Find out what’s on in the capital this month, including Winter Lights at Canary Wharf, the London Short Film Festival and the launch of the Vault Festival.
Happy New Year! 2023 is here at last after a challenging 2022 for many. While the cost of living crisis is unfortunately looking set to rumble on for a while yet, there are some free events to keep your entertained. January is famously a dark and cold winter month, so expect some illuminations, such as the hugely popular Winter Lights festival in Docklands, to brighten up proceedings. Meanwhile, London’s equivalent to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Waterloo’s Vault Festival is returning to the arches for the 11th year.
There’s also still some festive outdoor ice rinks on around town, check out this guide for more information.
Look out for the for family-friendly activities.
- 1 January 2023 : New Year’s Day Parade
Hundreds of thousands of spectators are expected to gather to watch 10,000 performers from around the world. Starts from Piccadilly’s Berkeley Street at 12pm, ending at Parliament Square at 3.30pm. Free. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus, Westminster or Charing Cross. For more information, visit the Parade website.
- Now until 2 January 2023 : Gingerbread City
The Museum of Architecture returns with another Gingerbread City. Over 100 architects, artists, designers and engineers create five miniature cities made entirely of gingerbread and icing. There are also daily gingerbread house-making workshops. Open Mon-Sat: 9am-9pm, Sun: 9am-6pm. Tickets: Adults £15, Under 12s £10. 6-7 Motcomb Street, Belgravia, SW1X 8JU. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner or Knightsbridge. For more information, visit the Gingerbread City website. 🐻
- Now until 2 January 2023 : Lightopia Festival
The award-winning festival of lights is return to the capital, but this time to south London’s Crystal Palace. Talk a winter walk through a light display with illuminations, interactive displays and installations. Open 5pm-10pm (last entry 8.30pm). Tickets: Adults £19.50/£24.50, Child 3-15yrs £13/£16.50. Crystal Palace Park, Thicket Road, Crystal Palace, SE19 2GA. Nearest stations: Crystal Palace or Penge West. For more information and booking, visit the Lightopia website. 🐻
- Now until 2 January 2023 : Winter Festival Brent Cross
Take a break from your Christmas shopping at the Winter Festival, featuring Santa’s Grotto, ice rink, fun fair rides and food and drink. Open Mon-Fri 4pm-9pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-9pm (From 17 December onwards, opening times extend to 12pm-9pm daily). Entry: £3. Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Brent Cross, NW4 3FP. Nearest station: Brent Cross. For more information and booking, visit the Winter Festival Brent Cross website. 🐻
- Now until 2 January 2023 : Winter Wonderland
The south-east corner of Hyde Park is transformed into a festive fair with rides, food and drink stalls, ice rink, the Magical Ice Kingdom, the Giant Wheel, Bar Ice, Real Ice Slide, Zippos Christmas Circus, Cirque Berserk, Ice Sculpting Workshops, Santa Land, Bavarian Village, and more. Open daily 10am-10pm. Tickets (must be pre-booked) Standard £5, Peak £7.50, Off-peak free. Entrance fee waived if you spend over £25 on attractions, rides or games in advance. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner, Victoria, Knightsbridge or Marble Arch. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website. 🐻
- Now until 3 January 2023 : Christmas @ Kenwood
The fabulous grounds and buildings at Kenwood will be lit up in a Christmas light trail. There will also be festive food and drink. From 4.30pm-9.30pm. Tickets: Adults £29.50, Children £22.50. Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath, NW3 7JR. Nearest stations: Highgate or Hampstead. For tickets, visit the Christmas at Kenwood website. 🐻
- Now until 3 January 2023 : The Magic of Christmas
London Zoo are hosting a series of festive events alongside the usual animal enclosures. Meet Santa, visit the Polar Post Room, enjoy Christmas festivities, animal crafts, Christmas-themed animal talks, marshmallow toasting and more. Open 10am-4pm. General entry: Adults range from £26.50-£33, Children 3-15yrs £17.25-£21.45. Additional charges apply for some activities. London Zoo, Regent’s Park, Marylebone, NW1 4RY. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Camden Town. For booking, visit the ZSL website. 🐻
