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35 superb things to do in London this weekend

Alexandra Sims

London look lively! The weekend’s here, and boy is it an eventful one. Academic titans Oxford and Cambridge will be taking to the Thames for the annual Boat Race (read our guide to scope out the best places to get an eyeful of the oar-some action), and the goats of Spitalfields City Farm will be gearing up for their very own race around the yard. If that’s not left you breathless, there’s also Deptford’s Craft Beer Feast, a Wes Anderson-themed noodle bar and a spring carnival in East Dulwich to check out. We’re excited already.


‘Isle of Dogs’ Exhibition. The Store Studios. Sat-Sun. Free. Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’ is making a home for itself in arts space The Store on Aldwych. It’ll house puppets and sets from the auteur’s new stop-motion animation, plus there’ll be a noodle bar and a sake bar. Mark your diary, it’s what Bill Murray would want.

‘DollyWould’. Soho Theatre. Sat. £15-£19. See hilarious, anarchic theatre duo Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit’s live art show all about huge-haired country-music heroine Dolly Parton. It’s silly and fun but also deals with immortality, plasticity and decay.

Bascule Chamber Concerts: ‘Blackout’. Tower Bridge Bascule Chamber. Sat-Sun. £28.50. See a performance telling the story of post-Blitz London in the cavernous Victorian chambers beneath Tower Bridge. This space is rarely open to the public, so it’s a chance to see a slice of ‘hidden’ London.

‘Brief Encounter’. Empire Cinema, Haymarket. Sat. £20-£52.50. See Emma Rice’s vivid, dreamy, emotionally charged take on Noël Coward’s classic. It is about love, but it’s also about more complex things: the romance of guilt, the purity of shame and the swooning sweep of self-doubt.

‘Tacita Dean: Portrait’. National Portrait Gallery. Sat-Sun. £12. See literally moving portraits of great artists by a great artist. Dean knows how to play with time and emotion, and when it works, it really works.

Sound Screen Film & Music Festival. Various London venues. Sat-Sun. Prices vary. Do you like your music loud and your lyrics confrontational? Then you’ll love this new festival of concert films, gigs and stereo-busting movie nights featuring docs on the The Slits, Sleaford Mods, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and more.

BFI Flare Film Festival. BFI Southbank. Sat-Sun. £3-£15.20. Catch new and classic LGBT+ films from across the globe at the annual BFI Flare Festival. This year’s themes are ‘Hearts’, ‘Bodies’ and ‘Minds’. 

Institute of Making Open Day: Slime. Institute of Making. Sat. Free. Make your own slippery slimy specimen and enter it into the Slime Olympics at this free open day for oddballs.

Playback Festival. ICA. Sat-Sun. Free. Check out the work of the next generation of filmmakers at this exhibition showcasing short films made by 16-to24-year-olds – from documentary films about chicken shops to hand-drawn animations.

Spring Rites, Our St Christopher’s GardenSt Christopher’s Place. Sat-Sun. Free. The weather hasn’t been very spring-like lately but this digital installation should inject some floral cheer. The clever timelapse sees the seedlings of snowdrops, tulips, muscari, fritillary, ranunculus and other flora bloom in the blink of an eye.

Suffragette City. London Pavillion. Sat-Sun. £18.50. It’s your final chance to walk in the shoes of a suffragette and experience what it was like for those campaigning for suffrage in London at this immersive experience from the National Trust. 

‘Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy’. Tate Modern. Sat-Sun. £22. A single year in the life of arguably the twentieth century’s most important artist. He accomplished more in 12 months than most of us do in a lifetime. Unmissable.

Earth Hour. Various locations. Sat. Prices vary. This WWF initiative invites people to turn off their lights between 8.30pm and 9.30pm GMT to raise awareness of climate change. London landmarks will be getting in on the act, including the Barbican Arts Centre, the Piccadilly Lights, the London Eye, the OXO Tower and the National Theatre, who’ll all be switching off the leccy. See WWF’s website for a list of London restaurants forgoing artificial light for candle-lit dinners.



Wander, N16 7HU. Australian chef Alexis Noble is behind our restaurant of the week – this cosy neighbourhood joint serves wonderfully adventurous food. The Aussie influence is subtle but ubiquitous, especially where desserts are concerned. Pavlova. With gin-infused strawbs. YES.

Ride the Roundhouse. Roundhouse. Sun. £25. Serious pedal power is needed to make it to the end of this charity gig. The idea is to cycle 100 miles on a stationary bike while bands play on stage. Love live music? Then, like the Queen song says, get on your bike and ride.

Camden Vintage Kilo Sale. Cecil Sharp House. Sun. £3 before noon, £1.50 after. Rummage for some retro finds and then pay what it weighs at this sale.




