Love is in the air this month with Valentine’s parties popping up left, right and centre. You can choose from masked balls, film events and club nights to find your next sweetheart. If romance makes you queasy, there are heaps of events that haven’t been love-infused. Plunge into icy waters for charity, explore the personal collections of top artists at the Barbican or perfect your pancakes and race through London on Shrove Tuesday. Here are all the best things happening in February…
THINGS TO DO
Feb 4 and 18: Regrets by Robin Lee at Barts Pathology Museum A pathology museum seems just the place for an anti-Valentine’s show, and artist Robin Lee will be really making the most of the creepiness of venue with this multimedia exhibition of photographs of augmented hearts which are accompanied by imagined monologues form their scarred owners.
Feb 5–Aug 16: Bonaparte and the British: prints and propaganda in the age of Napoleon at British Museum If all publicity is good publicity, perhaps Napoleon was lucky to have seen his career peak at the same time as the popularity of political satire. This exhibition of printed propaganda from both sides of the Channel sees the formidable leader both reviled and glorified, so you can weigh up the pros and cons for yourself.
Feb 5–7: Rhythm & Brews! 3 Days of Beer & Music at the Snooty Fox This much-loved Canonbury boozer is hosting a three-day beer festival with extra added music. DJs will play rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll and soul music while lovers of a good (alcoholic) brew sip their way through top quality ales from some of the UK’s most exciting microbreweries.
Feb 7–Mar 8: Alluring Orchids at Kew Find out how orchids are actually temptresses in disguise at Kew Gardens at this festival celebrating the beautiful and temperamental flowers. A series of carefully crafted displays will explain the ways in which orchids have developed to attract the pollinators they need to procreate.
Feb 21: Sherlock’s Night Owl Sleepover at Museum of London Young sleuths aged 7-11 and their faithful grown-ups are invited to stay the night in the Museum of London for this special Holmes-themed sleepover during which they’ll solve torch-lit puzzles, investigate mysteries, trawl crime scenes and become time detectives (which are rather similar to archeologists).
Feb 7–8, 21–22 and Mar 7–8: Mini Vault Waterloo’s underground theatre festival gains a family-friendly world of fun for 2015 in Mini Vault, with a line-up packed with lively performances to please under-11s. Three weekends of comedy, music, circus and theatre will be joined by heaps of free activities such as crafts, dance and hula hooping.
Feb 7: Polar Plunge at the Olympic Park Brave Brits who aren’t phased by sub-zero temperatures will have a specially constructed arctic open-air pool waiting for them at this charity event, which aims to raise money for Special Olympics GB who support 8,000 athletes across the UK.
Feb 9–22: Imagine Festival at Southbank Centre The kids are in charge at the Southbank Centre once more this February as their two-week children’s festival returns. In 2015, expect a wide range of captivating theatre, dance, music, film and comedy plus readings from some of the UK’s favourite authors, with free and ticketed events for young people of all age.
Feb 12–15: The Telegraph Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show returns to the ExCel London This event is a must for all bike, sport, travel and outside enthusiasts with plenty of information, shopping opportunities, guest speakers and family-friendly have-a-go experiences.
Feb 12–Apr 12: Business as Usual If you miss signage that was made with love (or you’re a graphic designer with a taste for the unique), this exhibition of specially created hand-painted signs is sure to delight you.
Feb 13: Love/Hate Valentine’s Late at Museum of Brands The Museum of Brands will be opening late to celebrate the tragedy and comedy of Valentine’s Day with this event for over-18s. Guests will receive a free drink on arrival and their evening will be packed with live entertainment, a Time Tunnel challenge, themed cocktails and even dancing.
Feb 13–May 31: For Richer, For Poorer: Weddings Unveiled at the Jewish Museum Get a sensitive look at love’s very own religious tradition with this collection of wedding dresses, invitations, menus and a huge archive of vintage wedding photographs which documents how the immigrant Jewish community have tied the knot from the 1880s to the mid-twentieth century.
Feb 14–Nov 1: Plantastic at the Horniman Museum This family-friendly, interactive exhibition is one big tribute to the plant. They’re clever, useful and beautiful and visitors will discover a huge amount about their diminutive world through exhibits and games.
