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Matthew Pearson

What To Do in London in January

Shake off the January blues with our guide to what to do in London in January. It’s the start of a brand new decade, so London’s putting its best foot forward. We’ve come up with our picks of the best events, exhibitions and pop-ups to hit up this month, including... - A completely talk-free festival - Intimate gigs from the Queen of Pop - Design festivals, drag shows and missions to Mars - Pop-ups great and small - And much, much more

What to Do in London in January: Events and Shows

London International Mime Festival

Start the year with a...silence. The London Mime Festival is back for its 44th year, with 18 shows across a number of London venues, including the Barbican, Shoreditch Town Hall and the Southbank Centre. From stunning puppetry to circus-style theatre, the line up is daring and varied. Expect your Dad’s impression of being trapped in a glass box to be blown out of the water. 8th January - 2nd February 2020. Multiple venues. For more details and to book, head HERE. [caption id="attachment_6070" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption]

Fellini at BFI Southbank

A two month retrospective of all the great director’s works begins at the BFI Soutbank in January. Marking 100 years since Fellini’s birth, the season includes many special events and screenings of a new 4K restoration of La Dolce Vita. Check out the event trailer below. Until the end of February. BFI Southbank, SE1 8XT. For more details and to book, head HERE.

London Short Film Festival

If you thought The Irishman and the latest Star Wars were too long, this is the film festival for you. Even if you didn’t, perhaps it’s time to gave pithiness a chance. This is the 17th outing of the London Short Film Festival, and they’re screening a plethora of international and homegrown short form works across some of London’s best-loved cinematic venues, including Dalston’s Rio, BFI Southbank and the ICA. 10th - 19th January 2020. Multiple venues across London. For more details and to book, head HERE.

Secret Cinema Presents: Stranger Things

The town of Hawkins needs you. Get down to Starcourt Mall as quick as you can and help uncover the mysteries that lie beneath the charming, buzzy 1980s exterior. Quite possibly the best immersive experience London has to offer, Secret Cinema haven’t missed a beat with this one. Can you keep a secret? It’s great. Until March 1st. Secret London location. From £49. For more details and to book, head HERE. [caption id="attachment_6068" align="alignnone" width="1000"]

Matthew Pearson for The London Pass[/caption]

VAULT Festival 2020

An underground arts festival that actually takes place (at least partially) underground. At last. Vault Festival 2020 offers eight weeks of theatre, comedy, immersive experiences, lates and cabaret, around and under Waterloo. It gets pretty wild down there in The Vaults. Expect daring shows from some of the most boundary and genre-thwarting UK and international performers. From 28th January - 22nd March 2020. Main centre is The Vaults, SE1 7NN, although events are held at venues across SE1. For more details and to book, head HERE.

Burns Night

The yearly celebration of Scotland’s national poet sees pop-up events go on long into the night across many London venues. Take your pick from whiskey tastings, Burns Night parties, supper clubs and more. Fancy a change from tradition? EartH Hackney’s raved up take on a ceilidh could be for you. 25th January. All across London. [caption id="attachment_6071" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption]

Chinese New Year

Shake off your Burns Night whiskey hangover with a Chinese New Year celebration...the very next day. This is the biggest gathering of Chinese dragons and lions in Europe, in an event that takes over much of the West End. Starting on Charing Cross Road at 10am, the parade ends in Trafalgar Square, where the main festivities take place. Bring in The Year of the Rat with some Chinese street food and fabulous stage performances. 26th January 2020. Across the West End. For more details, head HERE. [caption id="attachment_6065" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption]

Madonna, London Palladium

The Queen of Pop brings her critically-acclaimed Madame X Tour to the UK. In-keeping with the style of venue she’s been playing on her international tour so far, she’s hitting up the London Palladium. Like her career highlights so far, this new tour balances the intimate and the exuberant, the personal and the spectacular. 27th January - 16th February 2020. The London Palladium, W1F 7TF. From £245. For more details and to book, head HERE.

The Little Orchestra, Prologue: Beethoven’s Childhood

An orchestral performance that takes all the fuss and ceremony out of the occasion. Little Orchestra shows allow you to feel at home with the orchestra in front of you, with no stage and no curtain, no distance between you and the players. January sees the first in a series of concerts inspired by the different stages in Beethoven’s life. This first show covers Beethoven’s early years growing up in Bonn, with music from his key early influences, Bach and Mozart, and his own original pieces. A highlight of the evening is the bespoke food and drink offerings, with wines from the Rhineland area and dishes rooted in Rhenish tradition. 24th and 25th January. Battersea Arts Centre, SW11 5TN. From £25. For more details and to book, head HERE.

