A Londoner’s Guide to January 2018

As tempting as it is to open with an inspirational quip for the New Year, let’s be honest – most of us are still hanging on to the last vestiges of the holiday season, right down to that last drop of fizz. All that malarky of Dry January or radical health kicks be damned.

Luckily, life in London is anything but lustreless.

There may be no no more #WreathWatch activities to legitimise our sneaking up on strangers’ homes, nor any festive façades stopping us in our tracks, but there’s plenty else to guarantee a spirited start to the year. From a Winter Lights Festival to a Hot Gin Roof & more – here are my top picks of things to do, see and of course, eat this January…

Twelfth Night

… Starting with Galette des Rois. The flaky, frangipane-filled pastry is eaten between Christmas Eve and the Twelfth Night to celebrate Epiphany and honour The Three Kings. Each cake is baked with a hidden charm (the fève) at the centre, with the person finding it declare King of the feast!

Experience the French tradition with Paul’s buttery puff pastry, or at Dominique Ansel’s Bakery where this “King’s Cake” is literally like an almond croissant in a cake form (available through most of January).

You can also bid a proper farewell to Christmas with the Twelfth Night celebrations on the lawns of the Geffrye Museum, complete with the ritualistic burning of the holly and the ivy. The picturesque museum will be closing for two years (as an £18m development project takes shape), so it’s definitely worth yourself getting down there before then…

All of the Lights…

While Christmas lights may be switched off, London is set to shine brightly with the dazzling return of Lumiere, U.K.’s largest light festival. Expect ethereal installations from over 40 U.K. and international artists, illuminating the city’s architecture and streets  (18 – 24 Jan).

City workers also have reason to rejoice with the Winter Lights Festival in Canary Wharf, featuring glowing graffiti, a 3D rainbow spectrum, floating poetry and all other manners of Light Art… (16 – 27 Jan).

Culture Vultures

There’s plenty else to keep art lovers busy, with London Art Fair 2018 providing a platform for over 130 galleries from across the world to showcase a mix of modern British art, contemporary works and emerging artists (17 – 21 January).

Other notable dates include the reopening of the Hayward Gallery after a two-year refurbishment which has restored the venue’s roof lights with striking results… Moreover, the iconic space will be marking its 50th anniversary with the first UK retrospective of Andreas Gursky – a German photographer recognised as one of the most captivating record-keepers of our age! (25 January – TBC).

‘I only pursue one goal: the encyclopedia of life’ – Andreas Gursky

Eats & Drinks Around Town

The plethora of pop-ups & openings will also be keeping us firmly on our toes this month.

I’m particularly excited about the Hot Gin Roof returning to the Roof Terrace of the Ham Yard Hotel in Soho, where gin-based cocktails will be warmed up with a steaming hot poker (17 Jan – 17 Feb)!

As for new restaurants to whet our appetite:

  • Simon Rogan‘s rhapsodised Roganic is putting down permanent roots in Marylebone.
  • Bob Bob Ricard is spinning off into Bob Bob Cité in the Cheesegrater Building, with the iconic “Press for Champagne” buttons making the move too.
  • Ex-Barrafina chef and the restaurant’s former manager – Nieves Barragan Mohacho and José Etura – are opening Sabor in Mayfair’s Heddon Street, offering a journey through Spain’s varied cuisines.
  • And further adding to London’s melting pot of culture, Bangkok’s iconic Greyhound Cafe is bringing its modern riff on Thai food to Fitzrovia, with Thai craft beers and a large vegetarian menu in the offing too…

Speaking of which. If you’re going meat-free this month you might like my Vegetarian’s Guide to London bucking all those sanctimonious veggie clichés – trust me, it’s actually worth a read even if you’re not following the flexitarian dream.

To a wonderfully scrummy start to 2018… Salut!

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