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The 12 best things to do in London this weekend

Leave the house, we dare you

The 12 best things to do in London this weekend
Tom Victor
09 February 2018

It’s that awkward period in mid-February, where you’ve been so busy sorting out what to do on Valentine’s Day that you’ve neglected your weekend plans.

Not to worry, though. We’ve picked out some of the best and most interesting things to do in London this weekend, whether you’re looking for free entertainment, a cheap afternoon or evening out, or something that costs a little more.

  1. 1.David Granick – The East End in Colour 1960-80

    The East End of London has changed a great deal over the last half-century, to the point that parts of it are entirely unrecognisable. This exhibition of never-before-seen photos from Stepney-born photographer Granick paint Stepney, Mile End, Whitechapel, Spitalfields, Limehouse and the Thames riverside in a new light, or an old light, if we’re being accurate. The exhibit is free, while you’ll be able to buy a book related to the exhibit from Hoxton Mini Press. - Free, all weekend, Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives, Bancroft Road E1

  2. 2.No Ordinary Bicycle: John Kemp Starley and the two-wheeled revolution

    Whether you’re a cyclist, or just someone who’s interested in inventions, this look at the modern bicycle at the Vestry House Museum could be the ideal way to spend part of your weekend. It looks at the legacy of John Kemp Starley, whose input in the development of the modern bicycle is still being felt today. - Vestry Road, E17

  3. 3.Black films and white power

    This in-depth talk looks at the struggle black films have had in getting picked up or produced, examining decades’ worth of cinematic and civil rights history. You’re likely to encounter subjects which haven’t been given the attention they maybe deserve in the past, and all in all it’ll be a real eye-opener. - Free, Saturday, 6pm, Belvedere Road SE1

  4. 4.East LDN Love Jam

    It’s a free party at Old Street’s Magic Roundabout just before Valentine’s Day. Is it too late to find love? That’s not for us to say. Is there a steady stream of food and drink throughout the party? Absolutely. These things get busy so you’ll want to get your name on the list. Free, Saturday 5pm-11pm, Old Street Roundabout EC1V

  5. 5.London bookshop crawl

    It’s like a pub crawl, but instead of getting drunk you get to check out some of London’s most interesting book shops. It’s running all weekend across Soho & surrounding, Richmond & Kew, Waterloo & Southbank and Old Street & Brick Lane, so you could do one crawl on Saturday and one on Sunday if you fancy. - £3, All weekend, various locations

  6. 6.'Simpsons' Quiz/Valentine’s Love Tester Special

    If earlier incarnations of this quiz at the Sebright Arms are anything to go by, you’ll really need to know your stuff here. However, if you’re the sort of Simpsons superfan who knows the golden era by heart, head on down and have a crack at winning the whole thing. There are also special burgers from Lucky Chip to mark the occasion, and a special Valentine’s mystery prize. - £2 per person, Sunday, 7pm, Coate St E2 

  7. 7.Close Up on Michael Haneke

    The director of Oscar-winning Amour and 2017 Palme d’Or nominee Happy End is one of the most interesting European filmmakers around, and Close-Up Film Centre in Shoreditch is putting on a retrospective of the Austrian director’s work throughout February. This weekend there’s a chance to watch The White Ribbon or Time of the Wolf on Saturday, and Benny’s Video or Hidden the following evening. - £10, All weekend, Sclater St E1 

  8. 8.Bianco43 Italian Carnival Aperitif

    Italian food is great in any circumstances, but an entire carnival of the stuff, right by Trafalgar Square – that’s chef-kissing-fingers good. Bianco43 is known for its pizza, but here it’s going to be pulling out all the stops with a range of stuzzichini (essentially Italian small plates) including arancini, cured meats and Neapolitan pizza. £10 (includes a drink), Sunday 5pm-11pm, Northumberland Avenue WC2N 

  9. 9.Orchids Festival at Kew Gardens

    We’re getting closer to spring-time, and we’re sure you’ll be planning trips to Kew Gardens as the weather gets warmer, but it’s worth paying it a visit this weekend for the Orchids Festival. Described as a celebration of Thailand’s plant life, it opens this weekend and runs for a month. There’s also a chance to complement it with a Thai afternoon tea, if you’re feeling peckish. - £17.75 (included with park entry), All weekend, Royal Botanical Gardens TW9

  10. 10.Vegan Life Live London

    If you’ve been taking part in veganuary, or even if you haven’t, you might have had your interest in all things plant-based piqued in the last few weeks. Vegan Life Live at Ally Pally will let you take that one step further, with an extensive menu and even a selection of vegan beers on offer for all attendees. - £10-67, Alexandra Palace Road N22

  11. 11.'Best F(r)iends' advance screening

    You’ve seen The Room and you’ve seen The Disaster Artist, possibly in reverse order, which means you’ll want to see the new film from Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero. Yes, there’s a new film, and the plot looks… familiar. Two men learning lessons about trust, friendship and loyalty, you say? Sign us up. The Prince Charles Cinema has advance screenings, but you’ll have to be quick. You might even see Tommy or Greg there, if you’re lucky. - £15, All weekend (Some screenings sold out), Leicester Place WC2H

  12. 12.Pluto

    A genre-defying play from Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon, this Japanese interpretation of Astro Boy has to be seen to be believed. This manga adaptation is stunningly futuristic and, well, just stunning all around. You won’t have seen anything like it before, and it’s tough to do it justice without simply urging you to get yourself down to the Barbican centre while it’s still running. - £16-35, all weekend, Silk Street EC2Y