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January TTD events
Image: Time Out

London events in January

Cheap stuff, secret stuff and heavy-hitting cultural stuff to fill your calendar with for January 2022 in London

Rosie Hewitson
Written by
Rosie Hewitson
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Hello, 2022! It is truly great to see you.

January is the ideal time to discover London on a budget and without the crowds. Many of city's very best theatre and musicals, restaurants and bars -  ranked definitively by Time Out's crew of expert local editors - offer discounted tickets and cheap meal deals. Check out Time Out’s recent Best of the City Awards for a handy starter list. Spend cold, clear days walking off the festive pounds in the city's glorious parks and spectacular walking routes. Cosy up with drinks on a beautiful heated winter terrace, or in one of the 100 best pubs in the city. And catch up on magical lights, winter wonderlands and Christmas shows before they disappear. 

Find out more here about how Time Out's independent editors review and rate events and venues.

And bookmark our regular weekend guide for even more things to do in the city.

Keep it festive

  • Things to do
  • Festivals

This January’s New Year’s Day Parade took place online, but the organisers are determined that the 2022 event will fill the streets of London, as it’s supposed to. Exact timings and locations are still TBC, but the parade will begin at noon in Piccadilly. A host of acts have already been booked, including the City of London Brass Band, Pandemonium Drummers and cheerleading squad Ultimate Cheer. Updates on the logistics and performers will be posted on the LNYDP’s website and social media.

More excellent suggestions for stuff to do on New Year's Day.

  • Things to do
  • Ice skating

A staple of London’s winter activities scene returned in October – but this is your last time to enjoy its icy charms. The ice rink at the Natural History Museum has taken up residence at the South Kensington venue for a final season this year before it gets transformed into a new urban garden.

Check out everywhere you can ice skate in London.

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

Your last chance to do the Harry Potter tour at Warner Bros studio, while still dressed up as a magical, wintery version of Hogwarts. For the first time ever the Forbidden Forest will also be accessible, with the willows and woodlands all dusted in snow. The other classic locations of the Harry Potter world are also very much feeling festive too. The Great Hall’s wreaths are pinned up, and Christmas trees are topped with witches on miniature broomsticks.

  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs

The annual favourite is back for its fifteenth year in 2021. You'll have a few days at the start of the month to get yourself back to Hyde Park for one more dose of festive fun. It's free during off-peak hours and either £5 or £7.50 during peak times. Head down for cheerily lit fairground rides, a child-friendly Santa Land (including Santa’s grotto) and quaint Christmas markets.

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  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions

Everyone’s favourite riverside culture hotspot, the Southbank Centre, will once again be aglow with festive illuminations. Winter Light is a free, open-air exhibition featuring no fewer than ten lightworks (which is what we’re calling these now) from properly famous and talented artists from around the world. All of them make mind-bending use of light, colour and even boundary-pushing film to deal with issues and topics surrounding nature, technology, urban life and spirituality.

Discover which Christmas light shows are still on display.

  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
  • Tower Bridge

London Bridge City’s annual Christmas market is back from November 16. You can expect extremely scenic views over the river and a bunch of lovely winter cabins offering pop-up boozers, street food and festive craft items. There will, as per usual, be lots of workshops and events organised, so keep an eye on official announcements. And guess what? They're keeping it running throughout all of January! Score.

 

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Make like a Scot and celebrate Burns Night
  • Things to do

Burns Night always falls on January 25 (which is a Tuesday in 2022) and gives London an excuse to celebrate Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, with lots of food, whisky and partying. No events have been announced yet for 2022 but we will most definitely update you as soon as we hear more. 

Top-tier theatre

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Charing Cross

In Rebecca Frecknell’s new revival of the great music masterpiece, Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne will follow in the footsteps of Joel Grey, Alan Cumming and Will Young as he takes on the role of the Emcee, the increasingly sinister master of ceremonies at the Kit Kat Club. And rising star Jessie Buckley will be joining him as Sally, in what promises to be a truly distinctive production that will see the Playhouse Theatre given a wholesale makeover and transformed into the Kit Kat Club (as in, it is literally being renamed the Kit Kat Club for the duration of the run). 

