29 Things To Do In London On 29 February

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 29 months ago
29 Things To Do In London On 29 February
Take a selfie in Van Gogh's bedroom

29 February falls on a Saturday this year, meaning you can make the most of your extra day here in London, by visiting that exhibition you've been meaning to do for ages, or discovering a new favourite spot in the capital. Here are 29 suggestions.

1. Walk through the rainbow

Emmanuelle Moureaux's psychedelic Slices of Time, has become an Instagram sensation since it opened in early February — so much so, you now need to book a ticket to see it. It's still free though, and well worth getting lost in this trippy installation representing the flow of time.

2. Climb into a Van Gogh painting

Aimed firmly at the Instagram generation, the immersive Van Gogh experience recreates the painter's most famous scenes for you to climb into. Take a selfie in his bedroom, and touch a replica of his Sunflowers.

3. Glow up at Lightopia

It's the final weekend of Chiswick illumination festival Lightopia. Wander through rainbow light tunnels after dark, watch a pulsating pink peacock reflected in the lake, and dance on a colour-changing light mat.

4. Be entertained at Vault Festival

Playing out in the labyrinthine arches beneath Waterloo station, Vault Festival rumbles on into March with an assortment of theatre, comedy, cabaret and tours. Take a look at the programme to find something you fancy.

5. Come on in to V&A's Kimono exhibition

The V&A's much-hyped Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk exhibition opens on 29 February, so it's one to visit if you like to be the first to see new shows. That said, it's likely to be chokka over the opening weekend — you've been warned.

6. Wander through a flower arch at Kew Gardens' Orchid Festival

The annual Orchids Festival is one of London's most beautiful floral events (plus, it's in a tropical conservatory, ideal for warming up in the chilly London winter). This year there's an Indonesian theme; look out for orang utans fashioned from plants, a volcanic centrepiece, and some extremely photogenic flower arches.

7. Show some love to one of London's least used stations

Never had a reason to use South Greenford station? Make one — the west London railway station was the capital's least-used station according to official 2018-2019 data. If enough of us visit it, we could change that for this year. Just saying.

8. Experience the magic of Mushrooms at Somerset House

Be a fungi (or fun-gal) and make time to visit Mushrooms at Somerset House. It looks at how mushrooms have shaped art and design over the years, covering everything from hallucinogenic properties to Alice in Wonderland illustrations.

9. Pay a king's ransom to see Tutankhamun

Image: Laboratoriorosso, Viterbo, Italy

You'll need deep pockets to visit the Tutankhamun exhibition at Saatchi Gallery — and no, we're not suggesting you loot the place. A peak ticket will set you back a whopping £28.50, but it's your last chance to see the Egyptian treasures before they return to their home country for good. It's only going to get busier as we approach the 3 May closing date — so tick it off on 29 Feb.

10. Get stuck into Jewish Book Week

Jewish Book Week begins on 29 February, with an impressive programme, covering everything from cookery to fashion to spies to politics to trees. Former Children's Laureate Michael Rosen, celebrated novelist Elif Shafak and historian Helen Fry are among participants across the 80+ events celebrating Jewish themes and writers.

11. Witness the legend of Troy at British Museum

British Museum separates legend from reality in its blockbuster exhibition dedicated to Troy, which closes on 8 March. It's a huge — and fascinating — show, and worth setting aside a couple of hours to explore thoroughly.

12. Wander among movie stars in Leicester Square

Laurel and Hardy, Mr Bean, Mary Poppins and Paddington are among the screen stars taking up residence in Leicester Square from 27 February, in the form of life-sized bronze statues. The new trail is brought to life with interactive elements such as lighting and music, and celebrates Leicester Square's film industry history.

13. Go on a South Ken safari

It's not new, but it's one of our favourites, so Wildlife Photographer of the Year is always worth a mention. This year's exhibition runs at Natural History Museum until May, and features beauty, savagery... and that tube mice photo.

14. Climb the Walkie Talkie

If you're up for a challenge, climb the 896 steps up 36 floors of the Walkie Talkie skyscraper in the City, raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity as you do so. You'll be rewarded with a celebratory drink in the Sky Garden when you reach the top.

