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33 lovely things to do in London this weekend

By Stephanie Hartman

Feast on cinnamon buns at the Southbank Centre, work your way through delicious coffees in Bethnal Green and dance your way into the weekend with a club night dedicated to ABBA. Mamma mia, it's going to be a good one!

Things to do 

Stories in the Dark Woods, secret London location, TONIGHT, £6.  Spend the first Friday 13 of the year scaring yourself senseless by telling ghost stories in a dark wood. 

Virtually Real, Royal Academy of Arts, Fri-Sat, £45. This display features work from three Royal Academy School alumni created using virtual reality platforms, which you can walk through, over, under and around as the artwork is created around you.

You Can Sew Without a Sewing Machine, The Create Place, Sat, £35. Join the London Craft Club for an afternoon learning the basics of sewing fabric accessories.

Nordic Matters Opening Weekend Southbank Centre, Sat, free. Icelandic author Sjón unpacks the stories and poems that Scandi folk wove to wile away the long dark nights before Netflix began and bakers from the Finnish Church in London explain the secrets behind the hallowed cinnamon bun.

Woof Time, Four Thieves, Sun, £12. Grab your pooch and head along to the Four Thieves Pub in Clapham for an afternoon of pet-loving fun, including a doggy-style fashion show, doggy aerobics, doggy-dancing and a ‘Barking Bake Off’.

The Old Dalston Market, EPIC Dalston, Sun, free. Head to EPIC Dalston to browse a selection of over 50 hand-picked stall holders from across the country, selling an eclectic mix of salvaged and one-off objects and handmade items.

Disaster Spectacular: The Improv Drag ShowThe Book Club, Sun, £10. Promising to be ‘the messiest of Sunday nights’, ten drag queens will compete in an improv contest after just one day of training in improvisational theatre – and you can watch it all unfold.

London Buddhist Centre Open Day, London Buddhist Centre, Sun, free. The LBC opens its doors for a day and invites newcomers (as well as regulars) to learn how to meditate and try taster sessions in Breathing Space, the centre's project offering mindfulness for well-being. 

…or check out more events happening in London this weekend.

Eating and drinking

Toast in the Tree: Rotherhithe Wassail, Brunel Museum, Sat, £5. An evening of Wassailing with plenty of warming cider concoctions and entertainment from Midnight Apothecary and GreenTrad. Experience a procession to the apple tree with the Wassail Queen and the Green Man, then watch as cider-dipper toast is presented.

Coffee Tasting with the Larder London and Union Hand Roasted Coffee, The Larder, Sun, £5. Spend the afternoon perfecting your coffee tasting skills at this session hosted by Union Hand-Roasted Coffee and Bethnal Green coffee shop The Larder.

Open Kitchen: Freddie Janssen, Carousel, Sun, £45. Tuck in to freshly-made tortillas, zingy salsas and tacos at this Mexican sharing lunch thrown by Freddie Janssen of Lyle’s restaurant in Shoreditch.

'Dry January' Takeover, Bloomsbury Club Bar, all weekend, free. Have an alcohol-free drinks date this weekend with a takeover at the Bloomsbury Club Bar. Hangover-free espresso martinis clink rims with spicy Seedlip & tonic cocktails. 

…or check out the latest restaurant reviews.

Live music

Cloudmakers Trio: Five, Kings Place, TONIGHT, £12.50, concs £9.50. Vibraphone maestro Jim Hart leads his Cloudmakers trio of bassist Michael Janisch and drummer Dave Smith as they navigate through complex originals with virtuosic improv.

Lena Anderssen, Southbank Centre, TONIGHT, free. Catchy pop songs and intimate poetry from the Faroese-Canadian singer-songwriter.

Lucinda Belle, Half Moon Putney, Sat, £10-£12. The harp-toting singer mixes shimmering, epic original songs with classical, folk and pop influences – much like Penguin Cafe Orchestra but with savvier songwriting hooks.

…or take a look at all the live music events in London this weekend.


Gimme Gimme Gimme (Abba After Midnight), Moth Club, TONIGHT, adv £5. DJs will be playing nothing but music by the Swedish pop group.

Tessellate, Corsica Studios, TONIGHT, adv £10. If you want a bangin' party bubbling with low-slung synth attacks and featuring the cream of the UK bass and house underground, here's where you need to be.

Secretsundaze, The Pickle Factory, Sat, £9.50 & £14.50. Expect some of the finest house, disco and techno selectors from around the globe to create some absolutely stellar events for anyone who likes to party hard.

Kate Boss, Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, Sat, £5, early bird £3. Golden house and dusty disco-loving party crew Kate Boss are always a safe bet for a full-on fun party.

…or see all the parties planned this weekend.



‘The Warriors’ + costume party, Deptford Cinema, Sat, £5, £3.50 concs. Are you a Warrior? A Lizzie? A Gramercy Riff? A Baseball Fury? Walter Hill’s action classic is the ultimate costume party movie, crammed with bizarre, spectacular but easy-to-imitate fashion statements.

London Short Film Festival: Youth Through the Decades, ICA, Sat, £11, £7 concs per session. The London Short Film Festival returns with ten days of the best new shorts from around the world, plus workshops, discussions, parties and a fistful of classic screenings.

‘Romancing the Stone’ + ‘The Jewel of the Nile’ + Q&A, Phoenix Cinema, Sun, £12, £10 concs. These goofy comedy-action flicks have stood up remarkably well. Kathleen Turner is the adventure author who freaks out when confronted with actual excitement, while Michael Douglas is the bargain-basement Indiana Jones who falls for her.

Or at the cinema...

La La Land ★★★★☆ Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling sing and dance their way through a joyous modern-day musical about the ups and downs of love and life in Los Angeles. 

Manchester by the Sea ★★★★★ Actor Casey Affleck joins the ranks of giants in a tremendously moving portrait of grief from American writer-director Kenneth Lonergan.

…or see all of the latest releases.

© Matt Veal


The Tempest, Southwark Playhouse, Fri-Sat, £20, concs £16. Sparky, streamlined take on Shakespeare's final play.

The Kite Runner, Wyndham's Theatre, Fri-Sat, £12-£91.75. A moving, stripped down stage version of the modern classic novel.

Giselle, London Coliseum, all weekend, £14-£79. English National Ballet brings back this haunting 1971 production. 

…or see our theatre critics’ choices.

© John Baldessari. Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery London.

This week's best new art

John Baldessari: Miró and Life in General, Marian Goodman Gallery, Fri-Sat, free. These new works will look familiar to anyone who saw his Tate retrospective in 2009, or any of his recent work, it’s all recognisably ‘late Baldessari’.

War In The Sunshine: The British In Italy 1917-1918, Estorick Collection, all weekend, £6.50, concs £4.50. Spruced-up after a five-month renovation, Islington’s Estorick Collection reopens with a rather leftfield show.

…or see all London art reviews.

And finally

Win... tickets to the sold out launch of Printworks featuring Seth Troxler

Grab... 40% off tickets to the 29th edition of the London Art Fair

Book… these gigs while you still can

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