We're big fans of March. It has the first bank holiday of the year, lots of great activities to get stuck into ready for spring, St Patrick's Day and there's also Mother's Day – which you can start planning in advance now you've remembered, for once.
Here's our guide to the best events, free stuff, art and music, which should keep you busy for the whole of March
RECOMMENDED: The definitive London events calendar
Our March 2017 highlights
Festival No.6 is putting away its tent poles and travelling from Portmeirion to Tate Britain for a one-night music and culture extravaganza. It's set to be a Tate Lates like no other: a mini-fest with a headline performance from British indie band Blossoms, poetry from John Cooper Clarke, comedy from Sarah Pascoe, and pop-up theatre shows across the gallery. Win VIP tickets to the event (including a meal for two champagne and access to the David Hockey show) in our competition here.
The 2017 edition of this festival will feature another stellar line-up championing everything that is great about women and girls. Through discussion, debate, performances and activism, female achievements are celebrated and the obstacles that prevent them from achieving their full potential and contributing to the world are explored.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a truckload of Lego making its way to the South Bank. A purpose-built tent will pop-up by the London Eye this month for 'The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes', a collection of larger-than-life sculptures of iconic comic book characters contructed entirely in Lego. Artist Nathan Sawaya used almost 2,000,000 bricks to recreate the heroes and villains of your childhood. It's like seeing life in 8-bit.
To mark India’s festival of colours, Cinnamon Kitchen’s special party-pod returns to Devonshire Square. The 12-day pop-up invites city workers to swap their ties and heels for protective suits before pelting each other with paint. No Indian festival is complete without a feast of delicious dishes, so Cinnamon Kitchen will be serving up a vibrant five-course Holi menu and coluful cocktails from their pop-up bar.
Inspired by barbering past and present, CUT Festival 2017 brings together artists and activists, exhibiting and working alongside traditional and alternative barbers. Events include Haggerston’s Archive Gallery exhibiting razor-sharp photographs of barbers from around the world, Toynbvee Studios holding talks, debates and performances (Sat Feb 25), and East London barber shops hosting art events. Barbers will give haircuts to the homeless throughout the festival.
The colourful fabric sculptures of Do Ho Suh were apparently designed to be packed into the Korean artist's suitcase as he travelled the globe. Luckily for visitors to the Victoria Miro gallery there's no unpacking to be done, just lots of gazing at these incredible – portable – structures that hang, suspended, in the gallery.
Get ahead of the game and plan the perfect Mother's Day in London pronto. From the best restaurants in London, to mum-friendly exhibitions and lovely free London events to explore – steal our fail-safe ideas and itineraries for Sunday March 26 2017 and treat your mum to the mother of all Mother's Days.
North London's Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) representatives present their annual beer festival, which will see pint enthusiasts (attempt to) taste their way through real ales, ciders, perries and imported beers. A bar dedicated to London beers will represent our flourishing local breweries, and a changing menu of homemade food will be on offer to line stomachs.
The Caravan was 'London's most bohemian rendez-vous' and now the National Trust and the National Archives have brought it back to Freud, the bar that now stands where the club was. As well as tours, there will be an exciting programme of themed talks, debates and performances capturing the spirit of queer club culture. Evening openings will allow a strictly limited number of ticket holders to enjoy club ‘membership’ for a night. Booking essential.
Hyperactive comedy superstar Russell Howard is embarking on his biggest ever world tour – inventively titled 'Round the World' – taking in the US, New Zealand, Australia and Europe. And for his London stint, the Bristolian arena-filler is playing a whopping ten-night run at the Royal Albert Hall. It's not till 2017, but buy tickets soon, is our advice.
Like Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood,’ Barry Jenkins’ ‘Moonlight’ follows Chiron, a young, introverted African-American, from child to high school pupil to adult. Growing up in a black ghetto of Miami, with crack dealing and violence as his only prospects, Chiron is bullied by his classmates, then by his high school classmates. In short, Barry Jenkins’ beautifully shot film (only his second feature-length) is a fantastic example of contemporary American cinema's potential.
Seriously: book your tickets now. Yes, Ivo van Hove's legendary mash up of Shakespeare's Roman tragedies – 'Coriolanus', 'Julius Caesar' and 'Antony and Cleopatra' – is six hours long, and doesn't have an interval in the conventional sense. But it is simply one the greatest theatre productions ever staged, less a gruelling feat of endurance than a great communal endeavour, in which the audience is invited to wander up onto the stage, sit down, buy drinks and snacks during the frequent semi-pauses and generally be thrust into the heart of things.
