After skating rinks, Christmas markets, lights in Oxford Street and plenty of good cheer, December festivities in London always give way to January and the feeling that winter’s far from gone.
After all, let’s be honest, January isn’t the most popular month in northern Europe - with grey skies, cold (and sometimes freezing temperatures) and what seems like an eternity before the clocks go forward, it’s not surprising that many people feel like hunkering down at home with hot soup and Netflix.
But come on - you’re in London, one of the world’s greatest cities. And trust us, however cold and grey it is, there are still hundreds of things to keep you busy, by day and by night, in the British capital.
From top galleries and world-class museums to street markets and department stores, and from West End musicals to fringe theatre and walks along the River Thames to walks in large green spaces, there’s plenty to keep you occupied.
So what should you do and see if you’re visiting London in January? Here are some of our suggestions.
1. New Year’s Day ‘Fun and Run’ - Hyde Park
Attention all you adrenaline junkies. If you didn’t come home at 3am, a little worse the wear from an evening of festivities and alcohol, then what better way to start 2024 than with some sport - in the form of London’s traditional ‘Fun Run’ on 1st January.
Organised by the Serpentine Running Club, with the gloriously green Hyde Park as its setting, choose from the 10 km race or the 3km ‘fun run’ where you can walk, jog or amble round the route with no fear of judgement. All the paths are traffic free and you’ll be running in one of London’s most lovely green spaces.
Get your Nikes out!
2. ‘Just for One Day’ - Old Vic Theatre, South Bank
It was the day back in 1985 where the world was brought together - yep, for those of us old enough to remember, it was the day of ‘Live Aid’. This, of course, was a landmark concert with giants like Queen, Elton John, David Bowie, U2 and the Who performing on both sides of the pond to raise funds for the devastating famine that had swept Ethiopia.
Now, the world premiere of the musical ‘Just for One Day’ is opening at the prestigious Old Vic theatre, down next to London’s cultural complex, the South Bank. Directed by John O’Farrell (who’s a writer on the satirical tv show ‘Have I got News for You’) it’s bound to be a provocative look at the social and political zeitgeist of that time, and if it takes off, it could end up in the West End and Broadway. Book now for a fun evening out and a trip down memory lane…
3. New Year’s Day Parade - West End
Taking place every year, this is a great chance to dance and cheer your way into 2024, at no cost! The London New Year’s Day Parade brings together thousands of performers from neighbourhoods and all across the capital - think floats, American marching bands, salsa dancers and mega inflatables - all designed to lift your spirits.
The parade starts at the swanky Ritz Hotel in Piccadilly (on the edge of Green Park), moves onto Regent Street, continues through Pall Mall to Trafalgar Square then culminates at Westminster. The first float sets off at 12 noon and the whole thing will last about three hours. Find yourself a place to watch it early, because it’s going to be fun, free and crowded!
4. Giselle ballet - London Coliseum
A sumptuous production of the marvellous ballet Giselle, awaits dance lovers at the Coliseum in London’s West End. This beautiful tale of unrequited love and betrayal, produced by Mary Skeaping, has had critics raving, with one reviewer remarking that attendees are certain to go home in tears!
The venue itself is beautiful, the performance likely to be perfect and an evening at the ballet is always a good idea! Moreover, whether you’re attending a matinee or evening performance, be sure to take a walk around Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square afterwards and drink in the atmosphere.
5. The Hampstead Twelfth Night Ceilidh
Finally, for something more local and off the beaten tourist track, head down to our neighbourhood in north London - Hampstead. It’s not just charming and picturesque, with plenty to see and do, but there are cultural offerings beside it - and none set to be more lively than the Twelfth Night Ceilidh that’s being held on our very street.
Twelfth Night marks the eve of epiphany in the Christian calendar and the end of the Christmas festivities and in Scottish and Irish Gaelic, ‘ceilidh’ refers to an ‘Informal social gathering amongst neighbourhoods, involving storytelling, chatting and music’. Being held in the basement of Heath Street Baptist Church, this family-friendly event with professional folk musicians, dancing and hot pulled pork and drinks for those with an appetite promises to be a fine evening out! Tickets are available on the door.
If you're looking for accommodation in London then consider staying at our Hampstead Hotel La Gaffe. Our comfortable guest accommodation is competitively-priced and we’re 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 fifteen minute journey into central London underground, where all of the capital's major attractions are at your fingertips.
A happy 2024 to you all!