ELL’s ultimate Christmas list: Markets, movies and more

By Anna Prudhomme, Dominique Boulan, Fiona Holland and Scarlett Sherriff.

We could all use some extra Christmas cheer this holiday season – because what a year it has been. Fortunately, lockdown was lifted just in time for many festive activities to commence with all the necessary safety measures in place.

Eastlondonlines has you covered for December with a list of Christmas events happening in Tower Hamlets, Lewisham, Croydon and Hackney. Whether you are looking for Christmas markets, special movie screenings, church services or caroling, there is plenty going on in the area both virtually and in real life. 

Tower Hamlets

Christmas cocktail cinema

From Frozen I to Die Hard, this lovely indoor cinema at Skylight, Tobacco Docks has something for everyone. Get your Christmas fix by watching one of the classic holiday movies on their programme while you cozy up under a blanket with a special Christmas cocktail. Worried about your substantial meal? No need. They have got you covered with all your winter favourites such as Pigs in a Blanket and Bratwurst. They even have a plant-based version for us vegetarians!

Dates: Various screenings December 3 – January 3

Christmas Wednesdays

This year Columbia Road’s Christmas Wednesdays are back! Although they might be a little different then you are used to. Every Wednesday until December 23 Columbia Road and Ezra Street shops, restaurants and Christmas tree sellers are open from 12pm till 8pm. It might be a bit quieter than previous years, but there are plenty of independent shops with unique findings, mulled wine, mince pies and all the Christmas magic you would expect to find.

Dates: December 9, 16 and 23 from 12pm – 8pm

Carol service

This year, Saint Matthew’s Church in Bethnal Green is hosting a slight twist on a traditional indoor Christmas service with their ‘Carols in the Churchyard’ on December 13. Don’t forget your thick jumper, hot drink and a phone to download the sheet music so you can sing along!

Date: December 13, 4pm.


Online services

The Methodist Church of Tower Hamlets offers most of its services remotely as part of their ‘worship at home’ programme. You can tune in for their special Christmas Day service via Youtube and on December 20 they host an online carol service.

Carol service: December 20, 6pm
Christmas Day service: December 25, 11am


Pop-up cinema
Pop-up cinema at the Rivoli. Pic: Rivoli Ballroom

For one weekend only, the stunning Rivoli Ballroom turns into a pop-up cinema to screen all your festive favourites. Rivoli is the last remaining intact ballroom from the 1950s in London. With its authentic vintage look it makes for the perfect holiday setting. Hurry up though, because some of your treasured films such as Die Hard and The Muppets Christmas Carol have already sold out!

Dates: Various screenings December 11 – 13. 

Catford does Christmas

This month the Catford Mews, Lewisham’s independent cinema and entertainment venue, imagined a series of Christmas-themed activities. The programme includes a Christmas Fair showcasing stalls of crafts made by local artists and local charities. It will also run several Christmas film marathons, present a festive edition of their monthly Comedy Club, and host an end-of-year film quiz. And of course, special seasonal food and drink options will be added to their menu to maintain the magic atmosphere of the season.

  • Christmas Fair: December 5 – 6 and 12 – 13
  • Screenings: December 5 – 6, 12 – 13 and 19 – 20
  • Comedy Club: December 10
  • Film Quiz: December 29
Christmas Eve Service

Festive traditions are still being followed at St. Swithun’s in Hither Green where the special free afternoon event ‘Candlelight, Crib, Carols, Christingles’ is taking place to get you in the festive mood.

Date: December 24, 3 – 5pm


Christmas house party

Everyman Cinema Crystal Palace added a number of Christmas classics to their usual screening programme. Keep an eye on their social media for their special Christmas House Parties! On these nights a holiday favourite will be accompanied by some mulled wine and mince pies. They kicked off their first one on December 4.

Dates: Various screenings throughout December

Christmas film club

Throughout December, Croydon’s BoxPark is running weekly screenings of Christmas movies at their heated terrace snug area. On Sunday around noon, the Kid’s Film Club allows families to get into Christmas’s spirit by enjoying classics such as Home Alone, The Grinch or the movie Elf. On Monday evenings the Christmas Film Club is also projecting winter themed movies and each ticket comes with a drink! There are even more festivities to indulge in such as a comedy night, Festive Jazz Club and their Winterfest.

