From a pancake day race and an orchid festival, to a new exhibition on the war in Ukraine and a speech from Bernie Sanders, there’s plenty on in the UK capital next month. Find our full guide to the best events in London this February below.
The Mail Rail, Clerkenwell
Until 28 March
Let’s start with an existing offering – London Postal Museum’s the Mail Rail. It looks fascinating. A 100-year-old, underground railway, independent from the well trodden Tube. The Mail Rail was used to ferry post across London during the 20th century, before eventually being phased out in 2003.
In 2013, the Mail Rail reopened, this time to visitors, who can explore the underground world on foot, with access to tunnels, tracks and abandoned underground stations.
Battersea Power Station Light Festival
Until 5 March
As part of its rejuvenation project, Battersea Power Station is putting on its very own light festival. It consists of eight installations by different artists, set in both indoor and outdoor environments. Open from 8am to 11pm daily, Battersea’s light show is just one of the things to do in the area.
Ukraine: Photographs from the Frontline, Imperial War Museum
3 February – 8 May
Not 12 months on from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and with the war raging on, the Imperial War Museum is already curating an exhibition. It features a collection of photos from some of the hardest hit regions of Ukraine. Donbas and Crimea, in particular, are the main subject of Ukraine: Photographs from the Frontline, which you can read more about and get a harrowing preview of, before the exhibition opens on February 3.
Kew Orchid Festival, Kew Gardens
4 February – 5 May
Kew’s famous orchid celebration returns, with this year’s festival “inspired by the biodiversity of Cameroon.” Throughout the Princess of Wales Conservatory, there will be “horticultural displays and living plant sculptures”. Visitors can encounter “towering giraffe sculptures and a troop of gorillas, alongside magnificent roaring lions and wallowing hippo arrangements, highlighting the incredible biodiversity and awe-inspiring wildlife of this West African nation.”
Interestingly, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew work closely with Cameroon year round on “vital scientific and research projects, including collaborating with the National Herbarium of Cameroon and others to identify Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) in the country.”
Royal Coronation Walking Tour, Parliament Square
2pm, 5 February
We’re note quite getting King Charles III’s coronation yet, but for any among you who simply can’t bear to wait until 6 May, there’s a new guided walk exploring the history behind Britain’s coronations.
Described as “a gentle 90 minute walk through the heart of beautiful royal London”, the tour visits key sites and memorials, starting in Parliament Square and finishing at Buckingham Palace.
Imagine Children’s Festival, Southbank Centre
8 – 18 February
If you’re looking for ways to fill the February half-term school holiday, Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival runs the same week. It features a little bit of everything, from workshops to exhibitions across music, art and literature.
London Fashion Week
17 – 21 February
An acquired taste, I suppose. I can’t imagine anyone just stumbles into a London Fashion Week event and you probably need to move in certain circles to have any involvement whatsoever, but, if you’re in that strange world, it’s the biggest week of the year. I’ll be content to look on from the sidelines, probably with a combination of jealousy and disgust, but if high-end fashion shows are your thing, knock yourself out.
Inter-Livery Pancake Race, Guildhall Yard
21 February (Shrove Tuesday)
At the other end of the event-spectrum, it’s a pancake flipping race. Free, wholesome, pancake fun at the quintessentially British Inter-Livery Pancake Race. Decked out in their full regalia, the Liveries of London compete for the ultimate honour.
The event is organised by the Poulters (egg suppliers), but there’s room for all sorts of traditional professions. “Clockmakers time it, Gunmakers fire the starting pistol, Glovers provide the white gloves worn by racers, the Fruiterers provide lemons and the Cutlers provide the forks.” It all ends with one of the guilds taking home the coveted frying pan trophy.
Bernie Sanders: It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism, Southbank Centre
The man who has, for so long, been the face of left-wing politics in the United States is coming to London. On the evening of 23 February, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders is heading to the Southbank Centre to deliver a talk called It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism. A democratic presidential candidate in both 2016 and 2020, Sanders is perhaps best known for twice finishing runner up, but has had a political career spanning over 40 years, and is now the longest serving independent in America’s congressional history. (I’m already going to this. Just saying.)