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    What's on this December 2017 near Canary Wharf, London

    December is a wonderful month to be in London. It's time to wrap up warm and enjoy the sparkling Christmas lights and fun, festive season.


    Running throughout December is the Greenwich Wintertime Festival. London's newest contemporary festival is held in the historic grounds of the 17th century Old Royal Naval College across The Thames from Canary Wharf.

    It won't be overcrowded as you get to book a 3-hour session with a limited capacity so there's space to enjoy your time there. Stroll through the Christmas market or stop for something to eat. There's a large ice skating rink, street performers, live music and theatre for all the family. And children can enjoy visiting Father Christmas's modern launch pad.


    I mentioned this back in July when it opened but this month is your last chance to see the Death in the Ice exhibition at the National Maritime Museum. It's the shocking story of the mysterious fate of Sir John Franklin and his crew on their final expedition – a mystery that still remains unsolved today.

    There are over 200 objects on display, most of which haven't been on show in Europe before, alongside finds from HMS Erebus whose resting place was only discovered in 2014.

    The exhibition promises to advance our understanding of the expedition and to reveal the Victorian fascination with the Arctic. It explores the evidence and theories put forward investigating whether scurvy, starvation, madness caused by lead poisoning, or even cannibalism caused the deaths of the 129-strong crew in the Arctic all those years ago.


    Seeing the annual pantomime at Hackney Empire is part of my family Christmas traditions. Pantomime is the best of family theatre as it's bright, brash, loud and always good fun. The audience have to call out catchphrases and boo at the baddies, and with all the great music there's always an excuse to get up and dance too.

    This year Hackney Empire has a production of Cinderella on until 31 December. The classic rags to riches tale is told in classic Hackney style as they prove a new pair of shoes really can change your life.

    Cheer on the spirited heroine as she searches for love in spite of the exploits of her hideous Ugly Sisters and evil Stepmother. Throw in a pair of singing mice, a magical Fairy Godmother, the sparkle of glass slippers with glittering sets, big song and dance numbers, slapstick comedy and a flying horse and you have the perfect Christmas family treat for the festive season.


    Global superstar Mariah Carey's critically acclaimed All I Want For Christmas Is You tour stops at The O2 on 11 December 2017 for her only European date.

    Mariah Carey is the best-selling female artist of all time with more than 200 million albums sold to date and eighteen US Billboard Hot 100 no.1 singles, more than any solo artist in history. The superstar is synonymous with Christmas thanks to her no.1 timeless classic All I Want For Christmas Is You. The holiday smash hit, which she wrote and produced early in her career, is an annual bestselling festive single.

    Mariah's holiday opus, Merry Christmas is the perennial bestselling global holiday album, having sold over 14 million copies worldwide to date. And now, for the first time ever, she is bringing her adored Christmas show to the UK.


    Also at The O2 in Greenwich this month, Gorillaz bring their Humanz tour to The O2 Arena on 4 December. Humanz is also the name of their first new studio album in 7 years, released earlier this year.

    The World's Most Successful Virtual Act will see the Murdoc Niccals (bass), Noodle (guitar), Russel Hobbs (drums) and 2D (vocals) joined on stage by the Gorillaz live band – Damon Albarn, Gabriel Wallace, Mike Smith, Jesse Hackett, Jeff Wootton, Karl Vanden Bossche, Seye Adelekan – as well as selected performers from the stellar roll call of Gorillaz' family of featured artists.


    New for this year, Enchanted Eltham Palace is an evening illuminated trail from 15 to 23 December.

    Explore the grounds of Eltham Palace after dark with a winter fairytale of light, colour and sound. Strings of lanterns and fairy lights laced through the boughs of trees lead you along an enchanting garden trail into a magical wonderland.

    Glimpse some of the pageantry of the Royal Household as you wander through a time tunnel over the moat bridge, be inspired as the armour, heraldic banners and bunting come alive to tell the story of Eltham's medieval heritage as Henry VIII's childhood home.

    The trail takes 1.5 to 2 hours and ends with mince pies and mulled wine, plus festive shopping at the heritage-inspired shop.


    On until 20 May 2018, Sister Brother at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green aims to explore sibling relationships and how they affect our sense of identity.

    The portraits were taken between 2016 and 2017 and are mostly of children from the east London area. This new display of work by Madeleine Waller opens on the roles we are given within the family group that are embedded from an early age and become defining elements of who we are.

    Being the youngest of four children and having three children herself, Madeleine was keen to explore the inter-sibling relationships and the influence of our sisters and brothers on our identity.

    We often describe ourselves in relation to our sister or brother and compare similarities and differences. Who we are and what we might become in the future is very much tied up with how similar or different we are to our family group. Our sense of sibling identity is constructed through the telling and retelling of family stories.


    Spitalfields Music has been running for over 40 years and their annual Spitalfields Music Festival is undergoing a radical revamp. On from 2 to 10 December, this year's programme is guest curated by André de Ridder, one of the most influential musicians working across genre boundaries in today’s music scene.

    De Ridder is Artistic Director of Musica nova Helsinki and founder of the ground-breaking ensemble s t a r g a z e with whom he works on genre-defying contemporary projects (e.g. recently the BBC Bowie Prom). He is the 'go to' orchestral conductor for indie bands, experimental pop artists and composers whose music straddles the spheres of classical and beyond and has worked closely with Damon Albarn, Kaija Saariaho, Nico Muhly, Mica Levi, Wolfgang Rihm and many more.

    With André at the helm, this year’s festival is packed with extraordinary international artists and visionary collaborations, celebrating classical music in its widest sense. Drawing on the festival's core founding values, Spitalfields Music Festival 2017 brings together artists, audiences and communities to experience outstanding early music interpretations alongside ground-breaking contemporary work in intimate and inspiring locations.

    If you are planning your trip in December, please check Fraser Place Canary Wharf offers! We are in the heart of Canary Wharf, minutes away from great bars, restaurants and shopping malls.  


    Laura Porter writes and contributes to many other publications while maintaining an impressive afternoon tea addiction. You can find Laura on Twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.


    Required image credits: Aisha Jawando as Cinderella, and Kat B and Tony Whittle as the Ugly Sisters in Hackney Empire's Cinderella 2017, Credit Perou  |  Sister Brother: Lottie Martha © Madeleine Waller  |  André de Ridder Artistic Curator Spitalfields Music Festival 2017, Credit Brian Sweeney