If each month had a colour, January's would surely be blue — a cold, greyish hue. With a little imagination, however, we can brighten the dreary days ahead. From a Moomins retrospective to a festival dedicated to the art of mime, London is playing host to many joyful events, sure to lift even the grumpiest of spirits out of hibernation mode. Know where to look and the city becomes your colouring book.

Adventures in Moominland

via Website

Adventures in Moominland is a celebration of Tove Jansson’s wonderfully whimsical imagination. For those of us who grew up following the lives of the Moomintrolls, this immersive and interactive exhibition promises to be a nostalgic bumble back to Moominvalley. As part of their Nordic Matters programme, The Southbank will host an extensive retrospective, featuring scene re-creations and original sketches from Jansson’s archive. For adults and children alike, the political and social context of the tales will also be mined, exploring the rich and turbulent times Jansson was working in. The gift shop will be stocked with Moomin Love mugs, toys and Jansson’s inspirational biography. Expect to leave with a Moomin-style hop, skip and jump along the Southbank. 

Where: Belvedere Rd, London, SE1 8XX
When: Until 23 Apr.; see tour times
More info: southbankcentre.co.uk


London International Mime Festival

via Website

The London International Mime Festival at Sadler’s Wells is a celebration of 'the best in visual, physical and circus-theatre'. Much more than your usual sad-white-face or stuck-in-a-box routine, here you can expect juggling, acrobatics and masked theatricals from renowned masters of theatre and mime. Pushing the boundaries of the form, the programme features award-winning shows from around the world — including Whispers, a hypnotic performance inspired by a Vermeer painting from Belgian dance-theatre company Mossoux Bonté. 

Where: Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Ave, London, EC1R
When: 9-19 Jan.
More info: 020 7863 8000;

Quentin Blake: The Roald Dahl Centenary Portraits

via Website

This winter marks Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday. To celebrate the creator of the snozzcumber, Sir Quentin Blake drew portraits of some of the most celebrated characters from Dahl’s stories. Quentin Blake: The Roald Dahl Centenary Portraits stars the BFG, Matilda and Charlie Bucket, among others. The fact that Dahl penned each of his characters within his garden shed is a reminder of his vast imagination as well as Blake’s boundless interpretative style. 'My little nest', as Dahl called it, offered the master storyteller respite from his own noisy children so that he could create these characters to share with the world. Get a double dose of joy by spending an afternoon wandering around Blake’s portraits at the British Library before heading to the Wellcome Collection’s animal exhibition over the road.

Where: 96 Euston Rd, London, NW1 2DB
When: Until 21 May. Mon.-Thurs., 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri., 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
019 3754 6546; bl.uk


Making Nature: How We See Animals

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This exhibition brings together more than 100 objects from literature, film, taxidermy and photography, inviting the viewer to examine the psychological and physical implications of the way we see animals. Just as viewers of David Attenborough’s Planet Earth must yo-yo between happiness and sheer panic, Making Nature offers a candid examination of human attitudes toward other species. Curated around four themes  ‘Ordering’, ‘Displaying’, ‘Observing’ and ‘Making’  the exhibition cleverly looks at the ways in which we organise and alter other creatures. Expect moments of amazement and reckoning in roughly equal doses.

Where: 183 Euston Rd, London, NW1 2BE
When: Until 21 May. Tues., Weds., Fri. & Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Thurs., 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
More info: 
020 7611 2222; wellcomecollection.org


Terrains of the Body

Hellen van Meene, Untitled (79), (2000) © Hellen van Meene and Yancey Richardson Gallery. Photo: Lee Stalsworth.

Featuring work by Marina Abramović, Nan Goldin, Icelandic Love Corporation and Adriana Varejão, Terrains of the Body is a celebration of 17 contemporary artists from around the world. Showcasing photographs and videos, the collection focuses on the female subject and identity politics. Drawn from the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., the collection flexes the potential of the female body as a medium for art. With artists often turning the camera on themselves, Terrains of the Body promises to be a revealing expression of identity and fascination with the female form. Forget the January diet and embrace the body in all its glory.

Where: 77-82 Whitechapel High St, London, E1 7QX
When: 18 Jan.-16 Apr. Tues., Weds. & Fri.-Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Thurs., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
More info: 
020 7522 7888whitechapelgallery.org

By Zara Miller

Zara is a freelance writer who loves travelling and all kinds of storytelling. Follow her on Twitter.