What’s on in London this Spring

By Amy Rosoman

Title photography by imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

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Updated February 2019

Embrace the fresh feeling of Spring in the air and let London liven you up. Amy Rosoman soaks up the sights of the city, from exhibits, shows, festivals and unique pop-ups – it’s time to discover the hottest events in London this season.

The C C Land Exhibition – Pierre Bonnard – The Colour of Memory

Explore the creative masterpieces of Pierre Bonnard, for the return of a major exhibition at the Tate Modern. See why Bonnard was one of the greatest colourists of the 20th century, as you discover his works of unconventional colours and mysterious figures. Let your eyes wander from piece to piece, across the moments he captures from domestic settings and landscapes. Keep on the lookout for his best works of striking garden views and nude forms. Immerse yourself in this Bonnard exhibit – the perfect place for reflection.

When: From 23 January to 6 May

Where? Tate Modern

Nearest tubes: Blackfriars or Southwark

Where to stay: The five-star Sea Containers London is in a fantastic location alongside the River Thames and just a short walk from the Tate. Cool and modern, there is an award-winning bar famed for its cocktails, as well as a rooftop bar with sensational cityscape views. If you haven’t bought tickets for a National Theatre show, kick back in the hotel’s very own cinema for weekend viewings of big move hits.

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Meander along the set path, through a world of flourishing orchids, wild animal displays with turtles, toucans and a hanging sloth.

Orchids: Celebrate the colour of Colombia

Make a trip for a botanical day out at Kew Gardens, with a visit to the Prince William Conservatory for the annual festival of orchids. Enjoy a short break away from the chills of London springtime and step into the warmth of Colombia – the world’s most bio-diverse country. Meander along the set path, through a world of flourishing orchids, wild animal displays with turtles, toucans and a hanging sloth. Keep your eyes peeled for the life-sized jaguar in the tropical forest and shimmering miniature rainbow river Caño Cristales.

When: 9 February to 10 March

Where? Kew Gardens

Nearest tubes: Kew Gardens

Where to stay: Savour a four-star stay in Kensington at the K + K Hotel George. Start each day right, with a delicious buffet breakfast bursting with variety. When the sun’s out, you can enjoy evening drinks out in the hotel’s private garden. This hotel offers a quaint and convenient central London stay, with an underground station nearby for seeing the city sights with ease.

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  • Pierre Bonnard (1867 – 1947). Still Life with Bottle of Red Wine 1942. Oil paint on canvas. 650 x 540 mm. Private Collection.

    Artistic flair

    Discover the curious colours and scenes, in the works of Pierre Bonnard at the Tate Modern.£312 pp

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  • Yasmin Akorofi-Rollock putting the finishing touches to the Orchid Festival displays. © Copyright Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • All About Eve - Gillian Anderson and Lily James. © Perou.

    Welcome to the stage

    Catch big names in a new show-stopper, All About Eve.£62 return

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All About Eve

Joseph L. Mankiewicz Academy Award-winning film All About Eve comes to the stage, in a new adaption directed by Ivo van Hove. Starring the brilliant Gillian Anderson as Margo Channing and the fantastic Lily James as Eve Harrington, watch the climatic portrayal of show business and fame. As Margo hires an assistant, Eve, to help her manage the spotlight life, it becomes apparent that Eve is after the leading lady role in a bid for a slice of the limelight.

When? From 12 February to 11 May

Where? Noel Coward Theatre

Nearest tubes: Leicester Square

Where to stay: Perfectly situated for West End fanatics, Amba Charing Cross is less than a ten-minute walk from the Noel Coward Theatre, so you can easily nip back to change for an evening performance, after days exploring the city. Set in a Grade II listed building, savour afternoon tea with views of The Strand, then listen to live jazz at the terrace bar.

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The London Coffee Festival

If you’re a lover of all the coffee elements, get yourself to Brick Lane for the best roasts around. Enjoy the finest coffee, music, art and cocktails – all with the glorious scent of your favourite brew. Soak up the bustling atmosphere at the Old Truman Brewery, with over 250 artisan coffee and scrumptious food stalls, the choice is yours. Head to the milk bar, take a coffee-orientated workshop, sip on espresso martinis and venture into The Tasting Room, discover The Lab at the weekend and check out Latte Art Live for cool and quirky designs.

When? 28 March to 31 March

Where? Brick Lane

Nearest tubes: Aldgate East

Where to stay: Take a super chic and elegant break at The Curtain, in the trendy area of Shoreditch. This five-star sanctuary offers a quirky rooftop pool and terrace, which is idyllic at dusk when the surrounding fairy lights illuminate. Relish heart-warming food in the Red Rooster restaurant – you’ve got to try the chicken and waffles. When the mood for a nightcap takes you, the Green Room bar serves up tantalising numbers.

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  • A master at work, at the London Coffee Festival. © The London Coffee Festival.

    A day for coffee fiends

    See the quirks of Brick Lane – with its hipster scene, boutiques and of course, coffee galore.£81 pppn

    Book a stay at The Curtain
  • The Amazing Bubble Man will perform at the Underbelly Festival. © Underbelly Festival.

