Happy New Year from us all at La Gaffe! January might be a chilly month in the capital, and the mood a little quieter after the festive period, but there's still plenty to do - music, ballet, theatre, exhibitions and - even better - lots of free events to enjoy. So wrap up warm and get yourself off to one of the events we've suggested below. And if you're not in the mood for any of them, then feel free to drop in on us for a coffee, light bite, or some authentic Italian cuisine...
1. New Year's Day Parade in Central London - Shake off the cobwebs (and your hangovers) and get out into central London for the annual New Year's Day Parade. Beginning at the Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly and winding its way through some grand streets to Parliament Square, there will be over 8,000 carnival dancers, marching bands. acrobats, cheerleaders partaking, as well as some obligatory giant balloons.
A surprising part of the Parade line-up are the marching bands, of whom many come over from American high schools! And another fun fact - each London Borough submits a float and these are judged by foreign ambassadors and high commissioners. All the money raised from this Parade goes to charity - around £1.5 million has been raised over the years for a number of non-profits. The parade usually attracts around half a million(or more) spectators so be prepared for a bit of a crush. It's also shown on tv (and watched by an estimated 300 million viewers), as a way of showcasing London to those who've never been, but if you're in the capital, you've no excuse not to go in person. 1st January 2020, from 12 noon onwards. Nearest tubes: Green Park, Piccadilly, Leicester Square and Westminster
2. Sleeping Beauty at the Royal Opera House - The Sleeping Beauty is a particularly beautiful ballet and, as the Royal Opera House themselves admit, it holds a special place in their heart since this was the first production put on after World War II at their new location in Covent Garden. (They found a spectacular Prima Donna for the occasions too with the world-famous Margot Fonteyn dancing Aurora). What's even better is that if you can't get hold of a coveted ticket (and they are both costly and in short supply) you will be able to watch the production on one of many big screens around London. With its enchanting score Selected dates throughout January. Bow Street, Covent Garden, London WC2 and selected cinemas across the capital. www.roh.org.uk
3 London International Mime Festival - at the Barbican Fancy learning more about mime - that is the technique or art of portraying a character, mood, narration or ideas by using gestures and bodily movements, rather than speech. There are all kinds of elements that make a mime artist great - body language, hand gestures and facial expressions. This festival offers cinema, a performance for children, and Nick Lehane's 'Chimpanzee' - a heartbreaking puppet play about memories of the animal's captivity in a human home. https://www.barbican.org.uk/whats-on/tag/london-international-mime-festival-2020 Indulge in some fun culture. The festival runs from Tuesday 14th to Saturday 18th January Barbican, Silk Street, London EC2
4. Madonna at the London Palladium Love her or hate her, she's one of the great icons of our age and she's back on stage this month, giving it her all. Madonna (or Madge, as we love to call her) is giving a series of concerts at the London Palladium. She might be in her sixties but her catchy music, dynamic dance routines and extraordinary stage persona has made the best-selling female recording artist of all time according to Guinness World Records. Whether it's disco, dance, pop or electronic, we're sure this 'Material Girl' will be on form, performing her tried-and-tested classics to a few more contemporary numbers. The American singer, songwriter and actress kicks off her "Madame X" tour in the capital at the end of the month. Opening night - Sunday 26th January at 8.30 pm Palladium, 8 Argyll Street, London W1 (Tel: 020 7087 7755).
5. Chinese New Year - It's the Year of the Rat, in Chinese culture, and outside of Asia London has its largest ex-pat community. Come and be part of the amazing celebrations that will go on in the capital's Chinatown area (in the centre of the city, between Trafalger Square and Shaftesbury Avenue). There will be martial arts displays, colourful parades, Dragon dances, traditional music and plenty of tasty street food to keep you going throughout the day. There will also be plenty of family-friendly activities, which make it a perfect activity for kids. https://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/whats-on/chinese-new-year/about Oh, and for aspiring amateur photographers, it's the perfect opportunity to bring a camera because the colours have to be seen to be believed January 2020 (exact dates tbc). Free entry. Nearest tubes: Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus.