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It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

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There’s something magical about London at Christmas. The sense of tradition, the enchanting window displays and the elegant street lights ooze an optimism and cheer as we skip towards the end of the year. But London is nothing without its smorgasbord of hotels. The city has some of the grandest and most famous hotels in the world and at Christmas they come into their own with larger-than-life festive displays and decadent offerings for locals and tourists alike.

The Christmas lobby at the Four Seasons Park Lane.(Credit: Four Seasons)

You are spoilt for choice at Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, starting with a winter wonderland experience in the lobby in the shape of a giant snow-globe installation that will transport guests to an Alpine landscape. (Guests can also create their own snow-globe story by capturing a special snap with their loved ones that will be framed by the Four Seasons team.)
The hot chocolate cart at the Four Seasons Park Lane.(Credit: Four Seasons)

From the pop-up hot chocolate cart to the option of having a Christmas tree in your room, you can soak up the wonder of the season in every part of the hotel. There are limited-edition Four Seasons wreaths, by resident florist Rosalind Ackerley, which you can purchase, personal shopping packages to take the stress out of gift-buying and special festive menus, so you can soak up the finest traditional fare. It all culminates with a surprise appearance from Santa on Christmas Day.

fourseasons.com The elegant festive decorations at The Lanesborough.(Credit: The Lanesborough)

The Lanesborough, meanwhile, which is part of the Oetker Collection, taps into the magic of the season by transforming its Regency rooms into an enchanted country house filled with stunning seasonal displays. On arrival at the hotel, you are met the ‘Lucky Star’ installation, which adorns the exterior portico and entrance. The piece is by renowned event imagineer, Tony Marklew, and features a cascading curtain of glittering oversized snowflakes with a sparkling fairy light curtain.
The ‘Lucky Star’ installation.(Credit: The Lanesborough)

