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Brilliant events to beat the January blues
From side-splitting comedy and immersive theatre to eclectic film and nu-gen opera, there’s no better way to overcome the post-Christmas slump than getting out and about
The festival

If ever there was a tonic for toxic ‘new year, new body’ messaging, it’s Anti Diet Riot Club. This month, the cult body-acceptance movement is throwing its first festival, with an inspiring programme of talks, workshops and activities exploring body, food and sex liberation. Hear from women like body confidence campaigners Stephanie Yeboah and Honey Ross, take part in yoga and try your hand at life drawing. 19 January; £40; Colours Hoxton, 2-4 Hoxton Square, N1

The comedy

Jayde Adams took the Edinburgh Festival by storm in 2019 with her five-star show The Ballad of Kylie Jenner’s Old Face. Now, the Bristolian stand-up is heading to Soho Theatre with her hilarious takes on what it means to be a “Successful Independent Woman person” in the era of girlboss culture. Expect razor-sharp, poignant stories on everything from Beyoncé’s crotch to the rise of the feminist wardrobe staple, the Serious Black Jumper™30 January-8 February; from £11; 21 Dean St, W1D

The experience

Always dismissed immersive experiences as a bit OTT? Now’s the time to get over your fears. Secret Theatre Project’s captivating new show The Invitation will transport you to an Eyes Wide Shut-style masquerade party (it sold out during a recent run in Hong Kong). Wearing a mask, you’ll feast and drink before playing your part in a plot of action, murder and intrigue. Deliciously dark. 28-31 January; from £39.99; Town Hall Hotel, 8 Patriot Square, E2

The show

It’s got passion, drama and melodies you’ll almost certainly be able to hum along to. And if you’re looking to expand your cultural horizons, then Carmen – one of the world’s best-loved operas – is the perfect place to start. This year, director Calixto Bieito has given the production a 21st century makeover, time-travelling to the tail-end of Francoist Spain in the 1970s to explore the complex relationships between the sexes. 29 January-27 February; from £20; London Coliseum, St Martin’s Ln, WC2N

The film

There’s something immensely comforting about a cinema date in the diary, and never more so than in January. This month, the London Short Film Festival returns to the capital for its 17th edition, with a programme packed with the finest short cinema from around the world. Kick off with the rich history of the alt-drag revolution, move onto a winter matinee of unconventional love stories, and round off with an innovative animation variety show10-19 January; from £7; locations vary

Stylist’s commercial editorial director Susan has a seasonal feast at new Brit restaurant Wilder 
 

Wilder is earthy. It’s entrenched in the basement of Shoreditch’s Boundary London, and Richard McLellan’s homegrown menu offers up everything Britain’s lands (and seas) has to offer. Cockles, trotter, mallard, fallow deer, pig’s head, halibut skirt… It’s impossible to read through Wilder’s dishes and not visualise every ‘wild’ ingredient in its original form.

In the bar, under twisted branches and foliage, cocktails are by Little Mercies’ Alan Sherwood (I go for a champagne rhubarb gimlet). The food is surprising, inventive and scrape-the-plate-clean tasty: scallop, turnip, lettuce and kelp, followed by partridge, hispi, russet and buckwheat. So. Good. Wilder might be underground, but it won’t remain so for long. 2-4 Boundary St, E2

Feeling the pinch after a season of splurging? Fear not: get cultured for nothing with these fabulous free events
 

Kick off your weekend in the East End, where The Curtain is holding a free screening of Gurinder Chadha’s new film on Friday. Blinded By The Light is a heartwarming drama about a British-Pakistani teen who finds his voice through Bruce Springsteen’s music (7.30pm; 45 Curtain Rd, EC2A). 

On Saturday, head to the Richard Saltoun gallery in Mayfair to discover feminist artwork tackling the thorny subject of motherhood (pictured, 41 Dover St, W1S). And on a similarly creative note, the V&A will be holding free Female Voices tours for the next three Sundays – highlighting women’s forgotten contributions to the world of art and design (Grand Entrance, Cromwell Rd, SW7). 

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Image credits: Imogen Forte; Jayde Adams/Avalon; Jeremy Rice; More Than Just a Pretty Face - Alt Drag Revolution, LSFF; Ola O Smit; Kirsten Justesen, CIRCUMSTANCES / OMSTÆNDIGHEDER, 1973. Archival pigment print 42 x 29 cm © Kirsten JUSTESEN, courtesy of Richard Saltoun Gallery, London. Photo by Ben Westoby
© The Stylist Group Ltd