Things To Do This Week In London: 8-14 April 2024

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All week

Four people sitting in a row playing video games
Get involved with Now Play This at Somerset House. Photo: Ben Peter Catchpole

EASTER HOLIDAYS: The Easter bunny's long gone, but many London schools are still closed this week. Take a look at our guide to spending the Easter holidays in London for ways to keep children of all ages entertained, from one-off events to theatre shows and exhibitions.

NOW PLAY THIS: As part of the London Games Festival (details below), experimental games event Now Play This is back at Somerset House. Build your own mini golf course, take part in a classic murder mystery with a twist, or browse the programme for other things to see and do — plenty of the activities are family-friendly, making it another option for Easter holiday fun. Until 14 April

LAST CHANCE EXHIBITIONS: A few large exhibitions close at the end of this week. It's your last chance to see:

  • FASHION CITY: Coats worn by Princess Diana and Dot Cotton, alongside items from high street retailers including M&S, Wallis and Moss Bros are part of Museum of London Docklands' Fashion City exhibition, which looks at how the Jewish tailors and designers of the East End shaped fashion worldwide. Until 14 April
  • CUTE: The world of cute culture is celebrated in Somerset House exhibition, Cute. Music, fashion, toys, video games and social media all feature, and it's where you'll find that Hello Kitty cafe you've seen all over social media. Until 14 April
  • SPIES, LIES AND DECEPTION: The Imperial War Museum has a major exhibition about the role, purpose and human cost of espionage, deceit and misdirection — from the first world war to present day. 150 objects, including gadgets, official documents, art and newly digitised film and photography are on display. FREE, until 14 April
Paterson Joseph cutting a ribbon
Paterson Joseph has officially opened the Ignatius Sancho Café in Greenwich. Image: Royal Parks

BOOK OF THE WEEK: If classy cocktails are your thing, know that the Connaught — named the world's best bar multiple times — has released its own cocktail book, with recipes for 100 of its concoctions. These range from the famous Connaught Martini, through to more elaborate potions like the Number 11. Stock up your drinks cabinet to stir up some; otherwise, enjoy the photos while plotting your next trip to the Connaught.

CAFE OF THE WEEK: The Ignatius Sancho Café in Greenwich Park is named for the abolitionist, writer and composer, who was once himself enslaved here in Greenwich. The cafe — housed in a beautiful old redbrick lodge in Vanbrugh Yard — is open daily, serving bagels, sandwiches, salads, yoghurt pots, ice cream and coffees. A good one to have on your Greenwich radar.

DAY TRIP OF THE WEEK: With the days getting longer and the weather getting (slightly) warmer, you might be thinking about heading out of London on a day trip. Our Beyond London section has plenty of inspiration, including a selection of beautiful castles in Kent which are open to visitors, from clifftop fortresses to grand country piles.

Monday 8 April

A post-apocalyptic black and white photo of a figure walking through a city in ruins, with 'Macbeth' written in red
Catch a futuristic retelling of Macbeth, from Tuesday.

MUSIC IS MAGIC: Disability charity The Music Man Project gives a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, featuring hundreds of musicians with learning disabilities. Performers from across the UK appear on stage alongside singer Michael Ball and The Band of His Majesty’s Royal Marines. 7pm

RONNIE SCOTT'S: Spend a classic night out in Soho, listening to Ronnie Scott's Jazz Orchestra. Head to the legendary venue for a blend of roaring swing, sassy vocals, fabulous funk and Latin tunes — alongside classic big band hits. Special guest performers are Denny Ilett and friends. 7.30pm

ROMAN LONDON: Footprints of London guide Rob Smith offers a virtual tour around Roman London, so you can see the historic remains of the city without leaving your home. Find out about how Londinium was built, and became a powerful centre of trade, and get the lowdown on where you can still see evidence of the Roman Empire today. 8pm-9pm

PUB QUIZ: Every Monday, the White Horse in Wembley hosts a pub quiz. It's £2 entry per person, you'll get a free pint if you order a burger, and there are prizes and a jackpot to be won. 8pm-10pm

ED NIGHT: Comedian Ed Night is at the Pleasance Theatre in Islington performing his current work-in-progress show, The Plunge — straight off the back of his previous tour, Rise and Smile. 9pm (repeated tomorrow)

FOC IT UP: Monthly show The FOC IT UP! Comedy Club is back at Soho Theatre, celebrating comedians of colour that are not cis-men. Kemah Bob (MC), Janine Harouni, Erika Ehlher, Saven Chadha and Heleana Blackwell are on the line-up this time round. 9.15pm

Tuesday 9 April

Four cast members wearing masks in a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream opens at Wilton's Music Hall.

