ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS
Firstly who loves Christmas? I unashamedly do! Okay I certainly don’t want to see Xmas decorations in the shops in August but by mid-November I begin to get very excited and really love the build up from now on (often better than the day itself that can be an anti-climax) I think it’s a great excuse to get together with friends and family and have lots of gatherings, parties, meals, fun nights out in celebration.
Anyway if you really don’t like this festive season then I assume you won’t be reading my blog about it and so I will continue on the assumption that you are interested in what’s going on in the area over the next 5 plus weeks.
I have thought how best to order this latest blog on everything I’m aware of in the local area about Xmas as it’s going to be a long one and I want it to make some kind of coherent sense so have divided it into categories and within this arranged in date order. As ever there will be things I have missed out and I apologise in advance but there is only so much I can know/cover! Here goes………………………
The first big fair I’m aware of is the Blackheath Christmas Fair this Sunday (22nd November) 10.30 to 5pm and it is held annually at the wonderful Blackheath Halls. It’s a big event with 51 stalls selling gorgeous gifts and food for Xmas. There is a small entry charge but all proceeds from this go to the local charity Age Exchange. Many of our local favourites like ‘My Gorgeous Cards, Troffles and Wild Brockley’ have stalls so why not go along, support and get ahead of the game with early pressies!
A day earlier (21st November) St. Augustine’s church on One Tree Hill, SE23 are having their Christmas fair from 11-3am. Fun stalls with Xmas goodies is billed along with their fantastic cakes which are always a major draw.
The next local fair is at the Ackroyd community centre on Sunday 29th November from 1.30 to 4pm – I understand there is Father Xmas in his grotto, children’s craft table, mulled wine and lots more. If you want to have a stall please email email@example.com
Another annual event is the fab Horniman Christmas Fair which is spanning the weekend of the 5th/6th December from 10.30 to 4.30pm each day. Expect workshops, stalls in the beautiful Conservatoire, food/drink, seasonal trail round the gardens, and lots of music/choirs singing in the bandstand on the Sunday afternoon. Always a great occasion and FREE! For timings & further details http://horniman.ac.uk/visit/events/horniman-christmas-fair
St Saviours Christmas Fair – This is on Saturday 5th December – not sure of the details yet but I understand the fantastic Hummy Mummies are singing at the event. Put the date in your diary
St Christopher’s Hospice Christmas Fair – This popular annual event is on Saturday 5th December from 11am to 3pm. Our local Honor Oak Women’s Institute are having a stall so go along, say hello and support this wonderful Hospice that does invaluable work in the community.
Crofton Park Library –there is no major Crofton Park event this year but the library is having a Christmas fair on Saturday 19th December. The details are yet to be finalised but I understand Santa Claus may be making an appearance! I think the date could work really well as it is much later than everyone else. Local businesses are also beginning to get together and talk about doing a mini Croftmas so watch this space!
SCHOOL CHRISTMAS FAIRS
Dalmain Christmas Fair – Friday 27th November 4.30 to 7pm
Chelwood Winter Fair – Saturday 28th November 12-3pm. Always one of the earliest fairs and a great family occasion at my favourite school ever!
Gordonbrock Christmas Fair –Friday 4th December after school
Turnham Christmas Fair–Friday 4th December from 3.30pm
Stillness infant & Junior School Fair – For the first time in years it is on a Saturday – 5th December 12-4pm- always a good one.
Fairlawn Christmas Fair – Saturday 5th December 12-3pm
Prendergast (Hillyfields) School Holiday Fair – Saturday 5th December 10-2pm
Beecroft Garden School Christmas Fair– later than most but this could work in their favour – Friday 11th December 3.30-5.30pm
The two main Xmas markets in the area this year are in Ladywell and Brockley (Coulgate St)
Ladywell Market. This is on Saturday 5th December from 10 to 4pm. After Jason from Slater & King left the area in the summer it seemed there may not be a Christmas market this year but El (from ex El’s Kitchen) stepped into his shoes and has organised the event with help from others. She writes “You’ll find more than the usual Christmas cheer at the market, with the sights and sounds of a traditional Xmas fair offering beautiful gifts for all the family from local artists, makers, craftspeople. With foodie treats, gourmet gifts, mulled wine and mince pies there’ll be something for everyone. And it will be more than a market – we will be keeping you entertained with carols, choirs, musicians and dancers!” I will certainly be there and have volunteered my services as a Marshall-they need more volunteers so if you can spare an hour please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Brockley Market (Coulgate St) This is not to be confused with the normal Brockley Saturday food market off Lewisham Way but is a special Christmas event where Coulgate Street in Se4, by Brockley station, is closed to traffic for the day and there are lots of stalls (over 50) and a performance stage normally at one end providing live entertainment throughout the afternoon. It takes place this year on Saturday 12th December 12-6pm and there is always a great atmosphere. See you there.
