Things to do this week is sponsored by FutureFest 2020.
VALENTINE'S EVENTS: Looking for something to do with your significant other this week? Take a look at our guide to the best Valentine's events in London, including romance-themed museum lates, afternoon tea, and stargazing.
ORCHID FESTIVAL: It's the first full week of this year's Orchid Festival at Kew Gardens. Wander through the Princess of Wales Conservatory (lovely and toasty at this time of year), ogling 5,000 orchids from this year's festival focus, Indonesia. Flower walls, floral arches and a volcano made from flowers all feature in the photogenic event. Kew Gardens, included in admission, book timeslot in advance, until 8 March
VAULT FESTIVAL: We're partway through Vault Festival now, with plenty of excellent shows still to come. This week, pick from immersive dinner experience Role Play Gourmet, improvised musical DragProv, theatre show Oddball, and appearances by comedians Ken Cheng and Joz Norris. Waterloo Vaults, various prices, book ahead, until March
IMAGINE CHILDREN'S FESTIVAL: A family favourite every year, Imagine Children's Festival returns for half term. Southbank Centre brings together authors, performers and other celebrities for events focused on kids' literature. Theatre shows, music workshops and plenty of other activities are all part of the fun. Southbank Centre, various prices, book ahead, 12-23 February
Monday 10 February
ROYAL SOCIETY LATES: The Royal Society stays open late for an evening celebrating science fiction. Get an insight into Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, learn about what the foods of the future might look (and taste) like, and attend talks about the science of Frankenstein and Victorian sci-fi. The Royal Society, free, just turn up, 6.30pm
SHAKESPEARE IMPROV: Shakespeare purists, look away now. The Improvised Shakespeare Show takes the Bard's language, and suggestions from the audience, to create a new play live on stage, with music, songs and comedy. Hen & Chickens Theatre (Highbury & Islington), £10.75 book ahead, 7.30pm
GRANNY'S ATTIC: Folk trio Granny's Attic play at an intimate live gig. Expect to hear a blend of English, Irish and Scottish music, both traditional songs and their own work. The Slaughtered Lamb (Clerkenwell), £12, book ahead, 8.15pm
Tuesday 11 February
SHE IS FIERCE: Babble Talks — a series of lectures aimed at parents and carers with young babies — hosts poetry author Ana Sampson. She talks about the female writers of the past who have been forgotten, or who didn't get the recognition they deserved, including suffragettes, aristocrats and schoolgirls. George IV (Chiswick), £10, book ahead, 11am-12pm
HENRY VIII: The Tower of London continues the 500th anniversary celebrations of the Chapel Royal with a talk about King Henry VIII. Author, historian and broadcaster Tracy Borman discusses the men in King Henry’s life — including relatives, servants and rivals — who were responsible for shaping the notorious monarch. Tower of London, £20, book ahead, 7pm
CRYSTAL PALACE RAILWAYS: Anyone interested in local history is welcome at this talk about the past of the Crystal Palace railway, which served the famous glass building. Find out about the evolution of the low-level and high-level Crystal Palace stations, and how a prototype electric train was demonstrated on the Crystal Palace terrace. Crystal Palace Museum, £6.50, book ahead, 7.30pm-9pm
Louis Theroux, a robot cruise, and a beginner's guide to the universe at FutureFest 2020
The future can feel pretty daunting at times, so here's a festival that celebrates our power to shape it. FutureFest brings together over 80 incredible speakers — including documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux, author and women’s rights activist Elif Shafak, and director Richard Ayoade to answer the big questions about the future such as, can we copyright our DNA? What is the future of journalism? Can an advert convince you to give up your freedom? How can pessimism save the planet? Are people getting weirder?
Listen to groundbreaking debates. Board a robot cruise ship for an AR adventure. Switch off from the digital world and gaze at a recreation of the cosmos inside Osmo — an inflatable infinity space that broadcasts live sounds from outer space. It's all happening at Tobacco Dock on Friday 20 March. For the first time ever, FutureFest will continue into the night, with doors open 10am-10pm. Open to all curious minds, it's the ideal way to kick off your weekend.
Ready to get inspired? Londonist readers get £10 off tickets to FutureFest 2020. Just enter the code LONDON at checkout to claim your exclusive discount.
