Laura Lee Davies is senior contributing editor at Time Out London. She spends too much time down the front at gigs. Not wise for a specs wearer.
The 100 best children’s books
Unveiled! Time Out London’s 100 best books for kids, toddlers and teenagers. From classics to new works, picture books to sophisticated epics, here are reads to amuse and amaze, to offer first experiences and to fire young imaginations. We invited the Time Out team, staff at London’s best children’s bookshops and many contemporary authors and illustrators to name their ten best children’s books. Special thanks go to the writers and artists creating brilliant books who took the time to nominate their favourites – Charlie Higson, Sophie Kinsella, Terry Deary, Cressida Cowell and Chris Riddell. Our list is based more on passion than science and it’s worth pointing out that there are some writers who are so prolific that their votes were split across their repertoire. Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Morpurgo and David Walliams are all great writers who didn’t make it into our final 100. However, we’re really pleased with our list of the best children’s books and we hope it will inspire your family’s own adventures into children’s literature. Check out London’s best bookshops.
101 things to do in London with kids
Whether you’re looking to entertain a restless toddler, a curious five-year-old, a noisy ten-year-old or a bored teenager, you’re living in the right city. There are endless things to do with kids in London. Many of the city's museums and galleries have special drop-in sessions where children can get creative or try hands-on activities and there’s a wealth of outdoor options, from high-concept adventure playgrounds to gorgeous open parks. Even better, many of the greatest places for families are free to visit, stretching your budget further for those must-do attractions that aren’t. Read on to find the best things to entertain or amaze your family.
101 things to do in London with kids: babies and toddlers
Nowadays, even the tiniest tykes are able to start enjoying London culture as soon as they can open their eyes, as many of the capital’s parks, theatres and museums put on events and activities designed to delight under-threes. Some are geared to grown-ups with babes in arms and others are tailored to appeal to active crawlers and the newly walking. Our list of London’s best activities for babies and toddlers reveals a whole new side of London that you’ll only discover once you have little 'uns in tow. SEE THE FULL LIST: 101 things to do in London with kids. This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, click here.
Tony Elliott, 1947-2020
Tony Elliott was London. From the age of two, when he moved with his family from Reading to South Kensington, his life was inexorably linked to the city he loved. As a student in the ’60s, he quickly plugged into the city’s countercultural scene. He founded Time Out as a radical listings magazine at 21, and steered it – successfully and (mostly) profitably – through four decades of rapid social change. He mentored a generation of independent-minded magazine publishers, editors and journalists, fought for social justice, minority rights and the conservation of London’s historic buildings, and, behind the scenes, was an indefatigable supporter of the capital’s arts and culture industries. From the ’90s onwards he took Time Out global, launching magazines in 60-odd cities plus a definitive series of travel guide books, a website covering more than 300 destinations, and six editor-curated Time Out Markets. But despite all that globetrotting, Tony remained a lifelong Londoner, and it was here in the capital that he died on July 17, at the age of 73. It’s hard to overstate how much Tony’s ‘big idea’ changed London and the world. By launching Time Out, he embarked on a lifelong mission to make the city’s best happenings (from weird art and subcultural club nights to food, drink and shopping) more accessible to more people than ever before. Long before the internet, Time Out democratised culture, making anyone who picked up a copy an instant insider. That was entirely down to Tony’s
LGBT History Month in London: what's on
LGBTQ+ history shouldn’t be contained to a single, short month every year. Thankfully, in London you can find some of the best queer club nights in the world, along with special events that celebrate LGBTQ+ life, all year round. But things really hit their peak in February, when hundreds of talks, workshops and festivals appear for LGBTQ+ History Month (February 2020), and this year is no different. There are free film screenings, alt-cabaret and a queer takeover of Queen’s House to choose from, so whether you’re L, G, B, T, Q, I or straight, prepare to be enlightened, inspired and entertained. Here’s our round-up of the London celebrations and activities.
Las 10 mejores cosas que hacer con niños en Londres
Tanto si tenéis un bebé inquieto, curioso o incluso ruidoso, o un adolescente al que hay que entretener, aquí encontraréis varias cosas increíbles que hacer en Londres. Muchos museos y galerías cuentan con sesiones especiales para niños para que los más pequeños puedan explorar su creatividad o participar en actividades, y también un sinfín de opciones al aire libre para cuando quieran estar correteando. Además, muchos de los mejores lugares recomendados son gratuitos, así que por suerte no afectarán mucho a vuestra economía familiar. Con esta lista sobre las mejores cosas que hacer con niños en Londres podréis disfrutar de la ciudad en familia, pero Londres también ofrece un montón de buenos restaurantes, otros donde comer muy barato e infinidad de lugares icónicos para descubrir lo mejor de la ciudad.NO TE LO PIERDAS: las mejores cosas que hacer en Londres.
