London West End starts Christmas shopping campaign
Black Friday already proving resounding success, London is dreaming, if not of a White Christmas, of shop tills continuing to jingle all the way into New Year.
West End sales - not Pet Shop Boys '80s pop-synth B-side, rather capital high street stores' seasonal bargains - ensure the retail therapy mecca's fortunes are as bright as million-plus LED bulbs illuminating 20 streets in world’s largest festive switch-on.
Six-week unique strategy shines a light - lots of 'em - on tourism magnet amalgamating Mayfair and Bond Street boutiques, Regent and Oxford Streets' outlets, cultural hubs Piccadilly Circus and St James’s fine dining district as well as Leicester Square thesp central theatreland.
Only in the West End campaign invites us all, after 18 months' lockdown isolation, to meet and share season's greetings to warm even Ebenezer's wintry heart.
Where to stay: Tree-mendous accommodation doesn't get any better than arguably Marylebone's most chic site.
Greener than Kermit, Treehouse Hotel (bit.ly/3xsciq5) is tops when it comes to nature-inspired interiors, cuckoo clocks and tree trunks adorning walls of 95 rooms, including 15 suites, which celebrate sustainable recycling and reclamation that would have won resounding applause at recent COP26 summit.
From ground floor coffee shop Backyard to 16th level The Nest in Treehouse spectacular rooftop bar, boasting uninterrupted 360-degree city centre skyline views, style abounds
One floor lower Madera London restaurant serves elevated take on Mexican cuisine while August saw launch of acclaimed chef Nancy Silverton's Pizzeria Mozza. But that's another storey!
Cushioned seats offer windows on the world to enjoy striking city vistas, down to earth rates from £249 at a venue that is as pet as it is eco-friendly, A Canine Christmas pooch pampering package proving the dog's bonus.
Where to go: If shopping is your candy cane covered tote bag, venture no further than John Lewis & Partners, Oxford Street flagship store's Christmas Shopping Experience (www.johnlewis.com/our-shops/oxford-street) every bit as festive as annual TV ad sparkling staple that today traditionally signals season's start as surely as yesteryear's partridge in a pear tree.
Together in eclectic dreams, customers congregate to choose comprehensive collection of gift ideas during inclusive one-stop shops.
Never mind the baubles, yule be impressed by tinsel-strewn Christmas Floor as well as Curate Makers Market Emporium pop-up fare from hand-crafted candle creations to dog accessory designs.
And right up your street will be unique Quality Street pick and mix activation station that this year not only adds bespoke Crème Caramel Crisp to confectionary favourites from past 85 winters but also customises trademark tins, personalised for friends and family fondest of sweet treats.
Tour de force does scant justice to impressive solo show at Harold Pinter Theatre (www.haroldpintertheatre.co.uk), towering performance the late great Nobel Prize winner would surely have applauded from the wings.
Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes's delivery is more impressive than his moniker. Known to box office busting Harry Potter franchise film fans as arch-enemy nemesis Lord Voldemort, his prolonged recital is itself magical.
Thought-provoking subject matter is T S Eliot’s final masterpiece, primarily penned during World War Two, Four Quartets offering interwoven meditations on time, faith and our eternal quest for spiritual enlightenment. Bravo!
"The world’s most joyful art exhibition" is big boast but The Royal Academy of Arts showcase (bit.ly/3E0nNrp) duly delivers among Burlington House's 1300-plus wondrous works.
Established icons and emerging artists alike combine for Reclaiming Magic themed celebration of contemporary art and architecture.
Held every year without fail, galleries are currently packed with prints, paintings and photography for perusal alongside film, sculpture and accompanying sound programme, most for sale, partial proceeds supporting training of tomorrow's creatives.
Hew Locke, Frantz Lamothe, Bärbel Lange and Marie-Rose Lortet vie for your attention among appealing array of artistic ideas.
Where to eat: Heavenly food aplenty is available at restored St Mark's Church Mercato Mayfair (www.mercatometropolitano.com).
True temple to gastronomic delights, this delicious deli dining destination is London’s first sustainable community market, complete with vaulted crypt craft brewery.
Two year £5 million transformation saw the Grade I listed site rescued from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register.
Said a spokesman: "For us, food quality is everything. We partner with social entrepreneurs who care about sustainability, quality, traceability and ethical production just as much as we do. We think globally but act locally".
The proof of the pudding, proverb dictates, is in the tasting. Proof positive!
Spoil yourself at Selfridges Christmas Market on the Mews (bit.ly/3FPvTDP).
Created in collaboration with food market pioneer Street Feast founder Dominic Cools-Lartigue, expect everything from flowers, wreaths and sustainably grown green Christmas trees to traditional helter-skelter rides.
Food and drink stalls are decked, if not with boughs of holly, flavoursome festive fare from mince pies to panettone alongside seasonal stalwarts stollen and mulled wine.
Think Indian street food from Gully, pizza by The Social Dough Company, savoury and sweet treats from Utter Waffle, seafood by Calamari Canteen, burgers and chips from The Tramshed Project, hot dogs by Popdogs, doughnuts from Treats Club, cookies and hot chocolate by Chin Chin and arepas from Pabellon. Food for thought!
Pickin' up good vibrations, vegetarian and vegan visitors are flocking to The Avocado Show (www.theavocadoshow.com), new kid on the capital's culinary block.
"Good vibes and signature Pretty Healthy Food, stunning and delicious dishes made with love from nutritious, sustainable avocados" is managers' mouth-watering mission statement.
Everything they serve is made using sustainable avocados, much more imaginative than you'd imagine. From avo fries, nachos with guac, mango and avo poke bowls, burgers made with avocado halves as buns to spirulina pancakes and toast, taken to another amazing level with Mango Tango black sesame and curry hummus combo.
Fresh from Amsterdam, their goal is to serve avocado lovers in "every cool city all over the world". Blessed be the fruit!
No time to dine? No drama! Call for seventh heaven champers at world’s first Bollinger 007 Champagne bar (www.burlingtonarcade.com), only such stand-alone branded boutique premises in London, licensed to thrill across two Burlington Arcade floors.
The launch, marking latest franchise film, celebrates 40th anniversary of Bond and Bollinger, limited edition gift box combining tasty triumvirate of legendary secret agent James, iconic Aston Martin DB5 and signature Special Cuvée, crucially not shaken or stirred.