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The Time Out (Alternative) London Marathon 2015

26.2 amazing things to do in the city this spring – no running required!

By Guy Parsons

Forget the London Marathon – the greatest challenge in this city is finding the time to fit in all the incredible culture, food and stuff to do. Here are 26 (and a bit) unmissable things to do this spring.

1. Jog like an Egyptian at the British Museum

Museums History Bloomsbury

Start the Time Out Marathon by learning how to bandage your knees with the masters of skilful swaddling at the British Museum. The Mummies Gallery is one of London's most fascinating places. Discover why embalmers were so keen on cramming their bosses organs into jars, then grab a selfie with the mummified cat, exquisitely purr-served for the netherworld two millennia ago.

Go the extra mile Look for the mummified eel. Yes, it's an actual thing.

More like this Check out the ten best museum exhibitions in London right now.

2. Ace it at Bounce

Bars and pubs Holborn

Sadly, most of us are unlikely ever to trouble the podium at the London Marathon or any major sporting event. The closest we lesser mortals can get to Olympian glory is at Bounce ping-pong club, where punters can hone their backhand slice at the table used for the London 2012 final.

Go the extra mile Land your ball ‘accidentally’ in someone's martini: a classic ice-breaker.

More like this From billiards to bowling and board games to bingo, indulge in a cocktail-powered decathlon as you visit 15 pubs and bars with games in London.

Venue says Join us for our new bottomless brunch this weekend! With bottomless Prosecco, endless slices of pizza, bangin’ tunes and plenty of Ping Pong


3. Treat yourself to a cocktail at Artesian

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Marylebone

After thrashing your opponent at table tennis, treat yourself to an energising cocktail in the marblelined palace of wastery that is Artesian. Last year it took top spot in the coveted World's 50 Best Bars List for the third year running, so the bartenders here know a thing or two about winning.

Go the extra mile Try one of their more out-there selections, like the Treacle, designed to accompany barbecue ribs.

More like this Upgrade your drinking and embark on a (responsible!) epic quest to visit London's 100 best bars and pubs.

Venue says Artesian is at the forefront of London's sophisticated bar scene, showcasing the city’s largest collection of rums, Champagne and cocktails.

4. Make a mockery of a movie at Prince Charles Cinema

Cinemas Independent Leicester Square

Described as ‘inept’ and ‘shockingly bad’, Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 drama ‘The Room’ has somehow acquired cult status. In London we’ve made a party out of watching it – head along to a raucous screening at the Prince Charles Cinema held once a month.

Go the extra mile Do it soon. As we speak, James Franco is apparently going all meta and making a movie about the movie.

More like this Switch up your cinema habits and explore the 25 best cinemas in London

St. Paul's Cathedral Whispering Gallery
© Jack Pease

5. Carelessly whisper at St Paul's Cathedral

Attractions Religious buildings and sites St Paul’s

Take your sweetheart up the 257 steps to the Whispering Gallery at St Paul's; through a cute architectural quirk, they'll hear you murmur sweet nothings from the opposite side of the world famous dome. Plus you can eavesdrop on random strangers' susurrating indiscretions.

Go the extra mile Climb higher to the Golden Gallery, which is another 271 knee-punishing steps up from the Whispering Gallery.

More like this They're easy to forget about, but have you been to all of London's most famous attractions?

6. Feel the earth move at the Natural History Museum

Museums Natural history South Kensington

Using mechanics and actual footage to recreate the experience of being in a Kobe supermarket during the quake that struck the Japanese city in 1996, the Earthquake Room at the Natural History Museum proves that planet earth does not give two shits about neatly stacked groceries.

Go the extra mile Set a terrible example to school groups by doing it on one leg.

More like this Make a plan to visit all of London's top ten museums.


7. Get friendly with a framberry at Patisserie Sainte-Anne

Restaurants French Hammersmith

Stuff yourself with a tasty framberry from Patisserie Sainte-Anne. This concoction made of tart raspberry mousse over a light sponge base, topped off with pink white-chocolate icing and studded with macaroon halves made it into our list of the best cakes in London. Sounds good, right?

Go the extra mile Ask, all innocent-like, what a ‘framberry’ is when it's at home.

More like this Eat all ten of the best cakes in London.

Rebel Bingo - Luki and Anita
© Mary-Alice Thompson

8. Earn your bingo wings at Rebel Bingo

It's a foulmouthed reimagining of your granny's favourite pastime. Part of the fun is getting smashed and dobbing coloured ink all over your fellow players, so dressing down is advised. Organisers tick all the right boxes with a soundtrack of pop, rock and, yes, house!

Go the extra mile Try and actually win a prize; they've included bikes, guitars and a jukebox. Various locations. £6-£15.

