The third Monday of the new year (15 Jan 2024), known as Blue Monday, is supposedly the most depressing day of the year: here’s our guide to surviving the gloomy day
Bank account feeling the effects of the festive period? Already broken a New Year’s resolution or two? All these factors and bad weather (though somewhat typical in London) all combine into a powerful concoction that may leave you feeling a little low. It’s not all doom and gloom though, especially in the world’s best city. Here’s our five-point action plan for beating the blues.
There’s no remedy better at clearing brain fog than a dose of fresh air. Reconnect with nature a go for a brisk run in one of the capital’s Royal Parks. St James’s Park is beautiful with its Canada geese strutting around the lake, or walk across Hampstead Heath as the Romantic Poets once did. Travel west to Richmond where a walk around the enormous Royal Park is sure to blow away the cobwebs. Alternatively, pay a visit to Kew Gardens where you can explore wild gardens, cultivated lawns and record-breaking Victorian glasshouses, as well as a number of temporary exhibitions.
There’s nothing quite like interacting with animals to lift your mood. ZSL London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo, with more than 750 species. Highlights include Penguin Beach or the new Monkey Valley, where colobus monkeys now soar above your head at this walk-through experience. There are heaps of new friends waiting to meet you at a Battersea Children’s Zoo, designed with children in mind, while city farms are often a cheaper way to meet some furry friends. WWT London Wetland Centre is a 104-acre wildlife reserve with lakes, ponds and gardens and is home to more than 100 species of rare and wild birds. Take a break at the Water’s Edge Café.
Blue Bridge and Horse Guards Parade from St James’s Park © The Royal Parks
Push outside your comfort zone and be rewarded with the feeling of accomplishment. In Greenwich, scale the rooftop of the famous domed landmark with Up at The O2, where. For something a little tamer – although still a challenge – visit Go Ape in Battersea, Cockfosters and Alexandra Palace. You can zip through the treetops and test your head for heights.
Adding an element of healthy competition to a group activity is sure to put a smile on everyone’s face. At Monopoly Lifesized, you’ll play on a giant 3D board based on the famous family favourite. There are numerous activity bars around London too, which are the perfect place for fun and friendly competition. Bounce is the home of ping-pong, beer pong and more; and Flight Club delivers fast-paced games of darts, cocktails and sharing plates. Try your hand at mini golf with a modern twist at Puttshack, or have a go at Shuffleboard at Electric Shuffle. At Fairgame in Canary Wharf, you’ll find a playground for grown-ups. Think Prosecco-infused candy floss, a riverside terrace and traditional fairground games such as duck shoot, reinvented for the modern day.
Keep your eyes peeled for the Convoy of Joy through central London this lunchtime, as a selection of drinks brands will be handing out goodies to all those who spot it. Hitting the road at noon, the convoy will pass a number of landmarks including the Royal Albert Hall, Buckingham Palace and Leicester Square, before parking up at Earlham Street in Covent Garden from 2pm-4pm. Caleño, Long Tail Mixers, Penrhos Spirits, TrueStart Coffee and Vita Coco are among the names gifting more than 10,000 samples to banish the January blues.
Over in Wembley, bakery big-name Bread Ahead is giving away 100 free doughnuts (all flavours) and offering 25% off all food orders all day. We’ve heard that the new crème brûlée doughnut has bumped the previous bestseller, pistachio, off the top spot. With its oozing custard centre and crisp caramelised top it is easy to see why!
Enjoy 25% off all food orders at Bread Ahead Wembley this Blue Monday © Shutterstock
If you’re in need of cheering up, there’s no better place than the Design Museum in Kensington. Fashionistas will love REBEL: 30 Years of London Fashion (to 11 Feb), featuring garments by some of the UK’s biggest names, while Skateboard takes a look at the history of skateboard design to the present day (to 2 Jun). Equally interactive, the Science Museum makes for a perfect family day out as all ages can enjoy the displays and learn something new.
Taking the theme of Blue Monday incredibly literally, the spiral staircase and Narcissus Hall at Leighton House both gleam in shades of blue and turquoise. Completely unexpected in the somewhat unassuming building in Holland Park. Talking of unexpected sights, designer Paul Cocksedge has transformed the already epic Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College with the London debut of his stunning installation, Coalescence. Visit by 4 February to see more than 2,500 suspended pieces of coal which encourage viewers to question our dependence on fossil fuels.
Entering its final few weeks, don’t miss the chance to see The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Frans Hals at The National Gallery, which has recently been freed from the scaffolding that has covered its facade for several months. Take in the beauty of the building itself before heading inside to see 50 of Hals’ best works. It’s the first major Hals retrospective in more than thirty years.
Of course, a sure-fire way to catch a laugh is going to a comedy show – which London has plenty of! From the Comedy Store to a comedy club aboard a boat, there are so many to choose from. Many West End shows also provide plenty of laughs: Ms Trunchball in Matilda the Musical is a formidable but funny presence on stage in this ever-popular production, while The Play that Goes Wrong is a classic whodunnit with a chaotic twist – and it’s the West End’s longest-running comedy!
Finally, one of the biggest pop acts of all time made a triumphant return with their revolutionary, history-making new concert, ABBA Voyage, at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid perform via holographic avatars and are accompanied by a live 10-piece band. Blurring the lines between the physical and digital, the band have hand-picked the setlist, which features their biggest and most popular hits. Nothing says feel-good like dancing to an ABBA soundtrack.
Matilda the Musical © Royal Shakespeare Company
Challenge your perception of reality as you step into mind-altering immersive rooms at Twist Museum on Oxford Street. Developed in collaboration with artists, neuroscientists and philosophers, it is an exploration of how your mind experiences the world around you. Can you see colours that aren’t there? Do you always know which way is up? Can a corridor go on forever? Find out for yourself.
Art lovers should visit Frameless, the largest immersive art exhibition of its kind in the UK, while Harry Potter fans should visit Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter to fully experience the Wizarding World in all its glory. For other film and TV-inspired immersive experiences, check out Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience and Mamma Mia! The Party, which have been entertaining audiences with slapstick comedy and foot-tapping soundtracks for years.
Enter the whimsical world of Bubble Planet © Fever Up