Other weekly markets – Horniman and Brockley markets are the main local farmers/food markets that take place weekly and certainly should be included in this festive round up as they start selling lots of goodies for Christmas as well as their usual high quality fayre. Brockley market in past years has sold Xmas trees and logs so I assume will be doing the same this year.
Crafty Fox market in Peckham – weekend of 12/13th December from 11-5pm. This takes place in the very interesting Bussey building in SE15 and has over 50 designer stalls, creative workshops on site and live DJ sets – certainly sounds worth checking out! Oh yes it’s also FREE
Brockley Jack Studio Theatre – This certainly deserves a big mention and is the theatre I spend the most time visiting (particularly as it’s only 5 minutes walk from my house!) They always have an annual festive production and this year it’s ‘The Haunting’, adapted from the ghost stories of Charles Dickens and promises to create a ‘classic tale of mystery and suspense.’ It starts on the 8th December and runs for nearly 4 weeks until Sunday 3rd January. It is suitable for 12 years upwards but is a great family event and we always book with a couple of other families and make a big night of it – see you there!
Telegraph Hill Panto – This has now become an annual feature in Telegraph Hill using local talented residents as its cast. This year it is Dick Whittington and has four shows over the weekend of the 4th December to the Sunday. It certainly is a great affordable alternative panto for all the family.
Catford Broadway Theatre – I’m not sure of the reasons but this year there is no classic family panto on at the theatre over Christmas but a great alternative on Saturday 5th December is a showing of the Disney sensation ‘Sing-a-Long Frozen’ inside this beautiful venue. Everyone is encouraged to dress up and there will be prizes for the best costume (not compulsory). It all kicks off at 1pm with vocal warm ups and is only £5 adult and £3 child ticket and you can buy in advance at www.broadwaytheatre.org.uk This looks to be a great family fun adventure and I highly recommend. The film will be followed by the Catford Broadway Christmas tree light switch on at 4pm by local MP Heidi Alexander.
The Amersham Arms, SE14 – The acclaimed ‘Scummy Mummies’ Christmas show is on Saturday 5th December from 7.30pm. It promises to be an evening of sketches, songs and stand-up for less than perfect parents. I haven’t personally been to one of their shows yet but fully intend to as from reviews can see they are hilarious. You can buy tickets online or at the door.
The Albany theatre, Deptford – This wonderful theatre in the round used to be a firm favourite when my children were little. This year’s family show is ‘The Bear’ written by the popular Raymond Briggs and is showing at various times and dates from Monday 7th December to the 3rd January. To book tickets click here http://www.thealbany.org.uk/event_detail/1605/Family/The-Bear
St Hilda’s Church – Not necessarily Christmas concerts but both taking place during the festive period. On Saturday 21st November the South Circular orchestra and the Crofton Park ad Hoc choir are performing Mozart, Missa Brevis in C ‘Sparrow Mass’ in the church at 630pm, followed by a buffet reception. This is to celebrate the patron Saint of St. Hilda. All are welcome.
Meanwhile on Saturday 28th November in the undercroft of St. Hilda’s the wonderful neighbourhood concert team are performing their latest offering ‘Silence is Heard’ at 7.30pm with drinks from 7pm. Both are guaranteed to be high quality events and well worth checking out.
Borough Commander’s Christmas Carol Concert –This is now an annual popular event taking place outside the main police station in Lewisham around the Christmas tree. It’s on Thursday 10th December from 7pm and features the wonderful NHS Lewisham hospital choir, amongst others.