Educational days out that feel nothing like school
School’s out, but that doesn’t mean the learning has to stop there. We’ve found a range of great summer days out in London that will get kids excited about natural history, art, science and more – all without a classroom in sight. Here’s to planning a fun (and eductional) summer holiday in the city. RECOMMENDED: Summer holidays in London
Halloween make-up tips at The London Dungeon
Natalie Cartwright, make-up artist and displays assistant at The London Dungeon is adding the finishing touches to our young bubonic plague victim. Eleanor, sitting in the make-up chair has, in the space of 25 minutes, gone from fresh-faced 12-year-old to blotchy, scab-encrusted London peasant circa 1665. Does she look good? Put it this way, she wouldn't make it to Christmas. As children all over London prepare for Halloween night, we thought we'd get some advice from the experts. So we've turned up at The London Dungeon after closing time with four Year Eights hoping for looks so horrid that even their own parents will board up the doors on Trick-or-Treat night. With 18 live-action walk-through sets and a wicked sense of humour, the South Bank ís home for truly horrible histories scares the pants off thousands of visitors every year. Along with painstakingly researched set design and special effects that often literally spring from the darkened walkways, the team of actors at The London Dungeon creates an evocative fiction from the facts of London's most gruesome historic moments. Happily for them, their official make-up partners, M-A-C, don't just specialise in making faces look pretty. As Natalie opened up her box of tricks (with a few extra potions sourced from Charles H Fox theatrical make-up store in Covent Garden, one of London's best fancy dress shops) our four young models were clearly ready to pick up tips which might come in handy to secure the odd sick day off sch
Dublin for culture vultures
If one destination could inspire you to pick up a pen or a paintbrush (or even a guitar) purely by walking around it, it would be Dublin. The setting for James Joyce’s most famous works continues to nurture dynamic creativity today. Temple Bar is Dublin’s ‘cultural quarter’ but go further – hear live music pouring from bars all over town, see stunning art in galleries large and small and fall in love with Dublin’s literary pubs.
Dublin for style hunters
Whether you’re a fashionista in search of one-off style, you’re looking for design inspiration for your home, or you just want to indulge in selfie heaven, Dublin is a feast for the senses. There are shops set in Georgian townhouses, the Daniel Libeskind-designed Grand Canal Theatre and the restaurant in the basement of the Dublin Writers Museum boasts a Michelin star.
Dublin for romantics
Looking for somewhere smoochy for your next romantic getaway? Dublin is actually home to the relics of St Valentine! However, you don’t need to make a pilgrimage to Whitefriar Street Church to get in the mood for love. Instead, stroll through the city’s pretty streets or along the banks of the Liffey, get out of town for secluded days by the seashore or spend a lazy Sunday morning in a cosy café. Eat, shop for that special gift or wander the art galleries – many of the best ones are free, so it’s okay if you spend more time looking at each other than at the paintings.
