Saturday: a day of the week so uniquely brilliant that Elton John, Nick Drake and, uh, Whigfield all wrote songs about it. Whether you plan to spend yours dancing, drinking, shopping or broadening your cultural horizons, we've got you covered with our pick of the day's best events.
RECOMMENDED: Find more things to do in London this weekend
Get some well-needed January lols at this charity event. This year Abigoliah Schamaun, Ahir Shah, Al Murray, Desiree Burch, Ed Byrne, Johnny Cochrane, Mae Martin, Richard Herring, Scott Capurro and Sindhu Vee will be taking to the stage to raise funds for young people’s sexual health charity Brook.
Wild Card Brewery, Mother’s Ruin Gin Palace, God’s Own Junkyard and Pillars Brewery team up for this mini-festival (acts include Fabio and DJ Food) in aid of food bank Eat or Heat
Southbank Centre’s major arts and science festival explores what it is to be human, with exhibitions, concerts and this all-day session of talks and debates.
The bright lights of Canary Wharf's towers already provide quite the spectacle after dark, but the area glows even more than usual throughout January thanks to the addition of a variety of installations from international artists. Winter Lights returns in 2017 with 30 dazzling artworks, installations and interactive experiences, with many on show in the UK for the first time.
This large-scale show is just the excuse you need to get bitten by the travel bug and book yourself a new long-haul adventure. As well as stands from tour operators, volunteer services and tourism representatives from all over the world, the event hosts more than 100 free talks, and visitors can book in for travel writing and photography seminars.
2016 marks the 150th anniversary of celebrated children's author and illustrator Beatrix Potter, who was a frequent visitor to the museum where she would often sit and sketch. This exhibition celebrates the date with artworks, original sketches and her earliest published works on show.
The bright lights of Canary Wharf's towers already provide quite the spectacle after dark, but the area glows even more than usual throughout January thanks to the addition of a variety of installations from international artists. Winter Lights returns in 2017 with 30 dazzling artworks, installations and interactive experiences, with many on show in the UK for the first time. Highlights include a live graffiti weekend with work crafted from light (Jan 19-21) and 'Angels of Freedom' which sees five giant wings created by Merav Etan and Gaston Zahr that allow visitors to transform into angels using photography and social media. Visit the Winter Lights website for more information and to see the full programme.
To celebrate ten years of The Mighty Boosh Live, The Book Club is hosting an exhibition and events. Noel Fielding's illustrations hang alongside Dave Brown (aka Bollo)'s photos and work by other Boosh-linked artists Ivana Zorn, Andy Hollingworth, Mr Bingo and Jake.
From Whitechapel Market, you can look west along the high street to where the Gherkin stands out above the City. It might as well be the Emerald City for all the relevance it has here: this is a non-stop, heaving, all-weather, cacophonous East End micro-economy, born of pragmatism rather than fashion and largely sustained by local Bangladeshis. Go for fruit, phonecards, pots and pans, fish, spices, cleaning products and the sort of vegetables you might have to ask the name of. For a lunch break visit Needoo Grill: just over the road, this no-frills BYO restaurant serves excellent Punjabi food.
Damp, grey, industrial, miserable. No, not Walsall: Australia. That’s what the opening room in this show of Aussie plein air painting leads you to believe. If you’re expecting searing sunshine, baked earth and piles of discarded Castlemaine XXXX cans, you’re going to be disappointed, Crocodile Dundee. The three artists who make up the bulk of this exhibition saw something darker and greyer in their fledgling nation. Charles Conder, Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton were mates, three artists who’d seen glimpses of the cutting edge of European painting and wanted to adapt that visual vocabulary to the landscapes of home. And nineteenth-century Australia was a strikingly urbanised place. The early works here show cities in the rain, ships belching smoke into the harbour air, crowds of people gathered in grey swarms. Rainy England, where Roberts studied, weighs heavily on these images, as does the influence of the great James Whistler. It’s only in the second room that the sun properly comes out. Streeton unleashes the blue and gold in an image of rock being blasted away for railways, Roberts whips out the dusty ochre to capture a shepherd herding breakaway sheep. There’s a sweeping vision of the Hawkesbury River, undulating hills, a sleepy vista of a burbling brook. The thing is, most of these aren’t great paintings. There are glimpses of quality – especially in Charles Conder’s brilliantly bright and perfectly composed beach scene – but you can’t help but put these works in r
This monthly Peckham party promises 'no bass wobbles, only love, funk and soul'. Amen to that, we say. Expect everything from Motown anthems to slinky jazz-funk killers, hosted by Jazzheadchronic with special guests.
