Skip to main content

Christmas Past

400 Years Of Seasonal Traditions In English Homes

Tuesday 24 November 2015 – Sunday 3 January 2016 (closed 24, 25, 26 December and 1 January 2016). Free, no booking required.

The exterior of the Geffrye at Christmas Past photographed by Marc Schlossmann

The exterior of the Geffrye at Christmas Past - photography Marc Schlossmann

Enrich your Christmas festivities with a visit to this well-loved exhibition which gives a magical glimpse into how Christmas has been celebrated in English homes through the centuries. Authentic festive decorations transform the period rooms, bringing to life many rich and vibrant traditions of Christmas past, from feasting, dancing and kissing under the mistletoe to playing parlour games, hanging up stockings, sending cards and decorating the tree. 

Throughout the exhibition, festive food will be served in the café and visitors can hunt for gifts and cards in the shop. Read the press release here.

View our Christmas Past image gallery. Send a festive e-card.

Adult Events

Workshop: Christmas Greenery

Friday 11 December, 2 - 5pm and Saturday 12 December, 1.30 - 4.30pm. Tickets £50, £45 concessions (includes short talk, workshop and materials).

Christmas greenery workshop

Join the Geffrye gardeners to create a 17th century-inspired festive decoration with fresh greenery.

Book tickets here.

Exhibition Talk: Christmas Past in Focus

Saturday 12 December, 11.30am and repeated at 3pm. Free.

Detail of the 1630 hall at Christmas Past

Explore 17th century Christmas traditions in this informal talk.

Concert by Candlelight

Thursday 17 December. Museum opens 7.30pm, concert 8pm. Tickets £20, £17 concessions (includes a glass of sherry or port and a mince pie).

A moving recital of a cappella Christmas music by acclaimed group Bocca Aperta.

This event is now sold out.

Families and Children Events

Workshop: Greenery Garlands

Saturday 12 December, 10.30am - 12.30pm and 2 - 4pm. Free.

Create gorgeous, greenery-inspired garlands to hang in your home.  Please note that children aged 11 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

All Ages Events

Open evening: A 17th Century Christmas

Thursday 3 December, 5 - 8pm. Free.

A Hall in 1630 at Christmas Past at the Geffrye photographed by Jayne Lloyd

A hall in 1630 at Christmas Past - photography Jayne Lloyd

Enjoy Christmas Past by candlelight, listen to festive music, learn about seasonal traditions or bring children to a greenery crown-making workshop. Find an unusual gift from the shop or enjoy a festive supper in our cafe. Come and be merry!

Demonstration: Christmas Greenery

Learn how to make simple 17th-century-inspired greenery decorations with Geffrye gardeners Heather and Ellen.

5.30-6.30pm and 7.15-7.45pm, Art Room 1

Talk: A 17th century Christmas

Explore 17th century Christmas traditions with Helena Kaznowska.

6.45-7.30pm, Lecture Room (located through the cloakroom near our reception desk)

Christmas Music: Diabolus

Listen to seasonal music from the 17th century.

6.15pm and 7.15pm (performances last approximately 45 minutes), in the Chapel (located in the middle of the museum)

Drop-in Craft activity: Greenery Crowns

Create a colourful Christmas crown to get in the mood for Christmas. Suitable for Children aged 2+

5.30-7.30pm, Art Room 2

(located at the far end of the museum)

Geffrye Explorers

Quizzes and mystery objects, including Christmas card making for children aged 2+
5.00-7.30pm, in the Reading Room

Crafty Fox Night Market - Christmas shopping with soul

Thursday 17 December 4 - 9pm. Free.

Crafty Fox market

Discover design-led, handmade products sold directly by the makers at this festive evening including creative workshops, DJs, a cafe and bar. 

Farewell to Christmas

Wednesday 6 January 2016, 3.30 - 5pm. Free.

Farewell to Christmas at the Geffrye photographed by Jayne Lloyd

Twelfth Night celebrations in the gardens - photograph Jayne Lloyd 

Join us in the Geffrye's own traditional burning of the holly and the ivy, with carol singing, stories about Epiphany and a taste of mulled wine and Twelfth Night cake. Please note that this event takes place in the garden, so wrap up warm!

Corporate keyhole logo for Geffrye Museum