From the Boat Race to coffee festivals and art deco cinemas: Five events to do in London this weekend

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From the return of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race to the London Coffee Festival, here are five events happening this weekend, April 1 to 3, we think you should check out.

With the clocks going back last weekend and the days getting longer, it’s safe to say we’re officially in spring.

As always there are plenty of exciting things to do both indoors and outdoors in the capital.

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Cambridge and Oxford Boat RaceCambridge and Oxford Boat Race
Cambridge and Oxford Boat Race

Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race

Between Putney Bridge and Chiswick Bridge Sunday April 3 (Women’s Race starts 2.23pm, Men’s Race starts 3.23pm) Free

Pick a side and cheer on the rowers at the annual Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, one of the world’s oldest sporting events, and one of London’s most popular.

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The boat race route with the best places to watch. Credit: The Boat RaceThe boat race route with the best places to watch. Credit: The Boat Race
The boat race route with the best places to watch. Credit: The Boat Race

Some of the best spots we recommend to watch the race are Putney Bridge, where Positively Putney is running a Street Food Festival at St Mary’s Church Square, Bishop’s Park, where you can find street food traders and a big screen to follow the action and Chiswick Bridge to catch the finish line.

The Truman Brewery’s four day coffee festival returns this year with a whole array of events.The Truman Brewery’s four day coffee festival returns this year with a whole array of events.
The Truman Brewery’s four day coffee festival returns this year with a whole array of events.

London Coffee Festival

The Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, E1 6QR March 31 to April 3 Tickets £24

From latte art master classes and plant milk pairing sessions to a barista tournament and even a coffee-themed art exhibition, the jam-packed programme of interactive demonstrations, workshops, talks and tasting sessions has something new to teach even the most avid bean connoisseurs.

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The Garden Cinema. Photo: @richard.vitola.jones The Garden Cinema. Photo: @richard.vitola.jones
The Garden Cinema. Photo: @richard.vitola.jones

Garden Cinema’s Women in the Mafia Festival

The Garden Cinema, 39-41 Parker Street, WC2B 5PQ Sunday April 3 Tickets £14

Covent Garden’s newly opened 1930s inspired cinema is hosting a mini festival this Sunday presented by Cinema Italia UK and organised by researchers from the University of Bath’s Politics department. Based on the theme of women in the mafia, the festival presents two films

First up is Kim Longinotto’s award-winning 2019 doc Shooting the Mafia, a fascinating piece about Letizia Battaglia, an Italian photographer whose career revolved around photographing the life and crimes of the Mafia in and around Palermo.

This is followed by Jonas Carpignano’s A Chiara, which premiered in Cannes last year and centres on a teenager’s discovery of her father’s ties with the Mafia in Calabria.

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Small Island at National TheatreSmall Island at National Theatre
Small Island at National Theatre

Small Island at the National Theatre

National Theatre, Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PX Till April 30 Tickets £20 to £89

The acclaimed, five-star production of Andrea Levy’s prize-winning novel, Small Island, returns to the National Theatre.

Hortense yearns for a new life away from rural Jamaica, Gilbert dreams of becoming a lawyer and Queenie longs to escape her Lincolnshire roots.

Small Island follows their lives through the Second World War until the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury, where hopes for the future soon meet the stubborn reality of post-war Britain.

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Adapted by Helen Edmundson and directed by Rufus Norris, this “resonant, funny and moving” play brings to life the tangled history of Jamaica and the UK.

Francis Bacon, Study for Bullfight No. 1, 1969.Francis Bacon, Study for Bullfight No. 1, 1969.
Francis Bacon, Study for Bullfight No. 1, 1969.

Francis Bacon: Man and Beast

Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD Till April 17 Tickets £24.50

Francis Bacon’s powerful new exhibition focuses on the Irish artist’s unerring fascination with animals: how it both shaped his approach to the human body and distorted it; how, caught at the most extreme moments of existence, his figures are barely recognisable as either human or beast.

Spanning Bacon’s 50-year career, highlights include some of Bacon’s earliest works and his last-ever painting, alongside a trio of bullfight paintings which will be exhibited together for the first time.

Seen together, these raw expressions of anxiety and instinct – both animal and human – feel poignantly relevant today.

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