Things To Do This Week In London: 12-18 February 2024

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Things to do this week is sponsored by Beavertown.

All week

A white marble table with a selection of Valentine's themed cakes and pastries, and pink rosebuds
Tuck into a special Valentine's afternoon tea, for one week only.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING: Students at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama put on a production of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing at Barbican this week. See their take on the comedy play centered around two romantic pairings. 12-17 February

IMAGINE CHILDREN'S FESTIVAL: There's entertainment for kids of all ages (and their parents/carers) at Imagine Children's Festival at Southbank Centre — including some free events to help you fill half term on a budget. Highlights this week include appearances by YolandDa Brown from CBeebies, triple amputee Patrick Kane, comedian Rosie Jones, and award-winning writer John Agard. Until 17 February

HALF TERM: With most London schools closed for February half term, there are plenty of family-friendly events, shows and exhibitions going on around the capital, featuring dinosaurs, flowers, ice skating and more. Take a look at our half term in London guide and get planning. Until 18 February

VALENTINE'S AFTERNOON TEA: One of our picks of the best new afternoon teas to try in London right now is the Valentine's afternoon tea at the Great Scotland Yard Hotel, available this week only. The menu has been designed to combine the aromas and flavours of Floris London’s Santal fragrance with pastries and teas. Dishes include a wild mushroom and rocket quiche, a Jerusalem artichoke and cheddar Yorkshire pudding, and a chestnut, blackcurrant and hazelnut love sponge. 12-18 February

STREETHUNT GAMES: Here’s a half-term excursion that’ll go down a treat with your teens and tweens. Part scavenger hunt, part outdoor escape room, part murder mystery, Streethunt Games invite you work as a team, cracking codes and solving clues as you explore interesting bits of London. There are two self-guided hunts to choose from, recommended for teams of 2-6 — so any couples looking for a unique way to celebrate Valentine’s Day might also want to give it a go! (sponsor)

A children's entertainer in a stripey shiny boiler suit, red cape and multicoloured hair, smiling and posing for the camera.
Imagine Children's Festival keeps the fun coming until Saturday. Photo: Matt Crockett

CLUELESS THE MUSICAL: See a musical based on 1995 film Clueless — which itself was based on Jane Austen's Emma — opening at the Churchill Theatre Bromley on Monday. Clueless the Musical is the story of popular high school student Cher who befriends a new student and gives her a makeover. 12-24 February

WWF WINTER WANDER: Conservation charity the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is encouraging people to organise their own sponsored walk this month, to raise money for its work. To get involved in the Big Winter Wander, complete a 5k or 10k walk in your local area, either on your own or with family and friends. 12-25 February

A PINCH OF VAULT: A year after it was announced that VAULT Festival was being kicked out of its Waterloo home, it's back! A Pinch of VAULT features four weeks of early-stage shows across theatre, comedy, and cabaret. More than 130 shows are on the programme, taking place at various venues around Waterloo and Bankside, starting Monday. 12 February-10 March

Desmond Dekker
Desmond Dekker features in a new exhibition about Croydon's massive contribution to music. © Museum of Croydon

CROYDON MUSIC: Rewind: This is Croydon's Music is a new exhibition at the Museum of Croydon charting the area's immense contribution to music from classical composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, through to grime artist Nadia Rose, via Desmond Dekker and The Damned. FREE, until 7 September 2024

DICKENS STUFF: Another reason to visit the Charles Dickens Museum in Bloomsbury. The museum recently acquired a cache of unpublished letters from Georgina Hogarth, Dickens's sister-in-law, housekeeper, executor and friend (and possibly more). Some of the letters have yet to be deciphered (Georgina had unruly handwriting) but a sample of the collection is on public display. They reveal numerous insights into the Dickens household and the custodianship of his legacy after his death. A small exhibition about the relationship between Dickens and Wilkie Collins is also included in the ticket price.

CHINESE FILMS... ON A BOAT: New floating arts venue Theatreship has a special treat for Chinese/Lunar New Year. Over the next few days, they'll be screening modern classics such as In The Mood For Love and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Each film is paired with a performance by a contemporary artist working in or with a traditional Chinese art form, including performances by the UCLCSSA traditional orchestra, dance by Youxian Li, and a Zhongruan performance by Yuki Zhang. And it's all on a boat in Canary Wharf! Until 16 February

MUSEUM OF THE WEEK: Kingston upon Thames is home to a smashing little museum, where you can learn about the area's abundant history, from its role in the crowning of Saxon kings, to it prolific pottery making scene. Right now, there are not one, but two temporary exhibitions: one about local photography pioneer, Eadweard Muybridge, and the other, artworks of the Thames in this neck of the woods. FREE, Thurs-Sat weekly

EAT OF THE WEEK: Imad's Syrian Kitchen in Kingly Court is now serving brekkie every morning of the week (from 8.30am Mon-Fri, from 9am Sat and from 11am Sun). Dishes include sweet warm pita with date molasses and tahini, and fatteh (layers of fried flat bread, chickpeas, tahini and finished ghee).

Monday 12 February

Two performers practising a joint dance move in rehearsals
Ramin Karimloo and Michelle Visage in rehearsals for The Addams Family. Image: Pamela Raith

THE ADDAMS FAMILY: For two days, The Addams Family musical comedy is on at The Palladium. Wednesday Addams has grown up and has a shocking secret: she's fallen in love with a smart young man from a respectable family. Uncle Fester, Lurch, and the usual characters all feature, with Michelle Visage as Morticia, Ramin Karimloo as Gomez, and Lesley Joseph as Grandma. 12-13 February

PARENT FILM SCREENING: Parents or carers with babies can take them along to a special baby-friendly screening of new release film The Zone of Interest, about German Nazi commandant Rudolf Höss setting up home next to Auschwitz. 11.15am

APHRODISIAC TASTING: Kickstart Valentine's week with an absinthe and aphrodisiac tasting at The Last Tuesday Society in Hackney. Pick your partner carefully, to be guided through a tasting of three botanically-charged absinthes from the Devil’s Botany range each paired with an aphrodisiac food known to ignite passion. 7pm-8.30pm

ANIA MAGLIANO: Comedian Ania Magliano is trying out her latest gags at a work in progress show at The Pleasance in Islington. Her previous show was nominated for Best Comedy Show at the Edinburgh Fringe 2023, so expect good things. 7.40pm

THE LOL WORD: Queer women, trans and non-binary comedy collective The LOL Word is back at Soho Theatre, offering an 'epically gay stand-up show' for anyone who's bored of cis-male comedians. These shows always sell out, so get in quick if you want tickets. 9.30pm

MONDAYS IN LONDON: Looking for something else to do, today or any other week? Take a look at our guide to things to do in London on a Monday — we've gathered together live music venues, comedy and cabaret clubs which keep going on what is usually the quietest day of the week, along with guided walks and tours scheduled on a Monday, and a few special offers too.

Tuesday 13 February

A stack of pancakes topped with chocolate sauce and sliced strawberries and bananas
Flippin' heck, it's Pancake Day! Photo: Portuguese Gravity via Unsplash

PANCAKE DAY: Flippin' heck, it's that time of year again! It's Shrove Tuesday, aka Pancake Day, so reacquaint yourself with our guide to where to eat pancakes in London, and get yourself booked in for a feast. We've also got vegan and gluten-free pancakes covered. 13 February

MEGALOSAURUS MONTH: From today, a life-sized replica of a skeleton of a megalosaurus is on show inside the Geological Society on Piccadilly. The megalosaurus was the first non-avian dinosaur described in a scientific paper — a paper that was published 200 years ago this month, and there are various other dino-themed events going on to mark the anniversary too. FREE, 13-29 February

TEXTILE ART: Ideas about power, resistance and survival are communicated through the medium of textiles in a new exhibition at Barbican Art Gallery. Unravel has works by more than 50 artists from around the world, from small, handcrafted pieces to large-scale sculptures. 13 February-26 May

