London Destination Guide
A vibrant hub of cutting-edge arts, culture and cuisine that consistently blazes an international trail, London pulses with a thrilling itinerary of prime entertainment. Discover the English capital’s wealth of theatre, ballet, opera and art alongside its sporting highlights with our round-up of the most unmissable activities.
Commemorating 40 years since director Jonathan Miller’s ENO debut, Puccini’s classic production of La Bohème presents spectacular performances set against a deeply moving score. Sparks ignite between endearing seamstress Mimì and young poet Rodolfo, but the pair’s blazing passion is thwarted by the harsh realities of poverty and ill health. Natalya Romaniw is spectacular as the opera’s lead.
London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4ES
+44 0207 845 0111
Image © Robert Workman
Gamers and design buffs alike will find plenty to inspire at this cutting-edge curation of the conception, design and prototypes of ground-breaking videogames from the past decade. From the hyper-visual Nintendo Splatoon to the post-apocalyptic landscapes of The Last of Us, this collection at the V&A demonstrates not only immense artistic and technical talent but raises skilful philosophical questions about the videogaming culture.
V&A, Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge, London, SW7 2RL
+44 0207 942 2271
Image © 2015 Nintendo V_A
Sir Edward Burne-Jones
This first solo Edward Burne-Jones exhibition at the Tate since 1933 brings together over 150 of the artist’s works, from spell-binding tapestries and enchanting paintings to stained glass, embroidery and jewellery. Burne-Jones was one of the last Pre-Raphaelites; he injected romantic themes inspired by mythology, religion and mediaeval art into a manufacturing-obsessed Victorian age.
Tate Britain, Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG
+44 0207 887 8888
Image © Tate
I am Ashurbanipal, King of the World, King of Assyria
Ruling the ancient world in the 7th century BC, Ashurbanipal was the king of the Assyrian Empire, which stretched from Egypt to Iran. The BP Exhibition I am Ashurbanipal, King of the World, King of Assyria draws together an exciting curation of ancient Assyrian artefacts, including intricate sculptural reliefs depicting daily life in the historic Middle East.
The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG
Image © The British Museum
The Last Tsar: Blood and Revolution
The last imperial monarchs to rule Russia, Tsar Nicholas II and his family lived glittering, extravagant lives until they mysteriously disappeared in 1918. Piecing together the forensic science and medical records that the family left behind, The Last Tsar: Blood and Revolution sheds light on what really happened. The exhibition is the fruit of a century-long study into one of the 20th century’s greatest enigmas.
Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD
+44 020 7942 4000
Image © Duncan Soar Photography
Bill Viola / Michelangelo: Life Death Rebirth
Born centuries apart but both before-their-time conjurers of raw emotion and sublime beauty, High Renaissance artist Michelangelo and contemporary video composer Bill Viola are celebrated under one roof in this exhibition. Admire Michelangelo’s masterpieces alongside Viola’s provocative installations, including Tristan’s Ascension; a 5m-tall projection depicting the ascent of the soul after death.
Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD
+44 0207 300 8000
Image © The Trustees of the British Museum
Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams
Iconic haute couture, evocative pencil sketches and signature perfume bottles are the stars of Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams. The inimitable French designer had a passion for all things English—the historic traditions, grand architecture, over-arching politeness, and even its food. This show pays tribute to Dior’s relationship with Britain as well as his enduring stamp on the fashion world.
V&A, Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge, London, SW7 2RL
+44 0207 942 2271
Image © Popperfoto Getty Images
After receiving the Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival in 2018 following a sold-out run, Follies returns with its signature Broadway musical flourish in time for spring. Classic foot-tappers such as Broadway Baby, I’m Still Here and Losing My Mind are set against the roaring backdrop of New York City in the early 1970s.
National Theatre, Upper Ground, Lambeth, London SE1 9PX
+44 020 7452 3000
Image © Johan Persson
London Fashion Week
Influencers, designers, models and the chicest brands on the fashion rails converge in London this February to highlight rising trends. London Fashion Week’s high-profile catwalks and late-night parties are usually only attended by a select inner circle. To browse fresh-off-the-runway styles and glimpse the coming season’s trends, dip into the concurrent and very accessible London Fashion Week Festival.
Various locations around London
Image © Zoe Lower_British Fashion Council
The Renaissance Nude
Western painters rediscovered the human form during the 15th and 16th centuries. New ideas transformed renderings of Adam and Eve and the crucifixion, while inventive undercurrents steered the shape of nudes cast to canvas or marble. The Renaissance Nude explores this momentous era, showcasing works by heavyweights such as Titian, Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Dürer and Cranach.
Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD
+44 020 7300 8000
Image © National Galleries of Scotland
Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light
It was his bright, frothy seascapes replete with carefree bathers and pretty garden views brushed with iridescence that lent Spanish Impressionist Sorolla y Bastida his nickname, the ‘master of light’. The National Portrait Gallery aims the spotlight on 60 of the artist’s exquisite canvases, many having been shipped in from private overseas collections.
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
+44 0800 912 6958
Image © Museo Sorolla Madrid
Van Gogh and Britain
Residing in England as a young man, Vincent Van Gogh was inspired by novelists such as Dickens and Eliot and its forward-thinking artists such as Constable and Millais. Van Gogh and Britain shows works from these two famous painters together with rarely loaned others by Van Gogh—including Sunflowers from London’s National Gallery and Shoes, Starry Night on the Rhône and L’Arlésienne from further afield.
Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG
+44 020 7887 8888
Image © Tate
Jewel-coloured minidresses, snub-nosed platforms, wildly outré prints and, of course, those iconic hip-skimming pinafores: Mary Quant’s designs staged a ground-breaking couture revolution on catwalks and high streets across Britain for two dazzling decades. This nostalgic retrospective exhibits some of the legendary fashion designer’s most memorable contributions.
V&A, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2LR
+44 0207 942 2000
Image © Roger Jackson, Central Press, Getty Images
A dramatic, blood-soaked plot about passion and the devil, Faust is Gounod’s most celebrated—and gripping—opera. The antihero, Faust, is a doomed academic who sells his soul to the sinister Méphistophélès in return for love, with devastating consequences. Scottish director David McVicar’s production is beautifully wrought with generous Parisian set designs and evocative period costumes.
Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, Wc2E 9DD
+44 020 7304 4000
Image © Catherine Ashmore
Sea Star: Sean Scully
Sean Scully’s arresting canvases comprise bold blocks of colour that appear to bear little resemblance to the works of 19th-century master JMW Turner. Nonetheless, the contemporary British artist draws on his forebear’s masterpieces to produce the epic paintings on display in Sea Star: Sean Scully. Thought-provoking and poetic, it gauges a beautifully subtle dialogue between the two painters.
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DN
+44 020 7747 2885
Image © Liliane Tomasko
All My Sons
American playwright Arthur Miller has seen something of a revival recently, with a punchy line-up of his works playing out across London’s stages. All My Sons is an excellent example—a sharp, emotionally-charged script nervously skirts the dark secrets of war at the play’s shadowy core. The cast is spectacularly well-appointed, with Sally Field and Bill Pullman taking the leads.
The Old Vic, The Cut, London, SE1 8NB
+44 0844 871 7628
Image © iStock_Matt_Gibson
The highlight of this eclectic tribute to classical music is its focus on up-and-coming talent, presenting an array of inspired contemporary productions. Join Carl Craig and Chineke! Orchestra for an intriguing dialogue between electronic and chamber music or an adventurous Bach reimagination. There’s plenty for traditionalists, too, with accessible lunchtime recitals throughout Love Classical’s programme.
Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP
+44 020 7589 8212
Image © Pail Sanders