Despite starting the year with a lockdown, we’re convinced there’ll be some amazing things to do in 2021.
To be perfectly honest with you, a third lockdown wasn’t an issue when I started writing this article, so it’s a little galling to have to be this positive on the first day of another long confinement. But we’re nothing if not optimists here at Secret London, and with two vaccines currently rolling out across the UK, we’ve got our fingers crossed for an incredible year. In the spirit of making the next twelve months extra excellent – in a bid to make up for last year – we’ve picked out some of the best things to do in 2021, including the stuff that needs to go straight into your calendar. So, without further ado, here are twenty-one reasons we reckon 2021 could be one of London’s best years yet!
No, we aren’t going to shut up about this until 2022, I’m afraid. Why would we, when it’s been said “there’s no better urban experience anywhere” than London? Lockdowns permitting, 2021 is The Year to get out and see and do everything that London has to offer. As always, we’ll be here to help with ideas!
Call them a palate cleanser for 2020. Moving compositions performed by softly flickering candlelight have a way of soothing the soul, and they’ll be returning to churches, concert halls, and other breathtaking spaces across London in 2021. Discover the full range of candlelight concerts here.
Sparkling, dazzling art fare from legendary nonagenarian Yayoi Kusama is scheduled for Tate Modern this spring. The pandemic might have delayed the arrival of two Infinity Rooms by a year, but they’re now pencilled to pop up in March 2021. Read all about them here.
Hundreds of Londoners dove beneath the waves in search of magic, mystery, and cocktails last year, and we’re very pleased to report that The Little Mermaid Cocktail Experience will return in 2021. The fully immersive show also features spellbinding performances and original songs, so it’s small wonder we’re itching to head along! Tickets are already on sale here.
We were mercifully allowed a handful of visits to the pub garden in summer 2020, but that’s not to say it was a normal summer. No All Points East? No Lovebox? No Glastonbury, FFS? In the immortal words of Taylor Swift, a Cruel Summer indeed. Still, with the coronavirus vaccine being rolled out across the UK, we’re raising our hopes for a summer of music in 2021 (the government, at least, is pretty bullish on their likely return). Don’t let us down, 2021.
Of all the things we’ve missed in the past nine months, the magic of a West End show has to be right up there. Robbed of a stellar 2020 season, we’re nonetheless in for a treat when the theatres reopen – for instance, how does Sister Act with Whoopi Goldberg and Jennifer Saunders sound? (Find your tickets for that here.) Elsewhere, 2021 should hopefully see the arrival of a Back to the Future musical, Jake Gyllenhaal tackling Sondheim, and the debut of the musical version of Frozen.
Regular readers will know that we’ve been tracking the launch of Italian food hall Eataly for a while now (it’s probably something to do with the mountains of pasta, cheese, and wine on offer). Spring 2021 has been given as the opening date for this temple of taste, and we’re practically drooling to get inside. See more about Eataly here.
Soho’s Century Club will be snuffing out the candles and shutting the curtains once more, allowing you to experience your food in an entirely new way. Dining in the Dark is a mesmerising dinner experience that surprises your senses and titivates the tastebuds, and we’ll be first in line to try it. Tickets are on sale now – find them here.
9. It’ll be time for All The Sports
And what’s more, we might actually be allowed in stadiums to see them! Come summertime, we’ll hopefully have the chance to hit the pubs and sing It’s Coming Home as England bid for glory at the delayed Euro 2020 tournament, whilst the best athletes the country can offer will be jetting off to Tokyo in July for the Summer Olympics. Closer to home, Twickenham will watch England attempt to defend their Six Nations crown, Wimbledon should see tennis make a grand return to the UK, Lords and The Oval will host cricket with fans once again, and Chelsea, Tottenham, and (if they can get their act together) Arsenal will attempt to hunt down a Premier League title.
It’s quite apt for a Banksy show to be going ahead without the artist’s approval, isn’t it? So I suppose it’s even more impressive that organisers have rustled up 60 artworks from private collectors, all of which are going on display in Covent Garden come springtime. You can nab tickets to the show here.
Exciting stuff, isn’t it? The London Underground hasn’t had a brand new stretch of track since the Jubilee Line stretched to Stratford back in the last millennium, but that all changes this autumn. The Northern Line will be extended from Kennington to Battersea, with two new stations opening along the way – read all about it here.
Rumba your way over to Kellerman’s this summer, as Secret Cinema launch another of their unforgettable immersive cinema experiences. This time, it’s a long-awaited return of their famed Dirty Dancing night, which previously dazzling Londoners back in 2016. You can bet they’ve got even more magic planned for this year though, so pick up your tickets here.
The biggest Alice in Wonderland exhibit of all time is coming to London in the spring, and you can bet it’ll send you tumbling down the rabbit hole. Costumes, illustrations, and pop culture influences will be here in their plenty, making this a true highlight of the year. Find out more here.
Fever Talks went online during the pandemic, and whilst they’ll continue with livestreamed talks for the time being, we’re waiting eagerly to see them back at venues across London. Parallel universes, serial killers, love – every kind of fascinating subject is covered here! Check out the upcoming talks here.
15. We’ll likely be able to travel again
Airport queues! Train delays! Trying and failing to read a map! All these lightly taxing things will have us smiling once more when the luxury of being able to travel returns – and whether you’re in for a city break or a lovely staycation, it’ll make those bedbound Zoom reunions a distant memory.
As I’m sure you know by know, London runs on brunches. And sadly, 2020 was rather lacking in smashed avo and bottomless mimosas, unless you got really good at making them yourselves. So it’s a foregone conclusion that bottomless brunches will be back with a Liam Neeson-like vengeance this year – best brush up on our faves, hadn’t you?
As good as it’s shaping up to be, 2021 will also be a time to reflect on 2020 and what we lost during it – in particular, all those who sadly lost their lives to the virus. The garden – which will also honour frontline workers – will be filled with blossoming trees, and serve as a reminder of the city pulling together in trying times. Read all about it here.
18. An uninterrupted summer of fun could be on the cards
June, July, and August should be spent bouncing between the beach, the pub garden, and the rooftop bar, in our opinion. And whilst 2020 didn’t quite provide those sun-drenched thrills, we’ve got high hopes for summer 2021, when the twin vaccines will hopefully allow us a summer approaching normality.
We can safely say that the August bank holiday last year was London’s most subdued one for over 50 years, owing primarily to the fact that Notting Hill Carnival was forced online. If there’s one wager to make for 2021, place your bets on Carnival making a spectacular return to the streets of West London, come rain or shine.
OK, so a less-than-ideal Christmas is possibly still better than most days, but there’s no denying it was a little sucky in 2020 – especially if Tier 4 kept you apart from your family on the big day. But even the build up was a little lacklustre, given the cancellation of loads of Christmas markets, ice rinks, and big hitters like Winter Wonderland, and much of the rest being curtailed by coronavirus measures. Barring another foul-up of 2020 proportions, Christmas 2021 is going to be ace, and all the better since it’ll be making up for the year before. I can hear the jingle bells already…
21. We’ll all be wiser and kinder for having lived through 2020
Much as we love it, there’s no denying that London can often be a lonely place, what with all the avoiding eye contact on the Tube and studiously evading your neighbours. Things might be a little different on the other side of the pandemic, as the world has learned a few lessons about the value of kindness, community, and company. For our part, we won’t be taking London’s little pleasures for granted, either.
In the meantime, here are our pick of the best things to do in January 2021.
Also published on Medium.