Jul 212016
 

Revealed 2016

As well as the free London Bridge City Summer Festival and its sport, music, theatre and open-air films (mentioned last month) there’s a series of art installations and events happening across London Bridge and Bermondsey this summer too.

Revealed includes artworks which take inspiration from nature, bringing pockets of colour to locations in the London Bridge area and highlighting some of the top attractions nearby including HMS Belfast, The View from The Shard, Unicorn Theatre, the Fashion & Textiles Museum and Tower Bridge.

Summer Screen at Somerset House

For more open-air screenings, there’s the Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House from 4 to 17 August. This is London’s largest outdoor cinema for two weeks featuring the UK premieres of Things to Come, Julieta and Captain Fantastic. The schedule also includes cult classics such as RoboCop, Jackie Brown and Trainspotting.

SomersetHouse

Dr Johnson’s House

Also as mentioned last month, this is the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London. Dr Johnson’s House, just off Fleet Street in The City, is commemorating the Two Great Fires of London: 1666 and 1940.

Samuel Johnson compiled and wrote the first English dictionary and, in London, is most well-known for saying, “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”.

His former home is a Grade 1 listed small historic townhouse built in 1698 as part of local reconstruction after the Great Fire. It was saved from the Blitz some 240 years later thanks to the Auxiliary Fire Services who used the building as their meeting ground.

For this exhibition a special selection of archival material is on display in the very garret that still bears scars from the Great Fire of 1940.

Height of Summer at The Shard

Visit The View from The Shard before 18 September and you can see London’s highest summer garden.

In celebration of The Year of The English Garden, the open-air Skydeck on Level 72 (800ft above ground level) has a temporary garden featuring thousands of blooms.

Visitors can enjoy the colourful British plants with a garden-inspired cocktail from the Skydeck pop-up bar, and take in the panoramic views.

The View From The Shard Summer Garden

Groundhog Day

Director Matthew Warchus, composer and lyricist Tim Minchin, choreographer Peter Darling and designer Rob Howell – four of the creators of the international sensation Matilda The Musical – have joined forces with writer Danny Rubin to collaborate on this new musical based on his 1993 hit film starring Bill Murray.

Groundhog Day is at The Old Vic until 17 September with American actor Andy Karl taking the lead role. His Broadway credits include Rocky, Jersey Boys, Wicked and Saturday Night Fever so this looks like a real must see.

County Cricket

While international games sell out in advance it’s usually possible to get tickets on the day for a County Cricket league game at Lord’s.

Middlesex is the London team and they get to call Lord’s their home ground. Middlesex has matches on 2 August, 4-7 August and 13-16 August.

You could also book for a Tour of Lord’s, visit the MCC Museum or consider afternoon tea in the Long Room.

ENGLAND V INDIA 1ST TEST FRIDAY 22ND JULY 2011 LORD'S DAY TWO

Punk on Film at BFI Southbank

Punk on Film at BFI Southbank is on for the whole of August with a season of films curated by the film director, DJ and musician Don Letts. Through documentary, archive footage and feature films, the season draws attention to the diversity of the punk movement, how it has been depicted on film, and its huge influence on filmmakers past and present.

You can see iconic films from pioneering filmmakers such as Derek Jarman (Jubilee) and Kenneth Anger (Scorpio Rising); films that embrace Punk’s DIY ethos including Russ Meyer’s Faster Pussycat… Kill! Kill! and David Lynch’s Eraserhead; and features and documentaries which feature seminal punk bands such as Alex Cox’s Sid and Nancy and Don Letts’ Grammy award-winning documentary The Clash: Westway to the World.

There are also introductions from key commentators, and special events dedicated to Women in Punk, Punk on TV and the unique intersection between Punk and the Jamaican music scene.

Punk on Film

Eltham Palace

This south London Art Deco palace has lots of fun for families this month. The Kings and Queens event on 1-3 August is likely to be popular as children can try to impress royalty, master their curtsy, bow like a pro and train to amuse without being a fool.

This is followed by the Ugly Bug Safari on 8-10 August giving kids the opportunity to grab magnifying glasses and join the big hunt for some mini beasts and discover a bug’s life.

Curtains rise for mini leading men and daring divas at Curtain up for the Theatrical 30s on 15-17 August. Young visitors can shine in the limelight as they take to the stage 1930s style and discover theatre from the great golden age.

