THIS WAS WRITTEN BEFORE THE CO-VID 19 WORLD HEALTH CRISIS.
This month has the chocolate-eating fest that is Easter (Easter Sunday is on 12 April 2020.) In the UK we get public holidays on Good Friday and Easter Monday. You will find that most large shops are closed on these days. Schoolchildren get a two week holiday (dates can vary) so there are often lots of special events as the major museums and attractions.
But aside from Easter, there’s also lots more happening in London including theatre, sports and art so here are our recommendations for April in London.
Firstly, let’s look at ideas close to London Bridge Hotel.
The Lent Art Installation 2020 at Southwark Cathedral is called ‘Pilgrimage: Finding Each Other Again in the Paradise of Free Souls‘. It is on display from Ash Wednesday (26 February 2020) to Good Friday (10 April 2020).
Hundreds of people were ‘Measured to the Saint’ with lengths of string to help veil the altar for the 2020 Lent Art Installation, which traces Thomas Becket’s last journey from Southwark to Canterbury 850 years ago. Reflecting on the ritual of pilgrimage and the fragile but powerful strength of our connections with each other through time and space, Michelle Rumney’s artwork includes wax candles each as tall as the person they represent, including one for Thomas Becket (183cm) and another for Marion Marples (173cm) who led many pilgrimages from Southwark. The candles will be lit in their memory throughout Lent.
CLOSED The Hayward Gallery at the Southbank Centre has Among the Trees on from 4 March to 17 May 2020. The exhibition brings together artworks that explore our relationships with trees and forests.
Also on the South Bank, Meet Vincent van Gogh Experience is on until 21 May 2020. (It’s behind the National Theatre.) It’s an interactive ‘experience’ which essentially means you can sit on the bed in his Bedroom at Arles painting for selfies. (Here’s my exhibition report.)
Genders is on at Science Gallery London, and The Old Operating Theatre has an after-hours Victorian Surgery Demonstration on 9 April 2020. It also has Thanatos: A Multisensory Installation from 1 to 30 April 2020. Described as “centring on an original perfume that evokes the scent of a decomposing body discovered in a woodland”, you have been warned.
And, of course, you can still view the OPEN 3: Urban Nature art installations at London Bridge Hotel.
As promised, there are lots more things to do in London in April 2020 and I’ve not mentioned Easter events, have I?
Royal gun salutes mark special royal occasions and this month it’s the Queen’s birthday so it’ll be noisy on Tuesday 21 April for her 94th birthday. This is the Queen’s ‘real’ birthday and not her ‘official’ birthday as yes, the Queen does have two birthdays.
The first royal gun salute is in Hyde Park at 12 pm. It is performed by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery. There will be 41 rounds as the basic salute is 21 rounds and an extra 20 rounds are added because Hyde Park is a royal park.
Then at 1 pm, there is another royal gun salute, also performed by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, at the Tower of London. This time it’ll be 62 rounds as there’s the basic salute 21 rounds plus a further 20 because the Tower is a Royal Palace and Fortress, plus another 21 ‘for the City of London’.
Tantra: Enlightenment to Revolution opens at the British Museum on 23 April (and runs until 26 July 2020).
Explore the radical force that transformed the religious, cultural and political landscape of India and beyond in this landmark exhibition. A philosophy originating in medieval India, Tantra has been linked to successive waves of revolutionary thought, from the Indian fight for independence to the rise of 1960s counterculture.
Elements of Tantric philosophy can be found across Asia’s diverse cultures but it remains largely unknown – or misrepresented – in the West. The exhibition showcases extraordinary objects from India, Nepal, Tibet, Japan and the UK, from the seventh century AD to the present, and includes masterpieces of sculpture, paintings, prints and ritual objects.
Hairspray the Musical opens at the London Coliseum (London’s largest West End theatre) on 23 April 2020 for a limited season.
