The nightmare that was 2020 is finally over! So let’s focus on the future and start planning some great things to do in 2021…
Lead image: Gaia (photo: Colin Mackenzie/ORNC Greenwich)
1 DODGE: Drink, Dine & Dodgems at Somerset House
*Covid update* The opening of DODGE has been postponed (new opening date TBC)
DODGE, a new Covid-proof winter event at Somerset House, was originally due to launch on 22 January, but has now been postponed due to the most recent national lockdown. The outdoor experience, set in the spectacular courtyard, will brighten up the new year with food, drink and fairground fun. The centrepiece of the modern funfair is the dodgems, which have been reinvented as a high-octane, interactive sensory experience called Bumps Per Minute, which sees every bump, swerve and jolt of the bumper cars translated into an explosive three-minute display of light and electronic sound. Set in a multicoloured, large-scale installation by Yinka Ilori, the courtyard will also play host to a food and drink pop up by Jimmy Garcia of Jimmy’s Winter Lodge and The BBQ Club fame. Park yourself in one of Ilori’s playful outdoor seating booths and order the likes of baked Vacherin with cured meats, venison hotdogs and duck or ‘shroom burgers, or opt for a luxury package including treats from Moët & Chandon and a group-sized self-serve keg of Hennessy, as well as Bump & Brunch packages for the weekend. Entry to the site is free with dodgems tickets priced £5. Booking is recommended but not compulsory.
2 Gaia at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
*Covid update* Bookings are currently suspended till the end of January. Please check the website for further information
Following a sold-out display in summer 2020, Luke Jerram’s awe-inspiring art installation Gaia will return to the Old Royal Naval College in January. Set against the magnificent Baroque backdrop of the Painted Hall, Gaia will take pride of place for a full month, accompanied by a series of Friday late openings. The monumental internally-lit sculpture is an exact scale replica of our planet, measuring seven metres in diameter and floating in three dimensions like a ‘blue marble’. UK artist Luke Jerram used 120dpi NASA imagery to recreate the unique view of Earth experienced by astronauts in space. By standing 211 metres away from the slowly rotating artwork, viewers can see the Earth as it appears from the moon, while enjoying a surround-sound composition created by BAFTA award-winning composer Dan Jones. Gaia Lates will offer viewers the chance to see the internally-lit sculpture after dark in the atmospheric Pained Hall every Friday night in January. Open from 3 January to 7 February 2021, subject to the latest government guidance. Tickets £12.
Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, King William Walk SE10 9NN; ornc.digitickets.co.uk
3 Doctor Who: Time Fracture at Immersive LDN, Mayfair
Another exciting immersive adventure is headed our way for 2021! Olivier Award-winning producers Louis Hartshorn and Brian Hook, the duo behind The Great Gatsby, are currently co-producing the new immersive production of Doctor Who: Time Fracture. Taking place at Immersive LDN in Mayfair, a huge historic building with three floors of immersive theatre and event spaces designated for performance, live gaming, events, escape rooms and private parties, the ground-breaking theatrical adventure will plunge you into the incredible Universe of Doctor Who. It’s 1940, the height of the Blitz, and a weapon of unknown origin not only destroys a corner of Mayfair, it also opens a rift in the space-time continuum. Earth as we know it is a stake, and it’s time for you to step up and be the hero, travelling to impossible places, confronting menacing monsters and ancient aliens while racing across space to save the human race. Launching on 21 April 2021. Tickets £49.95.
56 Davies Street, Mayfair W1K 5HR; immersivedoctorwho.com
4 The Art of Banksy, Covent Garden
Spring 2021 can’t come fast enough for a variety of reasons – blossom trees, longer days and the potential end of Covid being just a few of them. But now there’s another reason to wish away the next few months – the arrival of a huge new Banksy exhibition in London. For the very first time, the UK will host an array of unique pieces from the mysterious political activist, satirist and artist, who has spent most of the last three decades anonymously tagging streets across the world. The Art of Banksy, launching in March 2021 for a limited season, will feature world-famous pieces including Flower Thrower, Rude Copper and Girl and Balloon, alongside works rarely seen by the general public. Anticipated to be one of the stand-out shows of the spring, the colossal collection includes authenticated and certified Banksy artworks, with infamous prints, sculptures and limited editions scattered across the walls of a vast 12,000 square foot space in Covent Garden. The Art of Banksy runs from 25 March 2021 until 26 September 2021. Tickets from £21.50.
50 Earlham Street, Covent Garden WC2H 9LJ; artofbanksy.co.uk
5 Christmas at Kew, Richmond
*Covid update* We are waiting for the latest information from Kew but it is unlikely this event will be able to continue its run
When Tier 4 was introduced, the insanely popularly festive lights at Kew Gardens were put on ice, but the good news is that they’ll be back in early 2021 with an extended run until 24 January. Kew Gardens are magical all year round, but at Christmas they are extra special, thanks to the hugely popular annual after-dark trail. Now in its 8th year, the trail has embarked on a new route, leading you for the first time through the beautifully illuminated Rose Garden. Old favourites and brand new light installations sparkle and glow around you, from a glittering tunnel of bells and giant illuminated seed heads to a dazzling treetop waterfall, where beams of light interplay in a breath-taking aerial dance. The iconic Temperate House will be a beautiful spectrum of Christmas colour, with dynamic laser projections enveloping the glasshouse, and you can also stroll through the sparkling Tunnel of Light, twinkling with thousands of fairy lights. Plus, the much-anticipated Palm House Pond finale returns with a light show playing to an atmospheric soundtrack of festive classics. Adult tickets are from £17.50, young people aged 16-24 from £9, kids aged 4-15 from £5.50.
