5 December 2023

Experiential Events Are Now Hot Christmas Brands

The rise of the Christmas pop-up

Pop-ups aren’t just for marketing these days – these experiential events are now hot Christmas brands in their own right. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by a lot of hotels, country houses, parks, and just about any public space, which are being transformed into ticket-only, money-making opportunities for their owners.


Judging by the variety of popular Yuletide venues appearing all over the country, this is no seasonal fad – the Christmas pop-up is here to stay.


So, which ones stand out, why, and where do we find these life size, walk-in snow globes?


Christmas at Kew Gardens

Christmas at Kew is an extravaganza. This year the magnificent Palm House is hosting a light show, while the Temperate House lights promise to take our breath away. The winter trail leads you around the grounds where the trees and surroundings are decorated with over a million lights this year. So, ponder that as you take it all in. As you’d expect, hot cider and mince pies will be available.

When: 15 November to 7 January


The Southbank Winter Festival

We’re staying in London to visit Southbank’s Winter Market. It’s being described as ‘wondrous’ for good reason – situated right next to the mighty Thames, visitors stroll along the riverbank under twinkling lights as they make their way past all the stalls. From street food and drink to artisan gifts and chocolate, the market is seasonal pop-up heaven.

But that’s not all, for the organisers have also arranged carol concerts and choirs, luminous art, and other festive family fun. They also promise visitors some festive classical music performances including Christmas Classics, ET in Concert with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Christmas in Tinseltown. ET in Concert? Okay, now that should be interesting…

There’s also Christmas Actually – a variety show curated by Love Actually writer and director Richard Curtis throughout Thursday 7 to Monday 11 December.

The whole shebang runs until 7 January.


The Best Festive Pop-Up Bars

Our first pick is Miracle by the Experimental Group. Miracle is a kitsch festive pop-up bar gracing the Henrietta Hotel in Covent Garden. It’s a piece of Christmas wonder, decked out with retro decorations and coloured lights. It’s also offering cocktails with quaint monikers such as the Christmapolitan and Snowball Old Fashioned. Table time is limited to one hour and 45 minutes, but that’s more than enough to kick-start your Christmas pub crawl in style.

Running from mid-November, time slots are as follows: 1pm / 3pm / 5pm / 7pm / 9pm

Meanwhile, if you’re in the North of England, then our second pick gives you a choice of three brilliant pop-up venues. Manchester is hosting two by Bar Hutte – one at Great Northern and the other at Kampus. Bar Hutte has also created a third at Chavasse Park in Liverpool ONE. Each features cosy huts decked out with rustic furnishings, twinkling lights, and who needs the Alps when you’ve got karaoke machines? Santé!

Deck the Halls at Pergola Paddington

Deck the Halls at Pergola Paddington is one of the most ambitious and successful pop-up venues in the UK. The upper floor is home to a winter forest, although for complete authenticity, you’ll need to provide your own squirrels. Meanwhile, downstairs has been transformed into an alpine wonderland. The cosy Alpine Hall sits amidst snow dusted pines and the obligatory fairy lights to maximise the authentic feeling.

Deck the Halls hosts festive parties and Christmas singalongs by candlelight. It’s also got bottomless winter brunches and a gospel choir on offer, as well as Christmas movie screening (we’re crossing our fingers for Elf). Together with mulled wine, hot toddies, and boozy hot chocolates, we’re guessing quite a few people will miss their trains.

Deck the Halls is running through to the end of December.


Has the rise of the Christmas pop-up as a successful annual fixture given you crazy ideas for more than mere marketing?

If so, we’ve got the kind of job opportunities to make you feel dizzy. And if you’re seeking the employee of your dreams, we’ve also got creative geniuses on our books, so give our brilliant mustard XP team a call. Our telephone hotline is 0117 929 6060.


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