How to Survive January 2024
So that was Christmas – and, indeed, 2023 – and how are we rewarded? Only bloody January! But fear not, we’re here to help you through it – with amazing cabaret & theatre, and some tips for escaping the rush of city life!
Our Unmissable 2024 List features lots of great things happening this month and then throughout the year. And our regular monthly lists will return from February.
But for January, we thought we would package up a little survival guide: some things to divert you, amuse you, inspire you or just give you some space while we all wait for the days to grow longer and brighter.
Diversions & Amusements
The wondrously entertaining La Clique is camped out in the Leicester Square Spiegeltent for a few more shows this season – catch it while you can for 90 minutes of high-camp cabaret, awesome circus skills, risqué performances and an atmosphere like nothing else in the West End.
Sure, for regular La Clique patrons there might not be much new since the last London season, but if it ain’t broke… Hackney born LJ Marles is the showstopper, his tension strap act truly stunning – but most of the cast is capable of headline-act performances. Tara Boom delivers two entreatingly contrasting performances, both supremely cheeky and highly skilled; Chastity Belt, well, belts out some stunning, show-stopping tunes – not least a rousing rendition of Hosier’s Take Me To Church; and David Pereira’s shaving routine is an eye-opener that leaves nothing to the imagination!
A special mention, too, to Yuliia Pykhtina, a founding member of La Clique who returns with a mesmerising hula hoop routine, fusing eroticism and exoticism.
Also running for the first week of January, Bernie Dieter’s Club Kabarett is a deliciously depraved 90 minutes of cabaret in Underbelly’s newest London venue. Dieter is a consummate host, employing some cheeky audience participation to warm up her crowd before introducing a cast of talented performers including Joe Keeley, Adam Malone, Blue Phoenix, Bella Diosa, The Seifert Sisters, Mark Elton, Frankie South & Laura Williams.
Dieter and her band perform live accompaniment as an array of circus and burlesque skills are showcased – and, given the intimate, in-the-round nature of the venue, there are no bad seats! Everyone feels up close and personal in the Boulevard, which makes it a perfect venue for cabaret.
A magical stage reimagining of the Studio Ghibli classic, this puppet-fuelled My Neighbour Totoro does more than simply warm the cockles – it embodies an abundance of love and adventure.
This is a truly great show, and a wonderful alternative to more saccharine offerings during the holidays. It will brighten the dark days of January and February too, bringing magic and wonder to anyone who sees it. At a time when there is so much negativity in the world, Totoro – the creature, and the show – is a shining beacon of joy and hope. See it – and check out our full review!
Escape & Breathe
A stones throw from the towers of Canary Wharf, the idyll of Mudchute Park & Farm offers a much-needed respite from the rush of city living. A short walk from Mudchute or Island Gardens on the DLR, or a stroll from the Cutty Sark via the Greenwich foot tunnel, this is one of our favourite escapes when we need to get back to nature. There are llamas, sheep, goats, pigs, geese and more, and it’s open (and FREE) to stroll around all year round, in all weathers.
We’re about three quarters of our way around the London Loop, taking the nearly 150 miles in stages (officially there are 24 sections, between Erith station and Purfleet, but some can be easily combined). We can’t recommend this enough – taking trains and buses out to some of the less explored outer reaches of Greater London, and then walking through breathtaking countryside and chancing upon incredible views of our home city.
If you need a longer escape from it all, maybe head further afield – back in October we took a long weekend break at the beautiful, cosy Truffle Lodge in Lindfield (near Haywards Heath). It’s reachable using public transport, so you won’t need a car – and staying at Truffle Lodge is like curling up under a warm blanket.
Truffle Lodge is a magical place. Host Claire makes you feel so welcome with every possible extra touch, and makes sure that your stay is super comfortable. The lodge design is gorgeous, and the thoughtful additions – like cookies, rabbit decor and little treats – are so lovely. The location is amazing, right in the centre of the village of Lindfield, a divine a mix of old English village and independent Brighton vibes.
The buses, though not super regular, are reliable – so you can pop to the nearby Kew Wakehurst for a gentle stroll surrounded by stunning foliage. It’s amazing how away-from-it-all you can feel just 30 miles from the centre of London.
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like: nice pubs, film marathons, not doing real marathons, bad comedy, plays/musicals with shorter second halves, and the Oxford comma.