2 December 2017 (09.00)
Charles Dickens Christmas Festival - Guaranteed Snow!
St. Pancras station
What could be jollier? It's 1827 and the streets are thronged with hundreds of costumed characters. Everywhere you look there are top hats and frock coats and bonnets and hooped skirts. Yes, it's Christmas time in Charles Dickens' hometown. Welcome to the best Dickens Christmas Festival in the world. And there's guaranteed snow! Let alone a parade and a candle-lit carol service. And not forgetting – our exploration – our walking tours – of Dickens' Rochester.
We go to the Dickens Christmas Festival on Saturday, December 2. Meet Simon – you won't have any problem spotting him because he'll be in Victorian costume, complete with top hat – at 9 am outside the the National Rail Ticket Office (opposite Starbucks) of St. Pancras Railway Station.
3, 10, 24 December 2017 (10.45), 9, 16, 23, 30 December 2017 (14.30), 26 December 2017 (14.00), 27 December 2017 (11.00)
Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol and Seasonal Traditions
Tower Hill tube
All the delights and delicacies of a London Victorian Christmas with Charles Dickens's famous story A Christmas Carol as your route map and inspiration. We'll deck the streets of London with balls of jolly. Scrooge and Marley and the Cratchits ... they're all here. This was where Dickens's imagination took wing and where the characters did their thing. And as we make their acquaintance we'll spice things with warming seasonal stories of turkeys and boars' heads, Christmas puds, mince pies and pantomimes; cards, crackers, Christmas trees and mistletoe. Let alone the bells that rang out on Christmas morning to wake Scrooge up, a much changed character.
The meeting point for the Charles Dickens's Christmas Carol & Seasonal Traditions walk is just outside the exit of Tower Hill Tube. Meet by the Tower Hill Tram coffee stall.
23 December 2017, 10.45
The Sherlock Holmes Christmas Walk
Goodge Street tube
"Compliments of the season!" A goose and a hat are lost in a scuffle at a street corner. But where, which street corner? A suspect spends time in a museum. But why? An investigation leads to a famous market. But how? We follow the criss-crossing paths of Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson as they solve their only original Christmas-time case, and Arthur Conan Doyle as he reaches a crisis in his professional life. Where did the detective acquire his famous Stradivarius violin? Where was the 'Alpha' public house which briefly hosted a hidden jewel? Where did Holmes himself live before he moved to 221b? Throw in a film location which links a silent screen Holmes and modern-day Sherlock, a fine house where one of Conan Doyle's greatest friends lived, a theatre where the sleuth made a triumphant Return on stage in the 1920s, and you have the recipe for this affectionate festive offering from the glory days of the Great Detective. Guided by Richard IV.
25 December 2017, 11.00
Christmas Morning, 1660 - Samuel Pepys' London
Trafalgar Square (meet by the Christmas tree)
Yes, Christmas Morning 1660. Everybody knows that 1660 was the year of the Restoration. But it wasn’t just the monarchy that was “restored” in that year. What’s not so well known is that Christmas was banned between 1652 and 1660. The Ebeneezer Scrooge of that era was none other than the Protector himself, Oliver Cromwell. He certainly didn’t protect Christmas. He shot it down and shut it down. Hard to believe isn’t it – no Christmas in England for eight years. Talk about doing hard time. Cromwell and Co. put the boot in because, according to them, Christmas was a farrago of pagan traditions and popish nonsense. And as such it had to be extirpated. And so it was. But, happily, that all changed in 1660. Cromwell was kaput. Royalty – in the person of Charles II – was rip roaringly replevined, not to say rampant. Puritanism was purged. And part and parcel of all that was we got Christmas back. So Christmas morning 1660 – must have been pretty special, wouldn’t you say? And what’s neat is that – well, you weren’t there, but you can be there! This time round, I mean. All you have to do is meet our guides by the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square at 11 am on Christmas Day and go on the Christmas Morning 1660 – Samuel Pepys' London walk – a Christmas Restoration walk in every sense of the word! And what better figure to accompany us on our rounds than that quintessential Londoner – let alone the grestest diarist of them all – Samuel Pepys himself. We're following in his footsteps. Going calling on the Westminster that he knew. And immortalised in the diary. Lucky us. Because Pepys' Diary, begun in 1660, is the most entertaining and joyful autobiographical record ever kept. Thanks to the quality of the writing, the little anecdotes (they're like plums in a Christmas pudding), the illuminating profiles, the indiscretions, the insults and – tying it altogether – the warmth of Pepys' personality. Guided by Richard III, Mark and Simon.
To go on the Christmas Morning 1660 walk meet Richard III, Mark and Simon at 11 am on Christmas Morning, December 25. The meeting point is by the big Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square. N.B. The walk takes about two hours and ends near Trafalgar Square.
25 December 2016, 14.00
The Christmas Day Charles Dickens' London Walk
Trafalgar Square (meet by the Christmas tree)
Merry Christmas Everyone! "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me [Charles Dickens]" Our afternoon walk is all about the man who some think invented Christmas – he didn't! He re-invented it! Before Dickens and his stories came along Christmas was a rather small celebration on the Christian calendar. It was Dickens whose words plumped, fluffed and sprinkled Christmas all over the world. So on Christmas afternoon we celebrate him, his words, his life, his London and his Christmas. A Christmas before Cola turned Santa red. A Christmas in the gaslight. A Christmas in London – Dickens' London.
We set our course by Dickens's life and books and influences and of course Christmas and Christmas traditions in the magic lantern of his town, his London. It's a delightfully Dickensian and detailed look at – an exploration of – the alleyways and Victorian hideaways off the Strand and Covent Garden districts, places rich in Dickensian lore and associations. Great Expectations, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Pickwick and co. all take their turn on this stage. Other highlights include London's finest Georgian alleyway and its sole surviving fragment of Victorian underworld (a dark and mysterious subterranean place "where one could easily be murdered with the placid reputation of having merely gone to the seaside"). Guided by David, Mary, Richard III, Simon, Mark and Paul.
A very special walk topped off by the fact that it's the one day of the year when there's virtually no traffic, meaning we have the streets to ourselves!
Anything else? Yes, there are some cafes and restaurants in the area that will be open on Christmas Day.
But let's give the last word to Tiny Tim: "God bless us, every one!"
The Charles Dickens Christmas Day walk starts at 2 pm. The meeting point is by the big Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square. (How appropriate is that?) N.B. the walk ends in Covent Garden, very near the Strand and Trafalgar Square. And yes, there are some cafes and restaurants in the area that will be open on Christmas Day.