15 Sober Activities to Get You Through Dry January

Doing Dry January? There are plenty of ways to embrace sober London, from a simple walk to adult-only ball pools, ice skating and London’s sober rave scene…  

Lead image: Go Ape, Battersea

1 Head for The Wonder Factory, Dalston
The Wonder Factory is an Instagrammer’s dream. The interactive pop-up art exhibition, located in a 6,000 sq ft commercial space in Dalston, features 15 uniquely decorated rooms full of brightly coloured interactive installations. Highlights include a 250 sq ft marshmallow swimming pool, an outer space-themed mirror room full of lights to create the illusion of an infinite star field, an indoor beach with beach huts and candy pink sand, an orchard of blossom trees bearing coloured macaroons as their fruit, a three-meter wall of touch LED lamps that you can create works of art on, a confetti cyclone room, and a corridor filled with balloons levitating on streams of air. Tickets £23. Open Thursday-Sunday 12pm-8pm (9am-9pm on weekends) until 9 February.
Unit B, Dalston Works E8 2FQ; thewonderfactory.co.uk

2 Unleash Your Inner Child
The alarm’s set to go #BackToWork, your sleep routine is wrecked sleep, train fairs are through the roof and you’ve set yourself some unattainable New Year’s Resolutions. Adulting, come January, is harder than ever, so it’s no wonder that ‘kidult’ activities are on the rise. So forget about that Monday morning meeting or hideous commute and dive into a giant ball pit, have a sleepover in a museum, run the gauntlet at The Crystal Maze, or play your favourite board games in a bar. Click here for The Resident’s roundup of London’s top kidulting activities.

3 Club Soda’s Mindful Drinking Festival, Old Truman Brewery
Club Soda’s Mindful Drinking Festival takes place on the weekend of 18-19 January 2020 at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. The free-to-attend two-day festival – Club Soda’s seventh – will showcase more than 60 low and no-alcohol drinks with beer and cocktail tastings, free cocktail masterclasses, and inspirational talks and panels by influencers and experts. The boom in low and no-alcohol drinks has been fuelled by 8.6 million people who want to cut down their drinking this year. Not happy to compromise, mindful drinkers are reaching for the new wave of alcohol-free beers, spirits, wines and craft sodas. Supported by Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Spirits, Old Mout Cider, UpFlow Brewing Collective and Lindeman’s Wines, the Mindful Drinking Festival is a great first step for anyone looking to rethink their drinking habits. Saturday 11am-6pm and Sunday 10am-5pm.
The Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane E1 6QR; mindfuldrinkingfestival.com

4 Try Cold Water Swimming
‘Swimming is always a mind-altering experience,’ says Ella Foote of the Outdoor Swimming Society. ‘Once you have sunk into the water you are left alone with your thoughts and have time to process them. That is why swimming is so popular – the mental as well as physical benefits. In winter you get an extra zing! While standing on a river bank with frost between your toes might make you question your sanity, once in and tingling you cannot beat the feeling. It is euphoric. We can all agree that enjoying leisure outside is a huge benefit, why should it stop in winter? In fact, you could argue it is even more important – getting fresh air, being with nature and getting daylight is a great way to banish winter blues and bugs.’ Head for Brockwell Lido or Tooting Bec Lido, or go wild at Hampstead Ponds or the Serpentine in Hyde Park.

5 Enjoy a Sober Disco
Just because you don’t want any of the strong stuff doesn’t mean you can’t disco. As well as Morning Gloryville’s sober raves, which have ballooned in popularity over the last few years, Clubbercise runs a number of club-esque dance fitness classes across London. The dance regimes are fun and easy to follow, and it sure beats pounding the treadmill at the gym. Classes are currently running in Deptford, Holborn and Finsbury Park (check the website for details). Check out Ministry of Fitness too, for a similar vibe from the Ministry of Sound crew, or get yourself to Psycle for a high-intensity spin workout complete with DJ (locations in Mortimer Street, Westbourne Grove, Clapham and Shoreditch).

6 Go Ape in the Tree Tops
You never really lose the urge to climb trees, do you? Well at Go Ape you can spend hours in the tree tops, swinging through the trees and experiencing the great outdoors in a whole new light (or should that be ‘height’?). Go Ape has a growing number of sites in London, including Battersea Park, Alexandra Palace and Cockfosters. You’ll climb rope nets, cross wobbly bridges, scurry through net tunnels and, the best bit, whizz through the woodland on zip lines as a reward for completing each level. They also do occasional special events, such as night climbs. This one’s suitable for both adults and children, with the obstacles and crossings getting more challenging as you progress through the levels up into the tree tops.

7 Go for a Long Walk
A big, blustery walk isn’t just for Boxing Day. Get some fresh air on one of The Resident’s recommended scenic walks in London, from Hampstead Heath to the Royal Parks. It’s the perfect way to check out London’s zoos and famous historical sites or take in the capital’s surprisingly pretty canals. If central London strolls are more your thing – secret alleyways and ancient streets – check out What if We Walked’s top three strolls. For outer London, scope out the Capital Ring – which does exactly what it says on the tin, circumnavigating London – and the Green Chain walks, which cover most of south east London.

8 Play Board Games
Love playing board games but want to get out of the house? Your luck is in then, as London’s original board game cafe, Draughts can give you just that. With more than 800 board games as well as small plates, larges plates and sharing boards, you and your friends can spend the night playing your favourite board games, from Monopoly to Hungry, Hungry Hippos, for just £5 each. There’s also Library Pot in Richmond, which has a similarly vast number of games to choose from. The cafe costs £5 to enter, but once you’re in you can stay as long as you like and there’s no obligation to order the food or drinks on offer. They have a ball pit, too. Check out The Board Game Cave at Grin & Beer it in Highbury and Loading in Dalston, too.

