“Size isn’t everything” the other months of the year explained to February in their smug, patronising tone. “You only have, what… twenty eight days?” they said, stifling a tittering laugh, “But don’t worry. We’re sure no-one will notice.”
But February doesn’t care.
February pays them no mind.
Because no. People don’t notice. You see February has been busy packing itself with a seemingly endless banquet of events, parties, pop ups, and festivals, all of which, frankly, seem to be more than should reasonably be possible for such a comparatively thin slice of the year. After all, it’s not every month that can boast extraordinary, trippy light shows in central London churches; pop up lunar cocktail bars below giant indoor moons; three-storey high art exhibitions that manage to be immersive through their sheer scale; karaoke parties led by classically trained organists; romantic dinners inside Britain’s answer to the Sistine Chapel; the opening of the country’s largest street art exhibition ever, and a lot more…
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POP UP EVENTS
Space, The Universe, and Everything
One of central London’s oldest churches is getting a light show to kick off the month …and it looks like it’s going to be a religious experience.
Or at least, it will be if any of the previous shows are anything to go by (check this one out). It comes to us from a projection art company called Luxmuralis who’ve digitally daubed the likes of Westminster Abbey and Salisbury Cathedral, among many others, using a technique called ‘projection mapping’ in which they fit the computer-assisted light show to the exact space they’re casting colours onto. The results are frequently quite extraordinary, and ever-so-slightly trippy.
Details: 31st January – 4th February | St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 4JJ | £10
Luke Jerram’s spectacular Museum of the Moon is sadly leaving Greenwich’s equally spectacular Painted Hall this month – and as a way of saying goodbye, they’re going to throw a party after dark, with moon-themed cocktails, a 360-photo experience, some neon face painting by My Lilac Rose, and trippy contact jugglers doing their thing to an atmospheric soundtrack.
Details: 3rd February | The Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, SE10 9NN | £40
London International Mime Festival
The world’s best mime performers have come to London. They can’t tell you how happy they are. Luckily, the London International Mime Festival is around to sing their praises and toot their own trumpets for them, and it’s very slowly rolling its (invisible) wagon back out of town for the 47th, and possibly last edition of the annual festival…
Details: Ends 5th February 2023 | Various London locations
Bitters Making & Absinthe Tasting at the Last Tuesday Society
Sure, inviting your beloved to make bitters with you a week before Valentine’s almost feels like a message. But The Last Tuesday Society have never been ones for convention. And you’ll be able to wash any lingering concern away with an absinthe tasting, too…
Details: 7th February | The Last Tuesday Society, 11 Mare Street, E8 4RP | £27
Dead Poets Live: Sylvia Plath
Dead Poets Live involves, as the name kind of implies, an actor taking the stage and embodying the spirit of a famed, iconic, and very dead poet. The series has garnered some frankly rapturous reviews, and this instalment will see Olivier Award wining actress Denise Gough resurrecting the soul of Sylvia Plath at the crumbling Victorian beauty that is Wilton’s Music Hall…
Details: 7th-9th February | Wilton’s Music Hall, 1 Grace’s Alley, E1 8JB | £12.50-£26
The idea behind Cirque Berserk is to take an old school big top circus, and squeeze it all into a live indoor stage show. And considering that they’ve been around for the past ten years, it appears that they’ve succeeded. This month, they’re popping up at Riverside Studios (also home to Sam’s Riverside) where they’ll be cramming 30+ acrobats, stuntmen, daredevils, contortionists, aerialists, and performers onstage alongside the legendary motorcycle Globe of Death.
Details: 9th February – 11th March | Sam’s Riverside, 1 Crisp Walk, W6 9DN | £34.50-£39
Lates at the Kew Orchid Festival
The Kew Orchid festival is back, and this year they’ll be celebrating the colourful tropical bounty of Cameroon. And as well as constructing a miniature indoor rainforest, they’re also putting on some Lates, complete with Cameroonian themed cocktails, cooking demos, food stalls, and live performances…
Details: 10th & 11th, 17th & 18th February | Princess of Wales Conservatory, Kew Gardens | £17
Valentine’s Day is here again, presenting you with its annual conundrum of how to adequately shun what is evidently a cynical marketing ploy whilst simultaneously dazzling your beloved with the sort of date night you know they really want.
