Things to do
It’s worth checking opening hours for whatever you get up to today, as many places will close earlier than usual.
NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTIES: First things first — if it’s parties, clubbing or other ways to see in 2020 you’re after, we’ve covered that here. And remember, there’s free travel on the tube and other TfL services to help you get home safely.
ECHOES OF SHAKESPEARE: Join Footprints of London guide David Charnick for a walk around the City of London, with a Shakespeare theme. See some physical reminders of the playwright’s existence, and hear readings of his work. St Giles Cripplegate, £12/£9, book ahead, 10.30am-12.30pm
KIDS’ COUNTDOWN: If the younger members of the family are clamouring to be part of the New Year’s Eve celebrations, take them along to the Kids’ Countdown with Ida Barr. The ex-music hall singer hosts a countdown to 12 o’clock, 12 hours earlier, so kids can join in the fun, and still be in bed at a reasonable hour. Genius. (It’ll never work.) Southbank Centre, free, just turn up, 11am
DICKENS OF A CITY: Learn about the London of Charles Dickens on this walking tour of the south London areas he would have been familiar with. See the sites of old inns and counting houses which inspired his writing. St George the Martyr Church (Borough), £12/£9, book ahead, 2.30pm-4.30pm
WHEN HARRY MET SALLY: Head to the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square for a screening of 1989 rom-com When Harry Met Sally. “I’ll have what she’s having.” Prince Charles Cinema, £13.50, book ahead, 6.45pm
COMEDY CARNIVAL: Pick from venues in Leicester Square and Clapham for Comedy Carnival’s New Year’s Eve shows. Acts include Tom Stade, Ian Stone, Dana Alexander and Pete Gionis. Choose between just a show ticket, or a show + club ticket, to continue partying long after the show’s over. Various prices, book ahead, from 7pm
CHRISTMAS IN LONDON: For more festive things to do in the capital, take a look at our guide to Christmas in London. It’s packed full of festive events and things to do to see you right through until New Year, including ice skating, theatre shows, pantomimes and Christmas lights. Still not inspired? Take a look at our full guide to everything that’s happening in London between Christmas and New Year.
EXHIBITIONS: Why not use this downtime to catch up on a bit of culture? Several of London’s large exhibitions are still running between Christmas and the New Year, although do check gallery and museum websites for changes in opening times this week. Here are our picks, in no particular order:
Tutankhamun at Saatchi Gallery | Top Secret at Science Museum | Cars at V&A | Culture Under Attack at Imperial War Museum | Wildlife Photographer of the Year at Natural History Museum | Moving To Mars at Design Museum | The Moon at National Maritime Museum | Hidden London at London Transport Museum | Driverless at Science Museum | 24/7 at Somerset House | Gingerbread City at Somerset House | William Blake at Tate Britain | Olafur Eliasson at Tate Modern | Troy at British Museum | Tim Walker at V&A | Designed in Cuba at House of Illustration | Kara Walker at V&A | Rembrandt at Dulwich Picture Gallery | Gauguin at The National Gallery | Steve McQueen at Tate Britain | Inspired by the East at British Museum | Nam June Paik at Tate Modern | Pre-Raphaelite Sisters at National Portrait Gallery | Buddhism at The British Library | Lucian Freud at The Royal Academy | Leonardo da Vinci at The National Gallery.
Tube ponderings with Barry Heck
Our resident tube fancier dishes out daily thoughts on the London Underground.
What was London’s first underground tube line? It’s often considered to be the Northern line, which opened in 1890 as the City and South London Railway (earlier lines like the Metropolitan did not run through ‘tubes’, but through cut-and-cover trenches). But London did have a much earlier tube route, albeit a rather short one. The Tower Subway opened 150 years ago between Tower Hill and Tooley Street, with regular trains under the Thames. Read about its intriguing history, and where to see its remains, in this recent Londonist article.
Follow Barry on Twitter @HeckTube.
Have a read
Catch up with some of our favourite articles from the year: