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Dom Bewley

Dry January: Sober Fun In London

Admit it, you overindulged over Christmas. We all did. It's OK. And now, after days and days of heavy hilarity, you're struggling. Those trousers don't fit, that blouse is a little tighter. You've somehow caught freshers flu even though you graduated a decade ago. So, like the mindful grown-up you are, you've decided to go dry for January. But the thought dawns on you. Are things only fun...with alcohol? Well, you'll be pleased to hear that, no, a life abstaining from booze can actually be pretty fun. The nation's capital is positively brimming with fun, sober experiences. Here are the best things to do in London this Jan for those of you undertaking Dry January. Featuring:

  • Walking tours to get the blood pumping and the waistline trim
  • Tasty treats for Veganuary
  • Some mindful alcoholic treats at Truman Brewery
  • Culture your newly energised brain at a museum
  • And many more!

Walk tall, you sober star

Why not kick-off 2020 with a leisurely stroll around London? A Walking Tour is the perfect way to breathe in some of that "fresh" London air, knock off a pound or two, and experience some of the amazing locations from your favourite films, TV shows, and books. There's a Harry Potter Walking Tour, which takes budding wizards on a winding walk through many of the property's highlights. You'll discover Diagon Alley, Grimmauld Place, and cross many of the real London locations where epic battles and chases took place. Or, if you're looking for something a little more macabre, set off by gaslight on a Jack the Ripper Walking Tour. Trace his trail of terror through East London, weaving through the streets of Whitechapel. And while the tour ends at the Ten Bells pub, simply refrain from the booze and ask for something a little less calorific instead. Like water. Because that's what your body really wants. These are just two of the many walking tours you can take in and around London, so find the one that suits you and on you hop, apprentice.

Namco Funscape: fun by name, fun by nature

Remember when you were a kid, and the opportunity to gallivant around an entertainment arcade made your summer holidays? Well, you can recapture that feeling. And just like a kid, you can do it sober. Namco Funscape is one of the largest arcades in the capital. Along with classic arcade offerings like fighters, racing games and lightgun shooters, they also have a huge amount of alternative entertainment on offer.

Once you've inevitably failed at all the videogames you could have sworn you were good at, there's a dodgems track, ten pin bowling, ping pong, an escape room, and even a pool hall. All in one place. You are very welcome. And best of all, many of these activities get you tokens. And with enough tokens, you can mosey on over to the gift shop and pick up a prize. What? Fun and prizes? Where do you sign up? Here. Right here.

Go 'cold turkey' with Veganuary

A big trend in January these days, and a complement to Dry Jan, is Veganuary. As the name suggests, this is the process of going vegan. In January. Simple, really. And a good palate cleanser after a month of work parties, the inevitable post-work party takeaways, and Christmas. You never know, you might like it so much you go Vegan full time? And boy, do you have a load to sink your teeth into. In West London, you've got the burgery delights of Dirty Bones, Wulf and Lamb, and The Gate. Head South for some streetfood delights like Ruby's (cupcakes), Gujarati Rasoi (curry), and Ethiopiques (Ethiopian). And up North, if you need something to tickle that sweet tooth, try Cookies and Scream, Doughnut Time and Vx. So, if you're in London and already doing Dry Jan, why not go all the way and try out Veganuary?

Bowling for Sobriety

While the modern London-based adult is used to playing kid-favourite activities while imbibing a pint or two, those activities still exist when you're sober. Surprising, we know. And while you might think inebriation improves your bowling game, face it, it does not. So why not take all your sober, sombre friends to one of London's many bowling alleys? There's the aforementioned Namco Funscape, of course. But if you looking for something a little different, why not check out QUEENS Skate Dine Bowl? Alongside the 12 pristine bowling alleys on offer, they also have the best all-year ice rink in London. And to top it all off, there's a MEATliquor on site. Just refrain from the latter offerings the name suggests, and you'll be dining on some of the best burgers around. Alternatively, check out All Star Lanes in Holborn and Brick Lane, or Bloomsbury Lanes in, well, Bloomsbury. The latter has private karaoke booths, if you feel like embarrassing yourself with no Dutch courage to back you up.

Drink different at Old Truman Brewery's Mindful Drinking Festival

Be honest, it's only days into January and already you're thinking about throwing in the towel. Your local is just around the corner. Sure, the beer is overpriced and pieces are missing from their ropey board game 'collection'. But it's your local. It's home. No! Stop that. You've come so far. Snap out of it. Fix the landing. And if you really need to scratch that itch, be mindful. And where better to do that thing than at Old Truman Brewery's Mindful Drinking Festival? It's presented by Club Soda, who pride themselves on helping to craft a world where non-drinkers feel right at home among their drinking brethren. Very inclusive. The festival plays host to the biggest and best non-alcoholic beverages on the market, now and in the future. Plus, it's free, so really, you have no excuse to go try some delicious, health-conscious tipples. You've got wines, beers, ciders, and more cocktails than you can shake a drunken stick at. So, no matter your poison, you're sure to find something much less poisonous to enjoy. Look out for Club Soda's Mindful Drinking Festival at Brick Lane's Old Truman Brewery from 18th-19th January.

