New Year’s Day Parade
Welcome in 2020 by watching the annual London New Year’s Day Parade. This year’s theme is London Loves Life with thousands of performers and colourful floats from across the world moving through the West End streets from midday. You can see dancers, acrobats, Pearly Kings and Queens, cheerleaders, marching bands, historic vehicles and more with contemporary performances and traditional pomp and ceremony. And don’t forget the huge balloons. Dance to the steel drums or Brazilian Samba, be wowed by motorcyclists performing electrifying tricks with Britain’s top female stunt rider and admire traditional Chinese dragon and lion dances. It’s definitely a way to shake any hangover from the night before!
Chinese New Year
Later this month you can see even more traditional Chinese dragon and lion dances at the Chinese new year celebrations – the largest outside Asia. The largest gathering of Chinese lions and dragons in Europe can be seen in the parade that goes along Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue. And Trafalgar Square has amazing performances on stage plus delicious Chinese food stalls. 25 January is the start of the Year of the Rat and the London celebrations are on Sunday 26 January 2020.
Many museums will have Chinese New Year events including the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich which has a family-friendly day of workshops, stories and performances on Saturday 25 January 2020.
Close to London Bridge Hotel, you can celebrate the start of the Year of the Rat at The Scoop (by Tower Bridge) on 24 January 2020. At 12.30 pm to 1.30 pm there will be performances including classical dance, traditional instrumental ensemble and children’s chorus. From 1.30 pm to 5 pm you can try your hand at knot making, Chinese Calligraphy or one of the many other workshops taking place in Hay’s Galleria. There’s no need to book; just turn up and join in.
And a tip for the hotel guests, the hotel flowers have been themed for the occasion and your coffee will come with a fortune cookie for Chinese New Year.
Another annual event is the Twelfth Night celebration at Bankside. While it happens outside Shakespeare’s Globe, this isn’t a Shakesperian tradition. 2020 is the 25th anniversary of this event so it is a modern New Year celebration involving many ancient elements associated with the season.
When the Holly Man, bedecked in greenery, arrives the Wassailers and mummers perform a traditional hero/combat play featuring St George. After the play, cakes are given out and those who find the concealed bean and pea in their cakes are crowned King and Queen for the day. They lead the procession to the George Inn on Borough High Street for more dancing and warming mulled wine.
The event is completely free and is on Sunday 5 January 2020 from 2pm.
Burn’s Night is on 25 January and celebrates the birthday of Robert Burns – the 18th-century Scottish poet and lyricist.
Named for Rabbie Burns’ beloved poem Tam O’Shanter, Cutty Sark in Greenwich is the perfect place to celebrate Burns Night. There is a Burns Night Ceilidh at Cutty Sark on 25 January from 7pm to 10pm with a traditional Scottish night of music and dancing. The evening’s entertainment features a bagpiper and readings from Robbie Burn’s Tam O Shanter plus a traditional Burn’s Supper of haggis, neeps (Swede) and tatties (potatoes) with the official ‘address to the haggis’.
If you enjoy getting up to dance, there’s a New Year’s Day Ceilidh at the Southbank Centre on 1 January 2020. It is described as “a rip-roaring, thigh-slapping, pavement-stomping, heart-thumping, blood-pumping ceilidh for the whole family”.
London Art Fair
The London Art Fair 2020 returns to the UK capital from 22 to 26 January 2020 to open the international art calendar. The Fair connects seasoned and aspiring collectors with the best galleries from around the world, providing an opportunity to discover exceptional modern and contemporary art. In addition to over 100 exhibiting galleries, the Fair features acclaimed curated spaces including Photo50, The Fair’s annual exhibition of contemporary photography, and Platform with the theme Threading Forms, bringing to the fore a selection of artists who are embracing the potential and challenging the limitations of thread in contemporary art.
Picasso and Paper
The Royal Academy’s Picasso and Paper opens on 25 January 2020. This is the most comprehensive exhibition devoted to Picasso’s imaginative and original uses of paper ever to be held. Bringing together over 300 works and encompassing Picasso’s entire prolific 80-year career, this ground-breaking exhibition focuses on the myriad ways in which the artist worked both on and with paper, and offers new insights into his creative spirit and working methods.
English National Ballet
2020 marks English National Ballet’s 70th Anniversary. Celebrations are taking place throughout the 2019-2020 Season beginning with three specially curated gala performances at the London Coliseum on 17 and 18 January 2020.
The gala performances celebrate the countless dancers, choreographers, artists, musicians, artisans, technicians and audience members who have been part of the English National Ballet family. Showcasing the world-class talent of the entire Company, alongside the future stars of the ballet world from English National Ballet School, the programme includes some of the most important and groundbreaking works that make up English National Ballet’s diverse repertoire.
You can also see ENB’s Le Corsaire at the London Coliseum from 8 to 14 January 2020.
2020 is the 250th anniversary of composer Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth so there are celebrations planned throughout the year. Southbank Centre has Beethoven events from January to June 2020 including historical recreations, concerts and series curated by leading musicians, and a bold reinterpretation of arguably music’s most famous chorus: Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth ‘Choral’ symphony.
And, looking ahead, Barbican has a Beethoven 250: Beethoven Weekender on 1-2 February 2020 where new and existing audiences will have the chance to explore the great composer in a fresh and informal way, through chamber music concerts, talks, films, family events and free events. An exhibition from Beethoven’s birthplace, Beethoven-Haus Bonn, will include objects that give audiences a more intimate look at the composer, such as his ear trumpet, sketchbooks, an original print by Andy Warhol, and Beethoven’s own violin, performed in concert.
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 January too.
In anticipation of his brand-new album release for 2020, former frontman of The Teardrop Explodes, poet, and occultist, Julian Cope is bringing a solo performance of music from his significant back catalogue to the Barbican on Saturday 8 February 2020.
The Prince of Egypt opens in the West End on 25 February 2020. This is a new musical based on the DreamWork’s animation film with ten new songs written by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked), together with five of his acclaimed songs from the movie including Deliver Us, All I Ever Wanted, Through Heaven’s Eyes and the Academy Award®-winning song When You Believe.
Opening on 27 February 2020 at the National Portrait Gallery, David Hockney: Drawing from Life is the first major exhibition devoted to David Hockney’s drawings in over twenty years. The exhibition will explore Hockney as a draughtsman from the 1950s to now, by focussing on his depictions of himself and a small group of sitters close to him: his muse, Celia Birtwell; his mother, Laura Hockney; and friends, the curator, Gregory Evans, and master printer, Maurice Payne.
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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