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These Are the Best Things to See and Do in London in January

January can be a cold and dreary affair. The excitement of Christmas has long since passed and the celebrations of New Year’s Eve are over. But in London, despite the grey skies and persistent fog, there’s actually a lot going on to keep your spirits up and to make January an exciting month, rather than a slow month.

If you don’t want to leave the Christmas cheer behind then luckily London clings onto the festive spirit throughout January, with many markets and ice skating rinks still very much in full swing for the first few weeks of the month. The famous January sales will give you endless shopping opportunities across the city, while there are plenty of fantastic exhibitions and shows to experience. Explore the warm interiors of the many museums or palaces and enjoy London at a time of year when most other visitors tend to stay away.

To inspire you to visit the capital at the start of the year, here are the best things to see and do in London in January.

New Year’s Day

Start the New Year in style by witnessing the iconic London New Year’s Day Parade. Held without fail on 1st January each year – no matter how long the city has stayed up for the previous night – this is a colourful and lively experience to get your year off to a great start. With thousands of performers and floats descending onto the streets, it’s a real spectacle not to be missed, and it’s completely free to watch.

Shop at the January Sales

The January sales are, for many, a highlight of the month and London’s many shops go all out to bring in the customers. You can find some incredible bargains along the high streets with many retail outlets offering exceptional deals. Of course, with the cold streets outside not being too inviting, who wouldn’t want to head into the warmth for a little retail therapy? For the true January sales experience, head to Oxford Street, as long as you don’t mind pushing your way through the crowds for the best deals.

Oxford Street

The Last Christmas Markets

Although Christmas has long gone by the time January rolls around, many of London’s Christmas markets don’t seem to ever want to acknowledge that fact, and they stay open for as long as they can, making it a wonderful opportunity to relive that festive spirit. Many of the best, such as Christmas in Leicester Square and Winter Wonderland, stay open until the end of the first week of January and many stay open even longer.

Hogwarts in the Snow

Harry Potter fans can rejoice in the fact that Hogwarts in the Snow also stays open well into the New Year. The popular Warner Brothers Studio keep its Harry Potter world covered in snow, ice and festive decorations right up until the end of January, giving you plenty of time to explore the delights of the wizarding phenomenon in all its glory.

Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard

For many iconic tourist attractions, life in January continues on as it does through the rest of year, with the cold weather and dreary skies being no hindrance to the stoic London spirit. At the world famous Buckingham Palace, you can brave the chilly outside air to experience the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, without fail, every day of the week. Get there early for a good spot, because this is a sight that is always popular, no matter the time of year.

Buckingham Palace

Kensington Palace

Nearby Kensington Palace will also give you a chance to escape the cold, with its warm interiors being a delight to explore during January. You can learn all about the Royals that have called this beautiful palace home over the years, but perhaps more so than this, January is the time to visit because the exceptional Princess Diana Exhibition will only be open until February 2019.

Catch a Pantomime

Pantomimes are a much-loved British institution, providing families with fun and entertainment during the cold months of the year. London’s theatres play host to some of the best pantomime performances in the country, with many stars and celebrities taking to the stage to entertain the crowds in famous productions. Many pantomimes go on well into January.

Enjoy West End Theatre Production

Of course, it’s not just pantomimes being performed at London’s many theatres, as many venues continue to put on dramatic shows of classics, musicals and comedies. For an authentic London theatre performance, head to the West End, but remember to book in advance if there is a particular show you are looking to see.

London Short Film Festival

In January each year, film lovers can enjoy the delights of the London Short Film Festival. This 10-day event sees short films from across the country and internationally being shown in historic and iconic cinemas across London. You can watch some of the best up-and-coming directors and producers showcasing their finest work alongside like-minded film lovers.

Cruise the Thames

Even in cold January, the many boats that ply the Thames never stop operating and you might like to enjoy a cruise along London’s iconic river to see the city in all its glory. Although you might find the fog obscures the view every now and then, in its own way, the Thames and the city in January look remarkably beautiful. Rather than standing out on the open deck though, you might prefer to wrap up warm inside.

A river cruise on the Thames

London International Mime Festival

One of London’s more unusual, but resoundingly popular events, is the London International Mime Festival. Held in January, this festival has been running every year since 1977 and is quite unlike anything else you might attend in the city. In venues across London, incredible mime performances and shows are held throughout the month.

London Art Fair

The London Art Festival returns year after year at the end of January to showcase some of the world’s best and most innovative modern art. This is an exhibition that will leave you enthralled and mesmerised, and not only can you peruse the artwork itself, if you have the cash, you can even buy something.

Winter Lights Festival at Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf’s incredible Winter Lights Festival brightens up the dark January skies like no other event in London. Held in the last two weeks of January, the festival sees huge installations that are more art than simply lights being brought to the docks of Canary Wharf. Modern art mixes with bright illuminations, to create a unique festival that will instantly cure any winter blues that you might be enduring.

The Canary Wharf Ice Rink

As well as the impressive light display put on by Canary Wharf in January, this famous area of London also hosts one of the city’s most popular ice rinks, which is set up amongst the glittering skyscrapers and high rises of this business district. This is one of the longest-running ice rinks of the year, as it begins in November and doesn’t end until February. Strap on your skates and enjoy the pleasure of cruising across the ice at Canary Wharf.

Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum

The iconic Natural History Museum also plays host to one of London’s most popular ice skating rinks during the winter months, and their installations remain very much open during January too. You can skate away in the shadow of one of the city’s most elegant and historic buildings, enjoying a warm cup of hot chocolate, coffee or even mulled wine before seeking the even warmer interiors of the museum itself to experience the many wonderful attractions and exhibits that showcase the diversity of our natural world.

Natural History Museum

National Geographic Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition

Also held in the Natural History Museum is the world-famous National Geographic Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. This temporary exhibition returns each year to display the best work of photographers from across the world, and has been running for well over 50 years now. A panel of expert judges pick the best photographs of the natural world that have been taken over the previous year, and the winners and runners-up from the many different categories are all showcased at the Natural History Museum. While entrance to the permanent museum is free, this exhibition does incur an extra charge, but it’s well worth it to view the most dramatic photographs of the world we live in.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition

Photography lovers may also want to enjoy the visual delights of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Exhibition, which is held at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. The event actually continues until May, so you have plenty of time to visit, but a visit in January is sure to inspire you for the rest of the year. This is an exceptional exhibition, showcasing the best of the spectacular universe that we are part of.

Getty Images Gallery

If you are looking for even more visual stimuli, then head to the renowned Getty Images Gallery in January too, because this is one of the premier locations to enjoy incredible photography. The galleries are open all through the year, but in January, they showcase the best work of Getty photographers from the previous year in one place, and there are sure to be some exceptional pieces on display from across the world.

Museum of London

The Museum of London is a free museum that tells the always-intriguing history of the City of London. From its humble beginnings to Roman development and through to the turbulent medieval and modern eras, you can discover all that it means to be a Londoner here. You can easily spend hours escaping the cold outside, and in January they usually host some temporary exhibitions showcasing particular details of London’s history, such as the Suffragettes fight to earn the vote for women.

London Adventure Travel Show

If the dreary weather is getting you down, then get inspired for an adventure abroad by visiting London’s excellent Adventure Travel Show. Held in January at Earl’s Court, this event sees speakers, writers, adventurers and photographers from across the world descending on London to give talks and to showcase their latest expeditions to the public. You can even find many tour companies at the show, and you might leave having booked a tour to somewhere more unusual, or perhaps somewhere nice and warm!

London Acappella Festival

Musical lovers will revel in the opportunity to hear some of the best acappella acts from around the world as they descend upon London in January to be part of this unique festival. Held at the end of the month at the Kings Place concert hall, you can enjoy acappella music at its best, from some of the most talented singers and exceptional artists who have made the genre their own.

Enjoy London’s Pubs

When all else fails and you still find yourself with the January blues despite London’s many events, then do as the locals do and seek solace in the warming, homely environments of some of the city’s best pubs. Enjoy some hearty English food, warming roast dinners or stodgy pies alongside a few drinks too of course.

The pub

Burns Night

Held on the 25th January, Burns Night is one of Scotland’s most famous national holidays. While London may seem like a long way south to be celebrating this event, actually, the city hosts some of the best Burns Night festivities outside of Scotland. This is the celebration of the poet Robert Burns and you can expect plenty of whisky, haggis and singing at any Burns Night event. Head to the Scottish pubs for the best atmosphere in the evening and be prepared for a long night of merriment, drinking and eating.

To find out more about the exciting things to do in London during January or to book one of our exciting London tours, contact Premium Tours today.

beers

7 of the Best Pubs in Kings Cross

The Kings Cross neighbourhood in London has undergone big renovations in recent years due to the addition of large companies such as the Guardian, Facebook, and Google. As a major rail hub, Kings Cross station is easy to get to from each corner of London and now offers a wide variety of trendy bars, pint-sized pubs, and top-notch restaurants.

Here are the 7 best places to drink ale in Kings Cross.

1. King Charles I

King Charles I is a traditional single room pub with wood-panelled walls located on a side street off Caledonian Road. Though the pub may look deserted from the street, step inside to discover the very popular little bar that serves a good selection of local ales. The walls are decorated with funky signs, old stuffed animals, and large ornate mirrors, which create a wonderfully unique environment.

