The coming year will be a time when the various creative industries in London prepare for the changes ahead. Planning tends to go hand in hand with funding, therefore theatres, venues and galleries in the capital will soon be facing up to some fairly decisive post-Brexit realities. Attending a concert or visiting an exhibition is now set to be an act of support and solidarity for some of our most treasured cultural institutions.
Innovative light installations are part and parcel of most major European cities, but the guys at Artichoke have brought a new dimension to urban illumination. The Lumiere Festival is a perfect combination of art and technology and is guaranteed to thrill Londoners with new and exciting neon sculptures.
Both outdoor and indoor spaces will be used and locations will be evenly spread throughout the centre of the capital. Forty artists will be reimagining London’s landmarks using projections, multiple lamps, coloured spotlights and other devices. Needless to say, all the action will be taking place at night but with everything within walking distance from each other, visitors will be able to take most of the sights in. www.lumiere-festival.com
The short yet intense life of Jean-Michel Basquiat is documented in this groundbreaking exhibition that not only showcases his art, but reveals his influences, environment and idiosyncrasies. Although he died thirty years ago, Basquiat’s work echoes down time as artists, musicians and dancers still draw inspiration from the gritty late 70s New York scene that formed it.
A famous friendship with Andy Warhol ensured that this exhibition is full of sly media manipulation pieces. The art itself is edgy and confrontational and as Basquiat often painted with musical accompaniment, the illustrations are often urgent and improvisational. Letters, reviews and pop culture references complete the exhibition which is the first outside the subject’s country. www.barbican.org.uk
Because of the huge range of skill sets that contribute to its planning and execution, Opera has been referred to as the “Total art form”. The V&A museum has teamed up with the Royal Opera House with the aim of showing how this process works using seven iconic productions, dating from the 17th century to the present.
The stories are told using paintings, photographs and theatrical artefacts and they centre around some of the greatest composers and performers ever seen. Being the first exhibition in the V&A’s new wing, viewers get a full immersive experience via headphone commentary and music. The political effects of some of the performances is an ongoing theme that will provide much food for thought. www.vam.ac.uk
The nocturnal colour splashes of New Year’s Eve fireworks give way a mini daytime carnival in the streets of London. The New Year’s Day parade will take a route from Piccadilly, past Nelson’s Column and Downing Street before ending at Parliament Square. It’s a decidedly global event with baton twirling brass bands from across the Atlantic together with giant balloons and cheerleaders.
Street food stalls and live music are on hand to keep spirits up along the route and all the London boroughs will be competing to see who can build the best themed float. A welcome addition to the event will be the International Choral Festival which will feature performers from across the world. www.londonparade.co.uk
The Canadian mega-circus has long grown up from being a left-field curiosity and is now a global brand. This doesn’t stop audiences waiting with bated breath for the next incarnation of acrobatic excellence from Montreal and most of us are curious about what theme is chosen (there always is one!).
This January brings Ovo to the Royal Albert Hall rotunda. Based on the activity of insects, the focus is not only on their agility, but also on their resilience and industry. Spiders, ants and jumping fleas are all depicted in a riot of speed, skill and dazzling colour. The title refers to a strange egg that intrudes on the idyllic world of our insect friends and there will be the inevitable ecological lesson that wraps up the performance, but it never spoils the entertainment. www.cirquedusoleil.com
As usual, January’s London Art Fair will be taking no prisoners. Visitors will be treated to contemporary and modern works that are both thought-provoking and subversive. Video installations, collaborative processes and works from up and coming galleries will all be on show. Exhibitions such as “Dialogues” will be using internet collaboration to create global image installations and shared art experiences.
Photo50 is typical of what the London Art Fair is all about. Curated by a radical collective of artists it traces the evolution of photography from scientific tool to artist’s medium and back again. In doing so, it seeks to inspire participants to break away from traditional practices and into other disciplines. www.londonartfair.co.uk
At the beginning of the 17th Century, Europe was going through a tumultuous phase with wars and revolution causing major realignments. King Charles used this as an opportunity to purchase a large number of paintings by several Italian artists and subsequently became an avid collector.
Charles then commissioned his own coterie of painters in order to boost his image as God-ordained ruler of his nation, but it all ended in tears with revolution, war and death. After his reign was brought to a bloody end, the king’s treasure horde was sold off and scattered. This exhibition brings the same items that caused all the fuss in the first place. www.royalacademy.org.uk
The short film format is the best way to deliver punchy messages or to provide quick bursts of visual stimulus. This festival is in its fifteenth year and is still the premier shop window and social event for cutting-edge filmmakers from Britain and beyond.
Comedy shorts are well represented as are trippy visuals and experiments with form and content. Political films will, however, be among the most talked about and there are lots to choose from. Panel discussions, technical workshops and live music contribute to the immersive vibe of the event. www.shortfilms.org.uk
If you’ve ever wanted to find out how many ways a chef can incorporate whiskey into a menu, Burns Night is your ideal opportunity. Restaurants across the capital will be piling the whisky cream into all of their desserts and there will Drambuie shots all round.
Burns Night is a Scottish tradition that toasts the memory of their greatest poet, Rabbie Burns and highland fare is obligatory. Haggis, red deer and grouse will all feature heavily on the menus of Boisdale, 1 Lombard Street and Bread Street Kitchen as these establishments get into the spirit (no pun intended) of things. www.timeout.com
Urban skating may put you in the mood for Christmas, but how do you lose all those extra pounds gained over the holiday? The answer of course is more urban skating and the beautiful surroundings of Somerset House is the ideal place to do it. The weekend of the 11th and 12th January will be the final late session of the season and there will be a definite party atmosphere around the rink.
The late sessions are unique in that they feature film screenings, guest DJs and live music. Food is by Fortnum & Mason which lends a certain air of luxury to proceedings. Watch out for special music installations and a pop-up record shop. www.somersethouse.org.uk
This pumped up production is a must for all daredevils and petrolheads. Based on the wildly popular Fast & Furious film franchise, it focuses on the real stars of the show: namely, the cars. Crazy stunts are an indispensable part of any action move and they are scheduled to be faithfully recreated at the O2
In addition to the stunt drivers and 3D graphics, the production will feature top parkour performers; their tumbling and running acrobatics made even more thrilling by their proximity to the speeding supercars. Car geeks will love the display of the various featured vehicles from the movies, especially the iconic Dodge Charger. www.theo2.co.uk
The multi-talented, award winning joke machine that is Chris Rock is set to tour the UK for the first time in ten years. Plenty has happened since he last graced our shores and fans can be sure he’ll have plenty to say about the recent political upheavals back home in the US.
Billed as The Total Blackout Tour, Rock’s targets will surely include the American establishment, Hollywood and celebrity culture in general. Razor sharp and hilariously profane, the pace of comedy never lets up and audiences are bound to be left helpless with laughter as well as having their preconceptions challenged. www.theo2.co.uk
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