Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival

At first, these elaborately dressed oldies look like they’ve stepped out of an am-dram convention for septuagenarians.

However, they’re as traditional as Dickens and cockney as rhyming slang.

The Pearlies rock their pearl button suits (dating back to 19th century), and this festival marks the Autumn harvest with music and a parade. 

Free, September (exact date TBC) 
Guildhall Yard, EC2V 5AE 
Tube | Bank


The Cripple of Inishmaan

Last time Daniel Radcliffe was on stage he was exposing his very own ‘magic wand’ and touching horses nightly in Equus.

Now he’s starring in this first major revival of Martin McDonagh’s (writer-director of the recent film Seven Psychopaths) 1996 comic classic, about a crippled young man on a remote Irish island who wants a part in a Hollywood flick that is filming nearby.

£10+, Jun 8-Aug 31, 7pm 
Noel Coward Theatre, WC2N 4AU  
Tube | Leicester Square

The Book of Mormon

From Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, it was clear they had a taste for musicals.

Their debut on the West End comes straight from Broadway, where the religious satire won a total of nine Tony awards.

Co-written with Avenue Q’s Robert Lopez, it has fast earned the stamp of ‘modern classic’, but tickets for the show’s London run are already selling out – a daily ticket lottery will operate, however. 

£37.50, From Feb 25, various times 
Prince Of Wales Theatre, W1D 6AS  
Tube | Charing Cross



”Loose lips sink ships,” that’s the mantra of Kiwi and Aussie organisers Sus and Kelly who are behind this clandestine dining experience which incorporates theatre and art.

Pop-up surprise dining is set to get even bigger this year. The Gingerline crew’s run is on until the end of February. 

£50, Until Feb 28,
times on booking TBC


Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum

The two cities buried by the eruption at Vesuvius in AD 79 are the focus of this 250 artefact-strong exhibition.

£15, Mar 28-Sep 29
10am-5pm (Fri until 8.30pm)  
WC1B 3DG  
Tube | Tott Crt Rd


Ride London

This inaugural mass-participation cycling festival expects 70,000 riders  as much of the Olympic road race route and tourist spots in London take centre stage.

The cyclists, both pro and amateur, are promoting travel on two wheels. 

£48, Aug 3-4, times TBC 
Across London  


Read more: Best of London 2013 – top arts, events and entertainment highlights in the capital this year

Sarah Silverman

Silverman is massive in the States but her first show over here in 2008 was an unmitigated disaster.  

Tickets were priced at £50 and when she performed for just 40 minutes she felt the wrath of her disgruntled fans.

Back to set the record straight, she holes up in the Bloomsbury for a night of foul-mouthed and caustic comedy.

Fingers crossed. 

£25, Feb 9, 7.30pm 
The Bloomsbury Theatre, WC1H 0AH  
Tube | Euston Square


Bird’s Eye View Fest

This female film fest shows that it’s not just Zero Dark Thirty helmer Katherine Bigelow making waves out there.

This year’s event focuses on the Arab women making great films, and the dedication needed to make the art at all. 

Apr 3-10, various times BFI, 
SE1 8XT  
Tube | Waterloo

David Bowie is …

This year is shaping up to be massive for the Brixton-born Bowie.

Not only has he stunned the world with a new single, Where Are We Now?, and album, The Next Day, but he is also the focus of this retrospective exhibition looking at his life and work.

Music videos, handwritten lyrics, stage costumes including the bodysuit for the 1973 Aladdin Sane tour (above), photos, set designs and his own instruments are all on display for fellow Spiders from Mars. 

£14, Mar 23-Jul 28, Sat-Thur, 10am-5.30pm
Fri, 10am-10pm V&A, SW7 2RL 
Tube | Kensington 


The Great Map

The large outdoor space at the National Maritime Museum becomes a giant interactive map loaded with info on seafaring ways and mega water battles.

You can walk across it and there are also touch screen tablets with more info so you can learn how the oceans’ winds drive ships, and who defeated who, where, and most importantly, how.

Opens March Romney Road 
SE10 9NF 
Station | Maze Hill


The Rest is Noise Festival 

This showcase of music from the 20th century reflects on how war, sex, race and politics shaped those hundred years.

“Inspired by [music critic] Alex Ross’ award-winning book, The Rest Is Noise, we have set out to capture the spirit of a century and how music reflected its discords,” Southbank Centre artistic director Jude Kelly explains of the seven-month-long festival.0

With more than 100 concerts (Liza Minnelli), 150 talks and debates, film screenings (Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris), the history of music from 1900 onwards comes under the spotlight in a way never before seen in this country.

Until June 9, various times 
Southbank Centre 
Belvedere Road, E1 8XX  
Tube | Waterloo

Lichtenstein: a Retrospective

One of the fathers of pop art and one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Roy Lichtenstein gets his first major retrospective in this country, which pulls together 125 of his works – including Whaam! (1963) and Masterpiece (1962, above) – in celebration of his advertising and comic-strip-influenced output.

This Tate and Art Institute of Chicago collaboration is one of 2013’s cultural highlights and features loads of pop art talks and lectures.

£14, Feb 21-May 27, Sun-Thur, 10am-6pm
Fri & Sat, 10am-10pm Tate Modern,
Bankside, SE1 9TG  
Tube | London Bridge

Yankee Burgers 

Tesco may have done a disservice to the face of the British burger of late, but this year is all about the all-American culinary mainstay.

Top US burger chains Shake Shack and Five Guys are set to open their first UK stores this summer.

Goodbye GBK, here comes the real McCoy.

Summer 2013 TBC;


Queen Elizabeth Olympic Parkstratford

The Olympic Park opens its doors once more, this time as a public-friendly outdoor space, on the anniversary of Danny Boyle’s world-stunning opening ceremony. 

Free, Jul 27, various times E20  
Tube |Stratford


Red Bull Soapbox Racing

Creativity and nerves of steel are the order of the day for this madcap day of soapbox racing (pictured, left), which returns to the UK after a nine-year absence. Entries close on March 31, so get involved pronto!

July 14, times TBC  Alexandra Palace, N22 7AY  
Station | Alexandra Palace


Itu Triathlon World Series

The same route as was used in the Olympics last year welcomes the world’s best swim-bike-runners for the World Triathlon series grand final.

Free, The legacy lives on.Sep 11-16
times TBC Hyde Park, W2 2UH  
Tube | Hyde Park Cnr


Louis CK

There are two reasons why this year will belong to this critically lauded, publicly adored New York-based comedian.

Firstly, his ace self-based TV show Louie is set to hit over here on the newly rebranded Fox channel (reason alone to get some Sky connections).

Also, he’s booked to play stand-up, sleb-loaded shows at The O2 and Hammersmith Apollo.

Don’t be the one left asking, “Louis who?”

March 20, 7pm 
The O2, SE10 0DX 
Tube | North Greenwich

March 21, 7pm  
Hammersmith Apollo, W6 9QH  
Tube | Hammersmith



Canalway Cavalcade

It doesn’t come more English than this 30th anniversary boaters’ gathering, complete with all the jolly nice pleasantries you’d expect.

here’s tea and cakes, real ale, Morris dancers, bands and upwards of 100 canal boats moored along a stretch of the Grand Union Canal, with a special boat illumination competition, too. 

May 4-6, Sat & Sun, 10am-6pm
Mon, 10am-5pm Little Venice
Paddington, W9 1ER  
Station | Warwick


Read more: Best of London 2013 – top arts, events and entertainment highlights in the capital this year



Bowie photo: design by Kansai Yamamoto, photograph by Masayoshi Sukita, © Sukita / The David Bowie Archive 2012; Joan Marcus