Dry January does not have to mean putting the fun on hold for a month. Here are some killer ways to make the most of your booze-free fiesta.
Taking part in dry January in London? If, like us, December saw you swap water for glitter and gin and every coffee you made involved a tot (read: huge glug) of Baileys, it might be time to take a step away from the hard stuff.
Now, don’t get us wrong: taking part in dry January does NOT mean that you have to stay in and look on longingly whilst your friends have all the fun. There are plenty of ways to have fun and more importantly, support local businesses after what was another tough December.
Here’s our guide to the best dry January activities London has to offer.
Things to do For Dry January in London
Head to Club Soda’s Alcohol-Free Bottle Shop
Club Soda have an alcohol-free tasting room off Drury Lane, and it’s one of the best dry January spots London has to offer.
The friendly staff are on-hand to help find you the perfect alcohol alternative, whether you usually opt for a full-bodied red or can’t resist a fruity cocktail.
Plenty of brands have got involved to encourage mindful drinking, from the likes of Everleaf and Lyre’s to Thomson and Scott. In fact, there’s more than 60 brands taking part – that’s a whole lotta alcohol-free drinks to try.
Visit a Games Bar
Let’s be real – it’s way easier to forgo alcohol when you’re having fun. So why not head to a games bar with your pals?
Flight Club is one of the best and has plenty of locations across the capital. Battle your friends at a game of darts (and proceed to brag for the rest of the evening when you definitely win) whilst sipping on a softail.
The entire no-alcohol menu is pretty stellar, though the No-jito – a fruity concoction of lime juice, passion fruit, and rose lemonade – is a clear winner.
Or, we’re also huge fans of the chaos that ensues at Electric Shuffle. Who knew that a modern take on shuffleboard could be so fun?
Take a Cooking Class
Dry January doesn’t have to be about sitting around the house waiting for the month to pass. It doesn’t have to be about living without any shred of pleasure either. Learning how to cook (and then eating) indulgent dishes to impress your family and friends could be a good use of your time.
London’s got no end of great cookery schools. From one-off classes in how to do homemade pasta to courses at Jamie Oliver’s cooking academies, you’ll find plenty this Jan to keep you entertained. You might just learn a thing or two.
Play a Round of Golf
You don’t have to be some kinda deal-breaking businessperson to fancy a cheeky round. London’s got plenty of laid-back places to sink a hole or two.
The driving range in Greenwich is one such spot. You can even play on a computer that ranks your score against everyone on the range at the same time as you.
If you’re more the crazy golf type, London’s not short on those either. You’ll be able to swing your way around a mini course with full neon decor, british holiday town themes, nightmare circuses and even tiki themed courses. Who said dry January had to be boring?
Immerse Yourself in a Virtual Reality Experience
Virtual reality technology is fast becoming popular in London, so why not get involved during dry January by heading to Otherworld?
You and your party will be taken to a private game room where you’ll each don a VR headset and be transported to a virtual island. You can customise this experience completely – want to play fruit ninja? Go for it. How about wandering through the streets of Tokyo? A-ok.
You can even earn money in the game which can be spent on real-life drinks at the bar (soft, of course).
Expand Your Mind with Some Topical Lectures
London is not just a city of excellent bars and restaurants. It actually has a bunch of great educational institutions too. Whodathunk? Heaps of them hold talks regularly, and on pretty much any subject you might be interested in.
Like a bit of history? The British Museum has plenty of lectures to offer. More of the arty type? Check out what’s on at the National Gallery. They often do talks combined with late-night exhibition tours.
There’s also the shining beacon on the hill that is Gresham College. They’ve been hosting free talks on pretty every topic under (and beyond) the sun for about 500 years now. No kidding.
The Murdér Express
All aboard The Murdér Express for a mystery dinner like no other. In what is part foodie feast, part entertainment spectacular, you’ll spend the evening transported back to the early 20th-century, when train travel was in its early stages.
You’ll be greeted at Pedley Street Station by a bunch of brilliant actors, who will then proceed to serve up a four-course meal throughout the journey… though all is not as it seems.
And with all the drama going on, you won’t even think twice about a glass of vino.
Tickets for the experience start at £60 – book yourself a slot here.
Play Some Games around London
If the Christmas period hasn’t worn your tolerance of board games down to a tiny nub you can keep the competitive spirit alive with a hot, non-alcoholic beverage in hand. Whether your game of choice is Chess or Catan, you’ll find plenty of spots in our handy guide.
And if board games aren’t your thing you could always get a little retro in the arcades. Four Quarters in Peckham is wall to wall retro arcade games. Think Street Fighter, Tekken, dance machines, you name it.
Bowl at One of London’s Cool Alleys
Wondering what to do in London for dry January? Look no further than bowling at one of the capital’s coolest bowling alleys.
Sure, you can find a decent bowling alley all over. But not all were created equal. The Croc is our favourite: a 1950s themed joint in the Ham Yard Hotel, where solid maple lanes, monochrome bowling balls, and vintage bowling shoes make bowling a pretty swanky affair.
Stream a Performance by the Royal Opera House
Who needs booze when you’ve got brilliant theatre and an abundance of Christmas chocolate leftover? From David McVicar’s operatic production of Faust to Christopher Wheeldon’s take on Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, there are plenty of new performances to enjoy.
Fancy catching a performance live? Throughout the first half of January, their classic staging of The Nutcracker will be on. If you’ve not seen it before, this piece of theatre is a timeless classic, and the ROH’s rendition is one of the finest.
Swap Booze for Street Food
It’s no secret that London’s street food scene is thriving. But with so many cool spots in the capital to chow down on brilliant dishes, it can be difficult to decide where to go.
Don’t worry though, we’ve done the *ahem* laborious work of trying out as many as possible over the years.
Obviously, you’ve got the biggies like Borough Market and Maltby Street Market, where you can scoff everything from pizza and burgers to gourmet toasties (The Cheese Truck at Maltby, we love you). They’re great but get hella busy, so try and go in off-peak times if you can.
However, we really do recommend trying out some of London’s less-frequented food markets. In particular, Venn Street Market and Richmond Duck Pond if you’re in the area. Both are filled with lesser-known traders serving up delicious grub.
Head to a Luxury Cinema
If you would rather bypass London’s brilliant bars in January, the capital is still brimming with plenty of things to do at night. Our favourite dry January activity is, without a doubt, heading to a luxurious cinema to watch a new movie.
What’s on this month? You’re spoilt for choice. The Curzon Sea Containers Cinema is only open on weekends, but you can catch both big Hollywood blockbusters and indie productions in their cosy screening room.
Or, snuggle up on a velvet double bed at Portobello Road’s Electric Cinema. With individual tables for drinks and snacks, footstools, and even a cashmere blanket, it feels like you’re being treated to the newest releases from the comfort of your own home.
- As we’ve already mentioned, dry January doesn’t need to be boring. Go out and support local businesses who could do with a little extra kindness at this time of year.
- If you seriously can’t resist temptation, avoid bars or places where you know there will be alcohol – go bowling or cosy up at home instead!