As anyone who lives in London well knows, winter in the city can be about as much fun as a ferret down your trousers. Now I understand there'll be those who will argue that a ferret down the trousers is actually preferable to moping about the capital in the gloomy winter months, but they're usually the ones who haven't heard about the London International Mime Festival.
The enormous event has been running since 1977 and has brightened the lives of many an audience member wishing to escape the cold dark days prevalent at the start of every year.
Billed as Europe's showcase for groundbreaking visual theatre, the 19-day festival offers what its organisers are calling "a dynamic programme of award-winning new circus, performance art, physical and object theatre."
Six venues across the capital, including the Roundhouse and the Southbank Centre, will be hosting the festival's shows, the highlights of which include a performance by the internationally acclaimed NoFit State Circus in a co-production with France's Tattoo Theatre; Belgian acrobat-illusionist Claudio Stellato at Southbank Centre; and from Japan the butoh/street-dance icon Hiroaki Umeda, performing at the Linbury Studio Theatre.
The London International Mime Festival kicks off on Wednesday 11th January with Blind Summit's The Table at the Soho Theatre, an award-winning show (suitable for 12 years and over) about a puppet stuck on a table, which the Guardian described as "fiendishly clever" and the Financial Times as "dazzling."
One of the wonderful things about this acclaimed festival is that anyone who's interested can join workshops to find out more about this fascinating art form. They last for between one and two days and cost from as little as £25 to as much as £260. Places tend to fill up fast so if you'd like to find out more, click here.
There's also a chance to ask the artists involved in the festival about their craft, with special Meet the Artists events taking place over the 19 days. Click Meet the Artists" id="ccblink" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">here to get the details.
If you're not familiar with the world of mime, the festival's website offers an excellent 'help with choosing a show' page, with categories such as "shows using circus skills," "family-friendly shows," and "shows using technology" to help guide you.