Visitors to the Square Mile can expect to check out a whole host of festivals, exhibitions, films and theatre performances this week as we settle into Spring.

The City calendar is always bursting with things to see, do and experience. And this week is no different. Visitors to the area can expect to check out a whole host of talks, exhibitions, films and music performances as we settle into Spring. These are the top events in the City of London this week.

MUSIC / Festival of Classical Improvisation

Guildhall School’s Centre for Creative Performance and Classical Improvisation, led by professor David Dolan, is hosting the first international festival celebrating the revival of Classical Improvisation in Western art-music performance. The three day event will include performances, lectures, workshops, masterclasses and audience conversations featuring Guildhall and Imperial College professors, students, researchers and international guest artists. The event is perfect for those who know very little about classical music but want to learn more.
1-3 May, free
Silk Street EC2Y 8DT


Marking an end to Purni Morell’s stint at the helm of Unicorn Theatre, this ambitious work is a new opera for teenagers and adults. Dido is a collaboration between the Unicorn and English National Opera that reworks Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas into a new story with a mother-daughter relationship at its heart. Morell directs and Valentina Peleggi conducts.
11 May until 2 June, tickets £8-£24
Unicorn Theatre, 147 Tooley Street SE1 2HZ

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Dido is centred around the relationship between a mother and daughter. Image by Hugo Glendinning

EXPO / LondonCats International Show

Cat enthusiasts assemble! The Tobacco Dock will be hosting an expo celebrating everything feline related, putting on talks and pet pageants (see who wins Best Kitten, Best Cat, and Best Household Pet) for all of those who aren’t ashamed of their unbounding love for cats. For those who want to give something back to their beloved four-legged friends there will be plenty of ways to spoil them, with treats and gifts from a shopping village dedicated to quirky cat products.
4&5 May, tickets £26.50
Tobacco Dock, Wapping Lane E1W 2SF

THEATRE / Seven Deadly Sins

The provocative performer Meow Meow and Royal Ballet principal Laura Morera star in a thrilling new re-staging of Kenneth MacMillan’s version of the Kurt Weill-Bertolt Brecht Ballet with Songs. They are joined on stage by a cast of 20 singers, dancers and guest Royal Ballet principals who will try to make the ladies succumb to the Seven Deadly Sins.
8-18 May, 7.45pm & 4pm for Saturday matinees, tickets £12.50-£32.50
Wilton’s Music Hall, 1 Graces Alley E1 8JB

MUSIC / Guildhall Jazz Festival

Guildhall School’s summer Jazz Festival takes place over four days, with the intimate Milton Court Studio Theatre transforming into a jazz club featuring some of the most celebrated artists on the UK jazz scene. Those featured include Cleveland Watkiss MBE, The Printmakers and Nikki Iles. From 12pm on each afternoon of the festival there’s also the chance to hear Guildhall jazz musicians showcase their work in performances led by Guildhall professors, with new combos performing every hour.
Until 3 May, tickets either free or £15
Milton Court Studio Theatre, Silk Street EC2Y 8DT

EXHIBITION / Under Ground London

Long forgotten rivers, tunnels, sewers, deep shelters, and the world’s first subterranean railway are explored in Under Ground London, the forthcoming exhibition at London Metropolitan Archives (LMA). The free exhibition at the City of London Corporation’s Clerkenwell-based archives will venture deep beneath the Capital’s streets and buildings to illustrate a London unknown to most of us. The most startling story told by Under Ground London relates to the legend of a cobbled street of Georgian or Victorian shops, which was apparently buried beneath Oxford Street and built over during the development of the area.

Archivists at LMA believe that they may have pinpointed the location and nature of this ‘lost shopping parade’ and will present their evidence in the exhibition. Other highlights include the Thames Tunnel, which opened in 1843 and was the world’s first tunnel under a river; London’s ‘ghost stations’, including Strand and King William Street; initial designs for the Metropolitan Railway, the world’s first underground railway; and images of the River Fleet, displayed for the first time.
Until 31 October, free
London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road EC1R 0HB

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The old Thames Tunnel

THEATRE / Avalanche: A Love Story

When a woman rekindles an early love in her late 30s her whole life changes. Deeply in love, and full of shared commitment, she and her new husband want a child together and they make an appointment at an IVF clinic. So begins her courageous journey of medical processes and personal rituals; her raw emotions oscillate between high hopes and deep doubt. Inspired by Julia Leigh’s true story, this new play is a powerful, riveting and honest exploration of who we are and how we love, directed by Anne-Louise Sarks.
Until 12 May, tickets £16-£60
Barbican Theatre, Silk Street EC2Y 8DS

