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62 divine things to do in London this January

Written by
Stephanie Hartman

Welcome to the first month of a fantastic 2016! January's got it all going on with highlights that include a light themed festival shining brightly across the capital, the London Boat Show for those thinking of sailing away to sunnier climes, and some stellar new plays opening in the West End. Enjoy!


Jan 1: New Year's Day Parade London's New Year's Day Parade celebrates its thirtieth year in 2016 and more than 8,500 performers representing 20 countries will take part, including Pearly Kings and Queens, cheerleaders, marching bands, dancers and representatives from West End shows.

Jan 6: Farewell to Christmas at the Geffrye Wave goodbye to Christmas at this traditional celebration on Twelfth Night which takes place in the Geffrye Museum's pretty gardens. There'll be carol singing, mulled wine, stories about Epiphany and Twelfth Night cake as well as the ritualistic burning of the holly and the ivy.

Jan 8-17: London Boat Show If it floats you'll find it at The London Boat Show, a ten-day tribute to all forms of waterborne transport. Every size of vessel is represented among the hundreds of show boats; everything from kayaks to superyachts will be brought by specialist independent builders, multinational companies and everything in between.

Jan 9-10: Cracking Codes at HMS Belfast Learn to be a spy, or how to foil one, at this drop-in family workshop. Board the HMS Belfast to decipher secret messages, intercept communications, map hazards on a sea chart and create your own secret code.

Jan 10: TS Eliot Prize Readings at RFH The T S Eliot Prize Readings return in 2016, showcasing the work of poets shortlisted in the 2015 edition of the competition. Ian McMillan comperes the evening, with Pascale Petit chairing the panel along with poets Kei Miller and Ahren Warner.

Jan 12-16: Le Patin Libre: Vertical Skate at Somerset House wraps up with a sensational display of dancing on ice thanks to Canadian quintet Le Patin Libre and their award-wining double bill 'Vertical'.

Jan 14-17: Lumiere London More than 20 artists have been enlisted to light up the streets of the capital with new commissions and site-specific work for Lumiere London in 2016. Artichoke, a creative trust which produces magical, large-scale events across the globe, are behind the project, and the likes of Julian Opie and Janet Echelman have created work for the nocturnal art trail.

Jan 15-17: London Model Engineering Exhibition How do you get nearly 2,000 steam trains, planes, boats, tanks and trucks up the biggest hill in north London? Shrink them. All manner of models will be on display at this twentieth edition of The London Model Engineering Show, and more than 50 international clubs and societies will be competing to win this year's Society Shield. 

Jan 17: Festival of the Mind at JW3 Psychology and the mind are unpicked in a playful way during this one-day festival at JW3. Event highlights include a guided walk through Hampstead exploring the lives of the Freud family. 

Jan 18-July 29: Scholar, Courtier, Magician: The Lost Library of John Dee at the Royal College of Physicians John Dee was one of Tudor England's most mysterious figures, a man who practiced everything from maths to the occult. His library includes guides to the art of love, introductions to alchemy, astrological textbooks and accounts of Dee's 'conversations with angels'. 

Jan 21-Aug 14: Light, Time, Legacy: Francis Towne’s watercolours of Rome Francis Towne left 75 of his own beautiful watercolours to the British Museum on his death two centuries ago. To mark the anniversary all of the works – 52 of which are views of Rome – will be on display in this free exhibition. 

Jan 22: Camley Street Wassail Awakening Party Feeling the bleakness of the season? Time to get yourself a nineteenth-century English pick-me-up: a drink from the wassailing bowl and an encouraging song to the apple tree that produced it.

Jan 22-May 1: Drawing on Childhood at the Foundling Museum This exhibition explores the tradition and importance of looked-after children in popular culture, with original drawings, first editions and special illustrated editions of books such as 'James and the Giant Peach', 'Hetty Feather' and 'Rapunzel'.

Jan 22-May 26: Otherworlds: Visions of our Solar System This photographic exhibition by artist, curator and writer Michael Benson will take visitors on a stunning trip through space using 77 composite images.

Jan 23-24: Adventure Travel Show At Olympia 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.

Jan 24 and Mar 4: ‘Astronights’ Adult sleepovers at the Science Museum Settle down for a snooze among the Science Museum's brilliant displays at this special sleepover just for grownups. Guests will be greeted with a drink on arrival followed by a three-course dinner to keep them fuelled for the events planned during the rest of the evening.

Jan 27-Apr 3: The Museum of Innocence at Somerset House This collaboration between Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk and Somerset House presents a physical form of Pamuk's novel 'The Museum of Innocence'.

Jan 30-Feb 7: Snowdrop Days at Chelsea Physic Garden Ahead of its official Spring opening, London's oldest botanic garden unlocks its doors for nine days in winter each year to showcase its collection of snowdrops (Latin name Galanthus, meaning 'milk flower') at their peak.

Jan 30-Apr 24: Beyond Beauty - Transforming the Body in Ancient Egypt at Two Temple Palace The day-to-day routines of the ancient Egyptians are explored alongside their elaborate coffins and funerary head coverings in the first exhibition held at Two Temple place in 2016. 