St Augustine’s Church, SE23 –On Friday 11th December the church is hosting a concert with the Fairlawn singers and friends ‘A Christmas Kaleidoscope’ Tickets are from £3-£7 and can be bought from ticket source https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/206944
The Hill Station cafe, Se14 – On Saturday 28th November the wonderful Dino collective featuring DJ Hatty (just amazing!) is holding a 80’s disco night ‘Bananarara’ 8-11pm for the bargain price of £3! Okay it isn’t strictly a Christmas event but why not get together for an early festive party and have a boogie on down – I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet Xmas Disco Ball – The wonderful Blackheath Halls hosts the fab HSDY team again this year for their festive extravaganza on Saturday 12th December from 7.30pm. This will be a great night out but you need to hurry as tickets are selling fast. Check out details on their website haventstoppeddancingyet.co.uk
Rivoli Ballroom Christmas Disco –Our stunning local ballroom is holding a festive 70s/80s disco on Saturday 12th December from 8-1am. It promises to be a fantastic night with DJ Kobayashi and an aerial cabaret performer Kellie Sky. The evening is organised by rouge.co.uk and tickets can be bought online or at the door.
LaLa Piano Bar – If you have missed out on the wonderful LaLa experience who wowed audiences at Brockley Max in June and more recently at Telegraph Hill then you can catch them over at Winterville 2015 at Victoria Park. They are performing at the beautiful 1930s Spiegel tent on Sunday 13th December. I know it’s not down the road but it will be worth your journey to hear David Roper from 4 Poofs and A Piano and a host of other musical talent sing your favourite songs. Visit lalapianobar.com for further details.
Little Nan’s Tropical Den – The unique Little Nans experience serving cocktails in teapots plus so much more…. has popped up in the basement at the Golden Anchor in SE15. It is open until the 19th December on Fridays and Saturday’s and is an amazing night out/perfect for that Christmas party with a difference! It fits into this category of music as DJ Lippy promises to spin disco anthems/tropical tunes/and kitsch fun. Booking is advised email@example.com
The Honor Oak Xmas Experience – following the very unfortunate cancellation of this local music festival in September it has been re-arranged for Friday 18th December. Details are still being finalised but watch this space!
A piece of art/ceramics makes a great, unique Xmas gift or for me it’s also a good excuse to treat yourself to that little something! We have a wealth of artistic talent locally and listed below are the main open studios I am aware of in the next month.
Lee Green Open Studios – Local artists in SE12 open their doors to the public this weekend from 12-6pm (21st and 22nd November) There is a huge variety of different styles including ceramics/mosaics/sculpture/jewellery/textiles from many talented artists/creatives. Over 23 different venues are involved and this is always a great occasion. A very comprehensive guide can be downloaded from their website http://www.leegreenopenstudios.com/
Havelock Walk Open Studios – This beautiful cobbled street in the heart of Forest Hill is having their ‘Winter weekend’ on the w/e of the 28-29th November from 12-6pm. It really is a very friendly creative community with highly talented printers/photographers/sculptors etc. There will be stalls, music, food, cocktails and you can certainly expect a warm welcome. For details check out http://www.havelockwalk.com/
Lewisham Arthouse – This old library building on Lewisham Way is home to 45 artist studios and they are having a Winter Fair on Saturday 12th December from 11-6pm. I’m not too sure if it means all of the studios are open to the public but certainly there will be art for sale plus other stalls and refreshments. I believe they want more people to get involved so check their website for further details http://www.lewishamarthouse.org.uk/Arthouse/forthcoming.html
We have 4 wonderful gift shops in our immediate area that are already well stocked for the Christmas season. Honeybourne’s in Ladywell opened in August after the very sad closure of Slater & King. Hannah has continued to stock some of the local firm favourites but has certainly added her own gorgeous touches and style. It is certainly worth checking out. Meanwhile Zenubian, also in Ladywell, is small but very compact and has some beautiful eclectic gifts/items. Michelle has a large silver/ethnic jewellery range. I bet many of you haven’t yet been in this shop but honestly I highly recommend you pop in and Michelle is very welcoming.
