What To See and Do at the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival

By Ellie Smith

2 years ago

The banks of the Thames are being transformed into a winter wonderland this season

Returning to London’s riverside this November is the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival, a jam-packed and cheerful programme of festive exhibitions, events and performances. From musicals to comedy shows, dance extravaganzas to dazzling light shows, there’s something for all ages – here are some of the highlights.

Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival 2022: Highlights

Winter Lights

Each day from 4pm to 11pm, visitors will be able to see the Southbank Centre’s buildings and riverside walk aglow with 11 low-energy LED light works. Designed by a collection of 10 contemporary artists, the installations use light and colour to explore important topics like the environment, technology, and identity. Emily Mulenga’s Fantasy Star Online will look at society’s increasing consumption of media, while Lisa Cheung and Alex J. Tuckwood’s STELA (Super Terrestrial Electric Light Aurora) is a reminder of the fragility of nature. New works will continue to be installed up until December. From 10 November 2022, 4pm – 11pm each day

New Year's Eve at Royal Festival Hall

Vintage Festival

New Year’s Eve Spectacular

Looking for something a bit different this New Year’s Eve? Party through the decades at the Royal Festival Hall, where each floor is being transformed to reflect a different time period for the annual New Year’s Eve Spectacular. Think dance classes, themed nightclubs, live acts, DJs, photo booths and more, with plenty of options for drinking and dining – and a view of the city’s fireworks display from various terraces. 31 December 2022, 7pm

The Guilty Feminist, Deborah Frances-White

Live Performances

The festival will also include a wide variety of theatre and live performances – including two brand new shows for 2022. Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol (8 December 2022 –  8 January 2023) gives Dickens’ classic tale a Tennessee twist, while Hey Duggee: The Live Theatre Show (14 December – 8 January 2023) is a children’s production based on the CBeebies programme. Visitors can also catch comedian The Guilty Feminist (Deborah Frances-White) alongside a line-up of LGBTQ+ names in The Guilty Feminist Presents Camp as Christmas (3 December 2022) – with proceeds going towards Say It Loud Club for LGBTQ+, a charity which provides support to LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. Also set to be a highlight is a festive edition of the ever-popular Off Menu podcast with Ed Gamble and James Acaster (20 December 2022), which is sadly already sold out.

Winter Market

We all love a festive market – and the Southbank’s offering is always particularly special, complete with alpine-style chalets, private igloos and plenty of seasonal food and drink. For the first time ever, The Curling Club will arrive on the Southbank, offering visitors the chance to try the seasonal sport while tucking into cocktails and food, like bratwurst and charcuterie. There’s also Jimmy Garcia’s Fire and Fromage pop-up (where you can enjoy unlimited raclette), craft beers at Beltane and Pop, and Belgian chocolate desserts at Choco Fruit. 

The Curling Club

Ryan Dinham


Fancy trying something new this winter? The festival will offer an introduction to DJing with Saliah, alongside group art sessions focused on the stories of women and non-binary people of colour. You can also have a boogie at a daytime rave or a Christmas Eve jive, experience a night of text-based cabaret at What Words Are Ours, and get into the festive spirit at Choral Winter Warmers, which will feature Christmas classics from local choirs. 

For more information and to book tickets, visit southbankcentre.co.uk

Featured image: Dichroic Sphere, Jakob Kvist, photo by Christoffer Askman