The central tree has been created from lace-like laser-cut metal with an internal light throwing the shapes and shadows of the structure onto the floor and walls of the lobby. Oversized glittering snowflakes in white and gold fall from various organic structures to extend the magical theme throughout the hotel space.The Lanesborough’s Festive Afternoon Tea.(Credit: www.davidcotsworth.com)
The hotel is also offering in-suite shopping, in collaboration with Harvey Nichols, and its festive dining experiences include a Festive Afternoon Tea and a Festive Set Menu, created by executive chef, Shay Cooper, which celebrates British ingredients (think: cured salmon and Lytham shrimp cocktail, Cornish cod with sprout tops and smoked bacon cream, and apple and blackberry crumble). Throughout December, The Lanesborough Grill will also be home to its intimate Festive Live Nights sessions on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, including live entertainment from the hotel’s resident musicians
oetkercollection.com
Shangri-La-La The Shard’s futuristic lift-lobby tree.(Credit: Shangri-La)
Shangri-La The Shard, London always goes the extra mile when it comes to its end-of-year celebrations. This year is no exception, with its cosmic take on traditional décor and a space-age Christmas tree designed by McQueens Flowers. Located on the hotel’s ground-floor lobby, the fantastical Christmas tree stands at 12-feet tall and is constructed using contemporary geometric metal cubes, preserved and dried blue, silver and gold florals, glittering disco balls and crinkled silver foil. In a space-age twist on traditional Christmas lights, bands of swirling neon light travel down the tree while changing in colour from purple to white.The skyline afternoon tea at Shangri-La The Shard.(Credit: Thomas Alexander Photography)
The hotel’s Christmas Afternoon Tea, served in the TING Lounge, is also celestial-themed and features galactic-inspired pastries. You can also see in 2023 at the hotel’s New Year’s Eve Party of the Future, with a satellite view over firework displays across the city.
The Sky Lounge and the hotel’s entire level 34 will be transformed into a futuristic New Year’s Eve party from an alternative universe, complete with a five-piece band and DJ, as well as secret rooms to explore, karaoke and surprise entertainment alongside champagne, cosmic cocktails and canapés. Meanwhile, GŎNG, London’s highest bar, will be closer than ever to the stars with a space-themed, Galactic New Year’s Eve party with a DJ, guaranteed window tables and Japanese sharing menus accompanied by Cristal Louis Roederer Champagne.
Shangri-la.comThe Nutcracker comes to life at One Aldwych.(Credit: Zodee Media)
One Aldwych, on the other hand, has taken The Nutcracker, the iconic Christmas classic which celebrates its 130th anniversary this year, as its point of inspiration. The hotel is bringing the ballet, based on the original story by E.T.A. Hoffmann, to life through a series of immersive festive experiences. The whole offering has been designed by stylist and artistic director Aurelien Farjon, who has previously worked on costume design for the English National Opera at the Coliseum, in collaboration with One Aldwych’s resident florist, Mark Siredzuk.One Aldwych’s festive entrance.(Credit: Zodee Media)
The story begins at the entrance to the hotel, where guests will be welcomed by Nutcrackers standing guard at the doors, a prelude to the theatrics that await in the Lobby Bar, featuring a ceiling full of golden and white stars and a pastel-hued Christmas tree – a twinkling tribute to the ethereal beauty of ballet and a nod to the dancers who will be treading the boards at the nearby Royal Opera House this Christmas.
The Lobby Bar will offer a specially curated list of five seasonal cocktails, each inspired by a different Nutcracker character, while a festive twist on the tradition afternoon tea offered in Indigo restaurant, is inspired by the Sugar Plum Fairy and the kingdom of sweets.
onealdwych.comThe gilded wonder of the Hotel Cafe Royal, where the festive afternoon tea is served.(Credit: Hotel Cafe Royal)
Meanwhile, at Hotel Café Royal there’s an indulgent Festive Afternoon Tea, served in the jewel-box-like Grade II listed Grill Room, once a favourite haunt of Oscar Wilde. Special patisseries will be hand-crafted by executive pastry chef Loic Carbonett, with a live pianist to create the perfect festive ambience. For those wanting to soak up the charm of London, the hotel is offering a two-night-stay, with real reindeers arriving on Christmas Eve, a stocking filled with gifts in-room and, on Christmas Day itself, executive chef Eliano Crespi has created a traditional menu to be served in the brasserie.
hotelcaferoyal.comThe festive dining pods at The Dorchester.(Credit: The Dorchester)
At The Dorchester, you can ascend to the rooftop to dine in the prestigious hotel’s new Winter Globes. The pod-style dining seats four to ten people, and there’s a choice of two set menus: a party menu of shareable delights, or a three-course chef’s menu, both of which include a welcome glass of Veuve Clicquot Champagne.
The culinary team has created tantalising plates inspired by the traditional Frost Fairs’ finest flavours including ‘Lobster Stockings’, Vacherin Fondue, Alpine salad, smoked trout with warm potato salad, Venison Wellington, and chestnut mandarin baked Alaska (flamed tableside) to name just a few. “Sharing plates in the winter pods spark emotions of family and togetherness, capturing the spirit and soul of London: coming together and creating delight despite the bleak winter,” says the hotel.
dorchestercollecton.comThe Strand Palace Hotel is collaborating with Pollocks Toy Museum to offer a range of festive … [+] delights.(Credit: The Strand Palace Hotel)
The Strand Palace Hotel has teamed up with traditional toyshop Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop to create a family-friendly Christmas Afternoon Tea, packed with vintage fun and games to delight children and make nostalgic adults smile. Pollock’s is a renowned London institution, famed for selling Victorian-style toy theatres since 1856, with a store in Covent Garden’s Piazza hall just a four-minute walk from the hotel.
Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop Christmas Afternoon Tea includes pastries inspired by traditional fairy tales and folklore, such as ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’s gold dusted chocolate and praline éclair’ and ‘Toymaker’s strawberry and vanilla yo-yo macaron’. For an extra sweet treat children will also receive a goodie bag to take home, including a miniature Pollock’s cut-out theatre and a surprise toy.
The Art Deco themed tearoom will be decked out with festive designs, including traditional nutcrackers, pop-up theatre-style menus and a Christmas tree tea stand. Hotel guests and passers-by alike can also enjoy the Pollock’s themed fun with a pop-up theatre selfie booth in the lobby. What’s more, in an effort to spread a little Christmas cheer beyond the hotel, Strand Palace will donate any excess goodie bags or toys to The Toy Project’s ‘No Present Too Small’ drive. This charity initiative provides Christmas gifts to children in care and families in difficult circumstances across London.
strandpalacehotel.co.ukThe Athenaeum brings festive cheer.(Credit: The Athenaeum)
Finally, at The Athenaeum Hotel, foodie delights are at the centre of proceedings. There’s a Festive Tasting Menu at 116 At The Athenaeum, a Festive Afternoon Tea and a Christmas Day Lunch with all the trimmings. On New Year’s Eve, The View Experience will include a five-course feast at 116 at The Athenaeum before diners make their way up to the tenth-floor panoramic lounge, The View, where free-flowing Bollinger awaits from 11pm. As the clock strikes midnight, guests will have a view of London’s skyline as it lights up with the city’s famous fireworks display.
athenaeumhotel.com

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ICE London 2023 to feature exhibitors from record 68 nations – IAG

