Easter is late this year so we’re celebrating on Sunday 21 April 2019. We have bank holidays for Good Friday (19 April) and Easter Monday (22 April). Easter Sunday is one of the few days when most large shops will actually be shut but attractions are generally open for the holiday.
The London Marathon is the following weekend on Sunday 28 April 2019. If it all sounds far too energetic for you, it’s still great to get out and support the runners.
Cutty Sark in Greenwich is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year so there are lots of fun events.
The Cutty Sark 150 Challenge on 2 April 2019 is a two-course meal, drink and an interactive quiz challenge with your host for the evening, comedian and impressionist Jon Culshaw. All funds go towards protecting and caring for Cutty Sark, ensuring her legacy for future generations.
On 9 April 2019, there’s a wine tasting evening under the hull of Cutty Sark. Hosted by connoisseur and accredited expert Julia Lambeth, this tasting will guide you through how to choose better wine and start you on a journey of wine discovery. If you know what you like but want to understand why – this is the evening for you.
Also in Greenwich this month, the Silver-Screen Sci-Fi event at the planetarium is the 1997 movie Gattaca on 6 April 2019. In the not-so-distant future, a natural born human leads a double life in the face of genetic discrimination. In disguise and surrounded by others whose flaws have been omitted at birth, he seeks to leave Earth and journey to Saturn’s moon Titan. The film is followed by a short talk by a Royal Observatory Astronomer on the science behind genetic manipulation and an exploration of Saturn’s moon Titan.
The annual Boat Race is on 7 April 2019. People line the Thames to see the contest between two rowing crews from Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
The course is about 4 miles long between Putney and Mortlake on the River Thames in south-west London. This course was first used for The Boat Race in 1845 and is rowed upstream.
The Men’s Boat Race is an hour and a half before high tide, with The Women’s Boat Race a further hour before so that the crews are rowing with the fastest possible current. This year that’s at 3.15pm for the men’s race and 2.15pm for the women’s race.
For the first time, the National Theatre is staging Top Girls, Caryl Churchill’s wildly innovative play about a country divided by its own ambitions.
Marlene is the first woman to head the Top Girls employment agency. But she has no plans to stop there. With Maggie in at Number 10 and a spirit of optimism consuming the country, Marlene knows that the future belongs to women like her.
Top Girls is previewing from 26 March and is booking until 22 June 2019.
Also at the National this month is Small Island based on the novel by Andrea Levy and adapted by Helen Edmundson. Levy’s epic, Orange Prize-winning novel bursts into new life on the Olivier Stage. A cast of 40 tell a story which journeys from Jamaica to Britain through the Second World War to 1948, the year the HMT Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury.
Small Island follows the intricately connected stories of two couples. Hortense yearns for a new life away from rural Jamaica, Gilbert dreams of becoming a lawyer, and Queenie longs to escape her Lincolnshire roots. Hope and humanity meet stubborn reality as the play traces the tangled history of Jamaica and the UK.
Previews start from 17 April and the show is in repertoire until 10 August 2019.
Opening on 11 April 2019 at the British Museum, Edvard Munch: love and angst features the creator of art’s most haunting and iconic face. A radical father of Expressionism, and Norway’s answer to Vincent van Gogh, but who was Edvard Munch?
The largest show of his prints in the UK for 45 years looks at the cities of pre-war Oslo, Berlin and Paris. The exhibition shows how new ideas about personal and political independence gave rise to an important voice. Visceral, rebellious and hungry for new experiences, Munch rejected his strict Lutheran upbringing to pursue an unconventional lifestyle. He travelled across Europe, drawing artistic inspiration from the bohemian circles he encountered and his passionate love affairs. Munch’s work articulated his experiences of life in a rapidly changing Europe, that was to be shattered by the first global industrialised conflict.
There are royal gun salutes this month for HM The Queen’s birthday (her real birthday, not the official one we celebrate in June). Her birthday is on Sunday 21 April, when she’ll be 93 years old. As there aren’t gun salutes on Sundays, the noise will happen on Monday 22 April 2019.
The first gun salute is in Hyde Park at midday and is 41 rounds. That’s the basic 21 rounds plus an extra 20 as it’s in a royal park. Then at 1pm at the Tower of London you can hear 62 rounds. That’s the basic 21 rounds plus a further 20 because the Tower is a Royal Palace and Fortress, plus another 21 ‘for the City of London’. The gun salutes at the Tower of London take place along the riverside, so visible to all, but the area is cramped. Often you get a better view from Tower Bridge.
Opening on 6 April 2019, the V&A has a new exhibition with unprecedented access to Dame Mary Quant’s Archive. The Mary Quant exhibition is the first international retrospective on the revolutionary fashion designer in nearly 50 years. It focuses on the years between 1955 and 1975 when Quant revolutionised the high street with her subversive and playful designs for a younger generation.
