Destinations

15 fun things to do in Britain this weekend

A preview earlier this month of the Canary Wharf Winter Lights exhibition
A preview earlier this month of the Canary Wharf Winter Lights exhibition Credit: Getty

Still feeling blue? You're not the only one; this is, after all, the most depressing time of the year. But fear not because there are plenty of things happening in the UK this weekend to help you get through January...

1. Do a film marathon (as Sundance gets underway)

If you didn’t make it to this year’s Sundance Film Festival, which began yesterday, get into the spirit of it with some big film premieres closer to home, including the critically acclaimed Jackie, a biopic following the life of Jacqueline Kennedy played by Oscar-, Bafta- and Golden Globe-winning actress Natalie Portman who, according to Telegraph’s film critic Robbie Collin is “mesmerising” in the movie, which he gave five stars.

Jackie trailer: Natalie Portman washes off JFK's blood in shower as clip fuels Oscar talk Watch | Jackie trailer
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For a blast from the past, catch a special re-release of Goodfellas, Martin Scorsese’s classic American 1990 mob film, which will be shown on big screens across the UK today as part of the British Film Institute’s retrospective of the American director this month and February. Or see our pick of 10 amazing films that inspired us to travel last year for more ideas.

2. Visit the Cavern Club (for its 60th birthday)

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the famous Liverpool music venue, which the Beatles used as their second home. The Cavern Club has a host of anniversary events lined up to mark its hitting the big 6-0. And while plenty of its focus is on nostalgia and tribute bands (who chase the ghosts of the Doors and Queen, as well as the Fab Four), it is also a functioning arts space featuring rising groups and local singers.

Alternatively, visit one of Britain's other iconic music venues with intriguing histories, from London’s 100 Club,  where the Sex Pistols played a four-night residency, to the Deaf Institute in Manchester, which revels in its reputation as the maternity ward for any British band worth its three chords.

I Was There... When The Beatles Played the Cavern Watch | I Was There... When The Beatles Played the Cavern
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3. Get a backstage tour of the Brighton Dome

Follow in the footsteps of music legends, from Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix to David Bowie, who have performed at the Concert Hall of the Brighton Dome on a behind-the-scenes tour of the historic venue from this Saturday. The tours will uncover some of the more surprising reasons for which the venue has been used throughout history and offer a rare view of the entrance to the tunnel to the Royal Pavilion.

4. Experience a Cirque du Soleil spectacular

Canada’s Cirque du Soleil is one of the world’s most famed circus acts, and there can be few better places to watch them perform than the Royal Albert Hall. Running in London until late February, the troupe’s Amaluna production is nearly entirely devoid of storyline – vaguely based on The Tempest, it offers some suggestions of romance and, perforating the main acts, an unnecessarily prolonged courtship ritual between two clowns – but no shortage of phenomenal displays of physical brilliance.

5. Get cosy a rooftop winter cinema

As the cold weather continues, The Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge is offering a wintry refuge at its intimate rooftop cinema. Seated in one of just four dinky chalet-inspired cabins, couples wrapped in Moncler blankets can settle down to one of three classic films – Some Like it Hot; Bridget Jones’s Diary; Notting Hill – and an evening of laidback indulgence.

6. Admire Canary Wharf’s bright lights

As darkness descends on the city, lights will arise in Canary Wharf. Scattered across the district, some 30 installations forming a Winter Lights exhibition will showcase the playful (and occasionally interactive) works created by some of the creative world’s most innovative light artists. Among the pieces on show are Cathedral of Mirrors, featuring reactive columns that intensify in lustre when more people gather, and the site-specific On Your Wavelength, a light sculpture controlled by spectators via an EEG headset that detects electrical activity in the brain.

Brighton's Royal Pavilion by night Credit: 2016 Getty Images/Tabatha Fireman

7. Get your skates on

While you’re in Canary Wharf, go for a spin around London’s LuminoCity Ice Rink (an eight-kilometre-long grid of shimmering LED lights embedded beneath its surface) or have a go at one of Britain’s other best outdoor skating rinks, some of which are still open.

8. Gawp at the ridiculousness of Harrods

Harrods was voted among London’s top family attractions in a recent survey. If you can brave the daunting tourist crowds, go see what the fuss (or non-fuss) is all about.

9. Have a silent laugh in Bristol

The annual Slapstick Festival, celebrating the silent film era from 1895-1930, returns to Bristol from today and throughout the weekend. Visitors can enjoy a programme of events including screenings of Charlie Chaplin’s greatest comedy shorts presented by English theatre actor Simon Callow, and talks and interview with comedian, actors and authors including Roy Hudd and Bill Oddie.

An installation at the Canary Wharf Winter Lights exhibition Credit: Getty

10. Celebrate Celtic music in Glasgow

Get your song and dance on at Celtic Connections, Britain’s largest Celtic music festival, featuring 2,100 artists and 300 events across 20 venues. Choose from classical music, such as last night’s opening night performance by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, to the more eclectic “noir-ish country/folk and vintage jazz” sounds of Arizona-born, Edinburgh-based group Cera Impala.

11. Uncover Titanic history in Plymouth

Explore the lesser-known fascinating story of the Titanic’s history in Plymouth in a new exhibition unveiling a selection of artefacts and memorabilia about the Titanic and the White Star Line, the shipping company that built the ship, including White Star dishes, cutlery, original drawings and documents. Set at the Duke of Cornwall Hotel, the exhibition will also shed light on the aftermath of the Titanic disaster in Plymouth, where several survivors were said to have taken refuge.

12. Make an escape in Cornwall

Help save an alien from extinction by joining the Alien Rescue – an interactive game where participants will be locked in a room and need to solve a series of puzzles and obstacles within 45 minute. Devised by Dean Rodgers and the Tom Sawyer Effect, the design teams behind London’s Crystal Maze Live experience, this is the Eden Project’s first time offering an escape room experience.

13. Get outside and take some amazing photos

Need some inspiration? Check out the incredible winning snaps in the latest Outdoor Photographer of the Year competition, which were announced this week.

14. Wrap up warm with one of last year's best travel books

Explore the hills of Wales, America’s Deep South, the Great Western Railway and beyond from your armchair in the shortlisted books for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year award, which were announced this week.

15. Watch England's cricketers and Andy Murray

See the England team on its ongoing cricket tour in India, or watch Andy Murray battle it out at the Australian Open this weekend. Celebrate or commiserate over a pint or two at one of England’s best pubs.