Christmas Under London

London, The Arts

Many odd events take place in the cavernous vaults that run beneath London’s raised railway system. The great Victorian brick platforms that carry our trains out to the rest of the country make perfect venues, and if you head down to Bermondsey or Vauxhall after midnight you’ll find queues snaking off into holes in walls.

Every year, Shunt, the surrealist art movement-turned-performance people, stage events near London Bridge.

This year’s Christmas pop-up arty party features some great live alternative music, a forest of Christmas trees with an outdoor cinema, and a three-floor structure into which you are taken by security guards armed with balloons.

Once inside you get to pass your Naughty Or Nice examination in someone’s sitting room, sip sambuca in a sauna, watch a giant bird-headed woman appear from the ceiling wrapped in parachute silk and experience a rushing train inside a house. The levels all have glass floors or ceilings, and at one point they are lit so that we all become aware that we are watching each other. The atmosphere is gentle and curious – everyone talks to everyone else.

In short, it’s your typical mysterious art-cocktail event. It’s also rather a good place to take stranded visitors to at short notice. Ours did very well, quickly adjusting to the swing of things, and although the improvised psychedelic howling band did grate on the nerves somewhat, we loved the harp-and-guitar duo who sang beautiful songs. There are probably a few tickets still knocking around – worth checking out.

Shunt is at 42-44 Bermondsey Street, SE1 until Christmas.