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80 awesome things to do in London this April

By Stephanie Hartman

It may be April Fools Day, but what the fourth month of the year has in store for you is no joke! Get buzzed at the London Coffee Festival, feast at an avocado-fuelled brunch pop-up, have daytime discos at Mister Sunday, or get loved up at Backyard Cinema's screening of 'Romeo + Juliet.' Here are 80 mighty fine ways to keep yourself busy until May.


April 1-10: London Games Festival Make the city your playground during this playful 10-day festival. Among other venues across the capital, Somerset House will turn into a giant physical and virtual board game from April 1-3.

April 1-3: Pet Shop Boys Pop Up Shop A pop-up retail venture from electronic duo selling signed CDs and vinyl copies of their new album.

April 1-22: Stack and Mubi Present: Surprise Over the past year, Stack, an independent subscription service, and MUBI, an online cinema service have enlisted the help of 12 international illustrators to create work themed around 'surprise'. Feast your eyes on colourful creations from the likes of Jean Jullien, Anna Dunn, Kyle Platts, Supermundane and more. 

April 2: Independent Label Market and London Brewers' Market Pick up vinyl and more from some great independent record labels.

April 2-3: Independent Ceramics Market Shop from a unique range of original items at this two-day fair offering 50 stalls from a new wave of independent ceramicists and potters. An on-site café will offer refreshments.

April 4-10: Style Me in Seconds Professional stylists (who count Emeli Sandé and Victoria Beckham as clients) will be let loose on the public at Old Street Station, refreshing looks with a quick flick through stock from London's many charity shops.

April 5: Christie's Lates: Drawing From Life Study, contemplate and sketch the human form amongst art in the latest auction including pieces from Gerhard Richter and Ai Wei Wei. Christie's flock of experts will also be on hand to discuss collecting art.

April 7-10: London Coffee Festival Returning for 2016, the London Coffee Festival is the UK’s largest coffee and artisan food event, a celebration of London's vibrant coffee culture featuring gourmet coffee, speciality tea, artisan food, demonstrations from world-class baristas and live music.

April 7-30: The Barry Wise Wise Tour of Soho Tour guides Barry and Clive are a mine of Soho facts. The thing is, the accuracy of their information depends almost entirely on how long they spend in the pub before the tour.

April 7-July 17: Udderbelly People telling jokes and being funny, more or less. Plus lots of circus and cabaret acts.

April 8-10: The Other Art Fair Over 100 contemporary artists have been selected for this 11th edition of the art fair. It's not only Russian oligarchs who can collect art as prices begin at £50.

April 9: Vaisakhi Festival Twenty million people worldwide celebrate Sikh New Year, and as many as 30,000 of them have attended the London festivities in past years. The 2016 edition will see the Vaisakhi festival take place at City Hall and The Scoop at More London for a second year with lots of fun activities taking place.

April 9-10: Crafty Fox Spring Market - Geffrye Museum Shop for crafts, jewellery, accessories, homewares and trinkets from over 100 makers handpicked by Crafty Fox guest curator Charlotte Abrahams.

April 9-Aug 30: Good Ship Benefit Ahoy beauty buffs! Benefit have taken charge of the waters at Victoria Embankment, transforming an elegant ship into a pampering paradise inspired by the brand's San Francisco roots.

April 12: Young Adults Salon Dig out that scrunchie and get ready to fangirl over the Baby Sitters Club series at a boozy discussion with series author Ann M Martin. Ann will be joined by fellow Young Adult (YA) authors Holly Bourne and Laura Dockrill to chat all things Stoneybrook, Connecticut (the fictional setting of the series).

April 14-July 31: This Is A Voice Through exploration of vocal tracts, speech devices and restless minds, this exhibition sheds light on the human voice and why we make the weird and wonderful sounds we do.

April 19-24: David Bowie Is Walking in Soho A tour of Bowie's old Soho haunts with Geoffrey Marsh, curator of the V&A's record-breaking exhibition 'David Bowie Is'.

April 21-May 2: Pick Me Up A major date in any graphic lover's calendar, Pick Me Up returns for 12 days of hands-on workshops, buying actually affordable art (prices start at £5) and potential fangirling at graphic artists, illustrators and designers.

April 23: Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens St George’s Festival A family day paying tribute to England’s dragon-slaying patron saint. Expect all manner of traditional fun at this local festival – knights in armour, falconers, jesters, wandering minstrels and Punch and Judy shows.

April 23: Shakespeare's Big Birthday Pub Crawl Enjoy the Bard at the bar and join a theatre company for a pub crawl that kicks off in Shakespeare's Borough High Street local, The George Inn, on the anniversary of his birthday.

April 30-May 2: Canalway Cavalcade The pretty waterways of Little Venice will be even more colourful than usual for 2016's May bank holiday weekend as the Inland Waterways Association organises their annual gathering of canal boats.

Port and Cheese Hangout with Neal's Yard


Restaurant openings:

April 1: Kojawan A swanky pan-asian joint above the Hilton Metropole.

April 1: Restaurant Ours A new restaurant from Tom Story, the chef behind Michelin-starred Restaurant Story. 

