1 January–13 February
No trip to London is complete without seeing a West End show. The annual Get into London Theatre is a six-week bonanza offering ticket prices from just £10 for a varied selection of plays, musicals, dance and opera. Long-running shows, from The Lion King to Les Misérables, are also on offer.
Banish the hangover at London's New Year's Day Parade, and join the thousands on the streets of central London to cheer on the colourful performers at this joyous event to start your 2020 with a flourish. Participants include musicians, marching bands and dance groups from throughout London, plus from far and wide including USA, Italy and India.
If you’ve never heard of the London borough of Brent, in the northwest of the city, you might have heard of some of its exports: author Zadie Smith, actor Riz Ahmed and footballer Raheem Sterling. It’s home to Europe’s biggest Hindu temple (BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, aka Neasden Temple) and Wembley Stadium, home to major sports and music events. This year the spotlight is on Brent as London’s Borough of Culture, hosting plenty of local cultural events.
8 January–2 February
Whoever said silence is golden could have been talking about the London International Mime Festival. The annual event presents shows from puppetry to circus, which take place in city-wide venues. Ockham’s Razor’s This Time opens the festival with circus at Shoreditch Theatre, while Galactik Ensemble’s Optraken sees acrobats tackle collapsing ceilings and disappearing floors at The Peacock theatre.
11 & 24 January
Bed down at a slumber party at Dino Snores in the Natural History Museum. Perfect for children, Dino Snores for Kids (11 Jan) gives them a chance to follow a torchlit trail and enjoy a dinosaur T-shirt-making class. Don’t let the kids have all the fun though – there’s also Dino Snores for Grown-ups, where you can enjoy a three-course meal, live music and some stand-up comedy, plus the beauty of enjoying the museum in near-empty bliss (24 Jan).
Sixteen top snooker stars go head-to-head on the green baize at the Dafabet Masters at Alexandra Palace. World number one Judd Trump from England is the current Masters champion, but hot on his heels is Ronnie O’Sullivan, who is a firm favourite at ‘Ally Pally’ – so you can bet that most of the 1,962-crowd will be cheering on ‘The Rocket’.
When the Scottish poet Robert Burns died in 1796, little did he think that he'd be remembered with Burns Night, dedicated to him every year. Five years after his death, his friends held a dinner at his cottage in his memory and it has been a regular event ever since. Celebrate Burns’ life at one of the capital’s Scottish venues: indulge in a black tie dinner at London Scottish House, try some traditional Scottish dancing and a buffet Burns Night dinner at the Ceilidh Club or enjoy a Burns Night Celebration Dinner at Tate Modern's Rex Whistler restaurant.
London unites with communities around the world on Holocaust Memorial Day, an event that now remembers victims of global genocides. The date marks the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau. At the Jewish Museum, Charlotte Salomon: Life? or Theatre? (to 1 Mar) explores this Jewish artist who grew up in Berlin before being deported to Auschwitz, with a talk about Salomon (27 Jan).
27 January–16 February
London regularly welcomes big-name music stars. But this time Madonna, who is more used to the likes of Wembley Stadium, performings some more intimate gigs at the London Palladium. These celebrate the release of her album Madame X, which draws influences from her current home, Lisbon. Enjoy Latin-inspired tracks and a rare chance to see a global superstar up close.
28 January–22 March
Can’t choose between film, theatre and dance? Then head to the Vault Festival at The Vaults, beneath Waterloo Station. Now in its eighth year, the festival gives upcoming writers and performers a chance to showcase their work across 500 shows while audiences get to enjoy immersive experiences and parties. Festival co-director Mat Butcher says: ‘The festival provides a platform for under-represented voices and stories to be heard.’