Oh February you lovely month, you. Winter's on the way out and London's getting giddy with events, celebrations and a whole day dedicated to romance. So whether you're into Valentine's Day, Pancake Day or celebrating the Chinese New Year, we've got all your February plans sorted. Check out our highlights below and give your diary a big cuddle from us.
RECOMMENDED: The definitive London events calendar
Our February 2017 highlights
It's the biggest sporting event – and usually the biggest telly event – on the American calendar, so be sure to catch the Super Bowl in London. Whether you're a die-hard NFL fan, a major sports fan or just a beer fan who welcomes any excuse for a late-night session, these are the places to soak up the Super Bowl.
This craft beer festival returns for three days, with an impressive array of cask ales and keg beers. Friday sees an ale and cheese pairing event hosted by Des de Moor (£12 via the event page) and Saturday features a meet the brewer session. Rock 'n' roll and and soul DJs will be playing into the night on both Fri and Sat.
Learn how to construct a beautiful bouquet with flower delivery service, Bloomon. Workshops will see attendees arranging blooms to take home, and expert tutors will give advice on making stems last longer and other nifty tricks. Visit the Bloomon website to book in advance.
Have we reached peak Hockney? The Royal Academy has granted him two shows in the last four years, focusing on his eye-poppingly colourful, hit-and-miss recent works. Fortunately, this big Tate retrospective – scheduled ahead of Hockney's 80th birthday – will go all the way back to his student work of the early '60s, and trace what's frankly a stupendous journey of ceaseless innovation.
Frying pans at the ready! Shrove Tuesday marks the last day before Lent, traditionally a period of abstinence, associated with clearing your cupboards of things like sugar, fat and eggs. Check out our favourite pancake-based celebrations in London – easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Transport yourself to a glittering party from the past with help from The Nudge, The Guild of Misrule and The Immersive Ensemble tonight. The '20s is where it's at, Jay Gatsby's your host and foot-stomping jazz, hard liquor and swing dancing's on the menu until the early hours. Book in advance via the event page.
We've partied 244 metres above the city at The Shard and now we're sailing south with dance floor, headphones and expert DJs all in tow. The latest Time Out Silent Disco will be hopping aboard the Cutty Sark in Greenwich with three channels of perfect pop tunes to keep you dancing all night long. Boppers can also venture from the dance floor and explore the rest of the ship between 8.30pm-10pm to avoid the usual crowds and pepper the partying with a little history. Tickets must be booked in advance online.
Brother Marcus have teamed up with a range of foodies for a series of supper clubs at their Balham HQ. Chicory Kitchen, Sam Stern, Alex Hutton, Daft Puddin's and The London Food Babes will all be gracing the kitchen for three nights each, whipping up dishes spanning Persian, Mexican and slap-up English cuisine. See the 'dates and times' tab to find out who's cooking when and book via the Brother Marcus website.
Free events this February
Holy, moly it's a miracle! We've found a free yoga class open to all abilities with mats provided and no advanced booking needed. Yogis will even be served tea and coffee following the class, meaning they'll be heading off to work feeling new levels of heavenly. The early morning sessions take place in St Stephen's Church in Westminster. Donations welcome.
Pancake Day's most high-profile tossers are back for 2017 for this fundraiser which pits teams comprised of MPs, Lords and members of the press against each other. Now in its twentieth year, the race is organised by the charity Rehab, which helps people with mental and physical disabilities and the vulnerable to rebuild independent lives. This being parliament, oversight is of course necessary in the form of some strict rules: participants must flip pancakes continuously around the course as part of a relay team; 'gentlemanly and gentlewomanly behaviour will be strictly observed at all times'; 'frying pans must not be used as weapons or as a means of making unseemly gestures, whatever the depth of provocation or the nature of the party at the root of the provocation'; and 'any surplus eggs, flour or batter must not be propelled in the direction of other participants or spectators.' It's free to spectate and usually thronged with photographers eager to capture the honourable members getting competitive while wearing silly hats. Those representing the honour of the Houses of Parliament in 2017 will be announced in time.
