What to Do in London – January 2020
We might be winding down the twelve days of Christmas, but the London calendar is full of things to do. Whether it is affordable theatre beyond the West End, avant garde photography, a festival of lights or welcoming in the ‘Year of the Rat’ at London’s Chinese New Year celebration, Pop Culture Beast has ideas that will cut through the January 2020 gloom.
LEONARDO: EXPERIENCE A MASTERPIECE
500 years after his death, Leonardo remains one of the world’s most popular artists – and surely one you can claim to have heard of. The National Gallery’s Leonardo: Experience a Masterpiece provides an immersive exploration of his genius as a painter, giving us multi-sensory experiences presented across four separate rooms including a makeshift chapel like the one in which the genius worked.
through January 26th www.nationalgallery.org.uk
NAN GOLDIN: SIRENS
Nan Goldin isn’t shy – her photographic works illuminate
sexuality, AIDS, and here, at the Marian Goodman Gallery, mostly addiction. ‘Sirens’ is Goldin’s first solo show in London for more than 15 years and the American-born photographer is currently waging war on the powers that be that are flooding the world with opiates. There are trippy videos, photos, and a strong point of view.
through January 11 www.mariangoodman.com
GO VEGAN (FOR THE MONTH) AT A BURGER PLACE
Londoners know Bill’s locations as a place to get a good burger, but as a lot of us are doing Veganuary, are there any options for us? Yep. Bill’s was founded by a former greengrocer and the chain is leaning into the trend. For January, they are offering seven additional vegan specials on the menu, including two new vegan desserts that can be purchased for just £5 each when you buy a vegan main course.
Through January 31st @billsrestaurant
WORLD DARTS CHAMPIONSHIP
Headlines were made when Fallon Sherrock recently scored a win in co-ed darts competition last month (no way, she’s a lady!), so expect extra rowdy (and they are always rowdy) crowds at the BDO World Professional Darts Championship at the Indigo stage at the O2. 40 men and 16 women compete for the coveted title.
January 4th – 12th www.bdodarts.com
LONDON INTERNATIONAL MIME FESTIVAL
Stop making jokes and give it a try. The London International Mime Festival includes live art, physical and circus-theatre, mask, puppetry, movement and object theatre. It’s more than trying to escape an invisible box – take the kids and open your mind.
January 8th – February 2nd www.mimelondon.com
LONDON SHORT FILM FESTIVAL
When the Oscars roll around, you’ll win the office pool as you’ll be prepared for the Shorts category. This is the 17th edition of the London Short Film Festival and there are plenty of new releases to see, as well as short films that have created a buzz in international competitions and are tipped for Oscars.
10th -19th January www.shortfilms.org.uk
NO TROUSERS ON THE TUBE DAY
The most intriguing “event” on this list and it’s just that – this is the day to ride the tube sans pants. The No Trousers Tube Ride encourages people to jump on various tube trains, and seek out fellow bare-leggers for that knowing nod. Why? No idea.
12th January Facebook page
You want a bit of creepiness – this time try the theatre instead of the movies. Dark and unsettling, FIX is the debut psychological
thriller by Bruntwood Prize-longlisted writer, Julie Tsang. Responding to a call-out, a repairman finds himself inexplicably drawn to an old woman and her house in the woods. At first it seems like a simple fix, but as a storm starts to close in, he is forced to confront the ghosts from his past.
January 14th- February 1st www.pleasance.co.uk
SEE THE WINTER LIGHTS AT CANARY WHARF
The award-winning lights and arts exhibition returns to Canary Wharf in January for a sixth year. The steel-and-glass business district will be transformed by over 25 spectacular installations, leaving the dark winter evenings aglow. The spectacle will showcase light art and interactive installations by some of the most innovative artists across the globe.
January 16-25th, starting at 4pm www.canarywharf.com
MINDFUL DRINKING FESTIVAL
Going sober for the month? The Mindful Drinking Festival offers an insight into the alcohol-free drinks available these days, including beers, wines and ciders. Try and buy the drinks, learn more, and white-knuckle along. Come on, by this point you’re halfway done.
