You’re having a laugh, Uju, you might be thinking. How can we possibly have things to look forward to in 2021? We’re only 13 days into the year and the term ‘shit show’ doesn’t begin to cover it.
However, when you look beyond the headline horrors and lockdown lows, there are lots of reasons to be hopeful, even quite cheerful about the year ahead.
I’ve listed 21 things to look forward to in 2021 including new books and big movie releases, the end of Trump’s era, a dodgems exhibition at Somerset House (wheeee!), and Bridgerton season 2, 3, 4… and possibly more!
21 things to look forward to in 2021
1. Exit Trump
We’ve had it with Agent Orange. Enough now. Whether he’s inciting an attempted coup by a mob of angry Jamiroquai wannabes (and being blocked by Twitter and Facebook) or bleating about winning the election (you lost, Donald, BIGLY), his time is up. Now can they please put Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in some kind of bulletproof bubble wrap for Jan 20? Still, I can’t wait for the inauguration party. I’ll be dancing all year long.
2. A Shot in the Arm
Despite their gross mishandling of the pandemic, at least the UK government is rolling out a vaccination programme at speed. Boris claims they’ll have vaccinated the most vulnerable members of the population by March. We all know this is over-ambitious for a government that has yet to enact an adequate track and trace system. Also, a vaccine isn’t a magic bullet. However, it gives us hope for the near future. We can envision a time in which we can hug more people, hang out more freely, travel with less stress. If you have concerns about it, read this sensible BBC piece on why it’s worth getting the vaccine, this Wellcome article answering common vaccination questions, and this advice on what to expect after your vaccination.
3. Books, Books, Books
You might think 2020 was all about books for me since it’s the year I became a published author. However, I didn’t get to read much and cherished the time I spent over Christmas devouring fiction. This year, in addition to writing more books (watch this space), I have a mini goal of reading 21 books in 2021. I’m currently loving Love Orange by the wonderful Natasha Randall and I’ve just got my copy of Courttia Newland’s A River Called Time. Courttia was one of the writers on Steve McQueen’s breathtaking Small Axe film series and offered such kind early feedback for Bringing Up Race too. I’ll be sharing more reading lists on the blog soon. Get your bookmarks ready.
4. Fantastic Beasts: A Virtual Tour
The Natural History Museum’s main event was on my ill-fated 20 Things to Look Forward to in 2020 list. The exhibition was postponed until winter and had to close again in Lockdown 3000. So you’ll be pleased to know that Google Arts and Culture is offering a virtual tour of Fantastic Beasts. Discover weird facts and wild things from home with your own mini beasts.
5. Memorial Garden at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
This is a lovely and moving idea. A garden of blossom trees planted in honour of the Londoners we’ve lost to the pandemic. In partnership with the National Trust and supported by Bloomberg, the garden will feature 33 blossoming trees representing each of the capital’s boroughs and the City of London. Planting is set to begin in early 2021.
6. King’s Cross in Your Living Room
While we’re stuck at home, the good folk at King’s Cross have stepped up their virtual content for all ages and interests. Learn to cook with Dishoom, try an online fitness class, join in a family crafts workshop, listen to musicians, browse for delicious food to deliver to your door. There’s loads on, updated daily, accessible worldwide.
7. Birthday Swag
February is birthday season at Babes HQ. You can catch up on the latest Birthday Q&A as my homeboys turn 15 and 12 (gasp). And since we didn’t get to have a proper celebration for the blog’s 10th birthday (lockdown tings, innit), I’m pulling together some swag to mark Babes About Town turning 11. Make sure you’re signed up to my mailing list if you want to get your hands on the goodies.
8. Bringing Up Race: The Podcast
One thing I enjoyed doing last year was appearing on podcasts talking about raising kinder, anti-racist kids. Several of you wondered if I would host my own show. Actually, it’s something I had in mind since before the book launched. It will be a limited series to continue the conversations on race, microaggressions, hair, colourism and making a better world for all. Stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, why not grab Bringing Up Race on audiobook?
9. National Theatre At Home
During the first lockdown, we were so happy to catch Barbershop Chronicles on the National Theatre’s free YouTube channel. So I’m pleased to hear the National Theatre has launched a theatre subscription service, giving you unlimited access to a wealth of content. It’s not quite the same as being in front of a stage but it’s the next best thing.
10. Alice in Wonderland at the V&A
Follow the White Rabbit to South Kensington for the V&A Museum’s groundbreaking exhibition, set to open Mar 27. We’ve been anticipating this show since early 2020 and fingers crossed that it actually opens this time around. Costumes, films, music, art and storytelling draw you into the Curiouser and Curiouser world of Alice.