Feb 14–15: London Children’s Book Swap Share your pre-loved books and make space for some new favourites at these book swap events, taking place at 38 different family-friendly venues across 17 London boroughs.
Feb 16–22: London Beer Week From the makers of London Cocktail Week comes an equivalent for beer drinkers. Buy a wristband for £10 and you’ll be entitled to £3 beers and £5 boilermakers (a beer and a bourbon) in bars that have been specially chosen for their devotion to the good brews.
Feb 16–22: Frozen The Pop Up Experience at the Secret Bunker Every modern Disney fan’s wishes come true with this trip to Arendelle itself to enter a magical ‘Frozen’ winter wonderland. Princesses Elsa and Anna will provide musical performances and visitors can sing, dance and play amid the glittering frost-inspired installations and light effects.
Feb 16–May 24: Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience, 1950s-1990s at V&A This new display in Gallery 100 at the V&A showcases a variety of photographic responses to black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s. The pieces have recently been acquired as part of a collaborative project with Black Cultural Archives which aims to increase the number of black British photographers and images of black Britain in the V&A.
Feb 16, 23, Mar 2 and 9: Yoga on the Glass Floor at Tower Bridge We’re not sure that looking through a glass floor to see black cabs and buses scoot past beneath you will necessarily make a yoga class more relaxing, but perhaps participants in these vinyasa-flow classes can focus on the impressive view of the river instead.
Feb 17: Pancake Day races Get your frying pans at the ready folks, Tuesday February 17 2015 is Shrove Tuesday and this year’s pancake action need not be confined to the kitchen. Pancake races across the city will see everyone from hipsters to MPs tossing their way towards the finish line.
Feb 17–May 9: Building a Dialogue: The Architect and the Client at Sir John Soane’s Museum This exhibition looks at the work and influence of British architects such as Sir Christopher Wren, William Chambers and Sir John Soane, charting the development of their profession from Elizabethan to Victorian times and looking at the role of the client in architectural commissions.
Feb 20: Lexi presents Frozen A Sing-along Here’s the latest addition to the wave of Frozen sing-along events currently swirling through the capital. Let it all go as you belt out the hits from Disney’s super successful animation, and dress the kids up as their favourite characters.
Feb 19, 26 and Mar 5: Lates at Kew It may be winter outside, but in the Kew Garden conservatory it’s always steamy. This is your chance to escape the London chill and take in the totally tropical atmosphere of Kew’s Alluring Orchids exhibition after hours.
Feb 20–21: RHS London Plant and Potato Fair Get a head start on the horticultural year at this fair celebrating the plants that get going in early spring. Some of the UK’s best nurserymen and growers will be on hand to offer advice and to sell you their best produce for the season, with plenty of inspiration to get your garden out of its winter rut.
Feb 22: Chinese New Year Celebrations in Chinatown London’s annual Chinese New Year celebrations, the biggest in the world outside China, bring a swathe of Chinatown to riotous life once again for 2015. There will be a small ceremonial event on Saturday February 21, but the majority of the festivities will take place on Sunday February 22.
Feb 26–June 21: Forensics: the Anatomy of Crime This exhibition of original evidence, archival material, photographs, film footage, specimens, forensic implements and artworks will look at the history, art and science of forensic medicine.
Feb 27: Walk in Hyde Park – Wintry Water This water themed walking tour through Hyde Park will uncover the history of the underground rivers and reservoirs that flow beneath it, take a closer look at it’s ancient monastic fish ponds and explain how the park ensures the Diana Memorial Fountain remains flowing all year round.
Feb 27–28: RHS London Botanical Art Show Some of the world’s finest botanical artists will exhibit beautiful unseen artwork in the hope of winning a gold medal in this inaugural RHS show.
Blacklock A forthcoming restaurant with a menu that is expected to be meat-centred and with a British orientation. It is planned to open in February 2015.
Engawa High-end hotel Ham Yard is soon to add a Japanese restuarant to its Soho enclave. Engawa is calling itself a ‘Kobe Beef Restaurant’ and is set to open this month.
