The anti-hibernation culture guide: something to enjoy for every day in January

You can spend the next few weeks under the duvet and in front of the telly, or enjoy world-class art, theatre, music, film and standup – here’s an event for each of the next 31 days

1 January

MUSIC Floating Points
HERE at Outernet, London
New Year’s Eve is clearly a huge night in the clubbing calendar, but the following evening is a surprisingly big deal, too. This sure-to-be transcendental six-hour set from Sam Shepherd – whose clever, subtle and atmospheric electronic music makes him the thinking person’s producer (the fact he has a PhD in neuroscience also helps) – is ideal for those determined to delay the moment cold January reality sets in. Rachel Aroesti

2 January

ART Frida Kahlo
Reel Store, Coventry, to 29 Jan
The life of this great Mexican artist was made for an immersive spectacular. Injured by an accident that left her with increasing disabilities, married passionately but painfully to the muralist and revolutionary Diego Rivera – there’s lots to show and tell in this multimedia extravaganza based on her diaries. There are no paintings, but perhaps Kahlo’s life was her true art. Jonathan Jones

3 January

THEATRE Nativity! The Musical
The Rep, Birmingham, to 7 Jan
Can a musical take on a national treasure status? Nativity! is getting pretty close. It is written and directed by Debbie Isitt, who penned the smash-hit film, set at a primary school in the run-up to Christmas. Birmingham Rep’s production brims with energy, humour and heart, and boasts a cracking young cast, strong lead actors, sparkling songs and a colour-pop design. Miriam Gillinson

Naomi Ackie as Whitney in I Wanna Dance With Somebody
Diva forever … Naomi Ackie as Whitney in I Wanna Dance With Somebody. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy

4 January

FILM I Wanna Dance With Somebody
Out now
Biopics about big pop stars have to make a decision: do you cast the actor who can sing or the actor who can act? This look at the life of the New Jersey choirgirl who went on to become a world-famous actor and chart-topping singer has gone for the latter option in Naomi Ackie, presumably because Whitney Houston’s voice was quite simply a one-off (the voice you’ll hear in the singing scenes in Kasi Lemmons’ rousing film is Whitney herself). Catherine Bray

5 January

ART Lucian Freud: New Perspectives
National Gallery, London, to 22 Jan
The paintings of this modern genius will stay with you. Each is an eye-popping encounter. The superb revelation of Freud’s early work in this epic show sets his life in a new light: the precise, almost spooky precision of his 1950s portraits shows he deserved greater fame, sooner. But nothing beats his towering late portrayals of Leigh Bowery, Nicola Bateman and Sue Tilley. JJ

6 January

MUSIC Rockaway Beach festival
Butlin’s Bognor Regis, to 8 Jan
Music festivals aren’t just for (soggy) summers: this Bognor-based event boasts a lineup fit for any season. Come for the headliners – Self Esteem, Peter Hook & the Light, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (plus special guests Yard Act) – leave charmed by the small-font acts, including punk trio Big Joanie and the mesmerisingly eclectic Melt Yourself Down. RA

7 January

JAZZ Alan Barnes plays Charlie Parker
Peggy’s Skylight, 6pm & 8.30pm, Nottingham
The most evocative tributes to past giants are personal ones, not attempts to mimic the inimitable. American saxophonist Charlie Parker became a messiah to modern jazz fans in the 1940s, opening up a dance-oriented 1930s art form to deeper implications and transformative flights without sacrificing its blues roots. UK sax virtuoso Alan Barnes, a master of splicing the popular and the personal, is an ideal guide to Parker’s magic. John Fordham

8 January

STAGE RuPaul’s DragCon
ExCeL, London, starts 6 Jan
With the name of the world’s most famous drag queen on the door, DragCon UK will cram a stellar lineup of more than 100 drag favourites (Baby, Black Peppa, Cheddar Gorgeous, Silky Nutmeg Ganache, Raven, Jinkx Monsoon, Heidi N Closet and many more) into the ExCeL centre in London’s Docklands, for a weekend-long jamboree. Expect panels, performances and, of course, merchandising. CB

Liz Kingsman
Liz Kingsman, star of the satirical One Woman Show. Photograph: Will Bremridge

9 January

COMEDY One Woman Show
The Ambassadors theatre, London, to 21 Jan
Liz Kingsman of sketch troupe Massive Dad has struck gold with this perfectly judged parody of a recent theatrical trend: a monologue about a chaotic millennial woman that’s simply begging to be turned into a sitcom. Glowing reviews and limited runs meant tickets were like hen’s teeth last year, but this West End transfer will give bigger crowds the chance to revel in this very timely satire. RA

10 January

FILM Empire of Light
In cinemas from 9 Jan
From director Sam Mendes comes a romance set in the 1980s, starring Olivia Colman. The Empire of Light is a humble local cinema, so get ready to contemplate the allure of the silver screen (see also: The Fabelmans, Babylon). A cynic might suggest there are so many films about cinema out this month because we’re heading into Oscar season and Hollywood simply loves to self-mythologise, but another explanation is that we’re living through the dying days of the big-screen experience, so why not enjoy some elegantly heartfelt eulogies? CB