The annual service in which around 60 clowns, dressed in full costume, gather to honour the king of the clowns, Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837), will once again take place in the All Saints Church in Haggerston. This temporary venue is larger than their usual haunt but it's still best to arrive early – many Grimaldi fans and clown admirers usually show, too, up so the pews will no doubt be packed.
To celebrate their fortieth anniversary, Christie's are throwing open their doors for a series of late night events exploring art, interior design and collecting in all its guises. On the first Tuesday of every month, guests can kick back with an after work drink at the bar, attend specialist talks, and take a sneak peek behind the scenes at the UK's busiest salesroom.
Combining intelligent debate, a group of opinionated players and good humoured fun in a local boozer, Bardeblah is an intellectual game of persuasion centred on contemporary political and social issues. The setup is simple: a statement is selected by the drinking spectators, which is then posed to the two teams sat ready and waiting to debate. A 'Bard' chair moderates the proceedings, while the drinkers are free to air their views and ultimately decide which team has the winning point of view.
Deep red drapes, gold walls and wooden floors will take your right back to 1920s New York - the setting for Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. MinaLima has designed every element of graphic art and graphic prop design for the upcoming film, and is now exhibiting 40 original graphic art prints from it at their Soho gallery.
Participants in this annual charity race through the cobbled streets of Spitalfields are in for a flipping good time on Shrove Tuesday. This very silly fundraiser for the London Air Ambulance will see teams of four in fancy dress grab their crepes and run in pursuit of taking home the winner's frying pan, which is specially engraved. Entrants should register in advance by emailing email@example.com (or enter on the day if they bring a donation) and will be rewarded with hot pancakes. Arrive at 12.15pm for a 12.30pm start.
No tickets to The Cursed Child? No problem. See sketches by graphic designers MinaLima who've helped produce graphic props for J K Rowling's upcoming feature film - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. From The Marauder's Map to Harry's Acceptance Letter to The Daily Prophet, see fantastical bits from Rowling's creations in this Soho pop-up.
A homage to the greatest sneakers of all time. Visit The Archivist's Gallery to discover secret stories behind the creation of the most iconic sneakers to have ever sneaked along with a fascinating narrative of the integral role the footwear has played within key sporting and cultural movements throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century. There’ll even be a glimpse into the psychological hinterland of the cult of sneaker obsession.
Art exhibitions this February
Wagner. Hitler. Kiefer. If you want to join the club of six-letter, ends in ‘-er’, mythology-obsessed, visionary-crackpot creator-destroyers you’ve got to think big. Really big. I’m not saying Kiefer is like those two anti-Semitic, delusional, megalomaniac pricks, just that his response to their legacy has always been to adopt their weapons: size, volume, density, humourlessness, repetition. His work is epic and totalitarian, forged out of industrial materials in art factories. And his latest show is quite something. If you’ve had the lead nicked off your porch recently, there’s a good chance it’s down at White Cube. Kiefer’s trademark material is everywhere: lining the walls, forming scrolls on which photographs are printed, splashed in huge eruptive gobs across giant canvases of ruined landscapes. The show is called ‘Walhalla’, the legendary afterlife of heroes slain in battle. Obviously Valhalla is mostly familiar to people through the ‘Ring Cycle’, and you get the sense that Kiefer isn’t wholly sold on Wagner’s take on Norse mythology, which so appealed to the Nazis. First up is a dimly lit corridor of lead hospital beds. It’s horrible: grey and dead. It speaks of the Holocaust. Of field hospitals and desperation. Of abandonment and flight. A machine gun pokes out of one bed like a skeletal leg. In another room, a bed is crushed beneath an enormous lead boulder, as lead wings droop either side. Another bed has the stalks of lead sunflowers poking out of it. A lead sh
