Apr 182015
 

8._Installation_view_of_Voss_Alexander_McQueen_Savage_Beauty_at_the_VA_c_Victoria_and_Albert_Museum_London (Large)

If you love seeing a true, original talent, then swiftly head for the Victoria and Albert Museum, London in South Kensington to see their blockbuster exhibition, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.

9._Installation_view_of_Romantic_Naturalism_gallery_Alexander_McQueen_Savage_Beauty_at_the_VA_c_Victoria_and_Albert_Museum_London (Large)

What a revelation this was – entering into the world of a privileged few who knew him, reviewed this designer or wore his clothes. It’s only by seeing the physical products that he produced that you understood what a raw and innovative talent this young Scot had – and what we lost when he left us.

6._Installation_view_of__Cabinet_of_Curiosities_gallery_Alexander_McQueen_Savage_Beauty_at_the_VA_c_Victoria_and_Albert_Museum_London (Large)

The skilful way in which the exhibition has been curated tells his story alongside his clothes – his Savile Row apprenticeship, his association with marques like Givenchy and the establishment of his own eponymous label. It’s easy to see why he was often referred to as the enfant terrible of fashion for his irreverent style and celebration of the gothic and grotesque – yet even in the most outlandish of collections, a beauty and grace shone through together with a surprising depth and grasp of historic knowledge and tradition.

3._Installation_view_of_Romantic_Gothic_gallery_Alexander_McQueen_Savage_Beauty_at_the_VA_c_Victoria_and_Albert_Museum_London (Large)

By walking through his life with this beautifully curated exhibit, I saw the skill and raw talent that he had and how his ideas have permeated every section of our society. The quote “You’ve got to know the rules to break them. That’s what I’m here for, to demolish the rules but to keep the tradition” really sums up this exhibition. You can still buy tickets for this exhibit and I urge you to do so. I came away both enlightened and informed. Just wonderful.

2._Installation_view_of_Savage_Mind_gallery_Alexander_McQueen_Savage_Beauty_at_the_VA_c_Victoria_and_Albert_Museum_London (Large) (2)

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, in partnership with Swarovski, supported by American Express and made possible with the co-operation of Alexander McQueen, runs from 14th March – 2nd August 2015 – www.vam.ac.uk/savagebeauty. Follow Victoria and Albert Museum on twitter @V_and_A and on Facebook: Victoria and Albert Museum.

Contributor: Sue Lowry Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Photographs: Reproduced courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

 

Mar 252015
 

As I mentioned last month there’s always something interesting going on at The Barbican Centre. The This Made Me Laugh film series (10-16 April) has ‘the funniest films, chosen and introduced by leading comedy figures’. Lenny Henry, David Sedaris, Miranda Hart, Mitch Benn, Amelia Bullmore, Jon Ronson, Caryn Mandabach and John Lloyd have selected titles ranging from cult classics and wild west satire through to crime capers and screwball comedy including This is Spinal Tap, Blazing Saddles, Bullets Over Broadway and To Be or Not To Be.

Bullets Over Broadway

Bullets Over Broadway

The Barbican Art Gallery has Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector on until 25 May displaying the fascinating personal collections of post-war and contemporary artists, including Peter Blake, Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol. And The Curve has Roman Signer’s Slow Movement (included in last month’s round up) on until 31 May.

 

It’s a good month for spectator sports as it’s the Oxford and Cambridge boat races on Saturday 11 April at 4.50pm and 5.50pm. Sporting history will be made this year when The BNY Mellon Boat Race is joined on the Tideway for the first time by The Newton Women’s Boat Race.

Image credit: MykReeve

Image credit: MykReeve

Over at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, there’s the British Swimming Championships at the London Aquatics Centre on 14 to 18 April.

And 26 April is the London Marathon from Greenwich to The Mall.

London Marathon

 

Back to Greenwich, the Cutty Sark Studio Theatre has performances throughout the month including comedy, music and drama. The Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe on 13 April looks particularly good.