April 4: Helmsley + Helmsley at Selfridges A healthy eating café from the best-selling authors. 

April 6: Counter Culture A pintxos bar from the guys behind The Dairy, next door. Expect The Dairy's take on northern-Spanish snacks, alongside no booze - it's BYOB.

April 14: Walter & Monty Tasty charcoal food in the City from the street food specialists.

April 21: Brother Marcus A new Balham café and event space serving up street food. From 21-23rd Lily from Stake Haus will be taking over the kitchen.

April 22: Smokey Tails Residency at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen Seth Troxler’s Smokey Tails gets itself a permanent spot serving home cooked BBQ delights including spicy sofrito smoked pork and pineapple salsa.

Pop-ups and events:

April 4-29: Dark Souls Wings Challenge at MEATliquor MEATliquor have teamed up with the makers of the Dark Souls video game for this ridiculous challenge: chow down on 20 super hot wings in the fastest time possible. 

April 6: Port and Cheese Hangout with Neal's Yard Learn about top cheese from the guys at Neal's Yard before finding out how to pick the perfect port to accompany your dairy.

April 7: Pop Feast Pop Feast Supperclub returns with another evening of top grub. Three top traders will work together to whip up six courses and three pairing drinks for their hungry guests.

April 9: Free Gelato from La Gelateria To celebrate the opening of their new venue, La Gelateria are giving away free gelato. No, we are not making it up.

April 10-May 8: Avocado Brunch Pop-Up Londoners are suckers for an avocado and you'll be hard pressed to find a cafe in the capital without the little green guys featuring on the brunch menu. The Meredith Collective are now taking it one step further and offering nothing but the 'good kind of fat' prepared several different ways in a five course Sunday feast.

April 12: Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day It's a tricky decision - which free ice cream flavour to choose? Ben & Jerry’s are once again giving London brain freeze with their annual Free Cone Day.

April 17: Love Beer Following the devastating fire that destroyed Battersea Arts Centre's Grand Hall last year, the annual beer festival that normally takes place there is no more. The venue have decided to throw their own version however, giving beer lovers the chance to try the wares of a number of London Breweries.

Until April 30: Pizza Pilgrims x Forza Win Italian supperclubbers Forza Win started out life on a Shoreditch rooftop, serving pizza made by their pals Pizza Pilgrims. They now have a permanent home in Peckham but are going back to where it all began with a month of four-course, pizza-laden meals. 

Throughout April: Bread Street Sessions featuring Papi's Pickles The St Paul’s Gordon Ramsay restaurant hosts Papi’s Pickles every Friday night in April. Expect a delicious menu of fresh pickles inspired by the flavours of Sri Lanka, and street food that will transport you to sunnier climes.


April 1: Primal Scream Bobby Gillespie’s ragtag bunch sounded fully revitalised on their last album ‘More Light’, which – like much of their best stuff – straddled scruffy rock anthems, baggy house, Stones-y blues revivalism and grubby electro.

April 1: Coffin Dodgers Disco Let's get reeeeeady to… er, grumble? Old timers Don and Reg have had enough of those fresh-faced youngsters clogging up dancefloors all over the capital, they're making some space for the golden oldies in the heart of city.

April 2: The Hanwell Hootie Suburban west London seems like an unlikely place to call itself 'The Home of Loud', but 76 Uxbridge Road in Hanwell was the birthplace of the Marshall amplifier. The amp's creator Jim Marshall died in 2012, and this free one-day festival aims to continue his legacy by making a right old racket in his home borough.

April 2: Drum 'n' Bass Boat Party No prizes for guessing what this one's all about, but who needs prizes when you've got Jumpin Jack Frost, Tom Central and BobaFatt ripping up a party boat with fluid grooves and ballsy beats?

April 2: Greg Wilson Electro-funk champion Greg Wilson's career stretches from the early '80s through a residency at Manchester's Haçienda and a crateload of red hot disco re-edits.

April 4-28: Gregory Porter US soul-jazz singer Porter has had critics, fans and musicians raving thanks to his stunning Grammy-nominated debut ‘Water’, and he’s the real deal live too.

April 5-September 4: The Rolling Stones: Exhibitionism A major exhibition devoted to the rock ’n’ roll survivors, with thousands of rare items and photos.

April 6-8: NTS Is 5 Live performances and DJ sets to celebrate the ace Dalston radio station's fifth birthday.

April 7: Courtney Pine/Zoe Rahman Sax maverick Courtney Pine and piano star Zoe Rahman perform their ‘Song’ project, a beautiful collection of ballads with Pine on bass clarinet throughout.

April 8: Ibibio Sound Machine This international eight-piece collective from London, led by the charismatic Eno Williams, whip up a storm of afrobeat, funk and disco.

April 10: Mister Sunday Eamon Harkin & Justin Carter return to Oval Space with their perfect daytime party. Get down to disco, house, pop, blues and everything in-between thanks to the New York DJ duo. 

April 14: Sun Ra Arkestra/Marshall Allen Veteran saxophonist Allen carries on the legacy of freaky jazz pioneer Sun Ra.

