29 February is a rarity: make the most of your extra day here in London, by visiting that exhibition you’ve been meaning to do for ages, or discovering a new favourite spot in the capital. Here are 29 suggestions.
1. Tick off the London bucket list
How many of these 50 things every Londoner should do at least once have you ticked off so far? Take the opportunity to tick off a few more — perhaps a stroll along the canal followed by a swim in the Hampstead ponds (brrrr), then lunch at Borough Market.
2. Find out what life was like in the Roman army
The British Museum’s current blockbuster exhibition is Legion: life in the Roman army. The family-friendly show looks at the West’s first modern, professional fighting force through the life and service of a real Roman soldier, Claudius Terentianus. Some of the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain are among the exhibits. These big shows tend to get fairly busy on weekends, so visiting on a weekday helps you avoid the crowds.
3. Catch a show at A Pinch of Vault
Performing arts festival A Pinch of Vault offers a choice of seven shows on 29 February (out of a total of 130+ across its month-long programme). An interactive murder mystery comedy, and new material from Ali Woods and Josh Glanc are among your Leap Day options.
4. Wander through a flower arch at Kew Gardens’ Orchid Festival
The annual Orchids Festival is one of London’s most beautiful floral events (plus, it’s in a tropical conservatory, ideal for warming up in the chilly London winter). This year there’s a Madagascan theme; look out for lemurs fashioned from plants, and some extremely photogenic flower installations.
5. See out LGBTQ+ History Month on a high
February is LGBT+ History Month with events going on throughout, right up until the final day. On 29 February you can take a Queer Footprints walking tour with author Dan Glass, or attend a history drop-in session at LSE Library.
6. Try out a new hot desking spot
OK, so as 29 February falls on a Thursday, the odds are the many people will be working, as usual. But if you’re not chained to a specific desk, or you can slip out of the office by making vague noises about a meeting on the other side of town, why not switch things up a bit by trying out a new hot desking venue for the day. We’ve picked some of our favourite spots around London where you can work for free. Save one for us though, eh?
7. Befriend the animals in Paternoster Square
If you find yourself near St Paul’s Cathedral, pop around to Paternoster Square and come close to a giant gorilla and other animals — which you’re actively encouraged to climb on. Wild About Babies is the latest work from prolific sculptor duo Gillie and Marc, and it’s free to visit.
8. Meet The Lonely Londoners
29 February is opening night for The Lonely Londoners, which has its world premiere at Jermyn Street Theatre. A play based on a book set in the capital in 1956, it tells the story of Henry ‘Sir Galahad’ Oliver, who arrives from Trinidad to find his friends already disillusioned by city life.
9. Hear about the executions of Tower Hill
Footprints of London guide Rob Smith offers a virtual tour, focusing on the people who have been executed on Tower Hill through the centuries. Without leaving your own home, find out about the people who were beheaded just beyond the Tower of London’s walls, and why they found themselves on the end of this punishment. Plus, discover a little-known plaque which commemorates some of them.
10. Hunt down London’s urban oddities
Take some time to wander around in search of some of the odder things to see in London — either in an area you already know, or somewhere that’s completely new to you. We’ve mapped some of London’s urban oddities including artworks, sculptures, plaques, street furniture and loads more. If you want to stick to a specific area, try:
Euston Road | Camden Town | Strand | Trafalgar Square | Bishopsgate | Borough High Street | Portobello Road
11. Step into Wes Anderson’s world
Instagram account ‘Accidentally Wes Anderson’ has made a name for itself sharing images which could be from a Wes Anderson film set — think satisfying symmetry, and pastel hues — but aren’t. Some of those images are currently on display in a rather pretty exhibition in Kensington.
12. Ogle contemporary craft and design items
Into art and design? Bag yourself a ticket to the private view of Collect 2024 at Somerset House — daytime and evening private view slots are available on 29 February. It’s a chance to check out and buy contemporary craft and designs works by more than 400 artists from around the world, before the fair opens to the public on 1 March.
13. Explore Notre-Dame without leaving London
Westminster Abbey lets visitors explore the gothic cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, without leaving London, at its current augmented reality exhibition. Through a touch-screen tablet, witness events including the lavish wedding of King Henri IV, and the 19th century construction of Notre-Dame’s iconic spire of Viollet-le-Duc, with audio of the cathedral’s organ and tolling bells, and a projection of one of its rose windows.
