For some, the long nights and low temperatures of winter can seem like a bit of drag. London, however, excels at using colour as a means of cheering the heart and warming the soul. From the red buses to the vibrant West End lights, the Capital seems determined to transcend the weather and its venues are also pulling out all the stops. The vibrant costumes of the various productions and the riot of red and gold at places like the Royal Albert Hall are set to lift everybody’s spirits as they prepare for the New Year.

Magic Lantern Festival – Chiswick House
Magic Lantern Festival – Chiswick House
A pan-cultural extravaganza in the heart of West London, the Magic Lantern Festival combines Christmas cheer with the exciting shapes and hues of traditional Chinese light displays. The majestic venue of Chiswick House, together with its expansive gardens provide the ideal setting for this carnival of colour.

The lights go far beyond the usual reindeer and tree combinations seen elsewhere. Giant pandas, offbeat manga characters and other odd shapes all help to make this an absorbing night out. If you’ve ever looked for an excuse to indulge in Chinese food during Christmas, then this is the place to be.

Hamilton – Victoria Palace Theatre
Hamilton - Victoria Palace Theatre
Hip-hop musicals are not new and many have done well, albeit without challenging the likes of Phantom and Les Mis. The genius of Hamilton is that it takes an obscure character from American history and uses him as a vehicle for some truly ground-breaking material.

Using historical manuscripts, the musical traces the arguments that led to the birth of a nation by using rap battle techniques and multicultural casting. Hamilton has received rave reviews on Broadway and after some minor delays is set to take the West End by storm. Provocative, ground-breaking art does not come along that often. December 2017 marks the start of something really special in Theatreland.

Christmas Schedule – Royal Albert Hall
Christmas Schedule - Royal Albert Hall
Promoter, Raymond Gubbay is as omnipresent as Santa during the festive season and is the main reason why the Royal Albert Hall is full of glitzy events from now until the new year. His shows range from the frothy and light-hearted to the solemn and grandiose.

Included in the schedule are perennial family favourites like Carols By Candlelight, Christmas Singalong and Jingle Bell Christmas. A full performance of Handel’s Messiah and a concert by Katherine Jenkins will appeal to the more classically inclined.

Jack and the Beanstalk – Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith
Jack and the Beanstalk – Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith
The fashion for alt-panto grips the Capital this December as anarchic versions of traditional family Christmas entertainment spring up all over. Jack and the Beanstalk is one of the best of them and features plenty of subversive in jokes amongst all the knockabout comedy.

As usual, the plot gets jettisoned early on as a procession of madcap characters make their way up the beanstalk in order to thwart an evil landlord who is intent on exploiting a chronic shortage in affordable housing. In this riotous version, Jack is a plucky young woman who battles the grotesque villain Fleshcreep in order to save her mum, brother and pet cow. She’s assisted by the eccentric Dame Lotte who talks to plants. There’s plenty of sweets and fake snow for the kids in case they get distracted from the story which won’t be hard to do.