11 January

ART Turner prize 2022
Tate Liverpool, to 19 Mar
January is a time for the chill breath of reality, a hungover meditation on the bleakness of it all – a better moment, perhaps, than the Christmassy period that’s just gone to contemplate the Turner prize. There is plenty here to wake you up, with winner Veronica Ryan’s subtle poetry, Ingrid Pollard’s investigations of a scarred history, Sin Wai Kin’s deconstructions of identity, and Heather Phillipson’s baroque fun. JJ

12 January

COMEDY Josie Long
Various venues, to 28 Sep; tour starts The Stand Comedy Club, Glasgow
Scan the show titles in her back catalogue – Trying Is Good, Kindness and Exuberance, Be Honourable! – and Long’s MO becomes immediately obvious: mixing socialist polemic with feverish positivity and childlike wonder is what the 40-year-old does best. New show Re-Enchantment remains on a similar tip, telling of how the amiable standup’s agitating spirit has been rejuvenated by a recent move to Glasgow, the first stop on this UK tour. RA

Cirque du Soleil
Steampunk rocks … Cirque du Soleil. Photograph: Jeremy O’Donnell/PA

13 January

DANCE Cirque du Soleil: Kurios
Royal Albert Hall, London, to 5 Mar
The European premiere of Kurious, from the Canadian mega-circus troupe. The setting is a steampunk-inspired world, which is arguably a bit behind the curve, trend-wise, but this company continually attracts the world’s best, most eye-boggling acrobats, contortionists, trampolinists and more, with top-level circus skills and lavish sets, lights and costumes. Lyndsey Winship

14 January

CLASSICAL Disney’s Fantasia in Concert
Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, 14 Jan; St David’s Hall, Cardiff, 15 Jan
Ever since it was first seen in 1940, successive generations of children have first experienced classical music through watching Fantasia. Whether it was Mickey Mouse as the sorcerer’s apprentice to Dukas’s score, or life on earth evolving to the soundtrack of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, Walt Disney’s animations gave indelible imagery to the classics. Now the BBC National Orchestra of Wales heightens the experience again, performing the music live to accompany a screening of the film. Andrew Clements

15 January

THEATRE The Unfriend
Criterion theatre, London, to 16 Apr
Team Sherlock (Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat) have reunited for a viciously funny and dark play, blissfully devoid of festive schmaltz. Well-to-do Peter and Debbie live a very tidy and respectable life in west London. Above all, they have exquisite manners. Then a Trump-loving and quite possibly murderous houseguest comes to stay. A top-notch cast is led by Reece Shearsmith, Amanda Abbington and Frances Barber. MG

16 January

In cinemas from 13 Jan
With some actors it might not mean very much to suggest that a performance is a career best, but in the case of Cate Blanchett it isn’t something you’d want to say lightly. Still, we’re going right ahead and doing exactly that: her performance in Todd Field’s edgy drama about the meteoric fall of a world-famous classical music icon is nothing short of miraculous. Give her every prize going. CB

John Mulaney
Saturday Night Live writer turned standup John Mulaney. Photograph: Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for The Shaquille O’Neal Foundation

17 January

COMEDY John Mulaney
Various venues, to 27 Jan; tour starts Waterfront Hall, Belfast
Mulaney is a big deal in the US, a Saturday Night Live writer turned standup star with the ability to straddle worlds: he’s an old-school entertainer and an internet sensation, a conventional observational comic and an alternative stalwart, a vision of suited-and-booted slickness and a recovering drug addict. Now he’s bringing his tales of his time going off the rails to the UK for a short tour. RA

18 January

ART Marcus Harvey
Wellington Arch, London, to 19 Mar
This Young British Artist of the 1990s caused shock and sensation with a big painting of Myra Hindley made of children’s handprints. The debate over that is forgotten now and Harvey puts a lot of energy into teaching and theorising painting at his Turps Banana art school. Here he takes on historical figures including Wellington and Blair in satirical ceramics. JJ

19 January

MUSIC Celtic Connections
Various venues, Glasgow, to 5 Feb
This whopping, city-wide fest celebrates Celtic music – and, this year, its 30th anniversary – with performances from more than 500 artists. It will be no surprise to learn that traditional folk music is very well represented, but this outward-looking, future-facing event also caters for alternative tastes, with plenty of indie (Mull Historical Society, the Twilight Sad), jazz (Penguin Cafe), Americana (Lucinda Williams) and world (Vieux Farka Touré) on offer. RA

20 January

DANCE Julie Cunningham & Company: how did we get here?
Sadler’s Wells, London, to 29 Jan
The Spice Girls have made a variety of post-chart career moves, from high fashion (Posh) to breakfast radio (Baby) to TV road-tripping with Ruby Wax (Scary). But was anyone expecting a swerve into experimental contemporary dance? Melanie Chisholm (AKA Sporty) joins forces with left-field choreographer Jules Cunningham and brilliant dancer Harry Alexander in a new piece based on the lifetime’s worth of experiences they’ve absorbed into their bodies. LW