Dublin for adrenaline junkies
Yes there are beautiful streets to walk down, brilliant shops and top-class restaurants, but Dublin has a wild side, too. Its docklands and river are the perfect setting for waterborne thrills and, just out of town, the parks, mountains and coastline have plenty to test your nerve and lift your spirits
Listings and reviews (35)
One of the most famous river crossings in the world, Tower Bridge isn’t actually that old, at over 125 years. Still, the fact that it lifts up in the middle when large vessels are passing underneath makes it an icon that most children probably picture in their minds when singing ‘London Bridge is falling down’. Planes have flown through it, David Beckham has steered a speedboat underneath it and in 1952 a double-decker bus really did ‘leap’ over the gap when the bridge started to lift without warning. When it was finally finished in 1894 – working having begun in 1886 – Tower Bridge was steam-powered (seriously) and was considered a miracle of Victorian engineering. In 1974 it underwent a transformation, with an electro-hydraulic system installed, but you can still see the old steam engines inside the Engine Rooms. You can also access the walkways overhead, where you can take in the stunning views, not just up and down the Thames, but of the road below as well. Since 2014 – the bridge’s 120th year – there’s been an 11-metre glass floor in place of the upper walkway, so those with the stomach for it can gaze 42 metres down, or for something special, take part in a morning yoga class. In peak visiting hours or during bridge lifts it’s not always easy to guarantee what time you will be able to access the walkways, and the bridge lifts actually take place more often than you’d think. Raising Tower Bridge’s two bascules is a service provided free of charge by the City of London Co
‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ Night Screenings at Warner Bros Studio Tour London
See the The Crimes of Grindelwald with drinks and nibbles, a special introduction and an evening tour of The Making of Harry Potter? Yes please! Here's how… When any event at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London is announced it sells out faster than Gellert Grindelwald can escape prison and get back to his evil plot for pure-blood domination. But today there's an extra chance to get in on November's exclusive sell-out screening events. Two extra evening sessions have been added – on Saturday November 17 and Sunday November 18 and tickets for these go on sale Friday November 2 at 10am. It's for over-18s only and it is £149 per ticket, but this is no ordinary film show… You get to take The Making of Harry Potter Tour, walking into the Great Hall and around sets made and filmed right here for the Harry Potter films and, of course, the new Fantastic Beasts series. Plus there's a chance to see costumes from The Crimes of Grindelwald (not on view anywhere else). You get hot food and a glass of wine, beer or soft drink in the Backlot Cafe, and a choice of drink to take into the cinema with you, along with a bag of sweets or popcorn. Munch discreetly, because you won't want to miss a word of the special pre-film introduction in the cinema from Pierre Bohanna, Head Prop Maker for all eight Harry Potter films and the Fantastic Beasts saga. Then sit back and find out how Newt Scamanger's wish for a relatively quiet Wizardining life has been dashed once again, on a dazzling adventure that
St Paul's Cathedral
Iconic though St Paul’s may be, the Cathedral as we know and love it today is in fact version six, at least. Mark five was razed to the ground by the Great Fire of London in 1666 – in fact mark three was also burnt out of existence by fire in 1087 – and mark four fell to ruins under Henry VIII’s leadership and parts of it were used to build Somerset House. Thankfully Sir Christopher Wren’s design, which was completed in 1708, survived 12 monarchs and two world wars, and remains one of the key places of worship for high-profile weddings and funerals. Already buried in the Crypt at St Paul’s you’ll find (should you be so inclined to look) Admiral Lord Nelson, Sir Christopher Wren and the Duke of Wellington. These can be accessed with a sightseeing ticket, which will also get you into the unquestionably cool Whispering Gallery. Not so much a gallery, but a walkway that leads around the inside of the St Paul’s most recognisable bit – its dome. While on this walkway you’ll be able to hear someone speaking from the opposite end, even if they’re whispering, thanks to some impressive early eighteenth-century acoustics. There are several different tour options depending on how long you’ve got to explore. If you’ve paid for main admission you’ll be treated to an introductory talk that lasts around 15 or 20 minutes before being taken on a 90-minute guided tour (available Monday to Saturday, 10am-2pm). But if you pay a little more, you can also join a more detailed, Triforum Tour that la
When the British Museum was opened in 1759 it was the first national museum to be open to the public anywhere in the world. It was free to visit (and still is) so that any ‘studious and curious persons’ could pass through its doors and look upon the strange objects collected from all over the globe. Centuries before television, this was a chance for anyone to stand in front of specimens and antiquities and connect with other cultures, ancient and contemporary. The first exhibits consisted of the collection of physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane – ancient coins and medals, books and natural remains – and through the centuries since, it has become home to the most significant finds made by British explorers at home and abroad, like the Rosetta Stone from Ancient Egypt and the Parthenon sculpture from the Acropolis in Athens. In recent years there have been campaigns by other nations who want some of their historic treasures returned. (The issue over who has a legal right to the Elgin Marbles was most recently taken up on behalf of Greece by Amal Clooney.) However, the British Museum remains one of the world’s most popular attractions, with six million visitors a year. And although many of its priceless artefacts are protected by glass cases, the museum is anything but a hushed old resting place. As soon as you walk into the magnificent glass-roofed Great Court you can hear the buzz of students, tourists and Londoners who have just popped in for lunch among the treasures. T
Established in 1824 as a new art collection for the enjoyment and education of all, the National Gallery first consisted of 38 pictures, put on display at a house on Pall Mall while a purpose-built gallery was constructed. There are now over 2,300 works of art, from medieval classics to world-famous pieces by the French Impressionists. The new museum opened in 1838, located in Trafalgar Square because it was deemed to be at the heart of London – easy for rich people to visit from the west by carriage and also convenient for poor people coming by foot from east London. Free to visit, the National Gallery is still as welcoming to all as it was back then. Anyone can swing by and gaze on Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ for ten minutes on their way to work, or stay all day and admire JMW Turner’s Bequest or Cézanne’s ‘Bathers’. The gallery has blockbuster exhibitions, music concerts and courses that do carry an entry charge, but most of the collection isn’t ticketed, and there are free talks each day, which you don’t need to book in advance. These take a closer look at a different painting or theme each time. There are free sessions for families on Sundays and during school holidays, too. These give children aged five to 12 the chance to experience the grand gallery atmosphere whilst getting creative in drawing and art workshops designed for their level of interest. These are drop-in, but demand can be high, so you might have to wait for spaces unless you arrive early.
