Don't forget it's Valentine's Day on the 14th - but there's plenty more going on this month besides, from the muddy pitch of Six Nations rugby to the slick cat-walks of London Fashion Week. The Banff Mountain Film Festival returns for three days, there are O2 Arena performances from Usher and Russell Howard, while the contemporary opera Anna Nicole debuts at the Royal Opera House.
1st February 2011
This is another highlight from the Southbank Centre's International Chamber Music Season 2010/11, which brings some of the greatest names in classical music to London. El Sistema is the legendary project in Venezuela which takes young people from the poorest backgrounds and introduces them to that nation's youth orchestras. The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra is its most famous output, and it's from those ranks that the Venezuelan Brass Ensemble is drawn. They've been raved about by critics and audiences alike, all blown away by the passion and sheer power of the playing - so whether you're new to classical brass music or a full-on trumpet fan, this should be an exciting evening.
2nd February 2011 - 18th February 2011
Multi-platinum American R&B superstar Usher plays four nights at The O2 Arena in February as part of his hotly anticipated OMG World Tour. The Tour is named after Usher's single OMG, which in 2010 became the singer's ninth number on in the US, making him the first artist of his generation to collect chart-topping singles in three consecutive decades - and only the fourth artist in history to achieve the feat. Renowned for his sartorial elegance and his energetic live shows, Usher will play all his classics as well as showcase his sixth studio album, Raymond v. Raymond, and its extended version, Versus. "Live performance has always been my thing," says Usher. "I want to make sure people leave saying 'OMG'. That's the whole point." With 28 arena dates in North America, 26 in Europe and 12 in Australasia, the OMG Tour is going to be nothing short of "Monstar".
3rd February 2011 - 6th February 2011
It's a case of two wheels good at the MCN Motorcycle Show, where you can peruse the hundreds of stands, check out the latest models from 37 manufacturers and try them out for size, see the kids get their first Honda Licence or chat to the experts. New this year is Revolution, a live action 60 minute show at the centre of it all that has stunt riders performing death-defying tricks to music and pyrotechnics. Confirmed biking heroes in attendance include John McGuinness, Neil Hodgson, Freddie Spencer and Dougie Lampkin, who will also be indulging in some good old-fashioned competitive events during the hour. Revolution showtimes are at 1pm on Thursday and Friday and 12noon, 2pm and 4pm on Saturday and Sunday.
3rd February 2011 - 6th February 2011
A string of disappointing summers has ended Britain's honeymoon with staycations. And where better to get inspiration for next year's holiday plans than Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show? Hundreds of exhibitors are on hand to stimulate the imagination, whether it's a glamorous beach holiday in the Bahamas that's required, or an intrepid adventure in Colombia. Live entertainment adds to the excitement of the event. At the Meet the Experts Theatre, travel aficionados - from TV presenters Ben Fogle and Ben Anderson to adventurers like Bonita Norris and Mark Kalch - are on hand to relate their experiences, while at the World Entertainment Stage, there will be Russian dance, Capoeira from Brazil, and classical Indian dance on the programme. There are also plenty of workshops where you can learn dance, crafts and cookery styles from around the world.
5th February 2011 - 6th February 2011
The essential event for anyone currently planning their special day, the 2011 UK Wedding Show is going to be bigger than ever. The ExCel Centre will be taken over for a weekend as the show boasts over 150 stands covering every aspect of weddings - from cakes to entertainment, and DJs to dress designers. There will be a huge range of stands, from major national suppliers to local operators who can supply small, bespoke packages. There's a coffee bar and a champagne bar if you need to take a break, fashion shows throughout the day, and an exclusive goody bag for all visitors to take home. The perfect event to make planning that dream wedding just a little bit easier.
5th February 2011 - 17th April 2011
Head down to the National Theatre to see Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle's take on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Innocent of the world but grotesque and deeply frightening in appearance, the confused monster, created by Victor Frankenstein in his lab, is sent out into a hostile universe by his creator. In his search for understanding and friendliness, the Creature, increasingly desperate and vengeful, finds only human terror and he determines to track down his creator for revenge. Scientific responsibility, parental neglect, mental development and the nature of good and evil are all to be explored in this thrilling and deeply disturbing classic gothic tale. Adapted for the stage by Nick Dear and realised by Boyle in his return to the theatre after his Slumdog Millionaire exploits. Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller will alternate in the roles of Victor Frankenstein and The Creature.
