15 Great Things to Do this Weekend in London: 15-16 February

It’s Valentine’s weekend, but there’s plenty to do for those not feeling so romantically inclined, from a hip-hop fancy dress party to a climate crisis exhibition and the Official England Rugby Dinner at Twickenham

Lead image: CROOKS 1926 (photo: Ysbrand Cosijn)

1 CROOKS 1926 at King William IV, Elephant and Castle
12 February-29 March 
Plunge deep into the gritty, criminal underworld of 1920s London at COLAB’s new immersive experience, CROOKS 1926. Game mechanics collide with a pulsing, hair-raising narrative giving audiences the chance to throw themselves into one family’s brutal battle for supremacy in the immersive theatre company’s most ambitious project to date. In a world where nothing is certain, violence is rampant, and deals are made to be broken, the audience will have complete autonomy to shape their own thrilling experience. While some might to choose to orchestrate a grand territorial takeover of London or broker an alliance with The West End Boys, others might ‘go it alone’ by scheming with a devious traitor – no two shows will be the same. COLAB, the group behind The Great Gatsby Immersive Experience, debuts CROOKS 1926 at their brand new permanent space. Tickets £28.
16 Harper Road, Elephant and Castle SE1 6AD; colabtheatre.co.uk

2 The Official England Rugby Dinner at Twickenham Stadium
14 February
Help raise money for the Injured Players Foundation and enjoy a fantastic alternative to the typical Valentine’s Day date at the Official England Rugby Dinner at Twickenham Stadium. The event, taking place just days after England play Scotland in the Guinness Six Nations, will be a rare and exciting opportunity to mix with rugby royalty before they face Ireland at Twickenham. Tickets include a pitch-side drinks reception (weather dependant), a three-course dinner and cheese course created by Executive Head Chef Thomas Rhodes, all-inclusive beer, wine and soft drinks throughout the evening, and a number of Q&As with the players. The evening will raise funds for the RFU Injured Players Foundation. Tickets from £299pp (click here to book). A platinum ticket option, securing you a seat on a table with England players, is also available.
200 Whitton Road, Twickenham TW2 7BA; twickenhamstadium.com

3 Autoreverse at Battersea Arts Centre
3-22 February
Autoreverse is the true story of one family’s determination to find a place to call home. Florencia has an old box full of cassette tapes from her family home in Chile. As she starts listening to them in her room in London, she travels back in time and space, to when her family fled Argentina’s dictatorship and started recording audio letters to stay in touch with their loved ones. Performed by Florencia Cordeu and directed by Omar Elerian, this moving and uplifting audio-visual experience asks what it means to remember – as an individual, as a family, and as a country. 8pm. Tickets £10-£12.50.
Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill SW11 5TN; bac.org.uk

4 Into a Land of Pure Magic: Paintings of Circus Life by Nell Gifford at Olympia Auctions
10-28 February
In tribute to the late Nell Gifford (1973-2019) and indomitable attitude to life, Into a Land of Pure Magic is the perfect embodiment of that most showbiz of phrases, ‘the show must go on’. Gifford’s watercolours of circus scenes feature explosions of paint, scattered spots and specks and glowing luminous pools of coloured light, immersing the viewer into her most loved arena – the circus ring. Her nimbly depicted horses and performers are a beautiful testament to the enduring spirit of one of our greatest ever circus performers. The works will be exhibited from 20-27 February and auctioned online from 10-28 February. For further information email puremagic@olympiaauctions.com.
25 Blythe Road, Olympia W14 0PD; olympiaauctions.com

5 Hip Hop Saved My Valentine’s with Romesh Ranganathan at Omeara, Southwark
15 February
Award-winning comedian Romesh Ranganathan will host his first Hip Hop Fancy Dress Party – HipHop Saved My Valentine’s – at Omeara in SE1 on Valentine’s Weekend. An ode to his HHSML Podcast, the event will take you through the years of the genre with a soundtrack provided by DJs and turntablists including, Jaguar Skills, DJ Yoda, Kiss FM’s MK, Martin 2 Smoove, and some very special guests on the night. Room 2 will be hosted by BBC Radio 1xtra’s Nadia Jae, Half-Cast Podcast Host Chuckie Online and R&B expert and Hip Hop Karaoke founder Rob Pursey. Hosted live by Romesh himself, all profits from the party will be in aid of CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). Tickets £15 in advance. Dress Code: Old school hip-hop fancy dress (think chains, Adidas tracksuits, throwback sneakers, PIMP Hats etc).
6 O’meara Street, Southwark SE1 1TE; omearalondon.com