Lucky Chip


Jan 4: The Detox Kitchen Deli This is to be the flagship deli for Detox Kitchen, a favourite among people who think they need to ingest certain foods and drinks (rather than just ingest less) in order to purge themselves of the effects of over-indulgence. A perfect launch for January, in other words, when the gullible are feeling green at the gills.

Jan 4: Shuang Shuang You’ve heard of Chinese hotpot, right? The meal you cook yourself in a pot of simmering broth? And you’ve heard of (and probably eaten) conveyor belt sushi. Well, Shuang Shuang brings the two concepts together. You have the pot of broth in front of you and the belts deliver dishes of goodies for you to cook. A first for Chinatown – and for all of London, for that matter. And if this all sounds familiar, it’s because we had it in last month’s roundup, too. Treat the opening date with caution.

Jan: Lucky Chip Burgers & Wine This perennially popular pop-up has decided to settle down after five years of peripatetic catering for the beef-and-bun brigade. Their new place is allegedly going to make a big deal of matching burgers with wine. So it won’t just be ‘another bottle of house red, please’, while you’re dawdling over the last of your fries.

Jan: Le Bab Peak kebab: are we there yet? Not according to the people behind Le Bab, who include alums of mega-outstanding (and expensive) Le Gravroche. Will the humble kebab be elevated to unheard-of heights? Will London’s ravenous drunkards be soaking up the beer with life-enhancing substances? We’ll find out.

Jan 18: Blue Monday To cheer people up on the bleakest day of the year, The Blues Kitchen will be giving away free Hard Shakes (or regular shakes) to anyone dining at any of the sites, and free Oreo Donuts to drinkers at the bar, on Monday 18 January. 


Jan 5- 16: Seymour Mace: Niche as Fuck! Mad-ass stand-up Seymour Mace bagged a Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award nom at last year's Edinburgh Fringe for his anarchic, very silly show, 'Niche as Fuck!' It's a seemingly random hodge-podge of ideas: bizarre faux-gameshows, lip-syncing puppets and catchy jingles (you won't forget 'Is your name Gary?' in a hurry.)

Jan 7- Feb 6: Billy Connolly: High Horse Tour The legend returns! The Big Yin himself, Billy Connolly, hits town with his 'High Horse Tour', playing the Hammersmith Apollo for an extended run.

Jan 11- 23: Robert Newman: The Brain Show Robert Newman – who, with David Baddiel, was the first comic to fill Wembley Arena back in 1993 – returned to stand-up a couple of years ago with a stand-up show/lecture 'New Theory of Evolution' – and it was rather excellent. Now the erudite comic's back with a new show, 'The Brain Show', exploring whether some grand claims made by neuroscience are true via proper scientific facts and whimsical comedy.

Jan 11-23: Trygve Wakenshaw: Nautilus Trygve Wakenshaw's latest show, bagged a Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination at last year's Edinburgh Fringe. It's a ridiculously funny, hugely inventive 75-minutes of clowning and mime, with a subtle vegan message behind his propless (and largely wordless) skits.

Jan 17- 24: Kevin Hart: What Now? Box office-smashing US comic and actor Kevin Hart is having a quick arena fling with London, playing both Wembley and O2.

Jan 18- Feb 20: Eddie Izzard: Force Majeure Reloaded Following his arena dates back in 2013, and a massive world tour, globetrotting comedian (and future Mayor of London?) Eddie Izzard settles in for a London West End run, at the Palace Theatre, with a 'reloaded' version of his show, 'Force Majeure'.


Jan 1: Joy Jennifer Lawrence is getting tough in a whole new way as the single mom who invented the Miracle Mop.

Jan 1: The Danish Girl Eddie Redmayne plays the pioneering transgender artist Lili Elbe.

Jan 8: The Hateful Eight ‘The Hateful Eight’, a western set in post-Civil War Wyoming where a snowstorm traps a random group of people together under one roof (there will be blood!).

Jan 15: The Revenant Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu follows the Oscar-winning 'Birdman' with a raw, brutal tale of revenge starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

© Youri Lenquette


Jan 16: Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards The annual Worldwide Awards, organised by superb selector Gilles Peterson, act as a showcase for some of the very freshest talents from the worlds of funk, hip hop, jazz, dub, house, electronica and more.

Jan 19: Cheatahs Creating a splendid collision of fuzzed up chords and sun-blasted vocals, Cheatahs include members from three Dalston slacker-pop bands (Male Bonding, Weird Dreams and Sunbirds) and four countries (the UK, the US, Germany and Canada).

Jan 21: Patty Griffin As American as apple pie and on a par (in her best stripped-back country moments) with Emmylou Harris and Gillian Welch, Griffin is the kind of singer who can bring a lump to your throat with just one searing note and one autobiographical nugget.

Jan 21-23: The Maccabees Battersea’s finest are back, bashing out their radio-friendly indie rock full of angular riffs, south London accents and infectious, anthemic tunes.

Jan 26: Savages The London post-punk quartet show off their thrillingly dark clatter, which recalls The Slits and Siouxsie And The Banshees as well as noisier bands like Dead Kennedys and Sonic Youth.

