Last updated on May 24th, 2023
Get your March diaries out and get planning with my guide to some of the best cultural things to do in London this month including art exhibitions, theatre, events, opera and music.
Londoness Loves: Cultural things to do in London this April 2023
Free things to do in London this April
Join the Bow Street Museum team on the 7 and 14 April for a free 20-minute walking tour of Bow Street to discover how such a small, unremarkable thoroughfare in the heart of London’s theatreland became the centre of criminal justice reform. Tours take place at 10:30 and 14:00 and are offered for free to all on a first come, first served basis for up to 20 people. Meet at the Museum’s main entrance on Martlett Court.
Our Connection to Water at National Maritime Museum brings together seven artists to explore our human connection to water through photography, audio, film, illustration and installations. They share their perceptions of and relationships to water, and consider how it impacts their communities socially, culturally, environmentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Staying at the National Maritime Museum, see a copy of William Shakespeare’s First Folio, on loan from Dulwich College, in the Maritime London gallery, marking the 400th anniversary of its publication and drawing out the links between the nautical in Shakespeare’s works and the city in which he wrote them. 31 March – 24 September.
The Old Operating Theatre re-opens on April 21 and the best bit is you can visit for free on that day (no booking required).
As part of a nationwide series of events for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio, Royal Museums Greenwich will be offering special tours of our Tudor and Stuart Seafarers Gallery and Queen’s House, alongside the display of a copy of the Folio in the Maritime London gallery. 23 April. Book free tickets here.
A major new exhibition explores our relationship with milk and its place in politics, society and culture. Featuring over 100 items, including historical objects, artworks and new commissions, it asks why has cow’s milk come to be seen as essential to a good diet in the UK? When did breastfeeding become a political subject? And how has milk been used to exert power as well as provide care? On at the Wellcome Collection until 10 September.
The William Morris Gallery announces a major new commission Be More Tender by Mumbai-based photographer Ashish Shah, an important emerging voice within international fashion documentation. The new commission comprises new photography and a short film shot on location in both India and London. On until 10 September.
The William Morris Society is hosting its first exhibition focusing solely on the work of John Henry Dearle (1859-1932), Morris’s apprentice and successor in the role of Artistic Director at Morris & Co. This exhibition will examine Dearle’s extraordinary 54-year career at Morris & Co, his relationship with Morris and the contribution he made to the development of the English interior in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 13 April to 17 December.
Launching on World Creativity Day, 21 April, at the Design Museum in London before travelling to Chelsea Factory in New York in May, Bombay Sapphire and Baz Luhrmann present the Saw This, Made This installation, an experience designed to showcase the creativity and beauty that exists in the everyday and encourage people everywhere to engage with their creative side. For the first time ever, people will be given the opportunity to see Ai-Da Robot, the world’s first ultra-realistic artist robot, paint live in the Eye to A.I. studio at the Saw This, Made This installations in London and New York.
Explore the Army’s role in maintaining the balance of power in Europe and learn how fighting on the Continent has affected the fate of the British Isles. Conflict in Europe opens on 7 April at the National Army Museum.
Landline, a major new work by internationally acclaimed artist Sean Scully RA, will be unveiled on 18 April to mark the formal reopening of Hanover Square, one of London’s first formal squares. The work will be the artist’s first permanently installed sculpture in London.
The Corpsing Pictures, Gilbert & George’s most personal and confrontational works to date. has opened at White Cube ahead of the unveiling of The Gilbert & George Centre in Spitalfields, East London. Comprised of three state-of-the-art galleries spanning over 280 square metres, The Gilbert & George Centre will open to the public on 1 April.
This April, Christie’s launches The Collector as an international platform for connoisseurs and collectors of decorative arts, offered in tandem for the first time across our London, New York, and Paris sale sites. The Collector sale series includes important European, English and 19th-century furniture, porcelain, silver, gold boxes and works of art dating from the 16th to 20th centuries. You can go have a pre-auction browse at the exhibition from 12 to 18 April at Christie’s on King Street.