Bread Ahead
© Bread Ahead

9. Doughnut quit – head to Borough Market

Things to do Borough

Get your artisanal baking fix at Bread Ahead. Its stall at Borough Market offers a tantalising array of yeasty goods including Justin Gellatly's worldfamous doughnuts. (£2.50) Forged in his days at the Michelin-starred St John Bread and Wine, theyíre rich in pedigree. And starch.

Go the extra mile Sign up to a Bread Ahead course on perfect baking.

More like this Take a foodie tour of London's 14 best street food markets.

Treetop walkway at Kew Gardens
© Matt Brown, Flickr

10. Branch out at Kew Gardens

Attractions Parks and gardens Kew

Take a short cut to that elusive ‘runner’s high’ with a sprint through the canopy on Kew Gardens’ Treetop Walkway. Winding through the branches 18 metres up, you’re perfectly placed to admire one of London’s most magical springtime locations. Or, if you're like us, you can fanny around pretending you're an Ewok.

Go the extra mile Sod the lift and take the stairs: all 118 of them.


11. See cutting-edge theatre at the Old Operating Theatre Museum

Museums History London Bridge

A kindly St John Ambulance volunteer with a tinfoil blanket is about as medically far removed from the Operating Theatre Museum as it’s possible to imagine. A recreation of an 1820s surgery suite, it's one of the capital’s most fascinating and overlooked museums. Take one look at the mediaeval instruments which passed for surgical tools in those days, and trust us: youíll run a mile.

Go the extra mile Drop in to one of the occasional (mock) re-enactments.

More like this Visit the dozen best hidden museums in London.

12. Marvel at a mural

Art Galleries Bankside

The monumentally dark and brooding canvasses which made American abstract expressionist Mark Rothko’s name were donated to the Tate in the late ‘60s. Situated in a specially lit room in the always inspiring Tate Modern, they’ve had visitors’ hearts racing ever since.

More like this Rothko's 'Seagram Murals' came at #3 in our guide to the the 100 Best Paintings in London. Work your way through the full list!


13. Eat a dead hippy at Meat Liquor

Restaurants Burgers Marylebone

Feeling a touch lightheaded? Grab some highcalorie sustenance at MeatLiquor, a terribly trendy burger-and-booze joint housed in a former strip club. For the full experience, get your chops around the Dead Hippie™: a double-patty behemoth slathered in cheese, pickles, lettuce, onion and special sauce. It’s one of the best burgers in town. Meat you at the finish line. Or in hospital.

Go the extra mile Eat two Dead Hippies, man.

More like this Eat the 13 most indulgent dishes in London, then apologise profusely to your arteries.

14. Get in a fight at The Four Quarters

Bars and pubs Sports bars Peckham

Nineties gaming culture is almost as popular in 2015 as it was back then. London fans can relive its heyday with a bruising afternoon of ‘Street Fighter II’ at Four Quarters, the retro arcade game bar in Peckham. Yell triumphantly as your perfectly timed ‘shoryuken’ (forward, down, down-forward, punch - yes, we remember) connects with your opponent’s thorax. ‘You lose’, bitch.

Go the extra mile Try and win as Dhalsim. Man, he sucked.

Venue says Reopen for bookings from July 9th, with table service and very limited capacity. Booking strongly advised!

AT_lidos_tootingbeclido_CREDIT_Ed Marshall.jpg
© Ed Marshall

15. Take the plunge at Tooting Bec Lido

Sport and fitness Tooting

Relieve those burning tendons with a cool dip in the UK’s largest outdoor freshwater pool. In wintertime, access is restricted to denizens of the venerable South London Swimming Club, but come spring all are welcome to doggy paddle up and down its 90-metre length and experience this city’s unique lido culture. Bombing, diving and petting are all sternly discouraged.

Go the extra mile Join the club for £135 and support a London institution.

More like this Splash out and visit all ten of the best lidos in London.

The view from Alexandra Palace
© Adrian Snood

16. Get high at Alexandra Palace

Things to do Cultural centres Alexandra Palace

However knackered you are at this stage, the view from the top of the punishing climb to Alexandra Palace will easily take your breath away. Reflect on London’s everchanging skyline, studded with increasingly batshit skyscrapers, dreamy church spires and a surprising number of trees. In a word: uplifting.

Go the extra mile Take some bread and get Ally pally with the ducks in Alexandra Park.

More like this Ascend to greatness and scale the ten best hills in London


17. Turk it to the next level at Gökyüzü

Restaurants Turkish Green Lanes

The meze maestros (and committed umlaut enthusiasts) at Gökyüzü reign supreme as kings of the Green Lanes kebab strip. It's famed for its generous portions, mammoth dining room and rambunctious atmosphere, and we promise you won’t find a better lahmacun this side of Istanbul. Order the huge mixed grill: it’s a proper Turkish delight.

