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Your December diary: a day-by-day guide to the festive season

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December is upon us and while you may have forgotten to buy an advent calendar, help is at hand to navigate this busiest of all social seasons. From carolling to ice-skating, via theatres, football stadiums and any number of artisanal mince pies, we're here to gently usher you through the Christmas month with a day-by-day guide to festive events. Get your mulled wine and your diary - Christmas is coming...

  • December 15th: Go carolling

    And if that strikes fear into your off-key heart, rest assured it's okay to listen to professionals singing tunefully. There are carol services happening all over the country, including mulled wine and mince pies at Kensington Palace and a MOBO-nominated gospel choir at Carols by Candlelight. The Varsity Hotel & Spa in Cambridge is hosting a service on its stunning rooftop gardens against the backdrop of the Cambridge skyline, performed by leading choristers from Cambridge University.

    LOCATION: UK-wide

    DATES: Varsity Hotel's rooftop carol service is on the 15th December

    TICKETS: Book here

    Image: Varsity Hotel & Spa

  • December 16th: Watch the ballet wherever you are

    As part of their live season, the Royal Opera House's production of Alice in Wonderland will be screened live from its London location to cinemas around the country. Follow Alice down the rabbit hole in Christopher Wheeldon’s thrillingly entertaining ballet from the comfort of your local big screen.

    LOCATION: UK-wide

    DATE: 16th December

    TICKETS: Contact your local cinema

    http://www.roh.org.uk/cinemas

    Image: roh.org.uk

  • December 17th: Chill Out

    Christmas is an ideal time to get into the chilly spirit of things with a trip to London's Icebar - where, as you may have guessed, everything is made of ice. Booking is essential at this time of year, and the bar offers a number of food and drink packages if you're considering a little festive party. There's an entry fee, but it includes a drink and a thermal cape - you'll need it.

    LOCATION: London

    DATES: Year-round

    TICKETS: Book through their website

    Image: http://www.icebarlondon.com/

  • December 18th: Keep the little 'uns quiet

    If you've got small children to entertain and Santa's grotto can't cut it anymore, try an engrossing hour of puppet fun. Jabberwocky is for children aged 6 and up, while Cindermouse is aimed at ages 3 - 8. Both are on at the Little Angel Theatre in London and Cindermouse even offers baby-friendly shows.

    LOCATION: London

    DATES: Until 1st February

    TICKETS: From £12, visit the website here

    Image: Little Angel Theatre

  • December 19th: Visit the Queen

    The 'Palace of the Snow Queen' is a Christmas party destination, combining spectacular cabaret and circus entertainment with gourmet fine dining and after-hours revelry, including hosts and hostesses costumed as mythical creatures, an interactive theatrical photo booth and DJs. The location is kept a secret, but we do know it's two minutes walk from Old Street station. Oh, and there's a dress code of dark fairy tales, Narnia, white and silver, Winter Wonderland. Love it.

    LOCATION: London

    DATES: 4, 6, 11, 12, 19 December

    TICKETS: From £25. Contact the box office on 020 7284 4700 or snowqueen@lgproductions.co.uk, or visit the website

    Image: Black Cat Cabaret

  • December 20th: Watch films at Old Trafford

    It may be fitting that a location well used to melodrama and known as the 'Theatre of Dreams' will become a huge drive-in cinema over the Christmas period. From the 19th December until Christmas Eve, audiences can pay £26 per car (not per person) to watch classics at Old Trafford, such as Home Alone, Elf and - for those not yet driven insane - a special sing-a-long version of Frozen on the world's biggest outdoor LED screen.

    LOCATION: Manchester

    DATES: From 19th - 24th December

    TICKETS: £26 per car. Visit https://christmasmovies.co.uk/ for more information

    Image: christmasmovies.co.uk

  • December 21st: Time to indulge

    By this point, all is lost on any healthy-eating front. The Southbank Centre's Winter Festival (running until 11th January 2015) has a five-day Christmas Real Food Market from the 19th until the 23rd December, including all its usual ethically-produced food and drink, but with added festive sparkle. Yum.

    LOCATION: London

    DATES: Food Market 19th - 23rd December, Winter Festival until 11th January 2015

    TICKETS: Free. Visit the website for more details

    Image: Southbank Centre

  • December 22nd: Fall in love with Edward again

    The story of a man with deadly blades instead of fingers was always a rather unlikely Christmas favourite, but a favourite it is and you can see it onstage at Sadler's Wells in London until 11th January 2015.

    LOCATION: London

    DATES: Until 11th January 2015

    TICKETS: Book tickets here

    Image: Sadler's Wells

  • December 23rd: Keep up the Hobbit tradition

    Who'd have thought such a short book could string out to three Christmases' worth of films? The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is set for UK release on 12th December, but you may as well bypass the eager beavers lining up for the first showings.

    LOCATION: UK-wide

    DATES: From 12th December

    TICKETS: Contact your local cinema

    Image: http://www.thehobbit.com/

  • December 24th: Shop til you drop

    Oh, did you think we were going to say put your feet up? Squeeze in some extra busy, but extra festive, shopping hours in some of London's finest shopping emporiums. Or sit at home in your dressing gown wondering if a fourth Prosecco is a Prosecco too much. It is Christmas Eve, after all.

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