Sooo to help you along we’ve sifted through all of the many thousands of clichéd and predictable Valentine’s date nights on offer, and now humbly present to you a hand-picked bouquet of excellent date ideas, romantic restaurants, intimate cocktail bars, and more…
Details: 14th February | Across London
Romeo + Juliet at Backyard Cinema
Backyard Cinema is back after a three year hiatus because of that plague upon everyone’s houses. And this time it’s showing Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 classic Romeo + Juliet, bookended by performances of the soundtrack by a live choir. Which, for the record, has sold out for the last six years they’ve screened it…
Details: 14th February | Barbican Centre, Silk Street, Barbican, EC2Y 8DS | £20+
In terms of uplifting experiences, it’s tough to beat Lift 109. And in terms of ‘truly unusual, strangely romantic, and definitely memorable’ Valentine’s Day experiences, it’s almost impossible to beat. You’ll get champagne, live musicians, and floral arrangements, and the entire inside of the tower you’re asending up will be coloured in a vibrant red hue…
Details: 14th February | Lift 109, Level 1, Turbine Hall A, Battersea Power Station | £20 – £350
DEBUT at the Brunel Museum
DEBUT first debuted back in 2015.
They’re a group of extremely talented classical musicians who decided to band together in order to play accessible, fun concerts in interesting & unusual spaces. Since then, they’ve put on hundreds of shows in places like lighthouses, ancient operating theatres and Victorian merchant ships, becoming magnets for effusively acclamatory reviews along the way. And the Thames Tunnel Shaft at the Brunel Museum is both very interesting and highly unusual…
Details: 16th February | The Brunel Museum | Railway Avenue, SE16 4LF | £28
Beyond the streets
The writing has been on the wall for some time now.
Graffiti is an art-form.
And it’s an art form that’s long been eschewed by the art gallery crowd, mostly because art galleries tend to be indoors. But now, the most creative form of vandalism is getting its very own indoor art show, thanks to BEYOND THE STREETS, which will be by far the most comprehensive street art exhibition to ever open in the UK…
Details: February 17th – May 9th | Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, SW3 4RY | £15
Grown & Thrown
Bringing together 15 houseplant boutiques with several ceramic specialists, Grown & Thrown is the one-stop destination for both the plants and the pots. It’s all organised by the people at Green Rooms, a roving botanical marketplace that pops up across London, briefly turning wonderful locations into miniature houseplant rainforests. And this time around it’s landing amidst the Bussey Building…
Details: 19th February | Unit 8 Copeland Park, Peckham, SE153SN | £1
The Ballet Icons Gala 2023
As far as the dance-lovers’ calendar is concerned, Christmas is whenever the annual Ballet Icons Gala happens to be. Because it plucks the finest talent from the global ballet scene, and places them all together onstage for a night of awe-inspiring choreography – this year it’ll be at the London Coliseum, where the English National Ballet Philharmonic Orchestra will be setting the soundtrack to principals from (deep breath) the Royal Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, English National Ballet, Vienna State Ballet, Bavarian State Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Berlin State Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, New City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, annnd Boston Ballet…
Details: 19th February | The London Coliseum, St. Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4ES | £30
It’s Pancake Day on the 21st.
And as with every other holiday, the supermarkets have already had their shelves stacked with eggs, milk, and flour for months. But if you fancy having someone else make your stacks for you, then we humbly suggest you go to one of the best places in town. And we happen to have a handy list of those places…
Details: 21st February | Across London
David Hockey At The Lightroom
Hot tip! Invest in neck braces. Because as of this month people are going to be craning their heads up at frankly unnatural angles in order to take in the entirety of David Hockney’s new, illuminated, four storey tall exhibition. Call it immersive if it makes you happy, but the fact is that this thing is gigantic, and will utterly envelope people in vibrantly hued artworks…
Details: 22nd February – 4th June | The Lightroom, 12 Lewis Cubitt Square, N1C 4DY | £25
Everyone loves a big organ.
And the one in Battersea Arts Centre is huge.
All the better then to bang out some tunes for a night of Organoke this month. And yes, Organoke is exactly what it sounds like – a portmanteau of ‘organ karaoke’, in which a classically trained organist quite literally pulls out the stops to provide live accompaniment for a raucous evening of sing-a-long bangers, all backed up by a full band, while people sing, dance, drink, and generally soak up the euphoria.
Details: 25th February | Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, London, SW11 5TN | £25
Remember when people used to be impressed by the Piccadilly lights? Just because they were big, and bright, and neon? Well, those days are officially over. Because now if you head to the Outernet building at Tottenham Court Road, you can see moving vortex of a digital artwork on 23,000 square feet of floor to ceiling, 360 degree, 8k screens set across four storeys…
Details: Until 26th February (12pm-6pm) | The Now Building, Centre Point, London WC2H 8LH
If you’re still a bit rusty on the old curling, you can brush up here: Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross is hosting six pop up curling lanes for the festive period. You’ll get an hour on the (fake) ice, and there’s a pop up bar serving signature hot cocktails, too.