The exhibition has over 200 objects, the majority of which have never been on public display. It draws from the V&A’s extensive fashion holdings, which include the largest collection of Mary Quant garments in the world, as well as the designer’s personal archive and important international loans.
From 6 to 14 April 2019, the Now Play This annual games festival is back at Somerset House. This year is the biggest edition ever, with even more exciting hands-on gameplay for all ages to enjoy.
From solo games to multiplayer collaborative experiences, Now Play This shows how games can be used as a medium to explore unexpected subjects unflinchingly, from looking for love to living with a disability. With works from a host of multidisciplinary artists and creators, from authors and poets to contemporary artists and gaming collectives, Now Play This allows visitors to interact with a diverse range of outdoor and indoor gaming installations, many of which premiere for the first time at the festival. Players will also have the chance to try their own hand at game-making with interactive, participatory installations, as well as live zine-making.
In The Tennant Gallery at the Royal Academy, Mali Morris RA: On Paper is on from 28 March to 4 August 2019.
Royal Academician Mali Morris has selected thirty-two of her works on paper for this exhibition presented in three groups from different periods of her career. The first is plein air paintings in watercolour made in Cyprus and Canada in the late 1980s. These were never intended as studies for her abstract paintings, but their rhythmic drawing is echoed in some of her larger paintings on canvas from that time. Eight vertical works opposite the entrance to the gallery are from the series Edge of a Portrait, from the 1990s, in which Morris explored her fascination with the pictorial structures of profile portraits from the Italian Renaissance. Lastly, there is a group of twenty works in acrylic from around 2000, when Morris embarked on a search for different ways of structuring colour. It was the beginning of the most radical and original phase of her work which continues her preoccupation with the expressive possibilities of abstract painting, drawing on many sources but constantly exploring how colour can structure light and space.
From 6 April 2019, the display in the Cabinet in the Collection Gallery is also selected by Mali Morris RA. The mingling of RA treasures – oil studies by Constable, pencil drawings by Turner and Gainsborough – with commonplace examples of studio life, such as doodles, shopping lists, painting tools and materials, will celebrate the unique character of the Collection.
In the Architecture Studio from 12 April to 19 May 2019, there’s a display of the work of the four finalists for the Royal Academy Dorfman Award. Through models, images, films, books and personal artefacts, the display offers a window into their practice, local culture and work. The winner will be decided during the final week.
And in the Main Galleries, there’s the London Original Print Fair 2019 from 25 to 28 April 2019. As the world’s longest running specialist fair dedicated to prints, The London Original Print Fair welcomes exhibitors from around the world, covering all periods of printmaking from Old Masters through to contemporary artists.
Supporting the release of his self-titled third album, multi-platinum and chart-topping singer/songwriter Shawn Mendes is on a 2019 global arena tour that stops at The O2 on 16, 17 and 19 April 2019.
The album follows 2016’s Illuminate and 2014’s Handwritten, both certified Gold in the UK with 4 Platinum singles (Stitches, Mercy, Treat You Better and There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back) and 3 Top 10 smash hits in the UK Official Charts. In My Blood and Lost In Japan, the first two tracks off of the latest album, were released to rave reviews.
Opening on 18 April is The Occult & Symbolism at the nearby Underdog Gallery. It’s a group exhibition featuring bespoke conceptual artwork from “our top Masters and emerging Contemporaries”.
If you would like even more ideas for this month, do have a look at last month’s recommendations as many are still valid for April too.
To celebrate 25 years as a performing and recording artist, Beverley Knight is bringing a special one-off concert to the Royal Festival Hall. Backed by a full symphony orchestra for the first time, Knight will go back to her beginnings, performing specially arranged versions of her biggest hits, covering soul and R&B classics with her own style, and reflecting her highly acclaimed parallel career in the West End musical theatre scene.
Following a sold-out run at the National Theatre, critically acclaimed The Lehman Trilogy will transfer to the Piccadilly Theatre in May 2019 for a limited 12-week season. It’s the story of a family and a company that changed the world told in three parts on a single evening. Sam Mendes directs Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Ben Miles who play the Lehman brothers, their sons and grandsons.
Museums at Night is on from 15 to 18 May 2019. Explore art, history and heritage after dark at events across a wide range of venues in London. Discover new exhibitions, take torchlit tours, enjoy live music in historic surroundings and engage in a range of free and ticketed night-time activities.
Opening on 24 May 2019, Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing is at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace. To mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, over 200 sheets of the Renaissance master’s greatest drawings in the Royal Collection are going on display to produce the largest exhibition of Leonardo’s work in over 65 years. The drawings have been together as a group since the artist’s death and provide an unparalleled insight into Leonardo’s investigations and the workings of his mind.
Laura Porter writes AboutLondonLaura.com and contributes to many other publications while maintaining an impressive afternoon tea addiction. You can find Laura on Twitter as @AboutLondon, on Instagram as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.
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