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Here's how to have a very merry Christmas in Shanghai this year

Eat, drink and dance your way through the most wonderful time of the year

Photograph: courtesy Jason Leung via Unsplash
Ho ho ho! It's that wonderful time of the year again. This Christmas, things are a little different, so while you may not be able to jet off as usual to spend the holiday season with family and friends abroad, there's plenty of festive feasts and things to do in the city. From big buffets to movie marathons to holiday blowouts, here are the best things to do in Shanghai this week.
Stuff yourself silly on the big day

Stuff yourself silly on the big day

Christmas is the time of year where no one can judge how much we eat. And thankfully almost every restaurant in town is putting on some sort of feast... budget, lush or something in between. Dinner, brunch… both? From truffle pizza at Mercato to an all-you-can-eat buffet at Bubba's to roast turkey at The Bull & Claw, there’s something for everyone. Take a look at our big roundup of holiday dining deals.

Gobble up seasonal specials

Gobble up seasonal specials

Another perk that comes with the season is all kinds of seasonal specials rolling out across some of the city's favourite spots. Like the return of Homeslice's Christmas pizza (available until January 6), topped with sage stuffing sausage, ham and pickled cranberry sauce. Then there's The Rooster's turkey sandwich, loaded with turkey slices, stuffing and cranberry sauce (for a little extra holiday hospitality, if you buy a drink there, the team will even wrap your presents for you). Over at Pie Society, the kitchen is cooking up festive pies through December, including steak, parsnip and port, turkey with stuffing and cranberry and vegan turkey with chestnut stuffing. For a sweeter treat, order Papito Pancakes' cinnamon cookie crepes and check out Egg's seasonal bakes – including a holiday doughnut box featuring a peppermint bark edition.

Treat yourself to a fancy Christmas cocktail

Treat yourself to a fancy Christmas cocktail

It’s been a long year. One that deserves a drink. You can do that tonight or tomorrow at Baked & Stirred at J.Boroski where guest bartenders Elysia Bagley (DRiNK) and Christina Ng (SpeakNGsy) will be mixing up holiday-inspired cocktails, like Reindeer Games (gingerbread-infused vodka, Flor de Caña Spresso, coconut cold brew espresso, sea salt) and Rudolph With Your Nose So Bright (cardamom sous vide gin, pomegranate-infused dry vermouth, Cascadia bitter liqueur). Each one goes for 100RMB, comes with a special homemade cookie and half of the proceeds go to Heart to Heart Shanghai.

Then, on Christmas Eve and Day, head down to Sichuan Citizen for buy-on-get-one free deals that include the signature Basil Drops, mulled wine and prosecco.  

Stroll around a traditional European Christmas Market

Stroll around a traditional European Christmas Market

It’s hard to find anything more Christmassy to do than wander around the decorative wooden stalls of a traditional Christmas market sipping away on mugs of mulled wine. While most of them are over for the season, after being postponed at the end of November, German Events' traditional Christkindlmarkt has relocated to The Bund and will be open from December 24 to 27 (and then again in the first weekend of January). It’s dominated by a massive Christmas tree and equipped with all the mulled wine, crepes, sausages, handcrafted gifts and live music any Christmas lover could ask for. Santa will be knocking about for photo ops, provided the kids have been good.

Get festive with the family

Get festive with the family

When it comes to down to it, family is the real beating heart of Christmas. Christmas markets aside, there are plenty of other festive events around the city to put the young ones in the holiday mood. For starters, take them along to the last BFC pet adoption event of the year on Boxing Day to find a new furry family member. Or venture over to Tacolicious for their Christmas Day Children’s Party where there will be games, Santa and hot chocolate with marshmallows. Finally, lest we forget, there’s always the trip to Shanghai Disneyland – decked out for the season and sure to leave your kids dripping in festive cheer.

Binge-watch all your favourite festive films at The Rooster

Binge-watch all your favourite festive films at The Rooster

It really doesn’t matter if you’ve already seen them a million times, Christmas movies will never ever get old. Heck, even Surviving Christmas still has its charms. The Rooster is providing a platform for your holiday binge-watch this week. Set over Christmas Eve and Day, the neighbourhood bar will be screening everything from Home Alone to Die Hard to Love Actually at their Christmas Movie Marathon. You’ll be able pair your viewing with a free glass of mulled wine if you follow their WeChat account. Take a look at the full schedule here.

Drink a little too much at Specters’ third anniversary

Drink a little too much at Specters’ third anniversary

Need somewhere to go once the office party starts to spiral? You can do that over three nights at Specters from Christmas Eve through Boxing Day. It’s the well-loved dive bar's third-anniversary party, so expect lots of good ol’ fashioned Christmas chaos complete with enough shots, spirits and cheer to go around the whole of Yuyuan Lu. 

Toss traditions, hit the clubs

Toss traditions, hit the clubs

If pulling crackers and over-eating to the point where you can’t leave your seat isn’t your Christmas style, that’s okay too. Instead, escape the roasted meats and head to Shanghai’s best underground dance spots. Elevator will be hosting Medusa and her icy glare on Christmas Day (as always, it's free entry for those in drag). C's will be dancing into the future at A Warning from 2046 on the same night (wear robot attire for that). And after-hours favourite Celia will be ‘soft’ opening its new location C702 with Christmas Eve blowout Reborn, featuring sets from Emil Chang and Javis. Rest assured, you won’t be hearing Michael Bublé at any of these.

Practice your figure eights at some of Shanghai’s top indoor ice-skating rinks

Practice your figure eights at some of Shanghai’s top indoor ice-skating rinks

Fall or glide your way through the holiday staple that is ice skating. While the outdoor rink in front of The Pearl Tower is currently closed, both the seasoned pros and the Bambis can strap on the skates around some of Shanghai’s other top rinks, albeit indoors. The city’s biggest (and arguably best) skating rink, the Mercedes-Benz Arena’s All Star Skating Rink is open for the public during regular business hours, as is the more modestly sized Wujiaochang Champion Rink. Both are solid options for some memorable ice-capades.

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