Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without endless festive films. Whether you’re watching all the Harry Potter movies on the telly as you countdown to December 25th, settling down to watch Love Actually for the 139th time or looking forward to every Netflix Christmas film, there’s something quite perfect about getting cosy on the couch and watching winter unfold on the screen.
And if you love all the Christmas movies, how about getting yourself down to Kensington Palace for a showing of your favourite festive films?
Next month the historic royal residence will open its doors to guests who want to attend the Luna Cinema pop-up. From 15th – 23rd December you can head to the Pavilion located on the Orangery Lawn of the Palace which has been transformed into a beautiful purple-lit room complete with fairy lights and Christmas trees.
One way to shake up the festive viewings and enjoy movies like The Holiday,Love Actually,Elf, The Grinch and Home Alone.
If you’re after something a bit different, they’ll also be screening It’s A Wonderful Life, Bohemian Rhapsody and The Greatest Showman.
Snacks and popcorn will be available, as will mulled wine, beer and Prosecco.
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London are always putting on proper magical events for Potterheads. This year, there was an epic Halloween dinner in the Great Hall, complete with a deliciously spooky feast and dessert in the Forbidden Forest alongside Buckbeak the Hippogriff and Aragog the Acromantula.
They’re also throwing a Hogwarts Christmas dinner for anyone who wants some festive fun HP style, decking the halls and revamping the wizarding world into a winter wonderland with snow-covered Christmas trees, icicles and a festively decorated Gryffindor common room.
However, if you’re after something a bit darker and greener, book a broomstick to take you there next year because Warner Bros. Studios has announced that something extra special will be happening – and if your Pottermore test has landed you in the Slytherin camp, this one is for you.
The Celebration of Slytherin is dedicated to the most ambitious and cunning of the Hogwarts houses, and will be a treat for anyone who likes a sprinkle of dark magic. You can discover the secrets behind the Slytherin costumes and props from the films and for the first time ever the Great Hall will be dressed up in greens and silvers to celebrate a Slytherin victory of the House Cup.
Expect to see a grand feast and original hanging banners, too.
If you’re keen to see more it’ll be running from 3rd April to 6th September 2020. Tickets for the Studio Tour will cost you £47 and must be pre-booked here.
And that’s not all they’ve got up their sleeves in the new year, as they’ll also be celebrating Halloween with a nod to the Dark Arts featuring 100 floating pumpkins in the Great Hall and a feast of lollipops and red apples. Visitors can try combat moves against Death Eaters and expect a spooky makeover for Diagon Alley.
Who doesn’t love an afternoon tea? Fancy little sandwiches, pots of posh Rosy Lee, tiny and delicious cakes, glasses of fizz…
Now imagine an afternoon tea with a delightful Disney theme. A few have already made their way to the capital – there’s a Mad Hatter’s tea party, an Aladdin extravaganza and a Beauty and the Beast party you can sign up to.
However, if you’re looking for something particularly supercalifragilisticexpialidocious then you’ll be pleased to know that a Mary Poppins afternoon tea is happening in London town and you’re going to want to book your ticket ASAP.
The event at the Aqua Shard will include a mix of sweet and savoury treats. You’ll be transported to Mary’s magical world with a menu on a gilt gold mirror, a cake stand with an umbrella at the top and silver booted feet at the base, and extra special Poppins-themed crockery.
From the savoury selection, you can expect Cackleberry farm egg and truffle, Dingley Dell honey roast ham and mustard, Ploughman’s and a Devon crab and cucumber brioche finger sandwiches, as well as crumpets served with smoked salmon and cream cheese.
Credit: Aqua Shard
To follow, enjoy homemade scones with jam and clotted cream. You can choose between two bespoke teas – Mary’s Tea (an exotic blend of Darjeeling from India, Ceylon from Sri Lanka and Keemun and rose petals from China) and Bert’s Tea (a smoky combination of Souchong and Keemun from China, Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka and vanilla flavouring and cornflower from Sussex).
If you’re opting for bubbles, there will be a Champagne flute with a kite that flies from the glass and you’ll be able to choose to add ‘medicine’ to the glass with a choice of homemade liqueurs.
Sweet treats include a pink sponge, Mary’s hat with a black Cherry Tree Lane mousse covered in dark chocolate and Fairground Candy Floss.
If you want to book a table it costs £49 per person, or £66 with a class of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Champagne, and £72 with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Rosé.
Plus, you’ll get panoramic views of London from your spot on the 31st floor.
Disney lovers and film fanatics – there’s a job that will allow you to watch your favourite movies and actually get paid for it.
