Apr 252016
 

Hello longer days, more sunshine and happy times in London this month.

Photo London

London is celebrating photography across the capital throughout May, with Photo London at Somerset House as a focal point for city-wide exhibitions, and events.

From 19 to 22 May 2016, Photo London is a unique festival of photography, centred around a major international photography fair featuring over 80 exhibitors. The fair showcases the broad range of photographic practice, from vintage to contemporary. There are also talks and lectures, performances and installations.

The list of exhibitors includes galleries from Berlin, Cologne, Helsinki, Lisbon, Zurich, Tehran, Minneapolis, New York, Palm Beach, Santa Monica, Singapore, Tokyo, alongside the pick of London’s top photography galleries, with an extended ‘Discovery’ section for new and emerging galleries.

Some of London’s public museums and galleries featuring photography in May include:
Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed at the Barbican Art Gallery, Vogue 100: A Century of Style at the National Portrait Gallery and Performing for the Camera at Tate Modern.

The London Photo Festival is also on 19-21 May with the festival theme of ‘4 elements: Earth, Water, Air and Fire’. It’s held in Borough in The Crypt of St George the Martyr Church.

Somerset House from River

Somerset House from River © Hayes Davidson

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

For Shakespeare400, the Royal Shakespeare Company and amateur companies across the UK are performing the nation’s favourite Shakespeare play in a unique production.

The Dream2016 collaboration can be seen at the Barbican Theatre from 17 to 21 May when the RSC is performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in association with Tower Theatre Company and east London schoolchildren.

A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo by Topher McGrillis © RSC

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Topher McGrillis © RSC

 

London Wine Week

From 23 to 29 May, London Wine Week is on and attendees can purchase a £10 wristband to enjoy self-guided wine tours, events and tasting sessions across London.

The capital’s many knowledgeable sommeliers have put together a trail that leads intrepid drinkers on a journey to discover new grapes, varieties and vintages. The trips cover many enticing venues, including leading restaurants and small, lesser-known eateries to dusty wine vaults and renowned hotel bars.

London Wine Week

 

Charles Dickens Museum

Opening on 3 May (and on until 20 November 2016), The Other Dickens: Discovering Catherine brings Catherine Dickens away from the shadow of her husband with many personal items and letters displayed here in the couple’s first family home.

Catherine Hogarth married Charles Dickens in 1836. They lived together for the next 22 years, Catherine having ten children (two of whom were born at Doughty Street) in the first sixteen of those years, as well as travelling to America and living abroad. When they separated, Charles Dickens painted a harshly negative portrait of his wife but the exhibition helps to build a more rounded picture of a Victorian woman devoted to her children and part of a lively social group, who enjoyed frequent visits to the theatre, concerts and late-night parties. Catherine was also a published writer; her popular cookbook, What Shall We Have For Dinner, ran into several editions.

The Museum has commissioned sound artist Felicity Ford to make Hearing Catherine, a collection of six new works which bring Catherine’s voice back to Doughty Street. Introduced throughout the exhibition, a subtle combination of spoken word, music and field recordings use Catherine’s own words to give her a presence and build something of the atmosphere that she would have known in the family home.

Dickens After Dark is a special evening opening of the museum on 12 May for twilight browsing.

Charles Dickens Museum

 

Museums at Night

Museums at Night is on from Wednesday 11 through to Saturday 14 May 2016 and you can enjoy museums, galleries and heritage sites after hours.

On Friday 13 May, the Bank of England Museum is offering a rare opportunity for an evening visit. As well as the Museum displays, there will be presentations on banknotes, gallery talks and Bank staff will also be on hand to answer questions about gold.

Benjamin Franklin House and Dr Johnson’s House are also involved as well as Keat’s House and Banqueting House so there really is lots of choice in London.

 

Rose Playhouse

For more evening entertainment, The Rose Playhouse has Shakespeare’s dramatic comedy Measure for Measure on from 10 to 29 May 2016.

Vincentio, the Duke of Vienna, announces he is going on a diplomatic mission and sets in his place the upright Angelo to govern by the letter of the law. The Duke disguises himself as a priest to observe him. Isabella rejects a tainted world and devotes her life to the church, only to be dragged out of a nunnery to save her brother accused of sexual misconduct. Angelo has the power to save or slaughter but could be persuaded by Isabella, posing her a moral conundrum.

Over four hundred years after its first performance Measure For Measure’s heady mix of hypocrisy, money, power, sex, religion, justice and mercy continues to resonate in a world still battling with issues of compassion and fear.

Measure for Measure

 

Missoni Art Colour

Opening on 6 May (and on until 4 September 2016), Missoni Art Colour is at the Fashion and Textile Museum. The exhibition showcases over 60 years of fashion alongside paintings by leading 20th century European artists, and previously unseen textile studies, paintings and Arazzi by Ottavio Missoni, founders of this distinctive international fashion brand.

