Coronavirus has a lot to answer for, and while being able to enjoy a few frivolities over Christmas isn’t at the top of the list, it’s still likely to put a downer on December. Here are some of the popular Christmas activities that have been curtailed by the pandemic, and some suggestions on how to enjoy some virus-friendly alternatives.
Sit on Santa’s knee
We all know Santa doesn’t really slog out to Milton Keynes every year to hang out in a shopping centre before circumnavigating a hundred roundabouts on his way back to Lapland. That’s because the real Santa goes to the Christmas grotto at Harrods. Alas this year the event is cancelled, not because putting your child onto the lap of a disguised stranger is a deeply strange ritual, but because it’s hard to social distance while literally sitting on another person.
Harrods has instead created an “immersive exploration” with children’s author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers. “While we can’t bring the Harrods Christmas Grotto to you, we’re delivering you festive moments through the magic of storytelling… Whether you join us in-store for our exciting event or tune in from your sofa with our at-home activities, this Christmas, we’re bringing creativity to you.”
Go ice skating at Somerset House
While the thought of socially distanced ice skating sounds rather romantic, in practice even those with the best of intentions may struggle to avoid human contact while gliding across a plane of ice.
Somerset House says it “regrets” the annual tradition will not be able to go ahead this winter. “Although we are disappointed we cannot present this highlight of London’s winter season, we are determined to ensure that Somerset House’s beautiful courtyard can still provide a unique gathering space this winter which, after this prolonged period of being apart, feels more important than ever.”
Visit Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland
This one may actually be a blessing in disguise for parents who secretly dread the thought of being crammed into a Christmas-themed Glastonbury while their offspring demand access to expensive rides and even more expensive snacks. Still, nothing quite gets you in the Christmas spirit like emptying your wallet at breakneck speed.
“Hyde Park Winter Wonderland has always been about bringing friends and family together in a fun, safe and interactive environment to celebrate the festive season,” say the organisers of Winter Wonderland.
“Our team has worked tirelessly, exploring every possible option in the hopes of being able to move forward with the event in a responsible manner and provide London with some much-needed festive cheer.
“However, in light of ongoing health concerns and uncertainty surrounding Covid-19, and considering the size and scale of this event, we just couldn’t find a way to do that without compromising the magical attractions, shows, rides, bars and experience that makes Hyde Park Winter Wonderland so special.”
Meet old friends on Christmas Eve
Another favourite tradition over the festive period is the good old-fashioned knees up on Christmas eve, ensuring your wake up on the big day with a raging hangover that can only be mitigated by imbibing some 10am buck’s fizz.
This year you can wake up headache free thanks to Covid restrictions that make the businesses of running a pub utterly untenable. While Boris’ special “Christmas Bubble” – a membrane that Covid is officially unable to breach – allows three households to mix from 23-27 December, they can only meet in private homes, not bars or restaurants.
In Tier 2 – which London is currently in – pubs and bars must close unless they serve a “substantial meal” alongside the alcohol, and you can only meet up with friends and family indoors if you either live with them or have formed a support bubble. However, business meetings are still technically allowed; do as you see fit with that information.
The good news is that the government has been extremely clear that scotch eggs are both substantial and a meal, so your favourite spherical snack will be on the menu across the country.
Disgrace yourself at the work Christmas do
This is really the same as not being able to meet your mates on Christmas eve, but it comes with the added bonus that you can’t drunkenly offend your boss and spend the next 11 months regretting your decision to attend in the first place. The good news is that with a vaccine on the way, you’ll almost certainly be able to disgrace yourself next year. Merry Christmas!