Whether you’re a Beauty and the Beast kinda gal, a dedicated Lion King warbler, or you just can’t get enough of Mary Poppins (who can, really?) we’ve got some great news. All you have to do is watch a Disney film a day and you’ll receive a nice little lump sum for your time.
Five of the ‘biggest, baddest Disney fans out there’ will be expected to watch 30 Disney films in 30 days ahead of the launch of the Disney+ streaming service. Reviews.org needs some super fans to take on the task, and what a task it is.
The applicants will need to pick 30 of their fave Disney movies or TV shows and commit to watching one a day for a month. It’ll earn you $1,000, a Disney-themed movie-watching kit (complete with cosy mouse-themed blanket, four cups ‘that would make Mickey proud’ and a Pixar popcorn popper with popcorn kernels.
On top of that, you’ll also get a subscription to Disney+ for a whole year. Hakuna matata for 365 days.
To put yourself forward, all you have to do is fill out this simple application form and send a short video of yourself reviewing your favourite Disney film. Then cross your fingers (or rub your magic lamp).
However, it must be noted that it’s only open to US citizens and permanent residents, so if you’re from the UK you’re not eligible. Sorry. Let it go.
If you are a US citizen and this sounds like your dream job, you also need to be over 18 years old.
To whoever actually gets this job, we’re already really jealous. We want to be part of that world. Imagine what fun lies just around the river bend.
But if you like things super spooky and watching The Ring in the dark doesn’t cut it, have you thought about visiting one of the UK’s most haunted houses?
Authentic Vacations has listed the scariest places across the country if you love a good ghost story and aren’t afraid to head into a place known for ghosts and ghouls.
To find out which spots are the spookiest, they analysed the number of mentions in ‘most haunted’ articles online as well as taking into account the TripAdvisor reviews. Each place was then ranked by mentions and percentage of scary reviews to get a total score.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your coat and head down to the most haunted houses, pubs and castles in the UK…
Haunted Houses UK
Ancient Ram Inn
‘Scare score’: 83/100
‘Scare score’: 64/100
Skirrid Mountain Inn
‘Scare score’: 59/100
‘Scare score’: 58/100
‘Scare score’: 56/100
‘Scare score’: 51/100
Tower of London
‘Scare score’: 50/100
‘Scare score’: 45/100
Tulloch Castle Hotel
‘Scare score’: 43/100
‘Scare score’: 37/100
Will you be booking a trip to one of the most haunted houses in the UK?
Remembering happy moments is key to our sense of self and overall well-being, so how do we hold onto them in our tech-overloaded lives? Rosie Mullender reports
It’s happened to the best of us: those moments when a laptop freezes or a phone dies, and we feel a wave of panic as our brain scrambles to remember when we last backed up – and which memories have been lost. From photos of life’s big moments to lists of the books we’ve read and films we’ve seen, we’re increasingly reliant on technology to keep our happiest memories safe. So-called ‘cognitive offloading’ – outsourcing our need to remember things to the internet – is changing the way our brains store information and eroding our ability to recall them for ourselves.
But, being able to make and recall happy memories is crucial to our overall well-being, and is the subject of a new book by Meik Wiking, a researcher at the Happiness Research Institute. The Art Of Making Memories aims to boost the number of experiences we can turn into happy memories and, crucially, teach us how to remember them.
‘Happy memories form the cornerstone of our identity, and can help with combating depression and loneliness,’ says Wiking. ‘They influence our happiness in the current moment, as well as providing a framework for our hopes and dreams about the future.’ Nostalgia makes us happy, increasing self-esteem and strengthening social connectedness, so the more vividly we remember the good times, the happier we are overall.
When it comes to memory, says Wiking, researchers have identified a ‘reminiscence bump’ – the years in early adulthood that we remember most vividly. The decades in which we tend to experience the most ‘firsts’ – first kiss, first job, first home – are the most memorable. By comparison, when we enter the daily grind in our thirties and forties, memories tend to blur together. ‘Finding ways we can continue to achieve new experiences is a good strategy for making memories that will last for decades,’ says Wiking, but that doesn’t have to mean spending a fortune on exotic travel, or ditching your job. Stepping out of your comfort zone, even if that just means trying food you’ve never eaten before, can help to make a memory harder to forget.
‘If an experience is emotional, it sticks in our mind, whether it was good or bad,’ explains Wiking. ‘Doing something that scares us is like using an emotional highlighter pen. When making a decision, ask yourself, “What will I remember in ten years’ time?” On holiday, you might like to read a book, but going on a jet ski for the first time will be more memorable. Even though you won’t always want to choose that option, it’s important to involve your future self in that decision.’
