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Things to do on New Year's Day in London

Some of the capital's best museums, galleries and attractions are open on January 1 2016

Ben Rowe / Time Out

It's business as usual for most of London's big museums, so peel yourself out of bed and start your cultural year as you mean to go on. Note that some attractions have reduced opening hours, so be sure to check details in advance.

Museums open on New Year's Day

Churchill War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms are dedicated to the life and achievements of former British prime minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965). There's much on his political career, and many of his trademark props – including a cigar and his red siren suit – are on display.

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Westminster

Horniman Museum

An anthropological museum set in 16 acres of landscaped gardens, the Horniman Museum has a traditional natural history gallery, a state-of-the-art aquarium and gardens that offer spectacular views over London.

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Forest Hill

Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum holds an important collection of twentieth-century art as well as collections of the machinery of war, official communications and manuscripts of war literature.

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Elephant & Castle

London Transport Museum

The museum's design gallery is a tribute to Frank Pick, the man responsible for rolling out the London Underground brand and giving each line its own character. For children, the London Transport Museum has an under-fives play area.

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Aldwych

Museum of London

The history of London, from prehistoric times to the present, is told in the Museum of London through reconstructed interiors and street scenes, alongside displays of original artefacts found during the museum's archaeological digs.

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Barbican

National Maritime Museum

As well as the National Maritime Museum, on this Greenwich Park site you'll find the Queen's House and the Royal Observatory, which houses the only public planetarium in the UK and features daily shows with astronomers.

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Greenwich

Natural History Museum

The handsome Alfred Waterhouse building houses a collection that contains some 70 million plant, animal, fossil, rock and mineral specimens and the famous plaster cast of a diplodocus that lords it over the Central Hall.

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Gloucester Road

Science Museum

The Science Museum features seven floors of educational and entertaining exhibits, including the Apollo 10 command module and a flight simulator. Launch Pad is a popular hands-on gallery where children can explore basic scientific principles.

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Knightsbridge

Sherlock Holmes Museum

When you visit you are likely to be greeted by an august person wearing a bowler hat and whiskers; this, you will deduce, is Doctor Watson. The museum bristles with murder weapons, Victoriana and waxworks depicting scenes from the stories.

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Baker Street

Somerset House

Open noon to 6pm on Jan 1 2012. The venue houses a formidable art gallery (the wonderful Courtauld), a beautiful fountain court, a terraced café and a classy restaurant. The Embankment Galleries explore connections between art, architecture and design with a series of temporary exhibitions.

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Aldwych
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Attractions open on New Year's Day

Hampton Court Palace

Henry VIII had many homes, but this one oozes historical drama. Shakespeare performed here and Cromwell made it his home after the Civil War.

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Hampton Court

HMS Belfast

Europe's largest cruiser from World War II, HMS Belfast is now a floating naval museum, a landmark on the Thames near Tower Bridge, with nine huge decks.

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Tower Bridge

Kensington Palace

Catch the inspired 'Enchanted Palace' installation before it closes, at this royal residence in Hyde Park.

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Hyde Park

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is a magnificent World Heritage Site covering 300 acres with more than 30,000 species of plants. The Xstrata Treetop Walkway – 18m up in the air and 200m long – provides a fresh perspective on Capability Brown's woodland.

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Kew, Surrey

Sealife London Aquarium

The aquarium is well placed for the attractions of the South Bank; it's right beside the London Eye and a 20-minute walk along the river from Tate Modern.

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Waterloo

London Bicycle Tour Company

Hire a bike or tandem to ride independently, or go on one of the regular tours, which include one covering the main London landmarks (it's available in seven languages), and rides out to east and west London.

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Southbank

London Eye

The world's largest observation wheel offers a number of trip options: for instance, you could combine your revolution with a river cruise, take a Champagne flight or book a private capsule.

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Waterloo

London Wetland Centre

The centre offers all sorts of other entertainment for all ages, including guided walks and courses for those who want to learn more about the birdlife or the flora, bat-spotting walks, wildlife photography courses and pond-dipping sessions.

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West London

London Zoo

London Zoo is home to more than 600 animal species, many of which are endangered. There are plenty of cafés and picnic spots, and the zoo offers educational and craft activities as well as events exploring science and conservation.

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Primrose Hill

Tower Bridge Exhibition

The Tower Bridge Exhibition is an entertaining display on the history of the bridge, located in the old steam rooms and the west walkway, which provides a crow's-nest view along the Thames.

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Tower Bridge
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Art galleries open on New Year's Day

National Portrait Gallery

Portraits don't have to be stuffy. The National Portrait Gallery has everything from oil paintings of stiff-backed royals to photos of soccer stars and gloriously unflattering political caricatures.

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Leicester Square

Royal Academy of Arts

Britain's first art school is now best known for the galleries. Expect to pay for blockbusters, but shows in the John Madejski Fine Rooms are drawn from the RA's holdings – ranging from Constable to Hockney – and are free.

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Piccadilly

Somerset House

Open noon to 6pm on Jan 1 2012. The venue houses a formidable art gallery (the wonderful Courtauld), a beautiful fountain court, a terraced café and a classy restaurant. The Embankment Galleries explore connections between art, architecture and design with a series of temporary exhibitions.

Read more
Aldwych

Tate Britain

Tate Modern gets all the attention, but the original Tate Gallery has a broader and more inclusive brief. Housed in a stately Portland stone-built building on the riverside, Tate Britain is second only to the National Gallery when it comes to British art.

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Millbank

Tate Modern

This powerhouse of modern art is awe-inspiring even before you enter, thanks to its industrial architecture. Tate Modern was built as Bankside Power Station in 1963. Shut down in 1981, it opened as an art museum in 2000 and has enjoyed spectacular popularity ever since.

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Wallace Collection

This handsome house, built in 1776, contains an exceptional collection of eighteenth-century French furniture, paintings and objets d'art, as well as an amazing array of medieval armour and weaponry.

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Marylebone

V&A

The V&A houses one of the world's greatest collections of decorative arts, in such varied fields as ceramics, sculpture, portrait miniatures and photography.

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Knightsbridge

Events in London on New Year's Day

The Institute of Sexology

The Wellcome Collection's newly expanded gallery space will open with a wink and a blush with The Institute of Sexology, an exhibition that brings together the great pioneers of the study of sex. More than 200 pieces of art, erotica, photography and ethnography will help visitors get a new perspective on perversions, lust and normality, with live events, discussions and performances to accompany the X-rated exhibits. The work carried out by sex researchers such as Magnus Hirschfeld, Sigmund Freud, Marie Stopes and Alfred Kinsey will be explored and celebrated, with a particular focus on how their bold studies have helped to change attitudes and lift taboos. The exhibition is free and open to all, but not recommended for the prudish.

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Wellcome Collection Until Sunday September 20 2015 Free

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