If you are visiting London in January, you’ll notice it’ll be pretty chilly weather and there’s noticeably more darkness than light. BUT, you’re a smart cookie to visit at this time of year, because you’re likely saving tons of money on your flights and accommodation, plus it’s the quietest time of year crowd-wise so you’ll find it easier to make reservations and book tickets.
Ok to make sure you have a GREAT time here, I’ve made you a list of things to do in London in January.
Image Courtesy of LNYDP
1. Watch the parade on New Year’s Day
The London New Year’s Day Parade (LNYDP) is a tradition with over thirty years of history, happening since 1987. In the parade there’s over 10,000 performers, from musicians, to acrobats, to dancers and even marching bands. Tickets are now sold out but you can join more than half a million of Brits who watch it annually on TV from the comfort of their homes.
London New Year’s Day Parade | Waterloo | 1st of January
2. Attend a New Year’s Day brunch, lunch or dinner
If you spent the last evening of December celebrating, then you are probably in dire need of some amazing grub to give you life on New Year’s Day. Check out one of these places that are definitely open on New Year’s Day for some delicious dishes…
The Breakfast Club has tons of locations in London where you can indulge in some classic American breakfast dishes like pancakes and french toast, as well as its famous Full English Breakfast.
Cèleste at The Lanesborough serves a high-end lunch on New Year’s Day. Have a three-course meal of creative European dishes for £95 per person, served in the opulent dining room of the hotel.
Flight Club, a darts bar, is the ideal spot to socialise and have some fun on New Year’s Day in London. Book a spot to play while you eat and drink.
The Ritz – if you want to experience the Michelin star restaurant without the huge price tag that comes along with the New Year’s Eve dinner ticket, go for New Year’s Day lunch and dinner. For £235, you’ll get a four-course meal prepared by the executive chef and his team.
Find more restaurants and food spots that are open on New Year’s Day on DesignMyNight.
Image Courtesy of Flight Club
3. Attend a New Year’s Day Party
You’ve partied your way into 2023, but if you want to keep that trend going, London can help you out (even if I personally think you’re a bit nuts!)
There are tons of parties at warehouses and clubs where you can continue your New Year’s celebrations. Some of our favourites are:
Flight Club, a great cocktail bar with dart boards, where you can grab some casual bites and keep the party going until around 1am.
Glitterbox at Printworks promises an iconic party with inclusivity and diversity at its core, including glam dancers, disco anthems and, obviously, tons of glitter.
Check this list by DesignMyNight for more New Year’s Day parties.
4. Attend Prom at The Barbican on New Year’s Day
The New Year’s Day Prom at the Barbican Centre is an event filled with classical music and lots of fun, plus your ticket includes a glass of champagne (ps: this isn’t like an American prom, it’s a seated theatre show). You’ll get to hear the London Concert Orchestra play classics like ‘Nimrod’ from Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar, Largo al factotum by Gioachino Rossini, Sleeping Beauty Waltz by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and many more.
Tickets from £18.50 per person.
Prom at The Barbican | Barbican | 1st of January
Image Courtesy of Serpentine Running Club
5. Participate in a run at Hyde Park (or just watch!)
A fitness goal is usually a staple in any New Year’s resolutions, and London offers you the best way to start it off. Every year on the first day of the year, the Serpentine Running Club organises a 10K race and a 3K fun run through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. People of all ages can participate, so bring your family and friends along (unless they hate you for even suggesting physical activity on New Year’s Day.)
Tickets from £5 per participant, free to watch.
Run at Hyde Park | Hyde Park | 1st of January
Image Courtesy of Tobacco
6. Do a Winter-y/Christmas-y activity
If you visit in January, especially at the beginning of the month, you can experience festive London without the insane crowds you’d be battling in December.
