Winter warmers: London’s essential experiences for winter 2018

As 2017 segues into 2018 and the world moves on from the Christmas and New Year celebrations for another year, it can leave some feeling a little bereft – not least because the thought of a long, dark and cold winter yawning ahead of them isn’t appealing. But, just like any other season, winter’s a great time to visit London; not only does it tend to be a little cheaper, but there’s also so much going on…

Lumiere London

(Various locations/ January 18th-21st 2018)

Westminster Abbey during Lumiere

The before-the-end-of-the-year religious festivals may, in their different ways, be all about light in the cold darkness of winter, but the season itself extends well into the following year, of course, so why should they have the monopoly on light? Enter ‘Lumiere’, a late-in-January feast of vibrant, colourful brightness that, this year, is set to feature more than 40 British and global artists illuminate some of the city’s most iconic architecture (Westminster Abbey and Trafalgar Square) and some of its most interesting (the National Theatre) for all and sundry to take in and savour.

London Visions

(Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN/ January 19th-April 15th 2018)

If you’re a frequent visitor to the UK capital and, thus, either a user of its infrastructure and services or an enthusiast of its many appealing attractions, you may be curious about the expert opinions on its development in the short- and longer-term future. Well, this fascinating exhibition seeks to present some of the thoughts and visions of what London’s likely to look and feel like in the years to come. In fact, bits of it really embrace allowing the imagination to run riot – from a potentially vertical city practically in the clouds to the depiction of the place totally flooded owing to rising sea levels and how that may happen and actually appear (yes, harrowingly so) possibly around the year 2090. Some time off yet then; thankfully!

Hayward Gallery

(Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX)

Set in the Southbank Centre, this prime venue for dynamic and exciting art has had its detractors over the years thanks to its 1960s building’s brutalist architectural style – yet, for exactly the same reason, it’s had its admirers and champions too. And for this latter camp, 2018 looks set to be a special year because, following essential repairs and refurbishment, the Hay (as it’s affectionately known) will be reopening in the early weeks of year, fittingly its 50th, in fact. By all accounts, the place’s upper galleries ought to be bathed in light like never before and the reopening is set to be kicked-off by a January 25th-opening retrospective of German photographer Andreas Gurskey’s fascinating still-captures of urban landscapes and intricate compositions.

Orchid Festival

(Kew Gardens, Kew TW9 3AE/ Feburary 10th-March 1th 2018)

Sure, during your winter’s stay in the capital this winter, you might well sensibly choose accommodation right in the heart of things like hotels Paddington Station London (such as, say, the Park Grand Paddington Court hotel), but if there’s any event likely to entice you out into West London to discover more of the capital’s geography then it’s surely this one. Dedicated to showcasing the fascinating and fantastic, beautiful and beguiling plant-life of Thailand, the Royal Botanical Gardens’ 23rd annual Orchirds Festival will boast in excess of 1,100 separate species of orchid, packing a potent punch of colour; enough to brighten any gloomy, dark wintry day, for sure. Even better, it appears late openings for the exhibition will be in the offing – at which dance performances and cocktail-making classes will also be thrown on.

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