Pulia An Italian deli, launching in Borough Market. This will be its first UK site following on from openings in Milan, Venice, Torino.
Feb 12: The Gin Library at Dickens Museum Pay a visit to Charles Dickens’ basement kitchen in Bloomsbury to taste a special selection of the classic spirit that has been hand-picked by The London Gin Club.
Feb 25–Mar 24: Last Gingerline dates This raucous and secretive supperclub is abandoning tradition for a new project, Gingerline Jubilee, about which we know little except that it will take place somewhere on the Jubilee Line rather than its original namesake, the East London Line.
Feb 3–Apr 12: Viviane Sassen: Pikin Slee Photographs of the remote rainforest village Pikin Slee by the Dutch-born fashion photographer.
Feb 5–May 10: Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden Enter a Marlene Dumas exhibition and you never know who you might meet. Among the subjects of the South Africa-born, Amsterdam-based painter’s work over the past few years are Jesus, Princess Diana, Phil Spector, Amy Winehouse and Osama bin Laden.
Feb 6–Apr 6: Human Rights Human Wrongs An exhibition of original press prints that conveys the important role photojournalism has played in raising awareness of global issues.
Feb 10–Apr 26: History is Now Seven UK-based artists have been invited to curate artworks and archival material that define certain periods of our recent history.
Feb 10–Apr 26: Made in China: A Doug Fishbone Project Could you spot a fake old master painting from the original? Well now’s your chance as the Dulwich Picture Gallery will replace one of their prized Old Master paintings with a Chinese replica from Feb 10.
Feb 11–May 25: Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector The Barbican’s spring blockbuster showcases 14 artists’ collections that will be a veritable cornucopia of all things eccentric, rare and curious.
Feb 12–May 25: Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends An intimate reflection on John Singer Sargent’s portraits of famous friends including Claude Monet, Robert Louis Stevenson and Auguste Rodin.
Feb 3–Mar 7: Kim Noble – You’re Not Alone The latest show from comedian and performance artist Kim Noble, ‘You’re Not Alone’, finally gets its London debut after an astonishing run at the Edinburgh Fringe. Despite only playing a five-night run in Scotland the show was one of the most talked about at the festival.
Feb 9–14: Rhys James – Begins This remarkably talented youngster brings his well-received show from last year’s Edinburgh Fringe to London. The 23-year-old stand-up is a superb writer – multiple jokes are packed into each line of his stories and poems which focus on Generation Y angst and technology woes. Impressive stuff.
Feb 28: Dracula! (Mr Swallow – The Musical) It’s about time that Nick Mohammed’s loveable egomanic character creation Mr Swallow got the West End treatment. What appears to be a final dress rehearsal of a new, hammy musical version of ‘Dracula’ (with Swallow in the title role) turns into a bickering farce in this grand comedy show, which was simply titled ‘Mr Swallow the Musical’ at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
Feb 10–14: James Veitch – The Fundamental Interconnectedness of Everyone with an Internet Connection Ever had a text about PPI or your work-related injury? Or from a Nigerian prince? James Veitch is the comedian who replies to them. His debut solo show is a Dave Gorman-esque romp through the world of modern connected-ness through the internet.
Feb 14: David O’Doherty Has Checked Everything Award-winning whimsical Irishman David O’Doherty heads to the Hackney Empire with his new show ‘David O’Doherty Has Checked Everything. He’ll do some standing-up, sitting down, and songs from a small plastic 1980s keyboard. He’ll charm you silly.
Feb 16–21: Sara Pascoe vs History Sara Pascoe’s latest show focuses on big, complex ideas. But she’s a master at explaining them without any sense of superiority – she often undermines her own intelligence with a daft gag or silly pop culture reference.
Feb 19: Mark Watson – Flaws We awarded Mark Watson the big five-stars at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe. ‘Flaws’ is the understated Bristolian stand-up’s most personal, joyously human and funniest show yet.
Feb 24–28: Sarah Kendall – Touchdown This charming Aussie stand-up had a hit run at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe with ‘Touchdown’. It’s a grand, personal storytelling show recounting the true story behind one of her previous anecdotes.