MACBETH: Catch a reworking of Shakespeare's Macbeth at Brockley Jack. The tale of power and revenge is set in the near future, at a time when mankind is establishing a new hierarchy, having risen from the ashes of an apocalypse. 9-13 April

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM: There's a double dose for Shakespeare fans today: in addition to the above, Wilton's Music Hall hosts a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Physical comedy, song, music, and masks make for a lively interpretation of this 16th century comedy play. 9-20 April

LONDON GAMES FESTIVAL: Aimed at both gaming professionals and casual gamers, the London Games Festival takes place across the capital from today, with events celebrating the industry. Alongside conferences and networking events, there are open gaming studios, an online showcase of new games, and Now Play This at Somerset House (mentioned above). 9-25 April

SIX CHICK FLIX: Legally Blonde, Pretty Woman, Dirty Dancing, Titanic, The Beach and The Notebook all get the parody treatment in two-actor comedy show Six Chick Flix, opening at Leicester Square Theatre today. It originated in New York and sold out in Edinburgh last year. 9 April-29 June

NEUROSCIENCE COMEDY: Scientists and experts working in the field of neuroscience take to the stage at Bloomsbury Theatre for an evening of neuroscience comedy. Podcaster Abigoliah Schamaun hosts, with performers including speech expert Ryan Oakeson, Deaf researcher Dr Katie Rowley, and cognitive neuroscientist Benedict Greenwood. 7pm-9pm

Wednesday 10 April

Three performers on stage in Ushers The Musical
Ushers The Musical is back in London

USHERS THE MUSICAL: Ushers: The Front of House Musical returns to London with a six-week run at The Other Palace, opening tonight. It follows a shift in the lives of the front of house staff, where a three-year workplace romance is on the rocks, an untrained newbie is working her first shift and the amorous manager is under pressure to cut costs. 10 April-19 May

RANJIT SINGH: Discover the extraordinary life and legacy of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, in the Wallace Collection's new exhibition. It delves into the rise of the Sikh Empire, featuring glittering weaponry, exquisite jewellery and historic artefacts. Visitors journey through Singh's reign, experiencing his military prowess, political acumen and enduring cultural impact. 10 April-20 October

SOMERSET HOUSE LATES: This year's first instalment of Morgan Stanley Lates with Somerset House and The Courtauld offers a chance to visit the institutions after hours. Enjoy activities hosted by artists and curators, plus food pop-ups and bars, and DJ sets, with focus on The Courtauld's current Frank Auerbach exhibition. 6pm-10pm

THE CARDS WE'RE DEALT: Shoestring Theatre in South Norwood hosts The Card We're Dealt, Jasmin Cherrelle Skeete's coming-of-age play about five teenagers confronting their demons and fears as they navigate the complexities of growing up. 7pm (also tomorrow)

HAUNTED LONDON: London Fortean Society takes over Conway Hall for an evening talking about the ghosts reputed to haunt the British Museum and Senate House. Noah Angell, author of Ghosts of the British Museum, discusses his research on supernatural happenings, Roger Luckhurst talk about an apparent curse in the Museum's Egyptian rooms, and Sarah Sparkes offers insight into her research projects, The Ghosts of Senate House. 7pm-9pm

Thursday 11 April

Exterior of Courtauld Gallery from the courtyard at dusk
Somerset House and the Courtauld Gallery stay open late on Wednesday. © Rory Lindsay

LONDON COFFEE FESTIVAL: Get your fill of caffeine and then some, at the London Coffee Festival, a four-day tsunami of tastings, demos, competitions, shopping and more at The Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. Head to The Lab for talks, debates, demos and workshops led by experts, and see 16 baristas go head-to-head in the Coffee Masters competition. 11-14 April

