A Celebration of Christmas helps raise funds for BTRC

Last week (10th December) saw the fourth annual Celebration of Christmas hosted by the Brain Tumour Research Campaign (BTRC) at All Saints Church in Fulham.

Celebrities, carol singers and local residents with plenty of festive cheer came together for this event which was dedicated to raising awareness of the plight of brain tumour patients, as well as helping to raise funds for research at Imperial College’s Charing Cross Hospital. Each year, over 600 patients with brain tumours are diagnosed at the hospital.

The BTRC’s Celebration of Christmas included readings from actress Geraldine James, Charles Collingwood and Judy Bennett (Brian Aldridge and Shula of the Archers), Bob Cryer and family, Rob Curling (Sky News presenter), actress Jill Baker, June Whitfield and Deputy Lieutenant Sandy Cahill.

BTRC's A Celebration of Christmas

BTRC co-founder Wendy Fulcher said:

“The evening was a huge success and we are delighted to announce we have exceeded our Christmas Appeal of £25,000 by raising almost £30,000!

“These monies will continue to position Imperial College at the forefront of innovative neurosurgical techniques which, together with their laboratory work, will bring a better choice of treatments to brain tumour patients.”

More details on the BTRC and the work they do can be found at www.wayahead-btrc.org.

Christmas Shopping Event at The Chelsea Gardener, 27th November

The Chelsea Gardener is hosting a special shopping event this Thursday, 27th November – just in time for you to stock up on all the Christmas decorating essentials for your home!

Visit The Chelsea Gardener between 6pm and 8pm this Thursday and you’ll be able to enjoy an exclusive discount of 10% off all items, plus free delivery of your Christmas tree in London. Once you’ve piled your bags high, pop next door to Heal’s for more festive shopping opportunities that evening; Heal’s will also be offering shoppers 10% off as well as a glass of Prosecco.

The Chelsea Gardener

The Chelsea Gardener stocks an extensive collection of charming decorations and ornaments that are perfect for adorning your Christmas tree and decorating your home. As well as a colourful and sparkly range of artificial wreaths and foliage, plus the best quality fresh cut and potted trees, there’s also plenty of unique and original gift items available – so you can buy something for yourself (or rather, your home) and your friends and family!

The Chelsea Gardener

The Christmas, The Chelsea Gardener is also welcoming acclaimed floral designer, stylist and horticulturist Kitten Grayson for a range of special wreaths and garlands. Kitty combines natural foliage, flowers and fruits with more unusual elements such as Christmas decorations or small woodland animal adornments, making her items wonderfully unique.

If you’re not able to make the shopping event this Thursday, The Chelsea Gardener is of course open daily so you can pop by any time for all your decorating needs. A hand picked selection of items is also available to buy online at www.chelseagardener.com.

Christmas Shopping Evening at The Chelsea Gardener
6pm – 8pm, Thursday 27th November 2014
125 Sydney Street

The Chelsea Gardener

Donate items to those in need in Kensington this Christmas with Kensington Mums

Excellent local website Kensington Mums is calling upon all local mums and dads to get into the spirit of giving this Christmas – that is, giving to those less fortunate than many of us and who are in need at this time of year.

Dina, the lady behind Kensington Mums, is asking local residents to donate cared for and loved items, including children’s and adult’s clothes, shoes, toys, books and the like – any items that can help a local family. She’s putting together hampers of donations for several charities in the local area, especially aiming to help children and families in need.

Kensington Mums Christmas

If you have any items to donate, or would like any further information, please contact Kensington Mums at info@kensingtonmums.co.uk with subject line ‘Christmas in need’.

Donations must be made by 14th December 2013 at the latest, and must be placed in a plastic bag. Please label your donation with a sticker or tag to suggest the suitable age group and/or gender of your donated items, as this will help when the hampers are made up.

Additionally, Kensington Mums is also looking for volunteers to help put the hampers together and deliver them before Christmas. If any Kensington Mums and Dads are free on 21st and 22nd December, please also get in touch with Kensington Mums at info@kensingtonmums.co.uk.

Please do donate any items you can to help those less fortunate this Christmas.

The first Pop Up Colombia comes to Kings Road, 4th-8th December

The very first Pop Up Colombia will be brightening up Kings Road at the beginning of next month, giving locals and visitors a taste of the country, its food, music, fashion and much more!

