Things To Do This Week In London: 19-25 February 2024

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All week

A sphere of blue lights
It's the final week of Battersea Power Station Light Festival. Image: Squidsoup

CANARY WHARF ICE RINK: The last of London's seasonal ice rinks stays open until this Saturday. Ice Rink Canary Wharf is housed in a conservatory-style building beneath the skyscrapers, meaning it doesn't matter if it rains. Until 24 February

BATTERSEA LIGHT FESTIVAL: Last chance to see the seven light art installations dotted around the Battersea Power Station area for the light festival. It's free to visit and includes a giant diamond and illuminated butterflies. FREE, until 25 February

FANTASY: The British Library offers a magical, multimedia celebration of the fantasy genre, exploring its roots in myths and fairytales, and charting its rise in popularity in recent years — and this is the final week. Read our full review of Fantasy: Realms Of The Imagination. At time of writing, the BL website is still down due to a recent cyber attack, but tickets can be booked here instead. Until 25 February

People ice skating beneath a glass roof, with skyscrapers above
Last chance to go ice skating in Canary Wharf this winter.

MALORIE BLACKMAN: Also at the British Library is Malorie Blackman - The Power Of Stories, a free exhibition about the Noughts & Crosses author's impact on the world of children's stories, offering readers a different way of seeing the world. To hear from the author herself, see Friday (below). FREE, until 25 February

PINCH OF VAULT: The theatre and cabaret section of A Pinch Of VAULT festival is now underway, with performances taking place around Waterloo and Bankside. Highlights this week include solo storytelling show The Good Iranian, sinister folk tale Two Sisters, and musical comedy horror show Katy Pritchard is: The Estate Agent. Browse the full programme and see what takes your fancy. Until 10 March

FOURTH PLINTH SHORTLIST: The National Gallery opens a free display of models of the shortlisted artworks for the next two Fourth Plinth commissions, which are due to be installed in Trafalgar Square in 2026 and 2028. Peruse the options, then vote for your favourite online. FREE, 19 February-17 March

An all-white chess set
An all-white chess set at the new Yoko Ono exhibition. Image: Londonist

DRINK OF THE WEEK: Experimental Cocktail Club Chinatown continues to celebrate Chinese New Year with a special set of three cocktails, Dragon Fire, Red Lantern and Ming Dynasty, two of which come in fun dragon-shaped cups. Until 24 February

SAMUEL TAKES A BREAK: A 'genre-bending odyssey on the legacy of slavery within Ghana and beyond', Samuel Takes A Break… In Male Dungeon No. 5 After A Long But Generally Successful Day Of Tours continues at the Yard Theatre in Hackney this week. Until 9 March

EXHIBITION OF THE WEEK: "Bizarre, Baffling, Laughable, Brilliant" is how we described Music of the Mind, Tate Modern's new retrospective of Yoko Ono's 70 years in the art world, featuring all-white chess sets, apples on plinths and lots of naked backsides. ★★★★☆ Until 1 September

Monday 19 February

A woman sitting cross legged on the floor in a garden of bamboo
Bamboo at Method opens at Somerset House on Thursday. Photo by Erhan. Courtesy the artist and Kiang Malingue.

HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS: American exhibition basketball team the Harlem Globetrotters pitch up at Wembley Arena as part of their world tour. Watch them go head-to-head against the Washington Generals while showing off some seriously impressive basketball skills. 6pm

REFUGEES: Dr Sarah Rosenberg-Jansen is at Gresham College to look at innovative ways to get reliable, affordable, sustainable energy into refugee camps. FREE, 6pm

MOTOWN NIGHT: A full live band performs hits by the likes of The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, The Supremes, The Temptations and Smokey Robinson, for A Night Of Motown at the Jazz Cafe in Camden. 7pm-10.30pm

ALEX DOWSETT: Former professional and road racing cyclist Alex Dowsett is at OSO Arts Centre in Barnes to discuss his life and career. Hear about his experience breaking the World Hour Record, only to lose it to Bradley Wiggins. He also talks about being a professional sportsperson with haemophilia A, a condition which means that falls or injuries can be fatal. 7.30pm

FOOL'S MOON: 'Anarchic, genre-bending cabaret night' Fool's Moon takes over Soho Theatre for a night of clowning, music, dance, drag and live art. Clown Paulina Lenoir hosts, and tonight's special guests are comedian Lorna Rose Treen, drag artist Cabbage the Clown, artist Dolly Kershaw and performance artist Fran Lobo. 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 20 February

David Hoyle teams up with The Tiger Lillies at Wilton's Music Hall.

