Things To Do This Week In London: 6-12 February 2023

Things to do this week is sponsored by London Symphony Orchestra.

All week

Two people sitting in a darkened room using VR headsets
Last chance to see In Plain Sight at Wellcome Collection. Photography: Steven Pocock.

IN PLAIN SIGHT: It's the final week of the Wellcome Collection's free exhibtion, In Plain Sight, which explores all facets of sight and sight loss, from 17th century eye conditions and treatments, to a VR experience giving sighted people an insight into what it's like to be blind. Our reviewer gave it five stars. FREE, until 12 February

MAKING MODERNISM: Also closing this week is Making Modernism at the Royal Academy, which highlights female artists from the early 1900s to show that Modernism was by no means just a male movement. Käthe Kollwitz is the headline artist, and though there are some great works, our reviewer felt there isn't enough room to showcase the talent of all seven artists involved. Until 12 February

FAKE OBITUARIES: Adam McEwen used to be the obituarist at the Daily Telegraph. Now he spends his time writing and designing fake obituaries for real celebrities — celebrities who are very much still alive. You can see some of them, for Dolly Parton, Grace Jones and Greta Thunberg, among others, at an exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in Mayfair. FREE, until 11 March

ORCHIDS: The annual Orchids festival at Kew Gardens is now in full bloom, taking over the Princess of Wales Conservatory for a display of colourful flowers from — and sculptures inspired by — Cameroon. New for this year is a photography exhibition, featuring shots by young creatives in Lolodorf, Cameroon. Until 5 March

SIX NATIONS: Planning to watch the rugby this weekend? Regardless of which team you support, why not, ahem, try our guide on where to watch the Six Nations, and find a pub, bar or venue near you that's showing the action. Until 18 March

VAULT FESTIVAL: Live performance extravaganza VAULT Festival continues apace in Waterloo, with theatre, comedy, spoken word, cabaret and other genres covered. Have a look at what's on this week and beyond, and get booking — some shows are already sold out! Until 19 March

THEATRE OF THE WEEK: Stokey's Tower Theatre features in our roundup of where to catch 'Off West End' shows — and this week it's staging a Samuel Beckett double bill (until 7 February), followed by Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good (8-18 February).

PUB OF THE WEEK: If ever you needed an excuse to go to Beddington, the Dog House is it; this friendly high street micropub opened last August, and offers a smashing selection of real ales from the likes of Wantsum, Titsey and Kissingate. Really lovely bar staff, too.

Monday 6 February

A close-up of a dark pink orchid
Kew's Orchid display is back. ©RBG Kew

LONDON'S BURNING: From Boudica's Rebellion to the Great Fire of London, this city has an unfortunate knack of going up in flames. Learn more about the metropolis's fiery history on the London's Burning Walking Tour, hosted by City Guides. 11am-1pm

TRUE SPY STORIES: Join Footprints of London guide Rob Smith for a walking tour focusing on London's true spy stories which have inspired works of fiction. Find out why the British security services were set up, and see the outside of buildings used by MI5 and SIS, including some which hide in plain sight. 2pm-4pm

ART OF WALKING: Thousands of amateur globe-trotters set off walking around the world for a bet, both before and after the first world war. Hear about that and other histories of the 'noble art of walking' in a talk by author and traveller Nick Fielding, at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington. 2.30pm-3.45pm

RONNIE SCOTT'S: Soak up some imaginative genre-fluid, instrumental jazz from the Beats & Pieces ensemble, who're playing Ronnie Scott's tonight. Alternatively head upstairs to the Voodoo Lounge, where thriftier tickets are to be had, and TJ Johnson is belting out bluesy New Orleans-vibe numbers. 6pm

STAND UP TO CANCER: Indie rock band Hard-Fi headline fundraising gig Stand Up To Cancer at Islington's Union Chapel tonight, with support from The Big Pink, Monster Florence, Tom A. Smith and néomí. 7pm

Tuesday 7 February

A woman with a condused look on her face sitting on a red metal stepladder, surrounded by hanging clothes
Madeleine Macmahon in Breathless by Laura Horton. Photo: Dom Moore

DEAD POETS LIVE: Denise Gough takes on the role of Sylvia Plath for Dead Poets Live at Wilton's Music Hall. Retrace the brief but riveting career of Plath, giving context to her poems through dramatisation. Proceeds from Dead Poets Live events go to the charity Safe Passage UK. 7-9 February

