Highlights include Cirque du Soleil's new show, Rebecca Hall's National Theatre debut in Twelfth Night and the return of Dutch musical comedian Hans Liberg. But before that, the New Year in London starts with a colourful parade with marching bands and open top buses making their way through the city streets. It's a fun, free family day out and a great way to get celebrate the beginning of 2011.
1st January 2011
More than 10,000 performers representing 20 countries world-wide will gather in Central London on 1 January 2011 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the New Year's Day Parade. Around half a million revellers are expected to pack London's famous streets to see this fantastic spectacle as it weaves its way along the two-mile route, which this year starts outside the Ritz Hotel and finishes three hours later at Parliament Square. Expect vast, extravagant, Disney-style floats, with plenty of loud music and a little dancing in the street, along with arching bands, cheerleaders, street performers, clowns, acrobats, balloons, colourful costumes and much more - including 33 stunning entries from each of the London Boroughs. This is a great way to get 2011 off to an active start, see the streets of London and work off some Christmas excess. For more information please visit www.londonparade.co.uk.
3rd January 2011
Twelfth Night is a traditional celebration of the New Year that takes place annually in the Bankside area of London. It starts with the foliage-covered Holly Man - the winter guise of the pagan Green Man - emerging from a boat on the Thames, rowed by brave volunteers. The Holly Man 'wassails' or toasts the people as he 'brings in the green' for the New Year. The Bankside Mummers then perform the traditional Folk Combat Play of St George - which features such colourful characters as Beelzebub, the Turkey Sniper, Clever Legs and the Old 'Oss among others. At the end of the play cakes are handed out, two of which have a bean or a pea hidden in them. Those who get the hidden gifts are declared King and Queen for the rest of the ceremony. It all ends with a procession to the George Inn on Borough High Street for drinking, dancing and storytelling. Times and events may be weather dependant.
5th January 2011 - 15th January 2011
English National Ballet's staging of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet set to Serge Prokofiev's score was created by the late, great Rudolf Nureyev in 1977 as part of the Queen's Jubilee celebrations. It's still a classic. Nureyev's clever choreography describes with passion the tragic story of doomed love. Ferocious sword fights between the Capulets and Montagues convey the present danger of the blades at hand, while the unforgettable balcony scene is tender and affecting. The story is set in Renaissance Verona, which lends the staging and costumes an air of opulence and rich detail.
6th January 2011 - 17th February 2011
This January the awe-inspiring acrobats of Cirque du Soleil present Totem, a brand new touring show which celebrates the evolution of mankind. Following its sell-out Saltimbanco and Varekai shows last year, the gravity-defying French-Canadian troupe returns to the Royal Albert Hall for a six-week run to get 2011 off to a flying start. Inspired by founding myths, the spectacular Totem traces the journey of the human species from its original amphibian state towards its ultimate aspiration of flight. Coupling highly polished acrobatics and theatrical showiness with consummate precision and elegance, Cirque du Soleil has been drawing flabbergasted gasps from audiences since starting out on the streets of Quebec in the early 1980s. Now a global phenomenon, Robert Lepage's creation is set to continue to wow, with the cast performing an array of hoop dances, roller skating segments, trapeze tricks, clown acts, Chinese unicycle skits and death-defying trampoline stunts - to name just a few. Throw in some of Cirque du Soleil's most dazzling costumes yet - not to forget trademark striking lighting and new dimension-shattering video projections - and Totem promises total excitement, entertainment and astonishment.
7th January 2011 - 16th January 2011
Ahoy there! The London Boat Show brings every type of water faring vessel to the ExCel Centre - its waterside position making it the ideal location for London's biggest exhibition of boats and water crafts of all kinds. Boats, ranging from 1.4-metre sailing dinghies to 37-metre trideck motor yachts go on display as more than 500 exhibitors showcase their seafaring wares. This year sees visitors able to take part in a range of thrilling watersport activities such as kayaking, windsurfing and wakeboarding on the 70m x 24m Watersports Action Pool - all free of charge and under the supervision of Rockley Watersports and Neilson Active Holidays. With displays ranging from indoor canoeing to sailing, tall ships, historic vessels and a marina full of some the largest exhibitor boats in production (at the Royal Victoria Dock), it's set to be an action-packed event with all hands on deck. Additional activities include an anchor watch masterclass, boating for beginners area - free from people peddling products - new boat launches and the Dinghy Racing Weekend. A must-see for anyone who likes messing about on the water.
