Nov 122015
 

By Sue Lowry

“Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.”― Khaled HosseiniA Thousand Splendid Suns

 

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.

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.

————————————————————————————–

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 132015
 

Picture1-1024x766

The Fabric of India is the first exhibition in the UK to fully explore the incomparably rich world of handmade textiles from India. From the earliest known fragments to contemporary fashion, the exhibition will illustrate the technical mastery and creativity of Indian textiles. The Fabric of India will be held at The Victoria and Albert Museum until 10th January 2016 2016.  Tickets cost £14 with concessions available. V&A Members go free. Advance booking is advised – this can be done in person at the V&A; online at www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/the-fabric-of-india (booking fee applies). Celebrating the variety, virtuosity and continuous innovation of India’s textile traditions, The Fabric of India presents 200 everyday fabrics and unseen treasures all made by hand. From ancient ceremonial banners to contemporary saris, from sacred temple hangings to bandanna handkerchiefs, to the spectacular tent used by Tipu Sultan (1750-1799), the famed ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore; this exhibition offers an introduction to the raw materials and processes of making cloth by hand. The opening section shows fabrics dyed with natural materials such as pomegranate and indigo and the complex techniques of block printing, weaving and embroidery across the ages, together creating a visual compendium of India’s astonishingly diverse array of fabrics. Highlights range from muslin embroidered with glittering green beetle wings, to a vast wall hanging appliqued with designs of elephants and geometrical patterns, to a boy’s jacket densely embroidered with brightly coloured silk thread and mirrors.

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.

Photographs by various photographers – credits as follows: Abraham & Thakore;  Victoria and Albert Museum, London and National Trust Images

Sep 282015
 

This is the month for Halloween, the clocks changing and a school holiday. As the school holiday is the last week of October (26-30 October) the Halloween fun will last all week at the main attractions. And do remember, the clocks go back one hour on Sunday 25 October so the holiday fun starts an hour earlier.

Big Ben

Barbican

If you are looking for something different to do on the Halloween weekend, how about Sound Unbound: The Barbican Classical Weekender?

On Saturday 31 October and Sunday 1 November, audiences can enjoy some of the greatest music ever written, in an informal festival environment. Sound Unbound is across the Barbican Centre and surrounding venues featuring over 50 short concerts across 48 hours that will showcase an unparalleled variety of music and artists.

Alongside the live music programme, a range of conversations and debates will take place throughout the weekend, while a team of expert hosts will guide audiences through the plethora of music on offer.

 

As well as music, The Barbican has a new exhibition in the art gallery: The World of Charles and Ray Eames.

charles-and-ray-eames

Opening on 21 October 2015, here’s where you can find out about this husband and wife team who are among the most important designers of the 20th century. Their enduring influence is widely acknowledged and continues to be celebrated worldwide.

The Eames Office was active for over four decades as they saw no separation between life and work. With collaborators and staff, they produced an array of pioneering and influential designs – from architecture, furniture and product design to film, photography, communication design, multi-media installation and exhibitions, as well as new models for arts education.

 

And for a free exhibition, in The Curve at The Barbican Centre, Eddie Peake: The Forever Loop opens on 9 October. London-based artist Eddie Peake presents an ambitious web of architectural installations, choreographed performance and video.

The exhibition features a raised scaffold walkway spanning the length of the 90 metre long Curve providing a stage for performance and a viewing platform for visitors. A group of performers carry out a looped choreography of dance movement in synchronisation with sound and video works dispersed throughout the space. Around the scaffold walkway, a number of structures rendered in plaster, acrylic and red velvet form a maze-like pathway through the gallery, functioning both as backdrops and objects for the performers to interact with.

 

October Plenty

For something traditional, head to Bankside, by Shakespeare’s Globe on Sunday 25 October to see October Plenty. It’s an annual autumn harvest celebration that mixes ancient seasonal customs and theatre with contemporary festivity. The fun moves to Borough Market to link up with Borough Market’s Apple Day. October Plenty is free and happens whatever the weather.

© S Pakhrin

October Plenty, © S Pakhrin

 

Rose Playhouse

For some Shakespearean comedy, The Rose Playhouse is having fun with The Twelfth Night this month. From 6 to 30 October there are two companies of actors – one male, one female – performing Twelfth Night in four different versions playing in rep. You have the choice of: a) All female, b) All male, c) Cast play their own gender, or d) Cast play the opposite gender. The story always has shipwrecks, twins, mistaken identities, comedy and love, but this could be one to see more than once.