Jan 26: Rebecca Ferguson The surprisingly soulful ‘X Factor’ runner-up pays tribute to Billie Holliday.

Jan 28: Daughter British folkie Elena Tonra leads this delicate but expansive three-piece as they play gothic pop from their debut album ‘If You Leave’ and its upcoming sequel ‘Not to Disappear’, both released by 4AD.

Jan 29-31: Hozier The young Irish singer-songwriter belts ‘Take Me to Church’ and more. 

Jan 30: The Libertines Catch up with Pete ’n’ Carl (’n’ Gary ’n’ John), who’ve extended their reunion with a new album: ’Anthems for Doomed Youth’, their first record in 11 years.



Jan 7-8: Skate Somerset House Club Nights The final nights of top DJs spinning tunes while you ice skate at Somerset House's annual winter series.

Jan 9, 16, 23, 30: Scuba's XOYO Residency The acclaimed DJ and curates and hosts a three-month residency at Shoreditch club XOYO with guest DJs.

Jan 23: Memory Box As the name suggests, Memory Box delves deep into the history of defining musical genres or scenes over the years, and has unleashed some awesome under-the-radar parties since it began in 2013.

Jan 23: The Playground More synthed-up adventures from the sleazy electro-techno crew at The Playground. Wherever they take place, their parties have a ravey, warehouse feel to them, and you can expct to hear some stellar underground producers from a range of genres relaying the bangers.

Jan 28: Fleetmac Wood Here at Time Out, we're big fans of Fleetmac Wood – a project dedicated to disco-leaning Fleetwood Mac re-edits which gave birth to Psychemagik's wonderful Crystal Vision rework of 'Dreams' – and we're not the only ones.

Jan 30: Smirnoff presents Winter Pride The chillier version of the Pride festival returns for a third year in 2015. It takes place in vast Elephant and Castle venue the Coronet, which the organisers will be filling with ace party-starting DJs.

Jan 30: Lovebox presents: East Meets Concrete Paris Paris club Concrete host a takeover of London's Oval Space venue as part of Lovebox's East Meets series – all taking place in east London, surprisingly. The line-up is tba, but rest assured that it'll feature the sort of seriously forward-thinking techno, house and disco selectors.

Jan 30: Secretsundaze Over the past 14, James Priestley and Giles Smith have created one of the most enduring and engaging London parties with Secretsundaze, bringing in some of the finest house, disco and techno selectors from around the globe to create some absolutely stellar events, attracting those who like to party hard.   

© Scott Rylander


Jan 2- Feb 6: Grey Gardens Olivier Award winners Sheila Hancock and Jenna Russell star in this European premier of acclaimed Broadway musical Grey Gardens.

Jan 16- Mar 6: Cirque du Soleil: Amaluna Circus leviathans Cirque du Soleil bring one of their newest touring shows to the Royal Albert Hall to brighten up our long dark winter. Loosely based on 'The Tempest', 'Amaluna' invites the audience to a mysterious island governed by Goddesses and guided by the cycles of the moon.

Jan 21- Mar 12: Escaped Alone The mighty Caryl Churchill kicks off the Royal Court's 2016 season.

Jan 27- Feb 20: Iphigenia in Splott Gary Owen's Cardiff-set rewiring of a harrowing Greek myth gets a transfer to the NT.

Until Mar 16: Guys and Dolls It's been a decade since the last major London production of 'Guys and Dolls', routinely referred to as the greatest musical of all time. That one was a starry affair starring Ewan McGregor as notorious gambler Sky Masterton; this transferring Chichester revival is a bit less spangly, but musical theatre buffs will be freaking out with delight to note that the cast includes Jamie Parker.


Jan 13- Mar 6: Champagne Life To mark the Saatchi Gallery’s thirtieth birthday, it will present its first exhibition of all-female artists.

Jan 16- Feb 7: Annie Leibovitz: Women To launch her internationally touring exhibition ‘Women: New Portraits’, the celebs' favourite snapper Annie Leibovitz has chosen the former hydraulic station that’s staged ambitious site-specific events for her series of photographs that explores the changing role of women today.

Jan 20- Jan 24: London Art Fair Returning to the Business Design Centre for its 28th edition, the London Art Fair presents a varied programme of Modern and contemporary art.

Jan 29- May 15: Electronic Superhighway You’d expect YouTube, Instagram, image manipulation and the Dark Web to feature in a show about how the invention of computers and the internet have impacted on artists and irrevocably changed the terrain of contemporary art. And they do, in work by current art world darlings such as Jon Rafman, Ryan Trecartin and Hito Steyerl. What the Whitechapel’s ambitious first show of 2016 also offers, however, is a surprisingly extensive history of the subject.

Jan 30- Apr 20: Painting in the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse The Royal Academy’s spring blockbuster will appeal to the green finger in all of us. Blooming with over 120 works by Monet and his contemporaries including Pierre Bonnard, Wassily Kandinsky, Henri Le Sidaner, Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne, this touring show that comes from Cleveland Museum of Art reveals the garden to be a site of creative stimulus and a means to critique the unsettled period.


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