Kew Gardens, Kew, Richmond TW9 3AE; kew.org
6 A New Immersive Sherlock Holmes Adventure, online
While we’re all desperate to get back out there an meet friends, it’s likely that there will still be disruption up until spring while the vaccines are rolled out. So, for three weeks only, the Olivier-nominated creators of Alice’s Adventures Underground, Les Enfant Terribles, have teamed up with virtual reality company LIVR to present an immersive online adventure that blurs the lines between theatre, gaming, escape room and board game. The online Sherlock adventure, called The Case of the Hung Parliament, will run from 27 January until 10 March. Suitable for ages 12+, the online ‘whodunnit’ invites audiences alongside live actors to follow in the footsteps of the great detective himself in an immersive experience incorporating 360°, multi-sensory technology. The Home Secretary, The Foreign Secretary and the Lord Chamberlain, have all been found hanging in their own chambers. Each victim died on their birthday, and on that day had received a card with a mysterious quote written in it. But what does this mean? And can you solve the case before the murderer strikes again? Public shows £15pp, private shows £90 for up to six players.
7 BrewLDN 2021 at Printworks, Rotherhithe
Brew//LDN, the UK’s biggest craft beer festival, is set for a welcome return in 2021, pushing things back to May to hopefully thwart any long Covid complications, and taking over a much larger venue – London’s iconic Printworks. Printworks’ huge Press Halls space and outdoor Container Yard areas will allow for an expanded offering for Brew//LDN 2021, with 250 exhibitor stands, 150 independent breweries, a vast outdoor street food arena with more than 1,000 different beers and brew talks. There will be four public sessions and two trade sessions spread across three days and capacity for over 10,000 attendees. The first wave of brewery announcements include Yonder Brewing and Blending, The Five Points Brewing Co., Tiny Rebel, Brewpoint, Toast, Black Storm Brewery, Don Valley Brewery, Pulpt Cider and Firebrand Brewing Co. The full DJ lineup will be revealed soon but for now Demi Riquisimo, Medlar, RAW SILK, The Reflex and WOLF Music will be laying down the vibes. Running 20-22 May 2021. Tickets start at £13.50, including a BrewLDN festival glass and festival magazine.
Printworks, Surrey Quays Road, Rotherhithe SE16 7PJ; brewldn.com
8 Bloomberg New Contemporaries at South London Gallery, Camberwell
*Covid update* The opening of Bloomberg New Contemporaries has been postponed
Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2020 will open at the South London Gallery in January, showcasing the work of 36 emerging artists from UK art schools and alternative education programmes. The exhibition is supported by New Contemporaries’ specially created digital platform, made in collaboration with Hato Press and the selected artists, presenting the artworks alongside newly commissioned audio responses and contributions by UK-based curators and writers. Some of the themes addressed by this year’s selected artists include Identity Politics and Art Education, Dislocation and Home and Cyber Identities. Kirsty Ogg, Director New Contemporaries, said: ‘We have been really heartened by the artists, selectors, partners and funders willingness to come along with us on this most unexpected of journeys this year as we have moved to increase our digital activity in response to the Covid-19 global pandemic. Complimenting this URL activity is the exhibition at the South London Gallery.’ Running 13 January until 7 March 2021.
65-67 Peckham Road, Camberwell SE5 8UH; southlondongallery.org
9 Witness for the Prosecution returns to London
Performances of Witness for the Prosecution, which received Best Revival nominations at the 2018 Olivier and WhatsOnStage Awards, will resume at London County Hall on the South Bank from 18 May. Since opening to critical acclaim in 2017 Witness for the Prosecution has captured the imagination of thousands who have been gripped by the case of Leonard Vole, accused of murdering a widow in cold blood to inherit her wealth. The stakes are high. Will he be able to convince the jury of his innocence and escape the hangman’s noose? Director Lucy Bailey (Oleanna, Ghosts, Love From A Stranger) thrillingly places the audience in the thick of the action, as Agatha Christie’s enthralling tale of justice, passion and betrayal unfolds around them inside the iconic London County Hall. Tickets from £12 and booking until 31 October 2021.
The Chamber, County Hall, Belvedere Road SE1 7PB; witnesscountyhall.com
10 Connected by Light, Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf’s hugely popular Winter Lights festival was cancelled this year, but it was replaced with a smaller-scale, Covid-secure version of the luminous event called Connected by Light. Specially chosen so that they can be appreciated from a distance, the curated collection of nine new light installations brings some festive cheer to Canary Wharf while being mindful of people’s need for space. Being an outdoor exhibition with plenty of space, Connected by Light can still take place during Tier 4, although it may be necessary to turn off some or all installations should the organisers feel that social distancing is not being adequately observed. As things stand, however, this is a great way to stretch the legs and lift the spirits through the Christmas period if you live nearby, and into the New Year for all Londoners once the advice to stay local and avoid public transport has been lifted. To find the lights, download the Connected by Light map from canarywharf.com and create your own journey. Runs from dusk till 10pm daily until 27 February.