Details: Until 26th February, daily 12-8pm | Coal Drops Yard, London N1C 4DQ | £7 – pre-book or just turn up
The bad boys of artfully-created-interactive-immersive-games-cum-plays-cum-happenings, Swamp Motel, are back. They were the gang behind The Drop, a brilliant, artisanal escape room style experience in an Aldgate office block – and it sounds like they’re about to smash it again.
Their latest offering, titled Saint Jude and opening this month, is an enticing, high-concept mystery involving comas, artificial intelligence, and mind-reading. But you already knew that, didn’t you…
Details: Until 11th March 2023 | 100 Petty France, London, SW1H 9EA | £20-£35
Over the past decade VAULT Festival has built up a name for itself as the south’s answer to Edinburgh, attracting headliner comedians sharing their work in progress and supporting independent, emerging theatremakers – particularly giving a platform to POC, queer and neurodiverse performers. And now after a brief, two-year recess (you get one guess why) it’s back with a vengeance, with over 500 shows variously designed to make you laugh, cry, and join an orchestra conducted by Donald Trump…
Details: Until 19th March 2023 | The Vaults, Leake Street, SE1 7NN
Curl Up In A Pub With An Open Fire
Alongside alcohol, a fireplace is easily the best way to warm your cockles – making a pub with a roaring hearth pretty much the cosiest place the laws of physics will allow. So, as the mercury makes its merry way to the bottom of the thermometer, we’ve pulled together a list of what we’d consider to be the cosiest pubs in London. Which means all you need to do is sit back, crack the spine on a good book, and order a hot toddy.
Details: Throughout February | Across London
Go To The Theatre
You may laugh. You may cry. You may throw up, or potentially do all three. This month at the theatre, you can catch medieval comedy, billion-dollar empires made & lost, and immersive gangsterism… See The Best Shows On At The Theatre Now
Lowe, as you may know, is a high end fashion brand. And Lowe, as you may not know, is currently collaborating with Studio Ghibli and mining their colourfully inventive movies for inspiration in their own clothing lines. All of which explains why Selfridges have created a month-long popup themed around Howl’s Moving Castle in their cafe. It’s called Cacifer’s Kitchen, in honour of the full time fire demon/part time chef in the film, who’s inspiring an afternoon tea with all manner of fancy cakes, pastries, and edible broomsticks…
Details: 1st – 25th February | Selfridges, 400 Oxford St, W1A 1AB | £35-£85
Poon’s Wontoneria At Carousel
Poon’s has been on a wild ride since opening its first restaurant in Covent Garden back in ’73, winning a Michelin Star, opening half a dozen branches, gaining celebrity superfans, shutting down, being resurrected, and surviving lockdown thanks to a wonton delivery service. Well, now they’re launching a series of ever-more permanent supperclubs and popups, the latest of which is a three-month stint at Carousel’s incubator space…
Details: 7th February – 7th May | No.23 at Carousel, 23 Charlotte St, W1T 1RL
Merlin Labron-Johnson at 180 Corner
Food wizard Merlin Labron-Johnson is coming to 180 Corner for just four days this February, cooking up a menu using ingredients from his own plot of land in Somerset. And the set menu, including a welcome drinks, is only £85 a head…
Details: 7th – 10th February | 180 Strand, WC2R 1EA | £85pp
After having been featured in Netflix’s Chef’s Table, Ivan Ramen has a strong claim to being New York’s hottest ramen joint. And for the next month, it’ll be London’s hottest ramen joint too, thanks to a pop up at the Neighbourhood incubator up in Islington. Expect the likes of Triple Chicken Triple Garlic; Cold Sesame Noodles with chilled Szechuan chicken; and soup-less, Nagoya-style Mazemen noodles…
Details: 9th February – 9th March | Neighbourhood, 77 Upper Street, N1 0NU
The Painted Hall at Old Royal Naval College
The 300 year old Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich has often been called “Britain’s Sistine Chapel”, but in many ways it’s a lot better. Not least because it’s considerably easier to get to, and because there are fewer tourists …but also because they occasionally have pop up restaurants there. And one such event is taking place this Valentine’s Day where you can expect a three course dinner with live entertainment amidst the stunning surroundings.