2. The Driver

On Cally Road, The Driver gastropub is rumoured to be named after the many cattle drovers who passed by on their way to Smithfield Market. Today, the pub offers plenty of red meat on a large menu that accommodates all five stories of this trendy scene. The first two floors contain a vertical garden – supposedly the first in the UK – while the upper floors offer event rooms topped off with a rooftop terrace.

the_driver_kings_cross_restaurant_pub

3. Parcel Yard

Located in the Kings Cross tube station, Parcel Yard is one of the many decent station pubs to pop up around the city. The pub spans two stories, offers a full menu with delicious food, and boasts lovely views of the bustling station below. Parcel Yard also holds a unique licence – the ability to host wedding ceremonies with up to 80 attendees.

4. The Fellow

After their recent renovation, The Fellow is a well-kept gastropub located on York Way. The space is decorated with a subtle nod to horse racing and contains a heated and covered rooftop terrace, which is the perfect place to cosy up on a cold winter day. The menu offers craft beers from many of London’s breweries, specialty cocktails, and a delectable menu of small plates.

5. The Scottish Stores

The Scottish Stores on Caledonian Road was recently renovated and restored to its original name after a number of years spent as a questionable strip club. Now, the handsome wood-panelled pub has fully hopped onto the craft beer train with ten rotating taps pouring brews from Kent to Iceland! The new space is perfect for train-goers and tourists alike.

The Scottish Stores

6. Queen’s Head

The cosy and quiet Victorian-style Queen’s Head pub on Acton Street is a particularly small space with a well-crafted beer and whisky selection. Though it can be difficult to find a comfortable place to sit, the delicious bite-sized menu and perfectly curated drink menu makes a visit worthwhile.

7. Big Chill House

The Big Chill House on Pentonville Road is one of the largest pubs in the neighbourhood with several floors, private rooms, a basement, and a rooftop terrace. With street food carts on the roof, specialty gin cocktails, craft beers, and a variety of popular DJs, the Big Chill House attracts a big crowd of young adults.

If you are visiting Kings Cross to visit Harry Potter’s famous magic platform, or if you are going on a journey, you should certainly stop off at one of these great pubs.  As local experts, we would love to help you find your new favourite London pub. Contact Premium Tours today to find out more about our London tours centred on great food and even better drinks.

Here Are Our Favourite Riverside Pubs in London

When the sun comes out, there’s nothing better than enjoying a drink outside while soaking up the views along the river. Famous for its traditional pubs, London also offers some great locations to laze away a summer’s afternoon right on the banks of the River Thames.
If you’re looking for a traditional pub atmosphere combined with fantastic waterside views and a bit of history thrown in too, here’s a selection of our favourite riverside pubs in London.

Prospect of Whitby, Wapping

With a popular beer garden and views of the Thames, the Prospect of Whitby in Wapping is one of the most famous historic pubs in London. Once frequented by villainous smugglers, pirates and thieves, London’s oldest riverside pub, which dates back to 1520, was also a regular drinking spot for Samuel Pepys and Charles Dickens.
The pub views have been sketched by both Whistler and Turner, while most recently the pub featured in one of the most famous episodes of TV classic Only Fools and Horses.

Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich

Boasting fantastic views of the Thames from its magnificent Georgian windows, this 19th-century waterside pub is steeped in the maritime history of the area, and is the perfect spot to stop off for a pint before enjoying the attractions of Greenwich.
Another favourite of Charles Dickens, the pub is the setting for the wedding breakfast in his last novel Our Mutual Friend.

Anchor, Bankside

Adorned with colourful window boxes and hanging baskets, this quintessential British pub on the South Bank can be found between Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and The Golden Hinde.
Samuel Pepys watched the Great Fire of London from here in 1666. He describes seeking refuge in ‘a little alehouse on bankside… and there watched the fire grow’.
Today visitors can enjoy the views stretching along the River Thames to the City from the riverside terrace. But be sure to get there early, it gets very popular in summer.

The Dove, Hammersmith

This much-loved 17th century riverside pub in West London was where Charles II reportedly romanced his mistress, Nell Gwynne.
As well as a lovely riverside terrace boasting one of the prettiest views of the River Thames, this delightful pub also features in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the smallest bar room in the world.

The Gun, Docklands

Boasting some of the best views of the Thames in East London, this charming and atmospheric 18th-century pub in Canary Wharf was once a favourite of Admiral Lord Nelson, who would regularly arrange clandestine meetings with Lady Emma Hamilton in the upstairs room.

The Ship, Wandsworth

If you’re looking for a buzzing atmosphere and lively party vibe, head to The Ship near Wandsworth Bridge. This lovely 18th century pub has a spacious outdoor deck overlooking the River Thames and is very popular on summer evenings when visitors can enjoy live Irish music sessions and an outdoor barbecue kitchen.

Our London experts at Premium Tours know all the best riverside pubs around the capital. For more information and booking advice on our best-selling London tours, call us today on 020 771 31311 or visit us online.