Here’s my seasonal newsletter for January, February and March 2016 with highlights and a range of events, shows, exhibitions that might brighten up your winter!
JANUARY A big tradition of the festive season is the January sales with massive bargains at all stores from the small to the very grand, from a local shop to Harrods. 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 the arrival of Valentine’s Day so watch out for special lovvie events. 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! February also brings us the Chinese New Year, a big event in London, as we welcome the year of the Monkey.
MARCH St Patrick’s Day is big all around 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. The 162nd annual Boat Race will see the river Thames and the local pubs full of cheers as the 2 crews zip past.
January Shakespeare’s Globe kicks off 2016 with The Winter’s Tale. Eddie Izzard, perhaps one day Mayor of London, brings his Force Majeure Reloaded show to The Palace Theatre for an evening of surreal brilliant comedy. Acclaimed writer Caryl Churchill’s new play Escaped Alone opens at the Royal Court. Ralph Fiennes stars in Ibsen’s The Master Builder brought to the stage by David Hare at the Old Vic.
February Hopefully not reflecting the weather, The Tempest opens at The Globe in their beautiful indoor Sam Wannamaker Playhouse. Former Friends star Matthew Perry brings his own play The End of Longing to the Playhouse theatre and also stars in it. The Dominion theatre stages War of the Worlds by HG Wells with a score by Jeff Wayne who will conduct a live orchestra – I wonder how they will portray the Martians! The National Theatre brings us Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, charting this blues singer’s struggles for recognition. Battlefield at the Young Vic is based on the Mahabharata, a dramatic tale of a family torn apart by a great war.
March Charting the story of the famous record label, Motown the Musical at the Shaftesbury theatre will have you singing along. I’ve got tickets already for Les Blancs at the National, a powerful African story. One of last year’s most impressive, if disturbing, plays and performances return to the stage at the Wyndham’s so don’t miss Denise Gough in People, Places and Things. The Old Vic continues to showcase key British talent with Timothy Spall in the Caretaker.
January One of my favourite painters is featured in a new show at the Royal Academy called Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse. Outside of the galleries, the London Art Fair 2016 at the Business Design Centre Islington is a major event in the art calendar with over 100 galleries represented with modern and contemporary work. There are few other new openings this month so it’s time to catch a number which closes soon, including The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize show at the National Portrait Gallery, The World Goes Pop at the Tate Modern and Liotard at the Royal Academy.
February Delacroix and The Rise of Modern Art opens at the National Gallery. Vogue 100: A Century of Style can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery with beautiful photographs commissioned by the magazine since 1916. The Courtauld Gallery has 2 openings this month – Botticelli and the Treasures from the Hamilton Collection, including his drawings for Dante’s Divine Comedy. Their 2ndshow is Bruegel in Black and White: Three Grisailles Reunited, a rare chance to see these 3 paintings together.
March A display of Tracey Emin’s work, including My Bed alongside 2 of Francis Bacon’s work chosen by Emin can be seen at the Tate Britain. The National Portrait Gallery is showing Russia and the Arts: The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky, a selection of great works on loan from Moscow. The new exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery is Scottish Artists: from Caledonia to the Continent with works from the Royal Collection from 1750 through to 1900.
SHOPPING, FASHION, MARKETS
January The January sales are a big event and massive bargains are to be found in the grand department stores, designer boutiques and the reliable chain stores.
February The big news for February is the winter London Fashion Week 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. It’s a good month for fashion as Somerset House is hosting The International Fashion Showcase for emerging fashion designers on the theme of Imaging Utopia, spread over 15 galleries.
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 An exhibition from last year which slipped through the net is at the Museum of London Docklands where The Caribbean’s Great War looks really interesting in their impressive gallery called London, Sugar and Slavery. There are some key closures this month: The Victoria and Albert Museum’s Fabric of India exhibition and their Shoes: Pleasure and Pain; and, Celts: Art and Identity at the British Museum.
February The Science Museum’s new show Leonardo Da Vinci: The Mechanics of a Genius explores his incredible inventions with models, drawing and interactive games as you would expect at this creative museum.