6 Mini Mode Global Kids Fashion Week at St Mary’s Church, Marylebone
14-15 February
London Fashion Week isn’t just for grown ups. Mini Mode Global Kids Fashion Week, founded by UK childrenswear designer Amanda Rabor and now entering its fifth season, has firmly established itself on the UK fashion calendar. Mini Mode provides a spotlight on kids’ fashion, showcasing talented childrenswear designers from around the world. This year, you can check out collections from UK brands like of A*Dee, House of Juniors, ISCREAM and Bellos Boutique, as well as Billieblush from France, Présent de l’ondée from Japan and BEBEBEBE from Korea. The Industry Show will showcase AW2020 collections on Friday 14 February, while two Consumer Shows (open to the public) will feature SS2020 buy-now collections, as well as children’s entertainment, a pop-up shop and mini makeovers on Saturday 15 February.
Wyndam Place, York Street, Marylebone W1H 1PQ; mini-mode.co.uk

7 Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs at Horniman Museum and Gardens, Forest Hill
15 February-1 November
252 million years ago, in a period called the Permian, Earth was dominated by fearsome sabre-toothed predators, giant insects and bizarre-looking sharks. The Permian ended with a mass extinction that destroyed 90% of all life, paving the way for the planet’s next great rulers – the dinosaurs. This fascinating, family-friendly exhibition – produced by Gondwana Studios and travelling to the UK for the first time – offers an insight into this mysterious time period, with fossil skeletons, full-size models and animatronics bringing the Permian back to life. You can also sift through interactive dig pits and get creative in an art area. Kids £5, adults £9 (family ticket £20).
100 London Road, Forest Hill SE23 3PQ; horniman.ac.uk 

8 Meet Vincent van Gogh Experience, South Bank
Until 21 May
The Van Gogh Museum’s blockbuster Meet Vincent van Gogh Experience is an interactive and multisensory experience that allows you to follow in the footsteps of the world’s most iconic artist. The fragile nature of Van Gogh’s original works prevents them from travelling beyond the Museum walls, but this experience ensures the collection can continue to enrich and inspire audiences across the world. Upon entering the experience, a fully-automated audio-guide, breathtaking projections, interactive installations, state-of-the-art set-work and a compelling narrative will transport you through the most important phases of Vincent’s life: from his childhood in the Netherlands to the streets and studios of Paris, the golden countryside of Arles, his asylum in St. Rémy and the wheat field where he fatally wounded himself. Tickets £18-£21.
99 Upper Ground, South Bank SE1 9PP; meetvincent.com

9 Brides do Good Flash Sale on Wedding Gowns, Fulham
15 February
Unique social enterprise, Brides do Good, is hosting its first ever flash sale at its new bridal boutique in Fulham. Choose from over 200 dresses from leading international wedding gown designers, including Galia Lahav, Jenny Packham, Pronovias, Rosa Clara and Justin Alexander. Sizes range from 6-30, and prices range from £49 to £299, with original RRPs as much as £5,000. Brides do Good is a pioneering social enterprise where brides can buy new, sample, and pre-loved designer wedding gowns with 100% of appointment fees and up to two thirds of sales donated to charity projects that empower young girls and strive to end child marriage. You can also take advantage of the Brides Do Good fitting service by booking an appointment with a professional seamstress and aftercare team either on the day or via the website. 10.30am-6.30pm.
25 Effie Road, Fulham SW6 1EL; bridesdogood.com