All the best theatre showing in London right now.

  • Theatre
  • Circuses
  • South Kensington

‘Always different, always the same’ is how the late John Peel famously described his favourite band The Fall, and it’s a description that could quite tidily be applied to Cirque du Soleil’s annual start-of-the-year stand at the Royal Albert Hall. The venue and the run-length are resolutely identical year on year,  and while the directors and the show titles change, you kind of know what you’re getting: spectacular acrobatics, new-agey costumes, visuals and music.

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  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Soho

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir? Well, maybe not. Not without dinner first. But very soon you will have the option to spend your evening at ‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical’, the wildly acclaimed Broadway stage ‘remix’ of Baz Lurhmann’s fabulous jukebox feature film, which follows the romance of writer Christian and dancer Satine as they meet at fall in love at the famous cabaret club in pre-war Paris. Bagging itself a walloping ten Tonys at September’s much-delayed Broadway theatre awards – that’s just one less than ‘Hamilton’ – the production is directed by Alex Timbers, who helmed up David Byrne’s immersive musical ‘Here Lies Love’ at the National Theatre a few years back.

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Waterloo

James Graham’s last three London plays – that’s ‘Quiz’, ‘Labour of Love’ and ‘Ink’ – all hit the West End, so it’s something of a coup for the Young Vic to bag his latest, especially as the UK’s foremost political playwright has been gradually transforming into one of the UK’s foremost political screenwriters – ie the plays have been slowing as the telly work has picked up. ‘Best of Enemies’ is inspired by Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon’s 2015 documentary about the nightly 1969 US TV debates between right- and left-leaning intellectuals William F Buckley Jr and Gore Vidal. If it sounds a spot obscure: well yes, it probably is to Brits, but the duo’s snarky clashes were not only magnificently entertaining but also set a template for the combative nature of the US television news of the future. Plus, you can always trust Graham – a man who made gripping drama out of the machinations of the ’70s Labour whips’ office in ‘This House’ – to come up with the entertainment goods. 

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  • Theatre
  • Experimental
  • Sloane Square

Alistair McDowall hit upon a rich, dark seam of magical realism with his last two plays, the audacious, Lovecraftian ‘Pomona’ and the brain-melting sci-fi ‘X’. The follow-up, ‘The Glow’ – which sees him reunite with ‘X’ director Vicky Featherstone – sounds like it will continue down that path: that is to say, it’ll be completely unpredictable. ‘The Glow’ is set in 1863, and follows a young woman with no memory who is plucked from an asylum to serve as the assistant to a spiritualist medium, a course of action which unlocks both her past and new powers. 

Museum blockbusters

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • South Kensington

This exhibition looks at the way that ancient Greek thinkers saw the natural world. Through a mixture of arts, science and religion, ancient Greek philosophers sought to understand the nature in a logical and mathematical way. From the cosmos to the multitude of animals in the sea, this show examines their patterns of through through sculptures, musical instruments and more, many of which are on display in the UK for the first time.

  • Art
  • Bloomsbury

Forget the panpipes, because the British Museum is here to show you the real history of Peru. Ok, there are some panpipes here, but there’s also a whole lot of human sacrifice, war, cats, dancing, music and more cats. It’s a wild ride, full of beautiful objects and fascinating history, tracing thousands of years of Peruvian culture.

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Check out Hokusai at the British Museum

Time to get yourself down to ‘Hokusai The Great Picture Book of Everything’ at the British Museum. You’ll be able to check out rare drawings by the legendary Japanese artist, including, yes, that famous big wave of his.

Secrets of the city

  • Nightlife

If any generation knew how to throw a party it was the lads and lasses in ’70s New York. If they weren’t lounging about on a large white horse, they were roller-skating through the city in glittering gowns. Or you know… something like that?! Anyway, the team at the Jellied Eel are bringing the spirit of that tremendous era to Leyton for a Studio 54-inspired immersive dining experience called Studio Paradiso. On the menu? Fondue, laced with champagne. Cocktails, laced with champagne. And also, you guessed it, champagne, straight up. It’s all happening at new warehouse space Patchworks, which will be decked out like a Manhattan loft party for the whole of the festive season – think fur rugs, a vintage wood burner and a disco ball, with a massive retro campervan and director’s private room that serve as VIP spaces.