9 Play an Immersive Adventure Game
Journey through the city, solving clues sent to your phone, with HiddenCity’s immersive adventure games. These treasure hunts make you the hero of your own adventure as you step inside the stories you know and love. Their critically acclaimed games based on Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes and Snow White, as well as street art tours and twilight games, run every day across the city. There’s also Sherlock: The Game Is Now, the latest game from the team behind Hackney’s Time Run. Mixing the excitement of immersive entertainment with the thrill of intellectual challenge, this new generation of gaming experiences challenge players to race against the clock to crack codes, solve puzzles and progress to the next level.
To book see inthehiddencity.com and thegameisnow.com

10 Play Crazy Golf
London is teeming with crazy golf courses these days. From Swingers Crazy Golf in the City and West End, to Junkyard Golf Club (which has just opened a brand new, permanent site on Worship Street) and Puttshack at Westfield London, there’s a crazy golf course to suit all types. Do be warned they all serve drinks, so keep your wits – and your will power – about you! It’s also worth keeping an eye out for Plonk crazy golf too. If you’re trying to cut down rather than cut out the booze, Plonk has a number of mini golf courses in pubs like The Duke of Edinburgh in Brixton, The Four Thieves in Battersea and the Victoria Tavern in Islington – perfect for distracting you from having another pint!

11 Catch a Panto
Reluctant to let go of the festive season? Fortunately, some of London’s pantos are still running. Enjoy Dick Whittington and His Cat at Hackney Empire, Cinderella at New Wimbledon Theatre, Cinderella at Lyric Hammersmith and Aladdin at Churchill Theatre Bromley until 5 January, The Nativity Panto – A Not-So Silent Night at King’s Head Theatre, Islington, and Pinocchio: No Strings Attached at Above The Stag, Vauxhall until 11 January, and Sleeping Beauty at Greenwich Theatre until 12 January.

12 Discover London’s Wildlife 
The RSPB is encouraging people to swap the sofa for the outdoors this January with plenty of special events and guided walks around the outer London boroughs. Take a guided bird walk through Beddington Farmlands in Sutton on Saturday 11 January or Canons Park, Edgware, on Sunday 12 January, or a guided walk (sans birdies) around Brent Reservoir on Sunday 19 January or George V Reservoir, Enfield, on Saturday 25 January. On Tuesday 28 January, you can take a walk around Crystal Palace Park with the Bromley local group. It’s also the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch from 25-27 January, where you are encouraged to count the birds that land in your local park or garden and tell the RSPB the highest number of each bird species you see at any one time.
See rspb.org.uk for further events

13 Neon Life Drawing at Drink, Shop & Do
You should probably move into Drink, Shop & Do for January, what with its calendar packed full of quirky ways to pass the time (just ignore the first part of this bar-cum-playground’s name!). We’re digging the Neon Life Drawing on 8 January, an evening of vibrant artistic fun using neon reactive arts materials to draw colourful life models. Neon Naked is a new life-drawing experience that combines UV light and reactive body paints with flamboyant accessories to take the edge off any uneasiness when it comes to the naked form. It also offers you a much more exciting model to work with – you can even use neon pastels to really make your art pop. Tickets £24 (including a free drink, but fear not, they have teas, coffees and booze-free cocktails too). 7pm-9pm.
9 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross N1 9DX; drinkshopdo.co.uk

14 Go Ice Skating
…but make it snappy, some of London’s pop-up winter ice rinks have already closed, with some of the most popular due to defrost after 12 January. You can ice skate at Winter Wonderland Hyde Park and JW3 Ice Rink, Finchley Road, until 5 January, Tower of London and Ruxley Manor Garden Centre Ice Rink, Sidcup, until 6 January, Camden Market until 9 January, and Somerset House, Natural History Museum and The Queen’s House in Greenwich until 12 January. For those who don’t like to be rushed, you can still skate at Skylight’s Rooftop Ice Rink, Wapping, until 25 January and at Bar Elba in Waterloo until mid-February. Failing that, there’s always Queens ice rink in Queensway, Alexandra Palace ice rink and Streatham ice rink – all open all year round.

15 Sup Tip Top Alcohol-Free Cocktails
Non-drinkers need suffer sugary sweet, fruit-juice based ‘mocktails’ (bleh) no more! With the mindful drinking movement gathering pace, you can find Seedlip – a botanical-based no-alcohol alternative to spirits – on bar menus across London. Even the likes of All Bar One now has ‘mindful drinking’ and ‘alcohol free’ sections on its cocktail menus. But if your friends have somewhat more discerning tastes in bars, head for the likes of The American Bar at The Stafford, Lyaness at Sea Containers on the South Bank, Mint Gun Club in Stoke Newington, Little Bat Bar in Islington, Nightjar in Shoreditch, Cahoots in Soho or Behind the Wall on Mare Street, for your Seedlip fix. Five-star dive bar Ladies & Gentlemen has also partnered with Willow, the first alcohol-free spirit to contain cannabidiol (CBD), to serve up only low and no-alcohol drinks from 10-31 January 2020. Plus, every week throughout January, Willow x Ladies and Gentlemen in Camden will be hosting Mindful Thursdays with Lego-based therapy.

how to make:
the perfect mocktail

Friends around for dinner? Ditch the sparkling water and treat your
booze-free friends to this marvellous mocktail…