Now you’ve welcomed in 2018 with fireworks, parties or even a quiet night in, start it as you mean to go on! There are bucketfuls of great events this month, from parades to art fairs to light festivals, all designed to brighten up your January and keep you entertained.
New Year’s Day Parade | Jan 1st | Piccadilly | Free
Watch as over 10,000 participants from the UK and abroad put on the show of a lifetime, with marching bands, floats, cheerleading and more. London boroughs each enter a performance for the Borough competition, vying to win a prize of £40,000 which they can distribute to chosen charities in their area, so performers will certainly be giving it their all. The route begins at 12pm on Piccadilly and moves through lower Regent Street, Pall Mall, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and ending on Parliament Street. There are plenty of great viewing points along the route, although there are stand seats available for £30 if you book ahead. There are also a series of musical concerts which require tickets and feature some of the world’s best orchestras and choirs.
New Year’s Day 10k & Fun Run | Jan 1st | Hyde Park | £17 +
If you’re hell-bent on getting fit this year, why not start with a 10k run through the beautiful Hyde Park and Kensignton Gardens? There’s nothing better than a refreshing run, and if 10k seems a bit much, there’s also a 3k fun run you can take part in too. It does cost between £17 – £19 to participate, but it’s free to watch, so if you wanted to take a stroll and maybe be inspired, this is the perfect chance.
Geffrye Museum Farewell Party | Jan 6th – 7th | Hoxton | Free
The Geoffrye Museum is one of the most-loved small museums in London, but will be closing its doors for a grand renovation which will take two years. To say a temporary goodbye, the museum is holding a farewell weekend which will include a special Epiphany celebration on Saturday night. You can say goodbye to Christmas with a warming bonfire, traditional carols, Twelfth night cake and mulled wine to be sipped as storytellers entertain. On the Sunday there’s a full day of events scheduled, with free talks and tours, lucky dip, lawn games, rare collection tours and music from local stars.
London Mime Festival | Jan 10th – Feb 3rd | South Bank | Free
Who doesn’t like a bit of mime now and then? Before you laugh, things have changed—it’s far more sophisticated than it used to be, we promise. Running since 1977, this festival attracts some of the best performers in the world including mimers from Brazil, Mexico, the Netherlands, Switzerland and of course the UK. This isn’t the black-and-white street act you might be thinking of—there are full performances and plays as well as discussions and workshops if you want to get involved. There are various different performance areas and stages including the Barbican, Shoreditch Town Hall and Soho Theater, so check out the venues page for more details.
Short Film Festival | Jan 12th – 21st | East London, Soho | £6-£12
Named the best short film festival in the world by the Guardian Guide, this ever-growing event is screening cutting-edge and multimedia pieces in a variety of locations across the city. The schedule lists plenty of intriguing shorts and you’ll be hard pressed to select one over another, from the Friday night comedy collection to open to the triple-bill premiere of White Teeth’s specially commissioned pieces. Tickets range from £6 to £12 and there are a variety of different locations and special events including talks with creatives and afternoon tea with British Council.
Winter Lights | Jan 16th – 27th | Canary Wharf | Free
Brighten up one of the darkest months with some beautiful illuminations on Canary Wharf. There will be sculptures, structures and installations surrounding the commercial towers. The event is completely free and you can spend an evening wandering through the 6-meter-wide central installation which features 236 lights programmed to pulsate with light and sounds as you approach them. Plus a giant levitating halo if you’re feeling particularly angelic. Take a seat on one of the 10 illuminating benches get dizzy with the kaleidoscope light wall and create your own sunlight graffiti with solar energy as your paint!
London Art Fair | Jan 17th – 21st | Islington | £17.45 +
If you’ve been saving up all your cheapo coins to start a new life as an art dealer, this is your opportunity to get involved in one of the most prestigious art scenes in the world. With previews of renowned works and international galleries displaying their best pieces, there will be works on show from the 20th century to contemporary creations. This is the first big event on the British art world’s calendar, and you can get day tickets from £17.45.
Lumiere London | Jan 18th – 21st | Westminster | Free
Probably the biggest light festival in London, the Lumiere is a fantastic display of nocturnal art and is completely free! This is only the second year of the event being held in London but it is already extremely popular, with teams from the UK and abroad creating impressive installations and displays on both sides of the River Thames. Over 1 million people visited last year and this year is expected to be even bigger, with primary sites including King’s Cross, Fitzrovia, the West End, Mayfair, Westminster and Victoria as well as South Bank and Waterloo. Some areas will be pedestrianized and there is an app to help you check out specific installations and to plan a route that includes your favourites.
Magic Lantern Festival | Jan 19th – Feb 26th | Chiswick | £10 +
Another bright and fun event designed to bring a little joy to January, the Magic Lantern Festival takes place in Chiswick House, West London. Visitors are invited to explore the house’s beautiful grounds and follow the garden trails filled with lights and illuminations. The creations will include animals and architecture as well as a Silk Road, and a huge Houses of Parliament. An ice bar, street food and VR games are available too, but not included in the ticket price.
Three great exhibitions not to miss!
There is always so much art to choose from in London, and plenty of it is free, so here are some of the best art exhibitions in town this January!
Can Graphic Design Save your Life? | Until Jan 14th | Bloomsbury | Free
Focusing on the use of graphic design in the medical advertisement field, the Wellcome Collection is showcasing the effects visuals can have on our health. Including digital teaching aids, posters and pharmacy signs, no stone is left un-turned with items drawn from public and private collections across the world. The exhibition has been curated by graphic designer Lucienne Roberts and design educator Rebecca Wright who founded publishing house GraphicDesign&.
National Theatre Posters | Until Jan 31st | South Bank | Free
A whole range of carefully preserved posters ranging from the 1960s to the present day will be on display at this excellent exhibit at the National Theatre’s Wolfson gallery. There will be memorable works from artists including Charlotte Wilkinson, Ken Briggs, Richard Bird, Michael Mayhew as well as current NT Creative Director Ollie Winser and the Graphic Design Studio. There will also be interviews with current Art Directors and Creative Directors tracing changes in design over the decades.
Illuminating India | Until Jan 31st | South Kensington | Free
This is a fantastic season of exhibits held by the Science Museum to celebrate India’s contributions to science, technology and mathematics. It is a commemoration of 70 years of independence and is part of the British Council’s UK/India Year of Culture. The exhibitions include: 5000 Years of Science and Innovations and Photography 1857-2017 as well as India: Empire and Science, a discussion about Indian science and its relationship with colonialism. Some events are ticketed with varying prices, and include evenings with Talvin Singh and a screening of a film about self-taught maths genius Srinivasa Ramanujan.