Missoni Art Colour

 

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the Things to Do in London in May 2016 from Kensington House Hotel, our sister hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

The new building at Tate Modern opens on 17 June with entirely new collection displays, 75% of which will have been acquired since 2000, when the main building opened.

There are more dates available to visit Parliament on most weekdays between 27 May and 3 June as well as 16/17 June and 23/24 June. These dates are in addition to the Saturday tours throughout the year and Monday to Friday summer tours between 26 July and 2 September.

The Serpentine Architecture Programme expands for 2016, with four Summer Houses joining the Serpentine Pavilion, open from 10 June.

And The Queen’s House reopens on 4 July 2016, to celebrate its 400th anniversary with refurbished galleries, including the King’s Presence Chamber and the Tulip Stairs. This beautiful royal villa was designed by Inigo Jones in 1616 for James I’s queen, Anne of Denmark, and completed around 1638 for Charles I’s queen, Henrietta Maria.

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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 AboutLondonLaura.com 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.

Apr 192016
 

BeFunky-Collage-1

Dutch flowers is a new major exhibition, which opened 6th April at The National Gallery, which through twenty-two works, examines the origins of the genre, to the height of its popularity in the Dutch Golden Age and its final flowering in the late eighteenth century. Coinciding with the flower shows at Chelsea and Hampton Court, the exhibition explores Dutch flower painting from its beginnings in the early seventeenth century to its peak in the late eighteenth century and is the first display of its kind in 20 years. At the turn of the seventeenth century, Netherlandish painters such as Jan Brueghel the Elder, Ambrosius Bosschaert and Roelandt Savery were among the first artists to produce paintings that exclusively depicted flowers. The sudden emergence of this genre is undoubtedly linked to the development of scientific interest in botany and horticulture at the close of the sixteenth century.

Dutch Flowers will be held at The National Gallery until 29th August 2016 and even better its free.

Do check out the latest offers as London Bridge Hotel has weekend rates from as low as £99. You cansign 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.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Contributor: Alexandra Pinhorn – Photographs: The National Gallery, London

Mar 242016
 

Don’t worry about April showers as we’ve got plenty of indoor ideas for this month (and some outside too for those warmer days).

Barbican Theatre

There’s lots to see at the Barbican in April. The month starts with a wonderful production of The Importance of Being Earnest with The Royal Opera from Tuesday 29 March to Sunday 3 April.

Gerald Barry’s adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest was performed in a concert version in the Barbican Hall and won a Royal Philharmonic Society Award. It subsequently received its first full staging in June 2013 in a production directed by Ramin Gray for The Royal Opera where it enjoyed a sell-out run in the Linbury Studio Theatre. Now this modern-dress production, giddy with cucumber sandwiches, smashed plates and megaphones, returns for a second London run of performances.

Barbican - The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest © Stephen Cummiskey

On Friday 8 and Saturday 9 April, there’s Boy Blue Entertainment – A Night with Boy Blue.

Ten years after Boy Blue’s founders Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy and Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante put hip-hop dance on the theatrical map with Pied Piper, the Barbican Artistic Associate revives selected hits from its Olivier Award-winning production and reveals a succession of slick new sequences as part of this exuberant show.

And at the end of the month there’s Kings of War from 22 April to 1 May. Three rulers in times of crisis, each faced with the life-or-death choice of whether to go to war. Their decision-making is laid bare, exposing the conflict between national concerns and self-interest. Shakespeare’s Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III became modern-day political leaders, all their fates unfolding in this single, radical adaptation.

Shakespeare

As 2016 is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death there are lots of events throughout the year. The highlight this month is The Complete Walk organised by The Shakespeare’s Globe to be the centrepiece of London’s celebration of Shakespeare’s life and work.

The Complete Walk

Over the spring weekend of 23- 24 April 2016, the banks of the Thames will come alive with an extraordinary, and completely free, celebration. Starting at 10am on Saturday 23 April, there will be 37 screens along a 2.5 mile route between Westminster and Tower Bridge showing a series of specially-made short films.

The Complete Walk is intended to be an interactive journey through Shakespeare’s life and work with performances from some of the world’s finest actors.

Gala Concert

Also on Saturday 23 April, the Shakespeare400: Anniversary Gala concert is at the Royal Festival Hall. Music from the London Philharmonic Orchestra will be interspersed with readings from the plays that inspired them, with the evening directed by Simon Callow.

British Library

The British Library has a landmark exhibition to take visitors on a journey through the 400 year history of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare in Ten Acts opens on 15 April (and runs until 6 September 2016).

The exhibition showcases over 200 unique and rare items such as the only surviving play-script in Shakespeare’s hand, an authentic Shakespeare signature, the earliest printed edition of Hamlet from 1603 and Shakespeare’s First Folio.