HISTORY FEST: William Dalrymple, Dr Nicola Clark, Brian Cox and Clive Myrie are some of the guest speakers at HistFest 2024, a weekend of history talks at the British Library. Topics range from espionage in the second world war to plague nurses, and the rise of the East India Company. It begins today with Bettany Hughes discussing the Seven Wonders of the World. 11-14 April

POKETHON: Take the kiddos along to Waterstones in Kingston for Pokéthon — a Pokémon trading card event. Dedicated traders and beginners are all welcome — it's a chance to collect, trade and battle the cards, or just learn the ropes. 9.30am-11am

WHY WE TRAVEL: Author Ash Bhardwaj is at Stanfords in Battersea, talking about his new book Why We Travel : A journey into Human Motivation. Hear about some of the journeys that have shaped his life, and get an insight into why we choose to travel, and how we can do it better. 6.30pm-8pm

MARIAN KEYES: Celebrated author Marian Keyes is at St James's Church on Piccadilly, plugging the publication of her new novel, My Favourite Mistake, about a woman who swaps her life in Manhattan for a small town in Ireland. There's the option to buy a signed copy of the book with your ticket. 7pm

COLLYWOBBLERS COMEDY: Rory O' Hanlon, Michael Akadiri, Bella Hull and Will Robbins are all on the bill at tonight's Collywobblers Comedy night, along with a special guest TBC. Takes place at Ryan's Bar in Stoke Newington. 8pm

Friday 12 April

A statue of Queen Victoria, painted yellow with purple flowers
There's a new, free exhibition at Serpentine South. Image: Yinka Shonibare CBE, Decolonised Structures (Queen Victoria), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, Johannesburg, London and New York, James Cohan Gallery, New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London and New York. Photographer: Stephen White & Co. © Yinka Shonibare CBE

LATIN MUSIC FESTIVAL: La Linea Latin music festival takes place at several venues around central London. It opens tonight with Grammy award-winning Mexican-American singer-songwriter Lila Downs performing at Barbican. Other highlights include performances by Manguebeat pioneer group Nação Zumbi, and Baque Luar, a collective of female and non-binary vocalists and percussionists. Browse the full programme. 12-22 April

ELIXIR FESTIVAL: A celebration of arts, music and storytelling from the Middle East and North Africa, Elixir Festival begins at Grand Junction in Paddington today. Singer Ruba Shamshoum kicks things off with a concert of pop, jazz and Middle Eastern soul. 12 April-2 May

YINKA SHONIBARE: British Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare's new exhibition, Suspended States, opens today at Serpentine South Gallery, inviting visitors to take a critical eye to the history of trade, migration, colonialism and ecological impact. New and recent works are showcased, including installations, sculptures, and woodcut prints — all challenging Western iconography and exploring pressing global issues. FREE, 12 April-1 September

CRYSTAL PALACE RAILWAY: Go in search of the remains of the Crystal Palace High Level railway line on this walking tour, led by guide Richard Watkins. Seek out station sites, arches, tunnel portals, the track bed and other features which hint at the former railway line built to convey visitors to the exhibition halls at the Crystal Palace. 2pm-5pm

WOMEN AND COCAINE: Women and Cocaine Presents — a film night at Kennington's Cinema Museum celebrating the fierce and liberated women of pre-code cinema — is back tonight. This time, they're screening the 1933 flick, Female, starring Ruth Chatterton, and directed by Michael Curtiz of Casablanca fame. 7.30pm

Saturday 13 April

Singer Ruba Shamshoum on stage in the spotlight
Elixir Festival begins on Friday

PETROL HEADONISM: Once again Petrol Headonism Underground takes place in Wembley's underground car parks across two days. Retro, classic and modified vehicles, hypercars, supercars and bikes are on display in this family-friendly event. 13-14 April

BOOKS IN THE PARK: New literary festival Books in the Park pitches up at Beckenham Place Park in Lewisham for a day of events for both adults and children. As well as talks, there are poetry and fiction writing workshops for adults, and a scavenger hunt for kids. From 9am

DEAF DAY: City Lit's annual Deaf Day is a celebration of Deaf culture, offering Deaf and hard of hearing people a chance to get together, socialise and celebrate Deaf provision and the Deaf community. Hearing people are also welcome, including those who work with the Deaf community, are learning sign language — or are simply interested to learn more. FREE, 10am-4pm