6th February 2011
Chinese New Year in London is one of the most spectacular in the West, with huge dancing puppets, martial arts displays and an abundance of incredible food. Each and every year the celebrations get more extravagant, attracting an ever-expanding crowd. This year, the Year of the Rabbit, Chinese New Year falls on 3rd February 2011 but the London celebrations are on 6th February. In London, the main event takes place at Trafalgar Square with the area taken over by stalls, marquees, dragon and lion dances, traditional and contemporary music and performance. Join the throng in a stall-covered Leicester Square for fun and firecrackers then head to Gerrard Street, Lisle Street and Chinatown for the impromptu parties, food stalls and lion dancing.
8th February 2011 - 10th February 2011
The most amazing collection of adventure, action sports and environmental films returns to the UK for a second bigger and even more inspiring and adrenaline-packed year in 2011. This February, the London leg of the annual Banff Mountain Film Festival comes to the Union Chapel for a bumper three nights of mind-blowing films, shorts and documentaries paying homage to the great outdoors. The actual festival is held annually in November in the stunning Canadian town of Banff and features a collection of thought-provoking films from all over the globe. It is followed by this world tour of the event's best films, showcasing remote landscapes, vibrant cultures and extreme sports, brought to the screen by some of the world's finest mountain filmmakers. Ideal for mountain enthusiasts, adventure-seekers and anyone partial to a spot of wanderlust, the programme will highlight adventure sports such as climbing, kayaking, speed flying and alpine skiing, and an exhilarating range of imagery from some of earth's last great wild places. Confirmed films include The Swiss Machine, a vertiginous study of the great speed alpinist and free solo climber Ueli Steck, and Azadi: Freedom, a short which looks at Kashmir in the wake of the violent militant insurgence of the 90s through the lens of skiing. For a great taster, check out the breathtaking trailer video on www.banff-uk.com.
8th February 2011 - 1st October 2011
The story of how the world's first supergroup came together hits the West End's Noel Coward Theatre after sell-out runs on Broadway and in Chicago. Million Dollar Quartet is the real-life tale of the night in December 1956 when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis were brought together by Sun Records' founder Sam Phillips for an impromptu jam in Memphis which would make music history. Opening in late February and with preview runs from earlier in the month, Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott's Tony Award-winning musical is directed by Eric Schaeffer and features over 20 of the greatest rock 'n' roll, gospel, R&B and country hits of all time. For a feel-good night in the bright lights of the West End, you can't get much better than Million Dollar Quartet, which blends themes of fame, friendship, professional jealousy and, of course, incredible music.
12th February 2011
The first of three Six Nations fixtures at Twickenham this year is the visit of the ever-improving Italy on Saturday 12th February. Having shown some promising form during the Autumn Internationals, this tournament could well determine just how good Martin Johnson's England side really are. However, the 'Azzuri' squad boasts some world-class talent these days and the likes of Leicester Tigers' Martin Castrogiovanni, Stade Francais' Sergio Parrise will ensure England don't have an easy ride. Should they have escaped a tough opening fixture against Wales in Cardiff with a win, England will see this game as a good opportunity to get another win under their belts. With the World Cup looming later this year, a strong Six Nations campaign is essential and Johnson will hope his impressive new breed of players, including the likes of Chris Ashton, Ben Youngs and Courtney Lawes, continue to build on the steady progress made over the last few months. England's next home fixture is two weeks later against France. For ticket information go to www.rfu.com.
16th February 2011 - 8th August 2011
The Brit Insurance Design Awards are the Oscars of the design world, celebrating and showcasing the most innovative and forward-thinking designs from around the world. High profile judges pick the best entries in seven categories (Architecture, Transport, Graphics, Interactive, Product, Furniture and Fashion), and an overall winner. Last year's winner was the Folding Plug by South Korean student Min-Kyu Choi, which took an everyday, functional object and gave it a whole new spin (pictured). The nominees will be on show at the Design Museum from 16th February, and the winners in each category are announced on 27th February. On 15th March the overall winner is announced, but you can see all the nominated designs until August.