 

Tate Modern

Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas has the inaugural Hyundai Commission for the Turbine Hall opening on 13 October. There’s not much news before the date on what to expect but it’s called Empty Lot.

Tate Modern Turbine Hall

Tate Modern Turbine Hall, © Tate

And while you are there, the new blockbuster exhibition has opened: The World Goes Pop. It’s got Pop Art from Latin America to Asia, and from Europe to the Middle East. It’s bright and colourful and certainly makes an impact.

 

London Riviera

The summer isn’t completely over as we have a touch of the French Riviera sophistication on the South Bank, next to City Hall, near Tower Bridge. The London Riviera is on until 31 October with great coffee and great cocktails. And this month you can enjoy the Rugby World Cup matches at More Bar with food and drink specials from Monday to Friday.

unnamed (2)

 

London Literature Festival

Southbank Centre’s London Literature Festival is on from 28 September to 12 October. It includes Sir Tom Jones launching his first ever biography, Inside The Head of Terry Gilliam, poetry from PJ Harvey and Moby Dick read aloud for four days.

LondonLiteratureFestival

Liberty on Fashion

On Bermondsey Street, the Fashion & Textile Museum has a new exhibition opening on 9 October. Liberty in Fashion looks at the iconic brand’s impact on British fashion, from Orientalism and Aesthetic dress in the 19th century, through Art Nouveau and Art Deco in the early 20th century, and the revival of these styles since the 1950s.

Liberty in Fashion

 

A Woman’s War

Opening on 15 October at the Imperial War Museum, Lee Miller: A Woman’s War explores the impact of the Second World War on women’s lives through the photography of Lee Miller, one of the most important female war photographers of the twentieth century.

This exhibition traces Miller’s career as a photographer for Vogue Magazine and for the first time will address her vision of gender, featuring many photographs, objects, art and personal items never before seen on display.

© Lee Miller Archives England 2014

© Lee Miller Archives England 2014

 

Crime Uncovered

The Museum of London’s next major exhibition is The Crime Museum Uncovered, looking at the Metropolitan Police’s Crime Museum that has never been open to the public. From 9 October we can see objects previously only accessible to police professionals and invited guests.

With the popular fascination for detective stories and crime TV shows this has got to be another hit.

Counterfeiting and Forgery: Implements used for counterfeiting seized by Metropolitan Police © Museum of London

Counterfeiting and Forgery: Implements used for counterfeiting seized by Metropolitan Police © Museum of London

 

Even More

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

 

LOOKING AHEAD

It’s the annual Lord Mayor’s Show on Saturday 14 November in the City of London. This is a popular free event with lots of floats in a long parade so wrap up warm and get ready to wave.

In a city striving to accommodate more cyclists, The Design Museum’s next exhibition, Cycle Revolution, opens on 18 November to celebrate the diversity of cycling in Britain.

In Greenwich at the National Maritime Museum, Samuel Pepys: Plague, Fire, Revolution opens on 20 November as the largest ever exhibition about the famous diarist with 200 objects from national and international museums, galleries and private collections.

And, yes it is that time, Christmas lights going on across the capital throughout November.

————————————————————————————–

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

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

Sep 162015
 

Picture1-1024x733

Botticelli Reimagined is a new major exhibition, opening 5th March 2016 at the V&A, exploring, for the first time the variety of ways artists and designers from the Pre-Raphaelites to the present have responded to the artistic legacy of Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), assembling 150 works from around the world.

Botticelli Reimagined will be held at The Victoria and Albert Museum from 5th March – 3rd July 2016.  Tickets will go on sale in September this year and will cost £15 with concessions available. V&A Members go free. Advance booking is advised – this can be done in person at the V&A; online at www.vam.ac.uk/Botticelli; or by calling 0800 912 6961 (booking fee applies).

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 by various photographers – credits as follows: Venus,Volker-H. Schneider; Venus, after Botticelli, Private collection, courtesy Duhamel Fine Art, Paris; Portrait of a Young Man, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington; Rebirth of Venus, David LaChapelle; The Renaissance of Venus, Tate, London 2015; The Virgin and Child with Two Angels, courtesy Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der Bildenden Künste Vienna; The Orchard, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Pallas and the Centaur, courtesy of the Ministero Beni e Att. Cultura; Portrait of a Lady known as Smeralda Bandinelli, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Allegory of Abundance or Autumn, The Trustees of the British Museum; Venus Dress: Look 15, Catwalking.com.

