Jan 262015
 

Without even mentioning Valentine’s Day or Shrove Tuesday (aka Pancake Day) I’ve got lots to get you out and about enjoying London this month.

A rare treat for February, you can take an exclusive guided tour of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace on 1 February. And there’s a Friday Late at the London Transport Museum on 6 February called Farewell Leicester Square. It’ll be a commemoration and celebration of the end of the First World War with lots going on including music from a 1920s-style live jazz band.

Over in The City the Guildhall Art Gallery and Bank of England Museum have reopened and both are free to visit.

There's a new display of gold bars at the Bank of England Museum

There’s a new display of gold bars at the Bank of England Museum

There’s a school holiday from 16-20 February before it becomes all glamorous with London Fashion Weekend at Somerset House from 26 February to 1 March. For more accessible style Oscar Week is being celebrated at The Barbican Centre from 27 February to 5 March presenting all of the Best Picture nominees in one week, plus the Barbican film quiz on 24 February will have an Oscar® theme.

THEATRE

L’Ormindo at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is a co-production between Shakespeare’s Globe and the Royal Opera. It’s on from 3 February to 5 March and is a comic and moving tale of the loves and betrayals of princes.

Susanna Hurreh as Hurrell Photographer: Stephen Cummiskey

Susanna Hurreh as Hurrell
Photographer: Stephen Cummiskey

At The Young Vic Man, three one-act plays by Tennessee Williams, tell the story of misplaced identity and repression, and reveal the tragic consequences of isolation.

Beautiful – the Carole King Musical transfers to the West End from 10 February following a Tony Award winning smash hit debut on Broadway. Carole King, the chart-topping music legend, was an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Beautiful, at The Aldwych Theatre, is the untold story of Carole King’s journey from schoolgirl to superstar.

ART

Marlene Dumas: The Image As Burden opens at Tate Modern on 5 February. Marlene Dumas is one of the most prominent painters of her generation and this will be the most significant exhibition of her work ever to be held in Europe. The show will bring together over 100 of her most important and iconic paintings and drawings, her experimental collaged works and her most recent canvases.

Marlene Dumas, Helena's Dream 2008 © Marlene Dumas

Marlene Dumas, Helena’s Dream 2008
© Marlene Dumas

At the Barbican from 12 February, Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist As Collector allows us to gain an insight into the inspirations behind some of the world’s greatest artists. The exhibition features collections from the likes of Peter Blake, Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Jim Shaw and Pae White, and creates a rare chance to see both a contrast and similarities between their influences, motives and obsessions.

The Courtauld Gallery has Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album from 26 February. This groundbreaking exhibition reunites for the first time all of the surviving drawings from one of Goya’s celebrated private albums. The albums were never intended to be seen beyond a small circle of friends, giving Goya the freedom to create images which range from the humorous, to the macabre and the bitingly satirical.

SPORTS

Over at ExCel The Triathlon Show is on from 12 to 15 February. With a focus on performance, the show offers everything you could need from the world of swimming, cycling and running to help prepare you for your next triathlon. Not only targeting experiences athletes, the show is a fantastic experience for individuals looking to undertake their first triathlon too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The RBS 6 Nations Championship is contested each season over seven weekends during February, March and sometimes April by the international sides of France, England, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. This month, (14 February) Twickenham Stadium will play host to the England VS Italy game.

EVEN MORE

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the Things to Do in London in February 2015 from Kensington House Hotel, our sister hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

The British Library is offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see two copies of the Magna Carta on display for the 800 years anniversary. Magna Carta: Law, Liberty and Legacy opens on 13 March 2015 and will explore the history and significance of this globally-recognised document, from its medieval origins through to what it has come to mean today.

The Curve at Barbican Centre is getting its new art installation from 4 March 2015. Internationally renowned for sculptural installations and video works, Swiss artist Roman Signer presents Slow Movement, a new installation for the Curve using the kayak – a longstanding symbol and form in his work for three decades. Specially made for this show, a kayak moves through the 90-metre long gallery towed by a rope suspended from the ceiling, navigating the Curve as if moving through a canal. The exhibition extends out to the foyer and lakeside, with two other kayaks installed across the centre in unexpected ways.

The London Electronic Arts Festival is at Tobacco Dock on 6-7 March 2015 with performances, screenings, interviews and installations.

It’s WOW (Women of the World Festival at Southbank Centre on 1-8 March 2015, and from 25 March 2015 you can see Designs of the Year at The Design Museum. These are ‘the Oscars of the design world.’

 ————————————————————————————–

Do check out the latest offers as London Bridge Hotel has weekend rates from as low as £99. You can sign up for special offer alerts here. And when you can’t be at the hotel, you can try making the Quarter Bar’s cocktails with these recipes.