Wednesday 12 February
SOUTH LONDON CEMETERIES: A look at the cemeteries of south London is offered by historian Brian Parsons. He uses photos of some of the memorials to illustrate his talk about the history of the graveyards, and offers some tips for gaining access to burial records, for anyone interested in tracing their own history. Society of Genealogists (Islington), £8, book ahead, 2pm-3pm
SLEEP AND REST: New Scientist hosts circadian neuroscientist Russell Foster for an insight into the science of sleep and rest. We spend a third of our lives asleep, but scientists know relatively little about it. Find out why this is, as well as the consequences of not getting enough sleep. Conway Hall (Holborn), £27, book ahead, 7pm-9pm
LIVE MUSIC: Folk duo Lucy Farrell and Andrew Waite are on tour following the release of their album at the end of last year. Catch them in Clerkenwell for a gig with traditional ballad influences, and undertones of jazz, funk and classical genres. The Slaughtered Lamb (Clerkenwell), £12, book ahead, 8pm
Thursday 13 February
LOVE BEER: Love Beer London is a three-day keg festival celebrating the best craft beer made in the south-east of the UK. More than 90 breweries from London and beyond are confirmed to be attending. The Cause (Tottenham Hale), from £12, book ahead, 13-15 February
STEVE MCQUEEN: Artist Steve McQueen is the man behind the recent billboards featuring schoolchildren — and Oscar-winning film 12 Years A Slave too. In a new exhibition, Tate takes us through his 25-year career as an artist and film maker, in which he's covered drug-related murders, the civil rights movement and the labour conditions of gold mine workers. Tate Britain, £13, book ahead, 13 February-11 May
ORCHIDS AFTER HOURS: You could visit the Orchid Festival by day. Or you could make a special trip to Kew, for one of the Orchids: After Hours late night openings. The first one takes place tonight, with live music, dancers and cooking demonstrations on the Indonesian theme, plus a chance to see the orchids illuminated at night. Kew Gardens, £18, book ahead, 6.30pm/8pm
Friday 14 February
LONDON MOTORCYCLE SHOW: Start your engine for the London Motorcycle Show, wheeling into town for three days. See the latest bikes, kit and accessories, watch live racing in the Michelin Thunderdome, and ogle vintage bikes at the Bonhams Classic Zone. Excel London, various prices, book ahead, 14-16 February
LONDON ANIME CON: Anime, gaming, comic and cosplay plans descend on London Metropolitan University for the London Anime & Gaming Con. Stage events, panel discussions, parties and performances are all on the agenda, including an Anime viewing room, and a chance to meet Manga artists. Visitors are very much encouraged to wear costumes. London Met (Holloway), from £9 per day, book ahead, 14-16 February
OUT OF THE BLUE: Influential company Designers Guild is celebrated in Fashion & Textile Museum's new exhibition, Out Of The Blue. The company started 50 years ago in Chelsea, and the exhibition offers access to its archives, showcasing how it has changed the way we view and use colour, pattern and texture in our homes. Fashion & Textile Museum (Bermondsey), included in admission, book ahead, 14 February-14 June
Saturday 15 February
HALF TERM: With most London schools on holiday for the coming week, take a look at our guide to things to do in London in half term. We've covered exhibitions, theatre shows, and other things to see and do, as well as plenty of places to eat.
PERMIAN MONSTERS: Dinosaurs are cool. Fact. But what about pre-dinosaurs? Long before Dippy and co were stomping all over the earth, Permian Monsters ruled the planet. Find out all about them in Horniman Museum's new family-friendly exhibition which includes fossil skeletons and full-sized animatronic creatures. Horniman Museum, £8/£4.50, book ahead, 15 February-1 November
ROMANTIC POOCHES: Valentine's isn't just for humans, apparently. Celebrate the love of your pooch at a 'shared dining experience' for owners and their dogs (you probably don't have to eat Lady and the Tramp style). The event is raising money for the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital in the wake of the recent bushfires. Hugo's (Queen's Park), £35-£48, book ahead, 11am-5pm
Sunday 16 February
GARDEN TOUR: Join a gardener for a tour of the gardens at Fulham Palace, a building which has been home to the Bishops of London for centuries. Hear how individual bishops shaped the development of the garden, and see some of the unusual species of plant grown there today. Fulham Palace, £6, just turn up, 12.30pm-1.30pm
EMINENT MONSTERS: Attend a screening of chilling 2018 documentary Eminent Monsters: A Manual For Modern Torture. It's an investigation into psychological warfare which uncovers how the psychiatric community has colluded with state sponsored torture. Interviews with victims’ families, whistleblowers, the military and the medical community all feature, and there's a discussion with Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, after the screening. Bertha DocHouse (Bloomsbury), £12.50, book ahead, 2.15pm
THE BOSS ON ICE: Celebrate all things Bruce Springsteen at Club de Fromage on Ice's The Boss special. All of Springsteen's biggest hits are played back to back over the duration of the ice skating club night. Alexandra Palace, £11, book ahead, 8.30pm