The Royal Court's tack to the left under Vicky Featherstone had borne some serious fruit in the shape of this collaboration with the towering genius Simon McBurney, fresh from blowing our minds with his theatre company Complicite's reality-shredding 'The Encounter'. Produced by Barbara Broccoli, 'The Kid Stays in the Pictures' charts the rise and fall of legedary Hollywood man Robert Evans.
Hailing from Oxford, this experimental electronic pop outfit made a splash with their debut album 'Zaba' – full of lush, hazy pop curveballs layered with psychedelic synth-work and gentle electronic beats. They've got a follow-up coming up soon so you'll hear new material here.
When Martin Scorsese puts away his strutting cocks – his raging bulls, comedy kings and Wall Street wolves – the results can be astounding. 'Silence' is a furiously alive and concentrated parable about faith under fire set in seventeenth-century Japan that ranks among the greatest achievements of spiritually minded cinema.
Abba. Junk food. Watching Jeremy Kyle. Thwacking dawdlers on Oxford Street over the back of the head with a copy of Time Out. We've all got our guilty pleasures, and this hugely fun night celebrates the musical side of them. It's a high-quality but ultimately cheesy party of pop, disco, dance tracks, R&B and soft rock, where you can hear anything from Hanson to Haim to Soft Cell to Whitney to Beyoncé, accompanied by dancers, live acts cabaret performers, balloons and a lot of glitter Leave your hipster credentials at the door, dress up and get guilty!
Explore how architecture and family life in Japan changed after 1945 with this new exhibition at the Barbican. The legacy of WW2 and the changing face of Japanese society wrought huge changes in the way the nation lived, and the way Japanese design principles influenced the West over the last 70 years.
Free events this March
Amazing curator Carey Newsom persuaded 26 teenagers to let a photographer document their bedrooms: now you're invited in to see the results at this exhibition on the museum's concourse. Like homes inside of homes, each room reflects the person who created it, as well as commenting on how how teenagers handle the new privacy created by social media, smartphone tech - and the surprising resurgence of letters and vinyl.
Will robots take over? That’s the big question posed during The British Academy’s series exploring how robotics and artificial intelligence could revolutionise society. Advances in robotics and AI are changing how we do business, engage in warfare, and even have relationships, and from January to March the Royal Society, will examine what a robotic future might look like, and what it could tell us about being human. Visit their website to see the full programme of events. All events are free but some may require booking.
Join artist Emma McGarry as she invites people to explore the properties of materials, while taking a closer look at the human behaviours of decision-making and power relations in her hands-on art workshops. Running alongside Pilvi Takala’s solo exhibition at the Pump House Gallery, the workshops will offer a series of lively activities throughout the day.
Browse photographs reimagining defining, but overlooked, events in Britain’s struggle for democracy and equality by activist photographer Red Saunders. This installation brings historic milestones, featuring dissenters, revolutionaries, radicals and non-conformists, to life in intricately-lit scenes in the style of tableaux vivants (living pictures). Rediscover these extraordinary stories and the contribution they made to bring about change at the William Morris Gallery.
This family-friendly show is a testbed for professional musicians, comedians and poets to try out their latest material. A number of short films will be screened throughout the night and a handful of DJs will be spinning tracks in-between acts and into the small hours once the performances have finished. Food and drink will be available from the restaurant and bar.
This contemporary design and craft fair brings together more than 120 of the best craft talents in the country specialising in original ceramics, textiles, glass, wood, furniture, fashion and jewellery to name just a few. Not only will you be able to purchase a host of original works, you’ll also be able to meet makers and discuss inspirations, design processes and future projects.
A showcase of board games that'll be sure to have you reminiscing about rainy days spent competing with your siblings. Over 100 objects will be on display featuring games from across the globe and some of the most iconic examples from the V&A's collection. Favourites such as Cluedo, Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly will also be included and a number of hands-on activiities will give visitors the chance to become part of the gaming action.
