January 2020 in London is going to be a belter. Though the festive season is coming to a close and the days are still as dark and chilly as ever, there's tons of fun stuff happening in London throughout the New Year to enjoy. Whether you want to keep warm by a pub fire, dine out at the best new restaurants, take in the best theatre openings this month, start a new hobby or embrace a healthier lifestyle (bye, mince pies) or welcome in the ‘Year of the Rat’ at London's Chinese New Year celebration, which take place in January, we've got you covered for London in January. January is also the month of the New Year's Day Parade through central London, the London Short Film Festival, the London Art Fair, Winter Lights at Canary Wharf and Burns Night. So what are you waiting for?
Hey, and while you’ve got your diary out, remember that it's never too early to start planning for February either.
RECOMMENDED: The definitive London events calendar
Our January 2020 highlights
Get the Year of Rat off to the best start at this annual party. Dragon and lion dancers will kick things off on Charing Cross Road at 10am and then shimmy down to Chinatown.
The Year of the Rat is here in 2020 and, as always, Chinese New Year in London will be one of the most exciting events in January. Here’s what you can expect to see in London.
The unique microclimate at London’s oldest botanical garden allows 120 species of snowdrops to bloom each year. See them all at this week of galactic talks and walks.
Sure, it’s freezing outside but you can still indulge in some rooftop drinking at this cosy Sipsmith pop-up bar. Sample hot G&Ts, steaming Juleps and reinvented classic cocktails.
There’s no room for quiet suppers and folk songs at this Robbie Burns race where caller-MC will lead a messy crowd through a turbo-ceilidh set to heavy bass instead of bagpipes. Someone will be giving a tearful ‘address tae a haggis’ to their handbag before the night is out.
Raise a wee dram to Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns! From foot-stomping ceilidhs to haggis-fuelled feasts, London's got Burns Night celebrations covered. Take a look at our pick of the best Burns bashes.
A fundraiser par excellence by the sounds of things: take part in competitions and games (yes, including bikini and washboard stomach contests), drink a range of indie Aussie brews, enjoy some top BBQ and baked spuds and listen to a wide range of bands and DJs throughout the day and night, all in a good cause. All proceeds from the £10 entry fee will be sent to the Australian Red Cross, to help those affected by the recent bushfires.
This feminist film club specialises in screening cult cinemas This month Whit Stillman’s comedy-drama gets the Zodiac treatment and dancing is on the agenda.
Step away from the tangle of controls in your bedroom to dodge lasers, build Tetris walls, shoot aliens and become a Pac-Man IRL at The Actual Reality Arcade, a life-sized interactive classic games arcade. Your knackered thumbs will thank you for it.
There’s a sad dearth of working-class people in creative industries. Hear from people trying to change that, including performance artist Travis Alabanza and writer Sabrina Mahfouz at this evening celebrating silver-spoonless art.
Get acquainted with the secrets of this famous London park with a rare opportunity to explore the Victoria pet cemetery, which is crowded with more than 600 tiny animal gravestones. Morbid!
The business district is glowing even brighter than usual thanks to the addition of sparkling installations and interactive experiences from international artists.
Dense about contemporary dance? Change that in 2020 with a visit to the UK’s biggest festival of choreography. See shows from emerging dance artists, or throw some shapes of your own at a workshop.
Step into the world of Judith Kerr’s wonderful children’s classic at this fiftieth-anniversary exhibition. See Kerr’s childhood drawings, learn about her experience of escaping Germany as Hitler came to power, revisit scenes from the book and tuck into tiger-themed treats.
‘Les Mis’ is back after a light refurb. It’s the same madly OTT masterpiece.
See the stunning new version of the gory revenge tragedy. Lydia Wilson is phenomenally good as the doomed Duchess.
A lavish stage version of Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novel. It’s dreamy and terrifying in equal measure.
Intimate two-woman rewrite of the Greek tragedy. It’s a vivid and compassionate take on the classic.
Winter has returned to east London, more specifically Tobacco Dock in Wapping, where there’s a rooftop ice rink (the only natural one in Europe). The rooftop is lined with igloos and huts, which are mighty cosy. Skate, or spectate while knocking back mugs of mulled wine and feasting on roasted chestnuts.
