News - Winter Festival

Museum of the Home in London announces its Winter Festival 2022 – 2023...

Press Release

‘Tis the season! This winter, step out of the cold and into the warmth of Museum of the Home’s Winter Festival. There are vibrant community celebrations, colourful light installations, seasonal decorations and a magical, evocative restyling of its iconic Rooms Through Time display to represent winter stories. Winter Festival launches on Saturday 22nd October with the Diwali Family Celebration Day, where the winter lights will be switched on. Winter Festival offers a programme for everyone to celebrate and learn about Christmas, Diwali, Hanukkah and Lunar New Year. 

This includes creative workshops, storytelling, winter-themed storybooks in a cosy reading corner, new foods for young palettes and film screenings to explore how we can embrace the season together, whoever we are and wherever we’re from. The festival also explores what winter means to different people: coming home for the holidays, or a lonely season of surviving without? 

Supporting Behind the Door, the Museum’s campaign to tackle hidden homelessness among women and families, every ticket sold throughout Winter Festival will help those experiencing homelessness at the toughest time of the year. Hidden homelessness refers most commonly to women – often working, often with children to care for – who will do whatever they can to avoid sleeping rough, including sleeping in spare rooms, hostels and on friends’ couches. To tackle this, Behind the Door partners with London Homeless Collective, which brings together over 25 charities working directly with those experiencing homelessness across London.

Museum of the Home is committed to making Winter Festival as sustainable as possible. The curators will bring out colourful decorations used last winter, upcycling materials found around the Museum to create a beautiful Winter Wonderland and snowstorm. Creating a place of warmth, wonder and joy for all this winter, there will be two real Christmas trees which will be chipped and recycled after the festival. The Museum’s Head Gardener, Heather Stevens, will lead her annual winter greenery and wreath-making workshop on Sunday 11th December, leading visitors in creating their own real greenery winter decorations to take home.

Festooning the Museum’s garden spaces, Light Up The Museum aims to pierce the darkness of the season with luminescent joy.

Light Up The Museum features three incredible lights installations: Laxmi by Chila Kumari Singh Burman, first seen as part of Burman’s 2020 Winter Commission for Tate Britain, Remembering A Brave New World, is a neon sculpture of the Hindu goddess of wealth and purity - bringing a riot of colour and warmth to the Museum’s green roof at its Geffrye Street entrance. The return home of Jessica Hung Han Yun’s Winter Melon will illuminate the front of the Museum’s original almshouse buildings. Taking inspiration from Naomi Lau’s storybook of the same name, Winter Melon features brightly-coloured, gently pulsating discs of light surrounding Cantonese and Vietnamese characters, evoking the vibrant atmosphere of East Asian night markets. Lotus Flower by Nutkhut brings a large-scale 3D sculpture emitting a powerful, yet comforting light to the elegant Gardens Through Time for the Museum’s Diwali celebration week. Having played a central role in previous Diwali celebrations at Trafalgar Square and Neasden’s beautiful Hindu temple, Lotus Flower is a much-loved part of the festival of lights, and this is its first visit to East London.

Colourful winter lights will be switched on at a Diwali Family Celebration Day, free to view and enjoy throughout Winter Festival. The Museum’s towering plane trees will be decorated with twinkling lights, bringing extra magic to the front of its almshouse buildings and lawns along Hackney’s Kingsland Road.

Join the Museum for a week of celebrations marking Diwali, the festival of lights, launching with a fun, multi-generational family day of crafts, Bollywood dancing and delectable things to eat.

During the Diwali Family Celebration Day, a hot vegan food banquet will offer sumptuous spices and flavours by Dabba Drop, with steaming, flavourful chai tea served all day. There will be an array of arts and crafts, such as lantern making, decorating your own diya and designing a graphic rangoli with artist PINS, culminating in a twilight parade in the garden spaces. There will also be a display of visitor’s creations at the Museum throughout Diwali week, alongside Diwali objects and stories curated with the kind support of Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities local to the Museum. Visitors can also experience a special room set, The Night Before Diwali, curated by Anglo-Asian performance duo Nutkhut - a peek into how a South Asian family in London might prepare for Diwali, delighting those who observe this festival as much as those who are curious about it. 

Winter Past reveals how winter has changed London homes through the last 400 years, exploring what migration has brought to the city’s homes – from décor to food, to keeping warm, entertained and being with those who matter to us. 

The Museum’s iconic Rooms Through Time have been restyled for Winter Past with a multi-sensory storytelling approach, offering new sounds, smells, sights, and stories. This year, the Museum’s curators unveil new stories of home for the festival: a family warming up after a visit in 1695 to a Frost Fair on the Thames – when winter was so cold the river froze and Londoners could skate on it – and a celebration in 1992 of the winter solstice through a Black, queer lens. Winter Past also reveals hidden stories of the season, examining loneliness at winter as well as how Christmas provided a brief day of respite for household staff in winters past. There will be a new family trail and public, curator-led tours of Winter Past, the latter finishing with a glass of warming mulled wine. 

An important celebration for Jewish communities in East London, Winter Festival marks Hanukkah by bringing some of the foods, objects, music and stories of the celebration to life. In partnership with the Museum’s Faith and Culture Forum, its Parlour in 1790 room set will be restyled to represent a local Sephardi Jewish family sitting down to Hanukkah dinner in that period. There will be a candle-making workshop, an intimate Sephardi Jewish Hanukkah supper club and a live performance of devotional music. Visitors can join the Museum’s Family Celebration Day on Sunday 18th December to learn about the history of Hanukkah and how families in East London have marked it. There will be the opportunity to take part in donut making and decorating alongside craft activities, tours, musical performances, Hanukkah object displays and more. 

Working in partnership with East and South East Asian (ESEA) community group Green Lions, the Museum presents a sustainability twist on traditional Lunar New Year celebrations. Green Lunar New Year will see in the Chinese Year of the Rabbit and Vietnamese Year of the Cat with a day of fun and reflection, seeking more sustainable ways to live in response to the climate emergency, from an ESEA perspective. Inspired by the characteristically curious, high-spirited and proactive nature of the rabbit and the cat, Green Lunar New Year promises a day of inspiring talks, creative workshops, film screenings, a maker’s market and live performances, reflecting on climate action through an ESEA lens. Everyone is invited to leap like a rabbit and prowl like a cat with renewed vigour and love for our fragile world. Green Lunar New Year is part of Museum of the Home’s ESEA programme, generously supported by the Lien Viet fund, awarded by Islington and Shoreditch housing association. 

With renewed importance following Museum of the Home’s Festival of Sleep, which spent the summer exploring rest and restful places to call home, the museum now looks towards the colder months with the Winter Festival. Bringing together the communities of East London and beyond to celebrate different cultures, the festival considers both the happiness and joy that comes with the Winter season, along with the difficulties faced by some during the toughest part of the year. Winter Past, The Night Before Diwali, Light Up The Museum, the Museum’s winter decorations, Winter Festival celebration displays, Winter Past Families Trail and Winter Past story books in the Families Area are all free for everyone to enjoy. Other Winter Festival experiences may require booking and will be charged – please check the website.

Winter Festival runs from Saturday 22nd October 2022 – Saturday 28th January 2023 at Museum of the Home, 136 Kingsland Road, London E2 8EA

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