The Oxford v Cambridge Goat Race. Spitalfields City Farm. Sat. £15, kids (baa!) under 12 free. On the same day that Oxford and Cambridge row it out on the Thames, a hairier, more haphazard contest takes place at Spitalfields City Farm where two goats – one named Oxford, the other Cambridge, of course – race around the farm to be crowned King Billy. 

‘Art Capital: Art for the Elizabeth Line’. Whitechapel Gallery. Sat-Sun. Free.
See underground art of the future at this show of sketches and proposals for the new public artworks to be installed at stations on the Elizabeth line. Works include a stainless-steel installation from Yayoi Kusama and a glass canopy full of clouds by Spencer Finch.

Bar Three, E1 6AA. Our bar of the week is this Spitalfields joint, the Venning brothers’ seductive yin to the light, bright yang of their first bar, Three Sheets in Dalston. The cocktails are striking, sciencey and among London’s finest. It feels like magic, pure and simple.

Right Now Film Festival. Rio Cinema. Sat-Sun. £11.50. Head along to this week-long film fest to see a programme of documentaries taking a deeper look at power structures and inequalities in the world today.

Wizardry Quiz. Concrete. Sat-Sun. £20. Do you know your bezoars from your basilisks? Then dust down your robes for this immersive quiz night testing you on all aspects of Potter World.

Ladybeard Presents Hysteria. Guest Projects. Sat-Sun. £5. Fancy a bit of feminist porn? Or a spot of creative nudity? Independent feminist magazine Ladybeard is putting on a series of events celebrating ‘women causing trouble’, and the programme looks quite racy.

Pop-up Pound Sale. Stifford Community Centre. Sat. Free entry. RIP East End Thrift store, which satisfied all our vintage cravings for mere pence from its former HQ in Assembly Passage. But, wait! They’re back for this one-day sale, where you’ll be able to bag vintage clobber for £1 each, plus bargains starting at £5 and nothing over £20.



Deptford Craft Beer Feast. Deptford Market Yard. Sat. Free. Drink your way around 23 of London’s finest breweries without having to set foot on the tube between tastings. Soak up the booze with tender chicken from Mama’s Jerk.

AWOMENFest. DIY Space For London. Sat-Sun. Prices vary. International Women’s Day might be over but that doesn’t mean the celebrations are. See a drag king cabaret show and groove to an all-female DJ mix at this feminist arts festival.

Camberwell Free Film Festival. Various venues Sat-Sun. Free. Save your hard-earned cash for pints and popcorn at this grassroots fest where every film is free. Catch a screening of the iconic documentary ‘Paris is Burning’ at the Flying Dutchman on Sunday.

‘Dinosaurs in the Wild’Greenwich Peninsula. Sat-Sun. £29.50, £26 children. This live-action, immersive theatre-style dinosaur show is set in a parallel world, where it’s possible to go into a scientific lab in the deep past. A mix of great CGI, animatronics and mild peril makes the jump back in time worthwhile.

The Near Mint Record Fair. Pop Brixton. Sat-Sun. Free. Browse squeaky-clean vinyl at this new record fair, brought to you by the DJs behind Near Mint, a cleaning product for your dusty old collection.

Spring Rising. Goose Green. Sat. Free. Celebrate the arrival of spring by joining a Carnival of Flowers full of lit-up dancers, giant glowing insects and the South London Samba, ending in an illuminated garden with interactive digital projections and light sculptures.

Explore the Urban Forest: Herne Hill. Various locations. Sun. £18. Feast your eyes on lots of lovely spring blossom as you species-spot Japanese Yoshino cherry trees, magnolia and cherry plum on this street tree tour as spring begins to take hold.

Brixton Vegan Market. Brixton Recreation Centre. Sun. Free entry. Satisfy all your hunger cravings with a helping of cruelty-free comfort food at the spring edition of this vegan market. Your taste buds will thank you.



The Boat Race. Various locations. Sat. Free. As quintessentially British as a cup of tea and a stiff upper lip, the annual Boat Race sees Oxford and Cambridge Universities battle it out in an oarsome rowing race on the Thames. Join the 300,000 people expected to gather along the riverbanks at 4.31pm for the women’s race, followed by the men’s race at 5.32pm.

SOE Storytelling. National Army Museum. Sat-Sun. Free. Learn about what life was like for an SOE (Special Operations Executive) agent during WW2 at this series of storytelling sessions. Historian and re-enactor Kate Vigurs will explore training and preparation for missions and examine what it was like behind enemy lines.

Heralds of Spring Walking Tour. Kew Gardens. Sat-Sun. Included with entry. Spot spring flowers sprouting up all over Kew on this guided garden tour seeking out bulbs and blossoms in bloom. Daily at noon.

Notting Hill Black History WalkMeet point on request. Sun. £10. Hear about pioneering Afro-Caribbean people who helped lay the foundations of multicultural London in this walk around Notting Hill, proving there’s much more to the area than Carnival. Book in advance. 

And finally 

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Main image: Tedz Duran/Flickr  

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