Pop Up Colombia

During the five-day pop-up shop, a wide variety of Colombian designers, artists and entrepreneurs will be showcasing and selling their products – including fashion, accessories, jewellery, lighting and furniture.

In particular, Amaranta Creative, the first UK hub for female Colombian artistic talent, has collaborated with four handpicked entrepreneurs – womenswear designer Juliana Correa, artist Veronica Arcila, online eco-boutique owner Claudia Suarez and lighting designer Alejandra Ospina.

Mini workshops will also take place, giving you a taste of Colombian literature, music, film-making, photography and food, with Spanish language classes for children also taking place.

On Thursday 5th December, Colombian author Oscar Guardiola River will be hosting an exclusive reading of his acclaimed new book Story of a Death Foretold – described by the Independent as “an ambitious book with an ambitious agenda, both of which should be applauded” – followed by a book signing.

On Saturday 7th December, there will be a free 100% Colombian coffee tasting with Juan Valdez, in collaboration with Shelton’s Coffee.

Colombia’s traditional Christmas tradition, Dia de las Velitas (Day of the Little Candles), will also be celebrated on 7th December. Come and light a candle to celebrate the start of the festive month, and to promote positive energy for the new year ahead. Carajillo cocktails – made of coffee, aguardiente, rum and cinnamon – will be served on that evening in celebration of the Dia de las Velitas.

Pop Up Colombia is being supported by Proexport Colombia, the Colombian government agency for the promotion of tourism, trade and investment.

Shop doors open at 10am daily; for more details on Pop Up Colombia, please see popupcolombia.com.

Come down to this Kings Road this December to discover the hidden gems of Colombia!

Pop Up Colombia
4th – 8th December 2013
632 Kings Road

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park returns for 2013!

One of the most popular Christmas events that’s right on our doorstep – Hyde Park Winter Wonderland – is back this year! Taking place from Friday 22nd November 2013 through to Sunday 5th January 2014, the event’s usual attractions and activities from previous years will be back again, ready to get you into the Christmas spirit.

One of Winter Wonderland’s most popular attractions – ice skating on what is the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink – makes its usual appearance at this year’s event. With a rink that’s over 1,600 square metres in size, you’ll be able to skate away to your heart’s content, entertained by live music playing throughout the day and night at the Victorian Bandstand that sits by the rink.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2013

Following its success last year, the Magical Ice Kingdom returns this Christmas – but will now be twice the size, with even more snow and ice sculptures! Created especially for Winter Wonderland, this will be a fantastical world of ice and snow with visitors being able to explore a medieval village and a giants’ forest (with ice trolls and a ogre to fight), as well as an ice castle with a scary dungeon. Have a go on the extremely-popular ice slide, but this year enjoy some refreshment at the Ice Bar too. Then sit in the Ice Swan, watch the frozen jumping fish and have a go at kissing the frog!

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2013

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2013

The youngsters will be very pleased to hear that Santa Land returns as well – with its LEGO DUPLO Santa Express, Santa’s Workshop and…Father Christmas himself, of course! He’ll be in Santa Land daily, complete with a sack of free gifts.

Additionally, after sell-out shows at last year’s event, Zippos Circus will be appearing this year as well with two special shows – Zippos Christmas Circus during the daytime, a show suitable for the whole family, and Zippos Cirque Berserk, an evening show for older thrill seekers. The daytime show is jam-packed full of jugglers, clowns and aerialists and the perfect length – at 50 minutes – for the little ones to sit through. Meanwhile, Cirque Berserk is a contemporary circus thrill show with death-defying knife-throwing, fire, the ultimate High Wire and the Wheel of Death – where two extraordinary acrobats spin together in an unbelievably small steel wheel. Additionally, VIP boxes are available for Cirque Berserk, which give you fast-track entry to your own private box, which is stocked with a bottle of champagne and chocolates.

Winter Wonderland 2013 will also feature some of my personal favourites, such as the Angels Christmas & Yuletide Markets which has over 200 stalls offering unusual and handmade cards and gifts such as ceramics, jewellery, wooden toys and Christmas decorations. And no Christmas event is complete without a Bavarian village…bratwurst and mulled wine at the ready! There will also be many other restaurants and bars on site to warm yourself up at, and plenty of theme-park style rides to have fun on.

Tickets for Ice Skating, The Magical Ice Kingdom, the Giant Observation Wheel and Zippos Circus are already on sale – book early online to avoid disappointment! But don’t forget that general entrance to Winter Wonderland is entirely free!