DANCE ME: Dance Me — Music by Leonard Cohen makes its UK premiere at Sadler’s Wells. Three choreographers have put movement to the songs of the late, great songwriter, which are brought to life by 14 performers from Ballets Jazz Montréal. 7-11 February

BREATHLESS: Writer Laura Horton's show Breathless takes an amusing but honest look at the problem of extreme hoarding, based on Horton's own experiences of clothes hoarding. Catch it at Soho Theatre, following its Fringe First winning run in Edinburgh. 7-18 February

SLAVERY AND THE ECONOMY: How important was slavery to the success of the British economy? That's the topic of tonight's free Gresham College lecture by historian Professor Martin Daunton. Those who supported slavery claimed it was vital to the economy, while abolitionists said that the economy would continue to prosper without it. Watch online, or in person at Barnard's Inn Hall. FREE, 6pm

ZIPPO'S CIRCUS: Martin Burton, the founder of Zippo Circus, gives a talk about his life and career, from starting out as a fire-eater on Brighton Beach to becoming Zippo the Clown, to starting the world-famous circus. He'll also show some rare photos as part of the talk, and there's a chance to ask questions at the end. 7pm

FINGERPRINTS: Simona Francese, Professor of Forensic and Bio-analytical Mass Spectrometry, is at the Royal Institution to talk about the use of fingerprints in legal cases. Fingerprinting techniques have been used for more than a century, and this is a chance to hear how scientists are having to stay one step ahead in the latest technology in a bid to outsmart criminals. 7pm-8.30pm


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Two-for-one tickets to 60-minute concert Half Six Fix

Looking for something different to do this February? Half Six Fix is a rather special concert series by the London Symphony Orchestra, aimed at both regular concert-goers, and anyone new to orchestral music. In a relaxed, informal setting at the Barbican, hear an introduction to the concert by the conductor. Then kick back and enjoy 80+ musicians bringing the music to life — or read a digital concert guide on your phone while the music is playing. You can grab a drink from the bar on the way in, and each concert only lasts an hour, meaning there's still time to head out for dinner or drinks afterwards.

This Wednesday (8 February), conductor Martin Alsop introduces music that spans two centuries, and the Atlantic ocean; Beethoven's Piano Concerto No 4, and Lady in the Dark by Kurt Weill. Then next Wednesday (15 February), LSO Principal Guest Conductor Francois-Xavier Roth offers insight and introduction to Beethoven's iconic Fifth Symphony.

Tickets for Half Six Fix range from £18-£35, or you can get a Wildcard ticket for £10-£15, meaning you take a chance on where you’re sitting, only finding out on the day. Plus, Londonist readers can save even more, by entering promo code '241HSF02' at the checkout when booking online, to get two tickets for the price of one (not valid on Wildcard tickets).


Wednesday 8 February

Two toddlers playing with white balloons, with a woman sitting on the floor nearby
Imagine Children's Festival begins today. Image: Ludo Des Cognets

IMAGINE CHILDREN'S FESTIVAL: February half term starts on Saturday, which means Southbank Centre's Imagine Children's Festival is back, celebrating all facets of kids' literature over the next 10 days. The programme is packed, catering to all ages and budgets (plenty of events are FREE!), but stand-out events include appearances by authors Michael Rosen and Cressida Cowell. 8-18 February

WOMEN DANDIES: Les Sapeuses: the Women Dandies of the DRC launches at University of Greenwich Galleries today. The show features photos of the female take on the DRC'S male 'sapeurs', with sharp, androgynous style used as a way to assert pride in a country rocked by civil war. FREE, 8 February-18 March

AFTER DARK: The University of East London hosts a free winter festival at its Docklands campus, featuring a lantern parade, dancing and drumming sessions, and illuminated installations along the waterfront and around the campus. FREE, 5pm-8.30pm

MUSEUM LATE: The Royal College of Physicians Museum stays open late for an evening celebrating its new exhibition, Unfamiliar, which uses photography to portray familiar medical instruments in a whole new way. Tonight is a chance to hear from a curator, as well as exploring the museum's other displays after hours. FREE, 5.30pm-8pm

