While it may not seem like it quite yet, spring is just around the corner in London - bringing with it those long, sunny evenings and weekends where you can’t wait to get out and explore the city. Fortunately, the event planners seem to agree as London is set to be absolutely packed with unmissable events and attractions for the next few months.
The only problem is, with hundreds of must-see sights on your to-do list and not quite enough time to whittle them down, you might just end up spending the day in a pub garden instead - and while we love a good pub garden as much as the next Londoner, it’s not exactly the fun, fascinating and cultural schedule you originally had planned.
So this year we’ve taken all the toil out of it by pouring through the listings and pulling together our insider tips to bring you the definitive list of the best events and things to do this spring in London. From art fairs and musical exhibitions to a boozy cocktail weekend and the London Marathon, we’ve something for everyone plus enough potential activities to keep you going until the summer. Peel off that winter coat, hunt out your sunglasses (and umbrella for the April showers) and get stuck in!
Following the roaring success of their Summer Edition in Fitzrovia, London’s favourite cocktail festival is back this spring with an unmissable three-day extravaganza. Taking place across three floors in One Mayfair and produced by party experts the Bourne & Hollingsworth Group, London’s best cocktail bars and a few international favourites will be present with specially-designed cocktails just for the occasion. No rare ingredient or obscure cocktail will be left unrepresented!
Meanwhile if you need to line your stomach before hitting those Negronis, the rooftop will be holding a BBQ through the festival so you can pick up some food while enjoying views over London. Come for the afternoon or for all three days if you can handle it, but just don’t miss it.
Address: 13A N Audley St, London W1K 6ZA
Phone: 020 7380 1663
Dates: 10th - 12th March 2016
As one of the most famous rock bands of all time, it seems surprising that a comprehensive exhibition on the 50+ year long career of The Rolling Stones has never been produced - especially when you consider the countless numbers of musicians and designers that they've influenced. That is, until now…this spring sees the opening of EXHIBITIONISM at the Saatchi Gallery, the first ever international exhibition on Mick Jagger et all. Filling 9 thematic galleries over two floors with over 500 artifacts, there’s endless fascinating things to see here including rare instuments, iconic stage designs, audio tracks, video footage, diaries and even backstage parapernalia. Embrace your inner rock star and make a day of it - but try to resist the urge to throw a television out of the window…
Address: Duke Of York's HQ, King's Rd, London SW3 4RY
Dates: April-September 2016
While it might be a bit late to start training now (so much for those New Year’s running resolutions…) you’ve still got plenty of time to make those banners and pick a good spot for watching this year’s London Marathon. Starting at Blackheath and travelling the requisite 26 miles through Greenwich, Canary Wharf and Central London before ending at The Mall, the London Marathon has been a fixture of the spring calendar since 1981. Around 38,000 people took part last year raising tens of millions of pounds for charity, and the numbers are expected to be even higher this year. Pick a place along the route, donate some money and get ready to cheer on the runners!
Date: 13th March 2016
Established in 1996 to reward a living photographer to their contribution to European photography, the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize has grown to become one of the most interested and respected annual photography exhibitions in London. Displayed at the Photographer’s Gallery on x, this year’s entrants include a docomentation of the changing atmosphere and rising tensions in Cairo in 2005-2014, an exploration of life, loss following a stroke, and the experiences of African refugee activists in Europe. Thought-provoking, beautiful and often life-affirming, it’s a must-see exhibition.
Address: 16-18 Ramillies St, London W1F 7LW
Phone: 020 7087 9300
Dates: 15th April - 26th June
Pledge allegiance to your favourite fictional character with a costume on March 3rd as World Book Day is embraced across the country with events, readings, and plenty of excellent books. Now celebrated in over 100 countries, it’s intended as a day to appreciate the pleasure and power of reading and books, particularly for children (though adults are also welcome to get involved!). Millions of book vouchers are sent to children across the country to encourage reading, and events are held up and down the UK with major authors taking part.
Date: 3rd March 2016
Affordable Art Fair
Looking to discover some new artists or just want to buy a piece of art for your home but can’t quite get past the eye-watering prices at most art fairs? The Affordable Art Fair is for you! The antithesis of Frieze Fair’s million-pound pieces, the AAF exclusively showcases contemporary art with a maximum price of £5000. Since its inception in 1999 it’s now spread as far as New York and Hong Kong, but we still think that the original four-day London fair is by far the best. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the next big thing too - many professional buyers use it as a place to scout out new talent.
Address: Battersea Park, London SW11 4NJ
Phone: 020 8246 4848
Date: 10th-13th March 2016
Show your dear Mum how much you love her this Mother’s Day with a proper a day out rather than the usual flowers and chocolates. London has everything you could want and more to help you celebrate this special day on every budget, including restaurants with Mum-centric menus and afternoon teas (often with glass of bubbly thrown in), excellent cultural exhibitions, and luxurious spas. If you’re trying to keep the cost down, why not pack a bottle of wine and some nibbles and take her for a picnic in somewhere like Kew Gardens - it’s a great opportunity to have a proper catch up, and she’ll be touched by the effort you’ve put in.
Date: 6th March 2016
Museums at Night 2016
Always wanted to visit your favourite museums after dark? The bi-annual Museums at Night events give you the chance to do just that, as they invite museums, galleries and heritage sites all over the UK to open their doors after hours for a three day celebration of culture and community.
Established in 2009, its grown rapidly over the last few years with hundreds of venues now taking part and a staggering 100,000+ visitors last year, as well as tie-ins with the European equivalent La Nuit des Musées. As well as opening after dark, venues also offer unique events for the period of the festival, from the weird and wacky to the downright terrifying - last year saw retro fashion parties, live taxidermy, an Icelandic sleepover and a gruesome talk on Victorian Bodysnatchers. The most unusual events at big museums such as the British Museum often sell out fast, so check out the listings now and book those tickets now for an unforgettable late-night experience!
Dates: 11th - 14th May 2016
Main image credit: James Petts