Imagination is overrated. Why try to envisage the corridors that Henry VIII once wandered when you can wander the very same halls yourself? That’s one of the coolest things about London’s Historic Royal Palaces, because you can stand in spots where British history was made, for instance, where Catherine Parr and Henry VIII were wed (Hampton Court Palace) or where less fortunate wife Anne Boleyn was beheaded (Tower of London). While Kensington Palace isn’t as large as the likes of Hampton Court or the notorious Tower, it has a lot going for it. For one, the modest (in comparison) Jacobean architecture and impeccably groomed grounds are absolutely stunning, but it also boasts a love affair with some of the nation’s favourite princesses. Queen Victoria was born and raised here, and in fact you can see the bedroom in which she was awoken on June 20 1837 and told she was to be queen. The Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret lived at Kensington Palace for 42 years, and Diana the Princess of Wales took up residence at the palace with Prince Charles. Both Diana and Margaret were renowned for their forward-thinking fashion sense, which not only aped the trends of the time, but also influenced the outfits of those, well, less royal. It’s no surprise then that Kensington Palace has come to be known as the most glamorous of all the royal residences. And, fittingly, it's currently hosting 'Diana: Her Fashion Story', a celebration of Diana's life but also a major new exhibition at the palace,
Churchill War Rooms
Few would dispute that Winston Churchill’s unique leadership and ability to distil Britain’s fortitude during World War II played a major part in the victory against Hitler and Nazi Germany, making the War Rooms all the more appealing for anyone with a fascination for the era. Beneath Westminster, the Cabinet War Rooms were at the heart of Churchill’s wartime strategies. They were built and completed a week before war broke out. Here, a devoted team of men and women received key information from critical locations all over Europe and north Africa, helping the Prime Minister and his inner circle to plan their moves, and keeping the King and the armed forces fully briefed on daily progress. Now part of the Imperial War Museum, the Churchill War Rooms have been preserved as they were in 1945. See the Map Room as it would have been, operating day and night during the conflict, and get a sense of this underground warren at its most frenetic. As well as the key aspects of wartime government revealed here, it’s in the little details that you get a sense of life in the bunker. For example, there was a daily-updated weather noticeboard so that workers knew what was going on above ground. During air raids, the notice would be changed to ‘windy’ as a joke. There is a lot to take in, so you can expect your visit to last about an hour and half, but there’s also the Churchill Museum to explore, with audio guides available in a wide range of languages. It may be a bunker, but there’s room d
Much like the Millenium Dome – or, as its known to those who don’t remember the twentieth century, the O2 Arena – the London Eye was built to celebrate the year 2000. But unlike the ill-fated Dome, the Eye was a resounding success, and it’s hard to picture London’s skyline without it. Actually, this astonishingly popular attraction boasts a mouthful of a title: the highest cantilevered observation wheel in the world. It’s hardly any surprise that tourists arrive in their hordes to climb on. Queues are generally pretty hefty; the ovular pods each carry a maximum of 25 people to a height of 135 metres. It rarely ever comes to a full halt – except for upkeep and to allow visitors who are elderly or have mobility issues on – so you won’t be standing on ceremony when you get on! Before you know it, you’re halfway into the sky and taking in the sweeping vistas of the Thames and wider London. Before that, though, you begin with a brief 4D film in County Hall to witness a series of dazzling aerial shots of the capital – a nice prologue to what you’ll see first-hand. The pods themselves are surprisingly spacious, which means you’ll be able to roam and find a decent view. And on a clear day, you can even catch sight of Windsor Castle in the distance. Oh, and if the Queen’s opened the curtains at Buck House. Thirty minutes later you’ll find yourselves back on the ground as the wheel completes one full rotation. The ride is smooth and steady, so any age will enjoy the trip – so long as t