- 6 – 8 January 2023 : RuPaul’s DragCon UK
Meet your favourite Drag Race icons from the UK and abroad, such as Lawrence Chaney, The Vivenne, Tia Kofi, Yvie Oddly, Baga Chipz, Danny Beard, Cheryl Hole, Jaida Essence Hall, Jinkx Monsoon, Kita Mean, Krystal Versace, Michelle Visage, and many more. Featuring catwalks, live performances, a DJ set from RuPaul, panel discussions and more. Open Fri-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 10am-5pm. Tickets from £60, Children age 8yrs and under free. ExCeL London, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, E16 1XL. Nearest stations: Custom House or Prince Regent. For more information, visit the RuPaul’s DragCon UK website. 🐻
- Now until 8 January 2023 : Winter Festival @ Southbank Centre
Winter market, The Curling Club, pop-up food and drink experiences, including Jimmy’s Lodge igloos and festive shows, such as Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol and Hey Duggee – The Live Theatre Show. Times and prices vary. Free entry to winter market. South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest stations: Waterloo, Waterloo East or Embankment. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website. 🐻
- Now until 8 January 2023 : Illuminature @ WWT
Explore nature after dark in this unique illuminated trail around the London Wetland Centre. Open 4.30pm-9pm. Tickets: Adults £18.50, Children £14.50, under 4s free. WWT London, Queen Elizabeth Walk, Barnes, SW13 9WT. Nearest station: Barnes Bridge. For more information and booking, visit the WWT website. 🐻
- Now until 8 January 2023 : Christmas at Kew
Follow a magical trail around Kew Gardens, through tunnels of light, past dancing waterfalls, illuminations and the Fire Garden, and a light display at the Palm House. 4pm-10pm. Tickets: Standard advance adult: Off peak £21.50/Peak £28, Children: Off peak £14/peak £18. Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website. 🐻
- 13 January – 5 March 2023 : Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities by Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil bring their show Kurios to London. The show tells the story of an ambitious inventor. Times vary. Tickets start from £51. Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP. Nearest stations: South Kensington, Knightsbridge or High Street Kensington. For more information and booking, visit the Cirque Du Soleil website.
- Now until 15 January 2023 : Hogwarts in the Snow
Visit your favourite Harry Potter sets, such as the Forbidden Forest, Diagon Alley, Hagrid’s Hut, the Hogwarts castle and the Great Hall, which have been transformed with snow for the festive season. Tickets from £49.95. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, Hertfordshire, WD25 7LR. Nearest station: Watford (then a shuttle bus to studios). For more information and tickets, visit the WB Studio Tour website. 🐻
- Now until 15 January 2023 : The Great Christmas Feast
Experience Charles Dickens’s classic tale A Christmas Carol like never before, with Victorian feasting, mixology, live music and theatre. Tickets: Dining from £129.50, Experience-only from £49.50. The Lost Estate, 9 Beaumont Avenue, W14 9LP. Nearest stations: Earl’s Court or Baron’s Court. For tickets, visit the Great Christmas Feast website.
- 16 January – 5 February 2023 : London International Mime Festival
Festival at various events across London including performances of physical theatre, dance, circus, puppetry and live art. Workshops also available. Tickets range from £13.50-£45. Venues include the Barbican, Jacksons Lane, The Place, Shoreditch Town Hall, Peacock Theatre, and Little Angel Theatre. For more information, visit the Mime London website. 🐻
- Now until 17 January 2023 : The Witches of Oz
An immersive dining and theatrical experience as you head to the Emerald City in this Wizard of Oz-inspired extravaganza. Over 18s only. Dress code: Emerald glam. Doors open 6.30pm, Show starts 7.15pm. Tickets: General £20-£35, Dining £45-£59. The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest stations: Waterloo, Lambeth North or Waterloo East. For more information, visit the Vaults website.
