12 things to do this Christmas in the East End

From pantomime to markets and guided walks, jump into Christmas with our selection of festive events in the East End.

Whatever your religion, Christmas is a great excuse for making the most out of our darker winter months. With festive light shows already shining brightly across East London and Christmassy window displays being revealed, the city is now in full festive swing. 

Luckily for us, Tower Hamlets is full of venues, businesses and 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. Whether you’re the type to start singing carols in October, or one to leave your Christmas shopping until the eleventh hour, we bring you our essential guide to Christmas in the East End.

Cinderella at Stratford East

Showing until 7 January 2023

Cinderella pantomime at Theatre Royal Stratford East poster.

Stratford East’s Cinderella tears up the rulebook and turns this classic story on its head, making it relevant to the local community and beyond. Set in the ancient home of Sphynx cats, pharaohs and the empress Cleopatra, expect show-stopping original music and laugh-out-loud comedy alongside magical sets and costumes in this must see Christmas pantomime. See event listing.

The Wind in the Willows Wilton’s at Wilton’s Music Hall

Running until 31 December 2022

The Wind in the Wilton's promotion poster at Wilton's Music Hall.

Set in modern-day London, this brand-new adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s much loved Wind in the Willows by children’s author Piers Torday sees our favourite heroes tackling today’s climate issues. Expect songs and puppetry from Ratty, Mole, Badger and Toad to entertain the whole family. See event listing.

Winter Wonder Guided walk at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

18 December 2022

Graves in the snow at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.

Admire the ivy, holly, red berries and robins while rambling through Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park and be rewarded with festive food and warm mulled wine (or apple juice if you prefer!). The perfect way for the entire family to get out into nature this festive season. See event listing.

Baby Broadway Christmas special at Poplar Union

16 December 2022

Baby broadway Christmas special show with performers and babies at Poplar Union.

Sing, clap and dance along to seasonal show tunes from hit musicals and well-known songs from Christmas films, all performed by West End singers. Everyone from new-borns to grandparents will enjoy this one, and all are encouraged to wear festive fancy dress. See event listing.

The Grand Union Youth Orchestra Winter Concert at Rich Mix

18 December 2022

Young musicians performing at Grand Union Orchestra's Winter Concert.

Grand Union’s ensemble of young musicians has been rehearsing throughout the Autumn to bring you their Winter Concert of jazz and world music held at Rich Mix. Presenting musical traditions and techniques from Turkey to Africa, this free concert reflects the diversity of the society the young musicians are growing up in, promising to be a spirited performance. See event listing.

Cirque Du Soul X NYE at Troxy

31 December 2022

Cirque Du Soul New Year's Eve party with crowds, lights and decorations at Troxy.

Troxy will be transformed into a wild jungle playground as it kicks off its Road To El Dorado tour and welcomes in the New Year. Presented by Cirque Du Soul, a travelling collective energy of colour, magic and dance, this promises to be Troxy’s most extravagant party to date. Lock in those New Year’s Eve plans now before tickets run out. See event listing.

Santa Run at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

December 11 2022

Three runners in Santa hats outside of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic stadium.

Don’t forget your festive costume for RunThrough’s annual Santa Run, taking place this year through the grounds of North Park in Stratford’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. A flat, fast and inspiring course, you can decide between a 5k or 10k route on the day. No matter which one you choose, there will be a themed medal and mince pies waiting for you at the finish line. See event listing.

Urban Makers at Ecology Pavilion

26-27 November / 10-11 December 2022

Customer laughing at Urban Makers market at the Ecology Pavilion.

Now in its 7th year, the annual festive makers market will welcome 50 different designers each day selling everything from Christmas gifts and decorations to homewares, jewellery, art, candles and clothing. Food and drink will also be on offer, so you can enjoy a mince pie while picking out stocking fillers and festive ornaments ready for Christmas. See event listing.

Moving Bodies, Moving Images at Whitechapel Gallery

Showing until 8 January 2023

Karate dancer holding pose in Moving Bodies, Moving Images exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery.

This free exhibition features a selection of short contemporary films projected throughout the galleries exploring the intersection of dance, choreography and moving image. Performing bodies enact individual experiences and collective storytelling, delving into timely topics from gender and politics to desire and personal healing. See event listing.

Winter Market at Bow Arts

11 December 2022

Bow Arts Winter Market, East London.

Bow Arts Winter Market will offer locally-made unique gifts and artworks from a selection of over 20 different stalls. This one-day event will include a free, drop-in art workshop for kids, and all the mince pies, mulled wine and hot chocolate you could want, available to buy from the Nunnery Cafe. Held in Bow Arts’ Victorian courtyard, discover Bow’s best local artists while celebrating the festive season. See event listing.

Winter Festival at the Museum of the Home

Running until 28 January 2023

Christmas living room display at the Winter Festival, Museum of the Home.

From Diwali to Hanukkah and Christmas to Lunar New Year, many communities have cultural celebrations punctuating the winter months. Celebrate them all at the Museum of the Home with a programme of talks, creative sessions, supper clubs and live performances to fill this winter with a little bit of cheer. See event Listing.

Christmas Fair at Stepney City Farm

10 December 2022

Christmas baubles hanging at Stepney Farm Christmas Fair.

After its biggest-ever event last year, Stepney City Farm’s annual Christmas Fair returns with 35 stalls offering seasonal produce and festive crafts. The farm’s resident artists will be opening their studios for the day, and food will be provided by street vendors and the onsite cafe, The Allotment Kitchen. All that plus mulled wine, a brass band and farmyard animals – what could be more christmasy? See event listing.

For more Christmas content, read our piece about the charities and good causes to support this Christmas.


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