After what can often seem like a frenetic December, filled with holiday cheer, festive parties and both Christmas and Hanukkah get-togethers, January can often seem like a bit of a quiet period in London.
And, of course, it can often be one of the coldest months of the year in the UK, with plenty of rain (and sometimes even snow) and chilly temperatures.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of things to do and see in the capital. On the contrary, London is a little less busy at this time of the year and this can make it quite a fun place to explore.
Whether you want to hide from the cold in one of the city’s endless museums or art galleries, take advantage of the sales and do some shopping, explore one of the capital’s many street markets or enjoy some of the activities specifically planned for the month, rest assured you’ll find something to chase away the January blues in London.
Here are some of our picks:
1. Watch the New Year’s Day Parade
If you haven’t partied your way into the wee small hours, then what better way to get into the spirit of 2023 than to travel into central London and enjoy the famous New Year’s Day Parade.
This annual event is a real extravaganza, with over 8.000 performers, representing all of the city’s boroughs, and begins at noon in Piccadilly. Marching bands, samba dancers, African drummers, cheerleaders and even a steel band are amongst those taking part and, even better, it’s all free.
There’s nothing like a wander through this part of town - and afterwards you can head to Green Park for a walk, down to the River Thames to gaze at the views or over to Soho, to grab a coffee and a bite.
2. Gaze at Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors
If you enjoy immersive installations, then you can’t miss this incredible exhibition at the Tate Modern art museum.
Yayoi Kusama was born in Japan but came to fame in the USA in the 1960’s. She’s now world-famous for her extraordinary art and two of her infinity rooms (originally shows in 2012 at the Tate, in a retrospective) can be seen here again.
Using lights and mirrors to create a repetitive illusion, walking through these installations is a truly unforgettable experience. Filled with the Brilliance of Life’ and ‘Chandeliers of Grief’ follow on from her unforgettable spotty pumpkins and you really will be forgiven for thinking you’re in another galaxy, as you walk through the rooms.
Entrance to the exhibition is not free, but the rest of the Tate Modern is, plus you can take a long walk along the Thames afterwards, and enjoy some terrific views.
3. Enjoy ‘The Nutcracker’ ballet at the Royal Opera House
Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet is a firm favourite with both young and old and the Royal Opera House, in London’s fashionable Covent Garden neighbourhood, is the perfect place to see it.
Running until the middle of January, it tells the familiar story of a young girl, Clara, who befriends a nutcracker toy she is given on Christmas Eve. He will soon be involved in a bloody battle with the Mouse King.
Be taken on a magical journey with soldiers, Uncle Drosselmeyer, a Sugar Plum Fairy…can someone fall in love with the ‘ugly’ Nutcracker doll and break the spell? Go and see for yourself - it will be a performance you will not forget and the Royal Opera House is a truly wonderful venue.
4. Shake Away the Cobwebs with a walk on Hampstead Heath
By any standards, Hampstead Heath is one of London’s most beautiful green spaces and nicknamed the ‘green lung’ of the city. If you take a walk there, you’ll soon understand why - it’s like being in the country, even though it’s just 15 minutes from the city centre by underground.
At any time of the year it’s incredibly beautiful - go for a long ramble and get lost in thickets and brambles…explore stately Kenwood House (entry is free), take a kite to Parliament Hill and fly it, or brave the bathing ponds and go for an invigorating swim in the waters there.
Oh, and if the temperature drops and it snows, Hampstead Heath is full of photographic opportunities. Trust us when we say we feel privileged to have our business in this part of the world - it really is stunning.
5. Celebrate Chinese New Year
This year is the Chinese Year of the Rabbit and it falls on Sunday 22nd January. On this day, there’s no more exciting place in London to be than Chinatown, which is in the heart of the city’s West End and close to both Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square.
After the misery of Covid and a ban on crowds, the parade should hopefully be back this year - full of lions and dragons, and endless vibrantly coloured floats, it always begins in Charing Cross Road and heads down Shaftesbury Avenue.
Afterwards, In Trafalgar Square, there will be firecrackers, music and dance shows, martial arts displays and a ceremony of thanks. And, of course, there will be plenty of tasty street food to enjoy. So dress up warmly and enjoy!
Finally, if you’re looking for accommodation in London then consider staying with us, here at La Gaffe.
Our comfortable guest accommodation is competitively-priced and were family-run and owned beside, so you’re assured of a warm and personal welcome.
We’re just three minutes walk from Hampstead tube and then it’s a quick trip (no more than a quarter of an hour) into the city centre by underground.
To find out more about us, give us a call on 0207 435-8965 or book our hotel in Hampstead directly with us (for the best rates!) on our website.
Happy New Year to you all!