11. Dodge at Somerset House
Dodgems at Somerset House? I’m there. This is the kind of creative, immersive family activity that London does brilliantly. The opening has been postponed (grrr Covid) so keep an eye on the website for when Dodge tickets become available.
12. Big Movie Releases
Cinema. What is that exactly? Hopefully 2021 will be the year we get back to eating over-priced popcorn in Dolby surround sound. Hot movie releases include Coming 2 America (Mar 5); Raya and the Last Dragon (Mar 12); No Time to Die (April 2); Black Widow (May 7); Godzilla vs Kong (May 21); Minions: The Rise of Gru (Jul 2); and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story (Dec 10).
13. Stephen Lawrence Day
The Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation was launched by Doreen Lawrence and partners in Black History Month 2020. It’s an ongoing awareness and educational initiative that aims to create a world in which every child can flourish. There are many ways you and your children can take part, from fundraising to school activities. April 22 is Stephen Lawrence Day, marking the anniversary of when the 19-year-old was killed in an unprovoked racist attack in 1993.
14. West End Theatre
Can we get a cautious round of applause for the promise of theatre reopening? It’s been such a tough year for anyone in the arts (and every industry, frankly). We look forward to being swept away by some big shows of 2021: Sister Act, Life of Pi, Anything Goes, Get Up Stand Up: The Bob Marley Story, Singing in the Rain at Sadler’s Wells and Back to the Future the Musical (great Scott!).
Maybe you’re not ready to be cooped up in a dark theatre just yet. Head to the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park for 101 Dalmatians, a lavish musical production that’s sure to drive you and the kids dotty for another lockdown puppy.
16. Summer in London
Who else is counting down the days until summer? Spring still feels like a bit of a toss-up, virus-wise. By summer, things should be a lot more relaxed. Also London is at its finest in summertime with alfresco dining, open-air cinemas, rooftop hangouts and shenanigans in the park.
17. The Return of Live Music
Oh to be in a field, jostling with strangers, waving your hands in the air to summer anthems. When 2020 was cancelled, every live event quickly rescheduled for 2021 giving this year the feel of one long festival. There’s no guarantee that Boomtown Fair, Glastonbury, British Summertime and other mega-gigs will go ahead. But you might as well dig out those sparkly tops and dancing wellies just in case.
18. Tokyo Olympics
Is this a pipe dream? Can elite athletes defy the odds and put on the world’s biggest sports show in a pandemic? Maybe they’ll make the entire thing virtual somehow. It’s set to be a nail-biting finish for the Tokyo Olympics.
19. The Return of Baby Yoda
The cutest being in the galaxy? Think so, we do. Like most of planet Earth we were besotted with Baby Yoda when we finally caught up with The Mandalorian over Christmas. I gifted the boys with a Baby Yoda each and we’re proud to call them family. The Mandalorian Season 3 is slated for December 2021 and promises more kickass scenes and adorable waddling from the tiny Jedi.
20. Christmas in London
2020 Christmas wasn’t the Christmas most of us had wished for. Hopefully, a year later London will be fully open for a magical Christmas filled with shimmering lights, festive markets, pantomimes and ice skating. Book early for Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker, guaranteed to be one of the sell-out shows of the season.
21. Bridgerton: The Saga Continues…
Shonda Rhimes’ first production for Netflix was frisky, frothy, bodice-ripping fun. And so much eye candy I’m sure my face put on weight. Bridgerton season 1 was a massive hit and rumour has it they’re planning an 8-season run (to keep up with the 8 Bridgerton siblings). But will they be as juicy as the Duke and Daphne’s love match? Swoon.
What to do with the Kids in Lockdown
Adults and older kids ages 12+ might enjoy a Sherlock Holmes Online Adventure immersive game; younger kids (ages 0-8) will appreciate the Little Angel Theatre’s virtual shows and activities; catch Roald Dahl’s The Twits (ages 6-12, until Mar 3) or Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales (ages 8-12, until Mar 31) broadcast online from Unicorn Theatre; get the whole family dancing with Sadler’s Wells, English National Ballet or Zoo Nation; learn the art of weaving at Rich Mix; they are also running a FREE 10 week course on resilience and wellbeing, worth signing up!
Need more? Here are 15 ideas for lockdown with kids;
Take a look at these 200+ family activities: from homeschooling to indoor play;
Don’t forget my Weekend Scoop has loads of ideas for family fun and learning.