London Art and Exhibition this April
The exhibition of 2023 opens this April, and it’s going to please fashionistas and history lovers alike. Crown to Couture at Kensington Palace is a real knockout of an exhibition, juxtaposing the extra-wide, extra-glam Georgian court dress with the red carpet showstopper outfits of today. Beyoncé’s Halo dress, Blake Lively’s Statue of Liberty gown and a 2.8 metre Georgian dress worn by Lady Helen Robertson of Ladykirk in 1760 are only some of the 200 drop-dead gorgeous items you’ll see in this exhibition. It’s an absolute must-see. 5 April to 29 October. Book here.
A major new exhibition at Tate Modern, Hilma af Klint and Piet Mondrian: Forms of Life, will put these two visionary painters in close dialogue for the first time. Featuring around 250 works, including paintings, drawings and archival materials, the show will reveal how their art reflected radical new ideas, theories and scientific discoveries in an era of rapid social change. 20 April to 3 September. Book here.
Tate Britain presents a major exhibition charting the romance and radicalism of the Rossetti generation – Dante Gabriel, Christina and Elizabeth (neé Siddal) – showcasing their revolutionary approach to life, love and art. Moving through and beyond the Pre-Raphaelite years, the exhibition will feature 150 paintings and drawings as well as photography, design, poetry and more. 6 April to 24 September. Book here.
The revolutionary life and style of the Georgians will be explored in a major exhibition opening at The Queen’s Gallery. The exhibition will bring together over 200 works from the Royal Collection, including paintings, prints and drawings by artists including Gainsborough, Zoffany and Hogarth, as well as rare surviving examples of clothing and accessories. 21 April to 8 October. Book here.
Dulwich Picture Gallery’s Berthe Morisot: Shaping Impressionism, is the first major UK exhibition of the renowned Impressionist since 1950. In partnership with the Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, it brings together over 30 of Morisot’s masterpieces from international collections, many never seen before in the UK, to reveal the artist as a trailblazer of the movement as well as uncovering a previously untold connection between her work and 18th century greats such as Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough. On until 10 September. Book here.
Ai Weiwei, is opening a major new exhibition at the Design Museum in April. Ai Weiwei: Making Sense will be the artist’s very first exhibition to focus on design and architecture and will be his biggest UK show in eight years. It will feature works never shown before in the UK, as well as major new pieces displayed for the very first time. Large-scale works will also be installed outside of the exhibition gallery, in the museum’s free-to-enter spaces as well as outside the building.
The Southbank Centre is celebrating the 50th anniversary of David Bowie’s iconic 1973 album, Aladdin Sane. Aladdin Sane: 50 Years will feature a two-month long exhibition exploring the creation of the album’s iconic artwork, including the legendary lightning flash portrait by photographer Brian Duffy, as well as a stellar line-up of live music and talks inspired by the album. The Southbank Centre Archive will also present a separate free display exploring David Bowie’s history with the Centre, stretching over 50 years, and his ongoing legacy. 6 April to 28 May. Book here.
Anila Quayyum Agha and Sue Wickison present new works at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, Kew Gardens. Exploring themes of faith and cultural exchanges, this tandem exhibition showcases stunning contemporary sculptural work alongside intricate botanical paintings, reflecting the evolution of art inspired by the natural world. Included with admission to the gardens.
Discover the unknown and virtually unrecorded world of textile designs by the influential pop artist and icon Andy Warhol at the Fashion and Textile Museum. On until 10 September. Book here.
London-based photographer and filmmaker Gabriel Moses will unveil his first exhibition at 180 Studios, featuring around 50 photographs from his career across fashion, music and sport, including never-before-seen images. Book here.