PERFORMANCE / SHIFT by Barely Methodical Troupe

The company who brought you smash hits BROMANCE and KIN return with their all new show SHIFT – a show full of circus tricks, humour and energy. The ensemble of four will challenge everything you thought you knew about gravity and physical achievement as they jump and swing around stage for 75 minutes. Now that’s a workout!
7-18 May, tickets from £12.50
Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street EC1V 9LT

FITNESS / Balance Festival

The Old Truman Brewery will play host to a wellbeing festival designed to help you on your way to a healthy lifestyle. A whole host of City-based gyms and fitness studios will be partaking in this year’s festival, including FLOW yoga, BLOK, Another Space, Third Space, and Barry’s Bootcamp. Altogether, it’s an ideal place to dip your toe into the water of wellbeing, try new fitness classes, sample healthy food, and browse the latest products from over 100 brands – from the latest ‘athleisure’ gear to protein power balls.
10-12 May, tickets from £24.50
The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane Spitalfields E1 6QR

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Balance Fitness Festival isn’t just for the hardcore athletes out there. Photo by Jon Payne

MAKING BABIES / Fertility Fest

Through performance and panel discussions, fertility and infertility take centre stage during a four-week programme that gathers together medical experts, artists and audiences. Offering a multitude of views and voices, hear first-hand how we conceive in the 21st century, the female and male experience, new models of family making, and breaking taboos around IVF. Founded by influential activist and author of The Pursuit of Motherhood, Jessica Hepburn, in partnership with theatre producer Gabby Vautier, Fertility Fest is a rare, open and collaborative platform that aims to drive social change.
Until 12 May
Barbican Centre, Silk Street EC2Y 8DS

FAMILY FRIENDLY / Underbelly Festival

The summer-long Underbelly Festival is back for its 11th year with an epic line-up of live circus, cabaret, comedy and music performances. You can also drop by the free-to-enter festival site to tuck into street food from the riverside vendors and grab a drink at one of London’s biggest outdoor bars, including the Rekorderlig Botanicals bar and Pimm’s Hut. It really is one of the main places to be this summer. Just look at their calendar of shows and find the ones which best suit your mood.
Until September, most tickets around £20
Capital Tower, 91 Waterloo Road SE1 8RT

EXHIBITION/ Sony World Photography Awards

Standalone images and longer series by the best artists working worldwide in photography are on show at the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House. The show offers an in-depth look at the very best visual storytelling and imagery from 2018 by presenting more than 800 works across the venue’s East and West Wings galleries that are truly international in scope and subject matter. Drawn from the 326,000 entries of the internationally acclaimed Sony World Photography Awards, the exhibition will present the awards’ winning and shortlisted images from across its four competitions – Professional, Open, Youth and Student
Until 6 May, tickets £10
Somerset House, Strand WC2R 1LA

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A Vietnamese National Award Winner. Photo by Phạm Hưng

YOGA / Sunrise Yoga at Sky Garden

Try out a unique dynamic yoga session set 36 floors above London at the Sky Garden. You’ll get to practice vinyasa during an hour-long session surrounded by greenery, overlooking the Thames and surrounding skyline before hitting the breakfast buffet.
Ongoing, tickets from £10-£22
Sky Garden, 20 Fenchurch Street EC3M 8AF

EXHIBITION / The Future of Craft

In celebration of London Craft Week 2019, Oxo Tower Wharf is putting on a series of events in collaboration with Design-Nation and Future Icons. The exhibition will include a curated line-up of innovative and forward-thinking craft organisations, practitioners and collectives. Set against the raw, industrial surrounding of Bargehouse, visitors will discover a series of new works and installations by trailblazing makers working in textiles, furniture, ceramics, lighting, metal and interior accessories. The Future of Craft will also feature an impressive talks programme including a one-day seminar hosted by Ceramics Research Centre UK.
9-12 May, 11am-7pm, free
Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf SE1 9PH

TOUR / The Old Palace Tour

Somerset House was once the home of three Catholic queens – Anne of Denmark, Henrietta Maria and Catherine of Braganza – and played a vital part in the crisis of the Stuart dynasty. Join a free guided tour exploring the history of the site before the current building existed. A special highlight of the tour includes access to Strand Lane Baths.
Ongoing, free tickets are available (on the day only) from 10.30am at the information desk in Seamen’s Hall, South Wing
Somerset House, Strand WC2R 1LA

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