Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a life-long Londoner, London is always a vibrant place to be – and with an array of new openings, shows and events coming up, 2024 is set to be an exciting year. As part of LONDON 2024, here’s our pick of what’s on in London in 2024…
What’s on in London in 2024?
A big birthday for the National Gallery
The National Gallery celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2024, and a year-long celebration is planned. Starting on 10 May, the festivities will include a major Van Gogh exhibition, Van Gogh: Poets and Lovers – the first in the UK since 2010. A stunning array of the artist’s most important and well-loved works will be displayed alongside paintings from private collections never seen in public (14 Sept to 19 Jan 2025). It comes exactly 100 years after the Gallery acquired Van Gogh’s Chair and Sunflowers. Look out too for Summer on the Square, a free festival of art in Trafalgar Square.
Impressionists at the Royal Academy
The Royal Academy of Arts is one of the oldest permanent collections of art in the UK. Its Summer Exhibition (18 June to 18 Aug) has run since 1769 and displays works from emerging and established talent. The RA’s big spring exhibition is Impressionists on Paper (until 10 March), with works by masters such as Degas, Cézanne and Van Gogh – but it’s their works on paper, from drawings to gouaches, rather than their paintings, in the spotlight.
Express yourself at Tate Modern
For modern art exhibitions, Tate Modern is unbeatable. Its big Expressionists exhibition (25 April to 20 Oct) explores the groundbreaking work by artists Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter, and their circle known as The Blue Rider; while Yoko Ono: Music of the mind delves into the powerful works of artist and activist Ono, which span more than seven decades (15 Feb to 1 Sept).
Roman invasion at The British Museum
The British Museum can always be counted on to provide some of the year’s cultural highlights. This year’s big exhibitions are Burma to Myanmar, exploring the fluctuations in fortune of the country over the past 1,500 years (until 11 Feb); and Legion: Life in the Roman army, an expansive exhibition that transports you across the empire, as well as through the life and service of a real Roman soldier, from enlistment through to retirement (1 Feb to 23 June).
Fantastical worlds at the British Library
The British Library holds the world’s biggest collection of books, with over 150 million items. It also puts on excellent exhibitions, including Fantasy: Realms of the Imagination (until 25 Feb), which explores the beautiful, uncanny and sometimes monstrous makings of fantasy, encompassing sprawling epics, ancient folklore and impossible worlds.
Fashion & frills at the Victoria & Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum is renowned for its exhibitions – we’d expect nothing else from the world’s leading museum of art and design. The big spring exhibitions include DIVA, celebrating the power and creativity of iconic performers and redefining the role of ‘diva’ (until 7 April); and Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto, the first UK exhibition dedicated to the work of celebrated couturière, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel (until 28 Feb). Bound to be a sell-out is NAOMI, celebrating the glittering career of fashion model Naomi Campbell (22 June to 6 April 2025).
A new look for the National Portrait Gallery
Reopened in 2023 after a multi-million-pound renovation, the National Portrait Gallery is back with a large-scale exhibition dedicated to one of Britain’s foremost artists: David Hockney: Drawing from Life is showing until 21 January. There are a host of exhibitions to look forward to in 2024, including displays exploring the lives of Henry VIII’s six wives (20 June to 8 Sept) and portraiture by Francis Bacon (10 Oct to 19 Jan 2025).
Fashion meets art at Tate Britain
Tate Britain houses the largest collection of British art in the world. This year’s standout exhibition is Sargent and Fashion, which sheds new light on celebrated portrait painter John Singer Sargent’s works, exploring how he worked like a stylist to craft the image of his sitters (22 Feb to 7 July). There’s also an exhibition on female artists, Women Artists in Britain 1520–1920 (16 May to 13 Oct), celebrating artists such as Angelica Kauffman and Mary Beale, who forged a path for the following generations.
Mechanical marvels at the Science Museum
The Science Museum has some great exhibitions lined up. Don’t miss Zimingzhong: Clockwork Treasures from China’s Forbidden City, which showcases a unique collection of 23 stunningly ornate clockwork automata.
Culture at the Southbank Centre
The Southbank Centre, a multi-venue arts space, can always be relied upon to come up with an inspiring programme. In 2024 don’t miss star violinist Nicola Benedetti playing Beethoven and Bruch (14 March); and The Music of Zimmer vs Williams, an epic concert celebrating the best scores from two of the greatest film composers of all time (25 May). There are excellent annual festivals too.
Soul-stirring art at Dulwich Picture Gallery
The Dulwich Picture Gallery presents Soulscapes, a major exhibition of landscape art featuring more than 30 contemporary works and spanning painting, photography, film, tapestry and collage (14 Feb to 2 June). And it’s your last chance to catch Rubens & Women, a major exhibition exploring the Flemish artist’s work and the women who inspired him (until 28 Jan).
Monet’s London at the Courtauld
The Courtauld’s remarkable collection – in the magnificent setting of Somerset House – ranges from the Renaissance to the 20th century, with an array of Impressionists, including masterpieces such as Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. Big exhibitions planned for 2024 include Monet and London: Views of the Thames, reuniting for the first time in 120 years an extraordinary group of the artist’s paintings of London (27 Sept to 19 Jan 2025).
Capturing conflicts at The Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museums have opened Britain’s first art, film and photography galleries dedicated to war and conflict, exploring how artists, photographers and filmmakers bear witness to such seismic events. As well as artworks, at the centre of the galleries the Practice and Process display includes objects such as a wooden pencil box belonging to artist and Second World War prisoner of war Ronald Searle and paintbrushes carried by John Nash on the Western Front.
The Proms and more
The iconic Royal Albert Hall has a wealth of highlights for 2024, including Cirque du Soleil’s show-stopping Alegria (11 Jan to 3 March). Look out too for the Mountbatten Festival of Music (8 & 9 March), featuring the massed bands of His Majesty’s Royal Marines; concerts by the likes of James Blunt (9 & 10 April), Bryan Adams (13-15 May) and Eric Clapton (20–24 May); and the famous Proms concert season (July to September).
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