15. Follow a word trail around the City

What are you going to meet... we'll let you find the rest of that sentence yourself by following this word trail around the City of London.

16. Try a new restaurant

Your local pizzeria is fine. Decent, in fact. But if you want to step outside your culinary bubble, now's the time. Take a look at our guide to the best food and drink in London for some inspiration, or have a look at some of the restaurants we've been loving recently — new Dominique Ansel offering, Treehouse, Indian eatery Raj of Islington and fancy kebab merchant Maison Bab are all worth a punt.

17. Find your new favourite bookshop

Name a better way to spend a Saturday than browsing a cute bookshop (we'll wait...).  We've mapped London's best independent bookshops (save it for literary emergencies), but two places we're particularly loving at the moment are this secondhand bookshop inside a ghost station, and this female-focused store tucked away in a hidden courtyard.

18. Visit one of London's worst-kept secrets

Secret? Absolutely not. Worth a visit? Definitely.

19. Follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City

There's been a tornado, and a house has landed on top of a witch. Sound familiar? Spend your weekend at Queen of Hoxton's rooftop bar, which has had an Emerald City makeover. Think immersive Wizard of Oz, but boozier. You're definitely not in Kansas anymore.

20. Get engaged... tastefully

Traditionally, 29 February was the one day women could propose to men. Now, we're not saying we buy into any such patriarchal rubbish, but if you (of any gender) were considering popping the question to your partner (of any gender), have a read of these tips from a professional proposal planner first. They're good value too, because they apply 365(/6) days of the year.

21. Visit National Portrait Gallery before it closes

Good news: there's a new David Hockney exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Bad news: it's one of the last exhibitions before the gallery closes for three years for a refurb and spruce up. Use your extra day to ogle Hockney's drawings and take one last look at the gallery in its current state.

22. Visit the Museum of Childhood before it closes

National Portrait Gallery isn't the only cultural institution we're (temporarily) losing this year. The V&A's Museum of Childhood has announced it is closing in May for two years for a revamp, and sure, you've got until May for one last visit, but really, will you actually go before then? Really? Do it on your extra day.

23. Visit Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre before it closes

Noticing a theme yet? Sadly, unlike the above galleries, the imminent closure of Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre is permanent — once it's gone, it's gone. The centre's closing in July, but the life is already being squeezed out of it, as we found when we visited recently. Love it or hate it, visit while you can, and show some support to the traders and businesses facing an uncertain future.

24. See this crash-landed house before it (possibly) disappears

The Korean house that crash-landed onto a footbridge in the City in 2018 is still there. The artwork, originally part of Sculpture in the City, may be leaving us in April 2020... or it may stick around for longer, to be decided. Still, best not risk it — see it while you can.

25. Get a last glimpse of the current Fourth Plinth

Towards the end of March, the newest artwork on Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth is due to be unveiled. We don't know when exactly the current one, Michael Rakowitz's The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist, will be removed, but they'll need time to get it down and the new one installed before the big unveiling, so it won't be around much longer. Go go go.

26. Tick off the London bucket list

How many of these 50 things every Londoner should do at least once have you ticked off so far? Take the opportunity to tick off a few more - perhaps a stroll along the canal followed by a swim in the Hampstead ponds, then lunch at Borough Market.

27. Do something a Londoner never normally would

Here's a little something we prepared earlier in advance of 29 February — a list of things that a Londoner would never normally do. Why not spend the day being a tourist in your own city? Could be fun.

28. Leave London altogether

London is lovely. We love London. But sometimes, we like to leave London too. If you feel like spending your extra day out of the capital, take a look at our guide to the best day trips from London. We've mapped them all, and have included everything from seaside towns to model villages and railways. Why not make a weekend of it?

29. Go to the pub, have a nice cold pint, and wait for this all to blow over

Doesn't have to be The Winchester — not when our guide to London's best pubs has over 500 boozers to choose from. You might just find your new favourite local, which is a Saturday very well spent in our opinion.

Last Updated 20 February 2020