- 18 – 22 January 2023 : London Art Fair
Contemporary and modern British art fair in Islington, featuring talks, tour, performances and showcases. Open Wed-Thur 11am-9pm, Fri Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 11am-5pm. Tickets: £19.50 (day pass). Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For tickets and more information, visit the London Art Fair website.
- 18 – 28 January 2023 : Winter Lights Festival
Over 20 light installations and interactive art have been dotted around Canary Wharf for two weeks. 5pm-10pm. Free. Canary Wharf and Canada Square, Docklands, E14. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Canary Wharf website. 🐻
- 20 – 29 January 2023 : London Short Film Festival
Ten day festival celebrating the best in short film-making at venues across the capital, including the Curzon Soho, ICA, Genesis, Rio Dalston, Rich Mix, BFI Southbank, Garden Cinema, and Fold. For more information, visit the London Short Film Festival website.
- 21 – 22 January 2023 : Lunar New Year @ Museum of London Docklands
Family event to celebrate the Lunar New Year, including arts and crafts, workshops and performances. 11am-4pm. Free entry. Museum of London Docklands, No.1 West India Quay, Hertsmere Road, E14 4AL. Nearest station: West India Quay or Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Museum of London website.
- 24 – 29 January 2023 : The Decorative Fair – Winter Fair
Get the chance to meet makers and crafts and shop for furniture, lighting, decoration, art, textiles, jewellery and bags. Open Tues 12pm-8pm, Wed-Thu 11am-8pm, Fri-Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 11am-6pm. Tickets: £10. Evolution London, Battersea Park, SW11 4NJ. Nearest stations: Battersea Park, Queenstown Road Battersea or Battersea Power Station. For tickets, visit the Decorative Fair website.
- 24 January – 19 March 2023 : Vault Festival
Eight week fringe arts festival returns to Waterloo for the 11th year. Head to the tunnels beneath Waterloo. Entertainment includes live music, theatre, film, dance, comedy, immersive experiences and late-night parties. Ticket prices vary. The Vaults, 10 Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo and Lambeth North. For booking, visit the Vault Festival website.
- Now until 29 January 2023 : The Carpenters’ Line
New exhibition explores the art of woodworking from the densely forested Hida region of Gifu Prefecture in Japan. Open Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. Free entry. Japan House London, 101-111 Kensington High Street, Kensington, W8 5SA. Nearest station: High Street Kensington. For more information, visit the Japan House London website.
- 31 January – 4 February 2023 : Space, The Universe and Everything
A stunning sound and light experience telling the story of human exploration transforms both the exterior and interior of St Martin-in-the-Fields church. 6pm-9.30pm (hour long experience). Tickets: £10, under 16yrs £5. St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, Westminster, WC2H 4JH. Nearest stations: Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the St Martin-in-the-Fields website. 🐻
- Now until 31 January 2023 : Avora – A New World Cocktail Experience
Step into an immersive cocktail experience, featuring theartical sets, a talented cast of actors and unique cocktails. Over 18s only. Open Tues-Wed: 6pm–10:45pm, Thur 6pm-11:45pm, Fri 4pm-11.45pm, Sat 12pm-11.45pm, Sun 2pm-7.45pm. Tickets: £47 (includes 3 cocktails). Rosewood Building, Hackney Road, Hoxton, E2 8GY. Nearest station: Hoxton. For tickets, visit the Avora website.
