December 05, 2012 at 03:00 AM EST
A Traditional Christmas in London at Lesser-Known Museums
LONDON, ENGLAND, December 05, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- For those who want to go off the beaten track when celebrating Christmas this year, London's smaller museums and historic houses could offer the perfect answer. One of London's most memorable Christmas experience comes at Dennis Severs' House, where you can wander round a Georgian house in Spitalfields that has been evocatively decorated with the sights and smells of an 18th-century Christmas. Another of London's quirkier Christmas specials is the Christmas Past exhibition at the Geffrye Museum. This museum, located in an east London almshouse, traces changes in interior design from 1600, and at Christmas time that means showing the way the season has been celebrated in different eras. There are also concerts, talks and Christmas wreath-making workshops.

As the Geffrye exhibition demonstrates, Christmas only really got going in the Victorian era, and much of that was down to Charles Dickens, who publicised many of the traditions we now celebrate each year. The newly restored Dickens Museum in Bloomsbury - a former home of Dickens - offers guided Christmas walks that start in the museum before heading off to explore the surrounding streets. There is a special Boxing Day walk that includes mulled wine and mince pies at the museum.

Another opportunity to experience a historic Christmas in London comes at Bethnal Green's V&A Museum of Childhood. This wonderful venue will celebrate Christmas every weekend with festive tours of the doll's house collections, storytelling and craft sessions. Also good for kids is the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, who hold a Christmas Fayre this weekend with a Christmas market, Santa's Grotto, carol concert, children's activities, mulled wine and hot food stalls. And at Benjamin Franklin's House in Charing Cross, you can enjoy an eighteenth-century children's party, with traditional carols, crafts and treats, at this former home of the US politician, writer and scientist.

There are also events for grown-ups, such as a talk given at the Petrie Museum in Bloomsbury. This little museum, part of the University College London, is devoted to Egyptology and on December 13 hosts a talk about the festivities that were enjoyed by Egyptian pharaohs. One event suitable for all ages is the Brunel Museum's Underground Christmas. This is held every Sunday in December at the Brunel Museum, and features talks about the underwater Christmas banquet, the underwater fairground and other parties and revels that were once held under the river in the Thames Tunnel - the underground tunnel beneath the museum in Rotherhithe. The Brunel will also be hosting a Christmas pop-up eco-restaurant this weekend.

Finally, music lovers can enjoy several spectacular concerts this Christmas. For traditionalists, the Handel Museum in Mayfair has organised a Christmas Through The Ages concert at the nearby Grosvenor Chapel. A leading London chamber choirs will perform a programme of seasonal music, which will include traditional Christmas music from the medieval period to the present day. The 1940s Christmas Concert at the RAF Museum Hendon also promises to be a lot of fun. These feature the Swinging Sweethearts, who perform classic Christmas wartime favourites underneath the Museum's Lancaster aircraft in Bomber Hall; as well a selection of traditional hymns and carols.

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