BLACK LIVES: Head to the Foundling Museum to hear about the lives of Black people in Georgian Britain. It's thought that 15,000 Black people lived in Britain at this time, some by their own choosing, and others brought here by the slave trade, but little is known about the details of their daily lives. Dr Caroline Bressey, Reader in Cultural and Historical Geography at UCL, hosts a panel to discuss how their experiences shaped Britain into the multicultural place it is today. 7pm

LONDON MOTH STORYSLAM: 'In it together' is the theme of this month's London Moth StorySLAM at Rich Mix. Prepare a five-minute long true story on that topic, and take to the stage to share it with the audience. Or, just sit back and listen as others tell their tales. 7.15pm

Thursday 9 February

The face of author Michael Rosen
Hear from Michael Rosen at Southbank Centre

DRUG EXPERIMENTS: Things get trippy at this month's Imperial Lates, an evening event with the theme of 'drug experiments' this time around. It covers everything from medicines to narcotics, with experts offering live talks, workshops and demonstrations alongside a bar and live DJ set. FREE, 6pm-9pm

SHORT FILMS: Film community Shorts On Tap hosts Dramathon, a short film marathon at Rich Mix. Watch 15 short movies by filmmakers from the UK and abroad. 7pm

EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL LIFE: A Nobel Prize winner, an astrophysicist and a geologist are among the expert panel involved in a discussion about whether there is life elsewhere in the universe. Head to the Science Museum to hear whether — and where — we should be looking for alien life, and what it might look like if we do find it. 7.30pm

CHARLOTTE CAMPBELL: London busker and musician Charlotte Campbell — who regular plays at spots on the South Bank, and has had her tracks played on Love Island — launches her new EP, Crossroads and Coincidences, at The Water Rats on Gray's Inn Road tonight. Be there to be the first to hear it performed live. 7.30pm

MICHAEL ROSEN: Children's author Michael Rosen is at Southbank Centre to discuss his memoir, Getting Better, in which he reflects on surviving Covid 19 after becoming extremely ill. He talks to writer Abi Morgan about the lessons he learned on the road to recovery. Age 16+. 8pm

Friday 10 February

A model of a polacanthus dinosaur made from green, white and beige Lego bricks
Brick Dinos opens at Horniman Museum. Image: Warren Elsmore

BRICK DINOS: Dinosaurs from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods go on display at Forest Hill's Horniman Museum — in scaled down, Lego form. Brick Dinos is an exhibition of models by Lego artist Warren Elsmore, as well as specimens from the Horniman's own collection. Although the exhibition has been at this venue before, there are some new additions this time around, including a Polacanthus, an armoured and spiked dinosaur. 10 February-29 October

A CHINDIT'S STORY: Solicitor, charity director and author Daniel Berke is at Chelsea's National Army Museum to tell the story behind his book, Captured Behind Japanese Lines. His grandfather was a member of the 'Chindits', the Long Range Penetration Force of British and Indian soldiers, and became prisoner of the Japanese Imperial Army, facing torture, starvation, slave labour and disease. FREE, 12pm

LIVE AT LUNCH: Head to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden on your lunch break for a Live at Lunch performance, featuring Royal Opera House and guest performing artists — a rare chance to see musicians and dancers at the top of their game, for free. FREE, 1pm

HYDE PARK STORIES: Join a Royal Parks guide for a walking tour around Hyde Park, visiting points of interest including the site of the Tyburn Tree, Speakers' Corner, the Serpentine, and a Victorian pet cemetery. 1.30pm-3pm

CIRCUS OF HORRORS: Haunted Fairground is a show set in a decrepit fairground, haunted by exhibits in The House of Wax which have been brought back to life by a Tesla coil machine. Circus acts and dark magic are performed to a rock soundtrack at Fairfield Halls in Croydon, in a show by Circus of Horrors, a production company which started out 27 years ago at Glastonbury. 7.30pm

Saturday 11 February

A cast of 13 dancers performing on stage
Tonight's your last chance to catch Dance Me at Sadler's Wells © RolandoPaoloGuerzoni

INTERNATIONAL FOLK FESTIVAL: Across one weekend, bands and solo performers from the Caribbean, South Asia, India and the UK pop up at Rich Mix in Shoreditch for the International Folk Festival. 11-12 February

