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Lon-Do's and Lon-Don’ts


What to do this weekend in the UK’s capital?


17th – 19th January.


Get your diaries out, folks: January in London has just got a whole lot better!


Ok, the longest, darkest, gloomiest month of the year is hardly a belter all-round. But let’s not mope around and get all dreary. Those darker, shorter, colder days are about to be filled with a whole lot more fun.


FRIDAY


London’s January Blues Festival:


Are the January blues getting you down? Nope; the only kind of blues we want in this city are the musical kind. Well, you’re in luck, because London’s very own Blues Festival is kicking off in the truest of smooth jazz styles. The Blues are washing over the capital in various locations across the weekend. Be sure to catch some of the world’s top blues artists and musicians performing. Highlights include the likes of Ben Poole and Kirk Fletcher over at The 100 Club on Oxford Street.


In the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s busiest cities, take the weekend to find yourself a table in a dark, quiet corner; swap the sounds of blaring sirens and tube voiceovers for some smooth jazz under the flickers of soft candlelight.


Prices vary according to location. Be sure to book ahead for a space; people seem to seek solace in the comfort of London’s January Blues Festival!


London Model Engineering Exhibition:


Choo choo! All aboard the London Model Engineering Exhibition, which returns to the capital for its 24th year. With over 40 clubs showcasing items from the past and the present, as wells as what to expect from the future of modelling, this isn’t one to miss for all you hobbyists out there. Regardless of your ability or experience, up to 45 different specialist suppliers will be in attendance to offer you all sorts of advice on your newly-started or almost-finished project.


Shrunk down versions of all your favourite steam trains, planes, boats and tanks are taken up the biggest hill in North London for your entertainment this weekend. Think ‘Alice in Wonderland’-inspired miniatures and figurines – if Alice was a model train, that is, and Wonderland was Ally Pally, where you can find the exhibit.


This year, the exhibition commemorates the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Model tanks, tri-planes, Fokker planes and associated military British and German infantry figurines will be on display in remembrance.


If you aren’t already a modeller, this exhibition is sure to fire up your imagination. Go on the Friday and spend the rest of the weekend planning to build up your first model steam train!


SATURDAY


Winter Lights Festival:


Festive fun in London doesn’t have to end just yet! East London’s favourite light festival, based over in Canary Wharf, returns this weekend for its sixth year.


January no longer seems as dull and gloomy with 25 different illuminated installations bringing back some of that enchantingly festive glow. Better still – it’s completely free to ogle at! Yep, it isn’t just the lights that shimmer and dazzle visitors…it’s the free attendance fee too!


Why escape for a bit of winter sun to top up on your glow, when you can visit the Tobacco Dock in Wapping for a bit of dizzying light? As tempting as the beach might seem, why not embrace London’s winter weather for all its worth in East London. Have some fun with friends on the rooftop ice rink (the only natural one in the entirety of Europe!) and knock back some mulled wine in one of the cosy huts that line the dock. Winter isn’t going anywhere in London for a while; we might as well make the most of it!


Midnight Apothecary Wassail:


Gather round the fire in traditional Twelfth Night celebrations on Brunel Museum’s beautiful rooftop herb garden. With softly lit greenery, cocktails and live folk music, this ancient affair isn’t one to miss.


Join in with the songs, gorg on the marshmallows toasted on the open fire, and warm your cockles with cider-based concoctions as you bless the fruit trees in anticipation of the bountiful new season.


For eight years, the Midnight Apothecary Wassail has celebrated nature on the brink of the spring season. Process together in congregation under the golden warmth of lanterns and torches, to the apple tree in the lower garden with Wassail and sing Wassail carols led by talented folk musicians who are local to the area.


SUNDAY


Ru Paul’s Drag Con: Yas, queen, yas! Sashay away with the entire cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, as they tread the boards of their very own Drag Con. Come see the likes of Divina de Campo and Baga Chipz as they ‘werk’ through a weekend of all things drag and pop culture.


Cheer on your favourite queens as they ‘werk’ it across the pond for the first time ever. Saturday might be sold out, but tickets for Sunday are still available. Listen in on panels discussing everything current and entertaining over at Olympia London – ever quirky and endlessly cool.


Everyone is welcome to the event at Olympia, in true queen style. Be sure you don’t miss out!


Mindful Drinking Festival:


With dry January well underway (or damp Jan for those of us who packed it in a little bit early), there’s no need to worry about hangover at Club Soda’s Mindful Drinking Festival. Alcohol-free drinks are the only bevs served amongst the talks, cocktail classes and traders showcasing alcohol-free beer, wine and low sugar sodas.


In the heart of London’s East End, in the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, the festival aims to show how sober isn’t boring; you’ll be able to see what’s fresh and cool in alcohol-free living. Sample, buy and try all the booze-free alternatives for your January Health Kick. Listen to some of the world’s top bloggers and inspirational speakers and you chill out with your mates – think beanbags, workshops and lots of chat!


Whether you’re a fitness freak or a sober curious, pop by to the Truman Brewery for some fresh guidance on what to drink instead of alcohol. Nobody has to feel out of place if they’re not drinking; this is Club Soda’s goal and, yep, the Mindful Drinking Festival certainly proves that!

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