If you visit London’s West and Mayfair this Christmas you can’t help but notice the colourful festive decorations and lights, which are looking fantastic. As usual, Fortnum & Mason have decked out the front of their famous store on Piccadilly as a 2023 Advent Calendar and the Cartier store on New Bond Street is as innovative and creative as usual.
But take a walk through Burlington Arcade and you will find something a little different this year, as the 196-yard arcade that runs from Piccadilly through to Burlington Gardens, has unveiled its inaugural Christmas Grotto which has been designed by florist Jane Wadham and artist Aga Skiba. This follows on the heels of the arcade’s Ladurée x Summer Garden we wrote about back in September.
The façade of the Grotto has been hand painted by Aga Skiba who creates eye-catching installations referencing three inspirations consistent with the magic of Burlington Arcade: the beauty of nature, childhood memories and memorable travel experiences.
Burlington Arcade’s festive decorations have been designed by Jane Wadham and were inspired by a traditional classic Christmas and nature. When walking through the arcade you will see that the entire length is dressed in fresh pine trees, wreaths and twinkling lights. And do take moment when you walk through the entrance at either end, as you should be able to smell the natural aroma of pine, fresh cinnamon sticks, dried citrus and pinecones, which should enlighten your sensory experience.
Last week, florist Jo Imrie, founder of Cut Flower Design, launched the festive programme with a two-hour wreath workshop using ingredients that will last for many Christmases to come. The following day, a second wreath workshop took place, run by renowned London florists McQueens, helping you discover the artisanal methods behind making a show stopping wreath, customised with an array of seasonal ingredients that included blue spruce pine, fragrant eucalyptus, fresh rose hips, pinecones, dried oranges and dried limes.
Other carefully curated activities arranged over the festive period range from a festive table landscaping showcase and Christmas feast with Michelin-trained chef Aleixandre Sarrion and his team, to Biscuiteers workshops, teaching techniques, tips and tricks used by the brand’s expert icers, focussing on the decoration of four festive styles of biscuit: a Christmas tree, Snowman, Present and a Jolly Ginger.
All workshop attendees will get to enjoy some complimentary Justerini & Brooks 250th Anniversary Cuvée Champagne in celebration of Britain’s longest standing fine wine and spirits merchants opening its first retail space at Burlington Arcade in January 2024.
Singer, New York Times best-selling author, producer and actress Geri Halliwell Horner will be hosting a special Christmas workshop for the children and families of The Rainbow Trust Charity, which supports families caring for a seriously ill child. Next Thursday 14th December she will be reading an extract of her new book “Rosie Frost and the Falcon Queen”, which is a fast-paced adventure on a hidden island filled with family secrets, shocking betrayals and girl power.
Neoclassical pianist Camden Bonsu-Stewart, also known as Camdenmusique, will perform on a Baby Grand Piano positioned in the middle of the arcade walkway on Thursday 14th December from 1pm to 5pm.
There is a dedicated Grotto housing a luxury gift wrapping service from new British start-up, COLFORD, available on Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th December. COLFORD uses only the finest, sustainably made materials, giving a service that will elevate any seasonal gift, with prices ranging from £15 per item.
Internationally renowned luxury leather brand Strathberry will be providing on site customisation from resident artist and leather painter Aivis Provejs this coming Saturday 9th December. Provejs’ art is bold and rich in colour, bringing contemporary expression to any handbag and apparel item.
The Burlington Arcade Grotto will be open throughout December, hosting an extensive programme of festive experiences. For more information about the arcade and festive workshops, please visit: www.burlingtonarcade.com.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a former member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of Burlington Arcade