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London’s Best Winter And New Year’s Cultural Events
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London’s Best Winter And New Year’s Cultural Events

Picture of Andrew Kingsford-Smith
Updated: 9 February 2017
Even when the snow falls and the temperatures drop, London’s bustling cultural scene never rests. In fact Christmas and New Year is one of the busiest times in the city’s events calendar with markets, special performances, exhibitions and light shows taking over the UK’s capital. In addition to our top winter London events, we reveal ten of the most exciting arts and culture events happening in the lead up to New Year and in the start of 2014.

Design and Art | Pop Art Design

Barbican: 22 October 2013 – 9 February 2014 (Except 24-26 Dec)

Described as ‘the first comprehensive exhibition to explore the exciting exchange of ideas between artists and designers in the Pop age’, Pop Art Design has caught a lot of attention since its opening in October 2013 with its brash and colourful showpieces. The exhibition displays around 200 works from the 1950s-1970s that reveal enlightening perspectives on the Pop Art movement and the fascinating dialogue it created between art and design. Showcasing items by iconic names such as Lichtenstein and Warhol, art fanatics should brighten up their winter blues with this colourful burst of Pop Art extravagance.

Barbican, 020 7638 8891, Silk Street London, EC2Y 8DS

Art | Turner and the Sea

National Maritime Museum: 22 November 2013 to 21 April 2014

Turner is with a doubt one of the most iconic British painters of all time, and therefore there is no better way to start a cultural 2014 than to visit the Turner and the Sea exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. This significant exhibition celebrates the painter’s lifelong fascination with the sea and features art pieces that have not seen in the UK for nearly 40 years. With the River Thames right outside the museum, this exhibition represents a great way for both locals and London visitors to rediscover one of England’s more beloved artists.

National Maritime Museum, 020 8858 4422, Romney Rd, London SE10 9NF

J. M. W. Turner, Shipwreck of the Minotaur | WikiCommons
J. M. W. Turner, Shipwreck of the Minotaur | WikiCommons

Art and Film | Wael Shawky

Serpentine Gallery: 29 November 2013 to 9 February 2014 (Except 23-26, 30, 31 Dec and 1 Jan)

Exploring the concepts of truth, myth, culture and globalisation, this exhibition is the first major show in London by the Egyptian artist Wael Shawky. The exhibition season includes a multi-disciplinary display of film screenings, a showcase of his flags and drawings, and an exhibition of the marionettes made by the artist that feature in his film The Path to Cairo (2012). Shawky has been praised as ‘one of the most exciting artists to emerge from the Middle East in recent years’, and this significant event included the world premier of the artist’s latest film Al Araba Al Madfuna II (2013).

Serpentine Gallery, 020 7402 6075, Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA

Art and Film | Wael Shawky
Wael Shawky Installation view, Serpentine Gallery, London (29 November 2013 – 9 February 2014) | © 2013 Hugo Glendinning

Food and Shopping | Christmas Markets

Various Locations: Throughout December 2013 and January 2014

One of the highlights of London’s festival season is the blooming of Christmas markets that not only create a joyful atmosphere, but also allow unique and boutique items and cuisines to be enjoyed. While every Londoner will have their own favourite market and know their own tips and tricks to finding the perfect gifts, we recommend the Barbican Design Market, the Southbank Christmas Market, the Spitalfields Winter Festival Markets, the Christmas at Kew Boutique Market, the Brockley Christmas Market, and the Berwick Street Christmas Market.

Various locations, check the market’s individual websites.

Music | Christmas Festival

Royal Albert Hall: 13-29 December 2013

Music is a major part of the festive season and there is no better place than the magnificent Royal Albert Hall to hear beautiful renditions of Christmas classics. From 500 voice choirs, to carols sung by candlelight, to mesmerising orchestral performances, this dynamic season brings together some of the best musicians in one of London’s most iconic venues. For those seeking the grand atmosphere of the hall without the Christmas theme, the Royal Albert Hall will also host live orchestral screenings of The Artist, as well as Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam throughout the festive season.

Royal Albert Hall, 0845 401 5045, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP

Theatre | Protest Song

The Shed: 16 December 2013 – 11 January 2014 (Except 20, 22, 24-25, 29, 31 Dec and 5 Jan)

Tim Price’s new one hander play Protest Song is described as a funny and savage monologue that explores the reality of the Occupy movement. The story follows Danny, who finds himself swept up in this political movement as his home, the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, become the arena of the last occupation of London. A fictional story based on real events, the piece will perform in the National Theatre’s intimate space The Shed. Protest Song promises to be an entertaining and thought provoking piece, and the perfect performance to start off a new year of play viewing.

The Shed, 020 7452 3244, South Bank, London SE1 9PX

Performance | Fuerzabruta

Roundhouse: 23 December 2013 – 2 March 2014 (Except 25 Dec)

The spectacular Argentinian show Fuerzabruta is returning to the Roundhouse with all of its vibrant energy, awe-inspiring acrobatics and electrifying music. The show is hard to categorise – part circus, part interactive art gallery and part nightclub – and its illusive and emotive imagery has affected its audiences in various ways. Perhaps the only thing that is certain is that you have never seen anything like this before. The Roundhouse have recently released special New Years Eve tickets, which include a late performance of the show followed DJ sets by NYC Downlow DJs.

Click here to read our review of last year’s Fuerzabruta performance.

Roundhouse, 0844 482 8008, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8EH

Theatre | The Duchess of Malfi

The Globe’s Sam Wanamaker Playhouse: 9 January to 16 February 2014

The Duchess of Malfi will be the first play to perform in the Globe’s soon to be opened Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, a new indoor venue named after the man who recreated the modern Globe theatre. The theatre aims to explore plays written in Shakespeare’s era that were designed specifically for indoors and it will allow winter performances to be enjoyed while the open air Globe is closed. The Duchess of Malfi was written by the early 18th century dramatist John Webster, and was first performed by the King’s Men, Shakespeare’s own company.

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, +44 (0)20 7401 9919, Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk Bankside London SE1 9DT

The Duchess of Malfi
Gemma Arterton in The Duchess of Malfi | © Hugo Arterton/The Globe Theatre

Art | Ice Sculpting Festival

Wood Wharf: 10 – 12 January 2014

London’s Ice Sculpting Festival is a sensational way to start the New Year and to be amazed by this season-dependent artform. Taking place over three days, the festival will include the work of 20 international ice sculptors as they compete in three distinct competitions: the race against time, ‘River Life’ themed single block competition; the freestyle competition; and the big block competition with the theme of ‘Fabulous Fashion’. A mesmerising way to actually enjoy the freezing weather, the competitions will be judged by a panel of art professionals, as well as public choice prizes being awarded.

Ice Sculpting Festival, Wood Wharf, Jubilee Place Shopping Malls, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AX

Film | The LOCO London Comedy Film Festival

BFI and Various Cinemas: 23-26 January 2014

LOCO London Comedy Film Festival is a side-splitting event that promotes a genre that is often forgotten in the major international film festival circuit. As the festival’s website declares, iconic names such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Katharine Hepburn, Bill Murray and Woody Allen have never won an Oscar for a comedy performance; in fact only four comedy films have ever won best picture in the 84 years of the Oscar’s history. To battle this under representation, this festival organises film screenings, educational events and funding for comedy movies with an aim to unite professionals and passionate fans, and of course to entertain the masses.

LOCO London Comedy Film Festival, 020 7928 3232, BFI Southbank, Belvedere Rd, South Bank, London SE1 8XT