Art exhibitions this March
Somehow, more than 100 years after someone first painted a canvas a single colour and thought ‘yeah, that’ll do’, monochrome painting still manages to have a power. It can shock, it can disappoint and sometimes, when you’re lucky, it can open up the possibilities of painting all over again. Brazilian artist Fernanda Gomes goes for the third option. The main room in this show of pure white works is filled with white squares and rectangles painted on cheap wooden slabs. Some are flat to the wall, others at angles. One is just stretched white mesh over a frame, another has canvas peeling away from the wood beneath. The best work isn’t even a painting, it’s a freakin’ optical illusion! It’s just an empty bloody frame! What this all does is imply painting. She sees how far she can pull materials away while still retaining the idea of a work on canvas. She forces you to ask if this is a painting, or a metaphor for painting? Or, maybe, is it just nothing? These two rooms are contemplative spaces of modernist minimal calm. Emptiness that is somehow full. Totally, monochromatically, lovely. @eddyfrankel
The jungle is swallowing Cecil Court. Leaves are growing, water is flowing and this group show is bringing a little tropical warmth to freezing London. Turner Prize-winner Laure Prouvost’s ultra-sensual breath-heavy jungle film ‘Swallow’ opens the show: naked bodies swim in waterfalls, hands stroke car bonnets. There are some serious return-to-nature vibes here. Alongside this are big resin palm leaves on the wall by Zuzanna Czebatul and a ceramic sculpture by Salvatore Arancio in the corner that looks like its been dredged up from the floor of some ancient sea. More of Arancio’s gloopy alien rocks litter the ground downstairs, alongside biological prints by Suzanne Treister that associate fauna with mega corporations. The whole show imagines the jungle as some sensual, creeping mass of eroticism – an encroaching body of sexual potential. The only problem is, there’s not enough – if the show was more overwhelming, if it really made you feel like you were sweltering through your own tropical hangover, it might have been brilliant.
The first major photography show in the Engine Rooms at Tower Bridge will feature new work by the celebrated chronicler of British weirdness. What to expect? The exhibition's title is probably a giveaway.
His story probably isn’t that different to yours. Do Ho Suh was born in South Korea, left to study in America, settled in New York, moved to Berlin for a bit then chose London as his home. Maybe your journey hasn’t taken you as far, but Macclesfield to Balham is still an uprooting. The point is, we’ve all moved, we’ve all had to leave ‘home’ to make new lives for ourselves at some point. Those moments of upheaval are Do Ho Suh’s total obsession and he uses his art to memorialise the places he’s lived in. In the opening room of his show at Victoria Miro, he has stitched coloured mesh fabric together, recreating the doors and staircases of his past studios and homes. They are like pressed flowers, steamrollered on to paper. They’re 3D sculptures that have been flattened on to 2D planes, as if these doors and staircases have been crushed flat by some temporal anomaly, a catastrophic accident in space, a dimensional apocalypse. Upstairs, he’s turned doorknobs and fuse boxes into fabric sculptures on eerily gleaming lightboxes. A film in the back room captures a walk around his north London neighbourhood from his kid’s-eye level. The works are pretty, but they’re the weakest part of the show. It’s on the top floor that his ideas really start to envelop you. Suddenly, all those 2D visions of lost architectural spaces erupt into 3D rooms. These are perfect life-size recreations of corridors from his life, arranged end to end in gently undulating, pastel-coloured mesh fabrics. Yo
Look out the window. How is it out there? Grey? Miserable? Is there a low-hanging, neverending blanket of suffocating cloud pressing down on the whole city? Of course there is. This is London. But in one chichi corner of Mayfair, the sun’s out. Modernist master and Bauhaus pioneer Josef Albers painted a lot of geometric abstract square stuff, and this show is dedicated to his particular obsession with yellow, orange and gold. It’s a warm hug of an exhibition, bottled (or framed) sunshine. Each canvas here features diminishing soft-toned squares, overlapping and vanishing, all in the same configuration: big square, medium square, little square. There are sketches on paper alongside them, and a brilliant little sheet of notes and paint-tests where he’s scribbled his thoughts on the various shades, including a big ‘NO!’ over some beige. Amen, Josef. It all shows how singular, driven, ordered and monomaniacal he was in his quest for pure geometry, pure colour, pure art. That’s what elevates this above what’s on the canvas – the passion and drive, the obsession at its heart. There are imperfections here, lines that wobble, paint that’s smeared. I used to hate this in Albers’s work, wishing that he’d just been more precise, more computer-like. But it’s human, and that reminds you that beauty doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s a process. It’s such a simple, calm, reductive and warming show, you’ll feel like you’re getting a tan. Don’t be fooled, it’s not real, this is London. I
Artist and architect Sebastian Kite will be filling the Bussey Building's art space with an installation of two-way mirrors that will host regular dance performances throughout the show's run.