SEX AND THE INTERNET: How has the internet changed sex? That's the topic of today's free Gresham College lecture, given by cybersecurity expert Professor Victoria Baines. She discusses the negative impact that internet-mediated sex is having on human relationships. You can watch the talk in person at Barnard's Inn Hall, or online. FREE, 6pm

DYSTOPIA: Pestilence, conflict, climate change, AI, eco-cide: those who imagine the world of tomorrow don’t have a lot of good news to work with at the moment. Have we reached a point where we can no longer create an optimistic vision of the future? Or can we foresee a way to engineer ourselves out of this mess? Join an expert panel discussion near Old Street. FREE, 6pm

LOST INDUSTRY TOUR: Footprints of London guide Richard Watkins offers an online talk about lost industry along the banks of the Thames in Lambeth. Find out about the boat-making yards, machine shops, glass factories, and brewers which used to sit on the land now occupied by Royal Festival Hall, the London Eye and the MI6 building. 6pm-7pm

DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS: Celebrate the 50th anniversary of roleplay game Dungeons and Dragons, at the British Library. Hear from Sir Ian Livingston, co-founder of Games Workshop, who was responsible for launching the American game in Europe. There's also a panel of enthusiasts, talking about the game has been reimagined over the years. 7pm

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Be the first to discover Beavertown’s fresh (and free!) new music night

The fine folk at Beavertown have been busy brewing up something a little bit different, and this Thursday you can be among the first to sample it. It’s a brand new monthly music night at The Social, a pint-sized music venue in central London, that’ll introduce you to the most refreshing emerging acts of the moment for FREE.

Each Beavertown Social includes sets by not one, not two, but three brilliant new bands. This time, it’s rock quintet Teeth, joyous six-piece DOG, and post punk purveyors My First Time. After all of that, you’ve got two DJ sets to take you into the small hours – and Beavertown Social’s really bringing out the big guns for its inaugural edition! First up? Bristolian rabble-rousers LICE. Then, Dublin royalty Fontaines D.C. take over the turntables – a rare chance to get your groove on to a Brit Award winner, without paying a penny.

The first ever Beavertown Social kicks off at 7pm on Thursday 15 February. Entry is first-come, first-served – so head down to Little Portland Street early to avoid disappointment, and get ready to discover your new favourite music night

Wednesday 14 February

Tracy-Ann Oberman raising a fist to the sky in a defiant move, with other cast members holding a banner in the background
Tracy-Ann Oberman stars in The Merchant of Venice 1936, which starts on Thursday. Photo: Marc Brenner

VALENTINE'S DAY: We've got you covered if you're in need of a last-minute box of chocolates or bunch of flowers for Valentine's Day. Our guide to Valentine's Day events has plenty of ideas — and they're not all for couples. Find something to do to mark Valentine's Day whether you've got a hot date, or you're hanging out with mates.

SOULSCAPES: Painting, photography, film, tapestry and collage all features in Soulscapes, a new exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery which aims to expand and redefine the genre of landscape painting. Established and emerging artists feature, offering a view through the eyes of artists from the African Diaspora. 14 February-2 June

DINOSAUR ADVENTURE LIVE: There's trouble on Volcano Island as interactive family show Dinosaur Adventure Live comes to Fairfield Halls in Croydon. Help the rangers save the dinosaurs as the volcano erupts — then meet the dinosaurs and have your photo taken with them after the show. 2pm/4.30pm

GAS LAMP TOUR: Here's something a little different for Valentine's: a tour of London's gas lamps. Follow guide Jane Parker as she takes you back to a time before electricity, when London's streets shimmered to the glow of gas. Many of the lamps survive in the West End. If you can't make tonight, another tour runs tomorrow on a different route. 5.30pm-7.30pm

DRAGON HISTORY: Here be dragons — or at least, a lecture about dragons, as Professor Ronald Hutton heads up a Gresham College talk about the mystical creatures. Find out why people have believed in them for so long, and if there's a difference between dragons in Eastern and Western culture. Watch in person at Barnard's Inn Hall, or online. FREE, 6pm

STORYTELLING: Join a free adult storytelling workshop at The Bridge in Waterloo tonight, hosted by Space for Storytelling, where the guest host is Sally Pomme Clayton. Listeners are welcome to join too. FREE, 6.30pm-9pm

