7 Lovely Day Trips From London: February 2023
7 Lovely Day Trips From London: February 2023

The exterior of the Towner, a curvy concrete building painted in very bright colours, in a geometric pattern.

The Towner celebrates its centenary this year — though this particular building isn’t quite that old. Photo by Marc Atkins

Fancy getting out of London for a day, but not sure where to head? From snowdrops at a castle to afternoon tea in a crystal grotto, here are a few reasons to *temporarily) leave London in February 2023.

See our Beyond London section for further inspiration for trips out of London for a day, a weekend, or longer.

ABBEY BY NIGHT: Head to St Albans Cathedral after dark for an experience recreating the medieval abbey which once housed monks and pilgrims on this site. Abbey By Night is a chance to experience the medieval abbey at work through sights, sounds — and even smells — with clouds of incense, monk’s chanting, and tales of past residents shared with modern visitors. Find yourself some other things to do in St Albans while you’re there. 1 February (Hertfordshire)

HOUSEPLANT TAKEOVER: The glasshouse at RHS Wisley hosts a new display of hundreds of houseplants, on a nautical theme. Houseplant Takeover: Deep Sea Dive recreates a colourful reef under the sea, where familiar houseplants mix with weird and wonderful specimens among shipwrecks and treasure chests, including objects on loan from Cornwall’s Shipwreck Treasure Museum. There’s a children’s activity tying in with the display, making it an ideal half term day trip. 4 February-12 March (Surrey)

A table laid up for afternoon tea, inside the crystal grotto

Enjoy afternoon tea at Painshill’s Crystal Grotto

SONIA BOYCE: Artist Sonia Boyce was the first Black woman to represent the United Kingdom at the Venice Biennale. Her piece, Feeling Her Way, was awarded the Golden Lion at the 2022 exhibition, and now you can see that prize-winning work at the Turner Contemporary in Margate. The installation combines video, collage, music and sculpture, and is the result of Boyce bringing together five Black female musicians at Abbey Road Studios in London and Atlantis Studios in Stockholm. 4 February-8 May (Kent)

SNOWDROP WALK: Hever Castle — former home of Anne Boleyn, and a damn fine looking building — opens its gardens for a snowdrop walk. Wander among 115,000 flowers, including some more unusual snowdrop varieties, then warm up inside the castle or cafe. Find out more about Hever Castle, or seek out other places to see snowdrops in and around London. From 8 February (Kent)

PEACE DOVES: Thousands of individual handmade paper doves will be suspended from the ceiling of Rochester Cathedral this month. Peace Doves is an art installation by sculptor Peter Walker, and is free to visit during the day (as is the rest of the cathedral, though donations are encouraged). There are some special evening events, including Valentine’s Day and a live music night. Find other things to do in Rochester while you’re there. 11 February-21 April (Kent)

TOWNER 100: Eastbourne’s Towner Gallery celebrates its centenary this year (though its current, psychedelic building only opened in 2009). Temporary exhibition Towner 100: The Living Collection is already open, looking at how the gallery has chosen which artworks to display throughout its history. This month it’s joined by Towner 100: Unseen, a display looking at how the gallery acquires its exhibits, through gifts, bequests and purchases — and includes some pieces on show for the first time. 11 February-14 May (East Sussex)

VALENTINE’S AFTERNOON TEA: London’s most romantic restaurants not adventurous enough for your wooing plans? Head to Painshill Park on the London-Surrey border and indulge in a special Valentine’s afternoon tea inside the atmospheric Crystal Grotto, a twinkling, cavern-like structure in the middle of the lake. Do dress warm as it can get a bit chilly in there. Work up an appetite by wandering around the lake and seeing the other attractions, which you may recognise from the likes of Bridgerton. 13-14 February (Surrey)