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90 wonderful things to do in London this February

By Stephanie Hartman

Welcome to February, folks! Kick it off with Groundhog Day celebrations tomorrow, Pancake Day races through the city next week and soppy soirées mid-month for Valentine's Day. There's also Chinese New Year to look forward to, plenty of new restaurant openings and fabulous art shows to feast your eyes on. Enjoy! 


Feb 3–Mar 6: Magical Lantern Festival The UK's first Chinese Lantern festival floats into Chiswick House and Garden with a five-week programme of theatre, performances, art, light installations and more.

Feb 5: Friday Late Spectacular: Feeling Emotional This late opening at the Wellcome Collection promises a bumpy ride through the ups and downs of human emotion with an evening of discussions, demonstrations and activities.

Feb 5–May 15: Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics This exhibition champions the work of 100 female artists working within the world of comics. Charting pioneers from the 19th century such as Maria Duval, through to twenty-first century artists including Posy Simmonds, Simone Lia and Kate Charlesworth, the displays cover every style and subject matter imaginable.

Feb 6: Pop-Up Indie Magazine Shop Spend your Saturday flipping pages at this pop-up magazine shop selling a bounty of beautiful independent titles. Magazines on sale include Anorak, Delayed Gratification, Offscreen Magazine, Phox Pop, Riposte, The Plant Journal, Weapons of Reason and many more, with all money going straight back into the pockets of the publishers.

Feb 6: Heart Preservation Workshop An alternative Valentine’s activity giving participants the chance to create their very own heart in a jar. Learn about the techniques and materials used by pathology curators in prepping dead organs…

Feb 6–Mar 6: Orchid Festival Kew Gardens' celebration of the orchid returns for a second year, this time with a colourful carnival theme. A series of carefully designed displays take over the glasshouse exploring the science of the mysterious plants with a focus on Brazilian hybrids.

Feb 9: The Great Spitalfields Pancake Race Participants in this annual charity race through the cobbled streets of Spitalfields are in for a flipping good time on Shrove Tuesday. This very silly fundraiser for the London Air Ambulance will see teams of four in fancy dress grab their crepes and run in pursuit of taking home the winner's frying pan, which is specially engraved.

Feb 9–Aug 31: Curtain Up: Celebrating 40 Years of Theatre in London and New York This celebration of creative talent in both the West End and on Broadway reveals the great range of skills that goes into making a successful stage production.

Feb 12: Feline Lonely? Meet your pawfect match at Battersea this Valentine’s Day. Visit the Cattery, enjoy a complimentary glass of bubbly and potentially meet the cat-ch you’ve always dreamed of.

Feb 13: Midnight Apothecary Valentine Special The Brunel's pop-up garden cocktail bar is hosting a Valentine's Day Special for a fourth year. Guests can expect a cosy fire pit, complimentary toasted marshmallows and cocktail infusions.

Feb 13: Erotic Baking Swap soppy for smutty at this Valentine's cake decorating class intended for couples or pals with a filthy sense of humour. Master bakers will arm guests with icing and decorations, providing top tips for applying x-rated imagery to their saucy sponges.

Feb 13–21: Mud Museum Artists Rose de Borman and Robert Rush have been busy over the last few months creating a beautiful body of work spanning ceramics, textiles, jewellery and more. This show which features new pieces such as mugs, bowls, plates and shrines is being held in a derelict abode in King's Cross, with the disused deli below acting as a pop-up shop to sell their wares from.

Feb 14: Chinese New Year London’s annual Chinese New Year celebrations, the biggest in the world outside China, bring a swathe of Chinatown to riotous life once again for 2016 and the year of the monkey.

Feb 22: Tattoo London: Under the Skin Meet London's leading tattoo artists at this late event featuring discussions on contemporary methods and an illustrated talk by tattoo history expert Matt Lodder.

