If there’s one thing that all Londoners are demanding this February (apart from a politics detox), it is colour – great big splashes of it, all across the Capital. Well, we’re in luck. Chinese New Year brings red and gold. The V&A will be showing glittering offerings from Dior and Kew Gardens will be a riot of orchids which come in every colour of the rainbow. Just the ticket for grey days and gloomy nights.
One and a half centuries ago, the Curry Sark was one of the fastest vessels on the ocean and it had to be, as Britain’s very existence as a leading commercial force was dependent on how quickly tea could be shipped in from India. The extensive system of sails and rigging gave the Cutty Sark and other “Tea Clippers” a decisive edge as they raced round the Cape of Good Hope and into the Indian Ocean for their precious cargo.
Now preserved as a national monument by the River Thames, this beautiful ship is well worth a visit, especially as it celebrates 150 years since the halcyon days of wind and sail. There will be numerous special events, dinners and concerts in and around the vessel which with its new venue under the ship’s hull has become the ideal space for small and medium-sized parties.
A byword for glamour and poise, the creations of Christian Dior ruled the world of fashion for a large part of the twentieth century. When Dior himself passed away in 1957, his protégé Yves Saint Laurent continued to set standards and break new ground. This exhibition charts the way the brand evolved and excited all who came under its heady influence.
There are plenty of Dior evening gowns to look at here. From the classic film star look, to the wild Galliano creations of the early twenty-first century, Dior dresses form the core of this experience. Those who wish to dig deeper can examine some of the preparatory sketches as the master put his ideas down for others to follow. There are also talks, films and children’s design workshops involved in this extensive tribute.
This annual spectacle of colour, music and cuisine springs from the much-changed environs of Chinatown in London’s West End as the Chinese community prepare to welcome the Year of the Pig. Those born under this sign are considered to be industrious and dedicated which means that this year’s event will be a fully committed experience.
Dragon dancers provide the initial focal point of the procession which covers most of the streets south of Shaftesbury Avenue and west of Charing Cross Road. Once in Trafalgar Square, crowds can sample the many delicacies that make this area such a foodie mecca, while taking in the heart-stopping martial arts demonstrations.
Whether you have a passing acquaintance with dance or are a complete novice, you will find plenty to like in this compendium of styles and influences. Ballet has come a long way from tutus and swans and these samples are aimed at broadening the horizons of the various audiences that frequent Sadler’s Wells, yet never cross over.
The programme covers contemporary styles and some works in progress as well as flamenco, African and street styles. All the acts have performed recently at Sadler’s Wells, so now would be a good time to catch up if you missed them the first time round.
As a tropical plant, orchids tend to give floral sculptures an extra sense of pizazz and presence. Their vibrant colours are ideal for fashioning animal sculptures and following last year’s Thailand success, Kew Gardens has, this year, looked to Columbia for inspiration. The results are spectacular with flying toucans, prowling jaguars and leaping monkeys all being brought to life in living floral colour.
Apart from the exhibits, there are discussions by expert botanists and behind the scenes tours and activities for all the family which will include drumming, costume making and a mini-carnival. After hours events include a live salsa band and Columbia’s coffee tasting.
When it comes to expressions of love in 2019, the message is “Go High or Go Home” and with more skyscrapers offering treats in the clouds, you can afford to be selective. Of course, there’s The Shard which scores on height alone, but The Gherkin is a sexier proposal (pun intended).
Here, you’ll find a Searcy’s menu that is light, luxurious and ideal for lovers. Crab terrine, beef wellington and wild sea bass are cooked to perfection and served with discrete efficiency. Partners, Aspinall will help present a glittering Valentines gift and, of course, there will be champagne on tap.
One thing all of the participants in this hard-hitting exhibition seem to agree on is the need for collaboration and cooperation. “Is This Tomorrow” wrestles with the upcoming environmental challenges that society faces and concludes that pure politics or pure architecture is not the answer.
Raising awareness through colourful models and vibrant designs, the exhibitors team up with activists, fashionistas and even dance music producers in order to present a future that is free from greyness and despair. Exhibits come in the form of models and structures that utilise film, sound design and graphical artwork.
The craft beer industry is becoming a bit like a series of underground music festivals. There’s your established home-grown favourites like Brewdog, US-based special guests in the form of The Brooklyn Brewery and up-and-coming support acts like Lost and Grounded. Most of the brewers are young, bearded and hip, which is a good thing as they’ll probably continue making great beer for some time in the foreseeable future.
No craft beer experience is complete without a carefully curated music lineup. Don Letts and Zero 7 are scheduled to provide vintage dub and mellow trip hop, respectively which is bound to go down well with the relaxed visitors. Check out the street food stalls for, among others, some delicious seafood rolls by Claw or some spicy jerk chicken which seems to form an ideal partnership with good craft beer.
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