Aug 262015
 

This is actually my favourite month in London as there is always so much to do in September.

Open House London

A real highlight is the annual Open House London weekend when over 700 buildings – many that are usually not open to the public – open their doors for us to enjoy the best of London’s architecture.

OpenHouseLondon

You can search the events online. Note, London Bridge Hotel is in the Borough of Southwark but you can search for buildings to visit across the whole of London. Some buildings require advance booking but for most you can just arrive and have a look around. Open House London is on the weekend of 19 and 20 September.

Merge Festival

The Merge Festival is back on Bankside from 18 September. This is the fifth year of this arts festival and there will be a month of entertainment in historic buildings and open spaces.

Southwark Street will become an outdoor gallery called ‘Colourful Crossings’ and Blackfriars Road will have ‘Time to be Late’ – a site-specific theatrical experience at the bus stops and on the buses.

Food scientists Bompas and Parr have an interactive installation where you can make a wish in the ‘Bioluminescent Chamber of Wishes’ in a magical grotto. And the visual effects team for The Chemical Brothers and Metallica live shows is using participants’ brain data to create a laser and sound installation.

Barbican Film Seasons

There are two major film seasons at the Barbican this month.

The Colour of Money season is on 10 to 20 September 2015. Throughout its history, cinema has celebrated and critiqued money and the financial system, and this film season explores how money and economics affect our lives with a wide selection of dramas – including cult horror, musical, western and silent classics – documentaries and archive material as well as panel discussions, and ScreenTalks.

 

The Wolf of Wall Street Image courtesy of The Barbican

The Wolf of Wall Street
Image courtesy of The Barbican

The Rio + Film Festival is on 24 to 27 September 2015 focuses on Rio de Janeiro’s rich contribution to world cinema as the city prepares to host the Olympics in 2016.

Another highlight this month at the Barbican is Lost in Thought: A Mindfulness Opera on 25 to 27 September 2015. This will be the world’s first performance of a ‘mindfulness opera’. During this immersive musical four-hour performance, audiences will go on an inner journey of mindfulness, with periods of meditation, rest, communal eating and a gentle yoga session. As part of the Lost in Thought programme of events, the Guildhall School is also offering a free Mindfulness Taster Session on Sunday 13 September, 1.30-2.30pm.

Bridget Riley: Learning from Seurat

From 17 September 2015 (and running until 17 January 2016), Bridget Riley: Learning from Seurat is on at the Courtauld Gallery. In 1959 Bridget Riley painted a copy of Georges Seurat’s Bridge at Courbevoie, one of the highlights of The Courtauld Gallery’s collection. This experience represented a significant breakthrough for Riley, offering her a new understanding of colour and perception. This exhibition displays both the original and her copy and the influence it had on her work.

Bridget Riley, Copy after Seurat's Bridge at Courbevoie, 1959 © The Courtald Gallery

Bridget Riley, Copy after Seurat’s Bridge at Courbevoie, 1959
© The Courtauld Gallery

Celts: Art and Identity

The British Museum has a fascinating exhibition opening later this month on 24 September (and running until 31 January 2016). Celts is the first major exhibition to examine the full history of Celtic art and identity, a story that unfolds over 2,500 years.

Gundestrup Cauldron Silver Gundestrup, northern Denmark, 100 BC–AD 1 © The National Museum of Denmark

Gundestrup Cauldron Silver Gundestrup, northern Denmark, 100 BC–AD 1 © The National Museum of Denmark

Celtic art flourished in Britain and Europe from 500 BC and was reinvented and transformed during the Roman and early medieval periods, particularly in the British Isles. Powerful objects decorated with Celtic art helped shape the identities of the ancient peoples who made and used them, and the real and imagined legacy of the ancient Celts continues to influence modern identities across the British Isles and beyond.

Theatre

A West End transfer from a sold-out production at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe, Farinelli and the King stars Mark Rylance as the King Philippe. Set in 18th century Spain, it explores the dynamics between Farinelli and the royal couple, bringing to life the mesmerising tale with many of the exquisite arias sung by the opera star during the 1730s.

Farinelli and the King Photographer: Marc Brenner

Farinelli and the King
Photographer: Marc Brenner

Often seen on TV and film but less so on stage, Jane Eyre is at the National Theatre from 8 September. This acclaimed re-imagining of Brontë’s masterpiece was first staged by Bristol Old Vic last year, when the story was performed over two evenings. Director Sally Cookson now brings her celebrated production to the National, presented as a single, exhilarating performance.

