Top five things to do in Hampstead and Highgate this week

The Hampstead Heath ponds will be open for the traditional Christmas Day swim

The Hampstead Heath ponds will be open for the traditional Christmas Day swim - Credit: Archant

The traditional Christmas Day swim on Hampstead Heath, festive films at the JW3 and an evening of comedy with the Hampstead Comedy Club are just some of the things featured in our top five this week.

1. Christmas Day - Hampstead Heath swim

Hundreds will be stripping down to their swimsuits as they take part in the traditional Christmas Day swim at the Hampstead Heath ponds.

All the Heath’s much-loved swimming spots will be open, except the mixed pond which is closed for the winter period.

The ladies’ and men’s ponds are open from 8am and the Parliament Hill Lido will open from 7am.

Both the ladies’ pond and Lido will then close early at 9.30am, leaving the hundreds of swimmers expected to turn up heading to the men’s pond for the annual races.

Starting at 11am with the women-only race, other events include the all-comers race (open to everyone) and the Highgate Lifebuoys race.

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The men’s pond is then expected to close at about 12.30pm.

Only the very brave will be able to withstand the icy waters with current temperatures around five degrees celsius.

Those taking part are advised to take extra care and watch out for problems associated with swimming in the winter, such as numb freezing cold injury, hypothermia and sudden immersion syndrome (SIS).

The City, which manages the Heath, advises each undertake a medical check up beforehand.

More information can be found at

2. Christmas Eve - Hampstead Comedy

Hampstead Comedy Club’s traditional Jewish Christmas Eve extravaganza returns for another year. The two-hour show will feature a double bill of the most successful solo Jewish comedy shows of recent times. Joe Bor’s Room with a Jew and Ivor Dembina’s Old Jewish Jokes will be introduced by guest compere, Daphna Baram. Held at The Camden Head pub in Camden High Street, Camden Town. Doors open 7.45pm for a 8.30pm start. Tickets £12.50. Visit or call 07722 832635 to book.

3. Christmas Eve - Festive films

A number of festive films will be screened over the Christmas period at the JW3 in Finchley Road. It kicks off with Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) on Christmas Eve at 3pm. The story of downcast bank manager George Bailey, played by the late James Stewart, it follows his journey as he sets out to kill himself but changes his mind when a guardian angel helps him realise he has made a difference in the world.

Tickets from £6. On Christmas Day, the Jewish centre will be putting on Ron Howard’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). Starring Jim Carrey, it’s the story of a bitter, cave-dwelling creature who steals an entire town’s presents. Starts 1.30pm. Tickets from £1.50. And finally, the JW3 cinema will host a Frozen sing-a-long on Boxing Day. The Disney animated film is about a fearless princess on an adventure through snowy terrain in a race to find her sister. Starts 10.30am. For all films, visit to book.

4. Boxing Day - Tin soldier

Festive performances of the Hans Christian Andersen classic The Tin Soldier will be put on over the holidays by Peut-etre theatre group.

Described by the British Theatre Guide as “proof that children’s theatre can be beautiful and brainy without losing sight of a good old-fashioned story”, it is a story of a toy soldier falling in love with a paper ballerina.

There will be two showings at 11am and 2.30pm every day this week except Christmas Day. It then runs until January 4. Performances run for one hour. Suitable for ages three and up. Tickets from £10. Visit to book.

5. Sunday - Pantomime

It’s pantomime season and Jez Bond and Mark Cameron’s re-imagining of the Jack and the Beanstalk tale is receiving rave reviews. Performed at the Park Theatre in Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, it was reviewed by this paper as “a clever take on the traditional story that marries slapstick with all manner of meta-theatrical and literary japes”.

It has also received a five star review from WhatsOnStage and has been described as “London’s best panto”.

Starring Michael Cahill as Dame and Omar Ibrahim as Jack. Ticket prices vary. Visit to book.