Christmas is not cancelled – we repeat, Christmas is not cancelled.
You could be forgiven for being low on festive cheer heading into the final weeks of 2020, but the perils of the pandemic mean various Christmas events are now embracing the digital age.
‘Tis the season to celebrate online – here’s how…
1. The Festive British Bake Off
If there’s been one constant through the world’s various lockdowns, it’s television, and the Great British Bake Off might just be the most comforting constant on the air. Now the as-seen-on-TV bakers are beaming into your kitchens with Christmas themed tutorials, teaching seasonal sweetmeats like Yule logs, gingerbread houses, Christmas tree-shaped pastries, and wreaths made of meringue.
Attendant bakers include former finalist Jane Beedle and ‘custardgate’ contestant Howard Middleton, while the classes are one hour and 45 minutes long, and limited to 16 people apiece.
2. Andrea Bocelli’s Christmas concert
To mark Easter and raise money for Italy’s frontline workers, operatic superstar Andrea Bocelli live-streamed a concert from an empty Milan Cathedral, drawing more than 25 million views and praise from the likes of Hugh Jackman and Kim Kardashian. On December 12 he repeated the trick, streaming a second concert from the 200-year-old Teatro Regio in Parma entitled ‘Believe in Christmas’. Check out clips on his Instagram and YouTube, and fingers crossed he releases the full stream soon.
3. Seeing Santa in Lapland
Despite demonstrably not being the North Pole, Lapland in Finland has served as a slightly nebulous home county for Santa since the early 20th century – with regional capital Rovaniemi his hometown. In non-pandemic years the result is a surge of seasonal tourism, but since 2020’s grottos are likely to sit empty, Santa’s entire operation is being moved online.
Parents can book video calls with Santa ahead of time, and receive a tour of Santa’s cabin surrounded by real snow, plus a visit from real Lapland reindeer.
4. Virtual carol concerts
We hope you have understanding neighbours, because belting out the last verse of Oh Come All Ye Faithful is as central to some Christmases as disliking sprouts. Among the easier festive traditions to digitise, several UK cathedrals are set to stream their carol services online this year – including Salisbury, Canterbury, and Durham. While you can catch the Constella OperaBallet‘s Christmas Gala online until December 31, in aid of Connecting Stars, their live, interactive and virtual performance programme designed to support care home residents adversely affected by the pandemic.
5. Christmas in Old New York
The best thing about virtual Christmas is you can celebrate anywhere, and this walking tour of New York takes a deep dive into many of the traditions that define the festive season in America, and beyond. Highlights include Macy’s Herald Square (the inspiration for Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street), the enormous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, and a talk on how New York artists helped popularise Christmas trees and Santa Claus.
6. Seasonal masterclasses
Since Santa’s workshop is off the table, why not try one of many online workshops scattered throughout December, teaching you to craft seasonal DIY staples. The possibilities are endless, but we’re particularly taken with this candle-making class, and this workshop on how to make a wreath with seasonal mosses, pine cuttings, and a reel of wire.