More like this Munch your way through the other 99 restaurants in our list of the 100 best cheap eats in London

Pedalo, Serpentine
© Rob Greig

18. Rock the boat on the Serpentine

Sport and fitness Hyde Park

What better way to show off your romantic side – or, indeed, your beautifully sculpted calf muscles – than with a leisurely pedalo ride across the Serpentine? Pack some sandwiches, a cheeky bottle of rosé and, dare we suggest it, a slim book of verse. Before you know it, your natty blue vessel will be making some serious waves.

Go the extra mile Enjoy a cooling paddle in the Serpentine Lido (from May, that is).

© Andrew Firth

19. Savour sacred music at Union Chapel

Music Music venues Islington

Whatever pounding EDM helps you through your training routine, frankly, put a sock in it. Instead, relish the chance to experience an acoustic gig in the spellbinding surroundings of the Union Chapel. It’s the thinking gig-goer’s O2 Arena, and as close to heaven as you’re likely to get in Zone 2.

Go the extra mile Go back on a Sunday morning; it’s still an actual working church.

More like this Catch a concert at each of London's ten best music venues.

Hidden Gardens of the City Walk_St.Dunstans Garden_CREDIT_Frederick Muller.jpg
Frederick Muller

20. Enjoy a holy moment at St. Dunstan in the East

Pause for a breather and contemplate the city's colourful history in the tranquil ruins of St Dunstan-in-the-East, a twelfth-century church bombed during the Blitz. Almost definitely the most serene spot in the Square Mile, its delicate spire and robust gothic details should put you in touch with your spiritual side.

Go the extra mile Go at the weekend when the surrounding office blocks are empty and silent.

More like this Explore all 24 of London's hidden parks and secret green spaces.


21. Pig out at Spitalfields City Farm

Attractions Farms Spitalfields

Hoofing it along Brick Lane? Pay a visit to porcine pals Holmes and Watson at nearby Spitalfields City Farm. Stop and pledge a small donation and you can really help this charming little charity bring home the bacon.

Go the extra mile Volunteer! A shovel-load of shit is a hot look these days 

More like this Pet a critter at each of London's ten city farms.

22. Lift the cup at Allpress Espresso

Restaurants Cafés Shoreditch

Hot drinks and long-distance running - what could possibly go wrong? For a peerless caffeine spike, drop by Shoreditch institution Allpress Espresso. They scour the world in search of the finest beans to ensure your flat white is anything but. They also have a shiny on-site roaster to admire while you sit and sip.

Go the extra mile Take home the taste of Allpress by ordering beans from its online store.

More like this Go caffeine crazy at the 32 best cafés and coffee shops in London.

Cycling in Victoria Park, London.
© eGuide Travel

23. Go for a spin in Victoria Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Victoria Park

When it opened in the 1840s, Victoria Park was nicknamed the ‘lungs of the East End’, offering some of the city’s poorest residents some green space. It’s still a lovely breath of fresh air today – for best results hop on a Boris bike and skirt the perimeter observing all the romantic strollers, the fitness-fixated and the fussy little dogs.

Go the extra mile Take a seat in one of the two stone alcoves saved from Old London Bridge

More like this Put on your walking boots and explore all 12 of London's biggest parks.

24. Vamp it up at Sink the Pink


Cram your poor tired feet into some towering heels and get pumped with east London’s foremost LGBT party nights from Sink the Pink – Gloria's at Old Street's XOYO or Savage at Bethnal Green's Metropolis. Expect all-out glam and a healthy dose of London eccentricity. It’s a trans-formative experience.

Go the extra mile A Sink the Pink colouring book is available on its website. Yikes!

More like this Can you visit the 13 best clubs in London before the year is out?


25. Step back in time at Dennis Severs’ House

Attractions Historic buildings and sites Spitalfields

Engage in some good old-fashioned voyeurism at Dennis Severs’ House, a creepily compelling imagining of an eighteenth-century Spitalfields home. Smell the dinner! Sniff the chamber pot! Wonder what’s happened to the inhabitants...

There are no explanations, tours are conducted in silence and it’s definfitely not somewhere to take the kids and gran on a wet Sunday afternoon, but if you get it, there’s nowhere else like it.

Go the extra mile Lose yourself: it's as much a work of art or piece of theatre as it is a museum.

Kernel Brewery
© Kernel Brewery / Scissorhands Productions

26. FINISH! Grab a swift half at the Kernel Brewery taproom

There’s no more fitting way to celebrate completing the ultimate London challenge than with the city’s enduring drink obsession: locally made craft beer.

At Kernel Brewery’s taproom, open Saturdays 9am-2pm, take your pick from an ever-changing roster of brews then kick back and feel incredibly smug at your accomplishment. Cheers!

Go the extra mile Literally: there are tons of great breweries in Bermondsey's beer mile.

More like this Tick off tasty brews at each of the 28 greatest craft beer pubs in London. (Probably not all on the same day, though.)


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