TIGER LILLIES: Avant-garde post-punk band The Tiger Lillies join forces with cabaret legend David Hoyle for new show Lessons In Nihilism at Wilton's Music Hall. Don't expect an upbeat production though — they examine the meaninglessness and absurdity of existence, and argue that our achievements will come to nothing, all interspersed with wit and wisdom. 20 February-2 March

LUNCHTIME CONCERT: Head over to Lauderdale House in Highgate this lunchtime to enjoy a free concert by resident pianist Stephen Hose. It takes place in the venue's Long Gallery, with views over Waterlow Park. FREE, 1.15pm

DINOSAUR LECTURE: The Geological Society offers a free public lecture about how our knowledge and understanding of dinosaurs has changed in the past 200 years. Palaeontologist Michael Benton talks about how recent finds have helped us to understand what dinosaurs looked like in the flesh, beyond just their skeletons. FREE, 6pm

NATURAL DISASTERS: Professor Chris Whitty is the guest speaker at today's Gresham College lecture, discussing the health impacts of natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis. Find out how predicting the medium-term effects such as infectious diseases can head off longer-term health disasters. Watch in person at Barnard's Inn Hall, or online. FREE, 6pm

Wednesday 21 February

A black and white photograph of Niall McDevitt in front of a memorial
Celebrate Niall McDevitt's life and work. Image courtesy of National Poetry Library

ROYAL SOCIETY LATES: The Royal Society stays open late for an evening focusing on brains, and neuroscience research. Various experts give brief talks about topics including brain injuries in sport, and hopes for treating dementia in the future. There are also games, workshops, tours and other free activities. Age 18+. FREE, 6.30pm-9.30pm

JAWDANCE: Spoken word night Jawdance returns to Rich Mix in Shoreditch for an evening of performances by featured acts, as well as an open mic slot. Writer Malika Booker, and poets Bohadan Piasecki and Jason Allen-Paisant are on the schedule. 7pm

UNLAWFUL KILLINGS: Wendy Joseph discusses what it’s really like presiding over and ruling on life-changing cases as an Old Bailey judge — a role she recently stepped down from. Tonight's event, held at Kent House in Knightsbridge, marks the launch of her new book, Unlawful Killings, which explores why we kill, what happens in court and what this teaches us about the society we live in. 7pm

SALSA CLASS: There's Cuban Salsa for all levels and abilities at Boxpark Wembley tonight. The evening starts with a beginners' class, for anyone new to the dance style, followed by an improvers' class where you can refine the steps. It ends with social dancing, open to everyone. 7pm-10pm

PULSARS: The Sky at Night presenter Prof Chris Lintott is at Gresham College to discuss astronomy beyond visible light, with a particular focus on pulsars. FREE, 7pm

NIALL MCDEVITT: Celebrate the life and work of late poet Niall McDevitt with the National Poetry Library. Writers including James Byrne, Greta Bellamacina, MacGillivray, Robert Montgomery and Iain Sinclair perform some of McDevitt’s works, which were often inspired by the work of William Blake. 8pm

Thursday 22 February

The string section of City of London Symphony, seated on stage mid performance
Catch a performance by City of London Sinfonia. Photo: Belinda Lawley

BAMBOO AS METHOD: Hong-Kong based artist Zheng Bo transforms Somerset House’s courtyard into a bamboo garden for his art installation, Bamboo as Method. It's designed as a place for contemplation among nature, with visitors invited to select bamboo leaves from a variety of species to draw, after which the leaves are returned to the garden for decomposition, creating an ecological loop of creativity. FREE, 22 February-28 April

BLACK PORTRAITURE: One of our art critic's picks for 2024 opens at the National Portrait Gallery. The Time is Always Now: Artists Reframe the Black Figure examines how artists from the African diaspora in the UK and USA depict the Black form, given that Western art history is dominated by white faces. 22 contemporary artists feature, curated by Ekow Eshun who was responsible for In the Black Fantastic at Hayward Gallery in 2022. 22 February-19 May

SCIENCE SHOWOFF: Comedians, historians, and medical professionals are on the bill at Science Showoff at The Old Operating Theatre in London Bridge. It's a night of medical-themed stand-up comedy, stories, and silliness, in an historic setting. 6pm-8.30pm

QUEER HISTORY NIGHT: The National Maritime Museum stays open late for Queer History Night. It's a chance to hear from members of the LGBTQ+ community-led group Queer History Club about their research in the museum's archives, and to explore theories and conversations about queer/ing maritime history. FREE, 6pm-9pm

SCALES: That is, of the musical variety. Prof Milton Mermikides is at Gresham College to look at the "history, theory and artistry of scale construction in a wide range of styles, and how each scale can, through ‘rotation’, form a colourfully expressive palette of modal colours". FREE, 6pm