Laura Porter writes the About.com London Travel site and 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.

Jan 142015
 
Lonodn-Bridge-5

Photo by Sue Lowry

London Bridge Quarter is a vibrant, historical district in the heart of the capital. Traditionally called the “Pool of London”, the area which stretches from London Bridge, beyond Potters Fields Park to just Past Tower Bridge on both sides of the Thames, has undergone somewhat of a transformation over the last few years with the final stages completed by 2018. The current stage finds London Bridge Station undergoing a little facelift, but don’t let the possible disruptions get you down as the underground remains unaffected.

By Sue Lowry

Photo by Sue Lowry

The best way to experience the revitalised London Bridge Quarter is to set up base camp here, before embarking on this 36 hour itinerary.

Saturday

 09.30:  Arrive at London Bridge Underground station and take the two minute walk to London Bridge Hotel. Leave your bags and head straight to Borough Market for brunch before the crowds start to swell.

Photo by Sue Lowry

Photo by Sue Lowry

 11.00: Experience the best view of London, 72 floors up from The View From The Shard.

Photo by Sue Lowry

Photo by Sue Lowry

12.30: See what life at sea was like below decks aboard HMS Belfast.

Photo by Sue Lowry

Photo by Sue Lowry

14.00: Catch a quick matinee at the Unicorn Theatre, famous for its youth theatre, which is now including some grown-ups within the performances as well.

Photo by Sue Lowry

Photo by Sue Lowry

19.00: Dine at Londinium and try out the new comfort menu (available in small and large portions, depending on your appetite!) before sipping a cocktail … or two … at Quarter Bar & Lounge.  Overnight at London Bridge Hotel.

Photo by Sue Lowry

Photo by Sue Lowry

Sunday

 09.30: Breakfast at the hotel and check out (leave your bags with the concierge) before heading to the Design Museum to see ‘Women fashion Power’ until 26th April.

03-Design-Museum-at-night-photographer-Luke-Hayes-Small

Design Museum at night. Photo by Luke Hayes

 12.30: Wrap up warm for a picnic lunch on Potters Fields Park, overlooking Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

Photo by Sue Lowry

Photo by Sue Lowry

14.00: Take a stroll down Bermondsey Street to see a live glassblowing demonstration at London Glassblowing

White Cube Bermondsey. Photo by Ben Westoby

White Cube Bermondsey. Photo by Ben Westoby

16.00: Get free entrance to exhibitions at White Cube Bermondsey, one of Europe’s largest commercial galleries.

19.00: time to head home…

Dec 272014
 

Happy new year! January is a wonderful time to be in London as our weather is never shockingly cold – however much we complain about it – and it’s usually the quietest month at the attractions. Because of this, it’s also when the London Eye closes for its annual maintenance so be aware it is not available from 5 to 16 January. 2015 also brings lots of changes to London Bridge station so do check the latest train travel information.

londoneye

 

A great reason to be in London at the start of the year is for the annual Get Into London Theatre ticket offers. The initiative offers tickets to 65 shows – including theatre, musicals and ballet – for £10, £15, £25, £35 or £40 covering performances from 1 January to 13 February 2015.

GILT

For a more unusual theatrical idea, The Rose Playhouse has The Rose Readathon on Saturday 17 January with six hours of non-stop readings of the works of Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare.

 

If you’d like to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, the Year of the Bus sculpture trails are staying on the London streets until the weekend of 10/11 January and will then be brought together at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for 24/25 January.

© TfL

© TfL

Or you could take A Walk Around Shakespeare’s London with a Museum of London guide to see London’s original theatreland and the City streets that inspired the bard’s plays. Walks are on 7 and 28 January and other future dates.

The Tower of London is offering Twilight Tours with a Yeoman Warder to visit some of the gruesome sights of the Tower and to hear the spooky stories which make it world famous. This is an outdoors after hours tour for over 12s only. Tours take place on Sundays, at 7-8.30pm, until the end of March 2015.

A03365

© HRP

 

Last month I told you that ‘The King has arrived‘ as there is a large exhibition about Elvis at The O2. As Thursday 8 January 2015 marks 80 years since the birth of Elvis Presley, the Barbican has an Elvis at 80: Viva Las Vegas evening with a presentation on Elvis from Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London, then a screening of the quintessentially Elvis movie: Viva La Vegas.

8 January is also the start of the 2015 London International Mime Festival (LIMF) – London’s annual celebration of contemporary visual theatre. The festival runs until the end of the month and has performances at the Barbican, Central Saint Martin’s Platform Theatre, Jacksons Lane, the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House, Sadler’s Wells, Soho Theatre and Southbank Centre.