The Rose Playhouse has Reckless on from 3 to 27 September 2015. Reckless is an epic story of outrageous love and forbidden joy, inspired by the great works of classical drama, with blended elements of Greek and Elizabethan storytelling in this original piece of theatre.

Totally Thames

The Mayor’s Thames Festival, Totally Thames, brings the river alive for the whole month.

TotallyThames

Look out for the Great River Race on Saturday 12 September, and the St Katharine’s Docks Classic Boat Festival on 12 and 13 September.

And City Hunt Bermondsey looks like a fun reason to go exploring on Saturday 19 September. It’s the Bermondsey Street Festival that day and you can expect a village fete feel in the city with a popular dog show, live music, and lots of food stalls.

Design Museum

From 9 September (until 31 March 2016), The Design Museum has four Designers in Residence working on the theme of Migration. Now in its eighth year, Designers in Residence invites emerging talents to take over a gallery in the Museum. The 2015 Designers in Residence are: Chris Green, Stephanie Hornig, Hefin Jones and Alexa Pollmann. Each has responded to the theme with a specially developed project, showcased for the first time in an exhibition at the museum.

Later in the month it’s the London Design Festival. From 19 to 27 September there are events across London. The Design Museum’s programme for the London Design Festival features exhibitions, events and installations – taking over the museum to celebrate rising talent, new ideas and rich legacies in the capital’s home of design.

The World Goes Pop

Tate Modern hosts The World Goes Pop, taking a world view of pop art beyond western consumer culture. Opening on 17 September (and running until 24 January 2016), this groundbreaking exhibition reveals how artists around the world engaged with the spirit of pop art, from Latin America to Asia, and from Europe to the Middle East.

Ushio Shinohara, Doll Festival 1966 Doll Festival 1966 Fluorescent paint, oil, plastic board on plywood Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art (Yamamura Collection) © Ushio and Noriko Shinohara

Ushio Shinohara, Doll Festival 1966
Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art (Yamamura Collection)
© Ushio and Noriko Shinohara

Around 200 works from the 1960s and 1970s, many shown in the UK for the first time, explore how pop art was never just a celebration of western consumer culture, but was often a subversive international language.

Great Plague Festival

And for a somewhat off-the-wall idea there is the 350th anniversary of the Great Plague Festival on 4-6 September with events, readings, an exhibition and the popular Tales of Plague Walk.

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

Liberty on Fashion opens at the Fashion and Textile Museum on 9 October.

Two companies of actors – one male, one female – will perform Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in the beautiful site specific setting of the Rose Bankside in four different versions playing in rep from 6 to 30 October.

It’s the London Restaurant Festival for the whole of October.

Sound Unbound is The Barbican Classical Weekender on 31 October and 1 November. This ambitious weekend-long project offers audiences a chance to discover some of the greatest music ever written, in an informal festival environment.

The World of Charles and Ray Eames opens at the Barbican Art Gallery on 21 October. Charles and Ray Eames are among the most important designers of the 20th century. Their enduring influence is widely acknowledged and continues to be celebrated worldwide.

And it’s the annual Lord Mayor’s Show on Saturday 14 November in the City of London.

————————————————————————————–

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

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

Aug 202015
 
George Washington, by Sue Lowry

George Washington, by Sue Lowry

The statue of George Washington located at the eastern end of the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, London was a gift to Britain by the State of Virginia.  This oversized bronze statue is a copy of the original marble sculpture by Jean-Antoine Houdon which stands in the Capitol in Richmond, Virginia.

Although originally made in 1914, it finally made it to the UK after the First World War and was unveiled in 1921 by Judith Brewer, the daughter of the then Speaker of the House of Delegates of Virginia.  Washington famously said that he would never set foot on British soil so it is rumoured that American earth was brought over and placed under the statue.  I have no idea if that is true but I do like the tale.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

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.

Jul 272015
 

When the Queen heads to her Scottish home we can get inside Buckingham Palace and this year the summer opening is from 25 July to 25 September. We can enjoy A Royal Welcome as the State Rooms will recreate the settings for state visits, receptions, garden parties, investitures and private audiences.

For the first time ever, visitors to the Summer Opening will enter the State Rooms through the Grand Entrance, used by those who come to the Palace at the invitation of The Queen.

