Forget dreams of a white Christmas, the festivities have already exploded with technicolour joy down at The Vaults in Waterloo.
Christmess is what December 25 would be like if it took place in the world of Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rogue. It is the result of New Orleans style food company Slap Ya Papa teaming up with theatrical event creators Marbles and Ware Collective and runs until Saturday, December 17.
A hipster-esque butler greets guests and leads them down a streamer-festooned corridor which opens out into a shabby chic room filled with wild, sparkling creatures.
The vivacious Belle is decked out in a red tutu dress that swirls provocatively around her knees and she tucks her arm into mine like an old friend, leading me over to the bar where elfish maidens are serving cocktails designed by Kevin Darcy of Platterform. We pick the Old King Creole -Pina Colada slushies served in a charming miniature glass tankards. Not so charming is the price which at £7.50 is not that steep for London but means getting merry is an expensive task.
This is given a helping hand by sweet The Green Fairy- lifted straight from Luhrman’s film- who is here to mix up a concoction to help us achieve our deepest desires. A fun idea that makes you think about the coming New Year and what you would like to achieve.
The party wouldn’t be complete without a visit to our host’s study and Father Christmas who also serves us up some more Christmas cheer but also provides more than just frivolity.
Back in Saint Nick’s lounge the band appear to have arrived late so instead we watch from a comfy sofa as Belle writhe coquettishly on the floor for a game of charades.
Then it is time to head upstairs for dinner, passing the kitchen where a team of chefs is beavering away. Although this somewhat interrupts the illusion it is nice to get a close-up look at our food being freshly prepared.
We sit shoulder to shoulder with strangers at trestle tables lit up by hundreds of twinkling fairylights. The meal starts with a toast that instantly helps the collected rabble of workmates, couples and birthday parties bond. As does the communal style of dining.
We start to get to know our neighbours as we pass sharing plates back and forth, digging enthusiastically into king prawns in a tomato sauce, and generous slices of juicy tender ham and turkey. The yams topped with melted marshmallows added a quirky twist while the sweet potato salad brought some health to the table. Favourite of the night was the amazing wilted spinach in a creamy sauce and there was plenty of food to go around, even for the large group of young lads on our table.
Water is thankfully provided but other drinks have to be brought from the bar and some people failed to return for dessert, a winter version of Eton Mess served in striking long dishes that ran the length of the table.
The event definitely lives up to its promise of a raucous feast as Nick’s entourage dares revellers to dance on the table and the red-suited man himself mounts a chair and pretends to ride it. I find myself swept up in the playful atmosphere and starting a fake snowball fight.
It’s hard to find anything amiss with Christmess which manages to encapsulate everything great about the most wonderful time of the year.
Until Saturday, December 17, from £35, The Vaults, Waterloo
Follow The Wharf on Twitter @the_wharf
Keep up to date with all our articles on Facebook