If you’d like to keep the magic alive from the festive season I can recommend a visit to The Magic Circle. There are two evenings this month when you can enjoy At Home with The Magic Circle. These evenings of mystery and wonder features some of the club’s top magicians. Shows are for over 14s only. Book ahead for 13 and 27 January.

magiccircle

 

At Somerset House, The Courtauld Gallery opens its new space this month: The Gilbert and Ildiko Butler Drawings Gallery. This is the Courtauld’s first dedicated space for the display of drawings which was much needed as The Courtauld’s collection of drawings and watercolours is considered one of the most important in the UK.

The first in a series of revelatory displays here is Unseen which opens on 15 January highlighting works which have not been exhibited at The Courtauld in the last 20 years with drawings from the Renaissance to the birth of Pop Art.

 

Interesting choices for the end of the month include An Evening with the Stars at the Royal Observatory on 30 and 31 January for an evening of astronomy including a planetarium show about the sky on the night of your visit, viewings through their 18-tonne Victorian telescope and time on the Prime Meridian, plus astronomers on-hand to answer your questions.

And The British Museum has, what looks to be, a fascinating lecture on 30 January called Curses! The British Museum’s ‘unlucky’ mummies. There are two items in the Museum’s ancient Egyptian collection that are associated with alleged curses upon the Victorian gentlemen who donated the items. Although they have been largely forgotten, these thrilling tales formed the basis for all the ‘curse of the mummy’ stories that followed.

 

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the Things to Do in London in January 2015 from Kensington House Hotel, our sister hotel.

 

Looking Ahead

I’m looking forward to an exhibition of early photography at Tate Britain. Salt and Silver: Early Photography 1840-1860 opens on 25 February and runs until 25 May 2015. And The Courtauld Gallery has an exhibition reuniting for the first time all of the surviving drawing from one of Goya’s celebrated private albums. The Witches and Old Women Album is on from 26 February to 25 May 2015.

In March, ‘Shaun the Sheep’ sculptures will appear across London for a ewe-nique art trail. And in July, the National Portrait Gallery will dedicate a photographic retrospective to actress and style-icon Audrey Hepburn (from 2 July to 18 October 2015).

 

Do check out the latest offers as London Bridge Hotel has weekend rates from as low as £99. You can sign up for special offer alerts here. And when you can’t be at the hotel, you can try making the Quarter Bar’s cocktails with these recipes.

Laura Porter writes the About.com London Travel site and 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.

Nov 212014
 

London is sparkling now as the Christmas lights are switched on and the ice rinks are open.

Trafalgar Square

The Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree is the last to light up and the special evening there is on Thursday 4 December at 6pm. The tree comes from Norway every year as a thank you for our help during World War II and is decorated with simple white lights.

There’s a torch-lit procession for the Blessing of the Crib in Trafalgar Square on Sunday 7 December, and from 8 to 23 December you can enjoy carol singing in Trafalgar Square. (Nearer to the London Bridge Hotel, there’s an Annual Carol Concert at The Rose Playhouse on Monday 15 December.)

For indoor musical entertainment, St. Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square has popular free lunchtime concerts.

Also nearby, Grayson Perry will be giving a lecture at the National Portrait Gallery on Thursday 4 December. Who Are You? looks at portraiture and British identity, drawing on his current display of new work at the Gallery, and the people he met during this project.

GP-image

 

Christmas Movie

If you’re ready for a classic film, It’s A Wonderful Life is on at the Prince Charles Cinema throughout December. Starring a suicidal James Stewart as he struggles to ‘find himself’ it comes with a happy ending.

Its-A-Wonderful-Life

 

Another Christmassy idea, is the special candlelit readings of A Christmas Carol at The Charles Dickens Museum on Sunday 7 and 14 December, and Monday 8 and 15 December at 3.30pm and 6.30pm.

Shopping

For many, this is the season to indulge and the Southbank Centre Winter Festival has a Christmas market, cabaret, family events and much more. And, it would be hard to miss the Giant 7m high illuminated white rabbit sculptures by artist Amanda Parer.

© Rodney Campbell

There’s also the Magical Christmas Tree Maze made up of 300 real blue spruce Christmas trees and the Southbank Centre Express train taking passengers across the riverfront.

The foodies need to be there for the Real Food Christmas Festival on 19-23 December, and they should make a note of the Christmas opening hours at Borough Market.

Over in west London, there are Christmas shopping opportunities at the Chelsea Physic Garden from 2 to 12 December.

 

Christmas Past

The Geffrye Museum has an annual ‘Christmas Past’ exhibition, on from Tuesday 25 November 2014 to Sunday 4 January 2015,  where the 400 years of domestic interiors are adorned with traditional Christmas decorations for each era.

A good time to go would be on Thursday 4 December as there’s an open evening for A Georgian Christmas when the Christmas Past displays are lit by candlelight. Expect festive music and children can try a decoration-making workshop.

Christmas Past 1830

 

Walks

If you’d like to get away from the festive preparations for a while there’s an excellent guided walk in Kensington Gardens on Friday 12 December. This seasonal stroll will look at winter feasts, folklore and traditions. Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert introduced many of the traditions we recognise today.

 

Or you could choose A walk around Shakespeare’s London on Saturday 6, 13 and 20 December, at 10.30am. You’ll see the sights of Shakespeare’s London with a knowledgeable Museum of London guide passing many picturesque settings you might recognise from films.

There’s more Shakespeare at the Barbican with Royal Shakespeare Company – Henry IV Parts I and II from 29 November 2014 to 24 January 2015.

And more festive entertainment with Raymond Gubbay’s Christmas Festival including Glorious Handel by Candlelight, on Saturday 27 December, and Last Night of the Christmas Proms on Sunday 28 December.

 

Dinosaurs

From Thursday 4 December, The Natural History Museum will have on display the most complete Stegosaurus fossil ever found and the only Stegosaurus in a public collection outside the USA. This is the first complete dinosaur specimen to go on display at the Natural History Museum in nearly 100 years. The 150 million year old Stegosaurus stenops is the most significant dinosaur the Museum has acquired since the 1980s and will take pride of place inside the Museum’s Exhibition Road entrance.

© NHM, London

© NHM, London

Another good time to visit the Natural History Museum is for the Night Safari on Tuesday 9 December when you can meet three Museum scientists and hear them talk about their work on endangered species.

 

Buckingham Palace

This could make a very nice Christmas present: There are exclusive guided tours of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace from 12 December 2014 to 1 February 2015. Each tour is limited to just 30 guests who will have an expert guide describe the paintings, furniture, sculptures and porcelains, before offering a glass of champagne served in the Grand Entrance.

 

The King Has Arrived

We may be singing Hallelujah in the Christmas carols but it’s not that king we’re referring to here. It’s Elvis! The largest ever retrospective of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll opens at The O2 on 12 December. The nine month exhibition will showcase over 300 artefacts direct from the Presley family’s treasured Graceland Archives, some of which have never been exhibited outside of Graceland in Memphis.

 

Paddington Bear

Paddington the movie opens on 28 November and there are 50 Paddington Bear statues across London for Paddington Trails. A lovely addition to the love for the bear is A Bear Called Paddington at the Museum of London which is on until 4 January 2015. This free exhibition includes lots from the author’s family archives that have never been displayed before. I’ve been already and loved it.

© Museum of London

© Museum of London

 

Looking Ahead

January is a great time to be in London if you don’t mind it being a bit chilly. We don’t often get snow so come and enjoy the capital without the crowds.

A couple of things I’m looking forward to in the new year are the London International Mime Festival (8-21 January 2015). It’s the longest-established annual theatre season of its kind with innovative visual theatre from around the world performing at many venues including the Barbican, the Royal Opera House, Sadler’s Wells and Southbank Centre.

Plus, Churchill’s Scientists opens at the Science Museum on 23 January 2015.

 

Do check out the latest offers as London Bridge Hotel has weekend rates from as low as £99. You can sign up for special offer alerts here. And when you can’t be at the hotel, you can try making the Quarter Bar’s cocktails with these recipes.

Laura Porter writes the About.com London Travel site and 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.

Oct 242014
 

As Autumn moves towards Winter, November is a great time to be in London. Now that the clocks have gone back (you didn’t forget, did you?) we have darker evenings but that makes Bonfire Night so much fun.

© Nilfanion

© Nilfanion

Firework Displays

Remember, remember, the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot…

In 1605 Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. He didn’t succeed, and was caught and executed, but we now commemorate the date with firework displays. There are lots going on from 1 to 8 November so have a look at this handy list and wrap up warm to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at the sky.

Veteran Car Run

There’s a lot going on near the start of the month. Sunday 2 November is the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. Groups of cars start to leave Hyde Park from sunrise and go over Westminster Bridge towards south London. The cars can be seen in town until around 10am so this is fun to see if you’re up early.

© Krzysztof Marek Wlodarczyk

© Krzysztof Marek Wlodarczyk

Remembrance  Sunday

With all of the focus on the WWI centenary, this year’s Remembrance Sunday will be especially poignant.

poppy

Remembrance Sunday 2014 is on Sunday 9 November and it’s a time to reflect and remember. There is a National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in Whitehall in the morning. There is a parade from around 9.30am and a 2 minute silence at 11am. Members of the Royal Family will be attending.

© Richard Lea-Hair and Historic Royal Palaces

© Richard Lea-Hair and Historic Royal Palaces

Do go to the Tower of London too as the moat has been filled with ceramic poppies for the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation. The poppies are there until 11 November.