The Ballroom at Buckingham Palace set up for a State Banquet.  Royal Collection Trust (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2015

The Ballroom at Buckingham Palace set up for a State Banquet.
Royal Collection Trust (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2015

For more royal treats, Clarence House is also open this month. This is the London home of Prince Charles and Camilla and you can visit from 1 to 31 August for a guided tour.
Across the other side of St James’s Park, you can also visit the Houses of Parliament this month. While we now have regular Saturday opening, during the parliament summer recess we can visit Monday to Friday too. Tours are available at the Houses of Parliament from 27 July to 4 September.

BigBen

There are also art and architecture tours across the road at Portcullis House on 21 and 28 August.

Near London Bridge Hotel

Nearer to London Bridge Hotel, at Balls Brothers in Hays Galleria there is London’s only covered, outdoor pétanque pitch. This wine bar has a happy hour from 5-8pm to help you unwind.

And for a place to get away from it all, open until 31 August the churchyard at Southwark Cathedral has been restored with access via the west end on Cathedral Street and the Millennium Courtyard. Special events this summer include free music at lunchtimes, a giant chess set, and a prayer labyrinth.

 

South Bank

It’s always the right time of year for a stroll along the South Bank. This car-free, riverside promenade offers some wonderful views of London landmarks too.

Do stop at The Hayward Gallery to see the Carsten Höller exhibition which includes these fantastic slides as a way to exit from the top floor to the gallery entrance! They call this art but I call it a lot of fun for grown-ups. The exhibition closed on 6 September.

Carsten Holler

Also on the South Bank, the London Eye has late evening opening for the summer. Every Friday until 21 August the London Eye will be open until midnight which is a rare treat to see London twinkling late at night.

And a short walk from there to the Imperial War Museum gives you the last chance to see Fashion On The Ration. An exhibition that looks at how fashion survived rationing during wartime 1940s.

 

Gladiator Games

The City of London had a Roman Amphitheatre and you can see the remains under the Guildhall Art Gallery. But up at a ground level there’s a fantastic opportunity this month to actually see a reenactment of Roman London with the Gladiator Games. From 8 to 16 August, there will be swords, shields, spears and cheers with a realistic portrayal of combat. This is a family event but the simulated violence may not be suitable for very young children.

Gladiators fighting

Also in The City, Ride London is on 1 and 2 August and is a cycling legacy from the London 2012 Olympic Games. On the Saturday there’s a FreeCycle which everyone can join and there are lots of festival stops for you to take a break.

 

Evening Entertainment

While Hamlet at The Barbican has been sold out for months, because it’s Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role, Shakespeare’s Globe has plenty on this month. For something more unusual, The Ghost Sonata is on at The Rose Playhouse, an indoor archaeological site, from 4 to 28 August. What is real? What is not? Who is alive? Who is dead? What do we mean to each other and how can the smallest of our actions change another person’s life? Lots to think about there then.

Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House means open-air movies in the beautiful courtyard setting from 6 to 19 August. There are also live DJs to create soundtracks inspired by the films.

SomersetHouse

For musical joy, start spreading the news as ol’ Blue Eyes is back in town. Sinatra is on at The London Palladium until 10 October to mark his centenary year with rare footage, a 24-piece orchestra and a dance show.

And an utter delight for families, Jacqueline Wilson’s Hetty Feather is brought to life on stage at the Duke of York Theatre from 6 August to 6 September.

To End The Month

London’s annual Caribbean carnival spectacular is the Notting Hill Carnival on 30 and 31 August. Expect incredible parades and music that will get you dancing.

NottingHillCarnival1

An alternative idea is Sail Royal Greenwich on 27 to 31 August. There are cruises available and fireworks in the evening, and two enormous vessels will be moored at Greenwich.

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

Totally Thames is on for the whole of September and has lots of special events to look forward to including a chance to get inside the bascule chamber at Tower Bridge for a concert.

Southbank Centre will be having fun with the Africa Utopia Festival on 10–13 September 2015, and the National Theatre will have the often seen on TV and film but less so on stage, Jane Eyre, from 8 September.

It’s the Bermondsey Street Festival on Saturday 19 September, and The World Goes Pop opens at Tate Modern on  17 September taking a world view of pop art beyond western consumer culture.

————————————————————————————–

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

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

Jul 202015
 
Desert Storm by Sue Lowry

Desert Storm by Sue Lowry

Today we bring you the latest sweet sensation from Quarter Bar and Lounge’s lead Mixologist Carlo, the Desert Storm cocktail.

