-4pm
POLICE CHOIR: The Metropolitan Police Choir performs Christmas carols and other well-known festive songs at its Christmas concert. The choir consists of serving and retired police officers and staff. St Sepulchre’s (Holborn), £8/£4, book ahead, 1.30pm/6pm
COMEDY NIGHT: Established comedians and newer acts perform at Knock2bag comedy night. Buckinghamshire-born comedian Paul Foot, Norwegian Daniel Simonsen and Scotland’s Fern Brady are all on the bill. Rich Mix (Shoreditch), £10, book ahead, 7pm
CHRISTMAS CAROLS: Composer John Rutter joins BBC Singers Principal Guest Conductor Bob Chilcott in a traditional concert of Christmas carols with the BBC Singers and BBC Concert Orchestra. Barbican, £12-£25, book ahead, 7.30pm
GLITTERY WINTER: Expect plenty of sequins as cabaret trio Glittery Clittery perform their fierce, feminist and funny show of song and dance in the Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer. Southbank Centre, free, just turn up, 9.30pm
Things to do on Sunday 16 December
DICKENS TOURS: Take a tour of the Dickens Museum before it opens to the public, guided by a member of staff dressed as the Dickens family’s housemaid. She explains what the house was like in their day, and lets you in on a family secret or two… Dickens Museum, £18/£14/£10, book ahead, 10am/10.45am/11.30am
KINDER TALK: Hear from Ruth Barnett, who arrived in Britain aged four via the Kindertransport, which rescued many Jewish children from Nazi persecution. Ruth’s story features in the current exhibition about the Kindertransport. Jewish Museum (Camden), free, book ahead, 11am-1pm
HUNGARIAN HEARTS Add a Hungarian twist to your festive decor — learn how to make a felt heart using the Hungarian Matyó embroidery technique, which features brightly coloured flowers. Modern Folk (Bermondsey), £45, book ahead, 11am-4pm
PANTO HORSE RACE: Watch 30 teams dress up like pantomime horses and race around Greenwich, dodging various obstacles. The theme this year is film and TV, so look out for Harry Potter, Mary Poppins and other themed horses. Live music and other entertainment takes place throughout the day too. King William Walk (Greenwich), free to watch, just turn up, from 11am (race at 1pm)
EDIBLE CINEMA: Watch 1948 film The Red Shoes — about a young ballerina — while tucking into a bite-sized menu of food and drink that’s been paired to the film. Vegetarian and alcohol-free options available. Age 18+. Curzon Mayfair, £37.50-£45, book ahead, 3pm
CHRISTMAS MOVIE MUSIC: Music from The Polar Express, The Snowman, Miracle On 34th Street and other festive films is performed live by the Philharmonia Orchestra, in a concert designed to leave even the biggest Scrooge feeling at least a little bit festive. Southbank Centre, £16.50-£49.50, book ahead, 3pm
CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR: Watch a show of festive music and dance, starring Kimberley Walsh from Girls Aloud, Strictly’s Anton Du Beke, and professional ballroom dancer Erin Boag. Music is courtesy of the London Concert Orchestra, with Christmas tunes including Jingle Bell Rock, Winter Wonderland and other classics. Theatre Royal Drury Lane, £32.85-£74.65, book ahead, 3pm/7.30pm
SWING DANCING: Put your best foot forward for an evening of Swing dancing, aimed at dancers of all abilities. There’s a beginners class for anyone new to it, followed by an evening of social dancing — no partner necessary. Bishopsgate Institute (Liverpool Street), £10/£8, book ahead, 6.30pm
HANDEL’S MESSIAH: The inimitable sound of Handel’s Messiah is performed by the Old Royal Naval College Trinity Laban Chapel Choir, with solos by members of the Chapel Choir. Old Royal Naval College (Greenwich), £12-£20, book ahead, 7pm