Behind-the-scenes at Tower Bridge 

From Saturday 15 November, you can book a Tower Bridge Engineering Tour running on weekends throughout December, January and March.

© Quistnix

© Quistnix

These two-hour tours usually sell out so do book ahead. After a self-guided tour of the high walkways and the Bridge’s Engine Rooms, one of the Bridge’s Senior Technical Officers escorts visitors to several areas normally out of bounds to the public, including the Bridge Control Room and the immense Bascule Chambers below river level.  Tickets are £50 each and visitors must be over 12 years old.

Sherlock Holmes

The latest major exhibition at the Museum of London has opened and is well worth seeing. Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die is on until 12 April 2015 and gives an insight to the world most famous consulting detective. (I reviewed the exhibition here.) To test your detective skills, can you work out where the entrance is to the exhibition?

Can you see the way in? You push open the second bookcase on the left.

No, it’s not by the hatstand on the right. You actually push open the second bookcase on the left.

Also at the Museum of London, A Bear Called Paddington opens on 14 November, and The Paddington Trail means 50 Paddington statues are across London from 4 November to 30 December. All of this is because of the new Paddington movie in the cinemas from 28 November. There’s a nice tie-in with the Sherlock Holmes exhibition though as the Museum of London will have the Paddington statue designed by Benedict Cumberbatch, the lead in the BBC TV series Sherlock.

Year of The Bus

As well as the Paddington bears, you can also go spotting decorated London bus sculptures across town.

© TfL

© TfL

There are 60 bus scultpures to find in the Year of the Bus Sculpture Trails with three trails in place already and another coming before Christmas.

Spooky Night Out

If Halloween wasn’t scary enough for you, The London Dungeon has some evening openings for grown-ups only. As well as the usual shrieks and fun there’s a Victorian Gin Palace Bar and a dressing-up box for all. Book ahead for Friday 7 and Friday 21 November and Friday 5 and Friday 19 December.

Lates

Another spooky, but more civilised idea is a Candlelight tour of The Queen’s House in Greenwich. This intimate evening tour with a curator is on Thursday 20 November, 7-8pm, and takes in The Art and Science of Exploration 1768-80 exhibition.

Lord Mayor’s Show

The highlight of the month for many is this annual free parade and show.

© Howard Russell

© Howard Russell

On 8 November, you can see the three-mile long parade go from Mansion House in The City of London to the Royal Courts of Justice. The Procession leaves Mansion House at 11am and arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice at 12.40pm where the Lord Mayor leaves the coach and swears an oath of allegiance before the return journey starts at 1.15pm and ends at 2.40pm.

If you’re up early, do go and see the Lord Mayor travelling down The Thames in the Queen’s Row Barge Gloriana in a flotilla from near Waterloo Bridge to Tower Bridge (which will open in salute) starting from 9am.

But don’t think that’s it as the day is capped off nicely with fireworks from a barge on The Thames, near Blackfriar’s Bridge at 5.15pm. The best views will be from the South Bank and the Victoria Embankment.

V&A Italian Cast Court

For some indoor culture during these colder days, the Victoria and Albert Museum is free and always worth a visit. The Weston Cast Court has been refurbished and reopens on 29 November.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Italian Cast Court features over 60 of the V&A’s finest 19th-century reproductions of important Italian Renaissance monuments. It includes some of the largest objects in the V&A’s collection, including the five metre high cast of Michelangelo’s David (c.1856), the set of electrotype doors cast from the Gates of Paradise at Florence Cathedral (c.1867) measuring over seven and a half metres in height and a plaster cast of a pulpit from Pisa Cathedral by Giovanni Pisano (c.1865).

For an enjoyable reason to stay longer at the V&A, on Tuesday 18 November, 6.30-7.30pm, Michael Palin is discussing the third volume from his diaries: Travelling to Work. Do book in advance.

Christmas is Coming

lights

Although we’re not in December you will see signs all over London that Christmas is coming soon. The Christmas lights are switched on across the West End during early to mid November and the ice rinks arrive at the same time.

LOOKING AHEAD

Book now for the latest theatrical adaptation of E. Nesbit’s classic novel, The Railway Children, at a new theatre space in King’s Cross from 16 December. I saw this a few years ago when it was at Waterloo Station and it’s a wonderful show. There’s a real steam train involved and I defy anyone do not shed a tear when Bobbie cries “Daddy, my daddy!” at the end.

If you’d like the opportunity to explore a disused tube station, tours of Aldwych station are available from 22 January to 15 February 2015. Booking opened on 27 October so get in quick as these tours are very popular.