Foul Mouths


Restaurant openings

Frenchie A Covent Garden outpost for the Paris restaurant of the same name. Expect similar dishes to the Parisian restaurant, but with British produce used.

Patty&Bun The burger boys are opening a new meaty join at the old Stockpot on Old Compton Street

Oliver Maki A Japanese restaurant on Dean Street. It comes from a group with branches in Kuwait and Bahrain. 

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

Duende A new tapas joint from Victor Garvey, one of the guys behind Bravas Tapas in St Katherine Docks. 

Native A Neal's Yard restaurant from two River Cottage alumni. Expect a focus on seasonal British produce, plus foraged items, too. 

Mr Bao A new Taiwanese restaurant in the heart of Peckham selling steamed buns. 

Locwil A restaurant, cocktail bar and café from social enterprise coffee makers, Old Spike Roastery. 

Queen's A crowd-funded Camberwell restaurant with a focus on charcoal-cooked meat, fish and veg.

The Lighterman A three-floor pub and dining room on Granary Square, in King's Cross.

Foodie events and pop-ups

Feb 1–Mar 13: Fowl Mouths at The King & Co Fowl Mouths Food take over the kitchen with their mouthwatering Japanese food. Expect their signature kara-age chicken, pork belly in a sake & ginger sauce and pumpkin korroke Scotch eggs.

Feb 5–May 31: White Men Can’t Jerk Residency at The Magic Roundabout The White Men Can’t Jerk gang begin their Old Street residency this month. Expect delicious grub in the form of jerk chicken burgers, pulled pork burgers and jerk lamb wraps.

Feb 11: Pop Brixton's February Pop Feast Supper Club This pop-up returns with three chefs serving up a six course dinner with three different drinks and plenty of entertainment. This month, Donostia Social Club, Maria Sabina and Kyonocha are all taking part.

Feb 13–Mar 19: London Shell Co. A seafood feast served up on a floating wide beam Norfolk cruiser? This is the sort of classy outing that's normally reserved for people with second homes in the countryside, and yet London Shell Co. are making it happen on the serene (if slightly scruffy) Regent's Canal right here in London.

Feb 17–26: Capish? Feast on NYC style subs at this pop-up from street food champions Capish?. The menu sees Steak 'Braciole' Sandwiches packed with pecorino, parsley and chilli, indulgent deep fried lasagne rolls, and class Meatball Hero subs stuffed with rare breed beed and pork balls.

Feb 22–28: London Beer Week From the makers of London Cocktail Week comes an equivalent for beer drinkers. Buy a wristband for £10 and you'll be entitled to £3 beers and £5 boilermakers (a beer and a bourbon) in bars that have been specially chosen for their devotion to the good brews.

Feb 24: What’s Your Poison A fun evening of toxicology and intoxication where guests will be treated to three tasty but ‘poisonous’ cocktails as well as talks spanning biology and the pharmacology of poison.

Feb 26–27: Craft Beer Rising Craft Beer Rising festival returns to the Old Truman Brewery for a fourth year, pouring the very best brews from 150 top exhibitors. Paying bars have replaced the token system but organisers have assured us punters will still be paying lower prices than in the pubs for the 380 plus beers on offer.


Feb 3–4: Massive Attack Catch up with the trip hop pioneers as they play songs from a new album project and their brooding back catalogue.

Feb 3: John Cale The Velvet Underground's pink-haired pop parameter-pusher (and the hallowed producer of The Stooges and Patti Smith, among many others) returns to London for an in-the-round performance centred on his new album ‘M:FANS’.

Feb 4: Kurupt FM presents Champagne Steam Rooms Break out the fizz, people, or just the Lidl cava if you're on a budget: it's time for hefty grime vibes and old-school garage tunes, all delivered by scene stalwarts with some serious Champagne attitude.

Feb 5: Life on Mars? A David Bowie Night David Bowie… on ice! Not a crap idea for a jukebox musical, but a tribute night at the Ally Pally ice rink run by the Feeling Gloomy crew.