VINTAGE FAIR: Head to The Engine Rooms in Highgate for the Pop Up Vintage Fair, a gathering of vendors hawking vintage clothing, accessories, home decor, and more. You can pay extra for earlybird entry and see the goods half an hour before the general public. Food and drink — including pizza from 67Sourdough — is available on site. 10.30am-4pm

SUPER TRI E: Real life and virtual racing blend together at the supertri E World Championships, which you can watch at the London Aquatics Centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It's a highly competitive triathlon event in which participants go against each other in real life in the pool, and in virtual races for the running and cycling segments, on smart trainers and self-powered curved treadmills. 5.30pm-9.30pm

SECRET OF GRAVITY: Diver, pilot and physicist Claudia de Rham is at the Royal Institution to give a talk about her new theory of gravity. Her experience in all three disciplines, along with research by other scientists, has allowed her to reimagine the theory of massive gravity to uncover the secrets of dark energy. 7pm-8.30pm

MUSIC OF THE MOVIES: Music from The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, The Hobbit, Avatar and other films is performed live by the London Concert Orchestra in a special show at Southbank Centre. 7.30pm

THEIR MAJESTIES: Outrageous hosts Asifa Lahore and Shepherd's Bush are back at the Oval Tavern in Croydon, for a Saturday edition of Their Majesties — a rollicking few hours of drag and cabaret in LGBTQ+-friendly surroundings. We'd recommend booking a table. 8pm-12am

Sunday 14 April

An actress in period costume on a film set, with someone doing her hair
See Jeanne du Barry ahead of its official UK release.

SPRING PLANT FAIR: Browse and buy garden plants from expert growers hailing from all over the country at the Garden Museum's Spring Plant Fair. Great Dixter Nursery in East Sussex and Beth Chatto Garden in Essex are among the organisations taking part, with a programme of talks and workshops taking place throughout the day. 10am-4pm

VINTAGE FAIR: Another chance to splash out on vintage togs, this time at the Frock Me! Vintage Fair, which returns to Chelsea Old Town Hall, with 60 dealers selling their wares. 11am-5.30pm

WOOLWICH WORKS TOUR: Take a free guided tour of Woolwich Works, a 300-year-old building within the Royal Arsenal site which is now used as a theatre and events space. Hear history spanning kings, queens, fireworks and Suffragettes — and find out how the building was repurposed and restored for its current use. The tour takes place most Sundays. FREE, 11am

SPURS V LEICESTER: Spurs's Womens team plays at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this afternoon, in what is their first ever FA Cup semi-final — it's against Leicester City. Tickets are at competitive prices, too. 12pm KO

THE ROYAL BALLET: Barbican Cinema hosts a Royal Opera House Live screening of a trio of Principal Choreographer Kenneth MacMillan’s one-act ballets. Begin with his first major work, Danses Concertantes, followed by Different Drummer, about a soldier’s descent into madness. The programme concludes with Requiem, his 1976 work for Stuttgart Ballet. 2pm

AYRES ON A SHOESTRING: Poet, comedian, songwriter and presenter Pam Ayres teams up with TV's Gyles Brandreth for Ayres on a shoestring! Fry's delight! And a touch of Hinge & Bracket... a snappy show of live musical performances of the music of opera/theatre composer Louis Mander. It's happening at OSO Arts Centre in Barnes. 3.30pm

JEANNE DU BARRY: The Soho Hotel offers a preview screening of new film Jeanne du Barry, before its UK release next week. It tells the story of  Jeanne Bécu, the daughter of an impoverished seamstress who scandalises the Court of Louis XV by becoming his last mistress. It's followed by a Q&A with lead actress and director, Maiween and costume designer, Jurgen Doering. 4.30pm-7.30pm

Good cause of the week

A woman eating pasta bake
Volunteer Tina enjoying a meal at South Norwood Community Kitchen . Image: Londonist

South Norwood Community Kitchen is a wonderful setup a stone's throw from Norwood Junction station — offering pay-what-you-can meals Tuesday to Fridays, alongside a wealth of other community benefits, including free clothes, a food bank and various get togethers. We recently called in for a pasta bake and a chat — read about it here.