  • Kid’s Club: December 13, 20 and 27
  • Christmas Film Club: December 14, 21 and 28
  • A whole Box’O Laughs: December 20, 5:45pm – 10pm
  • Festive Jazz Club: December 6, 13 and 20, 1pm – 4pm
  • Winter Feast: December 19, 3:30pm – 10pm

Christmas Nativity service

St Paul’s United Reformed Church is organising a Christmas Nativity service on December 13. They will be collecting non-perishable food and toiletries for the homelessness organisation Nightwatch and the Purley Food Hub. The church can contain 54 ‘households’ and also arranged time slots for people to come pray and enjoy music. They encourage people to bring their recycled plastic packaging, to make 1000 stars to decorate the church with for the season. On December 23, Rev Martin Knight leads the Carol service, which will be streamed on Zoom as the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services.

Christmas Musical

Musicals are still happening this year in Croydon, with all the necessary Covid safety measures in place. Stanley Halls will put on the Christmas musical ‘Eunice!’, a story about a horse named Eunice which struggles to fit in with her other equine friends. The musical tells the story of her journey of self-discovery with her best friend Hortense. Even Santa is rumoured to make an appearance!

Dates: December 15 – 27. Book your tickets here


Festive Scavenger Hunt

On December 19 Kenley Memorial Hall is hosting a free scavenger hunt that is sure to be fun for the entire family. Wander the beautiful social-distancing-friendly grounds of All Saints Church in Kenley for clues to help you find Santa!

Date: December 19. Book your free tickets here

The British BAME Christmas quiz

Following on from the success they had with their Black History Month Quiz, the Croydon BME Forum will be hosting a virtual Christmas Quiz on Zoom with the very best of British BAME trivia on Tuesday 15 December.

Date: December 15. Book your tickets by emailing info@bmeforum.org


Enchanted castle

Hackney’s Castle Cinema will be screening Christmas movies to warm your heart during the cold, dark winter days all through December. Join them in their ‘enchanted castle’ for family friendly, scary or classic holiday specials. The programme has a broad range including films such as Kirikou and the Sorceress and La Belle et La Bette besides your usual go-to Christmas flicks.

Dates: December 5 – 28. Book tickets here

Hackney Christmas Market

Hackney Christmas Market Credit : Clotilde Noguez

Over the weekends of December, the Hackney Christmas market will return at the Bohemia place in front of Hackney Central Station. It will gather the finest street food, bars, stalls of Christmas decorations and ethical gifts, but also gift-wrapping workshops and local traders’ trees. The entry is free and children and pets are more than welcome, making it the perfect occasion to enjoy a bit of Christmas atmosphere.

Dates: December 12 – 13 and 19 – 20.

In-person Masses

Due to Covid restrictions, the beautiful 19th-century St John of Jerusalem Church will have to ticket its somewhat different Christmas services. Running five season services from the 20th to the 25th, registration can be made either by going directly at the church using their sign up sheets or through Eventbrite. 

  • Carol Service: Sunday December 20, 6pm
  • Christmas Eve Service: December 24, 6pm
  • Midnight Mass: December 24, 11pm
  • First Christmas Morning Service: December 25, 9am
  • Second Christmas Morning Service: December 25, 11.30am

Christmas vegan feast

The Hackney Social, an entertainment venue on Bohemia Place, will host a vegan Christmas feast on December 10. The Unity Diner, a vegan restaurant whose profits are redistributed to animal rights associations, will provide delicious canapés for the appetiser and three course plant-based meal. You will also be able to enjoy incredible drinks and some mulled wine while listening to a live concert, or trying to excel at fun quizzes.  

Date: December 10

Virtual event for all

12 Virtual night markets of Christmas

The South London craft market SoLo Craft Fair organises virtual Christmas markets on their Instagram stories every Monday until Christmas. Hundreds of small businesses are featured in their online stalls. All you have to do is tune in between 7pm and 9pm on market nights. If you see something you like you can click through to the maker’s website and find out how to purchase.

Dates: December 7, 14 and 21

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