New for 2016, children need to choose their side and start their training at Heroes and Villains on 22-24 August. Summer is rounded off with Train the Troops on 29-31 August. Little ones can train to become a home-front hero and get hands on discovering Eltham Palace’s secret wartime past.

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

The Landlubbers’ Maritime Folk Festival is at the National Maritime Museum and Cutty Sark in Greenwich on 24 September. Stomp your feet to sea shanties, hear the salty yarns of the figureheads or try your hand at some traditional maritime crafts.

This is just one of the events for the Totally Thames Festival in September. Totally Thames brings the river to life with a month-long season of river-related events: art, music, open days, family fun, talks, walks and boats galore.

And another event for the 40th anniversary of punk is Punkplay at Southwark Playhouse on 7 September to 1 October. The play is told at breakneck pace with a killer soundtrack. It’s a coming-of-age story about subcultures, friendship and not-fitting-in – all on rollerskates.

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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.

Jun 252016
 

Houses of Parliament Contemporary Art

Westminster Hall has two new artworks to see this month. New Dawn is a six metre high light sculpture by Suffragette Artist-in-Residence Mary Branson. It is the first piece of abstract art commissioned for permanent display in the Palace of Westminster.

The Ethics of Dust is on display from 29 June to 1 September and was created by artist, architect and conservationist Jorge Otero-Pailos. The artwork is a 50 metre long translucent latex cast of Westminster Hall’s east wall, now suspended from the roof, and contains hundreds of years of surface pollution and dust.

Both can be seen when attending a tour or you can visit for free but must book tickets in advance.

© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Ragnar Kjartansson

Ragnar Kjartansson is an Icelandic performance artist and this is the first ever survey of his work in the UK. The exhibition is at the Barbican and opens on 14 July (and runs until 4 September). It includes film and performance as well as his less well known work as a painter and draughtsman.

His artwork explores the boundary between fact and fiction, as well as constructs of myth and identity. Donning various guises from a foot soldier, to a Hollywood crooner, to the incarnation of death, Kjartansson both celebrates and derides the romanticised figure of the artist as cultural hero.

Kjartansson has created a site-specific performance and there will be women in a rowing boat on the lake kissing each weekend.

Ragnar Kjartansson, The Visitors, 2012. Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York and i8 Gallery, Reykjavík ©. Elisabet Davids

Ragnar Kjartansson, The Visitors, 2012. Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York and i8 Gallery, Reykjavík ©. Elisabet Davids

Frog Morris

On Saturdays throughout the month Frog Morris, a local artist, is performing with the traders of Bermondsey Market in (and around) Bermondsey Market Square and Bermondsey Street.

It all sounds very family-friendly and looks like a good reason to visit the Bermondsey Square Farmers’ Market.

Waterloo Food Festival

On throughout the whole of July, Waterloo Food Festival is an annual celebration of local food businesses. This is the eighth year and there are tastings, masterclasses and demonstrations on offer, and even two days for kids on 20 and 21 July.

Download your Gastro Passport and enjoy gin masterclasses and beer tastings to brunches, lunches, supper clubs and banquets.

Waterloo Food Festival

Titus Andronicus

This violent tragedy by William Shakespeare has shocked and fascinated audiences since its first performance in 1594 at The Rose Playhouse. Back at the venue from 5 to 30 July, Titus Andronicus is about a fictional Roman General in the latter days of the Roman Empire.

This highly physical take on Shakespeare’s tragedy is directed by New York City-based director Jung Han Kim whose unique style shapes his interpretation of Shakespeare’s bloodiest play.

Titus Andronicus

Georgia O’Keeffe

Opening on 6 July, and on until 30 October 2016, Tate Modern has the UK’s first retrospective of American artist Georgia O’Keefe in over 20 years.

Considered to be a founding figure of American modernism, this ambitious and wide-ranging overview will reassess O’Keeffe’s place in the canon of modern art, charting her progression from early abstract experiments to late work.

Featuring more than 100 works, which have rarely left America since her death in 1986, the display includes her 1932 Jimson Weed painting (seen here), which in 2014 became the most expensive painting sold at auction by a female artist when it was bought for $44.4m.

 Georgia O'Keeffe Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1, 1932 Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Arkansas, USA Photography by Edward C. Robison III© 2016 Georgia O'Keeffe Museum/DACS, London

Georgia O’Keeffe
Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1, 1932
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Arkansas, USA Photography by Edward C. Robison III © 2016 Georgia O’Keeffe Museum/DACS, London

Fire! Fire!

