With the double whammy of winter and the pandemic still causing misery, it’s easy to succumb to the temptation of central heating, sofas and blankets and Netflix. But - come on - even though it’s cold and we’re not quite at the end of this strange period in history - there are many things to do in London town, and as February is quieter and fewer crowds, it's the perfect time to visit galleries and museums.
From art and theatre to ice rinks and romantic dinners, there’s plenty of ways to pass a day off or a few hours at the weekend in our beloved city - and whatever part of the capital you’re staying in, you’re never far away from events with the London Underground and famous red buses.
Here are seven of our recommendations to enjoy yourself this February and come home with a smile on your face…
1. Van Gogh Self-Portraits - 3rd February - 8th May 2022
This groundbreaking exhibition, hosted by the ‘hidden gem’ Courtauld Gallery (located on the Aldwych, next to the River Thames) hasbeen much anticipated and is dedicated to self-portraits of Van Gogh. The paintings span decades - from his early years in his Paris studio to the year before he died, when Vincent was already in an insane asylum. Offering an insight into his creative process and his private life, tickets for this exhibition are selling like hot cakes, so don’t delay and book up!
The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, The Strand, WC1, tel: 020 7947 7777 https://courtauld.ac.uk/gallery/
2. Imagine Children’s Festival - 9th to 20th February
Now in its 20th year, the ‘Imagine’ Children’s Festival is back this half-term, offering families the very best in music, literature, theatre and hands-on activities. From their ‘Peppa Pig’ concert for youngsters to a performance of ‘Butterflies;’ - a story of friendship and courage in hard times - there will be over 160 events on offer and half of them will be free. Imagine runs for 12 days too, which means however busy you are, you’ll be able to find time to head into central London and get inspired.
Imagine, South Bank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 (Waterloo tube)
3. Cirque du Soleil - until end February
The magical Cirque du Soleil is back in town, for its annual show, at the Royal Albert Hall, in Kensington. This time, you’ll be taken on a breathtaking journey through Mexico, variating between light and rain. With their colourful costumes, extraordinary acrobatic performances and unusual visual surprises, you’ll be treated to a mix of modern and traditional aspects of Mexican culture and folklore, all within an exciting setting.
Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7, tel: 020 7589 8212 www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/events/2022/cirque-du-soleil-luzia/
4. Chinese New Year at Burgh House, Hampstead
Beautiful Burgh House in north London’s Hampstead is opening its doors to the public this year, to celebrate Chinese New Year - the Year of the Tiger. Celebrations will begin at 11am on Hampstead High Street, where there will be a traditional lion dance, then it’s back to the house itself for cultural activities, including Chinese music, played on unique instruments, storytelling and arts and crafts for the kids.Tickets are free but book in advance, so you aren’t disappointed -give them a call for more information.Burgh House, New End Square, NW3, tel: 020 7431 0144 www.burghhouse.org.uk
5. Valentine’s Day at La Gaffe in Hampstead
Much like every restaurant in London, La Gaffe in Hampstead will be opening its doors on 14th February to those who love love! Every year, we offer a special menu, featuring both traditional dishes and contemporary twists on Italian cuisine and they’re always popular. From the classic minestrone soup to pastas, fish and steak, followed by a little plate of heaven in the form of tiramisu, we’ve got you covered. Give us a call and book a table - you won’t regret it.La Gaffe, 107-111 Heath Street, NW3 tel: 020 7435 8965 La Gaffe Italian Restaurant in Hampstead
6. Life of Pi - Wyndhams Theatre
After the best-selling book and Oscar-winning film, what could be next for Yann Martel’s ‘Life of Pi?’ Well, a theatre production apparently. Telling the story of a zookeeper's son who says he has survived a shipwreck by clinging to a life raft, accompanied by a Bengal tiger, the magic of this show lies in its beautifully-crafted life size puppets. The stage is transformed into a menagerie - zebras, turtles, giraffes and butterflies - and is a great triumph for the technical team. This is living, breathing theatre and has to be seen.
Wyndhams Theatre, Charing Cross Road, WCt tel: 0344 482 5151 https://www.wyndhamstheatre.co.uk
7. The Langham’s Curling Club - 1st - 20th February
The Langham Hotel, in central London’s Portland Place, is a chance to enjoy some modern luxury in its marvellous Regent Street setting. This February, they’re bringing some ‘alpine-themed fun’ to the big city by operating a ‘Curling Club’. Curling, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a kind of ‘boules’ where players slide stones onto a sheet of ice, towards a target area divided into four concentric circles! Trust us, it’s great fun.The Langham’s Curling pop-up is perfect for anyone who wants a jovial night out, with wintery drinks, street food and cocktails thrown in for good measure. With their courtyard transformed into a winter wonderland, with three ice rinks, and live DJ’s to inspire you as you throw the stones around, we can’t think of a more fun way to banish those winter blues and bring some colour to your cheeks.
The Langham Hotel, 1c Portland Place, W1 tel: 020 7636 1000. https://www.langhamhotels.com/en/the-langham/london/