To help you experience allll of the Christmas-y things to do in London (or choose just a couple that are to your own taste) I compiled a list to help you get in on the action like a true Londoner (spoiler alert: it’s not all about Winter Wonderland). Read Top Christmas-Themed Things to Do in London for fun activities like ice skating, visit a Christmas Market, try a festive afternoon tea, etc. Most of these things will still be happening throughout January.
7. Go shopping (huge sales!)
Most shops will put on huge sales in January, so you can go check out what they have or if you have a certain shop in mind you can check online to see if they have any sales on.
Some of the most famous department stores in London are: Selfridges, Fortnum and Mason, Liberty London, and Harrods, so that could be a great place to start.
But we always love to support more local shops, as you’ll get something much more original and helps support the local economy… Some of my favourite shops are in the video below, or if you grab my 3-Day or 6-Day London Itinerary I have suggestions in there too.
8. Visit the London Art Fair
Hosted at the Business Design Centre for over 30 years, the London Art Fair opens the city’s art calendar for the year. You’ll find over a 100 modern and contemporary galleries to browse. Pick up your own piece of art or buy some more affordable prints to take home as a unique souvenir., There are also programmed talks, tours and curated exhibitions, so there’s plenty to see and do here!
Tickets from £19.50 per person.
Image Courtesy of Ceilidh Club
9. Experience Burns Night
Burns Night is a Scottish holiday that England has unofficially adopted. It’s dedicated to the poet Robert Burns born on the 25th of January 1759 and it celebrates all of his contributions to Scottish culture. The festivities usually consist of a Burns supper, with traditional Scottish dishes like haggis being served, with a reading of his works such as Address to a Haggis. It also includes lots of whiskey (hey ho!)
Celebrated on the 25th of January
Image Courtesy of Warner Bros Studios
10. Visit the Harry Potter Studios for a Hogwarts in the Snow experience
Ok I’m not a Harry Potter fan but I know a load of you will be, so head to the studio when it gets its festive makeover. Sets like the Forbidden Forest are covered in layers of snow and the enchanting Great Hall is draped in wreaths, glands and trees with miniature witches on broomsticks. But most impressive is the long dining tables that you see in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone complete with special FX flaming Christmas puddings and prop versions of mouth-watering roast turkeys and hams studded with cherries.
Tickets from £51.50 per person.
11. Attend the London Short Film Festival
The London Short Film Festival is a BAFTA-qualifying, internationally regarded independent short film festival. With over 5000+ submissions they narrowed it down to about 250-500 national and international films which includes all genres, from comedies, dramas, animations, documentaries, low-budget shorts and experimental works. You can watch this wide variety of film screenings, along with live music, workshops and talks.
Festival venue and tickets yet to be announced.
London Short Film Festival | 20th – 29th January 2023
Image Courtesy of the Nutcracker
12. Catch a festive theatre show
Nothing gets you into the festive spirit more than heading to a local theatre to watch a pantomime performance and January is the last opportunity to watch some of these shows. Pantomimes are light-hearted theatrical performances usually involving slapstick comedy and music. Many of the shows are based on old fairy tales or nursery rhymes we used to hear as a child, like Jack and the Bean Stalk, which is being shown this year at the London Palladium and Cinderella, which is being performed at Theatre Royal Stratford East. Get comfortable and let the show unfold as you soak up the last of the Christmassy atmosphere.
13. Attend the Snookers Masters
For the snooker fanatics, this is your kind of event! First started in 1975, the Cazoo Masters is a professional non-ranking tournament with sixteen of the world’s best players to be held at the exquisite Alexandra Palace. This tournament is considered one of snooker’s Triple Crown events.
Tickets from £34.50 per person.
14. Attend a Chinatown Walking Tour
If you have seen my video on how to spend the day in Chinatown on Youtube then you saw that I suggested taking one of the China Exchange’s Chinatown walking tours. I discovered so many things about the area via this tour, even though I walk through the area ALL the time. January is pretty special as it’s often when Lunar New Year is, so you’ll get insights into Chinatown’s celebrations and their significance, alongside their usual tour material. And if you watched my video you also know that your tour ticket includes lunch in one of the Chinatown restaurants.
