As 2023 begins and the January blues start to sink in now we’re past Christmas and New Year’s, you might be wondering what’s next. Well, we don’t have the answer for what will happen in your personal life, but we just might have a couple of things that could spice up your social life. So dust yourself off, fling on something comfy and get prepared to bring a bit of fun to the start of the year. Even better, our recommendations have nothing to do with alcohol. So whether you’re taking part in Dry Jan, are teetotal, or just want a change of pace and a bit of a break from alcohol – we’ve got plenty for you to do.
And why not make some plans that don’t involve alcohol? No alcohol doesn’t mean no fun, trust us there’s plenty of things to do without alcohol in London that will make you wonder why grabbing a drink was your go-to activity choice. Despite its sometimes extortionate pricing, there’s a reason London remains a vibrant and buzzing city. So swap the pints for a bubble tea and your glad rags for something a little more casual for these activities that have absolutely nothing to do with alcohol.
If you need a hit of excitement or just the opportunity to experience something familiar but with a slight twist, an immersive experience might be just the thing for you. Especially when it comes to things to do without alcohol. There’s a huge range of activities you can take part in – you could transport yourself to another world, channel your inner Sherlock, experience an art exhibition as you never have before, and so much more. With almost endless possibilities it’s the perfect cure for the January blues. Here’s a list of some of our favourite London immersive exhibitions. So what are you waiting for? Get immersing!
Ease your way into the New Year with one of the many Candlelight concerts taking place across venues in London. Get away from the hustle and bustle in favour of a night of magnificent live music. Whether you’re in the mood for reworkings of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Soundtracks, tributes to legendary acts like ABBA and The Beatles, a rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker with an accompanying ballet performance – you’re covered. All of this with the addition of being bathed in the glow of candlelight in iconic London venues, what’s not to love?
3. Treat yourself to a delightful and authentic meal
If you’re choosing not to drink, all that really means is you have a little extra cash to put towards your dining budget. Thankfully London is absolutely packed full of restaurants that do fantastic food. Whether you opt for some of the more well-known spots or want to discover a hidden gem, you’re only a stone’s throw away from great food at any time. But with so much variety to choose from it’s often difficult to actually make a decision on where you want to go. That’s where we come in. We have countless recommendations for you but here are just a few cuisine specific guides to get you started:
Disconnect from everyday life and reconnect with some of your childhood fantasies, and check out one of the most popular immersive experiences in London. Dopamine Land is the multi-sensory experience that’s sole focus is happiness. It opts to do this by having you explore a series of stimulant rooms that will engage your senses slightly differently in order to achieve that sweet release of dopamine.
We won’t spoil what goes on in the rooms, but just know by the end of it, you should have a better idea of how to get the best release of happy hormones – whether that’s through sight, sound, touch, taste, or smell. Even better, there’s plenty of places to get a great snap for you to remember (or show off) your visit and taking photos is definitely encouraged. The only downside is it’s not around forever. The experience closes on January 15, so be quick and get your tickets before it’s gone.
5. Indulge yourself in the luxury of cinema
The cinema is a proverbial great choice, and although it seems to be the trend that more and more cinemas are offering alcoholic options, classic is often best. Popcorn and an Ice Blast is all you really need at the cinema, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get better. There are a variety of luxury cinema options for you to choose from which come with comfier seats, more space, and often a whole lot more than popcorn when it comes to food options.
Everyman is a fan favourite because they have so many locations and have seemingly perfected the premium cinema experience, but there’s plenty of other amazing London cinemas to choose from. Or you could opt for a classic trip to Vue or Odeon and get yourself a cheeky discount on us.
6. Swap Chinatown for Bang Bang Oriental
Chinatown is great, it’s undisputed as one of the best places to go, tourist or local (no Chinatown slander will be tolerated here – management). But it’s also a really obvious choice when it comes to places to go. Which is why you might want to switch it up for Bang Bang Oriental. North London’s dedicated Asian food hall houses the widest range of specialist Asian restaurants in the country.
So whether you want a fine dining experience (at Golden Dragon) or a more casual street food vibe (in the main hall) you’re covered. Just make sure you leave space for something sweet as there’s a dedicated dessert stall as well as plenty of bubble tea shops
7…Okay head to Chinatown too
Look, like we said Chinatown is an undisputed favourite amongst literally everyone. Despite the fact it’s always busy, it still feels like one of the best places to go in London no matter how many times you’ve been before. It helps that it caters to everyone in practically every way.
On a budget? No problem, there’s plenty of places to grab something to eat for less than a tenner. Want authentic Chinese cuisine? Well there’s no shock that you’d find that. Want more of a big sit down banquet style feast? That’s there for you too. Also, Chinatown is a slight misnomer as it’s not just Chinese cuisine you’ll find as you explore its many streets and storefronts. So when you head down be prepared, you’ll want a bit of everything but don’t let your eyes be bigger than your belly – you can always come back another day after all. Here are some of our favourite spots to get you started on your Chinatown exploration.
8. Challenge your thinking under pressure with an escape room
Not all stress is bad stress. An escape room is stressful, or at least it can be stressful (if time’s starting to run out), but it’s not bad stress at all. It’s stress that will make you laugh, tear your (or someone else’s) hair out, and then dissipate into pure bliss as soon as you’re out. It’s like a rollercoaster, only the thrill doesn’t just last a minute.
So round up your mates, especially the ones who tend to have the wildest ideas – that out-of-the-box thinking will come in handy. It’s basically like being in a Saw film but without the threat of losing a limb or worse. Although saying that you don’t need to go for the horror route AIM Escape has a number of rooms including a spy room that’s great for the whole family as well as a room in which you’re required to uncover the mystery of what happened on a groom to be’s stag do. You can find tickets below:
9. Channel your inner Lewis Hamilton (with Go Karts)
Whizzing around the track at high speeds is definitely not an activity we’d advise doing under the influence. So channel your inner Lewis Hamilton, focus up, and try to secure your spot on the podium go-karting. You might be assuming you’ll have to take a trip outside of London but that’s just not true.
TeamSport, in particular, has five London locations that cover North, South, East, and West – so you shouldn’t be too far from a track. Which is great because it means you (probably) won’t spend more time on your journey there than you do on the track. Once you’re on the track the petrol-powered karts can go up to 40mph, so it’s the perfect time to settle all of those ‘whose the best driver’ debates. If you wanted something else, check out our list of 10 hair raising courses you can try out in London.