17th February 2011 - 4th March 2011
The Royal Opera presents the world premiere of Anna Nicole, a new work by British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and librettist Richard Thomas based on the life of the late American glamour model and actress Anna Nicole Smith. The challenging opera of our times looks at the high-profile and ultimately doomed celebrity lifestyle of Smith, who died in 2007 after an apparent drug overdose, at the age of 39. A jam-packed but tragic life saw the heroine become a Playboy Playmate, star on the big screen in Hollywood, be declared bankrupt after a sexual harassment case, and get married twice - including once, controversially, to an octogenarian business tycoon, which led to a bitter £450m inheritance battle. Throw in a top US radio presenter, custody tussles, constant weight fluctuations, and the sudden death of her 20-year-old son - and Smith's life has all the ingredients for the West End stage. Thomas was one of the co-creators of the hit Jerry Springer: the Opera while Turnage's previous operas have included Greek (1988) and The Silver Tassie (2000) for English National Opera. The Royal Opera's Music Director Antonio Pappano conducts and Dutch soprano Eva Maria Westbroek creates the title role of Anna Nicole. Contains strong language, scenes of drug abuse and scenes of a sexual nature.
17th February 2011 - 26th February 2011
As soon as his latest Cirque du Soleil production, Totem, winds up at the Royal Albert Hall, Robert Lepage takes to the Barbican Theatre stage himself to reprise the role (more than 20 years later) of Pierre Lamontagne, a Quebecois artist who lives in China. Performed in English, French and Mandarin with English subtitles, The Blue Dragon (Le Dragon Bleu) is a sequel to Lepage's successful Dragons' Trilogy (1985) and tells the story of a love triangle featuring Pierre and two women, a former lover (who works in advertising) and a new flame (a young artist). Set in the effervescent paradox that is present day China, this theatrical puzzle has been described as a kind of postmodern Madame Butterfly and is brimming with the kind of stage magic that you'd expect from such a talent as Lepage, described by The Guardian as "one of the most challenging and chimeric directors of our time".
18th February 2011 - 23rd February 2011
Alongside New York, Paris and Milan, London Fashion Week is one of the world's leading design showcases - this year taking place at Somerset House. It features 200 of the industry's most creative designers and businesses, in the UK and internationally, with catwalk shows, exhibitions and award ceremonies. The Estethica strand (sponsored by Monsoon) highlights the best in fair-trade and ethical design, while the NEWGEN stand (sponsored by TOPSHOP) picks out the finest up-and-coming designers who may make a splash on the international scene. Events tend to be invite-only, but regardless you'll be able to spot top models and designers around town while it's on.
18th February 2011 - 20th February 2011
Got a bump, baby or toddler? If the answer is yes, then The Baby Show is definitely for you. Being a parent means making a lot of decisions, from what type of car seat to buy, to the sort of diet you feed your children, to the philosophy of childcare you arrive at. The Baby Show collects all the information you need under one roof at the ExCel Centre, making a decision-making blitz as easy as pie. Need a buggy for twins? It's here. A Moses basket with stand? It's here. Advice on how to get a baby to sleep quickly? It's here. The show offers significant discounts on thousands of products, the chance to see demos and test out different options before taking the plunge, and an advice centre with midwives and health visitors on hand to answer any nagging questions.
19th February 2011 - 20th February 2011
West Country joker Russell Howard hits the road again with his brand new arena tour Right Here, Right Now which comes to The O2 Arena for two nights in February. Star of Mock The Week and his own hit show Russell Howard's Good News, the blond Bristolian charmer was described by The Telegraph last year as "a robust antidote to the depressive, recessionary mood of the moment". Although not as nasty as Frankie Boyle or as clever as Stewart Lee, Howard has energy in abundance and "an awesome ability to connect with an audience" (The Guardian). His penchant for the risque can also make him both appealing and endearing - if you like a hyperactive, scatter-gun, distasteful and often puerile (but consistently upbeat) brand of humour.
25th February 2011 - 27th February 2011
Following on from the enormously popular BBC history series that has celebrities climbing through the branches of their family trees in search of interesting stories, this live geneology show has become an annual event. On stage at Olympia, participants from the series - including Monty Don (pictured) this year - expand on their experiences during filming. TV history expert Tony Robinson is also on the bill. At the core of the exhibition is the Society of Genealogist's Family History Show, the perfect place to start a little digging of your own. Specialist researchers gather with family history societies from all over the country and form a fantastic resource for anyone with a general curiosity or a specific question about their past. A programme of over one hundred workshops encourages people to join in with the great uncovering of family facts, whether they are geneology novices or seasoned researchers.
26th February 2011
The formidable French come to Twickenham on Sunday 26th February as England look to avenge last year's agonisingly narrow defeat in Paris, which handed France the Grand Slam. However, the fact that the French are the reigning Six Nations champions shouldn't worry England, who were unlucky to walk away defeated last time out and will be confident of dispatching their opposition. France have displayed some seriously patchy form in recent months, including a humiliating 16-59 reverse against Australia in their own backyard during the Autumn Internationals. England themselves defeated the Wallabies two weeks prior and will likely have the advantage of form going into this clash. Always a feisty match-up between these two nations separated by just 20 miles of water, this should be one of the stand-out ties of the tournament. England's next home fixture is in two weeks time against Scotland. For ticket information go to www.rfu.com.
26th February 2011 - 11th March 2011
Gilbert & Sullivan's comic opera The Mikado returns to the London Coliseum for nine performances a quarter of a century after it first graced the famed West End theatre's stage in 1986. Satirically transposing the topsy-turvy orientalism of the Town of Titipu to the ever so slightly seedy opulence of a typical English 30s seaside hotel, this 25th anniversary revival of a modern musical masterpiece stars Alfie Boe and Sophie Bevan as Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum (both new to the roles), with Richard Suart reprising his resplendent Ko-Ko (the pathologically list-making Lord High Executioner), Richard Angas back as the amiably grotesque Mikado and Donald Maxwell playing Poo-Bah (the Lord High Everything Else). Peter Robinson directs Jonathanm Miller's inspired, much-loved and hilarious ENO production of one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history.
27th February 2011 - 3pm
The Carling Cup Final is the first domestic trophy of the English season and represents the opportunity for the winners to get their hands on some morale-boosting silverware. At the time of writing, Arsene Wenger's Arsenal are the overwhelming favourites to lift the trophy, having been handed a relatively kind semi-final tie with Championship side Ipswich. Wenger has often used the competition as a training ground for his impressive array of youngsters in the past but this season has seen a noticeable change in his desire to claim some silverware. The other semi-final sees Birmingham take on struggling West Ham, who remarkably saw off holders Manchester United 4-0 in the previous round. Whichever sides make it to the Wembley final, there'll be plenty at stake in this showpiece event. Check www.wembleystadium.com and individual club websites for ticketing details.
London Calendar 2011
Highlights include Cirque du Soleil's new show, Rebecca Hall's National Theatre debut in Twelfth Night and the return of Dutch mus...January 2011
With winter on the way out, March's Ideal Home Show and the Country Living Fair are great occasions for a spring clean. Elsew...March 2011
We all get an extra bank holiday this year thanks to the much-hyped Royal Wedding on Friday 29th April. Other big d...April 2011
The Chelsea Flower Show and the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park get London's summer season in full swing in a month book-ended b...May 2011
June in London means one thing: strawberries and cream in SW19 as Andy Murray bids to become Britain's first Wimbledon winner sinc...June 2011
August is the time when London's parks fill up with sunbathers, lidos come into their own, the banks of the Thames lend themselves...August 2011
Late summer fireworks light up the river at the Mayor's Thames Festival, while Hyde Park and the Royal Albert Hall sing in unison ...September 2011
Ghosts and ghouls come out to play for Halloween at the end of the month but before that in October there are some of&nb...October 2011
Remember, remember the 5th November, when fireworks are set off across the city to celebrate Guy Fawkes' night. The pinnacle ...November 2011