An eye-opening exhibition about menstruation, childbirth and the fluid of Christ sipped at Eucharist. Go see big, bodily, bloody, feminist sculptures and photos. Feminist art often feels dated, but nothing in this exhibition has that sense to it.
Intimate paintings by an art historical giant. Gauguin was basically a bastard, but his work is so good it makes your skin crawl, but boy could he paint.
Cirque du Soleil is back with a Mexican-themed extravaganza. It’s the most atmospheric Cirque show to hit London aeons.
England goes to pot in Shakespeare’s darkest history plays. This is an epic, hilarious violent journey of Sophie Russell’s Richard.
See this show of huge, massive, enormous paintings by a German giant. The big war-ravaged canvases are classic Kiefer – the detritus of the twentieth century laid bare. This is his attempt to find meaning in this increasingly meaningless world. It works seriously well.
A new stage adaptation of CS Lewis’s seminal fantasy novel. This Narnia is a wilderness of pure imagination, unshackled, static and pagan.
A new exhibition by Patrick Staff. His art is about transformation and gender, but it’s not a celebration. Revealing the brutality of day-to-day queer existence in a crushing society. It’s art that’ll turn your stomach and change your mind, but it’s damn powerful stuff.
Mike Bartlett’s Christmas play bout Brexit, sort of. Elliot Levey is brilliantly excruciating as a middle-aged dad stuck in the ’90s.
Nam June Paik predicts how technology influences our lives. This Tate show brings together works made across five-decades by the artist credited with inventing video art.
Go big and go bold at this Mary Quant V&A exhibition. See what fast fashion was like back in the day.
An epic two-part stage adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. Go see Catherine McCormack’s ferociously brilliant turn as Lisa.
The annual round-up of undiscovered art talent is back, so here are the ones that might just be the stars of the future.
An artsy take on pop video turned inside out. It’s like the best and worst night of your life simultaneously.
A history of one of the world’s religions. Learn about the Buddha’s journeys and teachings, about life and rebirth, compassion and suffering.
See the stage version of Joe Simpson’s harrowing mountaineering memoir. You’ll be on the edge of your seat for those terrifying climbing sequences.
A small exhibition of big energy, big vision and big paintings. British artist David Bomberg deserves more love than he currently gets and this miniature exhibition makes a massive case for the importance of free access to great art.
With its violence, jealousy, aggression and prideful idiocy, the myth of Troy has remained perpetually relevant and this beautiful exhibition shows us why. It's a huge, ambitious show, but take a deep breath and set an afternoon aside, because it's more than worth your time.
Tate Modern hosts the UK's first-ever retrospective of this often forgotten female artist. Prolific and varied, yet historically by her sometime lover Pablo Picasso, this exhibition gives her the kudos she deserves.
See stunning nineteenth-century paintings of the subcontinent. These names have been forgotten, but it’s time to start remembering now.
A supercharged journey through the history (and future) of automobiles. Go see all types of special cars. From the Latino low-riders of LA to Hitler’s pet project, an olive VW Beetle. It’s going to be a great ride.
The stunning ancient treasure of the boy king. Tut at the price sure, but this is your last chance to see these objects before they go home forever.
The brilliant Steve McQueen’s ‘Year 3’ is a collection of school photos of almost every Year 3 class in the city. It’s a celebration of this city’s diversity, and its vast variety of races, cultures and backgrounds. This art shows us London now, and it shows us London in the future – wide open, diverse and brilliant.
The Broadway smash about a sensitive teen whose white lie spirals out of control. Go for a teen musical that puts ‘Heathers’ in the shade.
A drama from Athena Stevens about an airline trashing her wheelchair. It’s provocative, smart and calls out its liberal audience.
A brand new West End musical is coming to town and it’s bringing the biggest bangers with it. This sublimely OTT West End musical sees Shakespeare’s Juliet return from the dead and head off on a girls’ trip to Paris.
The original supernanny is back in the West End. It’s everything you could want in a mega-budget musical: memorable songs, dazzling visuals and a nostalgic London.
Art by women about women. And so much more. It’s topical, political, emotional – and well worth the length of the train journey to get there.
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