14. Treat yourself to afternoon tea
Book ahead for one of London’s best afternoon teas. Perhaps you fancy a themed afternoon tea, with undertones of Peter Pan, or Alice in Wonderland, or high-end fashion? Alternatively, eat your way around the world with one of London’s international afternoon teas, inspired by China, or India, or Italy, or France. Got kids in tow? We’ve got London’s best children’s afternoon teas covered, too.
15. Get a first look at the new King Charles III banknotes
The Future of Money opens at the Bank of England on 28 February, offering a first look at the new King Charles III banknotes before they enter general circulation later this year. It’s a free exhibition and looks at other aspects of how money could change in the future, including the move towards cashlessness.
16. Visit one of London’s worst-kept secrets
Secret? Absolutely not. Worth a visit? Definitely.
17. Do London on the cheap
Dreading having to stretch your budget to an extra day? Take a look at our map of free things to do in London, including museums, galleries, cultural centres, and other places where you can spend an hour or two — or a whole day — without breaking the bank. We’ve also got a list of 102 free things to do in London. You’re welcome.
18. Hear a talk about Queen Elizabeth I
Spend the evening at Southwark Cathedral, where historian Dr Nicola Tallis is giving a talk about the early life of Queen Elizabeth I, from the beheading of her mother, Anne Boleyn, to her implication in a plot to overthrow her half-sister, Mary.
19. Do something a Londoner never normally would
Here’s a little something we prepared earlier in advance of 29 February — a list of things that a Londoner would never normally do. Why not spend the day being a tourist in your own city? Could be fun.
20. Visit a zoo that you’ve probably never even heard of
Older Londoners may remember it as the Bunny Park, but have you ever heard of Hanwell Zoo? Located just a few minutes walk from the Elizabeth line, and home to species including flamingoes, lemurs, monkeys and capybaras, it’s a wallet-friendly places to while away a couple of hours (provided the weather is on your side).
Bonus idea: the zoo’s entrance is just a few metres away from the free Brent Lodge Millennium Maze, an impressive yew maze with viewing platform in the centre.
21. Get a dose of adrenaline
Feel like really cutting loose on your extra day? Tackle one of our favourite high-adrenaline activities in London: skydiving, climbing, snorkelling with sharks and white water rafting are among your options.
22. Try a new hobby
Don’t fancy anything quite as electrifying as the above, but still want to try something a bit different? We have guides to roller skating in London, and horse riding in London too, as well as where to go ice skating all year round. Why not give it a go!
23. Stay out past your bedtime
Trumpeter and composer Yazz Ahmed is the performer at the Royal Albert Hall’s Late Night Jazz on 29 February. Catch her performance in the building’s Elgar Room — it’s the opening event of this year’s AWAN (Arab Women Artists Now) Festival.
24. Visit the Horniman Walrus before it disappears
The famously-overstuffed walrus at the Horniman Museum is being taken off display on 3 March — meaning 29 February is one of your last chances to see it until it returns in 2026. It’s part of refurbishment works at the museum — more on which here — and while you’re there, why not check out the current Dinosaur rEvolution exhibition too?
25. Catch the opening night of a classical music festival
The end of February sees the start of Classical Vauxhall, a four-day mini festival of classical music, taking place at various venues around the area. It opens on 29 February with pianist Fiachra Garvey performing music that’s inspired by mythical events.
26. Find your new favourite bookshop
Name a better way to spend a day than browsing a cute bookshop. We’ve mapped London’s best independent bookshops (save it for literary emergencies), and we also know a whole host of fantastic second hand bookshops. If you don’t event want to leave the house, you can always browse London-centric books at our curated online bookshop*.
27. Enjoy the music of Pink Floyd by candlelight
There’s a tribute night to rock band Pink Floyd, in a rather unusual form: it takes place at Southwark Cathedral, which is lit by candlelight as songs such as Wish You Were Here, Comfortably Numb and Another Brick In The Wall are performed.
28. Leave London altogether
London is lovely. We love London. HUGE fans of the place. But occasionally, we do venture outside the M25. If you feel like spending your extra day out of the capital, take a look at our Beyond London section, packed full of ideas for day trips and weekends beyond the capital, be it in the next county or on a whole other continent.
29. Go to the pub, have a nice cold pint, and wait for this all to blow over
Doesn’t have to be The Winchester — not when our guide to London’s best pubs has over 500 boozers to choose from. You might just find your new favourite local, which is an extra day very well spent in our opinion.
*If you buy books via this link, Londonist may earn a commission from Bookshop.org — which also helps support independent bookshops