I want to share with you my seasonal What’s On in London which goes out directly to subscribers 4 times a year. Do let me know if you want to join my subscribers list. Scroll through for sections on What’s On in London this winter in: Theatre, Foodie, Art Galleries, Museums, Sport, Music and more!
JANUARY One popular tradition following the festive season is the January sales which offer massive bargains at all stores from the small to the very grand, from a local shop to Harrods. The event not to be missed is Lumiere London when artists light up the city turning it into a dazzling nocturnal art exhibition. Watch out for Burns Night on 25th when you’ll find Scottish traditions breaking out all over London so why not try some haggis this year!
FEBRUARY Love is in the air with arrival of Valentine’s Day so watch out for special lovvie events and menus at most restaurants. Ready yourselves for Pancake Day races around London, one of the best being at the Guildhall in the City where the livery companies race and toss pancakes while wearing their very special traditional costumes! This year the Chinese New Year falls in February, it’s a big event in London with parades around the streets and in 2018 we will welcome in the year of the Dog.
MARCH St Patrick’s Day is big all round the world and London is no exception as the Guinness flows and we have a huge parade and dancing and bands so get out that green outfit and join in the fun in Trafalgar Square. Mother’s Day in the UK falls in March so treat your mum to a special meal in one of London’s fabulous top class restaurants. Head to the river for the men’s and women’s Boat Races, a great afternoon out and big event in the London sports calendar.
January Ovo, the big new show from Cirque Du Soleil opens at the Royal Albert Hall. Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party opens 60 years after its first performance at, of course, the Harold Pinter Theatre, starring Zoe Wannamaker, Stephen Mangan, Toby Stephens and Pearl Mackie. One of my favourite shows of 2017 reopens at the Duke of York’s Theatre: Mary Stuart with Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams swapping roles each night on the toss of a coin to explore the relationship between Queen Elizabeth 1 and Mary Queen of Scots. Ben Wishaw, one of our finest actors, stars in Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre. The classic Lady Windermere’s Fan opens at the starring Jennifer Saunders and a new play, John, opens at the National with the description of ‘uncanny’ and talk of inanimate objects watching!
February Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville bring us Long Day’s Journey into Night at the Wyndham’s Theatre. Lots of buzz about Frozen (not the Disney one!) starring Suranne Jones at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, the worrying tale of a kidnapped girl. A stage adaptation of Derek Jarman’s 1977 Jubilee at the Lyric remixes it for 2017 starring Toyah Wilcox from the original film, explores what happens when nihilism and creativity collide and revisits the world of punk. Also exploring big themes is Trust at the Gate where the tyranny of capitalism sits in a world of broken relationships.
March Big hitters Anne Marie Duff and Rory Kinnear take on Macbeth at the National. Ingmar Bergman’s classic Fanny and Alexander is adapted for the stage at the Old Vic Theatre, a magical study of childhood, family and love, with the wonderful Penelope Wilton in the cast. Caroline, or Change at the Hampstead Theatre starring Sharon D Clarke is set in 1963 Louisiana and the action takes place at this time of momentous social upheaval and boasts a great sound track. Another play set in a time of great change is The Plough and the Stars at the Lyric, set in 1916 in Ireland during the Easter Uprising.
January The annual London Art Fair at the Business Design Centre in Islington is a big deal showcasing modern British art from the early 20th century to now. The Hayward Gallery, part of the South Bank complex, reopens after a 2 year refurbishment with a photography show of work by Andreas Gursky it’s been a long wait so I’m looking forward to welcoming back the Hayward. The Royal Academy’s Charles I: King and Collector is a good mirror to the Queen’s Gallery’s Charles II: Art & Power. Charles I had amassed an incredible art collection and although many works were returned after the restoration of his son Charles II, many remained scattered across Europe. This show reunites over 100 of his greatest pieces for the first time ever through loans from Europe’s great art houses.
February The Tate Britain’s new show is titled All too human Bacon, Freud and a Century of painting Life, also featuring work by Auerbach and Paula Rego. The show explores how these artists’ portraits show people in the most intimate way, without any attempt to make an airbrushed version of their lives. Murillo at the National Gallery brings us his little seen self-portraits alongside other works.
March The Tate Modern has a Picasso show which will reunite a trio of nudes not seen together since 1932 so Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy looks like being a hot ticket. It will explore month by month this most pivotal year in his career and hundreds of works, some never seen in the UK will be on display. In an unusual collaboration across galleries, Tacita Dean has shows at the National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery and Royal Academy at the same time – although the dates for the latter are likely to be later than March – and all this for a living artist.
SHOPPING, FASHION, MARKETS
January The January sales are a big event and massive bargains are to be found in the grand department stores such as Harrods and Selfridges, designer boutiques all around town and the reliable chain stores. Arriving ahead of the women is London Fashion Week Men’s at the Store Studios on The Strand with the full range of fashion week and fashion weekend events.
February The big news for February is the winter London Fashion Week (women’s) which will showcase the spring/summer collections followed by London Fashion Weekend when they let the likes of us in to peruse what’s new and what we will be wearing very soon. Check it all out at the huge spaces in the Store Studios.
March As the days get longer and the temperatures warm up, make the most of London’s street markets: Portobello on Saturdays; Camden market any day; Spitalfields most days but best on Sundays; Borough food market Wednesday to Saturday; and, Columbia Road flower market on Sundays.
MUSEUMS AND EXHIBITIONS
January This month some great exhibitions are closing so hide from the winter weather in our finest museums. Just time to catch: Scythians at the British Museum, Beazley Designs of the Year at the Design Museum, Basquiat Boom for Real at the Barbican, Wounded: Conflict, Casualties and Cure at the Science Museum. The Museum of London opens an exhibition on London Visions: Exaggerated Realities for Possible Futures looks a little scary!
