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London events in January

Our guide to the best events, festivals, workshops, exhibitions and things to do throughout January 2020 in London

By Time Out London Things To Do |
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Alan Habbick Photography/ Flickr

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

Things to do, Festivals

New Year's Day Parade

Various London locations, London

London's New Year's Day Parade celebrates its 34th year in 2020 with more than 8,500 performers representing 20 countries taking part, including Pearly Kings and Queens, cheerleaders, marching bands, dancers and representatives from West End shows. 

Things to do, Quirky events

Winter Lights at Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf, Isle of Dogs

The business district is glowing even brighter than usual thanks to the addition of sparkling installations and interactive experiences from international artists. 

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Natural History Museum Ice Rink 2016
Photograph: Jenna Foxton
Things to do, Ice skating

Natural History Museum Ice Rink

Natural History Museum, South Kensington

The Natural History Museum rink is the old faithful of these icy offerings: spacious, pretty, and infinitely Christmassy. Even if you hate to skate, you can grab a hot chocolate, check out the museum from the café’s viewing platform and get a dose of the ‘I can’t believe I live in London feeling’.

Photograph: Steve Dunlop
Things to do, pop-ups

Winter at Skylight Rooftop

Skylight London, Wapping

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. 

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Skate at Somerset House, ice rink
Photograph: Copyright: Life After Print Ltd.
Things to do, Ice skating

Skate at Somerset House

Somerset House, Aldwych

Put your party plans on ice and slip into Somerset House’s grand nineteenth-century courtyard, home to a 900-square-metre outdoor rink. Skate Lates are the real draw when live DJ sets take to the rinkside decks for huge open-air parties. 

Things to do, Ice skating

Tower of London Ice Rink

Tower of London, Tower Hill

Fancy whizzing around one of London’s most famous landmarks? Hit the ice at the Tower of London, where you can get up close to the grand historical monument and check out some sweet views of the River Thames. 

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Photograph: Museum of Architecture Gingerbread City
Things to do, Exhibitions

Museum of Architecture Gingerbread City

Somerset House, Aldwych

Marvel at the beauty of Museum of Architecture Gingerbread City, a model metropolis made of spiced dough that’s popping up at Somerset House for the first time. This year‘s theme is ‘transport’. All aboard! 

Things to do

Burns Night in London

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. 

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Theatre, Interactive

‘Cinderella’

The Vaults, Waterloo

See a woke panto (that’s also sweet and funny). This quality panto is a cut above the average ‘he’s behind you’ lol fest, it’s a heart-warmingly sweet piece of theatre. 

Folding book containing a sermon on the Abhidhamma in Shan language, Mueang Lakorn, Thailand, dated 1917
Photograph: British Library Board
Museums

‘Buddhism’

British Library, Euston
4 out of 5 stars

A history of one of the world’s religions. Learn about the Buddha’s journeys and teachings, about life and rebirth, compassion and suffering. 

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Photograph: Paul Gauguin 'Self-Portrait Dedicated to Carrière' (1888 or 1889). Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon (1985.64.20) Image courtesy of the Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
Art

‘Gauguin Portraits’

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square
4 out of 5 stars

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. 

Dear Evan Hansen, West End 2019
Photograph: Matthew Murphy
Theatre, Musicals

‘Dear Evan Hansen’

Noël Coward Theatre, Covent Garden
4 out of 5 stars

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.

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Things to do, Walks and tours

Christmas at Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens, Kew

Christmas at Kew sees the whole place get seriously lit. Feast your eyes on more than a million sparkling pea-lights, thousands of laser5 beams in the iconic Temperate House and a brand-new waterfall of lights falling from tree canopies flooded with festive colour. 

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Photograph: Hugo Glenndinning
Art

Patrick Staff: ‘On Venus’

Serpentine Sackler Gallery, Hyde Park
4 out of 5 stars

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.

Photograph: Nam June Paik 'TV Garden' 1974-7 (2002). Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen (Düsseldorf, Germany) © Estate of Nam June Paik
Art

Nam June Paik: ‘The Future is Now’

Tate Modern, Bankside

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.

