February in London is not just the month of love (although Valentine’s Day and 29 February give you many reasons to feel that way). We’ve got new theatre productions, reasons to be outside, immersive art and much more so do enjoy these recommendations on things to do in London in February 2020.
Close to London Bridge Hotel, you could treat someone special to a private Tour for Two backstage at the National Theatre this month. Or make the most of the Vault Festival on from 28 January to 22 March 2020. It’s an arts festival with theatre, comedy, cabaret, immersive experiences, family shows, late night parties, pop-up events and much more. And Leake Street LIVE – a free public events programme that celebrates urban culture through food, drink, paint and play at Leake Street Arches, underneath Waterloo Station – returns from Thursday 13 February. These one-hour sessions include an introduction to basic graffiti techniques and a live
demonstration. Do register for a free ticket.
Not for the squeamish, how about attending an After Hours Victorian Surgery Demonstration at the Old Operating Theatre Museum? On 6 February you could witness a mock Victorian surgical demonstration presented within the original architecture of the old operating theatre of St. Thomas’s Hospital dated to 1822.
And, at London Bridge Hotel itself, do enjoy the Open 3: Urban Nature artworks on display in the hotel lobby and Quarter Bar & Lounge.
Pretty Woman: The Musical is opening at the Piccadilly Theatre on Valentine’s Day (14 February 2020). The stage adaptation of the 1990 romantic comedy has been a hit in New York since 2018.
Based on the classic film starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, the story is about Vivian Ward who is hired by a rich businessman called Edward Lewis to escort him to a number of events. Through spending time together, their relationship develops as they get to know each other better.
Direction and choreography are by two-time TonyAward® winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde, Hairspray) and there’s an original score by Grammy® winner Bryan Adams and his longtime songwriting partner Jim Vallance.
The Queen’s House
For the first time ever, the three surviving versions of the Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I are going on display together in the Queen’s House in Greenwich, her birthplace, (from 13 February to 31 August 2020). Faces of a Queen: The Armada Portraits of Elizabeth I is a free exhibition.
One of the most iconic images in British history, the Armada Portrait commemorates the most famous conflict in Elizabeth’s reign, the Spanish Armada’s failed attempt to invade England in 1588. The three portraits come from the Royal Museums Greenwich’s own collection (previously owned by descendants of Sir Francis Drake) alongside the two other surviving versions from the collections of Woburn Abbey and the National Portrait Gallery. All three versions are believed to have been painted shortly after the event, circa 1588.
The paintings have only ever been brought together before for technical research and conservation purposes, therefore this historic exhibition presents an unprecedented opportunity for visitors to come face-to-face with three of the most iconic depictions of Elizabeth I. The once-in-a-generation event has been made possible due to the generous loans from both the National Portrait Gallery and The Duke and Duchess of Bedford, who are lending the Armada Portrait from their private collection whilst Woburn Abbey undergoes a major refurbishment.
The historic loan is one of several works coming to the Queen’s House as part of Woburn Treasures (13 February 2020 – 17 January 2021). The collaboration sees a selection of artworks from the private collection of The Duke and Duchess of Bedford by artists such as Van Dyck, Reynolds, Gainsborough and Canaletto on display alongside significant pieces from the collection of Royal Museums Greenwich.
The Prince of Egypt
A new stage musical based on the Dreamworks Animation film, The Prince of Egypt opens at the Dominion Theatre on 5 February 2020 to stay for 32 weeks. Music and lyrics are by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked), The Prince of Egypt is directed by Scott Schwartz (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and choreography is by Sean Cheesman (So You Think You Can Dance).
The musical features ten new songs written by Stephen Schwartz, together with five of his acclaimed songs from the DreamWorks Animation film including the Academy Award®-winning song When You Believe.
Journey through the wonders of Ancient Egypt as two young men, raised together as brothers in a kingdom of privilege, find themselves suddenly divided by a secret past. One must rule as Pharaoh, the other must rise up and free his true people; both face a destiny that will change history forever.
Fashion and Textile Museum
The latest exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum is Out of the Blue: Fifty Years of Designers Guild. On from 14 February to 14 June 2020, the exhibition celebrates the 50-year history of Designers Guild, founded by Tricia Guild OBE. Back in 1970, frustration with the lack of contemporary fabrics and wallpapers for interiors led to the creation of Designers Guild in a section of a shop on the Kings Road. It has since grown to influence how we view colour, pattern and texture in our homes, and continues to reinvent itself today.