    Festival fanatics

    with an abundance of variety and grinning performers, pop along and experience the fun of Underbelly on South Bank.

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  • Satin mini-dress and shorts by Mary Quant, photograph by Duffy, 1966 © Duffy Archive.

    Fashionista finds

    Discover the hottest designs in a capsule collection of Mary Quant’s clothing wins.

    Things to do in London

Underbelly Festival

Catch the best entertainment along South Bank this spring, with a variety of comedy, cabaret, dance, drag and other incredible events at the Underbelly Festival. Discover dates for inspiring and comic performances to suit you – from The Wind in the Willows at the beginning of April, to a Mother’s Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin at the end of May, there is a diverse mix of shows to suit a family day out, an evening with friends or time out for couples.

When? From 5 April

Where? South Bank

Nearest tubes: London Waterloo

Where to stay: Park Plaza Westminster Bridge – enjoy a stay in the centre of the city, with the buzz of South Bank nearby, as well as the iconic Big Ben – this hotel highlights the best of locations. In need of some ‘you’ time? Book a babysitter for the kids, whilst you chill out in the glorious spa for a pamper, or head to the terrace for views across the London skyline.

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Mary Quant

Gaze your way through the Mary Quant exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum and discover how she catapulted into the movement of fashion on the British high street. Let your inner fashionista explore a fabulous collection of Quant’s capsules – from bright tights, bold graphic designs, miniskirts and shift dresses, there are over 200 items to take a peek at. Freeing women to embrace their femininity, in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, this is a chance to catch a showcase of the very garments that formed the path of women’s fashion.

When? From 6 April

Where? Victoria & Albert Museum

Nearest tubes: South Kensington

Where to stay: Just opposite the Victoria & Albert Museum, the four-star Rembrandt is a top choice for its location. When you’re not shopping in Harrods or Oxford Street, or exploring the best of the West End, take afternoon tea in the 1606 Lounge Bar. If you’re looking to unwind, enjoy the pool, steam room and sauna at the Aquilla Health and Fitness Club.

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  • B-boy Junior and Kalliopi Tarasidou2, part of the Breakin’ Convention. © Christian Schneider.

    Check out the hip and happening

    Watch performances and masterful moves, that will have you in awe at Breakin’ Convention.

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  • RHS Chelsea Flower Show. © Luke MacGregor.

    A flourishing royal botanical favourite

    Did you know? The first RHS Chelsea Flower Show was held in 1862, an event full of tradition and beauty.

    London city breaks
  • The main stage at All Points East. © ALLPOINTSEAST.

    Festival season

    Book your tickets for a new London festival, to roundup your spring the right way.

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Breakin’ Convention

Make a move to Sadler’s Wells for this international hip-hop and dance festival. Watch a mesmerising selection of the world’s best poppers and lockers perform, see their bodies move to the beats and the bass. Be a part of this incredible art form, as you try out dance workshops, take a turn at creating graffiti pieces and listen to rappers and beatboxers. Or simply kick back and watch performances that will blow you away, in a variety of dance forms filled with passion and talent.

When? 3 May to 5 May

Where? Sadler’s Wells Theatre

Nearest tubes: Angel

Where to stay: Less than ten minutes from Sadler’s Wells, the DoubleTree by Hilton London Islington is set near the independent shops of Upper Street and Angel tube station. A modern, four-star hotel, the DoubleTree welcomes you with a warm cookie when you check in. Plus, with the free onsite gym, you don’t have to miss leg day.

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RHS Chelsea Flower Show

A time-honoured tradition, the hundred-year-old Chelsea Flower Show attracts a surprisingly celebrity crowd to leafy West London at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, making it much more than just a five-day show of garden design. Spot the Queen and British celebrities among the botany enthusiasts. Browse the Great Pavilion, full of flowers, and see all manner of show gardens, from one resembling the slopes of an active volcano to a garden inspired by the Silk Road.

When? 22 May to 26 May

Where? Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4SR

Nearest tubes: Sloane Square

Where to stay: The Grosvenor is on a direct tube line to Chelsea from London Victoria, and is exceptionally well-located for trains to Gatwick Airport. Don’t leave just yet, though – this smart four-star hotel has several restaurants and a Champagne bar. It’s the perfect, posh retreat after rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous at Chelsea Flower Show. 

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All Points East

Coachella comes to London late this spring, for a music extravaganza. Be part of the debut event, All Points East, offering 10 days of entertainment. Featuring three days of big music names in a festival style and presenting three huge headline shows – grab the face paints and festival apparel for the occasion. With acts such as The Chemical Brothers, Christine and the Queens and Bring Me The Horizon, the line-up is bursting with must-see names. Buy your tickets now, to get that spring 2019 feeling when the days start to heat up.

When? From 24 May

Where? Victoria Park

Nearest tubes: Bethnall Green and Mile End

Where to stay: The tasteful Andaz London Liverpool Street sits right between London’s hipster heartland and the financial district. This modern and sleek retreat offers a selection of tantalising dining – head to the magnificent 1901 Breakfast Restaurant, a beautifully restored ballroom, where breakfast is dreamy and the coffee heavenly. To wind down from all your dancing, book yourself an in-room spa treatment.

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