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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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).
Find things to do any day of the week
Ametsa with Arzak Instruction
This Michelin-starred Spanish restaurant at COMO The Halkin hotel comes from the Arzak family - famed for their eponymous, three Michelin-starred restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain. Ametsa offers a similarly intricate showcase of New Basque cuisine, with contemporary interpretations of classic dishes from the north-east of Spain. The menu might include dishes such as seasonal vegetables with sesame and summer truffle, grouse with dry apricot mousse and golden berries, suckling pig on a bed of carob crumbs, and leche 'tostada' con helado de piña asada - a Spanish dessert of clove custard, toasted milk and pineapple ice cream. A tasting menu - with or without wine pairing - is available alongside the a la carte at dinner, with a set lunch menu (currently £29 for two courses) offering a more accessible option. Sherries and Spanish wine dominate the wine list.