It’s the return of fun! The ES team on what we’re booking first as theatres, cinemas and restaurants reopen

·9 min read
<p>In The Heights makes its way to cinemas this summer</p> (WB)

In The Heights makes its way to cinemas this summer


Rejoice! The day we’ve had marked in our diaries for weeks is here… theatres, cinemas, restaurants, hotels, art galleries, museums can reopen today as part of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown. Basically, it’s the return of fun.

After a few false starts last year, the worlds of entertainment and hospitality feel much more positive about opening its doors thanks to the successful vaccine rollout and reduced Covid alert level. And after so long stuck in our homes with nothing to do but watch Netflix, the appetite for culture and cuisine in the capital has never been higher.

All being well, this stage of the roadmap should mark the start of a wonderful summer of shows and shenanigans, so we asked the ES team what they’re planning to do first.


We can finally watch Oscar winner Nomadland on the big screenSearchlight
We can finally watch Oscar winner Nomadland on the big screenSearchlight

I’ve missed going to the cinema more than any other cultural activity: the feeling of blackout immersion, sensurround sound and complete detachment from the the world. My first outing is going to be to see Nomadland, with Frances McDormand as a widow living in rural Nevada who loses her job and takes to the road in a van. I’d go the extra mile to see McDormand in anything, but I was touched by her Oscars acceptance speech, urging us not only to get back into cinemas, but to take all our friends with us. Finding tickets wasn’t easy but I persevered, and it’s paid off: we’re off to the Electric Cinema on Saturday night! Katie Law, Books Editor

Singin’ in the Rain at Sadler’s Wells

I can’t wait for some good old-fashioned theatrical escapism, the sort that gives me a little shiver down my spine. This already-acclaimed production of the golden-age Gene Kelly musical from the 1950s is exactly what I need to wash away the cares of the past twelve months. I’ve been missing stage magic, and so all I want to see right now is a twinkle-toed, umbrella-wielding man in a suit, twirling around a lamp-post, with a rain-machine pelting him from above. Jessie Thompson, Deputy Arts Editor

Shirley Collins at the Barbican

Honestly, I’m just excited to sit in the Barbican’s seats again — definitely among the top five most comfortable seats in any of London’s arts venues, I reckon (can you tell I’ve been stuck indoors for months?) But seriously, I’m so very up for seeing Shirley Collins as she reopens the Barbican’s in-person gig programme. It’ll be the first time she’s played her album Heart’s Ease — easily one of my 2020 faves — in a live setting, and to witness a living legend of English folk music, still so artistically vibrant as an octogenarian, for my re-entry gig will be nothing short of magical. Jochan Embley, Arts Commissioning Editor and Writer


Emma Stone stars as the fashion-forward villainessLaurie Sparham
Emma Stone stars as the fashion-forward villainessLaurie Sparham

Had you asked me before all this madness what was the first thing I’d want to see after a year of being more or less locked indoors, the origin story of a crazed, canine-hating fashion maven would not have been on my list. Then I saw the trailer for Cruella, a clearly barking (obv) prequel to 101 Dalmatians, explaining how everyone’s favourite fur-forward dog-skinner develops into the monster we know and love. Emma Stone is the titular pet-wearer, and the sight of her stomping around 1970s London in a series of increasingly deranged punky outfits, piquing the interest of the mysterious ‘Baroness’ (Emma Thompson, inevitably) means I honestly couldn’t care less about the story. It just looks like a hoot, which is exactly what I need. Nancy Durrant, Arts Editor

In cinemas May 28

Nero: The Man Behind the Myth at the British Museum

A year in lockdown’s exposed the frustrated adventurer in my 7-year-old son. Possibly inspired by his dad’s interpretation of “home school history lessons” as an excuse to watch classic movies, he wants to hunt down crystal skulls like Indiana Jones and find ancient Egyptian mummies like Brendan Fraser. Fortunately you can do both at the British Museum, which also has a fascinating new exhibition on Rome’s notorious emperor Nero. It uses incredible discoveries like pro-Nero graffiti from Pompeii to suggest the now infamous dictator was popular in his time and may be an early victim of cancel culture. Is seven too young to watch Gladiator? David Marsland, Presenter of The Leader podcast From May 27

In The Heights

Most of my favourite cinema-going memories stem from watching musicals on the big screen - getting caught up in La La Land’s dream ballet finale for the first time, or a mildly hysterical crowd screeching during each and every one of Colin Firth’s scenes in Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again. Song and dance sequences just don’t have the same impact on a dusty laptop screen - so I plan to kick off what promises to be an incredible few months of movie musicals by watching In The Heights, the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first hit, at the Ritzy next month. Katie Rosseinsky, Arts Commissioning Editor and Writer

