As London prepares to ease out of lockdown, museums, galleries and music venues are starting to come out of hibernation, and across our theatres, the lights will soon flicker back on. Here is a glimpse of what’s on in London after lockdown 2021, including some of the best art exhibitions, plays, opera and concerts which you can book right now.
Book now: best theatre in London after lockdown 2021
When will theatres re-open?
Theatres will be allowed to re-open on the 17 May but will be limited to half capacity and up to 1000 people. Social distancing measures will be in place until 21 June.
To Kill a Mockingbird at the Gielgud Theatre
Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic tale was scheduled for 2019 with Rhys Ifans in the lead. Tickets are selling like hotcakes, so get in there fast! 27 May to 30 November. Book tickets here.
Singin’ in the Rain’ at Sadler’s Wells
Adam Cooper reprises the iconic role made so famous by Gene Kelly in Jonathan Church’s critically acclaimed production. Expect a big splash with 14,000 litres of water on stage every night. 30 July to 5 September. Book tickets here.
Anything Goes at the Barbican
Megan Mullally and Robert Lindsay are joined by Felicity Kendal in this major new production of Cole Porter and P. G. Wodehouse’s classic golden age musical. 5 June to 22 August. Book tickets here.
Life of Pi at Wyndham’s Theatre
Based on one of the best-loved works of fiction, the production will feature breath-taking puppetry and state-of-the-art visuals. 26 September to 9 January 2022. Book tickets here.
Hairspray at the London Coliseum
Michael Ball reprises his role as Edna Turnblad in the fun, family musical. Also stars Paul Merton as Wilbur Turnblad. 18 May to 28 August. Book tickets here.
Stephen’s House and Gardens
The Stephen’s House landscaped gardens are hosting a number of events this summer. The programme includes Price and Prejudice (23 June) The Tempest (21 July), Tale of Peter Rabbit (27 July), Wind in the Willows (1 August) and Treasure Island (25 August). Book tickets here.
Sonia Friedman Production’s Re-Emerge season will create a space for vital, new voices and fresh talent in the West End and beyond, working alongside some of the industry’s greatest theatremakers and artists. Productions include Walden starring Gemma Arterton and Anna X, starring Emma Corrin. From May. Sign up for priority booking here.
Book now: best exhibitions in London after lockdown 2021
When will museums and galleries re-open?
Commercial galleries (i.e. those where you can buy art) can open on 12 April but museums and art galleries can only re-open on the 17 May. This is baffling to most of us, but unfortunately, the government is currently refusing to budge on these dates.
David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring at the Royal Academy
During the pandemic, Hockney “painted” 116 new works on his iPad charting the unfolding of spring from his home in Normandy. The exhibition will be a reminder of the constant renewal and wonder of the natural world – and the beauty of spring. 23 May to 26 September. Book here.
Es Devlin at Somerset House
A forest will be planted in Somerset House this summer which will be home to the London Design Biennale from 1-27 June. The installation will fill the entire courtyard with 400 trees, comprising 23 varieties native to the UK and to northern Europe. Opens 1 June
Thomas Becket at the British Museum
The exhibition will mark the 850th anniversary of Becket’s brutal murder, presenting his tumultuous journey from a merchant’s son to an archbishop, and from a revered saint in death to a ‘traitor’ in the eyes of Henry VIII more than 350 years later. Opens 17 May. Tickets to go on sale soon.
The Art of Bansky
This exhibition will feature works associated with one of the most intriguing and talked-about artists in modern history. On display are prints, canvasses, screenprints, sculptures, unique works and limited-edition pieces mainly dated between the years 1997 to 2008. Iconic works such as ‘Girl and Balloon’, ‘Flower Thrower’ and ‘Rude Copper,’ together witth some of Banksy’s lesser known masterpieces will be shown. Opens May 20. Book here.
Alice at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Fall down the rabbit hole with Alice at the V&A this summer. The major immersive exhibition will feature over 300 objects charting the evolution of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, from manuscript to a global phenomenon beloved by all ages. Opens 22 May. Book here.
Naturally Brilliant at Kew Gardens
A new exhibition will explore the origin of colour in an evolutionary journey dating back more than 500 million years. It will feature a large-scale kaleidoscope and will show how botanical artists have depicted the brightest and most intense colours in nature. Opens 17 May at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art. Included with entry to the garden.
