London this week: Cute kittens, light shows, and elephants on the Thames

London this week: Cute kittens, light shows, and elephants on the Thames thumbnail

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There are some seriously weird and wonderful things happening in the capital this week. Think giant glowing butterflies, a life-size elephant and an army of fluffy kittens…

The Slice’s Pick


By Sophie Laughton

Awwww. That’s the dominant sound as you walk into Somerset House’s cutesy-fied exhibition space, where a small army of impossibly adorable kittens await. But look beyond their huge shiny eyes and cloud-like fur and you’ll spot some rather unsettling things – extra paws, disembodied tails, fluffy faces merging into oversized vegetables. It’s the purr-fect introduction to Cute – part nostalgic, ecstatic celebration of all things pink and fluffy, part confrontation of cuteness’ provocative, perverse side. As a member of the generation reared on Nyan Cat’s internet, it’s utter catnip – there’s an arcade room dedicated to 00s dress-up and cooking games, a Hello Kitty disco room (the 50-year-old birthday girl is a big feature), and a lilac-hued sleepover pad blaring Carly Rae Jepsen (curated by singer Hannah Diamond), while a giant toy display had me ready to text my mum to see if she’d flogged my beloved Sylvanian Families house on eBay. But it goes much deeper, using music, fashion and art to explore cuteness from kawaii’s origins in 12th century Japan through to subversive 21st century teddies. Very cute, very clever. 

Tickets from £18.50. Until 24 April, Somerset House, Victoria Embankment.

Food & Drink

Little Kudu

By Sophie Laughton

Launched last year, the Kudu Collective’s small but mighty baby sister is squeezed into a railway arch under Queens Road Peckham station. And it is tiny – space for max 25 diners to perch on stools under an enormous ribbed-glass chandelier, served by an open kitchen barely bigger than my own. Little Kudu unsurprisingly does little plates, and its snacks (look to the top of the menu) are top drawer – surprisingly succulent biltong, moreish brioche served with a sizzling pan of Cape Malay butter, and heavenly crème fraîche-filled panipuri, a crunchy Indian-inspired puff cut with zingy coriander pesto. For larger appetites, share a very pink picanha steak or a tangy, cheese-smothered braaibroodjie (South Africa’s gooey answer to cheese on toast). 

Small plates from £4. 113 Queen’s Road, Peckham.


🥩 Temper. The fifth opening from the chain of open-fire smokehouses and steak specialists brings them to Paddington Basin, with their usual fare of tacos and small plates (the prawn tacos and raclette potatoes are particular highlights) sitting alongside the new branch’s exclusive ‘Parrilla’ – an Argentinian twist on the mixed grill with a number of different cuts. Snacks and sides start at £8.5, prime cuts priced by weight. 5 Merchant Square, Paddington.

Veganuary: The Aubrey

The humble mushroom is the star of upmarket Japanese The Aubrey’s meat-free January offering, and what a star it is. Each dish champions a different type of fungi, from tiny pearls of enoki in silky miso soup to smoky ruffles of maitake (hen of the woods) cooked rotaba-style. Dusted tofu retains the perfect crunch despite being soaked to gelatinous perfection in umami-rich shimeji dashi broth. More pescetarian than full-on veggie? Their black cod is a sticky, miso-glazed marvel. For those doing the Dry Jan/Veganuary double whammy, pair your shrooms with a nutty, complex Hojicha sparkling tea for a virtuous gastronomic experience. 

Mushroom menu plates from £7. 66 Knightsbridge.


With huge windows that overlook London’s bustling Mayfair, Riviera is a restaurant that exists in complete contrast. Its sandy-coloured decor and low-lighting offers a Mediterranean feel – but don’t be fooled by this laidback vibe, as the uncomplicated menu works hard to impress. Mains include incredibly fresh Turbot à la Meunière and melt-in-your-mouth Grilled Lamb Cutlets with Puy Lentils. Despite the small selection, the trio of classic French desserts don’t disappoint – especially the lavender crème brûlée with its obligatory sugar cracking top and the creamiest delight underneath – while a Sexy French Popcorn cocktail keeps the party going. Bon appétit!

Mains from £29. 23 St James St, Mayfair.

London’s best… light shows

BEST INDOOR: LIFE at St Martin-In-The-Fields.

Swirling ocean waves; verdant forest canopies, rolling clouds: this breathtaking light show projected onto the crypts and chapels of St Martin-In-The-Fields evokes a day on Planet Earth in an immersive journey from dawn till dusk. It takes around 40 minutes with a main seated show at the end.

Tickets from £10. From 30 January – 3 February, St Martin-In-The-Fields, Trafalgar Square.

BEST INTERACTIVE: Battersea Light Festival.

The Power Station is brightening up January’s oppressively dark evenings with its annual Light Festival. With immersive soundscapes and interactive elements to explore, the installations include giant butterflies, a playable light piano (complete with live performances) and a cycling light battle. 

Free. From 25 January – 25 February, Battersea Power Station.

BEST TRAIL: Canary Wharf Winter Lights.

Back for its eighth year, this series of spectacular installations light a glowing trail between the Wharf’s skyscrapers, from flickering flames at Westferry Circus and a meditative marble run at Wren Landing to Squidsoup’s dazzling LED maze Submergence, plus a larger-than-life laser projection at Union Square.

Free. Until 27 January, Canary Wharf.

What’s on

Frost Fair

An elephant stomping across a frozen Thames? It might sound bizarre, but it really happened over 200 years ago at London’s last ever Frost Fair. Back in the Little Ice Age of the 18th and 19th centuries, the Thames turned to ice a whopping 24 times, with revellers flocking to eat, booze and make merry on its frozen waters (think old-timey Hyde Park Winter Wonderland meets rave). While temperatures have risen after last week’s Arctic snap, Bankside is resurrecting the frozen magic of old with a riverside artisan market serving traditional warming treats and a family-friendly programme of events including horse and carriage rides along the river, an outdoor screening of Dr Who episode Thin Ice, craft workshops, and a parade of elephants (including a life-size puppet). Cool!

Free. 26-28 January, Sumner Street, Bankside.


Cruel Intentions

The Cruel Intentions movie was a sexy, disturbing, raunch of a success in the late 90s, becoming a teenage cult classic. Now, 25 years after it was released, Cruel Intentions has made its way to The Other Palace but this time as a seductively fun musical. It follows the same premise as the film, with unpleasant step siblings Sebastian Valmont (Daniel Bravo) and Kathryn Merteuil (Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky) hatching a plan to corrupt Annette Hargrove, the headmaster’s virtuous daughter. Expect classic 90s tunes and energy, deliciously nasty characters and a hell-of-a-lot of nostalgia.

Tickets from £33. Until 14 April, The Other Palace, Victoria.

See you next week!

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