11th January 2011 - 2nd March 2011
National Theatre Director Peter Hall returns to the South Bank to celebrate his 80th birthday with the Shakespearean comedy Twelfth Night at the Cottesloe. The much-loved tale of mistaken identity tells the story of Viola - played by Sir Peter's daughter, the actress Rebecca Hall, making her National Theatre debut - who believes her brother Sebastian has drowned after they are shipwrecked on the shore of Illyria. Disguised as a young page, Viola enters the service of the Duke of Orsino, who proceeds to send her to woo Lady Olivia on his behalf. Olivia, believing Viola to be a man, falls in love with this handsome and eloquent messenger, while Viola herself is smitten by the Duke. Throw in the pompous Malvolio, duped by Olivia's uncle Sir Toby Belch (one of the Bard's finest comic characters) and his ebullient companions - including the silly squire Sir Andrew Aguecheek and the fool Feste - and there's enough riotous disorder and intrigue to make of it What You Will.
13th January 2011 - 16th January 2011
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, The Outdoors Show returns to the ExCel Centre this January for four days of energetic activity showcasing the great outdoors. Filling out the huge space, hundreds of exhibitors will display all the latest outdoor gear and gadgetry while there will be a range of talks by famous explorers and travellers such as Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Robin Knox-Johnston, Simon King and Ben Fogle. On top of that there will be a load of interactive workshops and stages dedicated to outdoor pursuits such as climbing, biking and walking, adventure travel, eco tourism, the wilderness, outdoor heroes and a whole section dedicated to help those wishing to pursue a more bucolic career. Throw in The London Bike Show, a load of climbing walls and a steady schedule of live demonstrations and competitions - including the unique SkyMasters "floating ceiling" - and this is a real paradise for adventure-seekers. On 14 January, there is also a special screening of the Banff Mountain Film Festival, which will feature some of the best films from the previous few years ahead of the festival's world tour, which includes three nights at London's Union Chapel in February. For more information visit www.theoutdoorsshow.co.uk.
13th January 2011 - 16th January 2011
Thanks to Mayor of London Boris Johnson setting up his bike hire scheme and network of Cycle Superhighways, cycling in London is more popular than ever. The London Bike Show is aimed at all levels of bike enthusiast, from the regular commuter to the daredevil BMX stunt rider. And, with stalls featuring many of the major bike brands including Brompton, Ridgeback and Saracen, there will be plenty of opportunities to try before you buy. There's also a chance to stock up on components from the likes of Shimano and get kitted out with specialist clothing and footwear. But the London Bike Show is more than just a giant shopping opportunity. Bike stunt shows will be wowing the crowd throughout the day at the ExCel Centre, with crews like The Clan from Scotland performing breathtaking two-wheeled manoeuvres. Then, why not take some challenges of your own on the three forest trails (for different abilities), commuter track and pump track (try and get around the circuit without using any pedal power). There are coaches on hand to help visitors get the most our of their cycle trials. The London Bike Show is part of The Outdoors Show which runs for the same dates at the ExCel Centre.
15th January 2011 - 30th January 2011
If you thought mime was all about white-faced clowns continually plagued by invisible glass and very strong winds, the London International Mime Festival will make you think again. Taking place at four top arts venues across London - the Barbican Centre, the Southbank Centre, the Roundhouse and the Royal Opera House - this year's festival brings contemporary visual arts from around the world to London. It's packed with some of the freshest and most inventive physical theatre, dance, circus, puppetry and live art. Selected highlights include Teatro Corsario's famous 'puppets of terror' who open the 2011 festival at the Southbank with La Maldicion de Poe (The Curse of Poe), a hilarious, nerve-jangler based on the stories of celebrated horror writer Edgar Allan Poe. Theatre groups come from far and wide - from France, Finland, Russia, Spain and Belgium to name a few - to perform, and stage shows are supplemented by 'meet the artist' sessions, workshops and lectures. "This epic festival showcases some of the most gaspworthy theatre you will see all year," says The Guardian.
19th January 2011 - 23rd January 2011
Now in its 23rd year, the London Art Fair at the Business Design Centre shows no signs of losing its cutting edge. Whether you're buying or just looking you'll have over a hundred of London's best galleries to look through. Stunning works on display cover the last 100 years or so of British art. With prices going as low as £20 it's an interesting exhibition for the amateur collector as well as the professional. There are two additional shows within the show: 'Art Projects', showcasing 21 galleries from the UK, Ireland, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands; and 'Photo50', now in its fifth year, where 50 contemporary photographs from UK and international galleries are featured in a curated exhibition. A great place to browse, appreciate and shop, even if you're just looking for something nice to put on your wall. For more information please visit www.londonartfair.co.uk.
19th January 2011
England make their return to international netball action as they take on the world number two side, New Zealand. Last year's series against Australia proved to be an unique spectacle for the various sell-out crowds that attended and an electric atmosphere is once again expected as England attempt to overcome their esteemed opponents. Both teams are in preparation for the World Netball Championships in Singapore in July 2011 and this three game series, taking place across the UK, will provide the England team with a stern test. The O2 Arena in London hosts the final contest as the curtain comes down on what should be a fascinating series. This is an excellent and rare opportunity for fans to witness international netball and a good chance, also, to introduce new spectators to the sport.