The Guerrilla Girls are some of the art world’s most creative complainers, and for over 30 years now, they have been handing America’s galleries their arses on a platter. For their show at the Whitechapel Gallery, they’ve turned their attentions to Europe. This entire exhibition is based on a survey they sent out to 400 art institutions across 29 countries on the continent. In it, they demand stats for their representation of female artists, those who are gender non-conforming and artists of colour. Spoiler: it doesn’t go well. As the Guerrilla Girls announce on a banner on the front of the Whitechapel building, ‘only one quarter’ of those contacted responded (disappointingly, the Serpentine and the Saatchi Gallery were among the no-shows). The completed questionnaires are pasted onto the gallery wall, filled with the urgently scrawled handwriting of gallery directors. Put your contacts in, because there’s a whole lot of reading required for this show. Colourful posters pull out some of the best responses; when asked if it was the first time they’d collected such stats, Manchester Art Gallery replied: ‘No, we talk about these issues a lot’ – but the Guerrillas point out that their collection is still ‘80 percent male and 85 percent white’. The average representation of women artists was a pathetic 22 percent. One of the few glimmers of hope was Poland, where that figure was 28 percent and all but one of the responding galleries had a female director. Informative as all
The Modern Lovers have a song that goes ‘Pablo Picasso never got called an asshole’. Which is surprising, because the way Pablo treated women you’d imagine that he got called a lot worse than that. Really, this show should be called ‘Picasso, Old Lech’, because his portraits tell a story of a man who didn’t just love women, but consumed them, used them, abused them and then chucked ’em aside. But we’ll get to that. The first work you see here is a bold early self-portrait of the artist with his palette, his shirt rendered as a slab of off-white, his youthful features full of strength. Another room finds young Pablo in Paris, lost in a world of art, friends and partying. There’s an incredibly grotesque image of his friend Gustave Coquiot in a swirl of dancers and a genuinely stunning Blue Period portrait of Sebastia Junyer i Vidal. Then Picasso heads into cubism, thanks in part to the model Fernande Olivier, who features in so many of his works. Portraits of her and one absolute stunner depicting the art dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler find Picasso on the path to greatness. You then walk through a corridor of Picasso’s caricatures – which are interesting more than brilliant – and a room of almost totally unflattering portraits of his first wife Olga. But don’t be surprised that a lot of the paintings here far from good. Picasso created a lot of work, and any show of his is bound to include a good fistful of guff. The last room – the show's biggest and best – is where e
Being an architect must be so frustrating. At every turn, your artistic vision gets constrained by town planners, clients and engineers. Even the laws of physics stop you in your tracks. Visionary architectural nutcase Zaha Hadid, who died in March 2016 at 65, must have felt that frustration more than most. Her twisting, undulating buildings – including the London Aquatics Centre and the Serpentine’s own Magazine restaurant – pushed engineers, and her clients, to their limits. She wanted more than was physically feasible, abstraction brought to life, structures that exist outside of the realms of possibility. In her drawings and paintings though, there were no limits. The result is a collection of nearly abstract visions of impossible future cities. There are recognisable elements – buildings, streets, mountains – but they’re pulled apart, deconstructed, stretched and twisted: horizons bend, walls wobble. The earlier paintings are the most realistic. They look like your standard architectural imagery at first, but odd elements pop out: rooms on their sides, walls that intersect at multiple angles. But as the show goes on, the naturalism disappears, until the paintings are almost completely impossible abstractions. There’s even a virtual reality element that places you in the middle of four of the works, their angular shapes flowing around you. The Russian avant-garde is the biggest influence, Malevich’s constructivism especially, but she wanted something more than pure ae
A commission by artist Yinka Shonibare, produced by Up Projects for the Royal Opera House. Titled 'Globe Head Ballerina', the work is inspired by a famous photograph of ballerina Margot Fonteyn. Shonibare's sculpture depicts a life-size ballerina, modelled on Melissa Hamilton, a soloist with the Royal Ballet. Encased in a giant 'snow globe', the figure, whose head is a replica Victorian globe, rotates slowly. Her tutu is made of fabrics that are synonymous with Shonibare's work and his exploration of the ambiguities of heritage and identity; originally manufactured by the Dutch for sale in the Indonesian market, the fabrics have become a symbol of African identity, having eventually been sold to the colonies in West Africa. The work is displayed on the exterior of the building overlooking Russell Street and will remain in place for five years.
