Hibernation is not an option when winter in London is this good. The temperatures might be plummeting but your social life is heating up, with exciting new launches, ace exhibitions and great new things to do in London. Sip steaming hot drinks on a central London rooftop, see amazing theatre productions, gaze at lovely light displays, immerse yourself in greenery, check out the return of one of our favourite art galleries or sweat it out at a month-long wellness festival. Here's your guide to making the most of London in December, through the New Year and beyond into January and February 2018.
RECOMMENDED: More amazing things to do in London
The best things to do in London this winter
Visit ‘seven levels of culture’ in a former car park at this massive new Peckham development. Peckham gallery Bold Tendencies and the summer rooftop spot Frank’s Café already call the car park home, but now the rest of the building has had a complete overhaul. The first five tiers have studios for artists, screen printers and independent media companies including gal-dem, a magazine by and for women of colour. But the top two floors are a concrete playground filled with food vendors such as Hao Hao Chi for Chinese street food and saucy London chicken wing bros Drums & Flats. The people behind Old Street’s The Magic Roundabout will be launching Near & Far, a Miami-esque cocktail bar, and there’s a new music venue in the mix too: Ghost Notes. And if you’re looking for a cheap night out, it’s a great spot for a game of hide and seek.
Don your spandex for this immersive exhibition charting ABBA's music, lyrics, creative process and influence. Southbank Centre’s exhibition brings together objects from private archives and ABBA The Museum in Stockholm, including previously unseen archive material, original costumes, handwritten notes and sketches, personal photographs, music and instruments, album artwork, photography and film. All the spangly Scandi pop is set against the backdrop of 1970s Britain, examining how ABBA infiltrated the popular consciousness during a financial crisis, a wave of strikes and a three-day working week. Mamma Mia!
Keep honing your skating skills in Canary Wharf. The business district's soaring towers lend the ice rink an imposing backdrop, and some exciting extras help it to keep up with its extravagant surroundings. The bar will be serving seasonal drinks and visitors who don't fancy skating can admire those on the ice (or giggle at them trying not to fall over) from the heated outdoor viewing terrace.
The biggest Broadway musical of the decade, ‘Hamilton’ has finally arrived in London. You don’t have to be a die-hard theatre nerd or history geek to appreciate that this is big news. The hip hop musical about Alexander Hamilton, the flamboyant first US Secretary of the Treasury, was written by actor, writer and all-round genius Lin-Manuel Miranda, and the odds are you’ve already given the original cast recording a whirl on Spotify. If you haven’t already got your mitts on tickets, don’t despair, you haven’t thrown away your shot to see this spoken-word masterpiece. There are two lotteries: in person at the theatre before each performance and a weekly online ballot for performances taking place the following week. We’re past patiently waitin’.
January 1 is full of good intentions. But we’ve all been there before, we know how hard New Year’s resolutions actually are to keep. Thankfully, there’s somewhere to head in January if you feel your resolve slipping. Re:Solutions at JuJu’s in Shoreditch is a month-long health and wellness festival, with dance classes to live music, Chroma Yoga sessions combining light and colour therapy, Disco Barre and dynamic pilates. There will also be thought-provoking talks and meditation workshops. We’re feeling rejuvenated already.
West London’s foodie renaissance continues with Feast Canteen, a new 350-capacity all-day restaurant hub on the ground floor of the otherwise unremarkable Kings Mall in Hammersmith. ‘Canteen’ is a bit of a misnomer: this is a clean, classy-looking space with a genuinely ace selection of eateries, with tip-top bites from taco maestros Breddos, increasingly ubiquitous burger heroes Patty & Bun, British pizza types Born & Raised and home-style Vietnamese joint Salvation in Noodles. Being from the team behind Paddington’s vibey Pergola on the Roof, we’d expect nothing less. From January.
There aren’t many writer-directors who could tell a story of small-town rape, murder, grief and guilt at the same time as taking you down all sorts of black-comic paths and having immense fun with the writing and acting along the way. But Martin McDonagh (‘In Bruges’, ‘Seven Psychopaths’) is one of them, and his bloody and ballsy third film, ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’, takes his work to a new level of versatility and surprise. In cinemas Fri Jan 12.
A city-wide collection of magical light installations are pinging into action for a four-night stretch as Lumiere London returns to brighten our streets and perk up our January for a second year. More than 40 UK and international artists will be illuminating the capital, with works shedding new light on London’s iconic architecture including Westminster Abbey and the National Theatre, plus spots in the West End, Trafalgar Square and beyond.
We love Blok's Clapton studio. The classes are tough but uplifting, and the decor is seriously swish. With its exposed brickwork and steel beams, it's like a hip minimalist restaurant but with kettlebells and boxing bags. The guys behing the boutique gym are opening a second space in Shoreditch in January 2018. That New Year health kick just got a hell of a lot easier.
Do you know what 2018 is? One of the biggest years for London art. Why? Because the Hayward Gallery is reopening its big beautiful brutalist doors after a two-year overhaul. The Hay has been teasing us with a pointy rooftop light installation by David Batchelor, but the best is yet to come. On January 25, the gallery will relaunch with a major retrospective of German photographer Andreas Gursky. Think big show-off urban landscapes and intricate compositions, like good versions of those 1990s ‘Magic Eye’ paintings. And it just so happens to be the gallery’s 50th anniversary (timed that well, right?). It’s going to be a showstopper.
Find more inspiration this winter
If you're after somewhere to stop for something sweet with a cuppa or a cooling beverage in north London, then consider heading to Holloway Road. There you'll find the light and airy milkshake and juice bar Miki's Paradise, with its cushioned benches and shabby chic decor. The more standard menu options include fruit smoothies, juices, teas and coffees, but the best reason for visiting is Miki's 'freakshakes'. These are jars of milkshake topped with all kinds of treats, including ice cream, pretzels, whole brownie squares, Oreos and ice cream cones. Sweet and savoury crepes are also on offer, as well as croissants and the brownie and shortbread toppers, which you can buy individually.