Details: 14th February | The Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, King William Walk, London SE10 9NN | £125
When other restaurants hold supperclubs, they do it in a room at the back. When Kudu hold a supperclub they do it in their own beautiful private gallery, right next door to the restaurant. And this month, 14 diners will gather around the long table, and feast off five courses of their signature South African dishes paired with excellent wines. Expect the likes of Kudu Fired Quail (or ‘KFQ’); some 13hr braised beef tongue with coffee, celeriac & truffle; and a grilled pineapple with bourbon & chilli.
Details: 22nd February | Curious Kudu, 117 Queens Road, SE15 2EZ | £60pp (£89pp w/ wine pairing)
Whole Beast at The Fat Walrus
Whole Beast, as the name somewhat suggests, specialise in nose-to-tail cooking. That means an ever-changing menu of extremely fresh, and frequently inventive dishes, which they’ll be serving up to punters at The Fat Walrus for the foreseeable. Expect the likes of green chorizo tacos, pork chops with apple ketchup, burnt hispi with pork fat, and more…
Details: Throughout February | The Fat Walrus, 44 Lewisham Way, SE14 6NP
Retan at Renegade Urban Winery
The Blackhorse Beer Mile is not the first place you’d expect to find a winery. And a winery in a warehouse at the end of a mile of breweries is not the first place you’d expect to find a reasonably priced, elegant little French fine dining restaurant. So Retan comes as something of a surprise – and a very welcome one at that…
Details: Until the end of February | Renegade Urban Winery, Unit 7, Lockwood Way, Walthamstow, E17 5RB
Guest Chefs at Carousel
True to form, Carousel have provided a merrygoround of top-shelf chef talent to for the month of February. This month we can expect a visit from chef Ben Norton who’s typically busy reinventing & redefining the great culinary traditions of the American South at his Nashville restaurant Husk, and chef Harriet Mansell, who’s Dorset wine bar Lilac has fast become one of the best in the UK.
Details: Throughout February | 19-23 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 1RL
Only Food and Courses
Only Food and Courses is a pop up food concept that takes culinary trends from the ’80s and ’90s and reworks them for the more modern era. Sometimes the menu changes, and sometimes the venue changes, but like Trigger’s Broom, it remains the exact same outfit. And now the venue has changed once more, moving into a long term residency at The Cheshire Cheese pub.
Details: Throughout February | The Cheshire Cheese, 5 Little Essex Street, WC2R 3LD | 6 courses, £75
All My Friends
“Alexa, play All My Friends by LCD Soundsystem…”
…because that’s the song that this pop up is named after, and frankly listening to it gives you a pretty decent sense of the place’s vibes too. It’s got a strong musical element with DJs & a record store, and the food’s being put together by both Japanese street food outfit Sho Foo Doh (who’re slinging tuna tacos, sesame-panko-crusted cauliflower, and banana spring rolls with miso caramel) and True Craft, a sourdough pizza spot from Seven Sisters.
Details: Throughout February | Unit 1, Hamlet Estate, 96 White Post Ln, E9 5EN
Argentinian chef Fernando Trocca knocked it out the park when he opened Sucre last year, and now he’s hoping to score another homer with his pop up Mostrador. And the fact that he’s already opened Mostrador pop ups in the US & Uruguay, and already scored such, er home runs… you know what, the analogy breaks down here, but the fact is that it’s a very successful concept. It’s go excellent salads, phenomenal pastries (courtesy of seven pastry chefs), and delicious light suppers. It’ll be at the Hart Shoreditch hotel for the next six months.
Details: Throughout February | 61-67 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3HU
Dragon Cat Cafe
The folks who run Chinatown have decided to give the area a permanent pop up space, in order to help out those young restaurateurs who can’t afford their own Soho restaurant (ie all of them). First on the pass is Dragon Cat Cafe who specialise in Taiwanese-style wheelcakes. And if you’ve never had a wheelcake before, suffice to say that they’re wheely, wheely good.
Details: Until March 2023 | 15a Little Newport St, WC2H 7JJ
Another rising star has hit the Sun & 13 Cantons pub in Soho: Rajiv’s Kitchen has been drawing punters from far and wide over the last five years of pop ups and supperclubs, and now he’s settling in for a long-term residency. Expect mouthwatering Nepalese fare, from thaali to his signature chilli momos (dumplings), alongside the pub’s lengthy line-up of beers on tap.
