December Gems To Remember

Gods, kings, emperors and hobbits all revel in the holiday spirit, making December a magical Winter Wonderland.

Hyde Park Christmas Carnival



Event | Winter Wonderland, London

Steep yourself in holiday fanfare. London’s Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is one of the most magical places to be from November 21st, 2014 to January 4th, 2015. Enjoy exhilarating rides, go ice-skating, visit Santa Land, and browse the jolly Christmas markets. You don’t have to trek all the way to the Arctic on Rudolph’s sleigh to enjoy a zing of Christmassy cocktails at sub-zero temperatures. Simply step inside the new Ice Bar for a pick-me-up served in your own ice-sculptured glass.


Angels on High at The Grotto 

Event | Festival of Lights, Oregon

Hop over to The Grotto in Portland, Oregon, for the world’s largest Christmas Festival of Lights. Sip hot chocolate and be dazzled by 500,000 lights, choral concerts, a petting zoo, and puppet shows. Do browse the Grotto’s gift shop and bookstore. This year’s theme, “Angels on High,” spreads the message of hope. The Grotto’s 600-seat chapel presents five concerts each evening, from November 27th to December 30th — except on Christmas Day. A gift of canned or dry food for the Oregon Food Bank is heartily welcomed.


Moses Takes on Ramses — Pharaoh of Egypt

Movie | Exodus: Gods and Kings

Two men grew up as close as brothers, only to become enemies while 600,000 Jews fled Egypt. Exodus: Gods and Kings, in movie theaters on December 12th, 2014, unveils the compelling story of one man’s mettle against a powerful nation. It hinges on a reinterpretation of the exodus of the Israelites from slavery. Director Ridley Scott uses advanced visual effects and 3D immersion technology to add verve to the biblical epic of Moses (played by Christian Bale) as he faces up to the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses (played by Australian-born Joel Edgerton).


Unite or Fall: Middle-earth Saga Unfolds

Movie | The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies will strike the box office like hand-forged metal on December 17th, 2014. Academy Award-winning New Zealander, Lord of the Rings Trilogy director, Sir Peter Jackson, directed and produced this much-anticipated fantasy adventure flick. Third in the trilogy of films adapted from J. R. R. Tolkien’s popular children’s book, The Hobbit, packed with action and excitement, this movie brings an epic finale to the Middle-earth saga and the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield, and the Company of Dwarves.


“If I can take it, I can make it!”

Movie | Unbroken

An incredible story of optimism about an Olympian and US World War II bombardier who survived a plane crash, spent 47 days adrift on a raft in shark-infested Pacific waters, and two horrific years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. Debuting on Christmas day, Unbroken tells the true story of Louis Zamperini (played by Jack O’Connell), who turned every adversity into an opportunity. Directed and produced by Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie, this epic drama is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s book, Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.


Sophia Loren’s Life as a Fairy Tale



Book | Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Hitting the shelves this December 2nd is Oscar-winning Italian movie star Sophia Loren’s autobiography. For the first time, after over six decades of a glamorous career, the 80-year-old actress reveals her never-before-told, rags-to-riches story. In Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life, Loren reminisces about her poignant childhood in war-ravaged Naples to her rise as legendary Hollywood idol, symbol of chic elegance, devoted mother and grandmother. Read her reflections about her husband, Carlo Ponti, and costars like Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, Cary Grant, Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, and Frank Sinatra.


Beautiful Things in my Life



Book | Valentino: at the Emperor’s Table

Italian fashion designer Valentino Garavani not only designs glamorous clothing and accessories for his fashion house. The Valentino SpA’s founder has a penchant for food, entertaining and exquisite table décor. “I am in love with beauty” says the master, who applies his talents to luncheons and dinners in his homes. Valentino: at the Emperor’s Table offers a glimpse of the haute couture leader’s world of refined and cultured living. A visual and scripted presentation of lavish L’Art de Vivre, the hardback makes a chic holiday season gift.


A Christmas Mystery from Haruki Murakami

Book | The Strange Library

Millions of Haruki Murakami’s fans, some who waited in line for 18 hours at a recent London book-signing event, have found a perfect gift for their Christmas wish list. An illustrated English version of The Strange Library will be in bookstores on December 2nd, 2014. The delightfully spooky story evolves around a schoolboy’s visit to the local library, where an old man leads him to a special reading room in a labyrinth under the library and confines him with a ‘sheep man’ and a girl who talks with her hand. It’s bizarre, mysterious and reflects Murakami’s recurring surrealistic themes.