March At the Victoria and Albert Museum a major show called Botticelli Reimagined will explore his enduring influence, looking across the centuries his impact on art, fashion, design and film through 500 of his work and examples of those who have been touched by his art from William Morris to Andy Warhol.
January The Swan at the Globe with its great views of the Thames and St Pauls reopens after refurbishment. A new restaurant on a familiar site sees 100 Wardour Street, a new D&D venture, take on the old Floridita site, carrying on their tradition of music in the lower floor. London favourites the Galvins are turning their Spitalfields venue into a pub called Hop tho’ not your average pub as the food and drink will be posh and they will be serving deluxe hot dogs! January sees Burns Night so seek out some Scottish food to celebrate and bravely try some haggis!
February Duende from the Bravas Tapas folk of St Katherine’s Dock opens in Covent – I really like this place so hope the new opening lives up to their original restaurant. Tom Sellers of the massively successful Restaurant Story opens a new place called Restaurant Ours in Kensington and promises to have a dramatic design with 3 enormous interior trees! Close to me will be a new Italian restaurant with a menswear upstairs when Chucs opens with a garden terrace and coffee bar. Oliver Maki, big in Kuwait and Bahrain, opens in Soho with his contemporary sushi. Good news for those who like to plan, Pitt Cue Co are opening a new venue in the City as we hear they will take bookings!
March Sourced Market is a new deli/café/wine and beer shop in Marylebone stocking 100 small artisan food and drink suppliers fine goods. Some of the February openings say ‘late Feb’ which usually means March so check the February listing just in case.
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.
February A Charity Gala at the Tower of London brings the stars of the West End stage into the Tower for 2 nights of variety acts including some with the famous Beefeaters. The Tower is busy in the evenings this month as Nightwatchers returns, an after-hours immersive experience of a shadowy world of surveillance in modern and Tudor times – sounds scary but fun.
March Sporty times at Hampton Court Palace where their half marathon takes in the palace grounds and the Thames paths. More sedate fare but still needing some endurance is their Dusk til Dawn Sleepover with entertainment, tours of the palace, a meal and a chance to sleep inside the palace. Kew Palace reopens at the end of March after its winter hibernation.
January The World Snooker – The Masters comes to Alexandra Palace, snooker’s biggest invitation event. Also at Alexandra Palace are the World Championships of Ping Pong where unsung hero Englishman Andrew Baggaley is defending his title. The football season pushes through the 2 cups 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 Orlando Magic face the Toronto Raptors.
February The Six Nations starts with matches at Twickenham where we will be looking to England to offer more than they managed in last year’s World Cup. The Football League Cup will be played at Wembley.
March The Six Nations continues. The annual University Boat Race sees Oxford v Cambridge for the 162nd time with Oxford leading Cambridge 81 wins to 79 (for those of you good at maths, there was one dead heat in 1877 which makes the numbers right). The Velodrome in the Olympic Park is the venue for the UCI Track Cycling Championships, full of the top names – mostly British hopefully!
January Trevor Nelson’s Soul Nation comes to the Jazz Café. The reformed (ie back together, I can’t speak for anything else being reformed!) Libertines play at the O2 Arena. Also coming back are the Corrs, also at the 02 Arena. Hozier are at the 02 Brixton as are the Maccabees. Ron Pope and the Nighthawks take on Koko
February Jess Glynne plays the 02 Brixton as do Twenty One Pilots, and Jo Harman plays the Jazz Café. Jason Derulo comes to the 02 Arena and Gabrielle Aplin is at the 02 Empire Shepherds Bush. Old favourites Fun Lovin Criminals can be seen at the 02 Empire Shepherds Bush and Massive Attack take on 02 Academy Brixton supported by Young Fathers. (Check the 02 Shepherds Bush as they have roof problems so some shows may be moved.)
March Rudimental come to the 02 Arena with ’We are the Generation’ and Ellie Goulding plays there too. Leona Lewis comes to the stage of the London Palladium. Wolf Alice is at the Forum and Lianne La Havas is at the Royal Albert Hall. C2C – Country to Country music festival rolls into the 02 Arena and old favourite The Stranglers take to the stage at the 02 Brixton Academy.