Cheap stuff, secret stuff and heavy-hitting cultural stuff to fill your calendar with for January 2024 in London

Hello, 2024! It is truly great to see you. January is the ideal time to discover London on a budget and without the crowds. Many of city’s very best theatre and musicals, restaurants and bars – ranked definitively by Time Out’s crew of expert local editors – offer discounted tickets and cheap meal deals.

Spend cold, clear days walking off your post-Christmas malaise in glorious parks and spectacular walking routes. Cosy up with drinks on a beautiful heated winter terrace, or in one of the 100 best pubs in the city. And catch up on magical lights, winter wonderlands and Christmas shows before they disappear.

1. Winter Lights

Winter Lights
🎆 Things to do 🎃 Quirky events 📍 Canary Wharf   📅 17 Jan27 Jan 2024

The bright lights of Canary Wharf’s towers are quite the spectacle after dark, but the business district will glow brighter than usual for 11 days in January thanks to the addition of sparkling illuminations created by artists from around the world. All 27 of the artworks are free to visit and a map showing their locations will be available to download before it opens. There’ll also be food and drink stalls along the trail and many of Canary Wharf’s shops, restaurants and bars will be running special offers and discounts.

2. ‘Cute’

🎆 Art 📍 Aldwych  📅 27 Jan14 Apr 2024

From emojis to plushie toys Somerset House is exploring the irresistible force of cuteness in its latest exhibition. Collecting together contemporary artworks and cultural phenomena including music, fashion, toys, video games and social media, the show attempts to find out how cuteness has become so influential.

3. The best mocktails in London

The best mocktails in London
🎆 Bars and pubs
In a city brimming with bars, breweries and prosecco-based pop-ups, it would seem that drinking in London without actually, erm, drinking is an impossibility. Leave your beer goggles at home for one night, however, and you’ll see the selection of non-alcoholic cocktails and booze-less blends available in the capital is pretty extensive. In some venues, the alcohol-free offerings are even more creative and tastebud-seducing than their liquor-rich counterparts. Don’t believe us? Have a sip on one of these teetotal tipples…

4. Take a bracing winter walk in London

Take a bracing winter walk in London
🎆 Attractions 📍Parks and gardens

Yes, it’s cold out. It’s also quite wet. The leaves have fallen from the trees and turned the pavements into a slimy, slippery ice rink. But we’re lucky to have some amazing, huge, parks in London, and walking around in them on a crisp winter’s day is genuinely one of life’s great joys. Whether you’re a Royal Parks stan or a fiend for Hampstead Heath, there are loads of parks to choose from. So, get out there.

5. Just for One Day

Just for One Day
🎆 Theatre ♫ Musicals 📍 Waterloo 📅 26 Jan30 Mar 2024

Surely the most famous concert(s) in history and with a ready-made soundtrack of ’80s stadium rock hits, a musical adaptation of Bob Geldof’s 1985 Live Aid concerts does seem like a screechingly logical idea as soon as you think about it.

With a book by satirist and writer of the smash ‘Mrs Doubtfire’ musical John O’Farrell and direction by ‘& Juliet’ man Luke Sheppard, ‘Just for One Day’ sounds like an agreeable jukebox romp that aims to tell the story of the duel London and New York mega-concerts that raised $127m for famine relief back on July 13, 1985.

Supported by the Geldof, performed by the permission of the Band Aid Charitable Trust, and with the rights to perform songs by the likes of Bob Dylan, David Bowie, The Who, U2, Queen, The Police, Elton John, Paul McCartney, The Pretenders, The Cars, Status Quo, Paul Weller, Sade, The Boomtown Rats, Bryan Adams, Diana Ross, Ultravox and more, it feels like a solid crowd-pleaser.

It will, however, be interesting to see if there’s any sense of reflection on the project’s legacy – while Live Aid has come in for less stick as an endeavour than the Band Aid single ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’, there have undeniably been very legitimate questions asked in the years since about the project’s white saviorism and how effectively the money was distributed. Sure, it sounds like a light-hearted musical romp. Bu it would be a shame if ‘Just for One Day’ ducked these questions entirely.

Julie Atherton, Ashley Campbell, Jackie Clune, Craige Els, James Hameed, Naomi Katiyo, Hope Kenna, Freddie Love, Emily Ooi and Rhys Wilkinson star.