20th January 2011 - 23rd January 2011
Matt Baker, Colin Jackson, Patsy Kensit and Ann Widdecombe are among the eclectic list of celebrities joining 2010 winner Kara Tointon in once again putting on the sequins and taking part in this season's Strictly Come Dancing: The Live Tour. As reality TV shows go, especially ones with Bruce Forsyth CBE presenting, this one appeals to every generation. You can watch it with your kids, your parents, even your grandparents and, try as you might, you can't resist having an opinion about the dresses, the dances, the judges or just Brucie's jokes. If you've ever sat at home on a Saturday night and wished you could be in the studio audience, now's your chance as 'Strictly' goes on tour. The live shows, coming to The O2 Arena (and before this, Wembley Arena for two nights) and presented by 2005 contestant Zoe Ball, follow much the same format as the BBC series - basically, the celebs take to the floor with their professional dance partners before the judges either tear them to shreds or sing their praises. Still, if you're a 'Strictly' fan, you'll have a ball!
Strictly Come Dancing - The Live Tour - Information (Wembley, 22 & 23 Jan)
22nd January 2011 - 7th April 2011
The Royal Academy of Arts presents the first exhibition in 30 years to examine British sculpture of the 20th century. Modern British Sculpture represents a unique view of the development of British sculpture, exploring what we mean by the terms British and sculpture by bringing the two together is a chronological series of strongly themes galleries, each making its own visual argument. Key British works include: Alfred Gilbert 'Queen Victoria', Phillip King 'Genghis Khan', Jacob Epstein 'Adam', Barbara Hepworth 'Single Form', Leon Underwood 'Totem to the Artist', Henry Moore 'Festival Figure', Anthony Caro 'Early One Morning', Richard Long 'Chalk Line', Julian Opie 'W' and, pictured, Damien Hirst 'Let's Eat Outdoors Today' - a picnic table covered with living flies encased within a glass box. Well, it makes a change from all that formaldehyde guff...
22nd January 2011 - 30th April 2011
An angry teenager runs away from an all-girls boarding school and to avoid being sent back she tells her grandmother that the two headmistresses are having a lesbian affair - an accusation which could destroy both women's careers, relationships and lives. Keira Knightley and Mad Men's Elizabeth Moss, making her West End debut, star as the two school teachers who have worked for years to establish their school, only to see everything thrown into jeopardy over some malicious rumours. Ian Rickson, fresh from directing Mark Rylance in Jerusalem, directs The Children's Hour, Lillian Hellman's taboo-breaking play which was first staged on Broadway in 1934. Known for her captivating role of Peggy Olson in Mad Men, Moss should pull in the punters - but the London crowds will no doubt be most interested in the performance of our English rose, Knightley, who was last seen on the Comedy Theatre stage in The Misanthrope.
27th January 2011 - 5th March 2011
Rufus Norris directs this revived adaptation of DBC Pierre's satire Vernon God Little, in which school kid Vernon escapes to Mexico, where the absurdities he finds in his life just keep on coming. His best friend has just shot and killed 16 school bullies before turning the gun on himself. Whilst everyone looks for someone to blame, the finger is suddenly pointed at Vernon himself. Hapless, cynical and gloriously unlucky, he decides to test his fortunes in Mexico but finds his troubles have only just begun. Described by Time Out as "grotesque tickling of the funny-bone", this thrilling black comedy features a rollicking soundtrack of quintessential American hits and is something of a smash hit at the Young Vic Theatre.
31st January 2011
The most hilarious musical comedian you might never heard of, Hans Liberg returns to Cadogan Hall for four exclusive shows in 2011. This first night in January is followed by monthly Monday evening performances on 21 March, 4 April and 16 May. While the bespectacled bald Dutchman modestly claims he's "just a sit-down comedian who does something with music", we can categorically say that the kind of thing he does is like nothing you've witnessed before. Entertaining the audience with his comic gesticulations, his perfectly timed wit (both slapstick and satirical) and his wonderfully flexible rubbery face, Liberg bounds across the stage from piano to harpsichord to guitar to trumpet, running through and deconstructing the works of Beethoven, Mozart et al and underlining the debt bands such as the Beatles owed to classical music's greats. What makes his act so special is the glaring fact that, humour aside, the Emmy Award-winning Liberg is an extraordinary musician who could grace any orchestra with his presence and ability. "Liberg is madly inspired ... a deeply eccentric joker in the pack for the more cultured punter - the best music lesson you never had," says The Times. It's a hilarious musical trip - like Bill Bailey, both informative and intelligent - and underlines Liberg's virtuoso credentials as the heir apparent to his Danish predecessor Victor Borge. For more information please visit www.hansliberg.com.
London Calendar 2011
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 N...February 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