Rose Playhouse

The Rose Playhouse has one of Shakespeare’s best loved comedies on this month. Much Ado About Nothing is on from 5 to 29 April. Directed by Alex Pearson, this production examines the fragility of love: whether it is young love or an old flame.

Set in June 1945 after the war in Europe is over, Benedick and his younger friend Claudio have returned, eager to lose themselves in partying the summer away. But a very different kind of battle is brewing, and this time their foes are Beatrice and Hero. The two soldiers are clueless when it comes to affairs of the heart, and while the battle of the sexes is fought with words, not bullets, it can be just as brutal.

Tower Bridge

If you visit the high walkways of Tower Bridge this month, do have a look at Art at the Bridge – a showcase of 15 local, female artists with the theme ‘Building Bridges: The Female Perspective’. The exhibition forms a dialogue that reflects upon female perspectives in the community through a range of media. The exhibition is on display until 31 July.

TowerBridge

Conceptual Art

If you’d like a reason to visit the other London Tate gallery, Conceptual Art in Britain: 1964 – 1979 is at Tate Britain from 12 April to 2 August 2016.

This exhibition explores a period in British history, where artists abandoned the traditional approach to art and suggested news ways of engaging with the realities of the world beyond the studio. The radical and controversial works took inspiration from real world issues, which led artists to create works that often portrayed themes and issues, from feminism to troubles in Northern Ireland.

This exhibition shows conceptual art within the context of its time. Featured artists include Keith Arnatt, Conrad Atkinson and Victor Burgin.

Keith Arnatt, Art as an Act of Retraction, 1971

Keith Arnatt, Art as an Act of Retraction, 1971. Tate © Keith Arnatt Estate

Pick Me Up

The Pick Me Up Graphic Art Festival returns to Somerset House for the seventh year from 21 April to 2 May 2016. The festival displays all forms of graphic art including illustrations, animation, 3D installations and more from top emerging artists and established industry names.

This year, Pick Me Up will host a retrospective exhibition of works by typographer and printmaker Alan Kitching, featuring over 100 prints, showing his journey from apprentice to world-renowned designer.

Visitors will be able to meet some of the artists, designers and illustrators plus create their own work at hands-on workshops and events that run throughout the 12-day festival.

Goosebumps Alive

From the acclaimed designer of Alice’s Adventures Underground, explore Goosebumps Alive at the Vaults in Waterloo and immerse yourself in pure fear.

On from 6 April to 29 May, this immersive theatre experience is a twisted modern update of the 90’s cult horror series. Equal parts terrifying and riotous, it might just bring back nightmarish childhood memories you wish you had forgotten.

If that sounds too much there’s Goosebumps Kids available too for fun and adventure. Phew!

Goosebumps Alive

Udderbelly Festival

And if you would rather be hanging out in a upside down purple cow that’s OK this month as Southbank Centre’s Udderbelly is back from 7 April (and staying until 17 July 2016).

With a full programme of comedy, circus and family entertainment this is a fun place to hang out. Grab a drink at one of the biggest outdoor bars in London and enjoy delicious food in the pasture, which is completely free to enter.

Udderbelly

© Southbank Centre

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the Things to Do in London in April 2016 from Kensington House Hotel, our sister hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

The Fashion & Textile Museum’s next exhibition opens on 6 May. Missoni Art Colour explores the creative process of Italian fashion house Missoni and the textiles of Ottavio and Rosita Missoni in the context of 20th century fine art.

From 27 May, Above and Beyond is at the National Maritime Museum. Discover the wonder of flight and the marvels of aerospace innovation, design, and technology with this immersive exhibition.

In June 2016, Tate Modern will present the first international retrospective of Indian artist Bhupen Khakhar (1934-2003) since his death. Renowned for his vibrant palette, unique style and bold examination of class and sexuality, Khakhar played a central role in modern Indian art but was also a key international figure in 20th century painting.

And on 18 and 19 June, it’s Open Garden Squares Weekend with 211 gardens taking part this year. This is a unique opportunity to discover and explore some of London’s most fascinating squares, gardens and green spaces – most of which are not normally open to the public.

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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 AboutLondonLaura.com 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 212016
 

Recently The Hip Horticulturist, a well-established travel and gardening blog, wrote a great post on where to go for a ‘UK Weekend Getaway’. Within this piece they mentioned the London Bridge Hotel as the perfect spot to stay over anywhere else in London, which we’re thrilled about!

London Collage

There’s so much to see and do in London you will never be bored or short of things to do. So we definitely agree with them picking London as one of the best places to go for a few days break.

Within their piece The Hip Horticulturist also mentioned another great article on 101 Free Things To Do In London, which is a fascinating piece filled with some inspiring ideas. We thought this could be a great read for anyone venturing on a London break.

