Unmissable Things to Do in London in 2023
What next, eh? 2023, that’s what! That’s right, time churns inexorably onward, so we’re back with another list of Unmissable Things To Do in London (and beyond) – forget your troubles, c’mon get happy!
First things first: some fun and fabulous things to do this January. Then, on to some of the other delightful diversions 2023 has to offer – and, of course, we’ll have a dedicated February list for you, next month…
Banish those January blues!
New arts hub Factory International is the reason to get out of London and head north. From an epic opening light installation First Breath, to the impossible Matrix-inspired spectacle Free Your Mind, by way of Yayoi Kusama’s dotty You, Me and the Balloons (pictured), you are going to be wowed by this future national cultural institution. One of the top things to do in 2023 in London is to get out of your London bubble.
Le Gateau Chocolat & Jonny Woo: A Night at the Musicals – 90 Years of Drag! | Soho Theatre | 4-21 January | From £13
Get those glad rags on and head to seedy Soho for this triumphantly camp tribute to the best of the musicals, from the best in the business: Le Gateau Chocolat and Jonny Woo.
If the idea of mime makes you cringe this festival will turn your expectations upside down, with a jaw-dropping mix of physical and visual performance. Highlights include showbiz legends Charlie and Stan at Wilton’s, Thick and Tight’s cheeky dance retrospective and Andrea Salustri’s ethereal object theatre, Materia.
Seven mind-expanding stories are told by cabaret storyteller extraordinaire Jemma Kahn.
London’s most innovative and exciting free light festival is back for another year to drag us out of the January doldrums.
‘Part-play, part-raucous cabaret, part-workers’ manifesto, join eight underground drag icons as they spill the tea, free the nipple and fight the shadowy forces that threaten their livelihoods’. Unmissable theatrical freedom and riotous fun from Travis Alabanza.
Truly original film talent doesn’t often come through via Hollywood. Open your eyes to a range of cutting edge creatives all with films that will suit your Tik Tok-addled attention span, at this pioneering short film festival.
London’s earthy answer to the Edinburgh Fringe returns, packed with inspiring new shows, all taking place in the underground noir that is the drippy vaults under Waterloo.
A love letter to saarf London’s un-gentrified heart.
February & Beyond!
A celebration of box fresh talent including female musicians Maria Uzor, Helen Adove Hawk, Daphne Sadeh & duo Eastern Strings, an exclusive event from legendary grime innovators Ruff Sqwad and The MixRace Mixtapes from John-Paul Zaccarini, a LGBTQ+ poet, stand-up and academic. Heroes culminates with a rare visit from L T Beauchamp (AKA Chicago Beau), the esteemed Chicago blues innovator.
A new musical which looks to the personal side of the mathematician, codebreaker and LGBT+ icon.
See Denise Gough live at Wilton’s Music Hall playing everyone’s favourite angst-ridden writer Sylvia Plath.
Science superstar Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock unlocks the secrets of space with this event, launching her new children’s book ‘Am I Made of Stardust?‘.
An important documentary telling the story of the Black Lesbian and Gay Centre, a ground-breaking project that supported thousands of black queer people in the 1980’s and 90s.
A great chance to see the next big thing in comedy & cabaret. Highlights include future national treasure Toussaint Douglass and Friends, the batshit sounding Posey Mehta: I am not a Gorilla, Cerys Bradley’s relaxed cute comedy of not fitting in, Sportsperson, and And(Dre)a Spisto’s show about a queer, autistic, latinx caterpillar.
A festival platforming Southeast and East Asian voices. This year the programme includes the mind-boggling VR/dance fusion of Home X.
A poetic, queer retelling of The Little Mermaid featuring the sounds of 1960s girl groups.
Elephantology is Blue Elephant Theatre’s Festival for recent graduates and those who are just entering the performing arts industry. Don’t miss these striking debuts.
Katherine Paul’s epic sound channels her indigenous strength and healing power.
‘The world’s biggest, most comprehensive festival celebrating women, girls and non-binary people is back in 2023 with its 13th edition.’ Expect world famous speakers as well as chances to hear inspiring stories of women, girls and non-binary people.
Chaos theory comes to life in this ode to loneliness and (dis)connection, from cult comedy artist Kim Noble.
Queer storytelling. Enough said.
Keith Ramsay delves into the psyche of great artists and showpeople by way of the great All About Eve.
Interdisciplinary collective RESOLVE use structural engineering to get inside the skin of the iconic Barbican centre.
If joy was a sound it would be The Go! Team. The colourful mash-up artists bring their epic show to Lafayette in King’s Cross.
Musical comedy is taking over with artists like Jordan Gray killing it in 2022. Let’s see what can make us titter until we’re tickled this year.
Discoland’s first comedy night features an all-female/non-binary line up.
Divine girl grunge from new band Peaness comes to the church of camp, MOTH Club.
‘A beautifully poetic site-responsive performance inspired by the little-known story of Henrietta Lacks and her stolen cells.’
2023’s must-see play comes to Brixton House and is #1 on our things to do in London this year.
Cult 1981 Japanese pop-punk band return with their sun-soaked 1960s beach-core.
Masterclasses, talks and performances by authors, songwriters, screenwriters, directors, playwrights, poets, illustrators, editors and podcasters presented by Stormzy’s imprint at Penguin Random House.
Fans of 2022’s John Lewis ad and epic swing covers of pop hits need to see this.
Lenny Henry dissects the Windrush Scandal in this poignant and hilarious story.
Tim Minchin’s musical had a short-lived run in 2016. It shouldn’t work as a premise for theatre but it does. The music is insanely catchy and the whole thing is a pure sensation on repeat.
Juno soundtrack stars return for a DIY lo-fi reunion at London’s quintessential gig venue the Roundhouse.
London comes alive with the sound of pop mystique every year, and this line up is extra – including Aqua, Jamelia, Kelly Rowland, Kelis and the Almighty GC (Gemma Collins).
No line-up is confirmed as yet but it promises to be all in the best possible taste if Christine has anything to do with it.
Queen Victoria herself would be proud of this exhibition channeling the legendary Diva performers.
A dazzling new production of the planet’s coolest sponge who lives in a pineapple featuring music from such giants as David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper and The Flaming Lips.
Demystify performance art through Marina Abramović’s visionary work.
100 women artists working in the UK from 1970 to 1990 take over Tate Britain exploring the British Women’s Liberation movement, the fight for legal changes impacting women, maternal and domestic experiences, Rock Against Racism and Punk, Greenham Common and the peace movement, the visibility of Black and South Asian Women Artists, Section 28 and the AIDs pandemic.
Elvis fronts Nirvana for this glitzy festive show.
Did we miss any big incredible things to do in London (or beyond) for 2023?
We almost certainly did – please let us know in the comments below!
Occasionally the To Do List team are forced to work together.
Rupert likes: free, cheap & offbeat London, especially: cabaret, art, theatre, pop-ups, eating out, quirky films, museums, day trips, social enterprise & much more.
Stuart likes: nice pubs, film marathons, not doing real marathons, bad comedy, plays/musicals with shorter second halves, and the Oxford comma.