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February: it's not just the season where we remember lost loves and new ones, but a chance to embrace a whole array of fantastic literary-inspired events, from Gothic dinners to getting lost in a pleasure garden. From festivals run by children to a new exhibition where all innocence is lost by one of the most controversial artists of all time.
Tropical Extravaganza Festival, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 4 February – 4 March 2012
Celebrate all things bright, beautiful and tropical at the Tropical Extravaganza Festival, where exotic orchids, tropical flowers and foliage displays will dominate the Princess of Wales Conservatory. The theme for this year’s festival is Forces of Nature, and how plants and fungi interact with the four forces of nature – earth, fire, wind, and water. Throughout the festival, there will be volunteer guides in the conservatory who will be on hand to answer questions on the displays and Kew’s global work.
The Barbican, 16 – 18 February 2012
In the first half of 2012, two of the Barbican’s International Associate ensembles come to the Centre for residencies: the New York Philharmonic’s first residency takes place in February 2012, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam’s first residency follows in April-May 2012. These residencies involve symphonic and chamber music concerts, family events, new commissions, and educational and outreach work. They also allow the Barbican to take the music programme directly to communities in East London.
Ongoing, She Stoops to Conquer @ The Olivier Theatre, National Theatre, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX. 7:30pm daily. Tickets from £5
One of the great, generous-hearted and ingenious comedies of the English language, Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer offers a celebration of chaos, courtship and the dysfunctional family. A brilliant new production of a classic play. For more information, visit nationaltheatre.org.uk/68378/productions/she-stoops-to-conquer.
10th February, Dickens’ London: Bermondsey in Dickensian Literature @ Woolfson & Tay Bookshop & Gallery, Cafe, Gallery 12 Bermondsey Square, London SE1 3UN. 7pm. Tickets £5
Dickens was drawn to the character of London itself, all aspects of the capital from the coaching inns of his early years to the taverns and watermen of the Thames. Peter Clark has written a new book based on Dickens’’obsession with space and place. Focusing on five walks through central London, Clark illuminates the settings of Dickens’s greatest works, his life, his journalism and his fiction at the Woolfson and Tay Bookshop, a vibrant venue which has been shortlisted for Best Independent Bookshop of the Year. To book, visit woolfsonandtay.com/peterclark or ring 0207 407 9316.
10th February onwards, Drawings @ Paradise Row Gallery, 74a Newman Street, London W1T 3DB. 7pm-9pm daily. Free
Drawings is a group show based on the idea of drawing, drafting and illustrating stories. The show includes works on paper, moving image, photographic prints and light works by Diann Bauer, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Shezad Dawood, Margarita Gluzberg, Kirk Palmer, Guillaume Paris, Barry Reigate and Douglas White. For further information on the exhibition, visit paradiserow.com/exhibitions/67/overview.
Pleasure Garden Ball, Museum of London, 14 February 2012
Make a date for this night of dancing, drinking and decadence as the Museum of London recreates Georgian London’s quintessential pastime – dancing the night away in the pleasure garden – with a flirty Valentine’s twist. Learn to dance with an 18th-century girl band, hear saucy poetry by Write Queer London, discover fashion dandy-style, and design and wear your own alluring masquerade mask.
Imagine, Southbank Centre, 11 – 26 February 2012
With over 50 ticketed and free events over two weeks, including concerts, plays, comedy and appearances by many of the UK’s finest children’s authors, it will be the biggest Imagine festival yet. For six days, between 13 – 19 February, children take over the running of Southbank Centre, from managing the cloakroom to selling programmes and making sure shows start on time. Festival themes include a celebration of Roald Dahl and an exploration of children in care in literature. Imagine truly takes over every corner of Southbank Centre, from the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of The Jungle Book in the Royal Festival Hall and an audience with the legendary Jacqueline Wilson to intimate, one-on-one performances of The Incredible Book Eating Boy.