Sep 252014
 

While there is still plenty going on around Bankside for the Merge Festival (ends 19 October 2014) don’t forget to see Alex Chinnock’s Miner on the Moon which was created for the 2013 festival and is an upside down house by Blackfriars Bridge which I mentioned back in January.

© Laura Porter

© Laura Porter

 

The Big Draw is on all month and there are lots of events across the country. Near to London Bridge Hotel, this talk at The Menier Gallery looks good and this vintage fashion drawing workshop at the Fashion & Textile Museum looks great too (although it is for 12-16 year olds).

 

If the darker evenings make you feel like heading to the cinema, the BFI London Film Festival is on from 8 to 19 October and has 248 films on offer. Or check out some of the events or festival menus for the London Restaurant Festival on from 8 to 27 October.

London Restaurant Festival illustration

 

 

NATURE

There are a couple of interesting events happening on Saturday 11 October at London Zoo and WWT London. London Zoo has a History and Architect Day and the London Wetland Centre has an introduction to bird watching day.

 

Another good way to support ZSL London Zoo’s conservation work is Roar With Laughter – a night of comedy on 17 October at the Apollo Theatre in Hammersmith.

 

TRADITION

London’s Pearly Kings and Queens are always a treat to see and they are having their Harvest Festival at St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden on Sunday 12 October. They are outside the church from 10am and are always happy to say hello. The church service is at 11am.

PearlyKing

 

MAJOR AUTUMN EXHIBITIONS

As I mentioned in September, the major autumn exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery is Anarchy and Beauty: William Morris and His Legacy 1860-1960 and it opens on 16 October 2014 (and ends on 11 January 2015).

William Morris by Frederick Hollyer, 1884. © National Portrait Gallery, London

William Morris by Frederick Hollyer, 1884. © National Portrait Gallery, London

I’m also looking forward to seeing the Sherlock Holmes exhibition at the Museum of London which opens on 17 October 2014 (and ends on 12 April 2015). This is the first major exhibition devoted to the world’s greatest detective in 60 years.

 

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

London Cocktail Week is on from 6 to 12 October and The Quarter Bar & Lounge is taking part. Once you’ve bought your festival wristband you can enjoy the signature cocktail for just £4.

If you enjoy free speech and sharing intellectual discussion the Battle of Ideas at the Barbican Centre on 18 and 19 October looks particularly good. It’s an annual event and encourages high level, thought-provoking debate.

Head down to Greenwich, to the National Maritime Museum, on Thursday 23 October (6.30-7.30pm) where The Virtue of Coffee will be discussed. Admission includes entry to the Ships, Clock & Stars exhibition.

If you are looking to buy something unique, Made London on 24-26 October is well worth seeing as it is one of the top selling events for designer makers in Europe.

On Sunday 26 October October Plenty is happening on Bankside and is one of the great quirky London traditions. It’s the annual Autumn harvest celebration and includes a procession and an outdoor play. Borough Market’s Apple Day is on the same day so it’s fun to attend both.

OctoberPlenty

 

Don’t forget, the clocks go back on the last Sunday of October so we gain an extra hour in bed on Sunday 26 October.

timeFlies

 

LOOKING AHEAD

As there’s a new Paddington Bear film coming out soon, fifty Paddington statues will be placed across London close to museums, parks, shops and key cultural and landmark hotspots. The Paddington Trail will be available from 4 November to 30 December.

The the big event for November in The City is the Lord Mayor’s Show which will be on 8 November with the usual wonderful procession of floats.

 

Do check out the latest offers as London Bridge Hotel has weekend rates from as low as £99. You can sign up for special offer alerts here. And when you can’t be at the hotel, you can try making the Quarter Bar’s cocktails with these recipes.

Laura Porter writes the About.com London Travel site and 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.

Aug 252014
 

This is a wonderful month to be by the water as London is having its first month-long Totally Thames Festival. The 30-day programme features over 100 river-related events along its entire 42 mile course through the capital.

Photo credit: Barry Lewis

Photo credit: Barry Lewis

Some of the highlights include a new sculpture for the River Thames by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman (he did the outsized Rubber Duck) which will be launched on 2 September and will remain at Nine Elms on the South Bank until 29 September.

I want to see the Mapping London free exhibition of rare maps of London at gallery@oxo (5-14 September, 11am-6pm) covering the dramatic transformations of the Thames landscape and the art of cartography from 1572 to 2013.

St Katharine Docks, next to Tower Bridge, has a free family-friendly celebration of classic, historic and working boats for the Classic Boat Rally on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 September, 11am-6pm. Both working and leisure boats will be in the dock for public enjoyment and tours. Highlights will include the Queen’s Row Barge “Gloriana” along with “Massey Shaw” fire boat, the Steamtug “Portwey” and SB “Cambria” amongst others.

 

GREENWICH

An excellent reason to head to the Royal Borough of Greenwich is the Tall Ships Festival from 5 to 9 September. The five day free festival is at historic Greenwich, Royal Arsenal Woolwich, Greenwich Peninsula and West India Dock.

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There will be opportunities to board some tall ships moored along the Greenwich waterfront and there will be evening fireworks displays on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 September. The festival launch and closing Parade should be well worth seeing.

Another reason to go to Greenwich this month is the Greenwich Comedy Festival from 24 to 28 September.

 

FOODIES

Tobacco Dock is the place to be for all carnivores as Meatopia on 6-7 September is a complete meat feast. (And don’t forget you can get a Londinium Rib Eye Steak at the London Bridge Hotel.)

Bermondsey Street Festival on 20 September will have lots of local food and drink as well as live music and stalls and a popular dog show.

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Carnival del Kerb is bringing street food to SE1 on 5 and 12 September for Friday night fun at The Paperworks. The Carnival evenings will run from 5pm to 11pm, bringing together 12 street food traders alongside live music and a full bar.

 

TRANSPORT THEME

On Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 September 2014, London Transport Museum opens the doors of its Depot in Acton, for the Battle Bus Open Weekend with activities focusing on the role of London’s Transport in the First World War. Visitors will have access to the Depot’s vast collections store which only opens to the public occasionally. A highlight of the open weekend will be the appearance of the Museum’s 1914 B-type bus No. 2737, now stripped of its London paintwork and converted into a wartime ‘Battle Bus’ with khaki livery and boarded up windows, ready to transport troops to the Front Line.

Acton

 

In central London, at Design Junction from 18 to 21 September, you can visit a London bus themed bar too.

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DESIGN FESTIVALS

The MERGE Festival returns from 18 September to 19 October with exhibitions, performances, events and happenings drawing on the rich heritage and contemporary culture of Bankside.

London Design Festival is on from 13 to 21 September and is using the V&A as the main hub for the nine day event. A broad range of installations will be spread throughout the Museum, including a kinetic sculpture in the Raphael Gallery by designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby. The two suspended large mirrored silver structures will alter the perception of the gallery, cast new views on the Raphael cartoons and create an immersive experience for the visitor, I’m told.

 

EXPLORING

One of my favourite weekend’s of the year is Open House London when over 800 buildings open their doors for visitors to nose around. I’ve been inside government buildings, historic and modern houses, windmills and many more fascinating places. This year the fun is happening on 20 and 21 September.

I’d also recommend the Walk London Autumn Ambles Weekend on 26 and 27 September as there are lots of free guided walks on offer to give you a reason to get to know a new area.

If you find yourself in the City, look out for the Sculpture in the City artwork on the streets. And across London look out for the Talking Statues.

 

ALSO

If you’d like a free wet shave you should visit the Yes Sir Social Media Pop Up on 18-20 September in Marylebone. You simply pay with a tweet, facebook status update or Instagram.

If crafts are your thing, Kirsty Allsop’s Handmade Fair is at Hampton Court Palace from 19 to 21 September.

The Geffrye Museum has its annual celebration of ceramics at the Ceramics in the City fair on 19/20/21 September.

And if you’d like to know the mathematical secrets of The Simpsons and Futurama, this event at the Science Museum on 27 September will help.

 

Looking Ahead

On 17 October, the next major exhibition opens at the Museum of London about everyone’s favourite fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes. I’m also really looking forward to the major autumn exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery which opens on 16 October: Anarchy and Beauty: William Morris and His Legacy 1860-1960. And LEGO is in focus at The Art of The Brick which opens on 26 September.

 

Do check out the latest offers as London Bridge Hotel has weekend rates from as low as £99. You can sign up for special offer alerts here. And when you can’t be at the hotel, you can try making the Quarter Bar’s cocktails with these recipes.

Laura Porter writes the About.com London Travel site and 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.

Aug 212014
 

The Shard

The View2

The view 3

The View 4

The View

Here’s some View facts:

  • The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe
  • The View is situated on floors 68, 69 and 72 – the last is open aired
  • The View From The Shard is twice the height of any other viewing platform in London.
  • It costs (at the time of writing) GBP24.95 for a timed entrance for an adult and GBP18.95 for a child.
  • For more information – www.theviewfromtheshard.com / Twitter:  @ShardView

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

 

Jul 252014
 

July was an amazing month for sporting fans with the Tour de France coming to London, as well as the Wimbledon Tennis Championships and the World Cup.

For more sporting memories head to the Museum of London where a new gallery opens in the courtyard on 25 July called Designing a Moment: The London 2012 Cauldron. This new pavilion was built by the same technical team behind the London 2012 Cauldron and is the first permanent addition to the museum since 2010.