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Industry trade show ICE London will feature exhibitors from a record 68 nations, topping the previous best of 65 set three years ago, according to organizer Clarion Gaming.
ICE London returns as a full-sized show for the first time since 2020 from 7 to 9 February, with the total 623 exhibitors representing everything from Argentina to Australia and Macau to Mexico.
“No other exhibition in the gaming space can come anywhere near the internationalism of ICE,” said Clarion Gaming Managing Director, Stuart Hunter.
“To have 68 nations represented by our community of exhibitors means that visitors are immediately part of what is a global experience with unique access to the smartest gaming innovators drawn from every corner of the world. There are very few exhibitions of scale in any industry sector which are able to compare with such international representation and legitimately lay claim to being a ‘global’ or a ‘world’ event.
“Once an event is recognized as being genuinely international, stakeholder groups including brands, regulators, trade associations, media groups and strategic industry-wide bodies focus their activities accordingly.
“Research that we’ve undertaken has shown that for many people ICE and iGB Affiliate London actually start on the Sunday preceding and finish on the following Saturday. In that week we estimate that over 100 gambling industry events will take place outside of the show hours providing a new and compelling perspective on why ICE and iGB Affiliate London are so influential and important to the world industry.”
IAG will have a team of four at ICE London next week. Visit us at Stand ND7-C.

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David Ford and Annie Dressner Live in London

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There’s something special about London on a Saturday night – there’s a certain buzz in the air as you head into the Capital city. For me that buzz was extra special, as I was going to see David Ford and Annie Dressner at The Lexington in Islington. I literally listened to their ’10 Days (Live)’ album for the first time a week ago, but since then it’s been on repeat and heading in I knew that the night was going to be special.
The Lexington is a great place for music, with a bar on the ground floor before heading up the winding stairs to the spacious venue itself. And as the crowd started coming in, the atmosphere in the room was growing by the minute.
Opening the night was Scottish singer songwriter Gary Stewart. He set the night off really well, with an engaging set that got the crowd onside from the start. He opened with his 2021 single ‘Hot To Trot‘ and you already knew the set was going to be a good one – a rousing folk song with great lyrical dexterity. The highlight of the set was ‘Frontlines’, a simply gorgeous song (check out a YouTube video of the song here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDCLwYwsesk). Gary ended with a fine cover of Paul Simon’s ‘Song for the Asking’.
It was time for a quick visit to the bar before settling down for the main event. 
The duo appeared on the stage to great applause, David in an orange shirt and Annie in a sparkling black dress. They opened with ‘Easy Falling’, the first song that I’ve ever heard of theirs, and a song that convinced me I needed to listen to the rest of the album. This slow and moving number is a touching love song and shows off the brilliant harmonies of David and Annie – there’s something special about the English (David) and US accents (Annie) mingling in the way that they do. 
Throughout the set, there were so many highlights. ‘Something I’ll Have to Learn‘ is a song with an almost timeless feel that feels like a conversation in song, Annie’s original ‘Strangers Who Knew Each Other’s Names‘ was simply brilliant and ‘Some Folks Are Lucky I Guess‘ is a song with a great sentiment. ‘Can’t Help What I Want‘ (below) is a great example of those brilliant harmonies that the two share.

‘Trash‘, a cover of the Suede hit, was a particular highlight – a song that was a nice surprise on the live album. As they break into ‘Oh maybe, maybe it’s the clothes you wear‘ it almost feels like this was a song that Suede wrote for David and Annie, their version is that good. Outstanding.
The set had a second cover, a song that Annie introduced as ‘an American classic‘. This classic was ‘Ain’t No Pleasing You‘ from Chas and Dave, a song that typified the cockney sound of London back in the 1980’s. I love the way they re-worked it and there was something special about the way Annie sings the word ‘Darling’ in her US twang that just resonated and put a smile on my face.
There were great moments of humour throughout the night, the chat between the two great. At one point mid-song, Annie passed her guitar to David, exclaiming ‘I knew there were chords in this song, I just didn’t know which ones‘ which had the crowd laughing.
The best of the night was saved till last. ‘Warning Sign’ had quickly become my favourite song from the pair and hearing it live in person lived up to all expectations. There’s such a beauty in live music, and hearing songs like this with other people in a venue can really bring a song home – and almost even change your own personal relationship with a song.
The final song of the night (there was no encore as David explained that they literally had no more songs!) was ‘Put Me In A Corner’. Annie’s vocals take the lead in this track and it was just magical, the emotion of the song emanating from the stage and filling the room. You can listen and see for yourself below.

You never know what to expect when you see an artist or artists perform for the first time. Some exceed expectations and some just don’t hit the heights you expect. In David Ford and Annie Dressner, it was definitely the former. The gig was stripped back – just two people on a stage creating a moment. And what a moment it was.
Annie and David and reviewer Nick Cantwell
Check out their websites and hit and follow the social links!
http://www.dressnerford.com/

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http://anniedressner.com/
***Note – I need to say a word about the audience for the gig. The audience was impeccable, with barely any talking at all at any point (apart from whispered orders at the bar). Credit goes to Gary, Annie and David, who managed to grab the audience from the start, but also to everyone there. If you were there yourself, give yourself a high five!***
Review written by Nick Cantwell (instagram.com/nickcantwellmanagement)
 
 
 


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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties – Church Times

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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties  Church Times

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