Staff’s Choice: Festive lights take over London!

Staff’s Choice: Festive lights take over London!

From Christmas at Kew Gardens to Brian Cox and the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican,  the Institute’s staff are looking forward to a high-spirited December!

Annika’s pick: Christmas at Kew

‘Tis the season for Kew Gardens’ winter light trail to return! I’m going to light up gloomy December with some sparkle. This spectacular garden in southwest London is transformed into a magical winter wonderland in December. The two-kilometre long trail through the Rose Garden is garnished with a million lights. Accompanying the trail are installations, laser projections and a scented fire garden. Kew Gardens seems like the perfect place to find some holiday spirit!

Christmas at Kew from 4th December to 17th January, 4pm-10pm. Located in Richmond, nearest station Kew Gardens. Tickets £19,50/£24,50. More info and tickets:


Emilie’s pick: The Cosmos

Renowned BBC presenter and former pop idol, physicist, professor Brian Cox presents a musical voyage, taking the audience through space and time accompanied by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Finnish Dalia Stasevska. The music is as grand as the mystery during this evening, which features Sibelius’ 5th symphony, Mahler’s 10 symphony and Charles IvesThe Unanswered Question, dealing with the question of existence. You can join the concert online, since any in-hall tickets are already sold out. 

13.12., 20.00 Barbican Hall,


Sara’s pick: A Christmas Carol at Old Vic Theatre

Ho ho ho! It’s December so I’d like to take the chance to recommend something that will bring you some Christmas feelings. Charles Dickens’ timeless story A Christmas Carol has been told in many different versions. The last time I watched the Disney version from 2009. This year Old Vic Theatre in London is setting an adaptation by John Thorne for audiences via Zoom. I think the story fits very well as my last recommendation for this year as it is about change and adapting to change. 

Book a ticket to stream the performance in 12.–24.12. Tickets from £20, all ticket prices offer the same view. More details:


Jaakko’s pick: London lights up for the winter

The dark winter months are here again, and corona restrictions make this time even tougher to endure. To fight the SAD blues, I like to head out for long walks along the Thames. The darkness has turned a bit brighter thanks to excellent light art installations at the Southbank Centre and the Canary Wharf estate. Check out the excellent Winter Light show at the Southbank with Teemu Määttänen’s amazing piece that lights up the Royal Festival Hall’s ballroom balcony on Belvedere Road, then head east along the river for a brisk walk to Canary Wharf, where nine new light installations brighten up the area. Along the way you can marvel the light installations adorning bridges, from Millennium Bridge to London Bridge,  created by the Illuminated River project. The project will light up more bridges this winter, from Blackfriars to Lambeth in the coming months.

Winter Light, 20 November 2020 – 28 February 2021Connected by Light,  2 December 2020 – 27 February 2021; Illuminated river


Ninni’s pick:  The National Gallery’s five minute meditation 

This year has forced cultural institutions to come up with ways to bring art experiences online. One of the most unique approaches are art meditation videos by National Gallery. Each video combines a painting from their collection with five minutes’ guided meditation. On a dark winter day you can take a trip to a summer day on Finnish lakeside by watching this one about Lake Keitele by Akseli Gallén-Kallela:


Volter’s Pick: Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2020

For reasons that require no spelling out, the exhibition for the 2020 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize has been moved online. Despite the virtual gallery at first seeming slightly cumbersome, it proves to provide a surprisingly immersive experience of what is an outstanding selection of submissions.

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2020, online until 31.3.2021, free.

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