Tickets are £23 per person.
15. Watch a football game or go on a stadium tour
If you or someone you’re visiting London with is a football enthusiast, then try to catch a football game at one of the many stadiums in London. Or you can book a tour of the Emirates Stadium or Wembley Stadium.
16. Attend an event with the London Borough of Culture
London Borough of Culture is a competition between the 32 boroughs of the city in which they bid for more than £1 million to organise a programme of local cultural events and initiatives. The winner of 2023 was the borough of Croydon, so they are working on lots of fun events. Check their website to see what’s happening when you’re in town (this link will bring you to a list of events no matter which year you’re reading this!)
London Borough of Culture | Croydon
Image Courtesy of Alexandra Palace
17. Attend the Cazoo World Darts Championship 2022/2023
If you are a fan of darts I’m pretty sure you already know about the World Darts Championship. It’s a prestigious event with the world’s best dart players as they compete for the winning prize of £2,500,000. It’s been happening every year at the beautiful Alexandra Palace since 2008.
Tickets from £48.
Image Courtesy of The Big London Bake
18. Participate in The Big London Bake
Have you ever watched The Great British Bake Off and thought to yourself “I can totally do that!”?
Well, you can at The Big London Bake, a workshop where you can challenge your friends and family into a competition to see who can bake the best (or the worst!). They do workshops all year round, but until the end of January the baking theme is a festive one.
Tickets from £44.50 per person.
The Big London Bake | Tooting | Haggerston | Festive theme available until 31st of January
Image Courtesy of The Mall Tavern
19. Go for a Sunday Roast
The British are very proud of their Sunday roast, it usually consists of roasted meat, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and gravy, but there are some variants, including vegetarian and vegan versions. Some of our favourite spots are:
The Mall Tavern in Notting Hill has fabulous Sunday roast options, and a really nice new menu with a top London chef. A favourite among the locals and well-known for its large selection of local and foreign beers on tap and in cans.
The Punchbowl in Mayfair, is one of my recommendations on the 3-Day Itinerary. It’s a great spot for a drink in a quiet area, amidst some of the most expensive properties in the country. While I haven’t eaten here myself, I’ve heard very good things about the food and the Sunday Roast.
Vaulty Towers in Waterloo, it’s the self-proclaimed “quirkiest bar in Waterloo”, this playful tavern serves a great veggie and vegan Sunday roast.
Image Courtesy of Canary Wharf
20. Attend the Canary Wharf Winter Lights Exhibition
If you’re after even more things to do in London in January, here’s one… a beautiful event takes over Canary Wharf, transforming the area with over 25 light installations by different artists from all over the world. Along with their permanent collection, they bring on some special pieces by worldwide artists. And to complete the evening there’s a delicious pop-up food market serving food and hot drinks, and for something a little more unique try their fire pits where you can toast gourmet marshmallows from The Marshmallowist.
This is a free exhibition, just download the map so you know where to go.
Winter Lights | Canary Wharf | Visit from the 18th – 28th of January 2023
21. Attend the International Mime Festival
The International Mime Festival spans over 26 days with events all over London, including theatre pieces, international productions, short films, post-show discussions with creators and performers, and expertly led workshops. This is probably one of the most unique things to do in London in January…
Tickets from £14 per person.
International Mime Festival | Visit from 16th of January until 5th of February 2023
Image Courtesy of Lightopia Festival
22. Visit the Lightopia Festival
The Lightopia festival is a first of its kind in the UK and Europe, it is an immersive and visually-dramatic lantern and light experience, mixing beautiful art installations with human experience. It includes an incredible 3D projection onto Chiswick House, and pieces like The Love Gate, Tree of Life, Flower Hand, Happy Valley and many more, symbolising various experiences throughout life and humanity.
Tickets from £24.50 per person.
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