Now the bank holiday weekend is creeping upon us, it’s the perfect time to book a nice long ‘Weekend Getaway’!

Head over to our main website to search through our beautiful and unique accommodation from just £99 here.

 

 

 

Feb 262016
 

As spring arrives London is even more beautiful so we’ve got lots of suggestions and recommendations to keep you enjoying the best city in the world. From art and museums to theatre and annual traditions there really is something for everyone this month.

Unseen City

If, like me, you enjoy seeing behind the scenes then Martin Parr’s Unseen City photographic exhibition at Guildhall Art Gallery is definitely worth seeing. Parr was the City of London’s photographer-in-residence from 2013 to 2015. He’s captured the unguarded moments at private ceremonies, ancient and modern traditions, processions, banquets and more. The exhibition opens on 4 March and runs until the end of July 2016.

There’s a joint ticket option to see the Barbican’s Martin Parr curated exhibition, Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers which opens on 16 March (and runs until 19 June 2016). This exhibition considers how international photographers from the 1930s onwards have captured the social, cultural and political identity of the UK.

Lord Mayor’s Show, Guildhall, City of London, 2014.

© Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

Graffiti and the Everyday Utopias of the Street

London is also well known for being popular with street artists who display their work on disused buildings. Venturing Beyond: Graffiti and the Everyday Utopias of the Street at Somerset House argues against the belief that graffiti is ‘glorified vandalism’. The exhibition showcases newly-commissioned works of eighteen global street artists such as Shepard Fairey and Swoon.

A number of artists, including Horfee, Nano4814, Petro and Russell Maurice are creating works on site over the course of the exhibition, providing visitors with an insight into the processes of the practice. It all starts on 3 March and runs until 2 May 2016.

HuskMitNavn, Roll up, 2015

HuskMitNavn, Roll up, 2015

Russia and the Arts

The most important exhibition of Russian portraits ever to take place at a British museum opens at the National Portrait Gallery on 17 March. Russia and the Arts: The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky has celebrated portraits of key figures from a golden age of the arts in Russia: 1867-1914. They come from Moscow’s prestigious State Tretyakov Gallery and have not been seen together in Britain before. The exhibition runs until 26 June 2016.

© State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

© State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Marian Clayden

Bermondsey Street’s Fashion & Textile Museum has a new exhibition opening on 11 March (and running until 17 April 2016). Art Textiles: Marian Clayden is a retrospective of luxurious art textiles by this internationally collected designer. The exhibition celebrates the influence of a British-born artist (1937-2015) who transformed psychedelic tie-dyed fabrics into a million-dollar fashion business in the US.

Marian Clayden

Samuel Pepys

You hardly need an excuse to spend some time in Greenwich but do try and get to the National Maritime Museum to see Samuel Pepys: Plague, Fire, Revolution before it closes on 28 March. I recommended this back in December, not long after the exhibition opened.

The famous 17th century diarist lived through a time of turmoil and his diary brings us first person accounts as major events unfolded.

Samuel Pepys: Plague, Fire, Revolution

WOW

WOW is the annual Women of the World Festival at Southbank Centre. It’s on from 8 to 13 March 2016 and features over 150 events, including talks, debates, music, workshops, performances, plus WOW Speed Mentoring and the WOW Market. You can hear from outstanding thought leaders, trailblazers, activists and innovators, and join the debate on politics, love, relationships, consent, war and peacekeeping, the refugee crisis, gay rights, the media, and much more.

WOW 2016

The Caretaker

From 26 March to 14 May 2016, The Old Vic continues to showcase key British talent with Timothy Spall in The Caretaker. Harold Pinter’s groundbreaking classic comes to The Old Vic in a new production directed by Matthew Warchus. Disturbed handyman Aston has invited an irascible tramp to stay with him at his brother’s jumbled London flat. At first it seems that the manipulative guest will take advantage of his vulnerable host. But when Aston’s brother Mick arrives, an enigmatic power struggle emerges between the three men that is in equal parts menacing, touching and darkly comic.

Les Blancs

At The National Theatre from 22 March (to 4 May 2016) is Les Blancs, a powerful African story. Civil war and racial tension in post-colonial Africa plus the hope and tragedy of revolution. Powerful stuff and well worth seeing.

Les Blancs

The Boat Race

On Sunday 27 March it’s the 162nd annual Boat Race on The Thames. Oxford and Cambridge university teams race from Mortlake to Putney and always need you to add to the sporting cheers along the route.

It’s also Easter Sunday so be aware that many shops are actually shut for the day but reopen for the bank holiday on Easter Monday (28 March 2016).