Magi Gifts in Brockley is like an Aladdin’s cave with so many amazing gifts packed into the space. The back 2 rooms hold cards and children’s toys whilst the front area has such a variety of different things. I always think the gift range for men is very impressive. Jumping Bean in Honor Oak has been an established shop on the parade for 10 years and is very popular with its back room of children’s item and then lots of gifts to suit all pockets. Also on the Honor Oak Parade is the wonderful art gallery ‘Someth1ng’ Rebecca has a great eye for exciting art and she is turning the space into affordable art and gifts for Christmas, ideal for that unique present. Pop in and say hello as she loves passing on her knowledge and enthusiasm.
For a different kind of gift I would highly recommend ‘Muck n Brass that has opened up just round the corner on Brockley Rise. The wonderful Lady Zoe has stunning pieces of furniture that she upcycles but also has some very interesting glassware/bits that are also very affordable. Local boy, Dan of funkypug.com has quite a few of his photographic prints displayed in the shop which are certainly worth discovering and would make great pressies.
Also I want to add here two wonderful local illustrators that have both created cards and prints that certainly need checking out! Prints Harry has some beautiful cards that can purchase online at printsharry.bigcartel.com He has also designed some very interesting posters for lots of our favourite local businesses that you can buy. Becci of Betty Etiquette lives in Ladywell and has supplied lots of her unique stationary/cards to Slater & King and now Honeybourne’s. She also designed the beautiful ‘CroftonPark’ branded postcards and tote bags that are around shops for sale and make great gifts (Budgens is the biggest supplier) She will be at the Ladywell market selling her wares so certainly pop along and say hello.
In relation to clothes Crofton Park is very lucky to have 3 shops that meet that need, all very different. Paraphernalia has been open for 18 years now at 365 Brockley Rd selling new, nearly new, vintage and designer clothes and accessories. Mandi the owner is very friendly and will certainly be able to find you a sparkly number for that special occasion! If you haven’t been in before now is a good time to find out what lies behind the shopfront.
The White Room, next to the Rivoli ballroom, has a rail of bespoke hand sewn dresses, skirts and tops that need to be checked out and Nicki, the very knowledgeable owner, will advise you on the latest fashion style to suit you. Meanwhile Lucy and Donna have set up shop at the corner of Ewhurst Rd as ‘The Workshop’ Between the 2 of them they create patterns, design clothes, tailor and do alterations. Both are really friendly and welcome visitors to the shop. They have created some gorgeous scarves for sale together with sewing kits so do pop in.
Again we are very lucky to have 3 brilliant local deli’s in our local area. I think food and drink make great luxury/treat presents particularly for that person who has everything. You can create your own hamper of goodies or get one beautifully packaged by the shop itself.
The Larder in Ladywell is owned by Cynthia and Catherine and has become a firm local favourite. This is their 2nd Christmas and I remember last year they had lots of extra delicious supplies for the festive season. Over in Brockley Cross Zoltan and Martin at the Brockley Deli are a very popular addition to the area. Besides selling lots of exciting & interesting goodies they are also a cafe serving coffee/teas and amazing cakes! Finally the latest addition to the area that does not describe the shop as a deli but more a grocers is the wonderful ‘Jones of Brockley’ in Crofton Park. Michael is passionate about good quality food and is selling all his favourite items. I personally think the cheeses are the star of the show in the shop with new ones coming in every week. Their alcohol collection is very different with lots of specialist gins, whiskeys etc. Pop in and say hello if you have not already done so.
Stop Press – have just heard that the ‘Honor Oak Provender’ is opening it’s doors to the public on Friday. This is where Hills & Parkes used to be and so Honor Oak is once again home to a delicatessen-very exciting!
Proud Sow is my local butcher and this will be their 2nd Christmas under the ownership of Oli along with Josh and Ben as his very able assistants. Obviously Christmas is a butcher’s busiest time of the year and they rely on orders for turkeys and other cuts of meat for the festive period. I will certainly be buying my turkey from them plus lots of other goodies. I can only say the quality of all their meat is excellent and I can unhesitatingly recommend Proud Sow. I should also add that they have diversified over the last 6months so you can pick up a bottle of fine wine or craft beer along with a bottle of olive oil or luxury marinade.