- Now until 31 January 2023 : Frameless
Explore a new way to engage with art in an immersive, multi-sensory experience. Visitors can travel through four galleries, coming up close to masterpieces from the likes of Cezanne, Kandinsky, Monet, Dalí, Van Gogh, Canaletto, Rembrandt and Klimt, among others. Opening hours vary. Tickets from £15, Kids under 5 yrs free. 6 Marble Arch Place, Marylebone, W1H 7AP. Nearest station: Marble Arch. For tickets, visit the Frameless website.🐻
- Now until 5 February 2023 : The Museum of the Moon
British artist Luke Jerram is returning to the Painted Hall following his popular ‘Gaia’ installation of the Earth with a to-scale installation of the Moon, internally lit. Late-night events are also taking place during the exhibition period. Tickets: Adults £12.50, Children 16yr and under free. Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, King William Walk, Greenwich, SE10 9NN. Nearest stations: Greenwich, Cutty Sark or Maze Hill. For more information, visit the ORNC website. 🐻
- Now until 19 February 2023 : The Horror Show!
New exhibition explores some of Britain’s most provocative artists from the past 50 years of creative rebellion, featuring 200 artworks and historical artefacts. Open Tues-Wed, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm, Thu-Fri 10am-9pm. Tickets: £16.50. Embankment Galleries (South Wing), Somerset House, The Strand, Aldwych, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. For more information, visit the Somerset House website.
- Now until 25 February 2023 : Dalí Cybernetics – The Immersive Experience
Salvador Dalí’s weird and wonderful artworks are brought to life in an immersive exhibiton. Open: Mon, Wed, Thu – 10am-7pm, Fri 10am-8pm, Sat 9am-8pm, Sun 9am-7pm. Tickets: Adults £24.90, Children £15.90. The Boiler House. 152 Brick Lane, Spitalfields, E1 6RU. Nearest stations: Shoreditch High Street or Aldgate East. For tickets, visit the Immersive Dalí website. 🐻
- Now until 26 February 2023 : Club Curling
Try your hand at curling as the winter sports pops up at King’s Cross for the festive season. Visitors can enjoy a 45-minute curling slot on one of the six synthetic ice rinks, before enjoying a cocktail at the bar. Open daily 11am-9pm. Tickets: Adults £7, Children under 12 free. Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, N1C 4DQ. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information and booking, visit the King’s Cross website. 🐻
- Now until 27 February 2023 : Van Gogh – The Immersive Experience
Step into the world of the artistic legend Vincent Van Gogh in an immersive exhibition. Open Mon, Wed-Thu 10am-8pm, Fri 10am-9pm, Sat 9am-9pm, Sun 9am-7pm. Tickets: Adults £22.90, Children £13.90. Commercial 106, 106 Commercial Street, Spitalfields, E1 6LZ. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street or Liverpool Street. For tickets, visit the Van Gogh Experience website. 🐻
- Now until 5 March 2023 : When Flowers Dream
An exhibition from artist Tanya Schultz (Pip & Pop) featuring installations made from sugar, candy and assorted craft materials. Opening times vary depending on season. Tickets included with gardens entrance. Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, Kew Gardens, Brentford Gate, Kew, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website. 🐻
- Now until 23 March 2023 : Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds – The Immersive Experience
An immersive experience inspired by the classic story. Travel back in time to Victorian London and the Martian invasion of 1898. Experience immersive theatre, virtual reality, augmented reality, holograms and other cutting-edge technology. Overs 12 only. Times vary. Tickets: £40-£130. The Old Metal Exchange, 56 Leadenhall Street, City of London, EC3A 2BJ. Nearest station: Aldgate or Fenchurch Street. For booking, visit the War of the World’s website. Check out Metro Girl’s review of the show.
- Now until Spring 2023 : Sculpture in the City 2022/2023
Free public art exhibition, bringing 19 contemporary pieces to the streets and spaces of the City of London. Free. At various sites around the Square Mile. Nearest stations: Fenchurch Street, Monument or Liverpool Street. For more information and a map of the artworks, visit the Sculpture in the City website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the exhibition. 🐻
- Now until July 2023 : Scenes in the Square
Check out bronze sculptures of iconic film characters around Leicester Square. Eight interactive characters, such as Laurel & Hardy to Wonder Woman will be placed in the square for four months. Free. Leicester Square, Westminster, WC2H 7DE. Nearest stations: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Leicester Square website. Check out Metro Girl’s gallery of the exhibition. 🐻
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