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.

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

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

Apr 272015
 

Oh yes, London is looking good in the warmer weather and this is a great time to get out and about. The Shaun in the City trails are a fun reason to start exploring.

Eltham Palace

Take a trip down to south east London to see English Heritage’s Eltham Palace as it is a fascinating 1930s showpiece with stunning gardens. There are newly opened rooms such as Virginia Courtauld’s walk-in wardrobe featuring glamorous thirties dresses, including costumes to try on, a luxury wartime bunker and the chance to see conservators revealing a host of maps hidden under layers of paint.

There are some perfect reasons to make the trip this month as the Art Deco Fair is on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 May so you can further sample the decadence of the thrilling thirties.

eltham-vintage-fair

And, if you have the family with you, on Sunday 24 to Tuesday 26 May it’s Curtain up for the Theatrical 30s when young visitors can shine in the limelight as they take to the stage 1930s style and discover theatre from the great golden age.

 

Urban Village Fete

Another south-east treat is the Urban Village Fete at Greenwich Peninsula on Sunday 10 May. This traditional village fair with a contemporary twist is the first free public event staged in Peninsula Garden, a new public garden for London. You can expect a curated Best of British Design marketplace, international street food, music, swing dance classes and unique pop-ups. There’s even DJ sets from atop a classic London Routemaster. All in all it sounds like a great day out.

Screenshot 2015-04-12 at 11.45.24

 

Imperial War Museum

May 2015 is the 70th Anniversary of VE Day, and during VE Day Weekend (10 and 11 May) the Imperial War Museum has a VE Day Tea Room planned. You can have a festive afternoon tea with themed cakes, and the Tea Room will have decorations evoking the spirit of the street parties and gatherings that took place across the country 70 years ago.

Ve_Day_Celebrations_in_London,_8_May_1945_HU41808

While there, it’s also worth visiting Fashion on the Ration: 1940s Street Style which I recommended back in March as this major exhibition demonstrates how men and women found new ways to dress and how fashion survived and even flourished under the strict rules of rationing during the Second World War.

 

Southbank Centre

Alchemy returns to Southbank Centre for its sixth year from Friday 15 to Monday 25 May. Celebrating and exploring the Indian subcontinent, Alchemy presents exciting collaborations and new work from both emerging and legendary artists, across art forms – dance, music, theatre, design, comedy and literature – as well as a stimulating programme of workshops, book clubs, talks and debates.

alchemybigdance

And the final weekend of the Web We Want Festival is at Southbank Centre on Thursday 28 to Sunday 31 May to look at how the web has changed our lives. There are weekend and individual day passes available for adults, young people and children, plus plenty of free installations and workshops too. Highlights include Julian Assange, founder and publisher of WikiLeaks, in conversation and Minecraft in the Royal Festival Hall.

 

The Rose Playhouse

For evening entertainment this month, The Rose Playhouse has Shakespeare’s Macbeth on from 5 to 30 May. This is a new site-specific production, performed by The Malachites, for this story of the nature of kingship, power, mortality and the supernatural.

MACBETH-BANNER-FOR-WEBSITE-1170x420

Silver Screen Science Fiction

The Royal Observatory Greenwich has a season dedicated to classic cult sci-fi movies, and this month’s delight is The Time Machine (1960) on Thursday 7 May. Hoping to alter the events of the past, a 19th century inventor instead travels 800,000 years into the future, where he finds humankind divided into two warring races. Following the movie there will be a talk from one of the astronomers on the science behind the film.

timemachine

 

Tate Modern

This is the national contemporary art gallery and always worth visiting for the displays, exhibitions and events. On Friday 15 and Saturday 16 May there’s a BMW Tate Live event: If Tate Modern was Musée de la danse? and the gallery will be temporarily transformed into Musée de la danse (the Dancing Museum). 75 dancers will take over Tate Modern for 48 hours with an unfolding series of performances throughout the building. The project will also invite visitors to participate at selected moments in a warm up, a workshop and even a nightclub dance floor in the Turbine Hall.

Boris Charmatz, If Tate Modern was Musée de la danse 2015 Photo © Hugo Glendinning 2015

Boris Charmatz, If Tate Modern was Musée de la danse 2015
Photo © Hugo Glendinning 2015

The Design Museum

The first museum exhibition devoted to the much-loved Spanish footwear brand Camper, Life on Foot marks the 40 year anniversary of this independent family-run business whose shoes are purchased in their millions worldwide. On from 13 May to 1 November, Life on Foot showcases Camper’s traditional shoemaking skills, contemporary design practice, the latest technologies and newly-developed materials.

camper

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

Something quite wonderful is coming to the Hayward Gallery in June as there will be a new major exhibition of Carsten Höller’s work which will include especially-commissioned slides that will allow courageous visitors to travel from the Hayward Gallery’s iconic glass pyramid ceiling to Gallery entrance level! Carsten Höller: Decision opens on 10 June.