Feb 4: I Predict A Riot The ’90s are out and the ’00s are in if I Predict A Riot is anything to go by. Named after that annoyingly catchy Kaiser Chiefs song, this new north London night aims to fill an indie-shaped hole in the hearts of those who miss London's now defunct noughties club nights Akfter Skool Klub, Frog and just about anything at the Metro.

Feb 7: J Dilla Changed My Life Who's iller than J Dilla? Not many these days. London hip hop crew The Doctor's Orders are saluting the hip hop great's legacy with another of their annual tribute nights.

Feb 10: Down With Dating Hate dating? Want to avoid any hint of it this Valentine's Day? This one's for you. Disgruntled singletons will be provided with a fake name on arrival and can then get to know other miserable singles during 'Speed Hating', by slagging off all the things they dislike.

Feb 10–11: Floating Points Floating Points is the name that Manchester-born Sam Shepherd uses when he’s not pursuing his other professional interest – neuroscience.

Feb 12–13: Tame Impala Kevin Parker’s psychedelic rock gang are back in London for a huge show, where you’ll hear epic workouts from their new Top Five album ‘Currents’, 2012’s excellent ‘Lonerism’ and their debut long-player ‘Innerspeaker’.

Feb 12: Beirut A big comeback show for Zach Condon’s gorgeous indie-folk project.

Feb 13: Valentine's Late At Kew Gardens Surround yourself with tropical orchids while enjoying cocktails, music and romance at this Brazil-themed Valentine's evening.

Feb 13: Four Tet Producing records for other artists as well as delivering marathon DJ sets and working on his own awesomely funky solo electronica, one-man digital groove machine Kieran Hebden is pretty much the busiest man on the London music scene.

Feb 13: The So Solid Crew Valentines Ball Grab your So Solid Valentine and head down to the Electric as the original garage crew take over, under the watchful eye of regular promoters and DJs Groove Control.

Feb 16: Foals Oxford quintet Foals graduated in the class of 2008, when their debut album ‘Antidotes’ set them out as the smartest of the indie punk-funk pack.

Feb 16: Ennio Morricone: 60 Years of Music The soundtrack maestro performs his hits, from ‘Cinema Paradiso’ to ‘For A Few Dollars More’.

Feb 18: Hinds Catch the fast-rising indie girls from Madrid as they pay a visit to the UK.

Feb 19: C Duncan Nominated for this year’s Mercury Prize, the Glaswegian producer brings his lush, layered and looping indie pop to the capital.

Feb 19: Fluffer Pit Parties In a praiseworthy attempt to put some of the underground thrill back into London’s rock ’n’ roll scene, east London indie label Fluffer Records are putting on a series of shows in a secret warehouse venue.

Feb 19: FILTH at VAULT Festival An exclusive underground silent disco with 50 shades of difference: three awesome channels of music plus an X-rated adult channel.

Feb 22: Money Four poetically minded Mancunians who write beautifully woozy, atmospheric, heart-on-sleeve indie songs, Money released their great debut album ‘The Shadow of Heaven’ in 2013 and the follow-up ‘Suicide Songs’ is due in early 2016.


Feb 12: Zoolander 2 The ridiculously good-looking male supermodels are back for a long-awaited sequel.

Feb 12: A Bigger Splash Ralph Fiennes steals the latest melodrama from Tilda Swinton and 'I Am Love' director Luca Guadagnino.

Feb 26: Hail, Caesar! Tilda Swinton, George Clooney, Channing Tatum and a boat load more of Hollywood's finest salute the Coen brothers.

Film events

Feb 2: ‘Groundhog Day’ on Groundhog Day It is (as the Americans would say) February second, so what other movie would you be watching? It’s been more than 20 years since Bill Murray starred as the cynical weatherman trapped in a time loop in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania – reliving the same day over and over again.