Feb 25: Stand Up for Shelter This annual benefit gig (for a very worthy cause) always features a stellar line-up. But 2015’s show is a real humdinger. The organisers have scored a real coup in getting Mr Eddie Izzard to headline. Support comes from Josh Widdicombe, Sara Pascoe, Rob Beckett and MC Christian O’Connell.
Reclaim the Romcom: Obvious Child
Feb 3: Anachron Film Club: Valentine Mysteries A free double bill of strange and sensual films perfect for an early Valentine’s celebration. The evening kicks off with French drama ‘The Ring Finger’, featuring an eerie score by Beth Gibbons of Portishead. It’s followed by ‘Smoke’ director Wayne Wang’s ‘The Centre of the World’, in which dotcom whizkid Peter Sarsgaard falls for riot grrrl drummer Molly Parker, a part-time stripper.
Feb 7: Katherine Hepburn Season: ‘A Woman Rebels’ More Hepburn, as the BFI continues its tribute to one of old Hollywood’s most groundbreaking and glamorous actresses. This interesting proto-feminist movie stars Hepburn as the Victorian miss saddled with a stern father, despite which she manages to get herself pregnant in a headily romantic affair with Van Heflin.
Feb 8: Bechdel Test Film Club: Reclaim the Romcom Our favourite feminist film club presents a free all-dayer complete with two films that buck the usual romcom trend by focusing on female characters, plus a discussion on whether the romantic comedy genre is inherently conservative and chauvinistic.
Feb 9: Alibi Film Club: ‘Raising Arizona’ Another instalment in the Alibi’s ‘1987 month’, celebrating a fine cinematic year with the Coen brothers’ fervently inventive comedy.
Out now: Selma Dare we watch this 1960s-set, US civil-rights drama only as historical re-creation – expert though it is – and not as a reflection of what’s happening right now in the world? As recent US scandals and protests show, there’s nothing ‘finished’ about the issue of racism in America or beyond. Fittingly, ‘Selma’, unlike so many great-man biopics, lures us into a web of unsettled arguments and shifting strategies as Dr Martin Luther King Jr makes his landmark 1965 Alabama march a reality – at a terrible cost.
Feb 6: Jupiter Ascending A new spin on the old ‘ordinary Joe discovers they’re the saviour of the galaxy’ starring Mila Kunis as Jupiter Jones, a cleaner in Chicago who is actually next in line to a serious inheritance that could shake up the the cosmos. Channing Tatum plays Caine, a genetically engineered ex-military hunter sent to Earth to track her down.
Feb 6: Love is Strange New York-based filmmaker Ira Sachs (‘Keep the Lights On’) creates a special kind of urbanity: softer and more inclusive than Woody Allen’s, openly gay but family-focused, alive to the city’s tensions and lulls. His latest movie also features a Chopin piano score, adding an exquisite sense of proportion to what, in the hands of most other directors, might have felt like a cautionary tale about the perils of gay marriage. Instead, ‘Love Is Strange’ emerges as a total triumph for Sachs and his co-leads, John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, who turn in career-topping work.
Feb 6: Shaun the Sheep Movie Shaun and his mischievous friends actions accidentally get their farmer taken away from the farm to the big city. It’s up to the wooly herd to head after him and save the day.
Feb 13: Fifty Shades of Grey Sam Taylor-Johnson directs this steamy adaption of E. L. James’ best-selling novel, starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson.
Feb 13: The Philadelphia Story Cukor and Donald Ogden Stewart’s evergreen version of Philip Barry’s romantic farce, centreing on a socialite wedding threatened by scandal, is a delight from start to finish, with everyone involved working on peak form.
Feb 27: It Follows A creepy thriller following 19-year old Jay, who after experiencing a strange sexual encounter, finds herself haunted by the feeling that something or someone is after her.
Feb 27: Catch Me Daddy This unblinking and upsetting debut British film from brothers Daniel and Matthew Wolfe gives us a fateful day and night in the lives of two teenagers hiding in a Yorkshire caravan park.