This year is the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London and the Museum of London has a new major exhibition, Fire! Fire!, opening on 23 July.

The exhibition focuses on life on the eve of the fire, the dramatic events that took place as the blaze burned through a quarter of the city in 1666, and how London recovered from the devastation.

This is one of the Museum of London’s most immersive and interactive exhibitions to date. Visitors walk down a recreated Pudding Lane and into the bakery to see the fire start. They then walk into an ‘oven’ to watch the fire spread.

Against a 10 metre long backdrop in the room showing London on fire, there are a variety of incredibly fragile flame-scarred archaeological artefacts that reveal the destructive power of the inferno.

Oil painting of the Great Fire of London, seen from Ludgate (c) Museum of London

Oil painting of the Great Fire of London, seen from Ludgate (c) Museum of London

London Bridge City Summer Festival

London Bridge City Summer Festival is London’s largest free outdoor festival. There’s live entertainment, food and drink all summer long from Tower Bridge to London Bridge.

There’s sport and films to watch, plus street performances and live theatre. Enjoy all with a cocktail from the tropical pop up food and drink experience, London Riviera.

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

Over at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, Above and Beyond is a ground-breaking exhibition about the wonders of flight and mankind’s remarkable journey to space. Created in collaboration with NASA, this exhibition hopes to inspire the next wave of engineers, pilots and astronauts. You’ve got until 29 August to see it.

Throughout August, BFI Southbank is hosting a season of films curated by the film director, DJ and musician Don Letts. Through documentary, archive footage and feature films, the Punk on Film season draws attention to the diversity of the punk movement, how it has been depicted on film, and its huge influence on filmmakers past and present.

Children will love the summer adventures at Eltham Palace including the Kings and Queens event on 1-3 August, and the Ugly Bug Safari on 8-10 August. This event gives kids the opportunity to grab magnifying glasses and join the big hunt for some mini beasts and discover a bug’s life. There’s more fun happening in August but we’ll share that in our next monthly round-up.

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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.

May 252016
 

The Queen at 90

The second weekend in June is going to be an exciting time in London because we’ll be celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Special events are taking place all weekend starting with a National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday 10 June. The public are not allowed to enter the cathedral for the service but we should be able to see the Queen enter from the street.

The rest of the weekend is taken up with the annual Trooping the Colour parade on Saturday 11 June which is free to watch along The Mall. And on Sunday 12 June there’s The Patron’s Lunch, London’s largest ever street party also happening along The Mall. While tickets are not available there are Live Sites in Green Park and St James’s Park which are free so we can all watch on large screens and enjoy a festival atmosphere.

Changing of the Guard

© visitlondonimages/ britainonview/ Pawel Libera

 

New Tate Modern

On 17 June 2016 the new Tate Modern opens with a complete re-hang, bringing together much-loved works from the collection with 75% new acquisitions made for the nation since Tate Modern first opened in 2000. The most recent work to join the collection will take centre stage in the Turbine Hall: a huge sculpture of a tree almost seven metres tall, created by acclaimed artist Ai Weiwei.

The world’s most popular gallery of modern art will be even more international, diverse and engaging, with works by over 300 artists from around the world displayed across the existing Boiler House and the new Switch House – the most important new cultural building in Britain for almost 20 years, adding 60% more display space.

For the opening weekend the gallery is staying open until 10pm as there are lots of special events planned including music and free screenings. And for the first three weeks there is a free programme of performance-based works (17 June-3 July) including Tino Sehgal’s gallery attendants bursting into song.

New Tate Modern

The new Tate Modern © Hayes Davidson and Herzog & de Meuron

 

Bhupen Khakhar

Another reason to visit Tate Modern is to see the first international retrospective of Indian artist Bhupen Khakhar (1934-2003) since his death. Opening on 1 June (and on until 6 November 2016) the exhibition looks at his vibrant palette, unique style and bold examination of class and sexuality across five decades.

Khakhar combined popular and painterly aesthetics, international influences and provocative subjects. He played a central role in modern Indian art but was also a key international figure in 20th century painting.

 

Shakespeare’s Southwark

In this 400th year since Shakespeare’s death we are celebrating the Bard all year.

Shakespeare knew this part of London well and this month you can join guides from Southwark Cathedral on revealing walking tours of Bankside and the Southwark church that he and his actor friends knew.

