My London Living blog will be taking its annual winter break as I go to Africa so here's my London newsletter which features a choice of listings for the next 3 months of happenings in London, to keep you all busy. It normally just goes out to subscribers but I thought I'd share it on my blog this year.
MUSEUMS & EXHIBITIONS
PARKS, GARDENS AND ROYAL PALACES
· January 2015 A big tradition of the festive season is the January sales with massive bargains at all stores from the small to the very grand, from a local shop to Harrods. Watch out for Burns Night on 25th when you’ll find Scottish traditions breaking out all over London so why not try some haggis this year!
· February Love is in the air with arrival of Valentine’s Day so watch out for special lovvie events. Ready yourselves for Pancake Day races around London, one of the best being at the Guildhall in the City where the livery companies race and toss pancakes while wearing their very special traditional costumes! February also brings us the Chinese New Year, a big event in London, as we welcome the year of the Goat.
· March St Patrick’s Day is big all round the world and London is no exception as the Guinness flows and we have a huge parade and dancing and bands so get out that green outfit and join in the fun in Trafalgar Square.
- January 2015 James McEvoy takes the lead role in The Ruling Class at the Trafalgar Studios. A new Tom Stoppard play, the first for 9 years, called The Hard Problem opens at the National Theatre. My Night with Reg opens at the Apollo theatre with Julian Ovenden from Downton Abbey.
- February Beautiful – the Carole King Musical opens at the Aldwych theatre so it’s bound to have great songs. There is an unusual semi opera but anything starring Mark Rylance is worth booking – Farinelli and the King at the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse. The highly praised Arthur Miller View from the Bridge transfers to the West End starring Mark Strong. Ralph Fiennes stars in Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman at the National Theatre.
- March Juliette Binoche stars in Antigone at the Barbican. For a very short run the Coliseum has Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson in the English National Opera’s staging of Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber. Family drama comes to the National with Rules for Living starring comedians Stephen Mangan and Miles Jupp.
- January 2015 There’s a block buster at the Royal Academy – Rubens and His Legacy: Van Dyck to Cezanne so expect work from a whole range of big names as well as his own. The London Art Fair, the largest in the UK is a great chance to see a whole range of work across many media from the early 20th century to the present day at the Business Design Centre.
- February The National Portrait Gallery is staging Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends. At the Photographers’ Gallery an exhibition of over 200 press photos on the theme of Human Rights and Human Wrongs document key world events from 1945 to the 1990s. The Hayward Gallery has a topical show ahead of the election called History is Now: Seven Artists take on Britain.
- March A good looking show opens at the National Gallery this month, Inventing Impressionism, a touring show looking at the period 1865-1905. Richard Diebenkorn’s paintings have a rare showing at the Royal Academy. Christina Mackie is taking over the Duveen Galleries at the Tate Britain with her complex tableaux which seem to defy categorisation!
SHOPPING & MARKETS.
- January 2015 January is the big time for sales and massive bargains to be picked up all around town. Keep an eye open for Alexander Wang’s first London shop sometime ‘early 2015’
- February It’s London Fashion Week so Somerset House will be swarming with amazingly well dressed and strangely dressed people and there are many other venues across London too. Feels odd that they will be showing autumn/winter 2015 already!
- March It’s a great time of year to be visiting London’s many outdoor markets, from Portobello for antiques and knick knacks, food and fashion, to Borough for food, to Columbia Road for flowers and Spitalfields/Brick Lane for anything you might want.
- January 2015 The Wildlife Photographer of the Year is a feast for the eyes at the Natural History Museum and you’ll wonder how they got those shots. The Science Museum has a new exhibition called Churchill’s Scientists which sounds fascinating.
- February Don’t miss some of the great shows in town such as Grayson Perry: Who are You? at the National Portrait Gallery, looking at British identity. The endless fascination with Sherlock Holmes is explored at the London Museum and the British Museum’s Ancient Lives, New Discoveries explores another great fascination – mummies and the hidden secrets of 8 of the museum’s collection.
- March The Natural History Museum’s new exhibition is Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea includes coral collected by Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle expedition. The Victoria and Albert Museum hosts Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, an overview of his career which is transferring from New York. The British Museum delves into Greek sculpture with Defining Beauty: The Body in Ancient Greek Art showing their own work but with many pieces loaned from museums around the world. The British Library has a Magna Carta exhibition to mark its 800 years.