VANYA: Missed Andrew Scott in Vanya? There's an NT Live screening of the production at Barbican Cinema tonight, filmed during the sold-out West End run. Scott stars in the one-man show, bringing multiple of Chekhov's characters to life. 6.20pm

SOUTHWARK HISTORY: Author Margaret Willes talks about six people who have shaped the history of Southwark, in an event at Southwark Cathedral. It marks the publication of her book, Liberty Over London Bridge, and looks at how the area became a place of danger, misrule, and artistic freedom, home to immigrants, religious dissenters, theatrical folk, brewers, and sex workers. 6.45pm-8pm

MAISIE ADAM: Stand-up comedian Maisie Adam headlines a night of laughs at Big Penny Social in Walthamstow. Morgan Rees and Jamie Allerton are among the support acts, with more TBC. 8pm-10pm

POETRY OPEN MIC: Off the Chest presents a night of poetry at Clapham's Omnibus Theatre, with Ella Dorman-Gajic and Iftikhar Latif compering, and poets of all backgrounds, stages and ages welcome to take an open mic spot. Elle Dillon-Reams will also perform. 7.30pm

MESSA DI GLORIA: The City of London Sinfonia are joined by tenor David Butt Philip, baritone Ross Ramgobin, conductor John Andrews, and the Opera Holland Park chorus for a special performance of Puccini’s Messa di Gloria. It's the launch of a series of events by Opera Holland Park to mark the centenary of Puccini’s death, and takes place at Holy Trinity Church in Sloane Square. 7.30pm-9.30pm

Friday 23 February

A woman on stage in a sequinned dress, singing into a microphone, with a man playing a piano behind her
Kerry Ellis headlines West End Sessions

KENSINGTON GARDENS: Get behind the railings of the usually off-limits Albert Memorial on this guided walk around Kensington Gardens, and get a closer look at the Frieze of Parnassus encircling its base. Other topics on the tour include the park's statues, and the story of how it became separated from neighbouring Hyde Park. 11am-12.30pm

HACKNEY HISTORY: Bring Your Baby Guided London Walks are designed for parents and carers with babies to enjoy London’s history. Today's walk takes place around Hackney and Stoke Newington, and covers suffragettes, the Salvation Army, Daniel Defoe, an alleged 19th century murder, and more. There's a break in Clissold Park in the middle of the walk, for lunch and feeding or changing your baby if needed. 11am-2pm

GHOST SIGNS: Explore an unusual topic in an area of town not blessed with many guided walks, as Jane Parker leads a group around the ghost signs (faded advertising from decades ago) in Willesden Green. 2pm-4pm

MALORIE BLACKMAN: Tying in with the current Malorie Blackman exhibition (details in 'All week', above), the author herself is in conversation with Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo. Hear about Blackman's rise to success is writing more than 70 children's and YA books. Tickets to attend in person have sold out, but there's still availability to stream the event online. 7pm

THE BOHEMIANS: Kickstart your weekend with Queen Tribute band The Bohemians who perform a lively concert at the Millfield Theatre in Edmonton, making their way through the rock band's back catalogue from the 1980s-90s. 7.30pm

WEST END SESSIONS: West End performer Daniel Koek MCs a new style of show, launching at Brooks Mews Bar in Mayfair tonight. The West End Sessions offers different guest performers each time — tonight, musical theatre actors Kerry Ellis and Rob Houchen headline in the cabaret-style venue, with drinks and light bites available to order as you watch. 8pm-11pm

Saturday 24 February

A grey tabby cat
A day of cats, you say? Photo: Erik-Jan Leusink via Unsplash

SIX NATIONS: Another busy weekend for rugby fans as Six Nations continues. It's Ireland v Wales (2.15pm) and Scotland v England (4.45pm) on Saturday, and France v Italy (3pm) on Sunday. Whoever you're supporting, have a look at our suggestions of places to watch Six Nations in London. 24-25 February (and until 16 March)

A DAY OF CATS: Southwark Cathedral offers a day of talks about cats, with various speakers covering feline topics. They include author and screenwriter Kimberlie Hamilton offering a look at history from a cat's perspective, and cat expert vet surgeon Dr Jo Lewis. 1oam-5pm

2000 AD: Embark on a Dredd, Dare, and The Mighty Tharg walking tour around Lambeth, learning about Judge Dredd, who was conceived in Waterloo, plus other comic book heroes, including Dan Dare, Halo Jones, Roy of the Rovers and Tharg the Mighty. 12pm-2pm

QUEER HISTORY: Join performer, curator and tour guide Mark T Cox as he explores the vast and complex history of LGBTQ+ life in London, with stories of iconic people and places who have shaped the city and community through the centuries. This London Society tour focuses on the West End. 2.30pm-4.30pm

SPIDER-MAN CONCERT: Watch 2018 film Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse on a large screen, accompanied by a fusion of live orchestra, turntables and percussion playing the music from the score and soundtrack. Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse in Concert takes place at Southbank Centre. 3pm

ARENACROSS: Indoor motocross racing and freestyle motocross (FMX) combing for Arenacross, a fast-paced show full of daring stunts which comes to Wembley Arena for one day. A classic case of 'don't try this at home'. 5pm

MAD PROFESSOR: Dub reggae legend Mad Professor takes to the stage at Croydon's Fairfield Halls tonight, flaunting his live dub mixing prowess, and inviting resident artists of his label Ariwa Sounds to join him. 7pm

COLOR PURPLE: The Common Press bookshop on Bethnal Green celebrates The Color Purple with a Black to The Future discussion about Alice Walker's book, followed by an an hour-long Queer Kizomba class, and dancing till the wee small hours. 7.30pm-1am

IMPROV: For a spot of comedy, head to the Century Club in Soho, where the League of Improv return with a night of improvised comedy — this month with special guest Dane Baptiste. Doors 7.30pm, 8pm start

MOVIE MYSTERY MARATHON: In classic Prince Charles Cinema style, the Leicester Square film palace runs an all-nighter screening of B-movies. Four films are shown back to back, but the programme isn't revealed until the night, making it something of a mystery movie marathon. 11.30pm (until approx 9am)

Sunday 25 February

Runners taking part in an event, running on closed road outside St Paul's Cathedral
The Cancer Research UK London Winter Run takes place on closed roads through central London.

LONDON WINTER RUN: Up for a physical challenge? Sign up for the London Winter Run, and power through a 10K, traffic-free route around London, raising money for Cancer Research UK. Not much of a runner? Line the route and cheer the fundraisers on. Either way, be aware that there are likely to be road closures around central London today along the route. From 9.30am

BLACK HISTORY WALK: Get the lowdown on hundreds of years of African and Caribbean history in the Trafalgar Square area, on today's Black History Walk. Find out about links between African kings and Queen Victoria, African Resistance leaders of the 1860s, and the planned mis-education of indigenous people in Australia, Canada and Britain. 10am-12pm

ANTIQUES FAIR: It's that time of the month again, when 120+ antiques dealers and experts descend on the Royal Horticultural Halls in Westminster for the Adams Antiques Fair. The event's been running for five decades, and is a chance to buy antique jewellery, silver, decorative pieces and collectables. Note that there's usually a queue by the time the doors open, so get down there early if you want to be one of the first in. 10am-4.30pm

GREATEST SHOWMAN: Fancy dress is strongly encouraged and audience participation expected at this singalong screening of The Greatest Showman at the Prince Charles Cinema. Join in with This Is Me and other songs as Hugh Jackman and co strut their stuff on the big screen. 12.30pm

SUPPER CLUB: Mayfair Indian restaurant Kanishka continues its series of Sunday Supper Clubs, with Lillian Luk of Shanghai Supper Club taking over the kitchen for the evening. Luk aims to promote the lesser-known food of Shanghai, with dishes including 'drunken chicken' (chicken that's been soaked in Shaoxing wine) and Dong Po pork belly. 6pm

LIVE BANDS: Four bands grace the stage at the Fiddler's Elbow in Kentish Town tonight, including retro grunge rockers Hove, and THWACK!, a London-based punk band with added strings. 7pm-11.30pm

COMEDY FUNDRAISER: A tasty line-up at the George Tavern in east London features Desiree Burch, Sam Nicoresti, Jen Ives and William Stone. Money raised goes towards the Outside Project and Museum of Homelessness. 7.30pm-10.30pm

Good Cause of the Week

Playground in Barnet from above
Image: Sammy Thomson

Where is the most accessible playground in London? It's quite possibly this brand new facility up in Barnet. The Fair Play playground at the Victoria Recreation Ground in New Barnet reckons to set a "new standard for inclusivity" with its range of equipment and facilities for children of all abilities. "Solid safety surfacing across the whole play area ensures it is wheelchair accessible, and the picnic area allows wheelchair users and non-wheelchair users to sit together. There are also communication boards for non-verbal people to use, along with a textured path surface to support visually impaired users."

The playground, which opened on 13 February, was founded by two mothers frustrated at the general lack of inclusive play equipment. Almost half of parents with disabled children struggle with playground accessibility. They fundraised most of the cash, with a further contribution from Barnet Council, and then helped design the playground with the help of locals. They hope that their ideas will now spread to other playgrounds across the capital, and further.