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The ultimate Christmas countdown guide; from red cups to ice rink openings

Because it ain't Christmas without red cups and the John Lewis ad

The ultimate Christmas countdown guide; from red cups to ice rink openings


Yes, I know it's November, don't give me that look. Christmas starts now, so says our superb capitalist society - and I could not be happier.

Why you ask? Well why wouldn't I want to be bashed around in massive festive markets like a frozen pinball, financially taken advantage of by German sausage makers. Why wouldn't I want to be morbidly obese by mid-December from sugary, creamy coffee? Why wouldn't I want to have cranberry sauce smeared over my sandwich for lunch everyday?

So get your pen out and switch some Chris Rea on. Here's the dates you need to circle in your calendar...

Natural History Museum ice rink, NOW???!?!!

This opened up 27 October! Who wants to indulge in Christmas magic when killer clowns are still running around chucking eggs at people? Other than that, the Natural History Museum is probably one of the cities most beautiful scenes to slip and break your wrist on a first date.

Starbucks red cups, 3 November

Starbucks red cups have a Charles Manson-esque cult following. I legit wouldn't put it past polytechnic university girls to kick me to death with their Ugg boots to get early access to a toffee nut latte.

But to be honest, I'd do the same to them. Christmas is my Vietnam. I've seen some things, maaaaan. High street shopping is a war zone, and a red cup is my grenade.

Costa Christmas coffee, 3 November

Look at Costa moving in on the Christmas coffee territory. It's like that one mate you had at school who came in the week after wearing the exact same cool jacket as you. Cheeky, that's what it is.

I have to give it to them though, they do have one up on Starbucks with their addition of plonking an actual gingerbread man into a pile of cream on top of their latte. Genius.

John Lewis Christmas advert, 4 November

This hasn't got an official release date as of yet, but going on previous years it's debuted online at 8am on the first Friday of November. So expect everyone on your commute to be holding back tears and listening to a slowed down acoustic/piano cover of well known song sang by some charming Brit or unknown Scandinavian, followed by taking out wads of cash and throwing it at the John Lewis homepage screen.

Oxford Circus Christmas lights switch on, 6 November

The image might not be the Christmas lights, but it is who's switching them on. Yes, the once dethroned king of bad pop has reclaimed his place at top of the nostalgic food chain and has the prestige of knocking on Central London's lights this year in association with the NSPCC.

It all kicks off at 6:15 PM, with traffic closed off the main street, so you can shop without fear of being hit by a double decker. Only the dread of hearing Seven Days live will plague your night.

Byron's Cheesemas No.1 burger, 8 November

Nothing remotely Christmassy about this burger. Hasn't even got a ubiquitous dollop of cranberry sauce. But do we care? Do we hell. It's got features two 6oz hamburgers, mature Cheddar, smoked bacon and onion relish, an onion ring and sliced pickles - not forgetting the finishing dollop of Byron’s special Bacon Island sauce. And really, isn't that what the true spirit of Christmas is: severe heartburn and the fecal consistency of new born child. Brilliant.

Pret's festive menu, 8 November

The rest of the year we hate turkeys. The dry bastards. But come November we worship them like cats in Egyptian times, stuffing them in between two slices of bread and surrounding it with cranberry sauce, stuffing and bacon.

But Pret has a trick up its sleeve with their festive lunch staple: crispy onions. Yes it sounds simple, but the addition of those bad boys elevates it to a god-like level of eating. If Jesus worked as recruiter in Central London he'd be smashing one of these a day right until his office closed.

Greggs festive bake, 8 November

Everyone loves a dirty Greegs now and again. A sausage roll here, a sausage, bean and cheese melt here. They really are the unsung heroes of Britain, often shunned for an over-hyped McDonald's instead. But here's a fresh reason to venture to your nearest chain bakery: the festive bake is returning, packed with chicken, stuffing sweetcure bacon in a creamy sage sauce, finished with a cranberry and red onion relish.

Manchester Christmas market, 10 November

We've all been to a festive market and bought some absolute bollocks, whether that's German crafts, questionable block of cheese or a bowl of lukewarm paella, for an extortionate amount of money. The stall owners must be absolutely laughing on the way home, their pockets lined with a chunk of our monthly paychecks. The equivalent would be us going over to Poland and flogging a handful pork scratchings for a fiver. Wait, that's a fantastic business model, nobody steal that.

Winter Wonderland, 18 November

It's literally like if hell has frozen over. The crowds, the prices, the frankfurter sausage to stale bun ratio. But yet ever year we return to put ourselves through it, like some sort of festive purgatory, only gaining relief when we've left the place with a few Instagram posts showing us smiling through the pain as you try to numb your crowd anxiety with copious amounts of mulled wine.

Saying all of that though, see you there in a few weeks. Can't wait.

Backyard Cinema, from 18 November

Watching Christmas films on Netflix is alright, but does your room smell of fresh pine and do you own a beanbag? If yes, that's weird, if not, then don't worry, because Backyard Cinema is popping up a winter forest where you can watch your favourite seasonal films in unique setting. Last year's at Victoria Park's Winterville was only accessible by walking through a Narnia style closet, because East London of course!

Bad Santa 2, 26 November

It's rare we get a decent modern Christmas film, but everyone's favourite fornicating, smoking, alcoholic Father Christmas is back to bring festive joy to the big screen once more, as Billy Bob Thornton reprises his cult role in Bad Santa 2, which also stars a now grownup Thurman Merman, otherwise known as "the kid".