To mix up a storm you will need:

  • 50ml Baileys’ Irish Cream
  • 25ml Amaretto
  • 25ml Chambord
  • a dash of milk, which has been steamed to make a foam

Mix the Baileys, Amaretto and Chambord in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a chilled glass, top with the milk foam and garnish with chocolate and a caramel wafer. Or serve with a slice of cheesecake for that extra bit of indulgence. You deserve it.

Contributor: Alexandra Pinhorn  Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

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.

Jun 262015
 

The exhibition we’ve all been waiting for opens on 2 July at the National Portrait Gallery. Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon looks at the fascinating life and career of the celebrated film star, fashion icon and humanitarian. This photography exhibition coincides with the 65th anniversary of Hepburn’s little known career-changing performance at renowned West End night club Ciro’s, in the space now occupied by the Gallery’s public Archive.

Audrey Hepburn by Bud Fraker, for Sabrina Paramount Pictures, 1954. Copyright: Paramount Pictures

Audrey Hepburn by Bud Fraker, for Sabrina Paramount Pictures, 1954.
Copyright: Paramount Pictures

 

The Summer Series at Somerset House gives you a great reason to enjoy open-air concerts in the courtyard of this iconic building. From 9 to 19 July there’s a diverse evening line-up with many shows selling out in advance. If you miss out on tickets Unplugged Summer Series at Somerset House means free lunchtime concerts from 14 to 17 July. You could combine a visit to see the exhibition about British group The Jam, or see Unfinished… Works at The Courtauld Gallery.

SomersetHouse1

Another iconic location for open-air music this month is the Old Royal Naval College for Greenwich Music Time on from 22 to 26 July. Acts include Gipsy Kings, Ray Davies and Tom Jones.

Also in Greenwich, you can see some warm-up shows for the Edinburgh Comedy Festival at the Cutty Sark Studio Theatre from 24 July to 3 August.

 

I’ve got a couple of unusual suggestions for 11 July. Firstly, how about learning glassblowing? London Glassblowing has a full day introductory class where you will make 3-4 unique pieces to take home. If you need a different date there are more options in September, October and November.

classes

And the other suggestion is The Chap Olympiad where ‘sports’ include the Cucumber Sandwich Discus and Pipe Smoker’s Relay to create a tongue-in-cheek fun day of G&T drinking and laughing at British upper class buffoons.

 

For true sports fan, by Tower Bridge, outside City Hall, the More London Free Festival has free sport on big screens throughout July, including tennis from Wimbledon, the Ashes cricket, cycling from Tour de France and F1 motor racing.

The Scoop

It’s also the National Paralympic Day on 26 July at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to celebrate the Paralympic movement and to help you relive some of the magic of London 2012.

 

If you find yourself in The City of London on Wednesday 15 July, there is a traditional ceremony dating back to 1667 taking place in Guildhall Yard. At 10.30am, The Cart Marking Ceremony, organised by the Livery Company The Worshipful Company of Carmen, is basically a parade of vehicles from horse-drawn carriages to modern trucks. And you’ll see lots of traditional gowns and regalia.

 

For a great night at the theatre, Barbican has To Kill a Mockingbird adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel on until 25 July.

Set in the Deep South, Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel sees racial injustice envelop a small-town community. Through courage and compassion, lawyer Atticus Finch seeks the truth, and his feisty daughter, Scout – a young girl on the cusp of adulthood – brings new hope to a neighbourhood in turmoil.

mockingbird

 

For family fun (or just big kid fun) Shrek’s Adventure! London opens on 1 July. It’s right next to the London Eye on the South Bank and should be a hit with anyone who loved the animated films. It brings to life the hilarious world of Shrek and friends in a fully immersive walk-and-ride through attraction. You’ll hear stories, see dramatic special effects, and laugh a lot as you go on a madcap adventure.

Shrek's Adventure! London

 

Even More

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

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Next month starts with the Prudential Ride London on 1-2 August; a two-day cycling festival for families, amateurs and elite cyclists. Everyone can join in the Freecycle on Saturday, just register first.

The City of London Guildhall Art Gallery has the remains of a Roman amphitheatre in its basement and on 8-16 August you can see Gladiator Games in the Guildhall Yard.

And from 5 August to 31 October, at the Barbican Theatre, we’ve got the long awaited production of Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role. Although cinema tickets for the live broadcast of Hamlet on 15 October are sold out at the Barbican, encore screenings of the performance will take place in Cinemas 1 and 3 on 20 and 27 October respectively.

————————————————————————————–

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

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