The Making of Harry Potter: Behind the Seams at Warner Bros Studio Tour
Whether you've been to The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros Studio Tour before or not, this summer there's an exclusive new extra that diehard fans and lovers of costumery won't want to miss. Behind the Seams goes deeper into the craft and creative process, whisking you off into the world of the Costume Department, where over 25,000 unique items of clothing for the Wizarding World were created. From initial sketches to the finished costumes seen on screen, Behind the Seams is hosted by experts who explain how costumes were aged to look centuries old, or battle-torn, or, in the case of Aunt Marge, why 38 different costumes had to be made for just one scene! With its attention to detail, the tour is best suited to ages 12 and over. But for anyone with a passion for clothing design, this is a treat. Set in a workshop, you get to see costumes that haven't been seen before on the Studio Tour including those of Professor Sprout, Triwizard champion Cedric Diggory and even Lord Voldemort's robes – especially 'distressed' for the Battle of Hogwarts. You also get to choose your own house colours and see what you look like dressed in one of the original Hogwarts robes from the films. Tickets include regular entrance to the Tour (at peak times, the Tour is booked up months in advance, so this could be a great way to get tickets) as well as the one-hour Behind the Seams costume tour. During your regular visit, you report to one of the staff at a designated meeting point and take the
The London Dungeon
After four decades under the arches in Tooley Street, London Bridge, the city's notorious dungeons moved to the South Bank, where it's made itself at home since 2013. That may not sound like an 'orrible, stinkin' location, but believe us, they've certainly turned it into one: with genuine foul smells and real life rats. When you get there take a trip down a cobbled, shadow-laden alleyway, where you’ll join the 90-minute immersive tour that basically guides you through just how grim it was to live in London in the days of yore. Actors in Victorian garb make you jump as they recount tales of the capital’s history: some legendary, some true, all pretty awful. You’ll hear about tyrant kings, pestilential houses, murder, torture, terror and more murder. The high jinks all takes place in superb sets that gather a stonking variety of scenery, smells, rides and atmospheric lighting to make you feel like you’ve left the twenty-first century behind. You can step into the shoes of a ‘traitor’ in the days of Henry VIII, and sail downriver to the Tower of London. Plus, you can discover all there is to know about the ill-fated Gunpowder Plot from Mr Guido Fawkes himself. And you can wander the streets where Jack the Ripper prowled – and plenty more. The gross get-ups the actors have to wear are disgustingly impressive. The puss-filled sores are enough to make you heave, but hopefully you'll be distracted enough by the genuinely funny approach to the experience. And don't be embarrassed if
Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
Seven books and nine films down the line, the world has lost none of its appetite for all things Harry Potter-related. Which why Warner Bros is keeping the Hogwarts magic alive with their special exhibition, ‘The Making of Harry Potter.’ Just north of Watford you’ll find the very warehouses and movie studios that played an integral part in the making of the 'Harry Potter' film franchise. When the crew weren’t at real locations, they were creatively mocking up most of the scenes here in Leavesden. And they’re still standing strong. Given the sheer volume and Potter nerds, Warner Bros decided to leave everything where it was and expand the studios, so other films could still be produced here without interruption. It truly is a magical place. The props, sets and costumes have been lovingly maintained for what has become a permanent exhibition of the memorabilia. Wander through the workshops, storerooms and life-sized sets that were used for the series. Make no mistake, fans will be in heaven here. They can step into some of the most iconic locations from the movies: the Great Hall at Hogwarts, Diagon Alley and, of course, Platform 9¾ with the gleaming Hogwarts Express steam train. General cinephiles will also appreciate learning more about behind-the-scenes trickery: the special effects, animatronics and methods by which more outlandish characters were brought to life. You can also get your chops around a flagon of butterbeer (don’t worry, as fans know, it’s kid-friendly), and