16th February, Kate Williams in Conversation with Suzie Feay @ The Gallery at Foyles, 113-119 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0EB. 6:30pm-7:30pm. Tickets are free, but need to be reserved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Historian Kate Williams, author of England’s Mistress and Becoming Queen, applies her expertise in the Victorian era to her scintillating first novel, The Pleasures of Men. Kate will be in conversation with Suzi Feay, literary journalist and blogger, as they discuss the challenges of turning from fact to fiction and the enduring literary appeal of the slums, smogs and scoundrels of 19th century London. For details visit foyles.co.uk.
Fancy Dress Carnival, Bavarian Beerhouse, 18 February 2012
To bring the carnival spirit to London, Bavarian Beerhouse is organising a traditional carnival fancy dress party, featuring imaginative outfits, a DJ, dancing and a general atmosphere of boisterous fun. Fancy dress is a big part of the carnival in Cologne – every year, the city parade attracts millions of guests who celebrate and dance in the streets. In true Carnival spirit, guests at the Bavarian Beerhouse will be encouraged to dress as outrageously as possible for the night. Whether you’re a pirate, a cowboy or a little devil, all fancy dress will be welcome.
Picasso and Modern British Art, Tate Britain, 15 February – 15 July 2012
In February 2012 Tate Britain will stage the first exhibition to explore Pablo Picasso’s lifelong connections with Britain. The exhibition will examine Picasso’s evolving critical reputation here and British artists’ responses to his work. The exhibition will explore Picasso’s rise in Britain as a figure of both controversy and celebrity, tracing the ways in which his work was exhibited and collected here during his lifetime, and demonstrating that the British engagement with Picasso and his art was much deeper and more varied than generally has been appreciated.
23rd February, Literary Supper with Simon Callow: Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World @ St Pancras Grand Brasserie, Upper Concourse, St Pancras International Station, London N1C 4QL. 6:30pm-10pm. Tickets are £40, including a three-course meal and a welcome drink
In association with the Museum of London, this is Foyles’ first literary supper of 2012. As London celebrates the Dickens bicentenary, beloved actor, director and writer Simon Callow will discuss his biography of the literary legend. In discussion with the Museum of London’s curator Alex Werner, Callow will look at Dickens’ life through the lens of the theatre, reflecting on the importance of the stage for such a master storyteller. To reserve for this event please call 0207 870 9900 or email email@example.com. For more information visit foyles.co.uk.
25th February, Dickens Day @ Foyles, 113-119 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0EB. 10:30am-5pm. Tickets £10, concessions £8
A host of celebrated writers including Deborah Moggach, David Kynaston, Sarah Wise, Alex Werner, Sarah Phelps (who wrote the recent BBC screenplay for Great Expectations) and Michael Rosen will discuss all things Dickens in honour of the centenary of the great man’s birth. The day will also include an ‘I Never Knew That About Dickens’ quiz, hosted by Christopher Winn, and all ticket holders will receive a goody bag with a free Vintage Classics book. For more information, visit foyles.co.uk.
28th February, Double Dutch Festival @ The Serpentine Bar and Kitchen, Hyde Park 10:30am-6pm and The Kensington Gore Hotel, 6pm onwards. Free
In partnership with the Dutch Embassy, Litro presents the first event in our 2012 Litro Live! Season, a free day & evening festival in celebration of the Netherlands and the impact it has on the world through literature, sports and the arts. Guest speakers include David Winner (journalist and author of Brilliant Orange), Simon Kuper of the Financial Times, Ramsy Nasr, award winning writer Abdelkader Benali, novelist Sanneke van Hassel, award winning Flemish writer Chika Unigwe and writer and comedian Ben Moor. For more information, visit litro.co.uk.
14th – 18th March, Rozalie Hirs at StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival
StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival (14-18 March 2012), ), famous for celebrating poetry in all its forms, welcomes Dutch poet and composer Rozalie Hirs her music has been described by one critic as having “a hint of hard-hitting Dutch Minimalism”. Over 60 poets will be taking StAnza, including Kathleen Jamie, Jackie Kay, Christopher Reid, Matthew Hollis, Lavinia Greenlaw, Michael Symmons Roberts, Joe Dunthorne, plus poets from the USA, Macedonia, Sweden, Poland, South Africa and Palestine. Tickets are now on sale. For programme and booking details visit our website.
Compiled by Alex James and Robin Stevens