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2013

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2013

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland 2013
10am to 10pm daily, Friday 22nd November – 5th January 2014
(opens at 5pm only on 22nd November and closed on Christmas Day)
Follow Winter Wonderland on Facebook and Twitter

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2013-2014 season of concerts at Cadogan Hall and The Royal Albert Hall

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra have recently announced the full listing of concerts for their 2013-2014 season at Cadogan Hall in Chelsea and the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington. There’s a wonderfully wide variety of artists performing this season, and the concerts include their usual special Christmas events in December.

Read on below for details of all these concerts, including information on how to book tickets for each event. You can also book tickets for any of these concerts by calling the venues’ box offices – Cadogan Hall on 020 7730 4500, or the Royal Albert Hall on 020 7589 8212.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will also be performing concerts at the Southbank Centre for the 2013-2014 season – to find out more details, please see www.rpo.co.uk/royal_festival_hall.php.

More details on the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra can be found on their website at www.rpo.co.uk, but do also remember to check them out on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube!

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2013-2014 concerts at Cadogan Hall

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Natasha ParemskiNatasha Paremski performs Schumann

7.30pm, Wednesday 18th September 2013
To book tickets: www.cadoganhall.com/event/royal-philharmonic-orchestra-130918/

DVORÁK Carnival Overture
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto
DVORÁK Symphony No.7

Pianist Natasha Paremski takes to the stage for Robert Schumann’s beautiful Piano Concerto, one of many works written for his wife, Clara. Framing the Concerto are two works by Dvorák: the spirited Carnival Overture, which brims with lively Czech folk music, and the Symphony No.7, considered by many to be Dvorák’s greatest achievement. Shortly before its completion, he wrote: ‘I am now busy with this symphony for London, and wherever I go I can think of nothing else. God grant that this Czech music will move the world!’

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Grzegorz NowakGrzegorz Nowak conducts Berlioz, Beethoven and Brahms

7.30pm, Tuesday 8th October 2013
To book tickets: www.cadoganhall.com/event/royal-philharmonic-orchestra-131008

BERLIOZ Roman Carnival Overture
BEETHOVEN Violin Concerto
BRAHMS Symphony No.1

Three outstanding works by three great masters, beginning with the glittering festivities of a Roman carnival, as portrayed by Berlioz in music full of romance and joie de vivre. Beethoven’s Violin Concerto is a masterpiece of the genre, bridging the gap between Classical and Romantic concerto styles with elegance and wit. Beethoven’s genius so overwhelmed Brahms that he was slow to write works that might be compared with those of his idol. It took Brahms nearly fifteen years to compose his First Symphony, but the work was worth the wait. The Symphony exudes great nobility and mastery of form, with a powerful opening movement, lyrical Andante, graceful third movement and stirring finale.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Top Brass!Top Brass!

7.30pm, Thursday 17th October 2013
To book tickets: www.cadoganhall.com/event/royal-philharmonic-orchestra-131017

COPLAND Fanfare for the Common Man
WALTON, arr. ERIC CREES Spitfire Prelude and Fugue
TOVEY Pictures in the Smoke 
VIZZUTTI Prism: Shards of Colour for brass and percussion
BROUGHTON Fanfares, Marches, Hymns and Finale
ARLEN, arr. ALLEN VIZZUTTI Somewhere Over the Rainbow
TRADITIONAL, arr. DEL STAIGERS Carnival of Venice

A scintillating concert showcasing the outstanding Royal Philharmonic Orchestra brass section, joined by the dazzling American trumpet player Allen Vizzutti. A true virtuoso, Vizzutti is equally at home playing classical and jazz, and his performance style incorporates elements of both styles – with thrilling results. The great jazz musician Chick Corea hailed Allen Vizzutti for his ‘easy control, polyharmonic wit, orchestral penmanship, punctuated spiritual warmth’, adding that ‘rarely do so many qualities find themselves in one musician’.

This all-brass programme is conducted by Bramwell Tovey, whose composition Pictures in the Smoke is also featured. Opening with Copland’s glorious Fanfare for the Common Man, the concert includes an arrangement of Walton’s rousing Spitfire Prelude and Fugue, and Vizzutti takes centre stage for the breathtaking Carnival of Venice.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Tasmin LittleTasmin Little performs Bruch

7.30pm, Saturday 19th October 2013
To book tickets: www.cadoganhall.com/event/royal-philharmonic-orchestra-131019

BIZET L’Arlésienne Suite No.1
BRUCH Violin Concerto No.1 
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No.2, ‘Little Russian’

An unmissable concert, featuring celebrated violinist Tasmin Little playing Bruch’s ravishing Violin Concerto No.1. Bruch’s most famous composition, this irresistible work showcases the violin’s capacity for soaring, singing melodies and dazzling display. Little was hailed earlier this year for her ‘careful articulation and a truly beautiful elegance of playing… Hers is a warmly human personality, and her artistry is truly refined.’

The programme also features Bizet’s first suite of music from L’Arlésienne, full of memorable tunes, and culminates in the joyous Second Symphony by Tchaikovsky. The Symphony includes three Ukrainian folk songs, which gives the Symphony its nickname – ‘Little Russia’, which was a term used to describe Ukraine at the time.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Mario GaleaniMario Galeani performs Beethoven

7.30pm, Thursday 7th November 2013
To book tickets: www.cadoganhall.com/event/royal-philharmonic-orchestra-131107

HUMPERDINCK Hansel and Gretel Overture
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No.3 
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No.6, ‘Pathétique’

A programme encompassing delicious refinement and great passion, opening with the Overture to German composer Humperdinck’s ‘fairy tale opera’, Hansel and Gretel. The work was first conducted by Richard Strauss, and Humperdinck’s Overture exudes a Straussian romance and wit, full of charming melodies and rich orchestration. Pianist Mario Galeani performs Beethoven’s majestic Third Piano Concerto, with its dramatic first movement, a deeply beautiful Largo, and the famous Rondo. While composing his extraordinary Sixth Symphony, Tchaikovsky wrote to his brother, declaring: ‘It seems that the best of all my works is coming forth from me.’ Many would agree: the ‘Pathétique’ represents some of the most intensely personal and powerful of all Tchaikovsky’s music.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Barry Wordsworth conducts TchaikovskyBarry Wordsworth conducts Tchaikovsky

7.30pm, Thursday 12th November 2013
To book tickets: www.cadoganhall.com/event/royal-philharmonic-orchestra-131112

TCHAIKOVSKY Serenade for Strings
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto 

An essential concert for all lovers of Tchaikovsky’s music, this programme celebrates the many facets of the composer’s style, from elegant poignancy, to unfettered emotion, to dancing good humour. Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings was inspired by Mozart, a composer much admired by Tchaikovsky, who said of the Serenade that it was written ‘from inner compulsion. This is a piece from the heart’. The Violin Concerto was not much appreciated during Tchaikovsky’s lifetime, but its vibrant and heartfelt melodies have ensured that the work remains hugely popular with audiences today. The programme concludes with unique arrangements of Tchaikovsky’s glorious Swan Lake, made by the concert’s acclaimed conductor, Barry Wordsworth.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Jamie WaltonJamie Walton performs Elgar

7.30pm, Thursday 28th November 2013
To book tickets: www.cadoganhall.com/event/royal-philharmonic-orchestra-131128

RAVEL Le tombeau de Couperin
ELGAR Cello Concerto 

A programme of contrasting musical styles unified by exquisite emotional power. Composed during World War One, Ravel dedicated each movement of his Le tombeau de Couperin to a fallen friend. Yet the influence of the Baroque composer, Couperin, results in music of bittersweet understatement. Also written in response to the First World War, Elgar’s Cello Concerto is one of his greatest works, the cello evoking the human voice as it unfolds aching, deeply moving melodies. The Concerto is performed by Jamie Walton, hailed by the Washington Post as ‘a major cello talent… Though relatively young, he plays with the dignity and reserve of a well-seasoned artist’. Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony offers a profound insight into the composer’s tumultuous emotional history, travelling a longed-for journey from unfulfilled desires to joyful acceptance.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - The Magic of ChristmasThe Magic of Christmas 2013

3.30pm, Sunday 8th December 2013
To book tickets: www.cadoganhall.com/event/royal-philharmonic-orchestra-131208

As winter sets in, warm up with a magical concert full of festive cheer for all the family.

Featuring popular classics Sleigh Ride and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, orchestral favourites such as Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty Waltz and a selection of music by composer and conductor Debbie Wiseman, including the world première of The Christmas Party and the orchestral suite from Father Brown.

In aid of Breast Cancer Campaign

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Christmas CrackerChristmas Cracker 2013

3pm & 7.30pm, Saturday 21st December 2013
To book tickets: www.cadoganhall.com/event/rpo-christmas-cracker-2013

Programme to include:
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas 
Mary’s Boy Child 
Sleigh Ride
The Little Road to Bethlehem
Santa Baby
Let it Snow …plus many more!

Back by popular demand, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s Christmas Cracker is a delightful evening of festive musical gems. This enchanting and melodious concert is sure to fill you with good cheer as the Orchestra, Mary Carewe and Michael Dore sing their hearts out to get the Yuletide celebrations off to an entertaining start.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2013-2014 concerts at The Royal Albert Hall

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - The Very Best of John BarryThe Very Best of John Barry

7.30pm, Friday 4th October 2013
To book tickets: www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/royal-philharmonic-orchestra/john-barry/default.aspx

This concert celebrates John Barry’s music and features hit pieces from: Goldfinger, Dances with Wolves, The Black Hole, Midnight Cowboy, Out of Africa, Born Free, Moonraker, Zulu and many more!

John Barry had huge success in the world of film music, having written some of the best soundtracks for the silver screen including, of course, the James Bond films. Conductor Nic Raine is joined by guest vocalists Alison Jiear and Lance Ellington. Presented by Tommy Pearson, a renowned authority on film music.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - The Great ClassicsThe Great Classics: Grand Opera Gala

3pm, Sunday 27th October 2013
To book tickets: www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/royal-philharmonic-orchestra/opera-gala/default.aspx

An unforgettable afternoon devoted to the most popular operatic arias of all time, written by some of the world’s greatest composers. Magnificent music from well-known operas, including: The Barber of Seville, The Magic Flute, Rigoletto, Madame Butterfly, The Pearl Fishers, Candide, Die Fledermaus, Turandot, Carmen and many more!

This season sees the return of the fantastic Grand Opera Gala concert, featuring a stellar line-up of vocalists. British soprano Claire Rutter, baritone Stephen Gadd and Classical BRIT nominee Gardar Thor Cortes will be joined on stage by Renato Balsadonna (from the Royal Opera House) and Barts Choir.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Best of Broadway 2013Best of Broadway 2013

7.30pm, Wednesday 6th November 2013
To book tickets: www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/best-of-broadway/default.aspx

All your favourite songs from best-selling Broadway shows performed at London’s most iconic venue. Including hit songs from: Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, Sweeney Todd, Cats, West Side Story, Mamma Mia and many more!

NEW FOR 2013: a mesmerising tribute to the music of Les Misérables including Bring Him Home, One Day More, I Dreamed a Dream and more from the worldwide blockbuster film and Broadway production.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - John Rutter's Christmas CelebrationJohn Rutter’s Christmas Celebration

3pm & 7.30pm, Thursday 12th December 2013
To book tickets: www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/royal-philharmonic-orchestra/john-rutter-christmas-matinee/default.aspx

A yearly favourite, John Rutter’s Christmas Celebration returns to the Royal Albert Hall. Enjoy a festive evening with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the composer himself.

Yuletide music would not be complete without that of the one and only John Rutter. Join him in this best-selling concert as he conducts a popular selection of the very best Christmas carols, choral pieces and orchestral works.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Pirates of the Carribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in concertPirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in concert

3pm & 7.30pm, Saturday 5th April 2014
To book tickets: www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/royal-philharmonic-orchestra/pirates/default.aspx
Fine Dining Packages are available at this event

Watch the adventures of Captain Jack and his motley crew unfold in this hi-tech thrilling adventure on the big screen, while the live Royal Philharmonic Orchestra simultaneously perform the electrifying score of the sensational blockbuster, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. With rumbustious strings and buccaneering brass, the movie springs to life in the magnificent Royal Albert Hall!

This fascinating runaway hit tells the story of an upstanding young blacksmith (Orlando Bloom) who enlists the help of an eccentric, dishonest pirate (Johnny Depp) to rescue the beautiful young woman (Keira Knightly) with whom he is in love and who has been kidnapped by cursed, undead pirates.

This swashbuckling adventure is not to be missed!

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Symphonic RockSymphonic Rock 10th Anniversary Concert

7.30pm, Thursday 1st May 2014
To book tickets: www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/royal-philharmonic-orchestra/symphonic-rock/default.aspx

Enjoy the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of chart classics from iconic bands and artists, including Robbie Williams, Bon Jovi, Meat Loaf, U2, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and many more!