Michael Ball is reprising his Olivier Award-winning role as Edna Turnblad – mother of the main character, Tracy Turnblad. In Baltimore in 1962, Tracy Turnblad is a big girl with big hair and big dreams. There are plenty of well-known songs in this musical so do join in with the infectiously feel-good songs Good Morning Baltimore and You Can’t Stop the Beat.
Before it opened as an arts centre, Somerset House was the home to records of Births, Marriages and Deaths and archived the wills of the nation. 8.5 miles of vaults held documents written by luminaries from William Shakespeare to Jane Austen. There was even an egg, after one Briton put the entirety of their estate on an eggshell, which was carefully stored on site.
Opening on 3 April 2020, Arrivals + Departures by artist duo YARA + DAVINA takes the recognisable form of an arrivals and departures board but instead displays the names of people submitted by the public as a way of celebrating a birth (arrival) or commemorating a death (departure).
If you choose to watch the start, go early as there’s Sound Waves Yoga at the Cutty Sark at 7.45 am. Experience an oasis of calm with a yin yoga session including live sound healing elements.
It’s well worth going to Greenwich this month as Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits opens at the National Maritime Museum on 3 April 2020. This major art exhibition explores the changing nature of the British monarchy and royal portraiture over 500 years.
It features over 150 works, including famous paintings, miniatures, sculpture, photographs, medals and stamps spanning five royal dynasties: Tudors, Stuarts, Georgians, Victorians and Windsors. Visitors come face-to-face with the kings, queens, heirs, consorts and favourites who have shaped British royal history and portraits by some of the most important artists to have worked in Britain, often under the direct patronage of the Royal Family, from Sir Peter Lely and Sir Godfrey Kneller to Cecil Beaton and Annie Leibovitz.
Then head over to the Queen’s House to see Faces of a Queen: The Armada Portraits of Elizabeth I and the Woburn Treasures on display while Woburn Abbey is closed for refurbishment. (Here’s my report.)
Gauguin and the Impressionists: Masterpieces from the Ordrupgaard Collection opens at the Royal Academy on 29 March 2020. This is a unique opportunity to view these works in the UK while the Ordrupgaard Museum, located outside Copenhagen, is closed for redevelopment.
The exhibition showcases 60 works drawn from one of the finest collections of Impressionist painting in Northern Europe. The collection was assembled in the first decades of the twentieth century by wealthy Danish couple Wilhelm and Henny Hansen. It includes masterpieces by Degas, Manet, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, Renoir and Sisley.
The Collection also features pre-Impressionists such as Corot, Courbet, Dupré and Daubigny, who were associated with the Barbizon School. And there are a number of post-Impressionist works that include an exceptional group of eight paintings by Paul Gauguin, all of which are in the exhibition. The Collection was assembled by the Hansens in consultation with Théodore Duret, the eminent art critic and early champion of Impressionism, as well as notable dealers such as Ambroise Vollard.
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.
The Florence Nightingale Museum at St Thomas’ Hospital is celebrating Florence’s 200th birthday on 12 May 2020. There’s free birthday cake with admission for everyone who visits on the day.
Arctic: Culture and Climate is opening at the British Museum on 28 May 2020. Home to rich cultures for nearly 30,000 years, the Arctic is far from the inhospitable hinterland it is often imagined to be. From 28,000-year-old mammoth ivory jewellery to modern refitted snowmobiles, the objects in this immersive exhibition reveal the creativity and resourcefulness of indigenous peoples in the Arctic.
Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill A Mockingbird opens on 21 May 2020. The play had a turbulent start, with the stage adaptation initially under threat of litigation from Lee’s estate due to its portrayal of Atticus Finch. But it’s since been rewritten and is winging its way to the Gielgud Theatre with Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, The Boat That Rocked) playing the iconic role of Atticus Finch.
And the London Original Print Fair is at the Royal Academy from 1 to 3 May 2020. As the world’s longest-running specialist fair dedicated to prints, it welcomes exhibitors from around the world, covering all periods of printmaking from Old Masters through to contemporary artists.
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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