Feeling gloomy, now that Christmas has long gone but the grey skies and chilly weather are still around? Well, it’s not surprising - the winters in northern Europe can be a bit dismal, and spring still feels a long way off.
However, if you’re in the British capital then never fear, because there’s always plenty to do on a cold winter’s day. Whether it’s an art exhibit, a book club, a children’s festival or just a bit of fun that you need, to shake off those blues, London can provide it.
And for those who need ideas for their kids, because half-term falls in the middle of the month, you're in luck too…
Here are some of our ideas for things to do in London this February..so what are you waiting for?
1. Imagine Children’s Festival - 8th to 18th February
Taking place at the Southbank Centre (a marvellous location, by the River Thames, and loved by Londoners and tourists alike), this annual festival geared for children between the ages of 1-11 is bound to be a huge hit.
With over 100 events to choose from, you are really spoiled for choice. Theatre? Music? Art? Magic? The Imagine festival has it all. There’s a modern twist on the fairy tale story of Rapunzel, a daytime rave with a very young DJ, a magic show, dancing dinosaurs, hip-hop and even some astronomy. There’s also a craft workshop and and talks by Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Ben Garrod, on black holes and the earth, for all the budding scientists.
Even better, at least half of what’s been offered is free, so you can have a great day out without breaking the bank…
Imagine Children’s Festival runs for eleven days - all you need to do is jump on the tube (get off at Waterloo) or catch a number of buses, including the numbers 139, 168 and 176.
2. Cezanne Retrospective, Tate Modern - all through February
There are few painters as well-known as Cezanne (think of those baskets of apples!) and if you’re a fan of his exploratory brushstrokes and then there’s no other place to head to than the Tate Modern, for an exhibition that delves deep into his work and psyche.
This really is an exceptional exhibition by all accounts - following him from Paris to Provence - and beautifully curated by the Tate. Fabulous paintings such as ‘Nude Woman’, ‘The Conversation’, ‘The Murder’ and the fabled ‘Bathers’ are all there and proof that Cezanne was a truly extraordinary artist.
Gaze upon his paintings, and marvel at his use of colour and light, before taking a stroll along the Thames, or over the Millenium Bridge, in the direction of St. Paul’s Cathedral, to pay your respects to Christopher Wren. Of course, if you’d like to stay in the Tate, there’s plenty to occupy you for many hours and although the Cezanne exhibition itself requires a ticket, almost everything else inside this building is free to access.
3. Kew Gardens Orchid Festival - all through February
This is the kind of flower festival it’s hard not to love - seriously. Held annually in West London’s Kew Gardens (the largest botanical gardens in the world), and spotlighting the rare blooms of a different country each year, this time it's the turn of Cameroon, in West Africa.
After displays in previous years, it’s hard to imagine how they could outdo themselves, but they always seem to and, apparently, the Kew Gardens Orchid Festival will highlight not just the extraordinary biodiversity of Cameroon, but also display sculptures of lions, gorillas, hippos and giraffes!
Personally, we think there’s nothing better than strolling in a hothouse, to make you forget the grey London skies…and Kew is a real day out, with not just orchids to admire but also a wander in their Japanese Garden, Arboretum, Alpine House and Great Pagoda.
4. Inter-Livery Pancake Race, Guildhall - 21st February
Pancake Day comes just once a year in London (many wish it would come more) but as British traditions go, it’s a lot of fun. Historically, this event began on Shrove Tuesday (which is a date in the Christian calendar that precedes Lent) because Christians would ‘give something up’ for this religious ritual. This was often rich foods, such as butter, milk and eggs - which were made into pancakes.
If you head down to the City of London - the Guildhall Yard to be precise - you can watch all the fun for yourself, as the different Liveries of London go head to head (in their splendid outfits) to win this flipping race.
This is an incredibly colourful event with 30 teams competing and all the skill-sets of the liveries come in handy - it’s timed by clockmakers, the starting pistol is fired by gunmakers, fruiterers supply the lemons and so on…all for the marvellous prize of a frying-pan trophy!
Even better, it’s free. Things kick off at midday but you might want to arrive a bit early, to assure yourself of a good spot to stand…
5. Emily’s Walking Book Club - 26th February
If you’re a book lover who loves to walk too, then this is the event for you. Even better, you’ll be walking in our neighbourhood - lovely Hampstead - on the Heath (one of the largest green spaces in London).
This month, the walkers will be discussing David Foekino’s novel ‘Charlotte’ about the German-Jewish artist Charlotte Salamon. Translated from the French, it’s a gripping read. The idea is that you buy the book beforehand and read it, then join the walk, and discuss its message, as you stroll in beautiful, green surroundings.
What a great chance to improve your mind and make some new friends…
If you’re coming to London and need a place to stay, then why not consider our Hampstead hotel? Set in leafy Hampstead, arguably one of the capital’s most beautiful areas, we’re family-owned and family-run and really go the extra mile to make you feel at home.
We’re just three minutes walk from Hampstead tube (on the Northern line) and then it’s a fifteen minute tube ride into the city centre, so you get both the charming ‘village’ feel of our neighbourhood and the opportunity to enjoy some ‘bright lights, big city’ atmosphere too.