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What's on in London this February 2016 near Kensington, London

While it can be cold in London in February it's also time for romance with Valentine's Day in the middle of the month. Use the cold days as an excuse for more time close to someone you love. London doesn't have extreme weather so it won't be too cold to get out together so here are some of the highlights to enjoy this February.

KEW GARDENS

While we might expect there to be little colour at Kew Gardens at this time of year fortunately we'd be wrong. Kew Gardens has an Orchid Festival from 6 February to 6 March 2016 in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. It's a celebration of Brazil's striking flora and is a riot of carnival colour inside the steamy hot house.

There are wonderful tunnels of lush tropical plants to wander through and even two enormous rainforest tree structures. The pond has five explosive figures alluding to the vibrant and flamboyant costumes of Brazilian carnival dancers.

There are special 'Orchids Lates' opening times on Thursday 11/18/25 February (and 3 March) from 6-9.30pm for more intimate evenings. The Brazilian theme extends to botanical cocktails, food, talks, music, samba and more.

And there's an even more special Valentine’s Late at Kew Gardens on Saturday 13 February, 6-9.30pm, in the hot house for cocktails and romantic music amongst the tropical colour.

THE MAGIC FLUTE

If you're looking for the right show to be your introduction to opera this is the one to see. The Magic Flute is at the London Coliseum from 5 February to 19 March 2016, and has been a jewel in English National Opera's repertoire since 1988.

This staging of Mozart's final opera has a pantomime-like storyline, well-known music and lots of comedy. It's a very modern take on the 17th century opera with a giant serpent, dancing bears and live performing birds.

Tickets are selling fast but if you are lucky you could get tickets for Saturday 13 February when there is also a pre-performance discussion with members of the ENO Orchestra.

SUFFRAGETTE SEASON

Following the success in 2015 of the film Suffragette, which includes several scenes shot at Westminster, in February and March it is Suffragette Season at the Houses of Parliament. There are two special tours available.

'From Petitions to Prime Minister: A Short History of Women in Parliament' is on Saturdays in February and March at 1pm, plus Wednesday 17 February 2016 at 1pm. This 90-minute guided tour through the House of Commons and the House of Lords focuses on the journey from early petitioning about women's suffrage through to the UK's first (and so far) only female Prime Minister and the prominent role of women in Parliament today.

The 'Votes for Women!' family tours are designed for parents visiting with children. These tours are followed by a range of optional family activities. The tour is on Saturdays in February and March 2016 at 1.30pm and 3pm, plus Tuesday 16 February 2016 at 1.30pm and 3pm.

WORKS ON PAPER FAIR

This annual art fair has moved to the Royal Geographical Society for 2016. The Works on Paper Fair is on 11-14 February across the entire ground floor of the building, including a specially built structure in the gardens.

As well as the pictures for sale, the 2016 fair offers a rare chance to see drawings by 'Cider with Rosie' poet and author Laurie Lee (1914-1997). After his death, his wife Kathy and daughter Jessy found a folder hidden under his bed in his study. The previously unseen paintings and sketches in the folder revealed that Lee had also been a prolific and talented artist throughout his life. 25 of the pictures from that folder are on display at the Works on Paper Fair.

CIRQUE BERSERK!

If you would like to see traditional circus thrills and skills, Zippos Cirque Berserk! is excellent live entertainment. The Peacock Theatre has this 'real circus made for theatre' from 8 to 24 February.

The international cast includes over thirty acrobats, jugglers, aerialists, drummers, dancers, clowns and death defying stunt-men. And there's a first for the West End stage with the legendary 'Globe of Terror' with up to four motorcyclists speeding at over 60mph inside a steel cage!

OTHERWORLDS

I mentioned this last month and it really is worth a visit. Otherworlds: Visions of our Solar System is a photographic exhibition at the Natural History Museum. The 77 composite images represent a joining together of art and science. Artist, curator and writer Michael Benson painstakingly processes data from NASA and ESA missions to assemble the photographs for display.

THE MECHANICS OF GENIUS

Across the road at The Science Museum, their next major exhibition is Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius. Opening on 10 February (and on until 4 September) this is our opportunity to get to know Da Vinci the draughtsman and inventor. Using close observation and taking inspiration from the natural phenomena around him, Leonardo created a remarkable body of mechanical drawings that showed a radical approach to the challenges of flight, manufacturing and war.

The exhibition takes the machines that Leonardo drew and reinterprets them in three-dimensional form, alongside games and multimedia installations. The 39 historical models in the exhibition – including flying machines, diving apparatus and weapons – were made in Milan in 1952 in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo's birth. They are displayed across the five sections of the exhibition, each of which focuses on a different area of knowledge and expertise within his practice.

V&A

Mentioned in December, the Julia Margaret Cameron photography exhibition is ending on 14 February.

Curtain Up: Celebrating 40 Years of Theatre in London and New York is a new free display opening on 9 February (and running until 31 August). To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Olivier Awards in April 2016, this display explores the extraordinary range of craft and collaboration that goes into creating award-winning plays, musicals and productions in the West End of London and New York's Broadway; two world class centres of theatrical excellence.

The show includes costumes, designs, models, photographs, archival production material, film and awards from productions such as The Phantom of the Opera, A Chorus Line and Wolf Hall.

Friday Late at The V&A this month is Radio V&A on Friday 26 February. Broadcasters, DJs, producers and radio art activists are taking over the museum airwaves to investigate the history and culture of radio. From a vital mode of communication to a bitesize podcast, this Friday Late explores the medium through oral histories, radical programming and sonic installations.

By choosing to stay at Fraser Suites Queens Gate you will be in the heart of Kensington, and a short walk away from some of these great events happening in February. Check-out our Special Offers and we hope to welcome you soon!  

Laura Porter writes the About.com London Travel site and AboutLondonLaura.com, plus she contributes to many other publications while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival that of our Queen. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.

Image credits:

Kew Gardens Orchid Festival: RBG Kew
The Magic Flute: Mary Bevan and Roland Wood © Robbie Jack
Suffragette Season: © UK Parliament / Mark Duffy
Works on Paper Fair: Laurie Lee self-portrait, c. 1936, © Jessy Lee
Zippos Cirque Berserk!: © Zippos
Otherworlds: Images courtesy Flowers Gallery. © NASA JPL/Michael Benson, Kinetikon Pictures
The Mechanics of Genius: Flying Airship © Archivio Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci – Alessandro Nassiri