The best spring events in London
Hard to believe but Tate Modern has never put on a Picasso show before. This spring that omission is being rectified with an exploration of a pivotal period in the modern master’s career. Expect a month-by-month guide to this creative time in his life, which saw him produce many of his most loved and iconic paintings. A whopping 100 of them will be on display in this significant exhibition. Talk about a productive year! Ellie Walker-Arnott
We’ve only just settled into 2018, and it’s already proving a landmark year for women. So far we’ve marked 100 years of votes for (some) women and witnessed a powerful global response to the #MeToo movement. And now International Women’s Day 2018 is shaping up to be the most varied yet. Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World festival has put together one of the most exciting programmes in its eight-year history, ranging from panel discussions with Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors to a free performance from punk, female, pro-wrestling collective EVE. Hundreds of independent IWD events are popping up across the city with parties, panels and, erm, hip hop karaoke. Just two days later, Million Women Rise will see thousands march from Oxford Street to Trafalgar Square to protest violence against women. It is just one day of the year, but it’s a fantastic chance to channel important conversations into all 365. Katie McCabe
Stock up on hairspray and start warming up your vocal cords – a new show based on singing legend Tina Turner’s life is coming to the West End. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd and starring Broadway performer Adrienne Warren, the musical starts with Turner’s beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee, and follows her through a miserable marriage and on to her triumphant ’80s comeback. It’s gonna be simply the best. Alexandra Sims
New and classic LGBT+ gems from around the world get a chance to shine at the annual BFI Flare festival. The programme is themed around ‘Hearts’, ‘Bodies’ and ‘Minds’; it also takes a look at the history of Aids on film. The bill includes Leytonstone’s Harris Dickinson, strutting his stuff in ‘Postcards from London’, powerhouse Aids drama ‘120 BPM’ and Rupert Everett in buzzy Oscar Wilde biopic ‘The Happy Prince’. Now you can look at the stars without going near the gutter. Ellie Walker-Arnott
BFI Southbank. Mar 21-Apr 1. Waterloo.
Get ready for a hole lot of fun at Swingers (no, not that kind of swinging), which has been aiding Londoners in their putting pursuits since opening its first crazy golf pop-up course in 2014. This month, it’s swinging open the doors to its second permanent venue, slap-bang in the middle of town, in the old BHS store on Oxford Street. Unlike its country-club-themed City sister, the West End edition will have a 1920s English Riviera vibe, complete with a secret entrance through a seaside souvenir shop. Two nine-hole courses will be flanked by beach huts where golfers can grab street food from Breddos Tacos, Patty & Bun, Made of Dough and Hackney Gelato, while a huge island bar surrounded by palms serves drink all day long. Booze and flying balls – what could go wrong? Stephanie Hartman
15 John Prince’s St. Oxford Circus. From Mar 23. Tickets on sale now.
Feast your eyes on some oarsome action as academic titans Oxford and Cambridge battle it out once again in this quintessentially British rowing race on the Thames. The annual clash, which has been running for 189 years, pulls in riverside crowds of 300,000. The rip-rowing action gets into full swing at 4.35pm when the starting gun marks the beginning of the Women’s Boat Race, with the Men’s Boat Race taking place an hour later. If, like the majority of people lining the riverbanks, you’re really there for the all-day booze fest, get there early to bag a good spot at a pub with a riverside view. Alexandra Sims
Putney to Mortlake. Mar 24.
If you prefer goats to boats, London’s favourite farmyard fracas is celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2018. Fast becoming as popular as its Thames-based inspiration, this race sees two goats – one representing ‘Oxford’, the other ‘Cambridge’ – take part in a dash around Spitalfields City Farm. Turn up around midday to get into the spirit of the occasion with bands, booze and goat-related nonsense: there’s usually Goat-e-oke, an Oat Race and the Goatry Slam to take part in. The race takes place sometime between 2pm and 5pm, depending on the mood of the athletes. There’s an official bookie and sweepstake if you fancy a flutter. Book your tickets well in advance because they sell out fast. We’re not kidding. Alexandra Sims
Spitalfields City Farm. Whitechapel. Mar 24.
Don’t be fooled by the title. Wes Anderson’s new stop-motion animation flick isn’t set in London’s Docklands. ‘Isle of Dogs’ is a dystopian yet funny tale set in near-future Japan where, after an outbreak of canine flu, the country’s pups have been banished to an island made from rubbish and left to fend for themselves. Stylistically Anderson, and boasting a star-studded voice cast including Ed Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, it’s an oddly affecting story that might make you paws for thought (sorry). Alexandra Sims
In UK cinemas from Mar 30.
The days of boring, bland vegan food are long gone, so it’s only right that Shoreditch should get a new vegan junk food spot this spring. Following in the footsteps of vegan ‘fried chicken’ joint Temple of Seitan and taco pros Club Mexicana, The Vurger Co is going from pop-up to permanent and settling down in Richmix Square to serve Londoners portions of banging, meat-free soul food. Massive, messy, plant-based burgers are its speciality. And not a bowl of dry lentils in sight. Ellie Walker-Arnott
Remember Queen Elizabeth Hall? That beautiful brick fortress on the South Bank? Of course you do, but it’s been closed since 2015. Old QEH started flagging after hosting one too many shows, and needed a costly refurb to get some light and life back into the old brut-alist. Queeny will be back in action come April with a shiny new auditorium, better lighting and new decor. But enough about the paint job – it’s the programming that counts, and QEH has a great line-up ready to roll from April. Both Isabella Rossellini and Isabelle Huppert will be performing one-woman shows in the 1,000-seater space. If any other London venues were hoping to capitalise on that mysterious, mature European class, tough luck. Queen Elizabeth Hall just maxed it out. Katie McCabe