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19 things to get really excited about in 2019

Stay one step ahead with the biggest parties, events, new venues, shows, plays, exhibitions, festivals and more coming up in London this year

By Katie McCabe, Stephanie Hartman, Alexandra Sims and Angela Hui |
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Grab your cultural diary (pretend you’ve got one) and add these unmissable events for the next year, all guaranteed resolution-free*. We’ve rounded up the most exciting art and museum exhibitions (like the biggest Manga showcase ever held outside Japan), blockbuster London theatre shows, and new venue launches to look out for in 2019.

There’s some pretty left-field additions to the London cultural calendar too. Keep an eye out for an arty party dedicated to the power of the moon, an electronic music festival inside a selection of London’s iconic brutalist buildings and an Abba-themed dining experience at the 02. The future might be uncertain, but we’ll always have one thing to rely on: there’s no such thing as a dull week in London

* Okay, one of them might be exercise-related, sorry!

RECOMMENDED: 101 best things to do in London

Events to look out for

1
Things to do, Festivals

London has its first Borough of Culture

Waltham Forest has nabbed the accolade of being the first ever London Borough of Culture, which means it’s throwing a year-long programme of celebratory events. The opening spectacle, ‘Welcome to the Forest’ (Friday January 11-Sunday January 13), is fronted by former Mercury Prize winner Talvin Singh, who will tell the story of the borough in an original audiovisual piece. Also look out for Walthamstow Jazz Festival, a performance from Damon Albarn with Africa Express and a major exhibition marking the centenary of the Bauhaus movement. It’s the biggest thing to happen to E17 since ‘Stay Another Day’ got to Number One. Alexandra Sims

2

The star bartender at The Savoy is opening his own place

Anybody lucky enough to drink at the American Bar at The Savoy will have been charmed by white-suited staff. Heading up the team until recently was Erik Lorincz, one of the world’s best bartenders. That’s why we can’t wait to see what’s in store when Lorincz launches his own bar as part of the revamp of Mayfair restaurant Momo. We don’t know much about El Bar yet, but it’s billed as ‘a refined nineteenth-century-styled cocktail bar’. Bring on Savoy-style service and earth-shattering drinks (hopefully without the price tags). Laura Richards
25 Heddon St. Tube: Piccadilly Circus. From Feb.

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Queen Elizabeth Hall roof garden
© Belinda Lawley

An electronic music festival is occupying brutalist buildings

London concrete meets techno for Re-Textured, an avant-garde invention from party promoters Krankbrother. The multi-venue, multi-sensory bash will take over London’s most arresting brutalist architecture with experimental light installations and leftfield electronic and ambient music. More than 30 acts have already been confirmed, all playing in a roll-call of iconic buildings, such as Walthamstow Assembly Hall and the Southbank Centre. Prepare for four days of dazzling visuals and brutal beats. AS
Various venues. Mar 28-31. From £15. 

4
Photograph of William Marriot in Pearson’s Magazine. Image from the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature, Senate House Library, University of London
Museums

A creepy exhibition about the psychology of magic is on the cards

icon-location-pin Wellcome Collection, Euston
icon-calendar

Fetch the ouija board and dust off the tarot cards, something wicked this way comes. The Wellcome Collection’s ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ exhibition is devoted to the mental manipulation used in magic. See the Bell Box used by Houdini to expose phony mediums, find out how female magicians’ assistants have played a vital role in misdirection techniques and see a gorilla costume worn by Derren Brown. Hex-citing! AS

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5
News, Events & Festivals

The Crystal Maze is making its way to the West End

Drop a mention of the ‘The Crystal Maze’ into any stagnating thirtieth-birthday conversation and by 2am you’ll be standing arm-in-arm shouting ‘Start the fans, please!’ So enduring is the power of the  ’90s TV challenge show that a live version launched in London in 2016. That Live Experience proved so popular it’s moving to an even bigger, mazier location – the Trocadero. It’ll have 32 new challenges, more places to be locked in when you fail your task, and a bar. Your bomber jacket awaits… KM
The Crystal Maze Live Experience, 22-32 Shaftesbury Avenue. m Piccadilly Circus. From Mar 29. Early bookers from £49.99 per person.

6

Tate Britain is celebrating women artists

The art world has a bit of an erasure problem when it comes to the work of women. That’s why Sixty Years is a reason to bounce off the walls with excitement. The show – one of the biggest at Tate Britain this year – will be a retrospective of British art from 1960 to now that features only work produced by women.  It will celebrate some of this country’s most important artists – like Susan Hiller and Bridget Riley – and it’s  curated by a woman too (Sofia Karamani).  The gallery’s also putting on a Van Gogh show in March but who cares about him, eh? Kate Lloyd
Tate Britain. Tube: Pimlico. From Apr 22. Price TBC.