What to do in London in January: Exhibitions and Fairs

London Art Fair

For collectors and enthusiasts, beginners and the simply curious. London Art Fair brings together 100 galleries from across the country, showcasing their works, ranging from early 20th century pieces to contemporary creations. 22nd - 26th January 2020. Business Design Centre, N1 0QH. From £17. For more details and to book, head HERE. [caption id="attachment_6072" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption]

Ru Paul’s Drag Con UK

It’s a good time to be a British Ru Paul fan. After we were finally treated to a UK version of the incredibly popular Ru Paul’s Drag Race, the First Lady of Drag is bringing her Drag Con to these shores for the first time. With a DJ set from Ru, performances from the UK Queens and appearances from some Drag Race royalty, you’ll be gagging. January 18th and 19th. From £40. Olympia London, W14 8UX. For more details and to book, head HERE.


Marvel at a winter light trail set in the wondrous surrounds of Chiswick House and Gardens. Lightopia features interactive light displays, 3D projections and acrobatic performances. It’s a shortcut to a brighter January. Until 1st March. From £18. Chiswick House and Gardens, W4 2RP. For more details and to book, head HERE.

Moving to Mars, Design Museum

A Multi-sensory adventure that takes you to up to the Red Planet and back again, without leaving West London. It’ll only take a couple hours too, rather than the three dull years I’m going to be spending up there with that guy from NSYNC and Richard Branson. See the evolution in space clothing. Marvel at designs for homes and everyday items that make colonising Mars a real, real, real...possibility. And meet the ExoMars rover which will be heading to the planet in 2020. Until 23rd February 2020. Design Museum, W8 6AG. From £14.50 For more details and to book, head HERE. [caption id="attachment_6073" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption]

WOW: City Lights and Woodland Shade

This January, gain new perspectives on The Land of the Rising Sun, with a digital art installation at Japan House London. WOW is a multidisciplinary new media visual design studio from Tokyo and Sendai in Japan. The pieces put together here take visitors through the Tokyo night and up into north-eastern Japan, exploring how new technology helps make the traditional handmade wooden crafts associated with the region. Until 22nd March 2020. Free entry. Japan House London, W8 5SA. For more details and to book, head HERE.

What to Do in London in January: Pop Up Bars and Restaurants

Cabaret Fledermaus

Enjoy a night out at a famous Vienna nightclub as part of the Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art exhibition at the Barbican. It’s a recreation of the much mythologised Cabaret Fledermaus, an establishment designed to quell the boredom of contemporary life, replacing it with ‘ease, art and culture’. The recreation was put together using just one black and white photograph of the original...looking at the detail of the colourful tiling and the dazzling atmosphere created in the space, you’d have thought they had a whole set of images, recordings, videos and testimonies to work from. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights until 19th January 2020. Entry is included with a ticket to the main exhibition. The Barbican, EC2Y 8DS. For more info and to book, head HERE. [caption id="attachment_6074" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption]

Emerald City, Queen of Hoxton

Head up to the Queen of Hoxton’s rooftop, transformed into a Wizard of Oz wonderland. Explore the fantastically decorated rooftop and sip on themed (and very green) drinks. You’re not in Kansas anymore, that’s for sure. Throughout January. Queen of Hoxton, EC2A 3JX. For more details, head HERE.

Brindisa Calcotada, Brindisa

Each year, this popular tapas mini chain celebrates the traditional Catalan festival Calcotada. It isn’t in honour of a saint or a local hero or anything like that. Instead, the festival is dedicated to the calcot, a Catalan onion. These green onions are served charred, in great number, alongside a romesco sauce, grilled meats, seasonal veg and masses of wine. The wine you pour into your mouth from a great height, the onions you eat with your hands. It gets pretty messy...bibs are supplied. Brindisa are putting on a feast for £35 a pop, with traditional and vegan options available. One of the most unique things to do in London in January. Weekends from 18th January. 3 course menu for £35. Tapas Brindisa Shoreditch, EC2A 3AT and Tapas Brindisa Battersea, SW11 8EZ. For more details and to book, head HERE. [caption id="attachment_6076" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption]

Sūpa Ya Ramen

An underground ramen bar run by ex-NOPI and Patty & Bun chef Luke Findlay. After a super successful kickstarter campaign, he's moving his supper club into more permanent digs. There are only a few covers and you can only book by DMing them on Instagram...on a Monday. So it’s underground and very, very exclusive. Sounds pretty Sūpa, Ya? Held on Saturday nights in a secret N16 location. To book, DM Sūpa Ya on Instagram.


Enjoy a meal at Emile, a modern European pop-up restaurant. Set up by Damian Clisby, formerly of Petersham Nurseries and Nick Gibson from The Drapers Arms, it promises seasonal cooking, nodding across European cuisines, with the menu changing daily. A pop-up that’s sticking around for a little while yet, Emile looks set to be in its Curtain Road, Hackney setting until at least the middle of the year. Emile promises a meal with a difference. Curtain Road, Hackney, EC2A 3NY. For more information and to book, head HERE. [caption id="attachment_6077" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption] So, there you have it. Your January just got a little brighter, a little tastier, a little warmer, a little more martian. If you’ve got more ideas as to what to do in London in January, let us know in the comments below. For more things to do in London, check out The London Pass. Find out more about what's on offer below.

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