Thursday 15 February

An item of clothing laid out in a museum display case
Stay late at Museum of London Docklands © Museum of London

MERCHANT OF VENICE 1936: Tracy-Ann Oberman stars in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of The Merchant of Venice 1936, opening at the Criterion Theatre tonight. It transplants Shakespeare's play into 1930s Britain, with Shylock as a businesswoman and single mother. 15 February-23 March

YOKO ONO: One of our picks for the top exhibitions to see in London this year, Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind at Tate Modern features 200 of the artist's works to look back over her 70-year career. Visitors can get involved, by playing on her all-white chess set, leaving a photograph and a message on a long wall dedicated to mothers, or dedicating a wish for peace on her 'wish tree'. 15 February-1 September

FASHION CITY LATE: Museum of London Docklands stays open for Fashion City late — an evening focusing on its current exhibition which looks at the contributions of Jewish designers making London the fashion capital it is today. Talks, workshops and live music are all part of the event, as well as a chance to view the exhibition itself. 7pm

CHARITY QUIZ NIGHT: Kilburn-based charity The Compassionate Friends host an online fundraising quiz night. Gather a team and compete in rounds including geography, science and nature, entertainment and history, while raising money to support bereaved parents. 7pm-9.15pm

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL: For one night only, 60 years of musical duo Simon & Garfunkel is celebrated at the London Palladium. A full live band and brass ensemble perform their hits including Mrs Robinson, Cecilia, Bridge Over Troubled Water and Homeward Bound — with photos and film footage projected onto a large screen. 7.30pm

Friday 16 February

An illustration flyer for Cable Street, depicting dozens of people standing as a crowd at the end of the street
Cable Street opens at Southwark Playhouse Borough.

LONDON BOOKSHOP CRAWL: London Bookshop Crawl encourages you to visit as many independent bookshops as possible over the course of one weekend — with events at different shops around the capital (as well as online) to foster a community of book lovers. The aim, of course, is to support London's independent bookshops, while treating yourself to a few new reads. 16-18 February

LONDON MOTORCYCLE SHOW: Start your engine for the London Motorcycle Show, wheeling into town for three days at ExCeL. See the latest bikes, kit and accessories, as well as a 'base camp' hosted by Charley Boorman. 16-18 February

CABLE STREET: The story of the real-life Battle of Cable Street in the East End is brought to the stage in a musical at Southwark Playhouse Borough. Set in 1936, it's the story of the local people who blockaded their street against Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists. 16 February-16 March

ARCHIVE SECRETS: Get a look at the first formal minutes of the British Cabinet, which date from 9 December 1916, in an online talk from the National Archives. Specialist Mark Dunton talks about some of the most interesting things revealed in Cabinet Papers from 1916 to the early 2000s. 2pm

NYMPHOMANIAC ANONYMOUS: A sex therapy student, a man on the edge of divorce, a woman on a journey of healing, a man in denial, and a 24-year-old virgin... societal pressures and sex collide in Nymphomaniac Anonymous, a comedy drama performed at Camden's Etcetera Theatre. 6.30pm-8pm (also on 17, 23 and 24 February)

JAZZ CLUB: Things get lively at Forty Hall in Enfield, which hosts a one-night-only jazz club. The GAB Trio launch their first album, The GAB Album, a mix of Brazilian-infused Flamenco music, and new takes on classic pop songs. 8pm

RADIO GAGA: A tribute show to rock band Queen, Radio GaGa takes over indigo at The O2 for two hours of their best-known songs, delivered with signature showmanship. 8pm

Saturday 17 February

A group of women wearing pink cowboy hats and sunglasses, sitting around tables in Boxpark
Boxpark Croydon celebrates the original Mean Girls film.