The perilous, arduous, shocking journeys of migrants and refugees are splayed across screens, shown as hands tracing routes across maps. The travellers take you through each stop, through their hardships and their journeys home. There are only a handful of trips projected here, but it still feels like too many – these ‘enforced journeys’ are happening all over the world, all the time. Refugees, migrants, people from places of conflict: this is how they live. Moroccan-French artist Khalili then turns those trips into blue maps, constellations of struggle. The whole show exposes a wound – it’s uncomfortable, but it’s important, so don’t look away. @eddyfrankel
The Guerrilla Girls are some of the art world’s most creative complainers, and for over 30 years now, they have been handing America’s galleries their arses on a platter. For their show at the Whitechapel Gallery, they’ve turned their attentions to Europe. This entire exhibition is based on a survey they sent out to 400 art institutions across 29 countries on the continent. In it, they demand stats for their representation of female artists, those who are gender non-conforming and artists of colour. Spoiler: it doesn’t go well. As the Guerrilla Girls announce on a banner on the front of the Whitechapel building, ‘only one quarter’ of those contacted responded (disappointingly, the Serpentine and the Saatchi Gallery were among the no-shows). The completed questionnaires are pasted onto the gallery wall, filled with the urgently scrawled handwriting of gallery directors. Put your contacts in, because there’s a whole lot of reading required for this show. Colourful posters pull out some of the best responses; when asked if it was the first time they’d collected such stats, Manchester Art Gallery replied: ‘No, we talk about these issues a lot’ – but the Guerrillas point out that their collection is still ‘80 percent male and 85 percent white’. The average representation of women artists was a pathetic 22 percent. One of the few glimmers of hope was Poland, where that figure was 28 percent and all but one of the responding galleries had a female director. Informative as all
Nightlife in London this March
The musical brains behind ace indie night Feeling Gloomy have come up with a new party. Burn Down The Disco will take the baton from the popular Old School Indie party at the end of September, showcasing the same great indie tunes as OSI, but also with tons of lovely soul, synth pop, ska and vintage rock 'n' roll mixed in. Think anything from Depeche Mode to The Specials to Chuck Berry to Pulp. OSI founder Carl Hill says this new night will allow him to open things up a bit and play a wider range of great music, all of which is definitely fine by us. But don't worry – BDTD will still thrive off the same fun-filled atmosphere as OSI, and certainly won't take itself too seriously. There'll be sweets given out on the door, dance competitions, colouring sheets, confetti and a weekly 'rubbish ballon drop'. Farewell, Old School Indie. Now let's all go and get drunk and jump around the dancefloor at Burn Down The Disco.
Rock disco with artistic live turns, hosted by Amy Lamé with the best retro set in town from DJs The Readers Wifes. Duckie distinguishes itself as gay London's leading pop-and-performance club. The team also put on large theatrical events at venues like the Barbican. But The RVT is where the faithful flock every week.
Absolutely no prizes for guessing what this event is all about. That's right, it's a gospel music-focused karaoke night – 'think "Sister Act" meets a school assembly via "Top of the Pops",' say the organisers. The songs are chosen to really bring out those rich harmonies (Blur’s ‘Tender’, Mary Mary’s ‘Shackles (Praise You)’ and, erm, Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’) so pick your soulful song to blast out and you'll be accompanied by 15-piece London urban choir Singology, who'll (probably) make your amateur whining sound positively delightful. There's also a big group singalong for maximum harmonies.
If you absolutely cannot wait until megastar Beyoncé returns to London, or can't afford to fork out £50 for the pleasure, The Yoncé Experience may just be the next best option for you. How does five hours of unadulterated Bey tunes sound? Pretty jumpin, jumpin' right? Ahem. Pitched up in the main room Martin 2 Smoove will be playing non-stop Beyoncé, while in room two you'll find – you guessed it – more Queen B. Room three caters for the folk dragged by their friends who don't want work it out to Mrs Carter all night, providing a selection of funk, pop and party tunes.