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the Things to Do in London in March 2016 from Kensington House Hotel, our sister hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

It’s the annual London Marathon on Sunday 24 April 2016. Approximately 36,000 people run the marathon each year with most raising money for charities. The first half of the route runs just south of the Thames through Greenwich and Blackheath. After crossing the river on Tower Bridge, runners pass some of the capital’s famous landmarks, including the London Eye and the Tower of London, before finishing in front of Buckingham Palace.

The Cutty Sark Theatre has Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel on Friday 8 April 2016. Performed in period costume with live musical accompaniment, Austentatious is an entirely improvised comedy play in the style of the wondrous and witty Jane Austen. Based on nothing more than a title from the audience, a seasoned cast presents an eloquent, irreverent, 100% improvised take on the works of Britain’s best-loved novelist.

The UK’s foremost festival of international contemporary circus returns to Camden’s Roundhouse in April. CircusFest 2016 is a season of world premieres, amazing new productions and street performances from the hottest names in circus.

And on 17 June 2016 the new Tate Modern opens with a complete re-hang. The new ‘wing’ will mean 60% more display space plus a variety of spaces for visitors and for art, from the raw industrial Tanks to a panoramic roof terrace overlooking the London skyline.

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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 AboutLondonLaura.com 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 182016
 

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.

A special treat by Sue Lowry

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.

Jan 252016
 

What a great month to be exploring London. As 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death we’ve got a look at the month’s Shakespearean highlights, some flipping good fun and much more.

Shakespeare

The first production of 2016 at The Rose Playhouse is Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Starring Chris Clynes as Hamlet and Suzie Marie as Ophelia, there are performances from 2 to 26 February. Directed by Diana Vucane, this production seeks to journey through Shakespeare’s well-known play, focusing on the perspective of a disturbed mind, thus defying the reality-based structure of time and space, recognising solely the inconceivable logic of a dream.

2016 is an important year for The Rose Playhouse as they are raising the funds for The Rose Revealed Project to complete the 1989 dig. It is also the year they will particularly remember Philip Henslowe, who died on Twelfth Night 1616.

Hamlet at Rose Playhouse

Have you visited the stunning indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at The Globe? This month would be a perfect time to enjoy a candlelit production of The Tempest in the recreated intimate seventeenth century theatre.

Inspired by English colonial adventures and brilliantly conjuring up a magic and supernatural world, The Tempest is Shakespeare’s late masterpiece of forgiveness, generosity and enlightenment. It’s on from 17 February until 22 April.

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Photo credit: Peter Le May / The Globe

By Me William Shakespeare – A Life in Writing is a joint exhibition from The National Archives and King’s College London that brings six key Shakespeare documents together for the first time to provide a unique journey and fresh insights into Shakespeare’s life in London.

From 3 February to 29 May, at the Inigo Rooms at Somerset House, you can see Shakespeare’s Last Will and Testament and four of his six known signatures in existence – including his earliest and latest.

As an aside, also at Somerset House, is The Museum of Innocence. A free exhibition from 27 January until 3 April, this is a collaboration with Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk creating a physical manifestation of his novel of the same name.

Pancake Races

Shrove Tuesday is also Pancake Day and the date this year is Tuesday 9 February. We embrace the fun with races where teams have to carry a frying pan and flip a pancake while running to win. Spectators are always needed to cheer the teams and they are usually raising money for charity.

The Rehab Parliamentary Pancake Race is by the Houses of Parliament at 9.45am to 10.30am. The Great Spitalfields Pancake Race is at 12.30pm. And The Better Bankside Pancake Race is at 12.30pm to 2pm.

The one with the best ‘costumes’ though is The Inter Livery Pancake Races at The Guildhall in The City of London which starts at 12pm.

Inter Livery Pancake Race

© Laura Porter / @AboutLondon

Capturing The City

Staying in The City of London, Capturing the City: Photography at the Bank of England is now open at the Bank of England Museum. Their fascinating historic photography collection includes the history of photography too with early salt paper prints from the 1840s through to images taken by Royal Photographic Society photographers in 2015.

The exhibition explores an alternative and sometimes surprising history of the Bank, its buildings and staff, while also creating a history of London from the Bank’s perspective. Images of Threadneedle Street’s hidden emergency operating theatre and Sir John Soane’s ‘lost’ Bank have convinced me this is definitely one to visit this month.

VE Day at the Bank (WARHO56)

Photo taken from the Bank of England roof on VE Day. © Bank of England

Tattoo London

Nearby at the Museum of London, there’s another free exhibition but this time about the history of professional tattooing in London from the 17th century to today. Tattoo London is on until 8 May and reveals life inside four contemporary tattoo studios in the capital.

There’s an event on Monday 22 February – Tattoo London: Under The Skin – where you can meet the featured artists and hear talks at this after-hours adult evening.

Two Temple Place

Somewhere that’s worth visiting any time is Two Temple Place. It’s a fabulous late Victorian mansion built by William Waldorf Astor – once the world’s richest man, which explains the opulent interior.

The latest exhibition is about the beauty of Ancient Egypt and runs from 30 January to 24 April. Beyond Beauty: Transforming the Body in Ancient Egypt looks at the day-to-day routines of ancient Egyptians and the importance of appearance in the afterlife. Through artefacts spanning over four millennia, from 3,500 B.C. to 400 A.D., we can consider why Egyptians cared so much about transforming the way they looked and how our perceptions are influenced by the objects they left behind.

Performing for the Camera

Performing for the Camera is at Tate Modern from 18 February to 12 June 2016. It looks at the relationship between photography and performance, from the invention of photography in the 19th century to the selfie culture of today. The 500 images cover the humour and improvisation of posing for the camera, as well as photography as a serious art form.

Masahisa Fukase, From Window, 1974

Masahisa Fukase, From Window, 1974 . © Masahisa Fukase Archives

Botticelli and Treasures from the Hamilton Collection

This major exhibition at The Courtauld Gallery features thirty of Botticelli’s drawings for Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ alongside a selection of outstanding Renaissance illuminated manuscripts. Botticelli and Treasures from the Hamilton Collection is on from 18 February until 15 May 2016.

These drawings, dated to around 1480-95 and drawn on vellum, are rarely on display. They are accompanied by a selection of illuminated manuscripts, many from the time of Botticelli.

Sandro Botticelli Dante and Beatrice in the second planetary sphere of Paradise (Divine Comedy, Paradiso VI), around 1481-1495, Pen and brown ink over metal pen on parchment, 32,5 x 47,6 cm © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett / Philipp Allard

Sandro Botticelli, Dante and Beatrice in the second planetary sphere of Paradise (Divine Comedy, Paradiso VI), around 1481-1495 © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett / Philipp Allard

The Master Builder

For  a theatre recommendation this month I’ve chosen The Master Builder at The Old Vic Theatre from 29 January to 19 March. Ralph Fiennes plays Halvard Solness, a master architect, who has spent his lifetime building the tallest spires in the land. But when Hilde, a radiant country girl, descends unexpectedly into his world, age is confronted by youth, and a series of revelations build to a vertiginous climax.

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the Things to Do in London in February 2016 from Kensington House Hotel, our sister hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

There’s the 162nd university Boat Race on The Thames between Oxford and Cambridge on 27 March. In this annual competition Oxford is leading Cambridge 81 wins to 79 so it’s a close thing.

There’s more sport in The Velodrome in the Olympic Park when it’s the venue for the UCI Track Cycling Championships on 2 to 6 March.

The Fashion & Textile Museum has a new exhibition opening on 11 March. Art Textiles: Marian Clayden.
It’s a retrospective of luxurious art textiles in silk, velvet, cotton and felted wool by this internationally collected designer.

The Guildhall Art Gallery has a wonderful free photography exhibition on 4 March to 31 July. Unseen City: Photos by Martin Parr captures pomp, ceremony and unguarded moments in the City of London.

And for more light display joy in London, Shakespeare Son et Lumière is at The Guildhall on 4 and 5 March. It a free event with projections on The Guildhall building between 6.45pm and 8.45pm.

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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 AboutLondonLaura.com 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 202016
 

Flowers by Sue Lowry

“There are always flowers for those who want to see them2 – Henri Matisse

Do check out the latest offers as London Bridge Hotel has weekend rates from as low as £99. You cansign 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.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

 

Dec 272015
 

Happy new year! January is a great month to be in London as it’s never too cold here to get out and about. Grab your gloves and head out to see the city while it’s generally less crowded than December but just as enjoyable.

Twelfth Night

If you’re ready to welcome the new year head to Bankside, outside the Shakespeare’s Globe, on Sunday 3 January 2016 at 2pm for the Twelfth Night celebrations. It’s a free annual event that mixes ancient Midwinter seasonal customs and contemporary festivity.

The Holly Man arrives by boat on the River Thames and then there’s a Mummers’ Play put on by the excellent actors of The Lion’s Part who arrange this every year. Cakes are given out at the end of the play but bite in carefully as hidden in two cakes is a bean and a pea. If you have one of those cakes you are hailed King and Queen for the day and get a crown before leading the procession to the historic George Inn in Borough High Street to warm up with storytelling, the Kissing Wishing Tree and more dancing. This event is really recommended and happens whatever the weather. Here are some photos I took a few years ago.

Twelfth Night

 

Lumiere London

From 14 to 17 January 2016, Lumiere London will illuminate the capital. This is London’s biggest-ever light festival, and includes works by a host of international artists. Iconic architecture will be transformed with 3D projections, plus interactive installations and other extraordinary light works. The areas to explore are the West End and King’s Cross, centered on Granary Square.