SEA LIFE London Aquarium
It’s not every day that you see sharks and penguins in London, but on the South Bank you can. Almost literally, too, if it wasn’t for the fact that Sea Life London Aquarium is closed on Christmas day. Thousands of tourists and local alike visit this old council building daily, which has been home to a remarkable watery wonderland since 1997. Upon entering – over a glass window that peeks down to the Pacific waters display – you’ll follow a winding route through every attraction in the building. Wade into Shark Walk before reaching the Atlantic Depths (look out for sand eels and octopuses here) and then drifting into Tidal Reach, which houses creatures common to British waters. Life gets a little more exotic and vibrant as the display merges into the Ray Lagoon and the Dive Discovery tropical waters. Along with rockpool displays of brightly coloured anemones and the gliding green sea turtles that swoop past overhead as you walk through the Ocean Tunnel, there’s a chance to get down deep with the sharks as you peer into the Pacific Wreck gallery and see if you can find Nemo among the clownfish in the Coral Reef zone. Visit during off-peak hours if you can, in order to avoid the usual hordes and get a better glimpse of the wild inhabitants. Like the piranhas, for example, the poison dart frogs and Cuban crocs in the rainforest section. Also see if you can time your visit with a feeding, because that's when everything comes out of any hiding places they might have been lurking in
Seven awesome kid-friendly days out in Essex and East Anglia
Been to the Tower of London so often you know all the ravens by name? Run through the fountains at South Bank until the kids have shrunk a shoe size? When you’re tired of London this summer take the kids out of the city on a new adventure to the seaside towns of Essex or the wide open spaces of East Anglia. All the events and trip ideas below are easy to reach by train with Greater Anglia. Advance fares start from £5 to Southend-on-Sea* – so all you’ve got to do is book ahead, pack your picnic and have a great day out! Summer Holiday Adventure Jul 28 If the kids are already seasoned theatregoers, try something different on a day out to Norwich. This immersive children’s show at Stage Two at the Norwich Theatre Royal is specially created for kids aged two to six and their families (£6). Make your own passports and set off by plane to somewhere hot, fuelled by your imaginations. Build sandcastles, swim through bubbles, have tea with a mermaid or maybe get swallowed by a whale! Liverpool Street to Norwich by train with Greater Anglia Ipswich Maritime Festival Aug 19 and 20 Do you have a budding Sailor Sam or Steamboat Suzy in your family? This free festival is the ideal excuse to explore the seaside town of Ipswich. With decorated ships and boats, costumed historical re-enactments, music, rides, Punch and Judy shows, children’s activities and lots of stalls, there’s lots to see and do, and if you go on the Sunday you’ll catch the fire performers and the firework finale. Li
City envy: we want a rooftop science park like Copenhagen
Don’t get us wrong, we love our own Science Museum in South Kensington, but it’s outclassed by the Experimentarium in Copenhagen. Recently overhauled with a huge range of interactive experiences, the museum reopened this spring and is sexier than ever – from its copper-clad helix staircase to the slick film theatre to the Labyrinth of Light, where you can try to out-manoeuvre your own shadow. But the best bit is the rooftop, where colourful touch-sensitive pads let you create light, sound and music in a game that combines brain training and tag. You’ll see a crane and huge building blocks up there too, to let kids get behind the wheel and take control, creating their own world. Considering London’s obsession with all things rooftop, we’d love to see a bit of alfresco science fun over here. Stuck here for the summer? Here are loads of great things to do with kids in London.
