Lest you think that extreme weather events are unique to modern life, there was an extraordinary period in London’s history when the River Thames froze over 24 times between 1605 and 1814.

Unable to work, sailors, bargeman and riverside dwellers created an ‘on ice’ fair with markets, traditional games, gambling, and entertainment on the frozen river.

During the last Frost Fair in 1814, an elephant famously walked across the ice by Blackfriars Bridge. It's a scene recreated in an episode of Dr Who, which gets an outdoor screening as part of the revived Frost Fair on Bankside this month.

Ham & High: Events at the Frost Fair include a parade with a giant puppet elephantEvents at the Frost Fair include a parade with a giant puppet elephant (Image: Bankside)

Back for a second year, the event includes music and entertainment, guided tours with a Frost Fair theme, and a parade with a life-size puppet elephant.

Visitors can also take a free craft workshop, shop at an artisan market, take a horse and carriage ride beside the Thames, or play traditional games such as skittles.

The Frost Fair Fringe will see Bankside businesses recreate food, drink, and activities associated with the historic fair, including hot apples, gingerbread, mulled wine and hot chocolate, plus drinks you may never have heard of like ‘Old Tom Gin’ and ‘Hot Purl’. (Gin and wormwood wine which is similar to vermouth)Ham & High: The fair will include entertainment craft workshops and carriage rides alongside The ThamesThe fair will include entertainment craft workshops and carriage rides alongside The Thames (Image: Better Bankside)

Organised by Business Improvement District (BID) Better Bankside, the three day event is a welcome opportunity to chase away the winter blues with activities, spectacles, and themed feasting, bringing alive the area and its businesses.

Nicole Gordon CEO of Better Bankside said; “We are incredibly excited to be hosting Bankside’s second Frost Fair. The activities and events will spark joy for everyone at an often gloomy time of year.

"It is wonderfully nostalgic to recreate an event which is so unique in Bankside’s rich history. But aside from just looking back, the Frost Fair resonates with the spirit of ‘London’s Other Side’ today. When the river froze, the fair not only provided entertainment, it also supported the local community through offering much-needed employment for out of work bargemen.

"The mentality of community, creativity and resilience is still very much alive and well today amongst Banksiders. The Frost Fair is one of the ways we can share Bankside, as an area and community, with others."

Taking place on Sumner Street behind the Tate Modern the Frost Fair runs from Friday 26 January to Sunday 28 January. Events are free but the BID is encouraging donations to help ‘freeze out homelessness’ for the Manna Society, a local day centre working with the homeless and vulnerable.