Feb 8: The Artists Cinema 2016 Every year, the Independent Cinema Office and LUX launch a project to bring experimental and artists’ film into cinemas across the UK. At this one-off event, audiences can check out all five of the chosen shorts, followed by a conversation with the visual artists behind them.

Feb 13: Valentine's Weekend Concert: Brief Encounter Spend Valentine's Day watching 'Brief Encounter' one of the most romantic flicks around. The screening will be preceded a performance from the Amadeus Orchestra of Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto which features throughout the film.


Feb 1–Mar 19: The Master Builder  Veteran playwright David Hare (Pravda, Stuff Happens) adapts Henrik Ibsen's late masterpiece The Master Builder. Starring award-winning film and stage actor Ralph Fiennes and rising Australian star Sarah Snook. 

Feb 1–May 18: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom August Wilson's American classic, set at the dawn of the jazz age. 

Feb 2–May 14: The End of Longing Matthew Perry – aka the man formerly known as Chandler Bing – stars in his own new play.

Feb 4–Apr 30: Nell Gwynn The Globe's hit play transfers to the West End with Gemma Arterton taking the title role.

Feb 5–Mar 26: Uncle Vanya The Almeida's golden boy associate director Robert Icke stages a new version of Chekhov's 'Uncle Vanya' following his radical re-working of 'Oresteia' earlier this year and his smash-hit production of '1984'.

Feb 8–Apr 16: Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds Jeff Wayne's popular and wildly OTT spectacular live musical version of HG Wells's sci-fi novel – a live version of his 15m-selling prog album – settles into the West End for a run that sees the guitarist joined by a demented smorgasbord of musical guests including Jimmy Nail, Daniel Bedingfield and David Essex.

Feb 12–Mar 6: The Encounter Calling Complicite’s new show ‘a monologue' is like calling the Amazon ‘a forest’ – it is technically correct, but does little service to the immensity and complexity of this extraordinary, reality-warping piece of theatre.

Feb 16–Apr 2: Cleansed The late, great Sarah Kane finally gets an NT debut with a revival for her third play, 'Cleansed', set in a bizarre, brutal institution presided over by a sadistic figure named Tinker.

Feb 20–May 21: The Maids Jean Genet's vicious, sadistic satire of the class system is getting an all-star new production from the Jamie Lloyd Company.


Feb 3–Apr 10: Betty Woodman, ICA The US sculptor has worked with clay since the 1950s – long before the current vogue for art-ceramics – to create jazzy mixed-media pieces that combine ceramics and painting techniques.

Feb 4–Apr 24: Nick Danziger: Eleven Women Facing War, Imperial War Museum In 2001, the acclaimed photographer and filmmaker Nick Danziger took pictures of 11 women who lived in the major conflict zones of the time, as part of an Internation Committee of the Red Cross study. Ten years later, Danziger set out to track down each woman.

Feb 4–Oct 16: States of Mind: Tracing the Edges of Consciousness, Wellcome Collection Artists, philosophers, neuroscientists and psychologists unpick the awareness of one's existence through a series of changing installations exploring synaesthesia, disorders of memory, somnambulism and what happens when conscious experience is interrupted.

Feb 5–May 15: Painting Norway: Nikolai Astrup (1880-1928), Dulwich Picture Gallery First major UK show of one of Norway's most popular and important artists. 

Feb 11–May 22: Vogue 100: A Century of Style, National Portrait Gallery A retrospective survey of the last hundred years of the influential fashion magazine, British Vogue.

Feb 17–May 22: Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art, National Gallery The audacious, under-appreciated Romantic painter steps into the spotlight in this blockbuster show. 

Feb 18–Jun 12: Performing for the Camera, Tate Modern Beginning by looking at photography’s crucial role in a capturing ephemeral performance art for posterity – by artists such as Yves Klein and Yayoi Kusama – the show goes on to consider how the photographic image has moved centre stage to become a means of acting out roles, posing and performing in its own right. 



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