OUT AT SEA: As part of its LGBTQ+ History Month celebrations, the National Maritime Museum hosts Out At Sea, a family-friendly festival exploring LGBTQ+ stories through workshops, talks, live performances and storytelling. Highlights include a zine-making workshop celebrating people assigned female at birth who lived as men at sea. FREE, 11am-4pm

MEAN GIRLS BRUNCH: Get in loser, we're going brunching. Boxpark Croydon hosts a Mean Girls bottomless brunch, where the original film is screened, along with food, drink and entertainment. Your ticket includes a cocktail on arrival, £10 towards a street food dish, and bottomless prosecco/cocktails throughout the whole film. 1pm-5pm

SLICE AND A SIP: Head to Hackney's Netil Market this afternoon for a seductive Valentine's pizza and wine deal: you can grab a special ox heart ragu pizza slice from World Famous Gordos and a glass of New Theory Love Bite wine, for just £6.90. 4pm-8pm

SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: Beethoven’s Romance, Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Brahms' Festival Overture are all on the programme as Croydon Symphony Orchestra perform classical Viennese music. Takes place at Fairfield Halls. 7.30pm

HEART OF BRASS: Head to Queen of Hoxton for a lively evening, as the No Limit Street Band perform their own brass-heavy take on well-known songs, including club classics, house, funk and disco tunes. 8pm

BLACK TO THE FUTURE: Terence Nance's hypnotic debut film An Oversimplification of Her Beauty is screened at the Garden Cinema in central London, as part of the Black to the Future festival tonight — followed by a Q&A with the director. 8pm-11pm

SCARED TO DANCE: Indie rock band Holiday Ghosts are the guest DJs at alternative club night Scared To Dance, which tonight takes place at the Shacklewell Arms in Dalston. They take to the decks alongside resident DJ Paul Richards for tunes by the likes of David Bowie, Talking Heads, Blondie, The Cure and Wet Leg until the early hours. 11pm

Sunday 18 February

A young girl with blonde hair playing on an orange climbing frame in the shape of a train
Find ways to keep the kids occupied through half term.

CHEESE MARKET: Did you know that London has a regular cheese market? Aptly, it's in Chiswick, an area which takes its name from an historic cheese farm or market. Cheesewick happens at Old Market Place on Chiswick High Road. Over 200 cheeses are available from a range of producers, along with bread, crackers, chutneys and the like. 9.30am-3pm

LONDON BRICK FESTIVAL: One for Lego fans, the London Brick Festival is a one-day extravaganza of the colourful plastic building blocks, aimed at adults and children alike. Ogle ready-built displays, take part in speed-building competitions, and buy bricks, accessories, retired Lego sets, and more. If that sounds like your thing, book ahead for the Art of the Brick exhibition, opening next month. 10am-4pm

TRAINS, DRAINS AND REMAINS: Ever wondered what's beneath your feet as you move around London? Footprints of London guide Marilyn Greene leads a guided walk offering you an insight into the drains, sewage pipes, water conduits, burials, Roman remains and Underground lines that run below ground in the City of London, covering both historic and modern infrastructure. 11am-1pm

CRAFT AND FLEA MARKET: Plants, jewellery, ceramics, candles and food are just some of the products available to browse and buy at Walthamstow's Craft & Flea. It takes place at Big Penny Social, with a focus on supporting small and local businesses and craftspeople. 11am-5pm

ACTON TOUR: Those with an interest in west London and its cinema history should join guide Nigel Smith for his semi-regular tour of Acton's lost cinemas. 11.30am

SEA SHANTIES: The HogEye Men are back at the Horseshoe Inn near London Bridge for another bout of sea shanty singing — audience members very much encouraged to join in. You probably won't see Alistair Green here though. FREE, 12pm-3pm

GOODTIME JAZZ: Ilford's Kenneth More Theatre welcomes Pete's Goodtime Jazz Band this afternoon, who'll be belting out toe-tapping jazz, blues and swing from the 1920s and 1930s, as well as some blues, New Orleans and British trad. 2pm-4pm

PAINTING & PROSECCO: Try your hand at creating your own version of Annie Dalton‘s Mackintosh’s Cat artwork, inspired by Mackintosh's Rose Tear design, at the London Art Bar in Holborn. All art supplies are provided, as is a glass of wine to get your creative juices flowing, and there's a professional artist on hand to offer tips and advice. 3pm-5.30pm