21 January

COMEDY Stewart Lee
Various venues, to 2 Jul; tour starts Festival theatre, Chichester
Following an extended London residency, standup’s meta maestro begins a mammoth nationwide tour in Chichester today with his new show Basic Lee. Billed as a simplified revamp of the comic’s densely layered style, it’s another merciless, frantically self-reflexive and reliably hilarious dissection of the tropes and cliches of the comedian’s craft. RA

22 January

CLASSICAL Tan Dun’s Buddha Passion
Royal Festival Hall, London
Tan Dun’s music has regularly attempted to bring together eastern and western musical traditions. But Buddha Passion, first performed in Dresden in 2018, promises to be his most ambitious fusion to date, drawing on Chinese and Sanskrit texts to present the legends of Buddhism within the framework of a Bach Passion, with a quartet of solo voices, chorus and the composer himself conducting the London Philharmonic. AC

Aidan Turner and Jenna Coleman
Aidan Turner and Jenna Coleman in Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons. Photograph: Jason Bell

23 January

THEATRE Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons
Harold Pinter theatre, London, to 18 Mar
Parliament has introduced a bill that forbids people from speaking more than 140 words a day. What will this do to a young couple in love? Sam Steiner’s debut play made a big impact when it premiered in 2015 – and feels even more pertinent today, thanks to Twitter’s influence. Starring Aidan Turner and Jenna Coleman and directed by Josie Rourke. MG

24 January

FILM Babylon
In cinemas from 20 Jan
Diego Calva stars as Manny Torres, a Mexican-American would-be actor hoping to work his way to the top of Tinseltown, in Damien Chazelle’s sprawling epic set in Hollywood when the industry was making the exciting but painful switch out of the silent era into the brave new world of sound. The galaxy of stars rounding out a glitzy cast here includes Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Jean Smart. CB

25 January

ART Elizabeth Price
The Hunterian, Glasgow, to 16 Apr
The ghosts of Glasgow’s industrial past are reanimated by Price’s paranoiac imagination. She dwells on old photographs of the city’s once-thriving carpet industry, as well as working with Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh to create her own textile. Her artistic vision is a potent mix of socially engaged research and gothic fantasy, so dive in for a New Year draught of the dark stuff. JJ

26 January

THEATRE Titus Andronicus
Shakespeare’s Globe: Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, London, to 15 Apr
The candlelit Sam Wanamaker theatre is an enchanting and often magical venue but, with the right material, it can also create an intense and unsettling atmosphere. It’s an intriguing backdrop for one of Shakespeare’s most brutal tragedies, about a betrayed Roman general who seeks justice the only way he knows how: tooth for tooth and limb for limb. Katy Stephens is Titus, and Jude Christian directs. MG

27 January

MUSIC Mighty Hoopla Big Weekender
Butlin’s Bognor Regis, to 30 Jan
There’s no such thing as too cheesy, too camp or too kitsch at this weekend-long shindig, whose nostalgia-heavy lineup lurches between 90s chart heroes (Mel C, 5ive, Honeyz), ITV talent show stars (Liberty X, Michelle McManus) and 80s powerpop (Belinda Carlisle). Top off all that rose-tinted backwards glancing with a sweaty voyage of self-discovery helmed by the biggest names in queer club culture: Horse Meat Disco and Sink the Pink. RA

28 January

FILM The Fabelmans
In cinemas from 27 Jan
Film-makers seem to be in memoir mode this decade, with a lot of big names releasing fictionalised versions of a period of their lives, from Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast to Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir I and II and James Gray’s sublime Armageddon Time. Now welcome to the clubHere, one Steven Spielberg crafts a semi-autobiographical love letter to cinema that essentially functions as his own origin story. CB

29 January

JAZZ Ian Shaw and Claire Martin
Pizza Express Jazz Club, London
The longstanding vocal partnership between singer-pianist Shaw and Martin celebrates the art of song from many angles, reframing the great American songbook of 50s/60s Broadway classics alongside classy contemporary pop from Burt Bacharach, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell. Shaw brings a soul-jazzy earthiness to a jazz programme, Martin brings the tradition of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald to fresh life. JF

30 January

The Old Vic, London, to 1 Apr
Sadler’s Wells, the Old Vic and ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company have joined forces to create this hotly anticipated hip-hop musical celebrating the life of Sylvia Pankhurst, the lesser-known Pankhurst at the heart of the suffragette movement. Starring Beverley Knight and Sharon Rose as mother and daughter Emmeline and Sylvia, and with original music by Josh Cohen and DJ Walde. MG

31 January

MUSIC Abba Voyage
Abba Arena, London, to Nov
The future has arrived – soundtracked, somewhat unexpectedly, by the 1970s smash hit-makers. This virtual concert residency – performed by avatars of the group as they looked in 1977 – has proven to be light – years ahead of any naff hologram nonsense. The resulting concert, which mixes iconic tunes with deep cuts and new material, is both a thrilling taste of tomorrow and a reminder of a 50-year-old band’s enduring greatness. RA


Rachel Aroesti, Catherine Bray, Andrew Clements, John Fordham, Miriam Gillinson, Jonathan Jones and Lyndsey Winship

The GuardianTramp

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