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My Brilliant Friend, National Theatre, 2019
Photograph: Marc Brenner
Theatre, Drama

‘My Brilliant Friend’

National Theatre, South Bank
4 out of 5 stars

An epic two-part stage adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. Go see Catherine McCormack’s ferociously brilliant turn as Lisa.

© Duffy Archive
Museums

‘Cars: Accelerating the Modern World’

V&A, South Kensington
4 out of 5 stars

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.

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& Juliet, 2019
Photograph: Michael Wharley
Theatre, Musicals

‘& Juliet’

Shaftesbury Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue

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.

Photograph: PA Prints 2008
Museums

‘Mary Quant’

V&A, South Kensington

Go big and go bold at this Mary Quant V&A exhibition. See what fast fashion was like back in the day.

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Dance, Ballet

Royal Ballet: ‘Coppélia’

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

A doll comes to life in this kid-delighting story. The Royal Ballet’s production promises frothy tutus and toybox silliness galore. 

Richard III, Shakespeare’s Globe, 2019
Photograph: Marc Brenner
Theatre, Shakespeare

‘Henry VI/Richard III’

Shakespeare's Globe, South Bank
4 out of 5 stars

England goes to pot in Shakespeare’s darkest history plays. This is an epic, hilarious violent journey of Sophie Russell’s Richard. 

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Alfredo Jaar 'Six Seconds' (2000) © the artist. Image courtesy of Goodman Gallery
Art

‘Alfredo Jaar: 25 Years Later’

Goodman Gallery, Mayfair
4 out of 5 stars

An exhibition marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Jaar kept looking when everyone else kept looking away. It’s horrifying, painful and an unbelievably powerful show. 

Photograph: Anselm Kiefer (2019) © Anselm Kiefer. Image courtesy of White Cube (Theo Christelis)
Art

‘Anselm Kiefer’

White Cube Bermondsey, Bermondsey
4 out of 5 stars

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. 

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THE RED SHOES
Photograph: Johan Persson
Dance, Ballet

‘The Red Shoes’

Sadler's Wells, Clerkenwell
4 out of 5 stars

Dance theatre master Matthew Bourne serves up a dark, cinematic slice of ballet magic that's perfect for wintry nights. 

<meta charset="utf-8" /><p><span>Angus Yellowlees&nbsp;(Simon) and Josh Williams (Joe)</span></p>
Photograph: Michael Wharley
Theatre, Drama

‘Touching the Void’

Duke of York’s Theatre, Covent Garden
4 out of 5 stars

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. 

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Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen '7th Nov. 2001' Video still © Steve McQueen. Image courtesy of the artist, Thomas Dane Gallery and Marian Goodman Gallery
Art

‘Steve McQueen’

Tate Modern, Bankside

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. 

<meta charset="utf-8" /><p><span>Laura Elphinstone (White Witch) and John Leader (Edmund)</span></p>
Photograph: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg
Theatre, Children's

‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’

Bridge Theatre, Tower Bridge
4 out of 5 stars

A new stage adaptation of CS Lewis’s seminal fantasy novel. This Narnia is a wilderness of pure imagination, unshackled, static and pagan.

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Filippo Albacini (1777-1858), The Wounded Achilles, 1825, marble, Chatsworth House Photograph © The Devonshire Collections, Chatsworth. Reproduced by permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees
Museums, History

‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

British Museum, Bloomsbury
5 out of 5 stars

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.

<meta charset="utf-8" /><p><span>Zizi Strallen&nbsp;</span></p>
Photograph: Johan Persson
Theatre, Musicals

‘Mary Poppins’

Prince Edward Theatre, Soho
3 out of 5 stars

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. 

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David Bomberg 'In the Hold' (about 1913-14) Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery, 1967 © Tate
Art

‘Young Bomberg and the Old Masters’

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square
4 out of 5 stars

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.

Photograph: Dora Maar 'Untitled (Main Shell)' Centre Pompidou, MNAM-, Dist. RMN - Grand Palais/Jacques Faujour
Art

‘Dora Maar’

Tate Modern, Bankside
4 out of 5 stars

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.

Find great things to do all year round

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