Go walk, talk, and cavort with the animals at London Zoo

Here's a fun fact you may not know. Nearly all animals are alcoholics. So where better than to show off your new-found sobriety than at London Zoo? Now, come on. You know that fact isn't true. Only a few animals are alcoholics. Still, London Zoo is a veritable treasure trove of sober fun. You've got Penguin Beach, where you get to see the little munchkins get up to all sorts of shenanigans (with not a drop of alcohol in sight). There's Land of the Lions, which, yes, is where the lions prowl. Ever been face to face with a lion? No. This might be the closest you ever get. Hopefully. You could also take a wander through Butterfly Paradise, where the tiny wonders will flutter overhead, and maybe onto your head if you're lucky enough. Aww. Animals.

Escape your zero-booze blues at one of the many escape rooms across the capital

While being stuck in a small space with your soon-to-be-enemies might seem like anything but a hoot, you're wrong. Escape rooms have blown up over the past few years, with lots of them popping up across London. And since you and your motley crew will need your wits about you, well, what better time to play than Dry Jan? There's Modern Fables in Hackney, which pairs a retro 80's sci-fi aesthetic with some Lovecraftian leanings for a truly challenging experience. Or you could head over to Breakin' Escape Rooms in Holloway. They host rooms with different themes, such as a pirate ship or apace ship, and each has its own difficulty levels, so you can ramp up the challenge if you're feeling daring. And if you're a fan of BBC's Sherlock, why not check out Sherlock: The Game Is Now at Shepherd's Bush? The story? Everyone's favourite socially inept mastermind has gone missing while a crime wave is sweeping London. Your task? Find him. Because there's no way you could fix this mess alone. It's even written by the show's creators. So, expect an authentic Sherlock experience.

Nourish your withered brain this Dry Jan at one of London's many museums

When was the last time you actually learnt anything? A while, we'd bet. Well, fear not, friends! London has some of the best museums and exhibits on planet Earth. South Kensington especially is full of the marvellous learning behemoths. Of knowledge. Yes, those.

You've got the Natural History Museum, famous for its dinosaur skeletons and massive whales. Then there's the Science Museum, which not only has a rich collection of scientific artefacts, but also its own IMAX theatre. Or pop over the road to the V&A, which has a couple of thought-provoking exhibitions on through January, like Cars: Accelerating the Modern World, and Tim Walker: Wonderful Things. And that's just South Ken. Further afield you have BODY WORLDS London, the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the Postal Museum, Churchill War Rooms, the Freud Museum, the Dickens Museum. And breathe. Whatever your interests, and wherever you are, you're bound to find a museum that suits you. And what better way to ponder history, and life, than stone-cold sober. You can do it. We believe in you.

Go clubbing, but sober

Yes, really. With wellness on the rise, many have taken to sober raves. Arguably pioneered by the Brixton event Morning Gloryville, the craze has even spread outside of London, and even over to Berlin. These days, there are plenty of similar events taking place, some even in the morning. Many see it as an alternative to a morning gym excursion, and why not? And what better way to sweat out all that Christmas/New Year's Eve regret than at a party. Morning Gloryville is now running sober raves every Wednesday morning from 6:30 - 10:30 at The Oval Space in East London. But if you'd rather work your sober raving around the working week, Urubu holds similar events on Saturday mornings from 8 - 10:30 in Vauxhall. And if you'd rather rave when the sun's gone down, We Are One Positivity Raves is the ticket. One Saturday a month they hold a sober rave from 7:30 until midnight in Camden. Good music, good vibes, and a workout to burn off those Christmas calories? Well, that sounds pretty good to us.

Discover history

And finally, we'll end with something a little obvious. London is one of the most historically rich cities around. Thousands of years of history seep out of it. Like tree sap, but filled with memories. It's no wonder then that it's the most visited city on the planet. Over 30 million people come to see the sights and sounds every single year. Why not join them? There are countless historical sites worth visiting in the capital. The Tower of London has been the backdrop for some of London's more grisly history. St. Paul's Cathedral is stunning, and an unmissable icon if you've never been. You could explore Henry VIII's home at Hampton Court Palace. There's Kensington Palace. The Royal Albert Hall. You could take a tour of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and see where some of the world's most famous stories were first told. Or take a wander around the wonderous Kew Gardens. You can see where we're going with this. There's too many to mention, and there's so much you have to see. And when better to get all your sightseeing in than during Dry Jan? At least it won't be interfering with your busy schedule. You know, of going down the pub on Friday night and then feeling terrible until Monday.

So there you have it. Those are the best things to do in London in January for Dry Jan. Make the most of your clear-headed sobriety and try and fit them all in before Feb. Because, well, then you'll be back on it. Looking for even more to do over the month? Have a look here and here.

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