HALF TERM: Need ways to keep the kids entertained while school's out? How does ice skating, pretending to be a vet, or taking a trip to the real Hundred Acre Wood sound? We've covered all that and more in our guide to things to do in London in half term. 11-19 February

IMMERSIVE MEAN GIRLS: 19 years (!) since Cady Heron first set foot in North Shore High School, an immersive Mean Girls screening and dining event comes to the City. Enjoy six dishes and drinks, served at certain times in the film to pair with the action on screen. That's so fetch! 11-19 February

VICTORIAN HIJINKS: Eltham Palace starts its historical hijinks and hands-on shenanigans today, with half-term family fun involving actors dressed up as Victorians, leading school lessons, choose-your-own-adventures... and an old school assault course. 11-19 February

DONATELLO: One of our picks of exhibitions to look forward to in 2023 is the V&A's Donatello: Sculpting the Renaissance, the first UK show of the sculptor's works in bronze, marble, wood and terracotta. It's a chance to learn about his life, and how he influenced subsequent generations of artists, and it opens today. 11 February-11 June

TEEN TOUR: The Photographer's Gallery near Oxford Circus offers regular Teen Tours; guided tours of the displays, led by a young person who offers their own perspective on the work. Today it's the turn of Jadine Hamilton Archer. 3pm

TINA TURNER: Head to Alexandra Palace for What's Love Got To Do With It, a tribute act to musical legend Tina Turner. Hear songs including Proud Mary, River Deep, Private Dancer and others performed by a live band and cast. Age 14+. Doors 6.30pm

LOVERS AND FRIENDS: One of our picks of Valentine's Day events in London, Lovers and Friends at Rich Mix sees actor and presenter Ashley J hosting an interactive comedy show that both celebrates and disrespects love. It's followed by an afterparty, included in your ticket. 7.20pm

Sunday 12 February

jenan performs in front of a red curtain at a Weapons of Mass Hilarity night
Jenan Younis performs at VAULT Festival tonight. Image: Mysa Kafil-Hussain

LONDON BRICK FESTIVAL: Another 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. 10am-5pm

ACTON'S LOST CINEMAS: Discover the old flea-pits, picture palaces and super-cinemas that've come and gone in Acton over the decades, on this cinematic tour of the area. Guide Nigel Smith has just written an article for us on Acton's much missed 1980s pub-cinema, too.

SECRET STORYTELLING: Vanessa Woolf of London Dreamtime invites you to celebrate Valentine's Day with an evening of scary stories with an 'unlucky' theme in Peckham. Sounds like a good option if you want to completely avoid the love hearts and candlelit romance that are everywhere this time of year. 5pm-6.30pm

SUBTERRANEAN LONDON: Explore subterranean London without leaving your house. Footprints of London guide Rob Smith offers a virtual tour beneath the city, delving into crypts, caves, tunnels, vaults and bunkers, and telling the story of how they came to be there. 8pm-9pm

SUPER BOWL: It's Super Bowl Sunday, when two of America's finest NFL teams face off against each other (with Rihanna signed up for the half-time show, we might add). Assuming you're not jetting off to Arizona to watch in person, here's a guide to Super Bowl screenings and parties in London. It runs into the early hours, so consider booking Monday off work. From 8pm

JENAN YOUNIS: Stand up comedian, and creator of Weapons of Mass Hilarity, Jenan Younis, performs her show A Conflict of Disinterest at VAULT Festival tonight — about what its like to revive what you stand for in a world of selective empathy. 8.15pm

Urban oddity of the week

A chicken shop called Lego Chicken

Lego seems to be all over town this week (see Friday and Sunday), so we thought we'd share this picture of "Lego Chicken" in Uxbridge. So far as we know, the takeaway has no connection to the construction toy. In an industry where KFC copycat names like FKC and Tennessee Fried Chicken are common, it's refreshing to see encroachment on somebody else's trademark. Let's just hope they don't get a lawsuit letter through that (very low) letterbox, otherwise they'll be bricking it.

Good cause of the week

Are you a thrifty clothes shopper whose dream is some sort of charity shop megastore? That's exactly what's just arrived at Brent Cross Shopping Centre; Charity Super.Mkt is filled to the gunwales with second-hand threads and accessories from various charity retailers. The pop-up store is only there till 25 February, so get a wriggle on.