Whilst I may be biased in my choice of butchers (helped by being only 2 minute walk from my house) I can see that we have got some other fantastic meat-suppliers in the area. The Butchery in Forest Hill, owned by Nathen & Ruth, was opened 4 years ago and has been highly successful in SE23.
WH Wellbeloved in Tanners Hill, Deptford was established in 1829 as a butcher and is highly regarded in the area. From the oldest to the youngest Callum opened a butchers only 3 months ago in Ladywell named ‘Heckstall & Smith’ and is expanding his meat range all the time and is proving popular.
Where can you buy real Xmas trees in the area? Perhaps the nearest largest supplier is outside Crofton Park Library. John is setting up again every day from Saturday 28th November and will have all sizes/prizes and deliver locally for free.
The wonderful family run Shannon’s Garden Centre in SE23 will have Christmas trees plus lots of other seasonal items such as holly/wreaths/tree lights etc. I should add here that something for the garden makes a wonderful present so why not visit the centre and see what you can find.
I am pretty sure the award winning weekly Brockley market will have Christmas trees and logs again for sale this year whilst many local shops will have a selection such as Budgen’s , Ladywell DIY plus of course our local florists.
To finish off this section on shopping Lewisham Council has just announced it’s own carparks will be free for the first 3 Saturdays in December, starting on the 5th. This is to encourage people to shop local. Please note this does not include on street parking and the multi storey car park in Lewisham.
Whilst I feel Father Christmas will be popping up at most Christmas and school fairs I thought I should mention a couple that I know locally that need booking.
Honeybourne’s Following on from the tradition of Slater & King Father Christmas has once again confirmed he will be visiting the shop to greet all those lovely children in Ladywell. The elves will be taking the children down to his grotto and each child will receive an appropriate present. This will happen over two weekends- the 5th/6th and then the 19th/20th . The cost is £10 and it always proves highly popular so you need to pop down very quickly to the shop to book a slot if you are interested.
Honor Oak Pub – On Saturday 19th December between 12 and 5pm Santa’s Grotto will be open. Meet Father Christmas and receive a gift, have a photo and feed the live reindeers. The cost is also £10 and you need to book http://www.thehonoroak.co.uk/whats-on/
XMAS DAY LUNCH
If you don’t fancy sweating in the kitchen for hours on the big day why not treat yourself and have someone else prepare and cook it all for you. Generally this comes at quite a high price but you may consider it worth paying.
This is not widely researched (running out of time/energy!) but I’m aware of the following places that are open on Christmas day with their own special menus.
The Brockley Jack pub I understand is fully booked up already but the Babur, Honor Oak Public House and Railway Telegraph are the ones I know of doing a lunch on Christmas day but you will need to book as soon as possible as they are getting booked up.
Lots of our wonderful local venues will be doing special Christmas menus/drinks during December and also hosting various events leading up to the big day but I have not got the space to list them all separately so you need to check out your favourite places and see what they are up to.
I thought this was going to be a long blog but didn’t quite realise HOW LONG! If you are still reading then well done and hope it has provided you with lots of useful dates and information. I should add here that whilst there’s lots going on locally I always try and go up to London town during this magical time. The Londonist, Time Out have lots of useful guides to what’s on but I also recommend checking out ‘Memoires of A Metro Girl’ as she does regular blogs on where to visit/shop etc.
I hope to get round to doing a short (really!!) blog on the various options in the area for New Year’s eve but this will be after Xmas. I also want to say that I can now add images to the writing but for some reason they are misaligned and out of sync if you read this on your smartphone. I can only apologise and hope that it will eventually get sorted.
HOPE YOU HAVE LOTS OF FUN OVER THE FESTIVE PERIOD AND THAT YOU ENJOY/APPRECIATE THE TIME SPENT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS
REMEMBER SHOP/USE/DRINK/EAT LOCAL – Also use your Lewisham Card if you have one as it offers discounts/offers on lots of local businesses and helps support them
Bye for now
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