Ceramics might be enjoying a kind of hipsterish resurgence in art right now, but it's never been taken particularly seriously as a means of expression. Certainly not in the avant-garde scene of early-’60s Los Angeles. Regardless, it was here that Ken Price made his name. Going against the prevailing trends of the time, he avoided making anything big, cerebral and monumental in favour of the small, hand-crafted and almost wilfully cheerful. The ceramics on display here span half a century, and fall into two broad categories. There are the formal pieces: speckled, blobby, amorphous and weirdly sentient-looking. In many of them, sections appear to be lopped off, revealing a brightly coloured ‘flesh’ beneath. Then there are the functional pieces: jugs, cups and plates, some decorated with snails, others with palm trees. No, seriously. And no, they look awesome. They drove critics spare, who, in an era of conceptual purity, were appalled by art that had one foot in the world of – shock horror – craft. Alongside these are dozens upon dozens of Price’s drawings and watercolours. Lots are tight, graphic, all-American scenes – highways, factories, beach houses, buxom women – depicted in lurid acid-trip colours. They reveal an instinct for impeccable design, one in thrall to Japanese art. More thrilling are the pictures where the ceramics themselves make an appearance. These occasionally reach surreal heights, like the drawing of a turtle swimming through the ocean with a teacup fix
A papier-mâché sculpture keeps guard as you enter Mai-Thu Perret’s show, a blood red machine gun at her side. Masks hang from thick black sheets above a disembodied woman’s head. ‘Zone’ takes inspiration from an avant-garde French novel about a society run by a tribe of warrior lesbian women and also forms part of a story by Perret about a remote commune of women in the desert. The room here feels like it could be a space in that commune: a guard keeping watch, a tall wicker totem acting as a symbol of female power and strength, the walls lined with decorative tile and clay sculptures. In the centre of the space, a massive bubbling tiled bed could be a massage table, or maybe it’s from a morgue. You feel like you’ve entered an inner sanctum, a quiet place of refuge for warriors. The clay works on the wall are pretty – some full of finger marks, others still and blank. Perret is playing with classic modern art and dadaist forms, making you see them as part of the artistic production of her violent fictional sisterhood. The show’s a trip: anger and violence hidden under a veneer of calm, considered artistic expression. You feel like if you get caught in here you’re going to get your nuts cuts off. If you’re nutless, you might just be safe. @eddyfrankel
Turns out, seeing faces staring back at you from inanimate objects isn’t a sign that you’re losing your mind, it’s just proof that your brain is working. It’s called pareidolia: the phenomenon of seeing familiar patterns where none exist, and it looks like British artist Peter Liversidge sees faces pretty much everywhere. Actually, not quite, because Liversidge doesn’t see a bunch of different faces in the objects and images collected here, just a single one, over and over again: a blank, emotionless meh, the neutral, no-reaction emoji. It’s glaring at you in neon form as you walk in and it’s painted in black over images of tropical islands ripped out of magazines. The two dotted eyes and slitted mouth peer out from hung Persian carpets, they’re stamped into chunks of Styrofoam, cardboard, wood and bits of litter on the main wall. It’s like some kind of ethnographic trash collection. But where once these kind of ultra-simple marks may have recalled tribal masks, or primitive cave painting-likedepictions of the human face, they now scream with a different, emotionless, symbolism: the blank empty nothingness of an emoji. The Persian rugs say it best. Here are three artefacts that are imbued with the history of their craft, marked by the thousands of feet that have walked on them, and all that history has been obscured, washed away and paved over. Before, there was a story, now there’s just a face, an empty stare. It feels like Liversidge is laying bare the barren, detached
Whether it’s Robert Mapplethorpe’s sleeve photo for ‘Horses’ or the cover of Time Out, we’re used to seeing Patti Smith in front of the camera. But next spring Londoners will get a chance to see the world through the singer’s own lens, as 17 of her photographs go on display at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Visit the gallery’s exhibition of work by Vanessa Bell and you’ll also find a smaller show called ‘Legacy: Photographs by Vanessa Bell and Patti Smith’. Smith’s photos document her residency at Charleston, Bell’s house in Sussex, in 2003, with subjects including Bell’s bed and library. They’ll be displayed alongside Bell’s own photo albums (on loan from the Tate Archives) which capture the Bloomsbury Group of artists, writers and thinkers before the war. It sounds like a fascinating coming together of two groundbreaking artists, so if you’re heading south this spring, don’t miss out.