‘Being mindful is like turning up the volume of an experience and helps embed it in your memory’
Staying present in each moment also helps solidify memories. ‘You could be in the most amazing place in the world, but if your mind is still back in the office, or going over an argument you had with your boyfriend, you won’t be fully present,’ says Deborah Smith, positive psychologist and author of Grow Your Own Happiness. ‘We live in two modes: the narrative and the experiential,’ she adds. ‘When we’re locked in the narrative mode – a dialogue is going on in your head, or you’re giving yourself a hard time – it stops you being in the moment, no matter how good it might be, which creates a lot of anxiety.
‘The more you can bring yourself back to the moment – into the experiential mode – the better. Try to be aware of your environment, really seeing, hearing and feeling it, so that all your senses are awake and alive. Being mindful is like turning up the volume of an experience and helps embed it in your memory.’
If you’ve ever heard a song or encountered a familiar fragrance and been whisked straight back to another time and place, you’ll know how potent our senses are when it comes to evoking memories, and harnessing this potency can help cement them. The artist Andy Warhol changed the scent he wore every three months, then never wore it again. He knew that whenever he smelled it, he’d be taken back to that specific period of time. And while Warhol’s way of embedding memories might be extravagant, we can apply the same principle to our own lives.
‘Research shows that when people with dementia are played particular songs, it can help to trigger their memory,’ explains Smith. ‘You can try it yourself: put on a track you loved when you were 16, and you’ll suddenly remember what you were doing and who you were hanging out with.’ Making a playlist for special moments, or linking them to a particular smell, can help us recall them in more vivid detail later on. Even listening to a particular album on your commute and switching it up every couple of months can help you recall different periods of time more clearly.
Of course, most of us use visual cues to remember happy times. But, Smith warns, there’s a balance to be struck between capturing memories and ruining the moment. ‘Research has shown that our memory of an event is actually stronger if we haven’t taken lots of photos,’ she says. ‘If you’re taking 100 pictures of a sunset, you’re not really seeing it.’
Wiking advises setting up an Instagram or Facebook account for photos that might seem boring to other people, but will work as memory triggers for you. ‘What we choose to post on social media is partly influenced by what other people will think,’ he explains. ‘But the photos that will be meaningful for us get edited out.’
Once you’ve got into the habit of savouring your happy moments, they’ll become easier to remember. And, Smith says, it’s not just the big occasions we should be committing to memory. ‘Celebrate all your victories, no matter how big or small. If you’re striving for something, commemorate each goalpost along the way. There are so many lovely moments in life we think don’t count, but if you pay attention, every one of them can.’
Five quick tricks for making joyful memories stick
Don’t just see, observe
Selective attention means the brain filters out anything it thinks isn’t relevant. By concentrating on the details of a moment, you’re more likely to remember it. Practise switching from the narrative to experiential.
Our senses are continually bombarded, so to keep your mind focused on the present, it helps to remove other distractions. Put your phone away and notice the difference it makes.
Repeating anecdotes strengthens the ‘muscle’ of a memory. Talking about a happy time a week, month and year after the event will solidify it. It’s also a great way of helping kids form strong childhood memories.
Enjoy the journey
As well as remembering hedonic pleasures, think back to how you felt when you strived for a long-term goal or went through a period of personal growth. So-called eudaimonic pleasure adds meaning to our lives.
End experiences with a bang
The peak-end effect means we remember the peak and end of an experience above everything else. So, if you weave a special moment into the last part of an event, you’ll create a more positive memory overall.
The Art Of Making Memories: How To Create And Remember Happy Moments by Meik Wiking (£12.99, Penguin Life); Grow Your Own Happiness by Deborah Smith (£12.99, Aster Books)
But what if we told you that you can also celebrate Christmas the ultimate Friends way?
Well, now you can because an entire festive festival is coming to the UK and we are so ready.
Comedy Central UK is bringing FriendsFestive to London in November and it will feature a number of recognisable sets all decorated to make you the merriest. You’ll also get to ring Phoebe’s bell outside the mall, recreate the titles in the snow, re-enact the infamous Thanksgiving floating heads scene and enjoy some festive food and drinks.
There will also be brand new photo ops, exclusive merch and the Holiday Armadillo’s grotto.
You’ll need to get yourself down to Truman Brewery, Shoreditch, London from from 28th November – 21st December if you want to get involved and tickets cost £34.50 including a booking fee and a festive drinks.
If you’re a huge Downton Abbey fan (and, let’s be honest – who isn’t?) you’ve probably already been to the cinema three times to watch the Downton Abbey movie.