The Cathedral itself has many Shakespeare links and was known to the Bard as St Saviour’s parish church. You’ll visit the site of the original Globe Theatre and see the replica Globe too while walking along riverside streets trod by Shakespeare and see the ruins of a grand medieval palace he would have known very well.

event_Shakespeare_Walk

 

Barbican Theatre

Another Shakespeare 400 event, The Shadow King is at the Barbican Theatre from 22 June to 2 July 2016.

Shakespeare’s King Lear is reimagined by Malthouse Theatre, Australia’s foremost Indigenous actors, transporting the story to the resource-laden terrain of northern Australia. The Shadow King is a blood-soaked tale of two Indigenous families divided by land, identity and legitimacy.

Told through modern English, Kriol languages and a score, including Aboriginal ‘dreamtime’ songs, performed live by an onstage band, The Shadow King fuses music, new text and video to create provocative and epic theatre.

 

Phaedra(s)

Also at the Barbican Theatre this month ( 9–18 June) is Phaedra(s). Embodying one of Greek mythology’s most enigmatic characters, French screen and stage actress Isabelle Huppert makes a rare London appearance to play Phaedra, her story relocated to a modern world.

This new production is directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski, Artistic Director of Warsaw’s Nowy Teatr, and is based on the provocative text of Sarah Kane’s Phaedra’s Love and incorporates extracts from J M Coetzee’s novel Elizabeth Costello.

 

The Alchemist

More interesting theatre this month, The Rose Playhouse has The Alchemist by Ben Jonson on from 7 to 30 June 2016.

Ben Jonson published a Folio edition of his works in 1616 making this the 400th anniversary year of this witty farce.

When the wealthy Lovewit leaves disease-ridden London he expects his butler, Jeremy, to look after his home. But Jeremy links up with two fellow swindlers and they try everything to get rich quick yet constantly looking over their shoulder in case Lovewit returns.

The Alchemist

 

My Family: Not the Sitcom

Comedian David Baddiel is at the Menier Chocolate Factory with My Family: Not the Sitcom – on until 25 June. It’s a totally disrespectful celebration of the lives of his mum and dad, and tackles the taboo subjects of ageing, infidelity and gay cats.

It’s a reminder that just because a family member has died we can talk about the reality of their lives and it’s not always positive. In fact remembering the weird times and their flaws can be a good thing too.

Screenshot 2016-05-24 at 19.06.46

 

Spirit Drawings

Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawings is at the Courtauld Gallery from 16 June to 11 September 2016 showcasing a series of automatic ‘spirit drawings’ where the fluid forms and dense rich patterns of the work anticipate the abstraction of early 20th century art.

In the 1860s and 70s, Georgiana Houghton produced a series of largely abstract watercolours. Detailed explanations on the back of the paintings declare that various spirits guided her hand. In 1871 Houghton rented a gallery in Bond Street and presented 155 of these works to a London audience. While the majority of Houghton’s work survives in the Victorian Spiritualists’ Union in Melbourne, up until now her work has been largely unknown beyond a circle of specialists.

Georgiana Houghton - The Eye of God, c. 1862. © Victorian Spiritualists' Union Melbourne, Australia

Georgiana Houghton – The Eye of God, c. 1862. © Victorian Spiritualists’ Union Melbourne, Australia

 

London Bridge City Summer Festival

Starting on 1 June, and running until 31 October 2016, the London Bridge City Summer Festival is happening riverside between Tower Bridge and London Bridge. There’s free interactive arts and entertainment inspired by fringe festivals around the world.

The London Riviera pop-up food and drink experience is back and there’s a big screen showing all the summer’s sporting events plus cult and classic movies.

 

Weekend Punk

For the closing weekend of the Design Museum, as it leaves Shad Thames to move to Kensington, there’s a Weekend Punk Festival. On 25 and 26 June there’s two days of creative disruption celebrating of one of London’s most distinctive design movements, with fanzine-making workshops, music, spoken word and other events shaping a fitting last weekend for the museum.

Design Museum Punk Museum

 

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love is on from 9 July to 29 August 2016. This is the third summer-long Festival of Love features a wide-ranging programme of performances, music, differently-themed weekends, exhibitions and installations across the site.

Waterloo Food Festival is on from 30 June and throughout July and has unique tastings, masterclasses and demonstrations as part of its 2016 Festival.

You can enjoy a Pre-Edinburgh Comedy Festival at the Cutty Sark Studio Theatre from 22 July to 4 August.

And Tate Modern has a Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition on from 6 July to 30 October 2016. This will be the UK’s first large-scale, monographic show of her work for more than twenty years.