And for another evening option, Felicity Kendal (she of The Good Life fame) is in Noel Coward’s Hay Fever from 29 April to 1 August at the Duke of York’s Theatre.

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

The Rose Playhouse has Macbeth on from 5 to 30 May by Shoreditch’s resident 5-star Shakespeare Company Malachite Theatre with this new site-specific production.

On 15 and 16 May, Tate Modern will be temporarily transformed into Musée de la danse (the Dancing Museum). A team of over 75 dancers will take over Tate Modern for 48 hours with an unfolding series of performances throughout the building and the project will also invite visitors to participate at selected moments in a warm up, a workshop and even a nightclub dancefloor in the Turbine Hall.

The Design Museum’s Camper, Life on Foot marks the 40 year anniversary of this independent family-run business whose shoes are purchased in their millions worldwide.

And book ahead for a Sunset Safari at London Zoo every Friday from 5 June to 17 July 2015.

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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.

Mar 132015
 
A special treat by Sue Lowry

A special treat by Sue Lowry

Afternoon Tea invigorates the body and mind with great food, drink and conversation. From just £25 per person, guests can marvel at the attractive presentation of cakes, scones and sandwiches on a tiered display, fit for a queen. Enjoy the variety of finger sandwiches including: smoked salmon with caper butter, egg mayonnaise & mustard cress or honey roast ham with English mustard, and of course, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. The platter also comes with a selection of pastries including a layered triple chocolate delice, Bergamot cupcake and mini macaroons. For drinks, guests can chose from Quarter Bar’s extensive tea collection or for an extra indulgent treat, enjoy a glass of Duval-Leroy Fleur de Champagne or sparkling cocktail for just £35 per person. For those looking for a smaller bite cream tea is served at just £10.

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.

Feb 272015
 

The Curve at the Barbican Centre could be a simple curved walkway but they are ensuring it is so much more than that with art installations. Swiss artist Roman Signer’s Slow Movement opens on 4 March (and stays until 31 May 2015) with a kayak that 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.

© Peter Hunkeler, Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth

© Peter Hunkeler, Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth

 

London theatre has some big names this month with Juliette Binoche starring in Antigone at the Barbican from 4 to 28 March.

Family drama comes to the National Theatre with Rules for Living starring comedians Stephen Mangan and Miles Jupp from 13 March to 8 July 2015.

And for a very short run the Coliseum has Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson in the English National Opera’s staging of Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber from 30 March to 10 April 2015.

Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel. © Chris Lee

Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel. © Chris Lee

 

As ever, there are many reasons to visit the South Bank area this month. The Rose Playhouse has A Chaste Maid in Cheapside on from 3 to 28 March 2015. This is arguably Thomas Middleton’s best known comedy. It takes a satirical look at the forlorn attempts of London’s new middle classes to scramble up the slippery pole of wealth and influence. Ambitious goldsmith Yellowhammer and his wife desperately push their daughter at rich Sir Walter Whorehound; who in turn is trying to offload his mistress, disguised as a respectable widow, to their son. Plots chase each other in an ever accelerating circle until chaos ensues amid wild hilarity and lots of happy endings.

The 5th Women of the World Festival is at Southbank Centre on 1-8 March 2015 with talks, workshops and performances celebrating women and girls.

And the Classic Car Boot Sale is at Southbank Centre on 14-15 March 2015 with over 100 vehicles and traders selling vintage fashion, homewares and memorabilia from the boot of their vintage vehicles. This event with a festival feel has become firmly established as a highlight in the calendar for vintage fans, classic car admirers and shopping enthusiasts alike.

unnamed (1)

 

Down on HMS Belfast artist Hew Locke has transformed an entire deck into a major new work titled The Tourists (from 26 March to 7 September 2015). On an imagined journey to the Trinidad Carnival in 1962, the crew of HMS Belfast set about preparing elaborate costumes, masks and props. Locke’s work expresses the joys, fears and dangers the sailors felt and experienced while at sea and furthermore brings into question HMS Belfast’s role as a military vessel, and the political and social impact she had on the people and places she encountered. Of course, the title of the installation is ironic – these are not tourists, and this is no cruise ship.