Five alternative things to do this Valentine's Day
London does Valentine’s Day in all manner of weird and wonderful ways. So forget red roses or boxes of chocolates and try one of these superior quirky alternatives. The Bloody Brunch Club Valentine's Special Among the many pre-Feb 14 Valentine's warm-ups is this loved-up version of a popular boozy brunch club. Angled as more of a party rather than a quiet, couply affair, there'll be a special Valentine's menu over three sittings over the day, including a singles' sesh for those searching for love. Oh, and you can upgrade your ticket for bottomless bloody marys if you're thirsty for more than just love. Haunt, N16 7UY. Sat Feb 11. £19.50-£29.50. Viking Aphrodisiac History Masterclass Forget strawberries and champagne, this year you're invited to step back through the ages and enjoy Valentine's Day with a historic twist. The Queen of Hoxton Rooftop will play host to a seductive still life, where everything on the table was at one point or another considered an aphrodisiac. Presented by food historian Tasha Marks, you’ll sip, sniff and taste your way through 2000 years of frisky foodstuffs. Queen of Hoxton, EC2A 3JX. Sun Feb 12. £20. Valentine's Day Dog Walk Stroll and chat with fellow dog lovers on a walk this weekend in aid of the All Dogs Matter charity. Here’s a conversation starter: if Julia Roberts had been in a film about foiling the marriage of two pals’ pets, would it have been called ‘My Best Friend’s Man’s Best Friend’s Wedding’? Various locations – check event web
Five great events to check out at LGBT History Month
As 2017 is the fiftieth anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act – decriminalising male homosexuality in England and Wales – there’s an added sense of celebration to February’s rainbow of LGBT events Even the words lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender have been overtaken by more fluid descriptions of how people express their sexuality. It’s a myth that lesbianism was never illegal because Queen Victoria didn’t believe it existed. However, it was only in 2000 that individuals could at last be openly LGBT in the armed forces; trans people got the right to change their legal gender as recently as 2005; and in Northern Ireland same-sex marriage still hasn’t been legalised. So, there is some cause for partying, but there’s also a lot of work still to be done. Through 2017 there are several blockbuster LGBT events, including Tate Britain’s ‘Queer British Art 1861-1967’ exhibition (Apr 5-Oct 1). And this month alone, you’ll find all manner of arts, education and social events taking place. Here are a few highlights, so whether you’re L, G, B, T, Q, I or straight, prepare to be enlightened, inspired and entertained. And whatever you are, just be. Be a party animal Long Live Queen James An evening of revelry inspired by James I’s openly gay lifestyle. There will be drinking, specially devised playlets by performance artist Scottee and playwright Mark Ravenhill, and workshops exploring the Stuart penchant for cross-dressing and wearing make-up. Banqueting House. Feb 22. £10. Be in
Six great London rooms for days out indoors
It’s cold and wet outside and you spent all the money in the party season, but hey, shake off that midwinter misery by exploring London’s greatest free indoor spaces. We've picked some of our favourite spots to stay in when you’re going out. Walk through history in the Monument Court at Sir John Soane’s Museum Lewis Bush This fascinating (free-entry) museum in Holborn boasts an impressive ‘Monument Court’ crammed with architectural artefacts and curiosities spanning thousands of years. Think of a number in the Science Museum’s new maths room Nick Guttridge The grandly named ‘Mathematics: The Winton Gallery’ is a brand new cathedral to calculation. Browse its exhibits and marvel at the beauty of the gallery’s Zaha Hadid design – inspired by maths and physics. Take your sense of smell on a tour of the Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie at Harrods An olfactory arcadia on the sixth floor of this famous department store, the Haute Parfumerie features a carefully curated selection of fine scents, handpicked by fragrance guru Roja Dove. Viagra for the nose. Free your mind in the Wellcome Collection’s reading room Get a better understanding of health, medicine and your own body at the Wellcome Collection. Its funky reading room is the perfect place to chill out and contemplate your navel (and other parts of your anatomy). Feast on style in the Designer Maker User space at the Design Museum Luke Hayes Opened in autumn 2016, the relocated Design Museum is as beautiful to look a
Six things we learned at Southbank Centre’s ‘Adventures in Moominland’ exhibition
Who knew that Moominvalley was on the Northern line? Setting off from the Southbank Centre’s Spirit Level, you pass through a portal to Tove Jansson’s worlds real and imagined – from an artist’s studio to dense forests, over a rocky beach and through snowscapes – to understand more about the inspiration for one of the world’s most loved children’s book series. Beyond the chance to gaze on Jansson’s beautiful artwork, here’s what we discovered at the Southbank Centre’s new Adventures in Moominland exhibition. 1. If it wasn’t for crumbs in bed, the Moomins wouldn’t exist. As a child, Tove Jansson was a bit of a midnight feaster, raiding her parents' larder for snacks. Her uncle used to tell her that if she made a mess, a nasty Moomintroll would be lured from his lair. The Moomintroll became an outlet for her feelings and eventually evolved into the loveable creature we know today. 2. Nature gave birth to Moomintroll. His shape is inspired by clouds and snow. 3. The evils of war couldn’t destroy Moomin magic. The fear of comets (a theme in the Moomin story) reflects the reality of life in Finland under fire in World War II. Jansson and her friends would paint and listen to jazz in her studio to keep calm while bombs went off in the city outside. 4. Jansson’s art started small. Tove Jansson’s early work was often drawn very small because her mother Signe made a living designing stamps for the Finnish postal service. 5. Art imitates life. Tove Jansson is reflected in t