24 Cheery Things To Do In London In January 2020

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 20 months ago

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24 Cheery Things To Do In London In January 2020
Winter Lights return to Canary Wharf

VEGANUARY: First things first, if you're doing Veganuary, take a look at our complete guide to being vegan in London. From vegan restaurants and menus we've tried, to vegan pizzas and roast dinners, it's enough to force you to consider making a permanent switch.

NEW YEAR'S DAY PARADE: A large percentage of Londoners, we suspect, have never been out of bed early enough on New Year's Day to even realise that there's a parade. If you're in a position to deal with crowds, brass bands and all that jazz, here's a guide to watching the New Year Parade. 1 January

DARTS CHAMPIONSHIP: The BDO World Professional Darts Championship comes to a new venue, Indigo at the O2, this year. 40 men and 16 women compete for the coveted title, with the youth championship also taking place. 4-12 January

Vamos Theatre perform at London International Mime Festival

TWELFTH NIGHT: London's annual Twelfth Night celebrations mix ancient customs with modern festivities, making for a bizarre and eclectic event. Head to the riverside near Shakespeare's Globe to witness wassailing, The Holly Man (or Green Man) being paraded across the river, dramatic performances, and a chance to be crowned King or Queen for the day by finding a bean or a pea in a cake. Like we said, an odd (but fascinating) one. 5 January

LONDON INTERNATIONAL MIME FESTIVAL: The capital's longest established theatre season, London International Mime Festival is back for four weeks of performances. The programme includes live art, physical and circus-theatre, mask, puppetry, movement and object theatre. Our picks include the entirely fictional The Strange Tale Of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel, and full-mask theatre show Dead Good. 8 January-2 February

LONDON SHORT FILM FESTIVAL: If you think January is a month for curling up in the warmth of a cinema, you're absolutely right. The 17th edition of the London Short Film Festival is on hand to entertain you with dramas, documentaries and animations. There are plenty of new releases to see, as well as short films that have placed in international competitions — naturally, we like the sound of London Lives, an insight into surviving life in the capital. 10-19 January

No trousers? No problem

NO TROUSERS TUBE RIDE: Pretty much what it says, the British version of the 'No Pants Subway Ride' sees participants ride on the tube without their trews (note: despite the American name of the event, your undercrackers ARE required). The No Trousers Tube Ride puts groups of people onto various tube trains, acting completely nonchalantly expect for their lack of leg covering. It's a lighthearted, fun event. Don't be the one who makes it weird by turning up in a mankini. 12 January

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: Luzia is Cirque du Soleil's latest show at the Royal Albert Hall, and it's set in Mexico. It takes water and light as its inspiration, with trapeze artists performing through pouring showers. Hoop diving, acrobatic stunts and a surreal menagerie are all part of the fun — and let's face it, with Cirque, you know it's going to be good. 12 January-1 March

Winter Lights illuminates Canary Wharf

WINTER LIGHTS: We are thrilled that free illuminations festival Winter Lights is returning to Canary Wharf for a sixth year. Wander among the skyscrapers seeing colourful installations, some of which are new for this year, and others which will be familiar from previous years. And did we mention it's free? Ideal January fodder. 16-25 January

BRENT BOROUGH OF CULTURE: Following Waltham Forest's tenure, Brent takes up the mantle as London Borough of Culture for 2020. The big launch event is Rise, a free, outdoor event telling the story of Brent through dance, theatre and projections, with Wembley Stadium as a backdrop. 18 January

MINDFUL DRINKING FESTIVAL: One for all you non-drinkers, Dry January participants, and anyone looking to cut down their booze intake. The Mindful Drinking Festival offers an insight into the alcohol-free drinks available these days, including teetotal beers, wines and ciders. Try and buy the drinks, speak to the people who make them, and take part in workshops and masterclasses. 18-19 January

Yas Queen!