HMS Belfast is part of the Imperial War Museum and at the main IWM London site you can see Fashion on the Ration: 1940s Street Style from 5 March. Explore how fashion survived and even flourished under the strict rules of rationing during the Second World War with the men and women of Britain adopting more casual styles and demonstrating amazing ingenuity in renovating, recycling and creating their own clothes.

IWMFashion

© IWM. A woman pins a luminous flower onto her jacket lapel at Selfridge’s department store in London. These flowers were prettier than the plain button badges and luminous discs that were also available making the wearer more visible to other pedestrians and motorists on the dark streets of the blackout.

 

Now in its eighth year, Designs of the Year at The Design Museum celebrates design that promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice or captures the spirit of the year. The international awards and exhibition showcase design projects from the previous 12 months, across categories of: Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Product, Graphics, and Transport. The exhibition runs from 25 March to 16 August and a specially selected jury chooses a winner for each category and an overall winner to be announced at the Design Museum in May.

 

Further down the river at Greenwich The Queen’s House has Unseen: The Lives of Looking by Dryden Goodwin on from 5 March. This is Godwin’s first feature-length film, considering the act of looking. Charting a series of close encounters by the artist, the film focuses on three individuals with a particular relationship to looking: a planetary explorer, an eye surgeon and a human rights lawyer, with the artist’s own gaze tying the three together. The solo exhibition will include intensive drawings produced during the production of the film, as well as artefacts used by all four lookers in their work. In addition, items from the museum’s collections highlight three figures in the history of the Queen’s House, Royal Observatory and Royal Hospital School, to consider how working at Greenwich has always involved detailed observation. There are free curator tours on 11 and 25 March at 1pm, and In Conversation with Dryden Goodwin on 7 March.

 

While Mother’s Day in many parts of the world is in May, in London it comes earlier on Sunday 15 March this year.  I’d definitely recommend afternoon tea as a wonderful way to spend time with mum. The Quarter Bar & Lounge is excellent value too and even includes a complimentary glass of Champagne.

© London Bridge Hotel

© London Bridge Hotel

Clocks Change

Don’t forget, the clocks go forward one hour in the UK (and across Europe) to move to British Summer Time (BST) at 1am on the last Sunday in March so this year the date is Sunday 29 March.

BigBen

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

From the end of March look out for Shaun in the City with over 100 giant sculptures of Shaun the Sheep placed in iconic locations.

April is a sporty month with the Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race on 11 April and the London Marathon on 26 April. 

And it looks worth booking ahead for Macbeth at The Rose Playhouse from 5 to 30 May 2015. Newly arranged for the remains of The Rose Playhouse, Bankside, join Shoreditch’s resident 5-star Shakespeare Company Malachite Theatre as they follow Shakespeare and his first Macbeth, Richard Burbage, south of the river from Shoreditch to Southwark, with this new site-specific production.

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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.

Feb 182015
 

London’s longest running exhibition 1

You might think that innovative exhibitions were a modern-day invention but you would be oh so wrong.   The Tower of London is home to the longest running exhibition in the world – an exhibition of armour and armoury used as part Royal propaganda and part fantasy called The Line of Kings.  It’s been running for over 300 years.

London’s longest running exhibition 2

The exhibition was especially important around the time of the restoration of the monarchy and was first put together between 1688 and 1692, seeking to impress and underline the monarch’s right to rule.   Highlights include the wooden horses, many over 325 years old themselves and of course the armours of King Henry VIII, Charles I and King James I.

London’s longest running exhibition 3

The Tower of London is operated by Historic Royal Palaces and unlimited entrance is free to members. Adult entrance is priced at GBP22 and for children aged from 5 – 15, GBP11. There are discounted rates if booked online.

London’s longest running exhibition 4

Follow The Tower of London on Twitter @thetowerlondon and @HRP_palaces. You can also follow Chris Skaife, The Tower of London’s Ravenmaster @ravenmaster1. On Facebook/TowerofLondon.

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.

Contributor & photographer: Sue Lowry Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

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.’

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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.