In The Diary: Christmas At The V&A

The V&A is staging a month-long musical celebration of Christmas across its South Kensington and V&A Museum of Childhood sites. Featuring choirs, candlelit concerts, pop-up performances, film screenings, a spectacular Christmas tree, decoration making workshops and more, the festive period will be celebrated through music from opera to Christmas number ones. This year’s theme is inspired by the current major V&A exhibition Opera: Passion, Power and Politics

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‘The Singing Tree’ designed by Es Devlin 

This year’s Christmas tree in the grand entrance will take the form of a cloud of floating words, contributed by our visitors. It has been conceived by Es Devlin, stage designer for leading performers including Kanye West and Beyonce as well as the Royal Opera House and National Theatre. This spectacular and innovative tree will feature digital word projections that create a poem. Accompanying the tree is a layered polyphonic soundscape of human and machine generated voices. Over the next two weeks in the lead up to installation of the tree and throughout the Christmas season, visitors will be invited to contribute a festive word as they enter the V&A and online. These will be combined and processed through text and sound algorithms to create this polyphonic poem sculpture. The tree will be created in collaboration with video designer Luke Halls, creative technologist Ross Goodwin, creative agency Sunshine and music and sound collective Res.Lab. Displays Special seasonal installions and Christmas displays highlight key objects relating to the music of Christmas from the collection. At South Kensington, a display celebrating the UK Christmas Number One will explore this yearly tradition through LPs, record sleeves and sheet music, with songs from Bing Crosby to Band Aid. Compilations of Christmas pantomime performances from the 

National Video Archive of Performane (NVAP) will be on show in the Theatre and Performance Gallery. To coincide with Sounds like Christmas at the V&A, Gold Fir have created three commissioned soundscapes that draw on the history, objects, architecture and heritage of three galleries in the Museum. At the Museum of Childhood visitors are invited to enjoy a display and audio trail exploring the changing sounds of Christmas with specially commissioned pieces by the acclaimed sound artist Neil Luck. 

Activities and performances 

At South Kensington, there will be daily carol concerts and weekly candlelit concerts, including a singalong of Christmas Number Ones led by Musical Director Sam Coates; a performance from the Monteverdi Choir, returning after Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s first performance at the Musuem in 1967; a performance from the Royal College of Music of Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen, a comic opera about a clever fox. There will also be a Christmas wreath workshop, the chance for visitors to make and play their own instruments and a festive family rave with Big Fish Little Fish. A wide range of activities will be staged to entertain families at the Museum of Childhood including a Christmas designer market, Sing-A-Long Saturdays and a 3-day ‘Make Some Noise’ celebration of music. 

V&A Christmas Gifts Our Christmas shop has an eclectic range of gifts that surprise and charm. Culture enthusiasts will be thrilled with a V&A Membership which grants them a whole year of unlimited free entry to all our exhibitions, access to the new Members’ Room and a host of other exclusive benefits, including 10% off in the shop and online. Design connoisseurs will also find a specialist collection of books on all aspects of the designed world including photography, architecture, fashion, graphics, jewellery, sculpture, textiles and more. The V&A also has its own publishing range, which features 150 fabulously illustrated books on the V&A’s exhibitions, collections and research. 

SOUNDS LIKE CHRISTMAS AT THE V&A 27 November 2017 – 6 January 2018, Full programme available at vam.ac.uk/Christmas.