RU PAUL'S DRAG CON: Yas queen! The entire cast of RuPaul's Drag Race UK make a fabulous appearance at RuPaul's Drag Con. Baga Chipz, Divina de Campo and Crystal are among the acts sashaying their stuff, with live commentary from RuPaul himself. Can we get an Amen? 18-19 January

ADVENTURE TRAVEL SHOW: Suffering from the January blues? Get your 2020 getaway plans sorted with the Adventure Travel Show. If it's a relaxing beach break you want, it's probably not for you, but for trekking and cycling holidays, safaris and more, it's a chance to meet tour operators, attend talks and workshops and find out what your travel options are. 18-19 January

LONDON ART FAIR: The capital's art scene swings into action for the year at the London Art Fair. Focus is on modern and contemporary pieces, with galleries from all over London and beyond exhibiting. There's an impressive programme of talks and tours too, including a look at art in science and technology. 22-26 January

Lightopia Festival comes to London

LIGHTOPIA: Winter Lights isn't the only illumination festival this month. Lightopia — the new incarnation of the Magical Lantern Festival — comes to Chiswick House & Gardens. Acrobats, musicians and three-storey high lanterns all feature, and the festival has an interactive element too, with button on the floor that can be stepped on to control music, and a tree surrounded by drums which can be used to change its colour. 22 January-1 March

A CAPELLA CONCERTS: London A Cappella Festival is taking a break this year, but the organisers are still putting on a pair of concerts by two renowned UK vocal bands, The Swingles and The King’s Singers. The concerts are both different — choose whether you buy tickets just for one, or splash out on both. 24-25 January

CHINESE NEW YEAR: The official date for Chinese New Year is 25 January, but London's celebrations usually take place on a Sunday, so we'd guess 26 January. We'll bring you more details when they're announced. 25 January

Make the most of Veganuary with our guide to vegan London

BURNS NIGHT: 25 January is Burns Night, a traditional Scottish event celebrating the life of poet Robert Burns. Scottish it may be, but it's widely celebrated by London's Scots and honorary Scots. We'll bring you details of where you can down a dram and take part in an Address to the Haggis when we know more. 25 January

PICASSO AND PAPER: The Royal Academy brings together more than 300 works on paper by Pablo Picasso for a new exhibition. They range from early studies for his oil painting Guernica to a 4.8m-wide collage, and span his entire 80-year career. 25 January-13 April

BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH: Help the RSPB keep an eye on the numbers of wild birds in London by taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch. If you're lucky enough to have a garden or outside space, spend an hour counting and recording the numbers and types of birds that visit it, then report back to the RPSB. The charity then uses the data to spot any patterns, anomalies, or any species that may be in danger. 25-27 January

Sofie Hagen's show is one of many at Vault Festival

VAULT FESTIVAL: Theatre and entertainment extravaganza Vault Festival is back, taking over the arches under Waterloo station, and other venues in the area. The programme ranges from tarot readings to theatrical walking tours to comedy to, er, Passion on the Night Tube. 28 January-22 March

KING CHARLES I CEREMONY: The anniversary of the death of King Charles I — who died by execution in 1649 — is marked in a special ceremony by the Society of King Charles The Martyr. It takes place at Banqueting House — the site of the execution — with wreath-laying, prayers, and a religious sermon. 30 January

London Remixed Festival takes over Rich Mix

LONDON REMIXED FESTIVAL: It may not be full-on festival weather yet, but that's not stopping London Remixed Festival. It takes over Rich Mix for two days celebrating emerging musical talent and genres, with 25 DJs and bands across four stages. 31 January-1 February

MUSHROOMS: Be a fungi (or girl) and head to Somerset House's new exhibition, all about mushrooms. Artists, designers and musicians all take part, showcasing work looking at the cultural legacy of mushrooms. Learn how mushrooms are being used in new ways, including in the manufacture of textiles and sustainable shoes. 31 January-26 April

Last Updated 02 January 2020

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