Do as the dedicated club junkies do and get yourself to the tastemaking Clerkenwell dance palace for a melting-pot of deep house, melodic techno, dubby disco, minimal grooves and a touch of bass. Residents Craig Richards and Terry Francis are joined by a stellar selection of cutting edge DJs and producers each week, throwing solid dancefloor tunes and some nice curveballs out to the crowd.
Much-loved club night HDIF has returned home to The Phoenix in the West End after a couple of years’ wandering. The dancefloor at this London indie institution is still packed with dapper crowds who dig grooving to the wonderfully nostalgic soundtracks on offer. Founder Ian Watson and guest DJs from bands spin the tunes. Get free membership by emailing email@example.com, and dance as if your vintage vinyl collection depended on it.
Shoreditch club XOYO always delivers when it comes to delivering on-point electronic music, whether through nights at the club itself or the XOYO Loves series, which see the brand branching out to different venues. Music-wise, expect anything from deep house to disco to dubstep to R&B, spun by some of the finest in the game.
Festival of the Spoken Nerd, an unashamedly geeky celebration of comedy, science, maths, music and experiments, is very much a fixture on the London scene these days. So much so that stand-up mathematician (yes, they exist!) Matt Parker, musician Helen Arney and experiments guy Steve Mould are presenting a greatest hits package over ten nights at Soho Theatre. Hands up who likes graphs?
Nick Mohammed resurrects his alter ego Mr Swallow for a zany biopic of arch-escapologist Houdini. This slice of magical character comedy is a look at the history of conjuring from Mohammed, who's appeared in 'Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie' and 'Bridget Jones's Baby'.
Star of his own BBC series 'The Omid Djalili Show', the Iranian stand-up is back doing what he does best: entertaining audiences with silly dances, witty anecdotes and sharp gags. Sure, he's conquered Hollywood with roles in 'Sex and the City' and 'The Mummy', and played the lead role in religious comedy 'The Infidel', but it's always good to have him back on stage in the UK.
After four brilliant series 'Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle' is no more. Damn. It's not all bad though. The iconoclastic Lee is back on stage with Digital Content Provider: yet another extended run at Leicester Square Theatre, his home away from home, to prepare for a full touring show in 2017. Apparently Lee has reigned in some of the meta-contortions and us vs them audience-baiting that defined his more recent material, concentrating instead on sticking it to 'Game of Thrones', Jimmy Carr and Nigel Farage. But, don't worry, there'll still be deep insights aplenty alongside the caustic observations and word-perfect quips. A stand-up craftsman of the highest order.
Wayne Coyne's veteran psychedelic pop nutjobs make a welcome return to London, dropping tracks from their 30-year career. Be prepared for unbridled joie de vivre and onstage antics, and bring someone to hug for 'Do You Realize?' (the official rock song of Oklahoma, fact fans).
Martyn Brabbins conducts Haydn's String Quartet In C, No. 3 'Emperor', Mozart's Piano Concerto No 14 In E Flat and Mahler's Symphony No 4, with pianist Ian Brown and soprano, Lucy Crowe.
Vladimir Jurowski conducts a concert performance of Beethoven's Fidelio, with Ben Johnson, tenor, Sofia Fomina soprano, Kristinn Sigmundsson bass, Anja Kampe soprano, Christopher Purves baritone, Michael Konig tenor and Ronan Collett, bass.
Find things to do any day of the week
London is a treasure trove of brilliant activities and days out worth boasting about. Whether you live and work in the capital or you’re planning a holiday, there's loads of ways to fill a free day with fun.
Sophie's Steakhouse & Bar
Never get in a rickshaw. Never attempt to walk down Oxford Street on a Saturday. And never, ever go for a steak anywhere within ten paces of a theatre. There are rules for getting along in the West End, and they’re there for a reason, which is why it’s difficult to approach Sophie’s Steakhouse – a giant restaurant in a prime Covent Garden spot – with anything other than low expectations. Sure enough, most of what I tried was underwhelming – under-seasoned, uncrisp calamari and king prawns that bore little evidence of the promised garlic and chilli dressing left a lot riding on the main course. Thankfully, Sophie’s hits the mark where it matters. The 10oz ribeye was excellent; charred grill lines on its surface imparting a bitter smokiness to the tender, juicy meat underneath, while the accompanying fries were just right, and ideal for mopping up the bloody aftermath. If only the sides – limp, overcooked broccoli; ridiculously wet creamed spinach – had displayed the same flair. While Sophie’s certainly doesn’t belong on any Londoner’s hit list, hungry visitors in need of a meaty fix before ‘The Lion King’ could do a lot worse. Just remember to pass on the tricycle-mounted maniacs when you’re heading back to your hotel.
"We are the place for Sunday roasts. Slow-roast rump or prime rib, served all day from noon. Bring the family – the kids' roasts are on us!"