But what if you had the chance to actually stay in the gorgeous Highclere Castle, aka the home of DA?
Well, you can make that dream a reality because it is about to be listed on Airbnb and anyone who loves the show and wants to live their boujiest life for the night can pack their bags and head to Hampshire.
Two fans will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stay at the iconic location and will be treated like royalty during their stay, too. The Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, who currently reside there, are inviting their guests to join them for cocktails in the Saloon, followed by a traditional dinner in the State Dining Room and will be waited on by their very own butler.
Afterwards the lucky fans will be treated to coffee in the Library before tucking into bed in one of the principal bedrooms, complete with an en-suite bathroom and views of over 1,000 acres of parkland. The next morning breakfast will be served, followed by a tour of the grounds.
Lady Carnarvon, Host on Airbnb comments: ‘It’s an absolute privilege and pleasure to call Highclere Castle my home and I am delighted to be able to share it on Airbnb for a truly unique stay. Highclere Castle has been in the Carnarvon family since 1679 and has an incredibly rich history. I am passionate about the stories and heritage of Highclere Castle, and I am looking forward to welcoming our future guests.’
The listing will be open on October 1, 2019 at 12PM BST and there are a few house rules: no pets, no smoking, one butler per person, cocktail dress is de rigueur for dinner, gossip is restricted to downstairs quarters only and the listing will be for a week night.
Winter is coming, and with it comes darker mornings and darker evenings – but it’s not all doom and gloom, especially if you’re a Harry Potter fan. All the films will be on the telly in the run-up to Christmas, and there’s even a Harry Potter beauty advent calendar this year.
And better still, if you’re not a fan of all things ghosts and ghouls and prefer yourself a slice of merriment later on in the year, you can now have your Christmas dinner in the Great Hall.
Seriously, what a time to be alive.
For the past few years the Warner Bros. Studio have decked the halls and revamped the wizarding world into a winter wonderland, with snow-covered Christmas trees, icicles and a festively decorated Gryffindor common room. It’s back for 2019, and will run from 16th November 2019 to January 26th 2020.
But if you want even more HP fun this Christmas, you can now enjoy a proper festive feast in the Great Hall.
Potterheads can expect drinks and canapés, followed by a two-course meal in the famous dining room, surrounded by trees, baubles and little witches on broomsticks.
The menu looks like a right little treat. Starters include beetroot, orange and dill cured salmon with pickled fennel, with a main of thyme roasted turkey with confit leg, pork and chestnut stuffing, bacon wrapped sausage, roasted Parisienne potatoes, crushed carrot and swede with peppered Brusseltops, a bread sauce croquette and turkey jus.
Mouth watering yet? Same.
There are also vegetarian and vegan options on offer.
For dessert – a traditional Christmas pudding, chocolate and orange mousse or roasted chestnut and espresso tart – head to Platform 9 3/4 where you’ll be served a holiday-inspired bowl of goodness, washed down with Butterbeer and followed by a trip to Gringotts Wizarding Bank.
The Christmas feast will run on 9th, 10th and 11th December 2019 and tickets go on sale here at 10am on 17th September.
They’re almost certainly going to sell-out – despite the eye-watering £240 price tag.
Dog lovers, unite – a festival for your pet pooch is coming to the capital and we cannot wait.
Doggo-Style, an epic day out for you and your cute canine, is heading to London later this month with an extra special market catering to all your doggy needs – think stalls selling everything from accessories to snacks in Tower Bridge Court near London Bridge tube station.
Whether you’re looking for your furry friend’s favourite new treat or want to dress your pet in the best doggy attire money can buy, there’s something for every pup and owner.
Hugo & Celine will be selling doggy burgers and ice-cream, Bo Collars will be showing off their dreamy woven collars, and if you’re after some fancy knitwear or geometric furniture you can head to Welsh Russian and Pets & Pods.
And what would a dog festival be without some delicious Pawsecco for your fur baby?
Other big names selling wares in the Doggo-Style game include The Rockster, Rag & Paw, By Benji, Oonalfie and Butternut Box.
For the humans, there will be music, a licensed bar and food available. There will even be special photo-ready areas so that you can get the ultimate delfies. Win.
The website reads: ‘The event will be made up of pet food traders, pet beauty and skincare, clothing and merchandise and much more. We will have some live music and there will be food and drink for humans at the event, located in the heart of the trading space.
‘There will be plenty of seating spread throughout the venue and of course doggy bowls galore.’
Tickets for the event on Sunday 29th September 2019 are a bargain at £5 on the door or £4 if you book in advance, with all proceeds going directly to All Dogs Matter charity.