© Heatherwick Studio

© Heatherwick Studio

The gallery includes two huge sections of the Cauldron – including the original steel stems and test versions of the copper elements. Combined they are some of the largest objects the museum has ever acquired. One section presents the Cauldron in an upright position, as it was for the majority of both Games. The other is the Cauldron in an open formation, as if frozen at that climactic defining moment of the opening Olympic ceremony. Yeah, I expect it’s going to be quite emotional seeing this one but I’m looking forward to it.

The big cycle race this month is Prudential Ride London – a two-day festival of cycling on 9 & 10 August. On the Saturday there’s an eight-mile traffic-free cycle around London and on the Sunday a race from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for a 100-mile challenge. There will be large screens to watch the action in Green Park and on The Mall, and there will be festivals in Wimbledon and Hampton Wick in west London.

PrudentialRide

 

There are many reasons to go to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this summer – and not only for the fountains which seem to keep many families entertained all day.

fountains

The Great British Carnival on Sunday 27 July is a day of dance, music and performances from midday with a grand finale at 8.30-9.30pm of The Carnival of the Animals: a magical twilight crescendo of costumed performers, 300 dancers, giant carnivalesque creatures and extraordinary illumination.

Shademakers Horses

 

And it’s National Paralympic Day on 30 August so the QE Olympic Park will be the place to see Paralympics GB medallists in the London Aquatics Centre, plus international athletes competing in Boccia, Goalball and Wheelchair Basketball at the Copper Box Arena. There will also be loads of free, family-friendly entertainment plus the Mayor of London’s Liberty Festival with deaf and disabled artists performing street theatre, dance, live music, and much more.

 

If you have the kids with you, and it is school holiday time, Eltham Palace has activities for young explorers every Sunday to Tuesday throughout the month. Events range from Awesome Archaeology, to the Ugly Bug Safari, plus a Knights & Princesses Academy. I’ll admit, I’m tempted myself.

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As this month is the centenary of the start of World War One there is a suggestion to turn our lights out at 10pm in the UK on 4 August as a time to reflect. Another interesting project is The Letter to The Unknown Soldier at Platform One at Paddington Station where the statue is reading a letter and we’re all invited to write to him. But the biggie in London is the reopening of the Imperial War Museum with new First World War galleries as well as the new objects in the redesigned and larger atrium. (My review.)

IWM

 

Another centenary celebration is at ZSL London Zoo during the Little Creatures Family Festival from Friday 29 to Sunday 31 August as it was 100 years ago that Winnie the bear arrived at the zoo. The black bear was a mascot for the Canadian regiment and was given to London Zoo at the start of World War One. The author A.A. Milne often brought his son, Christopher Robin, as the young boy really loved the bear.

Winnie the bear and Christopher Robin. © ZSL London Zoo

Winnie the bear and Christopher Robin. © ZSL London Zoo

 

The Geffrye Museum in east London is celebrating its centenary this month and the tri-centenary of the opening of the almshouses for the poor and elderly. It’s a museum of English domestic interiors and has period room-sets to admire from the 17th century to today. The summer events will be indoors and out as they have period gardens too, and there’s lots of fun planned including a free family day on Sunday 17 August.

 

As this is now truly summer time it’s good to plan more outdoor time and the Books About Town trails are fun for all ages. Fifty benches have been placed around London – grouped into four trail areas – designed by local artists and famous names to celebrate London’s literary heritage. Enjoy finding the benches, or simply sitting in the sunshine to read a good book. There are events happening at the benches throughout the summer. For example, the That’s Not My… bench has a photo booth on Wednesday 6 August. The benches are staying until 15 September and will then be auctioned for charity.

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Planning Ahead

If the Londinium grilled rib eye steak makes you salivate you’ll want to know about Meatopia on 6 & 7 September. And if you want to feel more connected to the famous Thames river that divides London, Totally Thames is a festival running throughout the whole of September.

 

Do check out the latest offers as London Bridge Hotel has weekend rates from as low as £99. You can sign up for special offer alerts here. And when you can’t be at the hotel, you can try making the Quarter Bar’s cocktails with these recipes.

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

Jul 162014
 

Vegetarians look away now. Today we celebrate the humble steak, always a guaranteed  crowd pleaser and this grilled rib eye, isn’t just any grilled rib eye, it is a Londinium grilled rib eye!

Take 2,000 years of Roman history, mix with a measure of contemporary design, blend with red suede furnishings and rich brown walnut floors, add a pinch of soft lighting and crisp white linen and sprinkle with relaxing music and a welcoming ambiance … and you’ll get a taste ofLondinium.

Londinium can be found on the lower floor of London Bridge Hotel. Open in the evening from 5.30pm – 10.00pm daily with dishes starting at GBP6.00.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.