Symphonic Rock is celebrating its 10th year with an evening of thrilling rock anthems and classic songs in this electrifying orchestral event.

NEW FOR 2014 – A special tribute to the music of Coldplay, featuring Viva La Vida, Trouble and Fix You.

Accompanied by a spectacular light show.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Film Music GalaFilm Music Gala 2014

7.30pm, Thursday 5th June 2014
To book tickets: www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/film-music-gala/default.aspx

Highlights include: Star Wars®, Harry Potter, Gladiator, Jurassic Park, The Lord of the Rings, Big Country, Indiana Jones, Rocky, Ghostbusters, Mission: Impossible and many more!

Lights! Camera! Action! A popular evening with movie-fans celebrating some of Hollywood’s much-loved and iconic soundtracks.

NEW FOR 2014: A tribute to the great film composer Elmer Bernstein featuring classic film scores: The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird, Walk on the Wild Side, The Man with the Golden Arm.

Kensington Mums’ round up of events in the capital this Christmas

If you’re wondering what child-friendly events you can take the kids to in London this Christmas, fabulous local website Kensington Mums have provided a superb round-up. Titled “What’s on for you and your little ones this Christmas”, it really is an extensive listing of events both in Kensington and the nearby area, and across the capital – with something for all, be it film, ice skating, storytelling, museum events and more…including plenty of opportunities to meet Santa! See here to get the full listing of events.

Additionally, check out www.kensingtonmums.co.uk to subscribe to the free newsletter to be kept up to date with all the local Kensington Mums news and events.

Kensington Mums are also hosting their Christmas Drinks on 17th December – see www.kensingtonmums.co.uk/kmblog/event/kensington-mums-christmas-drinks/ for more details!


Winter Wonderland 2011 in Hyde Park

Seeing as we’re so close to Christmas, I decided to put on my festive hat and pay a visit to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park today – having greatly enjoyed my visit there last year. (See my photos from last year’s event.) Attending later in December this year, today – only four days before Christmas – was incredibly busy; of course, schools are out but so it seems are colleges, universities and even some workplaces (or perhaps it was just people skiving off work!) given the crowds of all ages there.

Busy crowds at Winter Wonderland 2011
Crowds at Winter Wonderland 2011

An overcast and slightly wet day evidently didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. I noticed a sign at the entrance (near Hyde Park Corner) saying that ice skating tickets for the day had already sold out (this was only about two hours after opening) and there were quite some queues at some of the rides. Mulled wine and German sausages (red, white or my favourite – curry sausage) were also clearly popular, given the amount of people I saw wandering around enjoying these items, and Angels Market – where many of the crafts stands are – had many, many people around each stall.

Giant wheel and Santa Land at Winter Wonderland 2011
Giant wheel and Santa Land at Winter Wonderland 2011

The year’s event seems much larger than last year’s, with a significant number of additional rides and areas. The ice rink has also moved to a different location – it is now towards the centre of Winter Wonderland, located round a bandstand. This is great for two reasons – not only can visitors now properly go “round and round” on the ice-rink, but there’s also live music playing as skaters whizz by. (When we were there, there was a talented young guy playing an acoustic set including a great rendition of Ed Sheeran’s The A Team.)

Ice skating at Winter Wonderland 2011
Ice skating at Winter Wonderland 2011

Winter Wonderland is open daily 10am to 10pm every day until 3rd January 2012 (except Christmas Day) and is well worth a visit! Entry is entirely free, although you do have to purchase tickets to go ice skating or to travel on the giant wheel, and also for the circus. (You also need to purchase tokens to go on any of the rides.) However, it’s also great fun to just walk through Winter Wonderland, looking at all the stalls selling gifts and food & drink, as well as watching kids and adults alike enjoying themselves on the assorted rides. (Or getting scared by the “talking tree” near the Serpentine!)

There’s still time to go this year, or right at the beginning of the New Year, and I would highly recommend it. Given there’s no entry fee, it’s also a very budget-conscious activity – although you may like to treat yourself to a few rides or a nice glass of mulled wine!