April 14: Mexrrissey The music of Morrissey gets a Latin twist courtesy of some top Mexican musicians.

April 16: Jóhann Jóhannsson + Hildur Guðnadóttir The two Icelandic composers present the world premieres of new work: Jóhannsson’s ‘12 Conversations with Thilo Heinzmann’ and Guðnadóttir’s ‘Music for a Space with No Radio Waves’ for solo cello, performed by the composer.

April 18: Boredoms The mad and brilliant experimental rock band from Japan roll up for a big London show. This will be a feast of sight and sound, no doubt about it.

April 20: Barbican Box Music Showcase Jazz and hip hop sax maverick Soweto Kinch curates a new showcase event that gives a platform to young jazz musicians.

April 23: Unamplifire Festival The Nest Collective celebrate ten years of ace folk music with an all-day festival in Deptford.

April 23: Bellowhead After more than a decade of uproarious, brass-fuelled fun, the 11-piece folk big band have announced their intention to split up. Join them tonight on their farewell tour for a last big sing-along.

April 28: Raleigh Ritchie Ultra-soulful contemporary electro/R&B, courtesy of actor-turned-smooth operator Jacob Anderson (best known as Grey Worm from 'Game of Thrones').

April 29-May 1: Desertfest The capital's premier festival of stoner rock and doom metal returns. It's run by the promotion company Desertscene, who have been putting on heavy, heavy music in the capital since 2009, and has a sister event in Berlin.

April 30: Secretsundaze Over the past 15 years James Priestley and Giles Smith have created one of the most enduring and engaging London parties with Secretsundaze.


New releases:

April 1: Victoria Four local Berliners recruit a thrill-seeking Spanish woman (Laia Costa) to be their getaway driver for a bank robbery.

April 8: Midnight Special Joel Edgerton is a working Dad who goes on the run when he finds out that his son has hidden supernatural abilities.

April 29: Son of Saul Both disturbing and dazzling, this debut features plunges us into the belly of the beast at Auschwitz.

April 29: Captain America: Civil War The Cap's back.


April 1 Classic Cinema Club: ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ A fun screening of the musical horror comedy film. 

April 2: Shakespeare on Film: ‘Hamlet’ (1948) The BFI’s massive two-month Shakespeare season kicks off, covering everything from traditional adaptations to modern updates and foreign-language variations.

April 7-28: Kinoteka Polish Film Festival Now in its 14th year this festival organised by the Polish Cultural Institute in London the best of Polish cinema and culture.

Until April 9: Backyard Cinema: ‘Romeo + Juliet’ Catch the DiCaprio ‘n’ Danes version of Shakespeare’s tragedy in an atmospheric environment, with a live choir offering songs from the movie.

April 14-May 29: Secret Cinema: 28 Days Later Post-apocalyptic thriller 28 Days Later is to recieve the Secret Cinema treatment so go prepared for an extraordinary interactive experience that - hopefully - brings on a cold sweat.

© Brigitte-Lacombe


April 1-May 7: Sunset Boulevard Glenn Close stars as a fading screen goddess in Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic musical.

April 4-24: CircusFest For three weeks this April, CircusFest will return with a programme that's bursting through the rafters with high-flying UK and international circus.

April 9-June 25: Doctor Faustus You know nothing, Doctor Faustus! Kit Harington returns to the stage in Marlowe's classic play.

April 14-June: 15 The Flick Annie Baker's much-hyped, Pulitzer Prize-winning Off-Broadway play gets a London transfer.

April 21-June 18: Elegy Nick Payne new play is set in a future where near-immortality is possible.

April 22-May 1: Kings of War Director-of-the-moment Ivo van Hove thrilling mashes up three of Shakespeare's plays.

Until May 7: X Alistair McDowall follows up his stunning 'Pomona' with a play set on Pluto.

Until May 14: The Caretaker The great Timothy Spall leads the cast of Pinter's dark masterpiece.


April 6-Aug 29: Dutch Flowers Two hundred years of Dutch flower painting are on offer in this small, free show at the National Gallery, from the genre’s fledgling style at the turn of the seventeenth century (on the back of ‘tulip mania’) right through to the more modern floral masterpieces of the late eighteenth century.

April 8-April 15: RCA Secret The Royal College of Art's annual fundraiser returns with its sale of postcard-size artworks.

April 12-Aug 29: Conceptual Art in Britain 1964-1979 Taking in the period of Harold Wilson’s Labour government and the election of Margaret Thatcher, there’s plenty of switched-on politically-motivated (and often angry) work on offer by artists who, thinking beyond the limits of conventional art, used text and photography to pose questions about the world around them.

April 14-September 11: Fox Talbot: Dawn of the Photograph The latest Science Museum Media Space show takes us back to the infancy of photography with a survey of William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877), the British scientist, inventor and photography pioneer who invented precursors to many of the photographic processes used during the twentieth century.

April 26-October 9: The Tate Britain Commission 2016: Pablo Bronstein This spring, the Buenos Aires-born, London-based artist Pablo Bronstein will make an, as yet unspecified, site-specific work for the Tate Britain galleries.


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