Feb 2–Apr 25: The Nether The genius of US playwright Jennifer Haley’s multi award winning ‘The Nether’ is that it uses the medium of sci-fi to pep up its points about the web, but it uses it lightly. It is a parable about the online world and our relationship with it, but it’s been exaggerated into a future where the internet has evolved into the Nether, an advanced virtual reality in which most people work, go to school and indulge their fantasies.
Feb 4–Mar 21: How to Hold Your Breath This new play from Zinnie Harris looks at how we live now prompted by a seemingly innocent one-night stand. Harris returns to the court to explore our recent European history, with ‘How to Hold Your Breath’, directed by Royal Court boss Vicky Featherstone.
Feb 10–Apr 11: A View from the Bridge ‘Something perversely pure calls to me from his memory,’ says lawyer Alfieri of Eddie, the granite-like Italian-American protagonist of Arthur Miller’s epochal ‘A View from the Bridge’. This purity is is at the heart of revered Belgian director Ivo van Hove’s production, which distils Miller’s 1955 play to its white hot, diamond-hard essence.
Feb 10–Jun 13: Beautiful – The Carole King Musical Word from Broadway is that ‘Beautiful’, a show based on the songs and life of baby boomer megastar Carole King, is a very decent affair, strikingly similar in form and arc to ‘Jersey Boys’ (indubitably the best of the jukebox crop), and festooned with great songs that King both performed and wrote for others.
Feb 17–May 17: Man and Superman Following his title turn in ‘Oedipus the King’ back in 2008, the ever-versatile Ralph Fiennes returns to the National Theatre to star in George Bernard Shaw’s epic 1903 rom-com ‘Man and Superman’.
Feb 11–Mar 7: Farinelli and the King Mark Rylance returns to Shakespeare’s Globe after success in ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘Richard III’ in 2012 to star in new play with music ‘Farinelli and the King’.
Feb 2: Songhoy Blues Hailing from northern Mali, the four members of this hard-grooving Afro-blues act were driven to Bamako by the Islamist crackdown in their home region. There they took part in sessions for last year’s brilliant Africa Express record alongside western musicians including Damon Albarn and Nick Zinner, and came over to play their first British gig at the album launch.
Feb 3: La Roux Elly Jackson brings her pristine synthpop to the stage, performing songs from our top album of 2014.
Feb 4: Renegades Of Rhythm DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist craft a jaw-dropping set using records from Afrika Bambaataa’s personal collection.
Feb 7: London Remixed Festival 2015 With a great line-up of rootsy acts – everything from folk and blues to Balkan brass and afrobeat – this festival has been running since 2012 and doesn’t look like slowing down at all for 2015.
Feb 10–12: Elbow Once upon a time they were a niche concern, but Bury’s finest have long since broken through the arena barrier, and their warm, richly expressive, bear-hearted, thoroughly northern orchestral soul is perfectly suited to the big rooms they play nowadays.
Feb 11: Gruff Rhys: American Interior Prolific pan-disciplinarian Gruffydd Maredudd Bowen Rhys is best known for fronting the mighty Super Furry Animals, but has also produced sterling work with Gorillaz, Danger Mouse and his own Neon Neon project.
Feb 14: Macy Gray She’s never quite matched the huge success of ‘I Try’ in 1999, but the funky, croaky-voiced, Grammy-winning soul singer is still a great live performer. Just hope she doesn’t take this opportunity to drop the Metallica and Radiohead songs she recorded for her 2012 album ‘Covered’.
Feb 16: George Ezra Another peak for the Bristolian singer-songwriter: he’s announced a massive Brixton show to top off his meteoric year. Cradling his acoustic guitar like a lifeline while he sings his plaintive laments, Ezra is also blessed by top cheekbones and great taste in chunky knitwear. Even bigger things could still be in store.
Feb 19–20: FKA Twigs After the success of her Mercury-nominated debut album ‘LP1’, FKA Twigs performs a London headline show tonight. If she can bring to the stage even a fraction of the transporting effect of her records, the audience will be in for quite a trip.
Feb 21: The Decemberists The cult indie outfit from US hipster capital Portland return to London for their first gig in five years, trailing a new album ponderously called ‘What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World’.
