While we're hoping for things to get back to normal in 2022, the following events all come with the caveat that they may not happen, or dates, locations and other details may change as the Covid situation evolves.
1) Lewisham Borough of Culture (from January 2022)
It's Lewisham's turn in the hot seat as London Borough of Culture in 2022, with events kicking off in January. Day One sees live performances pop up right across the borough on 28 January — and it's followed by events on the topics of local history, climate change, air pollution, and more throughout the year. Full programme here.
2) Crossrail/Elizabeth line opening (March 2022?)
We've been trotting out the same line at this time every year for several years now... look, here it is in 2018, and again in 2019. At time of writing, the Elizabeth line is expected to launch "in the first half of 2022", with a few caveats — mainly that only refers to the central section of the line. We like to think that the people in charge of comms at Crossrail have learnt from previous experiences and wouldn't give us even a rough date unless they were completely, 100%, utterly sure it would happen... maybe.
More specifically, and completely unofficially, 6 March 2022 is being bandied around in dark, train-loving corners of the internet, based on advance driver scheduling. But that's off the record, and you didn't hear it from us, capiche?
3) Punchdrunk: The Burnt City (March-August 2022)
You've either never heard of Punchdrunk, or you're utterly obsessed. There is no middle ground. The immersive theatre company's last London production, The Drowned Man, ran for several months back in 2013-2014, with one Londonist staffer seeing it more than 100 times, and travelling to New York and China to experience it there too.
Anyway, Punchdrunk is coming back to London in 2022, with a new production and new location. The Burnt City takes place in Woolwich, and is centered on the fall of Troy. In true Punchdrunk style, little else has been revealed — and we wouldn't have it any other way. We wouldn't be surprised if the run gets extended.
4) Big Ben is back (Spring 2022)
After undergoing restorations and renovation since 2017, the Elizabeth Tower at the Houses of Parliament should be returning to normal in 2022. After years of near-silence, Big Ben's four quarter bells should be back to their usual chiming schedule by spring 2022, with the spruced up (and newly-blue) clock faces back on show for all to see and that scaffolding removed.
5) Borough Yards launches fully (Spring 2022)
Been wondering what's going on in the area just west of Borough Market? That'd be Borough Yards, a new development of shops, bars and restaurants. The first phase, including a new cinema, opened in late 2021, but the bulk of openings, including restaurants Barrafina, Parrillan, Bar Daskal, Butchies, Brother Marcus and Vinoteca, as well as shops and public spaces, are due to open in spring 2022.
6) The Gunpowder Plot at the Tower of London (May 2022)
Over the last few years, London's become fully immersed in (some might say saturated with) immersive experiences, but we've got high hopes for the Tower of London's new addition. The Gunpowder Plot takes over the Tower Vaults for an educational look at the events of 1605, with you in the role as co-conspirator — you'll have to work out who you can trust and who's a traitor.
7) Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee celebrations, including Superbloom (June 2022)
2022 marks 70 years since the Queen Elizabeth II's ascension to the throne. Although the anniversary is in February, plans are being made for an extended Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend of celebrations from 2-5 June 2022.
Official events include pageants, parades and beacon lightings, but we expect to see plenty of other celebrations around the capital. We've already told you about Superbloom, the plan to fill the Tower of London moat with millions of flowers for the summer. Stay posted for further events as they're announced.
8) Women's Euros (6-31 July 2022)
The UEFA Women's EURO championships are being hosted at stadiums across England, including Wembley, due to host the final on 31 July, and Brentford's new home, Brentford Community Stadium, which opened in 2020. No doubt pubs, beer gardens and festival sites across London and beyond will be screening the matches for anyone who can't be there in person. In total, teams from 16 European countries are due to take part in the competition.
If football's your thing, 2022 also sees London host the 150th FA Cup Final (Wembley, May 2022).
9) 50th anniversary of Pride in London (July 2022)
2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the first UK Gay Pride Rally in 1972, and after the last couple of years' celebrations have been cancelled, we're expecting the 2022 event to be bigger than ever. Pride in London has already unveiled a new brand direction and visual identity ahead of the 50th anniversary.
10) London 2012 + 10 celebrations (July 2022)
27 July marks a decade since the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, and although no official anniversary events have been announced yet, we wouldn't be surprised to see a shindig or two happening in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park — though whether Wenlock and Mandeville will make an appearance is anyone's guess. Otherwise, mark the occasion yourself with at trip to one of these London 2012 logos, hidden in plain sight all over the city, and best viewed from the air.
11) Dippy comes home (summer 2022)
One of London's most famous museum exhibits, Dippy is due to be making a comeback to the capital. Five years after the replica diplodocus skeleton was taken off display at the Natural History Museum to go on a nationwide tour, it's being temporarily reinstalled in a display about its travels. Exact date and duration of return TBC.
12) East End Women's Museum opens in Barking (2022, date TBC)
After being established in 2015 as a response to the mis-sold Jack the Ripper museum, the East End Women's Museum has been a predominantly virtual collection, with occasional in-person events — until now. In 2022, it's due to move into its new, permanent space in Barking (5 Barking Wharf, IG11 7HZ), where it will tell the social, political and cultural history of East End women. Exact date and details to be revealed, so watch this space.
13-16) London's biggest exhibitions opening in 2022
London's exhibition schedule is all askew, thanks to the global events of the last couple of years. At time of writing, these are the big exhibitions we're expecting to see opening in the capital at 2022, though of course they could be delayed or cancelled due to lockdown, or due to difficulty of transporting exhibits around the globe.
- Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature at V&A Museum (opens 12 February 2022). Following successes with previous exhibitions about characters from children's literature (Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland), the V&A turns its attention to the life and work of author and illustrator Beatrix Potter.
- Reframed: The Woman in the Window at Dulwich Picture Gallery (4 May-4 September 2022). Art fans are in for a treat as works by Rembrandt, David Hockney, Rachel Whiteread, and many other artists go on show together in an exhibition about the voyeuristic motif of the 'woman in the window'.
- Science Fiction: Voyage to the Edge of Imagination at Science Museum (6 October 2022-4 May 2023). This one places visitors at the centre of a sci-fi story featuring spaceships and unknown planets, to explore how science fiction writers create alternate universes.
- Hunt for the Vaccine at Science Museum (opens November 2022). The Science Museum partners with institutions in India and China to hold simultaneous exhibitions about the behind-the-scenes research which went on around the globe in pursuit of an effective vaccine against Covid-19.