In cinemas June 25

Hotel stay at Elmley Nature Reserve

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Travel both calms and energises me, so I’ve spent the bulk of this past year feeling simultaneously lethargic and panicked. Not a fun combo it turns out so I’m outta here the minute the clock strikes on May 17. Granted, I’m not going far. I’m off for a country romp at the beautiful-looking hotel at Elmley in Kent, which is just 40 miles from London and the only national nature reserve where you can stay overnight. It’s 3,300 acres of wild nature and wetlands where Romney sheep replace roadworks and the limited WiFi means you couldn’t do a Zoom call if you tried. Crucially, it does have a bar and a roll top bath… I may never return. Suzannah Ramsdale, Lifestyle Editor


Sunbleached moments were joyfully snatched when al fresco terraces opened – I treasured an afternoon spent on the Stafford’s cobbles, the air all grilled ribeye and sweet cigar smoke – but mostly, shivering in the cold-fingered winds, I have longed to be inside a restaurant. This is what restaurants are for; they exist as safe houses, places to duck under all the world’s pressures. Otto’s, the free-spirited French place on Gray’s Inn Road, firmly barrs all of life’s ills. With the duck and lobster presses, the red table lamps and the heavy wooden chairs, even small matters like what year it is begin to feel inconsequential. Inside, with the endless wine and kind service and friendly faces, there is a welcome. It enchants; I am smitten. David Ellis, Reveller Editor

Yayoi Kusama at Tate Modern

After I was unable to get a ticket to Yayoi Kusama’s sold out exhibition at the Victoria Miro way back in 2018, I’ve been waiting with baited breath for a chance to see the Japanese artist’s work in the flesh. Luckily for me, the Tate Modern is giving me a chance to redeem myself with the Infinity Mirror Rooms show that I’m catching on the first weekend that it’s on. We will be immersed into Kusama’s vision with the cartoonish, polka dot sculptures presented in the way in which they were intended - surrounded by mirrors with endless reflections. Ellie Davis, Acting Shopping Editor Previews from May 18. Open from June 14

Karve, High Street Kensington

My fitness routine is one of the many things that has taken a battering in lockdown. Home workouts are just not cutting it for me anymore, so I’ve been desperately counting down the days until I can get back into classes and have someone tell me what to do. One launch I’m excited about is Karve, a New York loft-style studio on High Street Kensington which is about to open its doors. Founder Yulia Pashevkina says she has developed the high-energy 50-minute ‘Transformer Pilates’ workout, which is set to pumping tunes and takes place on a spring-loaded carriage, to “karve” the body and mind, build strength and drive metabolism. The best bit? Everything’s low-impact (no burpees!) - it’s the perfect sweat sesh to ease me back in. Rosie Fitzmaurice, Features Commissioning Editor and Wellness Editor £40/two classes intro offer

David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy 2020 at the Royal Academy

The perfect post-lockdown pick me upDavid Hockney
The perfect post-lockdown pick me upDavid Hockney

If an algorithm was going to create the perfect post-lockdown pick me up, it would look a lot like this exhibition - fresh colours, budding flowers, all seen through David Hockney’s keen eye. “They can’t cancel spring,”’ was the message Hockney sent in the shock of last March’s lockdown, with an iPad drawing of daffodils. It gave me perspective and made me instantly feel better about the world. Cynics may think they have seen enough of nature when everything was closed and walking was the only thing you could do but actually all those trudges around the park mean I understand the outside world a bit better and what better way to celebrate that than by looking at these painting. Yes, they have been created on iPads and we’ve had enough of screens but I trust that Hockney knows what he is doing. Art galleries have been closed too long. It is ludicrous that commercial galleries were allowed to open before public galleries and museums and I can’t wait to put away my phone and disappear into David Hockney’s vision of spring. If the virtual queues to get tickets are anything to go by, I’m not the only one. We all need this refresh. Susannah Butter, Senior Editor and Features Writer

From £19, On until 26 September

Our Broken Planet: How We Got Here and Ways to Fix It at the Natural History Museum

It’s been quite the year so I’ll be over to the Natural History Museum from May 21st to see Our Broken Planet: How We Got Here and Ways to Fix It. Scientists have picked out a selection of unique items which each tell the story about our impact on the planet, the resilience of nature and the power of humans. I’ll be keen to check out jellyfish that thrive in warmer waters because we’ve overfished, the horseshoe crab - its blue blood is used as an antibacterial property in vaccines. The world’s largest butterfly which is now sadly endangered due to the production of palm oil, I’ll then listen to the songs from the museum’s Wildlife Garden of 66 birds, plus I really want to see the extinct Tasmanian tiger (Thylacines) which carried it’s young in a Kangaroo like pouch. And, if you fancy it, you can check out the work scientists are doing by digitising the genomes of bats to hopefully help prevent future pandemics (and yes they have *that* bat). Rachelle Abbott, Podcast Producer From May 21

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