Kew Orchid Festival 2020 is back from 8 February to 8 March 2020. Kew’s 25th annual orchid festival celebrates the incredible wildlife and vibrant culture of Indonesia – an archipelago of more than 17,504 islands, including Java, Borneo, Sulawesi, Papua and Bali. Indonesia’s landscape is as diverse as the flora and fauna that inhabit it, from tropical rainforests to spectacular volcanos.
Inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory, visitors will find themselves transported to an entrancing paradise evoking some of the sights, smells and sounds of Indonesia. It’s an immersive journey through the different zones of the glasshouse, where you can find spectacularly beautiful orchid displays which each represent an aspect of Indonesian wildlife and culture.
There are life-sized animals decorated with hundreds of tropical flowers including bright orange orangutans, a crouching tiger and a rhinoceros. There’s also an erupting volcano created from orchids and an archway made up of hundreds of carnivorous pitcher plants.
Beethoven 250 at the Barbican Centre is celebrating 250 years since Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth. One of the most iconic figures in Western classical music, the events on until 28 May 2020 shine a light on different aspects of this complex composer.
Beethoven 250: Beethoven Weekender is on 1–2 Feb 2020 offering 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, includes 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. The Weekender also features a new response to Beethoven’s music: s t a r g a z e, a network of multi-talented and classically-trained European musicians presents Beethoven NEIN! with Matthew Herbert.
Also at the Barbican Centre, Masculinities: Liberation through Photography is in the Barbican Art Gallery from 20 February to 17 May 2020.
This major group exhibition explores the ways in which masculinity is experienced, performed, coded and socially constructed as expressed and documented through photography and film from the 1960s to the present day. The exhibition brings together over 300 works by over 50 pioneering international artists, photographers and filmmakers such as Laurie Anderson, Richard Avedon and Catherine Opie alongside a lesser-known and younger generation of artists including Cassils, Sam Contis and Elle Pèrez.
With ideas around masculinity undergoing a global crisis and terms such as ‘toxic’ and ‘fragile’ masculinity filling endless column inches, the exhibition charts the representation of masculinity in all its myriad forms, rife with contradiction and complexity.
The Upstart Crow
David Mitchell makes his West End debut in Ben Elton’s stage adaptation of the critically acclaimed BBC TV sitcom, The Upstart Crow. This all-new comedy, written especially for the stage, sees Mitchell once more don the bald wig and bardish coddling pouch in his iconic characterisation of Will Shakespeare.
Opening at the Gielgud Theatre on 7 February 2020, Gemma Whelan (Game of Thrones and Gentleman Jack) co-stars as the sweet and fragrant Kate. They are joined on stage by a troupe of players for this 11-week season, directed by Sean Foley.
Meet Van Gogh
Also from 7 February 2020, the immersive Meet Vincent Van Gogh opens on the South Bank. Step into the famous artist’s incredible life story and get closer to the brilliant artist than ever before. Touch, look and listen to Van Gogh’s life and truly get inside the mind of the misunderstood genius. The experience has been curated so that children, adults, artists and those new to Van Gogh will be moved and inspired.
The experience is at 99 Upper Ground, South Bank, London, SE1 9PP, behind the National Theatre, from 7 February 2020 to 21 May 2020.
The London Eye has new sponsorship this month from lastminute.com. As the brand’s colour is pink we now have a pink Eye! It’s unfortunate for the jokes but I’m sure it’ll look lovely.
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 February too.
There are some incredible big-name art exhibitions opening next month in London.
Gauguin and the Impressionists: Masterpieces from the Ordrupgaard Collection opens at the Royal Academy on 29 March 2020. The exhibition will showcase 60 works drawn from one of the finest collections of Impressionist painting in Northern Europe. It will include masterpieces by Degas, Manet, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, Renoir and Sisley.
Titian: Love Desire Death opens at the National Gallery on 16 March 2020. Titian’s epic series of five large-scale mythological paintings, known as the poesie, will be brought together in its entirety for the first time since the late 16th century.
And on 12 March 2020, Andy Warhol opens at Tate Modern telling the story of a shy outsider who became a pop art superstar. The show will demonstrate how his work captured the contradictions of 20th century American society and culture, informed by his own identity as a gay Catholic man from a working-class immigrant family.
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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