Southbank Winter Festival

Beat boxing Clowns, Factory Records and African Baobab trees aren’t exactly archetypal symbols of festive cheer.

The Southbank
The Southbank

However, these are just a couple of the elements making up the quixotic line up for this year’s Winter Festival at London’s Southbank centre.

There’s more traditional fare on offer too, including Christmas card making workshops in The Clore Ballroom, choirs singing by the river, gigs in the Royal Festival Hall foyer, Christmas markets selling gifts made by UK designers and traditional festive food.

Last year's Southbank Centre Christmas Market

Source: Belinda Lawley

Last year’s Southbank Centre Christmas Market

A definite highlight looks set to be the Designers/Makers Market, which runs from  14 ­ 16 December in Festival Village at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Contemporary craft designers from throughout the UK will be selling their wares, and will also be hosting a number of workshops for both adults and children to help people create their own Christmas gifts.

Upping the design credentials even further will be Thomas Heatherwick, speaking as part of The Economist Books of the Year series of talks.

Last year's Chocolate Festival
Last year’s Chocolate Festival

Meanwhile the likes of David Shrigley, Factory Records and, somewhat incongruously, Harry Hill have also made gifts for this year’s This Is Not a Pop Up temporary (pop-up) shop.

The design-led gift and interiors collection that’ll be lining the Southbank Centre’s shop shelves is inspired by ‘British wildlife and contemporary country house chic’, according to the Southbank Centre. Homeware and furnishings from designer-makers including Thornback & Peel, Jen Rowland, Westergaard Design and Authentics will be on sale.

We’re also rather excited about the return of Slava¹s Snowshow from 17 December, which will see the Royal Festival Hall transformed with giant snow balls and indoor blizzards for the ‘theatrical clowning’ spectacle performed by a highly renowned company of clowns led by Slava Polunin.

Meow Meow

Source: Magnus Hastings

Meow Meow

Those after an alternative from the bellowings of ‘it’s behind you’ traditional panto are also in for a treat, with stage shows such as Australian cabaret sensation Meow Meow, performing Little Match Girl; Former Cirque-du-Soleil clown and mime artist Julien Cottereau’s one-man show Imagine Toi and Cloud Man, a puppet-led show for four-to-seven-year olds.

Last year's Real Food Christmas Market

Source: Belinda Lawley

Last year’s Real Food Christmas Market

Southbank Centre Winter Festival runs from 16 November  ­ 7 January 2013 at Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1. For more information visit

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