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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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

————————————————————————————–

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.

Oct 282015
 

Autumn is well and truly here now but that’s no reason to hide away indoors. London lights up this month as the Christmas lights are switched on and shopping becomes an important activity. But, as ever, London has a lot more to offer so here are my recommendations for November in London.

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November…

The 5th of November is Bonfire Night and we remember when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament over 400 years ago. Large public firework displays take place across London so you will have no problem seeing some pyrotechnics in the sky that night.

file1771278445217

You could go to Southwark Park for the evening fun and there are many more displays planned for the weekend too.

I also think it would be a good time to book a tour at the Houses of Parliament which is open to the public on Saturdays. Saturday 7 November still had tickets available when I checked.

Day of the Dead

The month also starts with the Day of the Dead which is the Mexican time for coming together to remember loves ones who have died.

The British Museum has a free festival of art, performance, storytelling and talks on 30 October to 2 November. Following the late night on Friday 30 October, there’s a family festival over the weekend which will include some fun performances and new self-guided trails.

Day of the Dead

The following weekend sees the Day of the Dead Festival open at Tobacco Dock on Saturday 7 November. Mexican food brand Wahaca has organised this festival and the music includes The Horrors, Crystal Fighters, Savages and Mexrrissey (Latino covers of Morrissey and The Smiths).

It’s not just eating and dancing though as there’s also an art exhibition and daytime talks exploring the subjects of life and death, as well as issues that affect Mexico today.

There’s more for foodies at Tobacco Dock with the Taste of London: The Festive Edition on 19-22 November where you can sample the signature dishes and wintry specials of the capital’s finest restaurants. Packed with food stalls, demonstrations, talks, tastings and live music, visitors can indulge in everything from chocolate, wine and cheese sampling to cooking masterclasses with renowned chefs.

The Lord Mayor’s Show

Spend the day in The City of London on Saturday 14 November as it’s the 800th Lord Mayor’s Show.

Lord Mayor's Show

There’s a flotilla on The Thames at 9am and the popular parade from 11am featuring everything from samba dancing to military marching bands. Free guided walks are on offer at 3pm before the day’s finale of fireworks over The Thames at 5.15pm. And if all that wasn’t enough St Paul’s Cathedral is free to visit all day.

Theatre Highlights

The Kenneth Branagh season at the Garrick has a real treat for us this month as he is starring with Judi Dench in a reimagined production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. It’s open now and runs until 16 January.

The National Theatre has a version of Alice in Wonderland for the online generation. wonder.land opens on 23 November (and is on until 28 February). The story follows Aly, age 12, in her extraordinary virtual world where she can escape from her unhappy real life.

Tate Modern

Opening on 11 November, Tate Modern presents the UK’s largest ever exhibition of Alexander Calder (1898-1976). Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture features around 100 works to demonstrate his pioneering kinetic sculpture.

Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture

Photo credit: Calder Foundation, New York / Art Resource, NY
© ARS, NY and DACS, London 2015

While you are at Tate Modern do see the new Turbine Hall exhibition by Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas. Empty Lot involves raised platforms with lots of wooden planters filled with soil collected from parks across London. During its six month stay we can see what grows.

Cycle Revolution

Cycling is big news in London whether it’s the cycle superhighways (cycle lanes right across town), watching cycling events like RideLondon or hiring a ‘Boris Bike‘. The Design Museum’s latest exhibition embraces this trend in riding bikes with its latest exhibition, Cycle Revolution, opening on 18 November.

Cycling is more than a form of transport: it’s style, passion, health, sport and identity. Celebrated cyclists including Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Paul Smith have contributed to this new exhibition reminding us riding your bike is more than a cheap commute.

Tower of London Ice Rink

And if that gets you thinking about being more active why not go ice skating in the moat at the Tower of London? It opens on 20 November and stays until 3 January. It’s a wonderful location and a lot of fun.

Tower of London Ice Rnk

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

I’ve tried to resist mentioning Christmas too much this month but by the end of November you won’t be able to avoid it.

On Thursday 3 December the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree lights go on and start a season of carol singing in the Square.

Book ahead for A Christmas Carol at the Noel Coward Theatre starring Jim Broadbent as Scrooge which opens on 30 November. And Goodnight Mister Tom is on at the Duke of York starring David Troughton with previews from 11 December.

Don’t forget, tickets are already on sale for the London New Year’s Eve fireworks.

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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.