February The Victoria and Albert Museum brings us Ocean Liners: Speed and Style to brighten the winter by exploring the romantic age of ocean travel and the ships that still lodge in our imaginations. Their fabulous exhibition Opera: Passion, Power and Politics closes this month so don’t miss it even if you are not an opera fan. The Museum of London celebrates the partial granting of female suffrage with their Votes for Women exhibition, with objects from their vast collection including Emmeline Pankhurst’s Hunger Strike Medal, a well-deserved award.
March Taking on the topic of the day, the Design Museum brings us Hope to Nope: Graphics and Politics 2008-2018 so expect Trump to appear! The Wellcome Collection’s Somewhere In Between looks at the place between science and art through the work of 4 contemporary artists. Book early for the adult sleep overs at the Natural History Museum, Dino Snores.
January January sees the marking of Burns Night and not just in Scotland, so seek out some Scottish food to celebrate and bravely try some haggis in restaurants such as the Boisdale and Hix restaurants. Simon Rogan returns to London with Roganic on Blandford Street, the same street as his temporary spot but this time it’s permanent. Kettner’s is emerging from the long Soho House refurbishment of this block. It promises a gorgeous look, bath loads of champagne and top French food. Opening up in the lovely Artillery Lane in Spitalfields L’Ami Malo will be serving crepes and galettes with a speakeasy, Le Moulin, in the rear. January is much lauded as a vegan month so I need to mention the opening of By Chloe in Covent Garden bringing us New York style, vegan style.
February Something to cheer up the winter is a gin festival at Tobacco Dock with masterclasses and samples. Prosecco House by the Tower will do exactly what it says with a few cichetti to tide you over. Sake and karaoke booths come to Covent Garden at Jidori, with yakitori on the menu too. It’s great news to hear of pubs reopening not being turned into luxury flats so we welcome back the Truscott Arms in Maida Vale with the former head chef of Racine taking charge of the kitchen.
March Quite a name and a new idea Swingers in the West End brings street food and crazy golf to Oxford Street. Battersea Power Station is slowly but surely emerging from the building site and Cinnamon Kitchen Battersea is another sign that progress is being made with river side tables on their terrace and laid back Indian food. I’ve been waiting for the Covent Garden Petersham Nurseries restaurant to open and join the shop and deli that opened last year and it seems that March is when it should happen.
PARKS AND GARDENS, ROYAL PALACES
January Twilight Tours of the Tower of London will open your eyes to the spooky and gruesome history of this historic site but please don’t have nightmares. Adult Ghost Tours at Hampton Court Palace continue the scary theme…. Half price entry t Hampton Court Palace this month is a tempting offer!
February Kew Gardens has an Orchid Festival in the Princess of Wales Conservatory so it’ll be lovely and warm indoors.
March. Kew Palace reopens at the end of March after its winter hibernation so combine it with the wonderful sight of spring flowers at the Kew Botanical Gardens.
January The Dafabet Masters comes to Alexandra Palace, snooker’s most prestigious invitation event. The football season pushes through the 2 cup competitions with key rounds being played in the League Cup and FA Cup with plenty of London teams on show. NBA Basketball can be cheered on at the 02 Arena where the Philadelphia 76ers take on the Boston Celtics. Netball comes to the Copper Box with its Quad Series at the Olympic park when England play Australia and New Zealand and South Africa play Australia.
February The Six Nations starts with matches at Twickenham where we will be looking to England to continue their winning ways – apologies to the other home nations but I’m English. The football League Cup final (EFL) will be played at Wembley and the table tennis Team World Cup will take place at the Copper Box.
March The Six Nations continues and completes all the matches through March, England’s last game will be against Scotland at Twickenham. The England football team are having a friendly against Italy at Wembley ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The FA Cup reaches quarter final stage and I hope some London clubs are still in the draw. It’s the Boat Races when for the 2 genders race this famous course on the same day. The men’s race started in 1829 and although it’s not happened every year since then, Oxford and Cambridge have racked up a few hundred contests since then.
January Paramore take the stage at the 02 Arena and Jah Wobble is at the Jazz Café. Ruby Turner is at Ronnie Scott’s but so popular tickets are hard to find. Several concerts celebrate the live (and sadly the death) of David Bowie at the 02 Shepherd’s Bush and Islington. Gregory Porter is on the massive stage of the London Coliseum. Craig David is at the Hippodrome, Kingston launching his new album The Time is Now.
February The Apollo in Hammersmith hosts Bon Iver, Iron and Wine, and Erasure. Kendrick Lamar squeezes in an extra show at the Wembley Arena on top of his 02 Arena shows. Lady Gaga storms into the 02 Arena and A-Ha go unplugged as part of MTV Unplugged. British Sea Power play at Koko as do punk legends The Damned, promising some new material which can be a worrying phrase! Franz Ferdinand take on the Brixton Academy
March Paul Weller showcases his new album A Kind Revolution as he starts his tour at the 02 Arena. Also at the 02 is C2C, a big country music festival over 3 days and Elbow do just one night. Morrissey is at the Royal Albert Hall and also there is the annual Teenage Cancer Trust concerts with Kasabian and the Courteneers announced. D’Angelo comes to the Apollo bringing us Neo-Soul and a great line up in his backing band. Also at the Apollo is Michael McDonald, Grammy award winner from the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan but now on a solo tour. More Grammy awards are held by David Sanborn who has a couple of nights at Ronnie Scotts. The Brixton Academy has a busy month with Niall Horan, The Stranglers and Wiley.
* Everything is current at the time of writing but dates, events and venues may change.