Lumiere London

Produced by Artichoke. Photo by Matthew Andrews

 

London Glassblowing Classes

If you need a choice now to warm you up this is perfect. Close to the London Bridge Hotel, on Bermondsey Street, is London Glassblowing where you can buy beautiful artisan glassware and can see things being created in the workshop at the back of the shop. But instead of watching how about taking a glassblowing class?

On 17 and 23 January 2016 there are full day classes available where you can learn the basic techniques from qualified glass artists. The emphasis of the day is to provide an enjoyable and productive hands-on experience. The cost is £450, and includes a light lunch at a Bermondsey Street restaurant, all tuition and materials and the finishing of your pieces.

London Glassblowing

Or you could go across the road to the Fashion & Textile Museum as there’s the Liberty in Fashion exhibition which ends next month.

Barbican

While tickets have sold out to see David Tennant in Richard II at the Barbican Theatre (7 – 22 January 2016), there is Expiry Date on from 19 to 23 January 2016.

Swedish-born artist Anna Nilsson has devised a set where a ball bearing spins around weird and wonderful machinery and pendulums wave. It provides a backdrop for an abstract tale about time running out, characterised by four performers and their mix of wordless acting, juggling, singing and an incredible hand-balancing act.

Expiry Date, Barbican Theatre

Expiry Date, Barbican Theatre. Photo © Sigrid Spinnox

 

London International Mime Festival

London’s annual celebration of contemporary visual theatre is the London International Mime Festival on Saturday 9 January to Saturday 6 February 2016. Venues include Barbican, Southbank Centre and Tate Modern where performances include cutting edge circus-theatre, animation and puppetry, mask, physical and object theatre.

 

Southbank Centre

There is some excellent comedy also at Southbank Centre this month.

Stewart Lee – A Room With A Stew – Marathon Nights is in the Royal Festival Hall from Saturday 9 to Monday 11 January 2016. It’s your opportunity to see the whole of Stewart Lee’s new BBC2 TV series live, weeks before it is televised.

Stewart Lee

Stewart Lee. Photo © Colin Hutton

And on Thursday 21 January, also in the Royal Festival Hall, you can see Dave Gorman – Gets Straight To The Point. The innovative comedy mind behind Modern Life Is Goodish, Are You Dave Gorman? and Googlewhack Adventure presents his new live show featuring more of his pioneering blend of stand-up comedy and visual storytelling. Yes, there will be a PowerPoint presentation but audiences won’t need to worry about taking notes.

 

Book Slam

Book Slam is London’s leading literary nightclub and it has an unrivalled reputation for hosting varied bills of the most exciting literary and musical voices around. On 29 January 2016, the National Maritime Museum has a Samuel Pepys Book Slam special where the author and journalist Will Self will read a specially commissioned piece in the spirit of Pepys.

 

Tower Bridge Engineering Tours

On weekend days, until the end of March 2016, you can take an Engineering Tour of Tower Bridge. This means you get to go behind-the-scenes at one of the world’s most famous bridges. You get to go inside the Bridge Control Room and into the enormous Bascule Chambers below The Thames. Tours are £50 and you must book in advance.

Tower Bridge engineering tour

© Tower Bridge

You could also take another unusual tour on Sundays in January as the Tower of London has Twilight Tours on offer. Tours are led by a Yeoman Warder who won’t hold back on the spooky stories.

 

London Eye Annual Maintenance Closure

If you’re planning a winter trip on the London Eye do note January is when they have the annual maintenance closure. The dates for 2016 are 11 to 22 January (inclusive).

london eye

 

Guildhall Heritage Gallery

It’s worth going to the Guildhall Art Gallery this month as the Heritage Gallery has on show a rarely displayed deed for a property in Blackfriars which Shakespeare purchased in 1613 – one of only six surviving documents to carry his signature. This will be displayed alongside Shakespeare’s First Folio.

2016 is 400 years since Shakespeare’s death and there is a year of Shakespeare 400 celebrations planned. You can see the documents in the Heritage Gallery from 9 January until 31 March 2016.

 

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the Things to Do in London in January 2016 from Kensington House Hotel, our sister hotel.

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Next month brings Chinese New Year celebrations in London on Sunday 8 February and Valentine’s Day romantic fun on Sunday 14 February.

Tate Modern has Performing for the Camera opening on 18 February looking at how photography captures performance.

Over at Somerset House, The Courtauld Gallery has Botticelli and Treasures from the Hamilton Collection also opening on 18 February.

The first production of 2016 at The Rose Playhouse will be ‘Hamlet‘ by William Shakespeare on from 2 to 26 February.