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  • Things to do
  • Sport events
  • Marylebone

This winter, the sport of curling – the one you watch on telly during the Olympics and find curiously engaging – has come to London. The Curling Club has taken up residence in both Finsbury Square and The Langham in Portland Place, bringing ‘epic après nightlife’ along with it. Both venues will be given a proper festive makeover, with wintry cocktails, Alpine-inspired street food and entertainment on hand, alongside an opportunity to try your hand at the ‘short form’ verson of the game under the expert tutelage of current Team GB curling captain Eva Muirhead. 

Find the little-known medieval ruins in The City
  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • City of London

Practically in the shadow of the Walkie Talkie and next to a Premier Inn, you’ll find a peaceful, ancient place that just doesn’t seem to fit in… Since it was bombed-out during the war, the picturesque ruins of medieval church St Dunstan-in-the-East have been overrun by nature, creating an idyllic spot in the City’s most business area. Leaves and vines now cling to the Grade I-listed stone arches. Spend a morning reading a book here – we recommend something set in London in WWII, like ‘The Night Watch’ or ‘The End of the Affair’ – before popping across Tower Bridge for a takeaway mulled wine from The Vault 1894.

More of London’s very un-London locations.

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  • Things to do
  • Eltham

Severndroog Castle. Its name sounds like something out of Redwall and it kind of looks that way too: a triangular gothic folly, surrounded by woodland, at the top of Shooter’s Hill above Woolwich. It was built in the eighteenth century by a grieving widow as a tribute to her later husband’s greatest escapade: destroying a band of pirates in their Indian fortress of Suvarnadurg (rendered in English as ‘Severndroog’). Nowadays, it’s a great excuse to do a hill walk.

Cheap and free

Spice up a bleak month with a cheap curry lunch
  • Restaurants
  • Malaysian
  • Euston

As the name suggests, teeny Euston backstreet basement Roti King serves up astounding Malaysian rotis, either stuffed or with equally first-rate curries for dipping. They’re crisp, chewy and feather-light but also dense – perfect with an ambrosial glass of teh tarik (chilled sweet tea). Also, look out for great-value ‘local’ dishes such as nasi lemak, nasi goreng and beef rendang. RK is really is small, so dining solo or in pairs is probably sensible. Go early evening to beat the queues. 

Carb load on £3.95 margheritas at Pizza Union
  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • Spitalfields

It’s super-quick, it’s satisfying and the Roman-style base has all the shattering crunch of a Ryvita Thin. Pizza Union’s margherita won’t be the best slice you’ve ever had, but it’s only £3.95 for a very respectable fire-baked 12". That’s 12 inches, for the cost of an overpriced coffee. Plus you get handed one of those buzzy things to tell you when yours is ready. Literally minutes of fun.



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  • Restaurants
  • Turkish
  • Ladbroke Grove
  • price 1 of 4

There’s usually a queue at this Med-inspired Turkish grill, but no-nonsense service means you’ll bag a table pretty quickly. While you wait, get the juices flowing by watching Fez’s meat maestros as they rotate the hefty barbecue skewers and shave slices off the own-made doners. They also score highly with cut-above accompaniments, including crunchy red cabbage, spice-rubbed flatbreads and tangy Turkish yoghurt. It’s BYO and they don’t charge corkage – hooray!

Warm up with a delicious dosa for a mere handful of pounds
  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Tooting

Done out like a Tamil truck stop with lurid lighting, furniture the colour of Sunny Delight and movies on the flatscreen TV,  Sri Lankan-South Indian caff Dosa n Chutny is famed for its minuscule prices and superlative dosas. Veggie options are the standouts: the Mysore masala dosa, served with spiced onion, potatoes and three house chutneys is a winner, as are the onion utthapam and veg biryani.

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  • Shopping
  • Vintage shops

Shopping second-hand is a fantastic way to start living more sustainably. Not only are the clothes reasonably priced, they’re also (by dint of not being new) far more eco-friendly. The only catch is that it takes dedication and a keen eye to rummage through all of those rails. But don’t lose heart, we’ve saved you some time by rounding up the best thrift stores in London. 