Barbara Hepworth is often overshadowed by her contemporary Henry Moore but her work is just as striking and engaging. Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World opens at Tate Britain on 24 June.

And, of course, Wimbledon Tennis Championships are on from 29 June to 12 July so expect lots of strawberries to be eaten and plenty of Pimms to be quaffed in the sunshine.

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

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

 

Feb 272015
 

The Curve at the Barbican Centre could be a simple curved walkway but they are ensuring it is so much more than that with art installations. Swiss artist Roman Signer’s Slow Movement opens on 4 March (and stays until 31 May 2015) with a kayak that moves through the 90-metre long gallery towed by a rope suspended from the ceiling, navigating the Curve as if moving through a canal. The exhibition extends out to the foyer and lakeside, with two other kayaks installed across the centre in unexpected ways.

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

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

 

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

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

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

Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel. © Chris Lee

Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel. © Chris Lee

 

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

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

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

unnamed (1)

 

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

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

IWMFashion

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

© London Bridge Hotel

© London Bridge Hotel

Clocks Change

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

BigBen

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

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

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

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

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

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

Feb 212014
 

It’s nearly Spring and I’ve got plenty of suggestions of things to do this month from discovering London’s dark history to Guinness celebrations, and the start of the rowing season to time with mother.

Barbican Centre

Danceroom-Spectroscopy-500

On 1st-2nd March, it’s the Barbican Weekender which is a free weekend of events exploring image and identity through arts and technology.

© Nobby Clark

© Nobby Clark

Also at the Barbican on 2 March is a collaboration between saxophonist John Harle and singer Marc Almond called The Tyburn Tree which looks at London’s dark history such as Jack the Ripper and the Ratcliffe Highway murder.

 

Shakespeare’s Globe

Photographer: Bronwen Sharp

Photographer: Bronwen Sharp

In  January I mentioned the new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe that opened with The Duchess of Amalfi. The next production started on 20 February and runs until 30th March. The Knight of the Burning Pestle looks like a fantastic comedy and stars Phil Daniels.

 

Pancake Day

© pfig

© pfig

Tuesday 4th March is Shrove Tuesday and the day to enjoy a pancake race. The Better Bankside Pancake Race is at Borough Market from 12pm-2pm with the races starting at 12.30pm.

 

Cycling

Credit: Luke Webber/Revolution Series

Credit: Luke Webber/Revolution Series

The Lee Valley VeloPark opens on 14th-15th March with the Revolution  Track Cycle Series – the first event at the velodrome since the London 2012 Olympics. You’ll get to see big-name British riders competing including Laura Trott, Jason Kenny and Ed Clancy. 

© TfL

© TfL

If this inspires you to get cycling, there’s a new Barclays Cycle Hire docking station on Snowsfields with space for 32 bikes. You don’t need to book in advance and can simply pay by credit card, at the paypoint next to the bikes, and be riding away in minutes. There’s another rank at Duke Street Hill, both only minutes away from London Bridge Hotel.

 

St Patrick’s Day Parade

We celebrate St Patricks Day in London on Sunday 16th March with a free parade that starts at Green Park at midday and goes through central London to Trafalgar Square where the fun carries on all afternoon with Irish food, drink and culture.

 

Silent Auction

© London Glassblowing

© London Glassblowing

The London Glassblowing Silent Auction comes to an end on 15th March (see February in London for more details).

 

Recommended Exhibitions

You may also like to see the Dale Chihuly exhibition at the Halycon Gallery which is on until 5th April. And the Discoveries exhibition at Two Temple Place is well worth a visit.

 

Designs of the Year 2014

LEGO CALENDAR - Designed by Adrian Westaway, Clara Gaggero, Duncan Fitzsimons, Simon EmbertonPhotographs by Adrian Westaway

LEGO CALENDAR – Designed by Adrian Westaway, Clara Gaggero, Duncan Fitzsimons, Simon Emberton
Photographs by Adrian Westaway

The Design Museum has the Design of the Year nominations on display from 26th March to 22nd June celebrating design across seven categories: Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Furniture, Graphics, Transport and Product. Winners will be announced in May 2014.

 

Head of the River Race

© JET Photographic

© JET Photographic

The Head of the River Race is rowed from Mortlake to Putney (the Boat Race course in reverse). It’s the first major national rowing event of the season with over 400 crews taking part. It’s all happening on 29th March from 2.15pm, with crews departing at 10-second intervals,  and you’ll get a great view from London Bridge.

 

Mother’s Day

© London Bridge Hotel

© London Bridge Hotel

While Mother’s Day in many parts of the world is in May, in London it comes earlier on Sunday 30th March.  I’d definitely recommend afternoon tea as a wonderful way to spend time with mum. The Quarter Bar & Lounge is excellent value too and even includes a complimentary glass of Champagne.

 

Clocks Change

Don’t forget, in the UK we move to British Summer Time on Sunday 30th March and the clocks go forward one hour.

 

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.