Banish those winter blues – with a January visit to London

Visiting a city in January that’s, frankly, to be found in such a northerly spot in the Northern Hemisphere as London may not sound like much fun… well, not if you’ve never visited London before, that is. For this mega-metropolis is glorious whatever the time of year (and whatever the temperatures outside); not least if you’re taking advantage of ‘off season’ London hotels special offers. So what’s going on in the capital in January…?

London Art Fair

(Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street N1 0QH/ 16th-20th January)

Ever fancied getting into the arts but have felt, well, a tad daunted by all the long centuries of great artistic treasures and the appreciation it all requires and so just don’t know how (let alone where) to start? Well, this annual, entirely accessible event at a sleek and stylish (yet, again, very approachable venue) in trendy Islington may be just up your street.

Now in it’s 31st year, London’s official ‘art fair’ sees the collecting together of in excess of 100 galleries that’ll showcase museum-standard works dating from more than a century ago to right up to the present day. Additionally, there’ll be curated sections where the focus is new artworks and modern photography. All in all, though, this fair’s the place to go for a good gander at paintings, sculptures, photography, ceramics and more – and probably purchase something too!

Courtauld Impressionists: From Manet to Cézanne

(National Gallery, Trafalgar Square WC2N 5DN/ runs until 20th January)

For the first time in six long decades, the prestigious National Gallery right in the very heart of the capital (perfectly located then for hotels near Oxford Street) will be displaying a collection of major Impressionist paintings from its near, lesser-known but highly regarded neighbour, the Courtauld Gallery.

And what a collection; for the pieces in this exhibition will beautifully chart how the Impressionist movement developed and eventually morphed into the Post-Impressionist era, comprising as it will at least 40 different masterpieces from around 1860 up to the early 20th Century. Indeed, highlights are set to be the likes of Cézanne’s Card Players and Man with a Pipe, Toulouse-Lautrec’s Jane Avril in the Entrance to the Moulin Rouge, Renoir’s La Loge, Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère and Seurat’s Young Woman Powdering Herself. A perfect attraction for a stay at luxury hotel rooms, for sure.

Burns Night

(various venues/ 25th January)

Christmas may be long gone by the time we get to January 25th (in fact, it’ll be a whole month since all that merrymaking) yet, if you’ve a touch of Alba blood in you or you’re a Scotophile, this very evening offers a marvellous opportunity to eat, drink and dance the night away – in the true depths of winter – in the name of one of Scotland’s most famous and very best loved sons, the enduringly popular and legendary 18th-Century poet and lyricist, Robert Burns.

A traditional celebration then, Burns Night (occurring on the date of his birth) is usually marked by a Scots-cuisine supper, lots of carousing and, especially, readings of his verses. Yes, sure; as far as geography’s concerned, London’s about as far as you can get in the British Isles from his homeland, but being the undeniable global metropolis it is, the English (and UK) capital’s nonetheless a city where Burns Night is celebrated in large numbers in pubs, bars and restaurants scattered right the way across it.

Winter Lights

(Canary Wharf E14 8RR/ 15th-26th January)

Finally, another opportunity to say boo to the cold, dark, dank and drab British winter is to take the easy trip (from the West End and the likes of London Marble Arch) by Tube and/ or Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to the hip, happening, modernist financial district that’s Canary Wharf – for Winter Lights, its, now, annual festival of joyful illumination. Made up of installations courtesy of a plethora of international artists, this selection of colourful artworks is bound to make your eyes dazzle, bring a smile to your face and warm your heart – at the very least.

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