10 ONE NIGHT ONE COUNTRY: JAPAN by South Social Film Festival, Kennington
15 February 
South Social Film Festival is hosting a festival of Japanese culture at the Cinema Museum in Kennington this weekend. Japanophiles can enjoy five hours of Japanese cinema, dance and food. The evening opens at 6pm with drinks and food by Japanese chef Keiko Urakawa, before a sushi workshop at 6.45pm. Yukiko Masui, a Tokyo-born dancer and choreographer whose works have been performed and awarded across Europe and Japan, will perform a solo contemporary dance piece called BOKU at 7.15pm, before leading a short workshop. Then, at 8pm, there will be a screening of Demolition Girl, a film by Genta Matsugami about a high school girl who, determined to leave her impoverished small town life behind, earns money as a video fetish performer. Finally, at 9.30pm, there’ll be a panel discussion with experts, and as you head home you’ll be given a goodie bag containing a sushi kit. Tickets are £18 for the film and dance, and £28 including food. 6pm-10.30pm (click here to book).
Cinema Museum, 2 Dugard Way, Kennington SE11 4TH; southsocialfilmfestival.co.uk

11 Acosta Danza Up Close at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
13-24 February
Carlos Acosta’s own dance company, drawn from the best of Cuba’s dancers, performs a distinctive repertory that combines national and international flavours in technique, choreography and music. As a Sadler’s Wells International Associate Company, Acosta Danza is no stranger to London, and on this occasion the company will be seen in a distinctive light through a programme of intimate works, the scale and mood if which is perfectly attuned to the performing space of the Linbury Theatre. Tickets £35.
Bow Street, Covent Garden WC2E 9DD; roh.org.uk

12 Environmental Crisis Exhibition: Science and Art at Gerald Moore Gallery, Eltham
13 February-14 March
With the Environmental Crisis such a prevalent subject, the Gerald Moore Gallery in Eltham sent an open call to artists to respond to this issue. The responses focused on the major impacts we face: climate change, degraded air quality, deforestation, animal extinction, land and sea pollution, soil erosion and biodiversity losses. Out of 324 artists from around the world, 50 were shortlisted by students to exhibit. The works range from sculpture, photography, installation, video, painting and performance. There will also be a series of talks, debates, performances and workshops alongside the exhibition. Open Tues 4pm-8pm and Sat 10am-4pm.
Mottingham Lane, Eltham SE9 4RW; geraldmooregallery.org

13 Hospital Rooms at South London Gallery Fire Station, Peckham
Until 23 February
Artist Tim A Shaw and curator Niamh White founded Hospital Rooms to transform mental health hospitals with contemporary art commissions and projects. Artists are invited to work closely with patients, staff and the NHS Trust to create exceptional and unique site specific work. In this exhibition, Hospital Rooms presents a display of artworks by artists Sonia Boyce, Harold Offeh, Jessica Voorsanger, Michael O’Reilly, Remi Rough and Tim A Shaw, as well as documentation from a recent project with the artists at Croydon Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit, Bethlem Hospital.
Fire Station, 82 Peckham Road SE15 5LQ; southlondongallery.org

14 Brunch + Blow Galentine’s Special at Near & Far, Camden
15 February
Near & Far Camden and Barber & Blow invite you to the latest craze – Brunch + Blow – where you and your best gals can enjoy a bottomless brunch and blow-dry experience. This Valentine’s weekend, the crew will be spreading the love with bottomless margaritas, Aperol Spritz and Bloody Marys, as well as the Blush of Passion cocktail and chocolate-covered strawberries, alongside a Mexican brunch menu. Turn up with clean hair and choose one of the styles from the look book. You’ll have two hours to enjoy a delicious brunch and get a 15-minute blow dry or style. Two hour slots start from 12pm, 1pm and 2pm. Tickets from £45 (click here to book).
48 Chalk Farm Road NW1 8AJ; nearandfarlondon.com

15 Tribute Ink at the National Army Museum, Chelsea
Until 17 April
The Royal British Legion’s unique exhibition, Tribute Ink, brings to life the powerful and poignant stories behind the tattoos of people in the Armed Forces. Tribute Ink showcases how the military community use tattoos to commemorate comrades and loved ones who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country. The exhibition explores how serving personnel also use the art of tattooing to mark their service, achievements and sense of belonging to the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force. Renowned photographer, Charlie Clift was given unprecedented access to military-inspired locations, from RAF Aircraft Hangars to the decks of Royal Navy vessels, to capture service personnel and veterans for Tribute Ink. The images in the exhibition are designed to immerse visitors in the powerful personal stories behind the tattoos. Alongside Clift’s photographs are life-sized replicas of some of the tattoos, which have been meticulously transferred onto 3D sculptures.
National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea SW3 4HT; rbl.org.uk

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