Details: Throughout February | Sun & 13 Cantons, 21 Great Pulteney Street, London, W1F 9NG
Mondo Sandwiches at The White Horse
Just when we were thinking that Peckham needed more sandwich shops, the absolute king sarnie slingers Mondo Sandwiches announced that they were popping up at The White Horse in Peckham. Not just that, but head chef Jack Macrae has knocked up some shiny newbies for the occasion. We’re talking char-grilled chicken tikka thigh and a punchy Thai vegan number, not to mention the most intense rosy rare beef sandwich we’ve ever seen, served with its own gravy dipping sauce. And it’s not just ’wiches you’ll find either…. Also on the menu are their legendary smash-patty burgers and one hell of a Sunday roast.
Details: Available daily | The White Horse, 20-22 Peckham Rye, London, SE15 4JR
The House of Suntory at The Ham Yard Hotel
First, the good news: for the next couple of months, the rooftop at The Ham Yard Hotel is going to be home to a pop up cocktail bar celebrating Japanese spirits, which is open to all (not just hotel guests). Now the other good news: it’s heated, and has blankets.
There is no bad news.
Details: 1st February – 6th April | Ham Yard Hotel, 1 Ham Yard, London W1D 7DT | Book here
Bar Night at the Novelty Automation
The Novelty Automation has some truly weird arcades. There’s a Money Laundering cash drop, an ‘Auto Frisker’ that will pat you down like a mechanical bouncer, and a ‘Small Hadron Collider’ among many others. It’s like satire meets surrealism meets stainless steel. And for one night a week, there’s a pop up bar there too.
Details: 2nd February | 1a Princeton St, Holborn, WC1R 4AX | 5pm-9pm
The Natural Wine Masterclass at Cave Cuvée
“Everything you need to know to look cool in front of your mates”. Top Cuvée’s pitch for their natural wine masterclasses is refreshingly direct and honest, and frankly, we’re here for it. They’re promising an ‘unpretentious’ intro into the mystical world of natural wine by tasting five of them over the course of just under two hours, and getting a rundown of what’s happening to your tongue.
Details: 8th February | 250A Bethnal Grn Rd, London E2 0AA | £45 (exc. food)
Midnight Apothecary Valentine’s Night
Valentine’s Night at The Midnight Apothecary involves deluxe hot toddies, botanical cocktails, and a guided tour round Brunel’s Shaft (oo-er?). According to the venue “many a lover’s tryst has taken place” there…
Details: 14th February | The Midnight Apothecary, Brunel Museum, Railway Avenue, London, SE16 4LF | £8+
Big Penny Social Beer Festival
If you’re the UK’s largest beer hall, it sort of feels inevitable that there’ll be a beer festival there at some point. And lo and behold, Big Penny Social is holding their first beer festival this month. It’s going to take place over three days with live music, 200 cask beers to choose from, and plenty of free samples…
Details: 16th-18th February | 1 Priestley Way, E17 6AL | £10
Amie Wine Studio
Eccleston Yards is a lovely place at any time of year, even in the colder months, when rosé wine pop ups don’t seem like the first port of call. We only mention it because it happens to be home to the first ever pop up from Aime Wine Studio, who’ve gone all-out on their debut with something that’s part bar, part wine shop, and part gallery…
Details: Throughout February | Eccleston Yards, SW1W
God’s Garden is quite a punchy name for any place located outside of Eden, but this particular pop up paradise is set in the grounds of One Marylebone, one of the most strikingly impressive and grandiose churches in the city. Add to that the large stretch tents to shelter you from the elements, the opulent Persian rugs, the live music, the wine trolleys and the food… and they’re well on their way to earning that name.
Details: Open Wed-Sun throughout February | 1 Marylebone Road, Marylebone, NW1 4AQ
Queen of The Slopes
Reasserting her regal supremacy over the East London rooftop bar scene, the Queen of Hoxton has crowned itself with an all-new theme. Expect an Alpine-style ski chalet with roaring fire pits, moreish bratwursts, and hot cocktails served up by Apres-Ski Guides.
Details: Throughout February | 1 Curtain Road Hoxton, EC2A 3JX
So far, Dalston café Snackbar has been great on the snacks, and a little lighter on the bar. But that’s changed now that Adam Caddy (ex-Quo Vadis and Brasserie Zedel) has taken over on Thursday-Saturday evenings with his pop-up bar, Adam’s. Created in response to the loss of LGBTQ+ spaces in the city, it’s an inclusive bar serving up classic cocktails, Two Tribes brews and a short-but-sweet wine list across the minimalist café spaces and the leafy, fairy-lit garden.
Details: Thursday – Saturday evenings throughout February | Snackbar, 20 Dalston Lane, E8 3AZ
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