January 18th-19th www.mindfuldrinkingfestival.com
RU PAUL’S DRAG CON
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK has been a major hit, and now you can get more, more, more. Your favourite cast members are making the scene at RuPaul’s Drag Con. Art, dancing, and whaaaat? a Kids Zone, too. You need not show up dressed to the nines, but, why not?
18th -19th January Rupaulsdragcon.com/
The former It Bites frontman is reliably odd and quite good fun – I was turned on to his music by the Rock Solid podcast. Expect pop-prog-rock and more. If you’re a fan, you know this will be a great show at the intimate Bush Hall; if you’re a newcomer, just Youtube “Too Much Saturn” and “Whole New World”, and you’ll be hooked.
January 19th www.bushhallmusic.co.uk
GO BROWSE THE LONDON ART FAIR
Look, buy, and even learn if you attend one of the many talks. The focus is on modern and contemporary pieces, with galleries from all over London exhibiting works of artists old and new.
January 22nd – 26th www.londonartfair.co.uk
The traditional end of the Christmas season is the “twelfth night”, so this play pops up a lot in January. Sneaky Rhombus Collective presents Shakespeare’s dark comedy of mistaken identity (of course), justice and morality in Vienna in the lovely space of the Greenwich Theatre.
January 23rd – 25th www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk
THE POLITICAL HISTORY OF SMACK AND CRACK
Not Shakespeare. It is ’80s England and cities are burning, politically and literally, as the people are rioting and getting high. Following sold-out runs at Soho Theatre and Edinburgh Festival Fringe, this acclaimed production begins its UK tour this January, so if you’re in Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham or Sheffield, this is a must see.
January 22nd – February @smackandcrack
CELEBRATE CHINESE NEW YEAR
It’s the Year of the Rat, so let’s celebrate, not exterminate. Kicking off at 10am (yay, it’s a Saturday) the massive Chinese New Year celebration will spill out of Soho and fill most of the West End with music, acrobatic and activities. Family fun and of course, lots of food.
January 25th www.thelondonchinatown.org.uk
POPCITY UK vol 5
World-renowned dance artists and the UK Hip Hop and Popping community are gathering to choose the acts to represent the UK at the Popcity Finals in East Asia in December 2020. Go get in the groove and watch dancers of all ages do things with their bodies that you can only dream of.
January 25th, 11am-Midnight Fiya House website
If you’re out and about in the UK on the night of the 25th you very well might come across men in kilts, happy from the drink and spouting poetry. It’s Burns Night, a traditional event celebrating the life of poet Robert Burns. Scots of all flavours will mark the night, and you should too, at many events across Britain.
PICASSO AND PAPER
So you know Leonardo, and you also know Picasso. This Royal
Academy exhibition concentrates on his papers – not only completed sketches but notes, scribbles, and first drafts of monumental works. A fascinating look at how the sausage was made.
25 January-13 April www.royalacademy.org.uk
Pop Culture Beast loves the Vault Festival – January 2020 wouldn’t be complete without this collection of boundary pushing independent theatre productions in London’s coolest underground venue (literally, under Waterloo station). Eight jam-packed weeks, 500 shows, more than 2,700 diverse artists, there’s something for everyone.
January 28th through March www.vaultfestival.com
ADVENTURE FILMS, AND WITH CAMPFIRES!
More short films but unlike the Short Film Festival, these are definitely more wild – they are all adventure-focused. Experience freediving under ice, mountaineering while maintaining a friendship, being a top surfer in Iceland and more, all shown at the beautiful Round Chapel in Hackney. Arrive early for pre-show campfires and marshmallows outside the chapel and the pop up bar.
January 31st www.secretadventures.org
Check out more PCB Reviews
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An evening of wine and storytelling with Dar Williams
Leah goes into an Ancient Winter
A former ABC National, Dallas and Atlanta radio personality, Martina O'Boyle is now making movies and covering culture in London, Dublin, and as far in Europe as the cheapie flights will take her, for Pop Culture Beast.