Bye bye winter. Hello sunshine! Miriam Bouteba rounds up 12 lovely things to do in London this spring.
1. Scoff international cuisine in the open air
Weekly food market Urban Food Fest is back after a break for winter. Taking place in Shoreditch’s Euro Car Parks, it’s packed with stalls and trucks serving dishes from all over the world. Look out for Venezuelan beef arepas (maize flour flatbreads), vegan hand-made pasta and the ubiquitous but undeniably delicious pulled pork in a soft brioche bun. Organiser Jessica Tucker – who’s a City lawyer by day – knows that visitors are likely to get thirsty, what with all that eating, so the bar’s stocked with craft beer, cider, wine and even champagne. Fizz in a car park? Well, why the heck not? Euro Car Parks. Shoreditch High St Overground. Every Sat from Mar 5.
2. Spot sculptures amid the skyscrapers
'Sculpture in the City' returns to the Square Mile for a fifth year with 14 unexpected and humorous works of art by some of the biggest names in the biz. Switch out of hibernation mode and wander among pieces by Damien Hirst, Kris Martin, Laura Ford and everyone’s favourite troublemaker Ai Weiwei. Keep an eye out too for Tomoaki Suzuki’s tiny figures, which are modelled after real Londoners. You might just spot yourself. Various locations. Liverpool St. Until Jun 30.
3. Have adults-only, blow-up fun
A seven-metre-high bouncy castle is coming to the South Bank this month and you can bounce on it for free. The brilliantly named Bouncingham Castle is inflating for three days. And the best bit? It’s just for adults, so there’s no need to worry about accidentally booting a child in the face. Competitiveness is also encouraged: prizes will be dished out for particularly spectacular bouncers. Start practising those star jumps now. Just don’t put your back out, okay? You’re not as young as you used to be. 2 More London Place, SE1 2JP. London Bridge. Mar 3-5.
4. Admire some flowery masterpieces
London’s best floral displays are to be found indoors this spring, at the National Gallery’s upcoming 'Dutch Flowers' exhibition. Filled with more tulips than an Amsterdam florist, it will explore flower painting from its seventeenth-century beginnings to its peak in the late eighteenth century. With work from leaders in the field, including Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder and Rachel Ruysch, it’s going to be blooming marvellous! National Gallery. Charing Cross. Apr 6-Aug 29.
5. Take a peek at some skivvies
The V&A is stripping off this spring with 'Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear', an exhibition dedicated to bras, pants, petticoats and every other form of undergarment you can (and can’t) think of. From long cotton drawers worn by Queen Victoria’s mother to briefs designed by David Beckham for H&M, there will be around 200 pieces on display, exploring how undies support the figure and investigating the sensual appeal they hold. So no saggy, grey Y-fronts then. Victoria & Albert Museum. South Kensington. Apr 16-Mar 12 2017.
6. Get steamy at Kew
There’s no guarantee of sweltering (or, let’s face it, even vaguely warm) weather any time soon, but one place that is always balmy is the Prince of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens. Right now the huge glasshouse is packed with tropical flowers for a flamboyant Brazil-themed festival dedicated to the most exotic of all plants: the orchid. It’s closing this weekend, though, so get down there soon and soak up those carnival vibes. Kew Gardens. Kew Bridge rail. Until Mar 6.
7. Roll up to the big top
CircusFest is coming to the Roundhouse. The three-week event will transform the venue into a big top with a programme packed with some seriously energetic performances, including a real-life human catapult at opening night spectacular ‘Super Sunday’. And if you’re not quite ballsy enough to go the whole hog and actually run away to the circus, you can still get involved with hula-hooping and aerial skills workshops that should help satisfy your inner acrobat. Roundhouse. Chalk Farm. Apr 4-24.
8. Watch a candlelit screening of 'Romeo + Juliet'
Baz Luhrmann’s breathtaking ‘Romeo + Juliet’ turns 20 this year (anyone else feeling old?). To celebrate, roving film club Backyard Cinema will be screening the ultimate story of young love in a beautiful candle-filled church with a live soundtrack by Some Voices choir. Nothing quite says ‘spring’ like a spot of tragic romance. St Mary's Church, YorkSt. Edgware Rd. Mar 29-Apr 9.
9. Mix things up
Expert mixologists from across Europe will gather at One Mayfair this month for the three-day booze extravaganza that is Cocktails in the City. Spread across four floors in the spectacular former church, there will be concoctions available from 20 different pop-up bars. We’ve also heard rumours of a rooftop bar with a dedicated whisky snug – a nice reminder of that marvellous activity you might have forgotten about: outdoor drinking. One Mayfair. Bond St. Mar 10- Mar 12. Get tickets at timeout.com/cocktailsinthecity.
10. Push the boats out
This May Day bank holiday, more than 130 canal boats will be moored along Little Venice’s dainty waterways for Canalway Cavalcade, an annual event that sees the barges getting all tarted up and bedecked with flags. It’s a terribly British affair with morris dancing and a real ale tent: proof that pageants aren’t just for precocious five-year-olds with pushy parents. See you around the maypole. Little Venice. Warwick Avenue. Apr 30-May 2.
11. Join a Jesus pub crawl
This Easter Sunday the capital’s watering holes will be filled with wannabe messiahs, as the annual Jesus-themed pub crawl Christathon returns. The pilgrimage to London’s biblically named pubs involves participants styling out the classic ‘JC look’, ie tunic and beard. The blasphemy ain’t for nothing: you’ll have to make a donation to charity at the start. Starts at The Trinity. Borough. Mar 27.
12. Pull up at the drive-in
While outdoor cinema is usually at the mercy of the incessant shittiness that is the Great British Weather, the folks at Ally Pally have found a brilliant compromise: a drive-in film club. This year’s programme features movies old and new including (well-a well-a well-a huh) a ‘Grease’ singalong. And all to be enjoyed from the comfort of your car – with the wipers on, if necessary. Pavilion Car Park, Alexandra Palace. Mar 10-31. Get tickets at timeout.com/drivein.