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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 AboutLondonLaura.com 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 262015
 

We’ve reached the most festive month of the year so embrace the sparkle and start singing along to Christmas tunes as December in London is magical.

Shopping

If you would like to find some unusual gifts, while enjoying a mulled wine or hot chocolate, then head to the South Bank and Bankside Christmas markets.

Southbank Winter Festival

Southbank Winter Festival, © Southbank Centre

Between Tower Bridge and London Bridge is the London Bridge City Christmas Market with over 100 wooden chalets/stalls.

There’s another Christmas market outside Tate Modern and a third Winter Market outside the Southbank Centre.

The markets are open into the evenings which makes this a great month for a late night stroll next to The River Thames. Even if you don’t need to buy anything it can be fun to browse and soak up the atmosphere, as well as the tasty treats on offer.

Dazzle

Embrace the sparkle with Dazzle at gallery@oxo (OXO Tower, South Bank) where you can find the perfect jewellery for your Christmas outfit or a unique gift.

Dazzle is an annual exhibition of contemporary jewellery that has been running for over 30 years. This is where you can find handmade, unique work by more than 80 designers, ranging from the big, collectible names to rising stars. This year also includes handmade leather bags, scarves and knitted ‘wearable sculptures’ too.

There’s a late night Christmas themed shopping evening on 3 December when all of the OXO Tower shops will stay open until 8pm, with live Christmas music, special offers and, in Dazzle’s case, a gift wrapping service between 4 and 8pm.

Dazzle

Somerset House

There’s a wonderful free nostalgic exhibition at Somerset House this winter. TINTIN: Hergé’s Masterpiece is on until the end of January and explores the evolution of the artwork of Hergé, from the simplicity of early newspaper strips to the genre-defining graphic work of the later books.

The exhibition is open until 9pm on Thursdays and Friday and would be great to combine with a trip to the iconic Somerset House Ice Rink in the courtyard.

Somerset House Ice Rink

Goodnight Mister Tom

There’s a 10 week season of this much loved children’s classic at the Duke of York’s Theatre from 11 December to 20 February 2016. It’s the 35th anniversary of Michelle Magorian’s wonderfully uplifting tale and it is brought to life in this excellent stage adaptation.

Set during the dangerous build up to the Second World War, Goodnight Mister Tom follows young William Beech, who is evacuated to the idyllic English countryside and forges a remarkable and heart-warming friendship with the elderly recluse, Tom Oakley, played by David Troughton. All is perfect until William is suddenly summoned by his mother back to London.

Goodnight Mister Tom

IWM Out-of-Hours Tours

If you’d like to know more about the First World War, the Imperial War Museum offers evening tours of their First World War galleries on Saturdays at 6-7pm. Pre-booking is essential.

Height of Winter

The View From The Shard has a winter special created by Bompas & Parr (included with a standard ticket). It’s a sensory experience bringing together the ideas of perfumers, composers, psychologists and professors of visual culture (we’re told). While admiring the views you can also enjoy gem-studded snow dunes, a touch-responsive iridescent grotto and carolling plants. Total bonkersness but wonderful too.

height of winter

Barbican

The Barbican annual Christmas concert is on Monday 21 December. Featuring the Royal Philharmonic Brass, the City of London Choir perform traditional carols along with contemporary pieces too.

The ever popular Raymond Gubbay’s Christmas Festival includes The Best of Bond on Monday 28 December as well as the Viennese New Year’s Eve Gala.

Greenwich

Greenwich is easily reached from the London Bridge area by Thames Clippers. Go on Saturday 13 December and you’ll see the annual London Pantomime Horse Race which is a lot of fun. The pre-race shenanigans are from midday and the race starts at 1pm.

Pantomime Horse Race

Then head inside the National Maritime Museum where the latest major exhibition is now open. Samuel Pepys: Plague, Fire, Revolution is the largest ever exhibition about the famous diarist with 200 objects from national and international museums, galleries and private collections.

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

You may be lucky enough to get a ticket for this month but in case not this would also make a wonderful Christmas gift. Book ahead for an Exclusive Guided Tour of The State Rooms of Buckingham Palace on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in January.

We all need a good laugh in the new year and these events at the Southbank Centre stand out in January. Stewart Lee: A Room With A Stew – Marathon Nights is on 9 to 11 January at the Royal Festival Hall. It’s a marathon of stand-up comedy for Lee’s new BBC2 TV series. And Dave Gorman – Gets Straight To The Point* (*The PowerPoint), on 21 January, means more top comedy and an impressive PowerPoint presentation.

And a future art exhibition that sounds amazing is Botticelli and Treasures from the Hamilton Collection. Thirty of Botticelli’s exquisite drawings for Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ alongside a selection of outstanding Renaissance illuminated manuscripts will be on display at The Courtauld Gallery from 18 February.

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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 AboutLondonLaura.com 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.