12 of the jolliest Christmas events in East London 2021

Whether you are the type to start singing Christmas carols and buying gifts in early October or you are more of a Grinch pretending that this jolly season isn’t happening, you can’t avoid the fact that Christmas time is nearly upon us.

With the lights across London switching on and glorious window displays being revealed, the city is now in full festive swing. Luckily for us, you don’t have to go far. East London is full of venues, businesses and amazing people making sure we make the most of our Christmas experience, without having to travel far from our homes during the busiest time of the year.

To save you time and help you choose from the best, we’re introducing a guide to the best Christmas events in East London.

A Child in the Snow, Wilton’s Music Hall

From the writer that brought you Wilton’s ‘Christmas Carol’ and ‘The Box of Delights’, Elizabeth Gaskell’s seasonal ghost story will be adapted and brought to life this festive season for the very first time at Wilton’s Music Hall. A nurse, recently back from the front of Word War 1, is haunted by her experiences. When she finds herself at a séance, recalling memories of a lonely childhood Christmas on the Northumbrian moors, she unearths a dark secret. See event listing.

Backyard Cinema Christmas Extravaganza at Troxy

Backyard Cinema Christmas Extravaganza at the Troxy, East London.

Backyard Cinema is taking-over East London’s Troxy, transforming it into a Christmas Movie Palace featuring non-stop singing, dancing, music and performance followed by your pick of three classic Christmas movies (Elf, Home Alone or Love Actually). The double-bill performances will feature George the Poet and live performances of the soundtracks by the Some Voices choir. See event listing.

Bow Arts x gal-dem Bow Open Show

Gal-Dem Open Show, Bow Arts, East London.

Artist, curator and gal-dem founding member, Leyla Reynolds has selected 24 artists for Bow Arts’ annual Bow Open Show at the Nunnery Gallery, all responding to her title ‘Aboutface: regroup, reorganise, reimagine’. See event listing.

Baby Broadway at Poplar Union

Baby Broadway, Poplar Union, East London.

Sing along to well-known seasonal show tunes from hit musicals and Christmas films, with a theatrical spin expected from their ensemble of West End performers. Festive fancy dress is encouraged as well as singing, clapping and dancing along. Expect bubbles, bells, flying babies and puppetry. The event is open to all ages from new-borns to grandparents. See event listing.

The Vanished East End at TH Archives

Vanished East End, Tower Hamlets Archive, East London.

Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives is holding an exhibition of photography by Tom Hunter, Diane Bush, Mike Seaborne, Brian Griffin and Syd Shelton.The work highlights the the huge social and economic changes undergone by the East End, including the now vanished industrial landscape and the deregulation of the financial markets. See event listing.

Festival of Winter, Museum of Home, East London

Festival of Winter, Museum of Home, East London.

From Halloween to Hanukkah, Diwali to Lunar New Year, the Museum of the Home is marking these winter celebrations, which punctuate our cold winter months, in different ways. The festival is designed to explore themes of light, kindness, warmth and colour, as well as unpacking some of the complexities people face during this season; such as loneliness and family life. See event listing.

Yoko Ono MEND PIECE exhibition

Yoko Ono Mend exhibition, Whitechapel Gallery, East London.

Drawing upon the Japanese tradition of kintsugi, the art of repairing broken pottery using lacquer mixed with precious metals such as gold and silver, the exhibition invites visitors to ‘repair’ broken fragments of ceramic cups and saucers with some simple materials. Once ‘mended’, the pottery can be displayed along the shelves on the walls. See event listing.

Victoria Park Christmas Fun Run

Victoria Park Christmas Fun Run, East London.

The Santa Fun Run may have been cancelled this year but RunThrough is still holding its annual Christmas Run 5k, 10k and half marathon in Victoria Park. Starting at 9.30am at St Marks Gate, you can still spread some Christmas cheer by donning an elf hat or shoes. Victoria Park’s flat, wide paths make this one of the most popular locations for races. As with all RunThrough races each mile will be marked out and there will be marshals around the course to keep you going all the way to the finish. See page listing.

Urban Makers at Ecology Pavilion

Urban Makers Christmas Market at Mile End Eco Pavilion, East London.

Urban Makers East will be returning to the Ecology Pavilion this November for their annual two-weekend festive maker’s market. The market will host 50 different designers each day selling sustainable and ethical Christmas gifts, decorations, homewares, jewellery, art, candles and accessories. They will also be carrying out a selection of workshops, with festive treats and hot and cold drinks being served throughout the day. See event listing.

Bow Arts Winter Market

Bow Arts Winter Market, East London.

Bow Arts Winter Market will offer locally-made, unique gifts and artworks from a selection of 25 different stalls featuring local designers, makers and artists. This one-day event will include drop-in family-friendly activities including warming mulled wine, fresh mince pies at Bow Arts’ Nunnery Cafe. Held in Bow Arts’ Victorian courtyard, surrounded by artist studios, discover their network of local artists while celebrating the festive season. See event listing.

Red Riding Hood at Theatre Royal Stratford

Red Riding Hood panto at Theatre Royal, Stratford East, East London.

Pack your basket! Red Riding Hood is coming to Theatre Royal Stratford East. This pantomime adaptation of children’s classic Little Red Riding Hood will take you into the deep dark woods. Directed by former actor Robert Shaw Cameron, the live play will feature a blend of new songs, comedy, and colourful costumes. Suitable for families, young and old. Socially distanced performances are provided as an option. See event listing.

Foreverland New Year’s Eve party at Troxy

Forever Land New Year's Eve Party, Troxy, East London.

Party organisers Foreverland will be transforming Troxy into a magical space for New Year’s Eve and hosting a musical club event to celebrate the end of the year. Except confetti eruptions, pyrotechnic displays and headline DJs for a scintillating kaleidoscopic explosion of the senses. Visit event listing.

And… a late addition but no less fun and festive! Brick Lane Eats is hosting their first-ever food festival for the months of December and into early next year, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Bangladeshi Independence. Find out more here!

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Tabitha Stapely

Tabitha Stapely is the founder of Social Streets, a not-for-profit media company using journalism to strengthen communities, particularly those in disadvantaged or neglected areas. Prior, Stapely was a writer and editor for national titles including The Telegraph, Elle and Red magazines.

Tabitha Stapely has 61 posts and counting. See all posts by Tabitha Stapely

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