Westminster Abbey is the nation’s Coronation Church and a new Coronation exhibition in the Chapter House will reveal the key elements of the royal ceremony which has taken place at the Abbey for nearly a thousand years. Featuring historic illustrations and archive photography, this exhibition is for anyone who would like to find out what a coronation is and to understand its ceremonial, regalia and objects. 11 April to 30 September. Included with admission to the Abbey.
London Theatre and Stage this April
Three friends. Three decades. One great story of love. See the stage remake of François Truffaut’s 1962 film of Jules et Jim at the Jermyn Street Theatre. Multi award-winning Timberlake Wertenbaker adapts Roché’s autobiographical novel for the stage in this romantic world premiere. 20 April to 27 May. Book here.
J.M. Barrie’s Quality Street opens at the Richmond Theatre this month. The popularity of the romantic comedy was such a sensation in its day that it gave its name to the UK’s much- loved chocolates: Quality Street™. 12 to 15 April. Book here.
Sam Mendes directs a new play on the making of Richard Burton (Johnny Flynn) and John Gielgud’s (Mark Gatiss) Hamlet. The Motive and the Cue is on at the National Gallery from 20 April to 15 July. Book here.
London Opera and Classical Music this April
A seven-day Easter Festival at St John Smith’s Square includes appearances from renowned ensembles including Polyphony and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Vox Luminis and Choir of King’s College, London, as well as Fretwork Consort and St John’s Smith Square’s very own Southbank Sinfonia. Furthermore, the festival is set to feature wonderful soloists including organist Martin Baker and three late-night candlelit performances by Sansara, which will be livestreamed free via the St John’s Smith Square website. 10 to 17 April. More information here.
Join a Mezzo to Mezzo Performance Insight and Masterclass with Dame Sarah Connolly on the 18 April at the Garrison Chapel. Connolly will be interviewed by mezzo soprano Joanna Harries, with Jong Sun Woo accompanying on piano. Book here.
On 20 April virtuoso operatic improvisors Impropera bring their acclaimed show MUSO to St John’s Gate. Designed to “sing museums to life”, the event asks the audience to explore the museum and share their discoveries with Impropera’s cast of gifted musical inventors. The result is a one-of-a-kind, performance created on the spot from the audience’s suggestions. The museum’s curators will be on hand to add their wisdom – and some much-needed facts – to the musical melée. Drinks will be available from a pop-up bar run by the Museum’s close neighbours, The Sekforde, a historic public house dating back to 1829. Book here.
The Academy of St Martin in the Fields and St Martin’s Voices join forces to perform one of Bach’s sacred masterpieces – the St John Passion. Originally premiered in Leipzig on Good Friday 1724, the St John Passion is an iconic musical retelling of the Easter story, featuring Bach’s vocal and instrumental writing at its most dramatic and poignant. Book here.
London Events this April
This spring, Hampton Court Palace will burst into colour as over 110,000 bulbs bloom for the UK’s biggest display of planted tulips. Visitors are invited to celebrate the most coveted flower of the 17th century from, with dramatic displays of tulips taking over the formal gardens and historic cobbled courtyards of the palace. Unique to Hampton Court Palace’s dazzling Tulip Festival is a selection of heirloom bulbs, displaying five centuries of historic cultivars in the Lower Orangery Garden. Visitors will have the chance to see rare tulips as they would have looked in William and Mary’s time, as well as other specialist historic varieties. 14 April to 1 May. Included in palace admission. Book here.
Join the Stages and Cells walking tour, a collaboration between the Bow Street Museum and the Royal Opera House that uncovers the stories of crime and theatre that made Covent Garden one of the most notorious areas in eighteenth and nineteenth century. Sunday 16 April. Book here.
And on a Final Cultural Note
BBC Maestro is a subscription-based streaming platform, created to educate and inspire people to explore their creativity. Through pre-recorded lessons and detailed course notes, anyone can learn a wide range of disciplines and follow in the footsteps of experts respected all over the world. Enjoy online courses with Mark Ronson, Marco Pierre White, Sir Billy Connolly, Julia Donaldson, David Walliams, and many more. More information here.