A friendly snowman at Winter Wonderland 2011
A friendly snowman at Winter Wonderland 2011
Helter Skelter at Winter Wonderland 2011
Helter Skelter at Winter Wonderland 2011
A fun ride at Winter Wonderland 2011
A fun ride at Winter Wonderland 2011
Colourful German Lebkuchen at Winter Wonderland 2011
Colourful German Lebkuchen at Winter Wonderland 2011
The talking tree at Winter Wonderland 2011
The talking tree at Winter Wonderland 2011
A Squirrel in Hyde Park
A friendly squirrel to say goodbye to us as we leave

Pay a visit to the Aubaine restaurants in Kensington & Chelsea this Christmas

Kensington and Chelsea locals are sure to know of and have visited the fantastic Aubaine restaurants in the area – one at 37-45 Kensington High Street, very close to Kensington Gardens and the other at 260-262 Brompton Road, in the lovely Brompton Cross area. If you haven’t paid the restaurants a visit yet, we recommend you do so soon – and if you’re a visitor to the area, make sure an Aubaine restaurant is part of your plans in the area!

Aubaine KensingtonAubaine Kensington

The Kensington restaurant – the largest amongst all in the Aubaine group – features stylish floor to ceiling windows on two sides of the restaurant, providing a great view over the High Street. Step inside the venue, however, at any time during the day or evening and you can escape from the bustling street outdoors, joining workers or locals whilst they enjoy a spot of lunch, or diners enjoying a more relaxed evening meal accompanied by something from the extensive wine list or a cocktail or two. The restaurant is also perfect for a calm afternoon tea (or other beverage!), and as an accompaniment you can choose a little something from their wonderful patisserie. (It’s very hard to resist any of their cakes, although I found it equally hard to resist their beautiful macarons!)

The boulangerie at AubaineThe boulangerie at Aubaine

At Aubaine Brompton Cross, renowned in the local area, there’s a wonderful outdoor terrace that’s popular year-round with those looking to enjoy some alfresco dining. Once again, there’s a wonderful choice of options throughout the day from their regular menu and their patisserie, although their boulangerie also offers a fantastic choice of freshly made breads for customers to take away. Don’t be surprised to see a famous face or two if you dine here!

Both restaurants are also ideal for weekend brunch, which includes a range of classic dishes, salads and mains. Given its popularity, booking ahead for brunch at either venue is advised – see contact details below.

For those looking to celebrate the Christmas season in a special way this year, Aubaine have two wonderful 3-course set menus (which a choice of three dishes for each course) on offer. Their £38 menu includes ham hock, foie gras terrine and spiced plum chutney as a starter and roast pheasant, bacon, red cabbage and bread sauce as a main (my eye was naturally drawn to those two dishes!) whilst their £45 menu features crab, broccoli, bitter leaves and shellfish bisque for a starter and beef Bourguignon, Alsace bacon, mash as a main; both menus, of course, include a choice of sumptuous desserts.

Aubaine on Kensington High Street is also offering a complimentary bellini for any group bookings of six people or more during the festive season. The restaurant has also a special private room that’s perfect for small groups looking to hold a private Christmas celebration! (It is also possible to host parties of up to 100 people in the main restaurant itself.)

Finally, for anyone looking to indulge in Aubaine goodies at home, they sell a wide variety of seasonal delights including their famous Buche de Noel (chocolate log), shown below. Who could resist?!

Aubaine Buche de NoelBuche de Noel

Aubaine Kensington
37-45 Kensington High Street, W8 5ED
To book, call 0207 386 0950 or email Charlene.jinguenaud@aubaine.co.uk

Aubaine Brompton Cross
260-262 Brompton Road, SW3 2AS
To book, call 0207 386 0950 or email Charlene.jinguenaud@aubaine.co.uk

Aubaine Further details on the restaurants (including full menus) can be found        at www.aubaine.co.uk.

Christmas at Kuoni on Kensington High Street

Kuoni Travel Limited (located at 184 Kensington High Street) are inviting all local residents and businesses to their store from today to 15th December for a little Christmas celebration and also to discuss with them any future travel plans that you may have (for next year and beyond!).

Anyone who pops in can sample a mince pie and some mulled wine, cialis as well as also having the chance to speak to one of their travel experts about their fabulous destinations, find which include their new Discover destinations such as Columbia and the Falkland islands. They also have some great offers and early bird discounts that those looking to book their holidays now can take advantage of.

Furthermore, discount anyone that does book a holiday in store from today (1st December) to 15th December will receive a Christmas gift of either a bottle of champagne or a luxury travel bag and towel, whilst also being entered into the Christmas prize draw to win a Kuoni Gift Card.

Kuoni Travel Limited
184 Kensington High Street
W8 7RD
Tel: 020 7361 7805
Web: www.kuoni.co.uk