Now in its fifty-second year, the renowned and celebrated annual wildlife photography competition and exhibition returns to the Natural History Museum with images of the most extraordinary species on the planet, captured by professional and amateur photographers. And FYI, all wannabe animal-snappers out there: next year's competition will be open for entries from October 24 and will close on December 15. Please note that last entry to the exhibition is daily at 5.15pm.
Nightlife in London this February
The musical brains behind ace indie night Feeling Gloomy have come up with a new party. Burn Down The Disco will take the baton from the popular Old School Indie party at the end of September, showcasing the same great indie tunes as OSI, but also with tons of lovely soul, synth pop, ska and vintage rock 'n' roll mixed in. Think anything from Depeche Mode to The Specials to Chuck Berry to Pulp. OSI founder Carl Hill says this new night will allow him to open things up a bit and play a wider range of great music, all of which is definitely fine by us. But don't worry – BDTD will still thrive off the same fun-filled atmosphere as OSI, and certainly won't take itself too seriously. There'll be sweets given out on the door, dance competitions, colouring sheets, confetti and a weekly 'rubbish ballon drop'. Farewell, Old School Indie. Now let's all go and get drunk and jump around the dancefloor at Burn Down The Disco.
Absolutely no prizes for guessing what this event is all about. That's right, it's a gospel music-focused karaoke night – 'think "Sister Act" meets a school assembly via "Top of the Pops",' say the organisers. The songs are chosen to really bring out those rich harmonies (Blur’s ‘Tender’, Mary Mary’s ‘Shackles (Praise You)’ and, erm, Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’) so pick your soulful song to blast out and you'll be accompanied by 15-piece London urban choir Singology, who'll (probably) make your amateur whining sound positively delightful. There's also a big group singalong for maximum harmonies.
Rock disco with artistic live turns, hosted by Amy Lamé with the best retro set in town from DJs The Readers Wifes. Duckie distinguishes itself as gay London's leading pop-and-performance club. The team also put on large theatrical events at venues like the Barbican. But The RVT is where the faithful flock every week.
Ultra-welcoming queer performance mixer gets all hot under the collar for Valentines with drag king collective Pecs. The kings will be upping the ante with extra-sexed up sketches and dance routines plus there's a few open mic slots for any sudden romantic displays of affection. Get ready to fall in love.
Buttmitzvah is back for what they brilliantly describe as 'the second cumming' and it's going to be a showstopper. The premise is a bar mitzvah where everyone is invited and the camp levels are turned up to the extreme. The first event was such a runaway success that Buttmitzvah have moved from The Glory to the larger Bethnal Green Working Men's Club but still expect a queue outside. Not only will London's first and only queer bar mitzvah party feature klezmer band Don Kipper, lashings of kosher snacks and riotous chair dancing but there will also be drag kings performing as Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen, diamante yamulkes and roaming matchmakers led by New York Jewish grandma Buballah, who is intent on making romantic matches between strangers. Watch what happened when we went down to the first Buttmitzvah: Buttmitzvah organiser Josh Coles spoke to us about putting the 'Oy Gay' into the ancient Jewish teenage ritual.