- January 2015 Burns Night sees London’s restaurants break out the traditional Scottish dishes so look out for haggis, neeps, tatties with some whiskey to wash it all down. The end of the month seems to be the new date for AlanYau’s Soho opening of Duck & Rice, a Chinese gastropub! January also sees the return of the pop up Redemption serving up mocktails and vegan food so coming to the aide of those giving up booze for the month. The Sky Garden is due to open at the top of the Walkie Talkie where the views will be excellent.
- February/March There are a number of restaurants listed as opening in early 2015 but without exact dates – often the way. So here are some of them: W36 a sister restaurant to Beach Blanket Babylon heads just north to Golbourne Road; The Chiswick Smokehouse speaks for itself; the Pulia in Borough Market will be an eat-in deli specialising in Italian food from Puglia; Smith and Wollensky opens their first New York steakhouse in the UK just off The Strand; Milos, Greek fine dining comes to Regent Street; and, finally the huge 200 seater Percy and Founders opens in Fitzrovia with 3 bars. Or you can catch a Real Food Market along the Southbank any weekend for a healthier start to this year's spring.
· January 2015 The 30th January is the anniversary of the shocking royal event in 1649 when King Charles 1 was beheaded, so this seems like the right time visit the Banqueting House, the site where it happened, as they hold a service on that day.
· February The Fashion Rules exhibition continues at Kensington Palace with outfits from the Queen, Princesses Margaret and Diana from the 50s to the 90s. Blow the cobwebs away with a guided walk around royal Richmond Park.
· March. March is a fabulous time to wander round London’s large and varied parks – Regents Park, Hyde Park, Richmond Park, Holland Park to name just a few. The flowers will be in bloom and the leaves coming out on the trees and, as London is one of the greenest cities in the world, there is a lot to enjoy. Or visit Hampton Court Palace to watch one of their live Tudor cookery demonstrations.
- January 2015 Basketball fans can enjoy the NBA Global Games as the New York Knicks take on the Milwaukee Bucks at the 02 Arena. Not for me but the UK Cold Water Swimming Championships take place at Tooting Bec Lido. Masters Snookers is at Alexandra Palace with the best 16 players around and TNA Impact Wrestling at Wembley Arena.
- February The biggest sporting event in February is Rugby Union’s 6 Nations tournament played across all these nations’ capital cities with key matches at London’s Twickenham Stadium. It’ll be a warm up for the Rugby World Cup here in the autumn. Elite Cycling takes places at the former Olympic Velodrome as part of the Revolution event if you want to experience the famous roar and see cycling’s top names.
- March As the football season races on the Capital One (used to e called League) Cup final will be held at Wembley and England will play Lithuania in a Euro 2106 qualifier. The Head of the River Race takes place on the Thames and is world’s largest continuous rowing event with 420 boats covering 4.25 miles.
- January 2015 Queen featuring Brian May appear at the 02 with Adam Lambert as part of their European tour. Top jazz-funk man Roy Ayers will be playing at the Jazz Cafe. London based Jessie Ware is at the 02 Academy Brixton. Paolo Nutini wows the 02 and Nils Lofgren is at the Union Chapel. Jessie J takes on the Eventim Apollo Hammersmith
- February Catch Elbow at the Eventim Hammersmith and in the same venue, D’Angelo and Sam Bailey. The Kaiser Chefs come to 02 and Ruby Turner is playing at Ronnie Scotts. The Christians play at the Jazz Cafe for a trip back to the 80s. Katherine Jenkins sings at the Royal Festival Hall and Bonnie Tyler belts it out at the 02.
- March Catch Sam Smith’s lovely tones at the 02 Academy Brixton. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds come to the 02 Arena featuring their new second album Chasing Yesterday. The 02 also hosts the Country to Country Festival with Lady Antebellum headlining. Tobacco Dock stages the London Electronic Arts Festival with performances, screenings, interviews and installations. In complete contrast Mariza, the queen of Fado comes to the Barbican and I’m looking forward to this one. Jazz star Dr John is playing his tribute to Louis Armstrong at Ronnie Scotts and Lionel Ritchie appears at the 02.