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7
Museums

The long-awaited Kubrick exhibition is opening

icon-location-pin Design Museum, Kensington
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In 2004, a blockbuster show created from Stanley Kubrick’s archives launched at Frankfurt’s Deutsches Filmmuseum before touring 16 countries. The show never made it to London, despite the UK being Kubrick’s adopted home – that is, until now. ‘Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition’ will be packed with props from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and his other classic films. All this will coincide with a major Kubrick retrospective at the BFI (April-May) that will include ‘A Clockwork Orange’. It’s going to be real horrorshow. KM

8
News, Events & Festivals

The UK’s largest outdoor fitness fest is kicking off in Hackney

Snap on those sweatbands and set your Spotify to Olivia Newton-John – things are about to get physical. After the success of the Hackney Festival of Fitness last year (which saw 50,000 runners and spectators descend on the borough), the organisers decided to turn the event into a massive three-dayer in Hackney Marshes. There’ll be a 5k community run on the Saturday and the half-marathon on the Sunday. With exercise classes, a market and an open-air cinema, it’s set to be the biggest outdoor fitness festival ever to take place in the UK. KM
Hackney Marshes. Hackney Wick Overground. May 17-19. Friday Weekend Warmup ticket, £15. Saturday Sweat Sessions ticket, £35. Sunday Hackney Half entry, £49.

 

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Higashimura Akiko 'Princess Jellyfish' © Akiko Higashimura / Kodansha Ltd
Museums

A massive manga show is coming to the British Museum

icon-location-pin British Museum, Bloomsbury
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Better don your best cosplay outfit. ‘Manga’, the biggest exhibition of its kind held outside of Japan, will open in London this May. Trace the art form from its roots in drawings, paintings and theatre design, including a 17-metre theatre curtain painted in just four hours by artist Kawanabe Kyōsai in 1880 after he’d necked more than a few bottles of rice wine. There’ll also be an area where you can try on costumes and a video booth where you can get manga-fied. Yatta! AS

10

Kerb is heading to Covent Garden

Street food giant Kerb is getting its first permanent space bang in the middle of town this year. Seven Dials Market – housed in a former banana warehouse – is going to be Kerb’s biggest venture yet. Once the hoardings come down, it’s set to serve delish dishes to Covent Garden. Start training your your stomach now. Stephanie Hartman
Thomas Neal’s Warehouse. Tube: Covent Garden. Due to open this summer.

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11
© Illuminated River, Leo Villareal Studio, 2018
News, Art

Beautiful lights are transforming the Thames

London’s river is set for a serious glow-up in 2019. Huge light installation ‘Illuminated River’, designed by artist Leo Villareal and architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, will get 15 bridges twinkling  – and they might stay lit for a decade. The first four – London Bridge, Southwark Bridge, Cannon Street Railway Bridge and Millennium Bridge – will get switched on this summer. Beam me up, Scotty! 

12

A derelict cinema is going to reopen… as a cinema!

Projectors will roll in Hoxton in 2019 for the first time since 1956, as the former Gaumont cinema reopens as the Curzon Hoxton. Plans to redevelop the building have been in the works for years, with controversy raging about the cinema’s ornate art deco frontage, and Jarvis Cocker objecting to the attached office block (something about not wanting people to see him in his PJs – he lived across the street at the time). As the façade wasn’t in great nick, a new one has been recreated from moulds of the original structure, so the Curzon Hoxton retains its grand old face. KM 
55 Pitfield St. Hoxton Overground. Exact opening date TBC.

 

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13

A new photography gallery is launching in Whitechapel

Stockholm’s Fotografiska is opening not one but two new outposts in 2019. The first is on New York’s Park Avenue, the second is focused on Whitechapel. In its own words, it promises ‘world-class photography, an avant-garde restaurant, a buzzing bar scene, a learning academy and a modern conversation hub’. Get practising your ‘modern conversation’. SH
10 Whitechapel High St. Tube: Aldgate East. Due to open this autumn

14

Woolwich is throwing a big party. For the moon

Last year, a crowdfunder was launched for a London festival marking the fiftieth anniversary of the 1969 Apollo moon landing. Now the Moon Festival has finally got the sponsorship it needs for blast off. This July sees General Gordon Square in Woolwich host a three-day party of moonwalks, fireworks,  a night-blooming garden and a talk from Margaret Atwood in a secret location. Sheer lunacy – in the best possible way. KM
Multiple venues. Woolwich Arsenal rail. Jul 19-21. Price TBC.

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Mamma Mia! The Party
© Dewynters
News, Theatre & Performance

There’s Abba-themed dining at The O2

Look, nobody wants to be the kind of person who gets piss-in-their-disco-flares excited about the launch of an Abba-themed restaurant at The 02, but some of us were Björn this way (especially Abba member Björn Ulvaeus, who has been working on this for years). At Mamma Mia! The Party, you’ll be transported to a taverna on Skopelos where the waiters burst into ‘Does Your Mother Know’ between courses. Let’s hope they can raise the money, money, money to book Cher. KM
The O2. Tube: North Greenwich. Aug 29-Nov 18. Three-course meal and show from £151.20.

16

Greenwich Peninsula is getting a sick new event space

Magazine London is not an upstart publication trying to rival Time Out. It’s a fresh new venue for our city. The team behind Printworks is bringing this mega-site on Greenwich Peninsula to fruition. Billed as a  blank canvas, expect exhibitions, concerts and parties coming soon… SH
Greenwich Peninsula. Tube: North Greenwich. Sep 1.

Looking for more things to do in 2019?

John Tiffin/Flickr
Things to do

The best things to do in London this month

On the hunt for truly fantastic things to fill your eyes and ears in London during 2019? You’re in luck. Here’s your exhaustive guide to the very best events, activities and things to do all over London for the whole of the year. 

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