Not convinced by thrift? Here’s our 100 favourite normal shops.

 

RECOMMENDED: The best markets in London

Art and culture

  • Art
  • Painting
  • Dulwich

Woodcuts. Most of the time, they’re difficult. Rigid. Fiddly. A bit like people on their morning commute. But it turns out, they can be much more than that. They can be spontaneous, vast, and colourful. This enlightening exhibition shows exactly how. Helen Frankenthaler is best understood as one of the great American abstract expressionists alongside Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Clyfford Still et al. This exhibition shows her as an innovator and a radical – but she’s never rash. Everything here is methodical and thought out, like a carefully calculated disruption of a medium that stood stiff for so long.

  • Things to do
  • Film events
  • London

Cinephiles get ready, there are loads of very short and very good films coming this January. The London Short Film Festival will host ten days of events, from showings to conversations with filmmakers to workshops. You can see hundreds of British films, as well as an international selection. The BAFTA-affiliated festival presents awards at the end of the week as well, as it celebrates 18 years.  

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  • Museums
  • Military and maritime
  • London

‘Titanic: The Exhibition’ will take visitors on a journey through the commissioning of the ship, and the huge publicity surrounding its first crossing of the Atlantic, bound for New York. Along with firsthand testimonies and objects, there will be detailed recreations of the ship’s interiors, based on contemporary photographs and the input of Titanic experts. It’s also a chance to see some of the actual artefacts from the ship, many never displayed before in the UK, and experience the disaster at first hand (in a good way). 

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • King’s Cross

Gaze long and hard into the mind of Ludwig van Beethoven at this new exhibition at the British Library. The collection includes manuscripts from the German composer, personal belongings and sound recordings. Visitors will even be able to see kitchen notes detailing Beethoven's diet, as well as a notebook where he jotted down music ideas. 

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  • Theatre
  • Experimental
  • London

The jugglers, circus people and clowns are on their way to London. Back to being a live event this year, the London International Mime Festival features a wide variety of shows, from dance to puppetry. See classic stories reimagined and also exclusive international films.

  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • Angel

There will be more than 100 galleries showing modern art at this year’s London Art Fair. You can see loads of pieces, such as large-scale installations and thematic group displays from some of today's leading artists. Music and its Part in Contemporary Visual Art is the theme of the curated section ‘Platform’, where you’ll find a mix of abstract work and figurative pieces. Also catch debates and discussions, plus a photography gallery.

Exercise and wellbeing

  • Health and beauty
  • Spas

Are you tired? We certainly are. The past couple of years haven’t quite been the most relaxing in all of history. In fact, what we could really do with right now is to lock ourselves in a steam room without our phones, Zoom, our laptops or our worries and spend a few hours getting roasted like a turkey. Here’s where you can get a bit of healthy inner-peace (and glowing skin) in the capital.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Sports bars
  • Shoreditch

Ever played shuffleboard? It's a great time. We don't know much about where it came from but we do know that old Henry VII himself was partial to a game (and often gambled over it), until fairly recently it was kinda left for cruise ships and in retirement homes as a bit of a low-fitness bit of sporting fun. But who said sports had to be knackering? Exactly, nobody and shuffleboard is a blast, so naturally it's making a comeback.

 

  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • Seven Dials
  • price 1 of 4

The bar Square Root describes its beverages as ‘made with as much effort as quality alcoholic drinks’ – and as well as colas and fruit-packed sodas, it has mastered an alcohol-free Negroni Spritz, a boozeless shandy and a sober G&T. That’s just the bottled range. At the bar within Kerb’s Seven Dials Market, cocktails completely void of alcohol incorporate hacks to produce the flavours you might expect from something stronger. 

Read our full list of London’s best bars here.

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Get on your bike and have an adventure
  • Things to do

It's surprisingly easy to get out of the capital on two wheels, and find yourself in pretty forests or close to the coast. London is surrounded by rural areas – from the chalk cliffs of Sussex to the rolling hills of Buckinghamshire and the woodland of Essex to the coastline of Kent – and many of them make brilliant places for a bike ride. Here are our favourite routes. 

Find great things to do all year round

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