Matthew Barney: Redoubt at Hayward Gallery
The exhibition will include a group of monumental sculptures, and more than 40 engravings and electroplated copper plates. Also included is the UK premiere of Barney’s new eponymous film, a ‘breathtakingly beautiful’ chronicle that explores the complex relationships between humans and the natural world. 19 May to 25 July. Tickets to go on sale soon.
Jean Dubuffet at the Barbican Gallery
The first major UK exhibition of the work of French artist in over 50 years. Brutal Beauty brings together more than 150 works: from early portraits, lithographs and fantastical statues to enamel paintings, butterfly assemblages and giant colourful canvases. Opens on 17 May 2021. Book here.
Van Gogh Immersive Experience
Take an awe-inspiring journey into the incomparable universe of Van Gogh, one of the greatest artistic geniuses of the 19th century. Explore his life, his work, and his secrets as never before through cutting-edge 360 degree digital projections, a one-of-a-kind VR experience, and a uniquely atmospheric light and sound show. Opens 23 October, venue to be confirmed. Book tickets here.
Eileen Agar at Whitechapel Gallery
A retrospective of painting, collage, photography and sculpture from the artist who used to hang out with Picasso, Man Ray and Dora Maar. Opens on May 19. Tickets to go on sale soon.
Charlotte Perriand at the Design Museum
The Design Museum presents a retrospective on the pioneering designer, charting Perriand’s journey through the modernist machine aesthetic to her adoption of natural forms, and later from modular furniture to major architectural projects. The exhibition will feature large-scale reconstructions of some of her most famous interiors, as well as original furniture and photography. 19 June to 5 September. Tickets to go on sale soon.
Look out for the final stages of Illuminated River this spring, the longest public art commission in the world. The artwork is part of the final stage of the project when Blackfriars, Waterloo, Golden
Jubilee, Westminster and Lambeth Bridges will be illuminated by New York-based artist Leo Villareal’s subtle display of slowly moving light sequences.
Best opera and music in London after lockdown 2021
When will opera houses and music venues re-open?
Music venues, including opera houses, are allowed to re-open from the 17 May with social distancing measures in place. These are expected to relax from the 21 June.
BP Big Screens by Royal Opera House
The BP Screens, broadcast from the Royal Opera House, are coming back this summer. These are usually set up in Trafalgar Square, Hammersmith, Wembley Park and Television Centre in White City. Bring a picnic and enjoy free outdoor opera this. Exact dates to be announced soon.
Please note: The Royal Opera House will be announcing its new season on the 13 April.
Opera Holland Park
The lineup for this summer’s Opera Holland Park includes The Marriage of Figaro and La Traviata in June, The Cunning Little Vixen and L’amico Fritz in July and The Pirates of Penzance in August. More information here. Members Priority Booking open now. General Booking opens 14 April.
Tubular Bells at the Royal Festival Hall
The spectacle marks the 50th anniversary of Tubular Bells, the debut studio album by English multi-instrumentalist, composer and songwriter Mike Oldfield. Ten performers from Circa Contemporary Circus present Oldfield’s work in its physical form, their heart-stopping acrobatics intricately woven together to reflect the music. 7 to 15 August. Book here.
St John Smith’s Square
The London Mozart Players kick off the new live programme at St John Smith’s Square. From 26 May. Book here.
Out of towners
2021 is a big one for Garsington as it celebrates its 10 year-anniversary. The lineup includes Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Handel’s Amadigi and Rossini’s comedy, Le Comte d’Ory. Members only booking. Public booking opens soon.
Waterperry Opera Festival returns with a ten-day open-air Covid-safe festival in August 2021. This year’s programme includes Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love, performed on the lawn, Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, in the atmospheric Waterperry woodland, and Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf performed by the lily pond. Rebecca Meltzer’s dramatization of Jonathan Dove’s Ariel will return to the Mary Rose Garden. The box office opens on 3 May (with supporters’ booking on 26 April).
Stay tuned for a summer lineup from this delightful opera festival, set in the grounds of the Vache Baroque estate.
This year’s festival includes four fully-staged operas, a semi-staged Tristan und Isolde and a concert series from the resident orchestras. Every production, whether an opera or concert, will be wrapped in the full Festival experience: indoor performances with a long dining interval and time to enjoy the gardens. 20 May to 29 August. Public booking opens in April. More here.
Grange Park Opera
The summer programme includes Falstaff, starring Bryn Terfel. La Boheme, Ivan the Terrible and The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko. Currently accepting members’ booking only.