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London Cultural Calendar 2014 | Ten Best Art Events, Exhibitions And Festivals
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London Cultural Calendar 2014 | Ten Best Art Events, Exhibitions And Festivals

Picture of Claire Baker
Updated: 9 February 2017
London has its fair share of noteworthy things to do through every calendar year, and for the urbanite or keen visitor it can be testing to choose the best of the bunch. We have compiled a list of the top exhibitions, festivals, new openings and shows in London for the next twelve months, which will ensure a well-rounded experience of the British capital.
WigWamBam - Queen of Hoxton
WigWamBam 2013 | © Ben Cole

WigWamBam – Queen of Hoxton

Monday-Saturday, until March 2014

2014 will undoubtedly be the year of the pop-up in London, and their charm lies in the fact that they don’t last forever. In 2013, the term became employed on a mainstream basis, and this year could see the largest number of temporary restaurants, shops and galleries, before the trend dies down in 2015, replaced by something more innovative, and possibly even more transient and exclusive. WigWamBam, open between Monday and Saturday until March, is one not to miss. It is the most literal interpretation of a pop-up to be found in London, as it’s a tipi that has popped up on the rooftop of the Queen of Hoxton, legendary bar and trend-setting hang-out in East London. Film screenings and celebrations (Burns Night, Halloween, etc.) punctuate the week, but get there quick before it’s gone. The WigWamBam Facebook page offers more details of upcoming soirees.

Ash Mair, Bilbao Berria
Ash Mair, Bilbao Berria | © BigHospitality

Bilbao Berria Restaurant – New Opening

February 2014

The popular and renowned Bilbao Berria restaurant of Barcelona is being brought to London by the exciting combination of the Barcelona-led creative team and the Australian food magician and Masterchef winner, Ash Mair. Due to unveil their Basque tapas, cooked in open kitchens over two floors, in February 2014, the foodie population is holding its breath for seafood pintxos, Spanish cheese platters and vibrant meat dishes. Good quality tapas is not the easiest thing to come by in Central London, and so the promise of an exported Spanish set-up that continues to work extremely well in its native setting is enough to get your taste buds tingling.

Vikings: Life and Legends Exhibition – British Museum

6 March-22 June 2014

Though the Vikings were one of the most iconic ancient civilisations, they are now rarely seen outside of parodic popular culture. The British Museum’s Viking exhibition, the first of its kind in over 30 years, changes this by demonstrating careful curation. Objects of war, of beauty and of religious relevance are displayed alongside the centrepiece: remnants of the longest Viking warship ever discovered. A visit of the permanent galleries is a must for the stunning, Foster-designed architecture. The exhibition runs from 6 March until 22 June 2014.

Vikings, Life and Legends Exhibition, British Museum
The installation of Roskilde 6 at the British Museum | © Paul Raftery

Head of the River Race – Mortlake Stone to Putney

29 March 2014

To see the best of British fighting spirit and conviviality, a sporting event is the answer, and there are few sports as unreservedly British and taxing as rowing. The Head of the River Race involves hundreds of teams of dedicated men (the women’s edition occurs a fortnight before) rowing the Thames Tideway, the fast-moving current heading downstream towards central London and eventually the sea. The race is best spent in the warmth of one of the many pubs or cafes lining the Thames, with regular intervals of boat-watching to cheer on the international rowing teams on their 4.5 mile exertion. Wrap up warm, as 29 March by the river Thames is guaranteed to be cold and windy, although the heat of the crowds and the comfort of an old-fashioned pub will go some way to warming up the eager spectator.

Head of the River Race, Mortlake Stone to Putney
Head of the River Race | © Motmit

Lovebox Festival – Victoria Park

18-19 July 2014

What started as an Ibiza club night has grown to be one of the UK’s major festivals anticipated by music enthusiasts, fun-loving festival fans and visitors alike. One of the few large-scale festivals to be held within the city parameters, Lovebox takes over Victoria Park for two days, between 18 and 19 July, with a mix of yet-to-be-confirmed indie, rock, dance and pop artists and a plethora of artistic activities to keep the crowd occupied for 48 jam-packed hours. This is the place to be to get right in the middle of the London music scene at the height of midsummer.

Lovebox, London 2013
Lovebox | © Fabio Venni

Holi Festival of Colours – Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

28 June

It is no surprise that in a nation whose favourite dish is curry, one of the highlights of the year is of a similarly South-Asian taste. With all the colour, the fun and the exuberance of the ancient Holi festival of India and Nepal, but adapted for a universal audience, this festival crossed the globe in 2013, with editions in London, Germany, and even Mexico. What remains of the traditional festival are the free-flowing and free-flying coloured powders which create a one-day mobile canvas, an expression of the joy and love which this Indian national holiday celebrates. The date and location are yet to be confirmed – last year Holi was held the desolate but somehow enchanting grounds of Battersea Power Station – but expect a summer date and an equally impressive location.

Dino Snores for Grown-ups 2014 – Natural History Museum

This year, the Natural History Museum brings the childhood dream of spending a night in a museum, fraternising with animal skeletons, to life – for adults only. For a £175 ticket, visitors get a three-course meal to start things off well, a midnight feast of edible insects, late-night guided tours from experts, all-night horror movie marathon, life-drawing classes and the right to sleep in the iconic museum’s Central Hall. Six sleepovers are planned throughout the year, with advance booking necessary.

Natural History Museum
Natural History Museum | © Umberto Rotundo

Open House London 2014

September 2014New Yorkers, Dubliners and Barcelonians all have London to thank for their open house festivals. The idea of opening up buildings and locations which are normally closed to the general public on an annual Open House day originated in 1992 in the UK capital, and has become so popular that almost 20 cities have followed suit, with others adapting the concept with a different title. The original London Edition always falls in September, and fills the hundreds of secretive spots with keen visitors and history buffs. Between 20 and 21 September, visitors can sit in the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s leather chair, visit underground tunnels and the headquarters of Foster and Partners – the architects behind the gherkin, the Central Hall of the Natural History Museum and City Hall, amongst other international gems.

Open House London
Open House London | © Steve Cadman

Frieze Art Fair

16-19 October 2014

One of the most renowned contemporary art fairs in the world, Frieze comes back to Regent’s Park in October with another rich programme of exhibitions, talks and projects. Works by over 1,000 artists from across the globe will be exhibited by the most authoritative galleries in the world, while lectures, talks and educational events will be given by art’s leading voices, including theoreticians and artists themselves. The contemporary exhibitions will coincide with the third edition of Frieze Masters, a sweeping and modern look at historical art, and the perfect accompaniment to the cutting-edge works presented at Frieze Art Fair.

Frieze London 2013, Chloe Sculpture by Jaume Plensa
Frieze London 2013, Sculpture by Jaume Plensa | © David Hagwood

Monty Python Live (mostly) : One Down Five To Go – O2 Arena

The legendary Monty Python team reunite on stage for the first time in 40 years – minus Graham Chapman, the sixth cast member, who passed away in 1989 and whose absence explains the subtitle to the show. What was originally tabled to be a one-off show has been extended to a 10-date residency at the O2 Arena, from 1 until 5 and 15 until 20 July 2014.