Feb 21: TV On The Radio Brooklyn-based genre-busters TVOTR bring their delightfully eclectic and fiercely intelligent strain of experimental indie to London for a very welcome show at the Roundhouse.
Feb 21: So Solid Crew The Crew’s reunion show, featuring Mega, Romeo, Lisa Maffia and hopefully a couple more of the Crew too. There’s a solid cast of grime- and garage-heads new and old joining the support bill too.
Feb 24: The War On Drugs The cosmic, sprawling, euphoric rock outfit from Philly provide a glimpse into an alternate universe in which the young Bob Dylan fronted a shoegaze band. Hear tracks from their superb new album ‘Lost in the Dream’ in London tonight.
Feb 24: Deptford Goth Despite the name, this rising producer is actually based in Peckham – and his sweeping synth tracks aren’t all that gloomy. We rated his debut album ‘Life After Defo’, and although his second LP ‘Songs’ doesn’t have nearly as good a title, it’s just as deliciously downbeat and should go down a treat live.
Feb 25: Death From Above 1979 After releasing their first album in ten years, the Toronto dance-punk duo drop in for a white-knuckle London show.
Feb 6: I Love Acid Warehouse Party The glowstick-welding, UV-facepainted rave beast of a party returns for some warehouse rave action. Said warehouse is Hackney Wick’s Bloc (formerly named Autumn Street Studios), which will play host to an immense line-up of DJs: Chicago’s acid house pioneer DJ Pierre, jungle-dabbling wonky electronica hero Luke Vibert, ever-awesome techno ravers Posthuman and I Love Acid residents Affie Yusef and Placid.
Feb 7: The Blitz Party A heavily ’40s-themed party featuring big bands, wartime snacks and drinks, ration books, sandbags and other authentic fun. Make an effort with your costume.
Feb 12: B.Traits XOYO Residency After its stormingly successful three-month Saturday night residency slots steered and curated by top DJs – including Eats Everything, Jackmaster and most recently Skream – Shoreditch club XOYO spreads its residency wings a little wider, asking Canadian bass-fiend B.Traits to helm a Thursday night slot.
Feb 12: Gorgon City Production duo Kye Gibbon and Matt Robson-Scott make some of the sharpest, most on-point club music around. But it’s not just clubbers who are digging Gorgon City’s take on house music. Working as producers for big-draw crossover acts like Clean Bandit and Klaxons has opened up their music to a huge pop audience.
Feb 13: Friday I’m In Love This popular singalong club night allows punters to belt out their favourite indie and pop anthems from the ’80s and ’90s. Sound familiar? Nope, it ain’t karaoke – you’ll be singing along with the live house band for a more authentic live experience, so don’t hold back.
Feb 14: Broken Hearts and Promises This Valentine’s-themed pop-up party (organised by Meredith O’Shaughnessy, the brains behind the recent Nordic Yulefest pop-up) takes place in the rather lovely setting of Bloomsbury House’s five grand rooms, which the organisers assure us is being filled with ‘love, laughter and disco’.
Feb 14: The Candlelight Club: 1920s Valentine’s Day Ball The dazzling, 1920s-styled clandestine pop-up party fuelled by jazz, dancing and cocktails returns for a Valentine’s extravaganza. It’s a lavish, luxurious affair (sponsored by Moët & Chandon champagne, natch), taking place in a secret Art Deco space behind a public library – ‘a masterstroke in prohibition-era venue diversion and camouflage’, as the organisers put it.
Feb 14: The Dark Side of Love: Valentine’s Masked Ball Anyone wanting to get soppy with their beloved on Valentine’s Day: best avoid this party. It celebrates the darker side of love and the freakier elements of Valentine’s Day.
Feb 28: R&She This occasional, always-roadblocked party – popular with gay crowds – salutes the many, many ladies of R&B with a fantastically female playlist (apart from a table-flipping R&He special on January 31)
Feb 28: UNKLE Sounds The latest incarnation of James Lavelle’s eclectic dance crew – and some special guests – play a one-off, late-night audiovisual DJ show in north London.
HAVE A GOOD ONE!