Aug 212016

Buckingham Palace

The summer opening of the Buckingham Palace State Rooms has a special exhibition each year and for 2016 it’s Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style. Dresses worn by The Queen for two of the most significant occasions in Her Majesty’s life can be seen together until 2 October.

The wedding dress worn by Princess Elizabeth for her marriage to The Duke of Edinburgh in 1947, and The Queen’s Coronation dress worn in 1953, both designed by British couturier Sir Norman Hartnell can be seen together in the Palace Ballroom.

This year there’s a different route through the state rooms and much more seating on offer too so don’t feel rushed.

Her Majesty The Queen's Coronation dress, 1953, Norman Hartnell

Her Majesty The Queen’s Coronation dress, 1953, Norman Hartnell

Wifredo Lam

Opening on 14 September at Tate Modern, The EY Exhibition: Wifredo Lam is a retrospective of the Cuban-Chinese modernist painter, Wifredo Lam (1902–1982) and the first museum exhibition of his work in London since 1952. Including over 200 paintings, drawings, photographs and prints, the exhibition traces his sixty-year career from the 1920s to the 1970s, confirming his place at the centre of a cosmopolitan modernism.

His work defined new ways of painting for a post-colonial world and was greeted with both consternation and acclaim during his lifetime. As a Latin American artist of Chinese, Spanish and African heritage, Lam lies between East and West, combining traditional practices, surrealist ideas and complete originality. In an increasingly connected world, Lam’s work brings a historical perspective to contemporary issues.

Wifredo Lam, Horse-headed Woman 1950, oil paint on canvas, The Rudman Trust © SDO Estate of Wifredo Lam

Wifredo Lam, Horse-headed Woman 1950, oil paint on canvas, The Rudman Trust © SDO Estate of Wifredo Lam

The Emperor

On at The Young Vic from 3 to 24 September, The Emperor is a world premiere based on the astonishing book about Ethiopia’s Haile Selassie by legendary journalist Ryszard Kapuściński.

Kathryn Hunter brings to life an extraordinary fable of corruption, avarice and the collapse of absolute power. Hunter creates a mesmerising cast of characters, all servants to a despotic ruler on the brink of downfall. In a kingdom obsessed with title and tradition, the lowly and the loyal have incredible stories to tell.

The Emperor - The Young Vic

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Another theatrical option this month is The Two Gentlemen of Verona in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe. On from 20 September to 1 October, this production brings Shakespeare’s anarchic comedy into the 21st century. There’s romance and chaos throughout.

Two Gentlemen of Verona

Totally Thames

Totally Thames is a month long festival celebrating the famous river that flows through London. There are lots of things going on including art installations, exhibitions, concerts, cruises and much more.

It’s the right month to travel along The Thames as there’s a 2-for-1 river travel offer available all month too.

Mayor's Thames Festival

Mayor’s Thames Festival. Image © Barry Lewis

Jazz Age

The Fashion & Textile Museum, on Bermondsey Street, has a new exhibition opening on 23 September. 1920s JAZZ AGE Fashion & Photographs features woman’s clothing in the decade following the Great War (1919-1929).

Women’s clothing in the 1920s reflected dizzying social change on an unprecedented scale. With over 150 garments on display, this stunning selection of sportswear, printed day dresses, fringed flapper dresses and more reveals the glamour, excess, frivolity and modernity of the decade.

Colourful illustrations by Gordon Conway from the Illustrated London News Archive and photographs by Abbe, Beaton, Man Ray, and Baron de Meyer highlight the role of photographs and magazines in promoting the 1920s look.

A fashion illustration showing models wearing various party dresses. Date: 20th June 1928

350th Anniversary

This month marks the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London. There are events throughout the month starting with the Great Fire Anniversary weekend from Friday 2 September to Sunday 4 September when you can free tickets to visit The Monument. You need to book in advance but it’ll be well worth it as the opening hours have been extended from 8am to 10pm.

There’s late opening at St Paul’s Cathedral too on Friday 2 and Saturday 3 September when you’re actually encouraged to take photos inside the cathedral.

Oil painting of the Great Fire of London seen from Ludgate. © Museum of London

Oil painting of the Great Fire of London seen from Ludgate. © Museum of London

Classical Yoga

From 23 September to 7 October BBC Radio 3 has an anniversary partnership with Southbank Centre to offer Classical Yoga, live music and drama, an embedded composer and retro tea dances.

You can join the free outdoor yoga, set to a live classical soundtrack hand picked by BBC Radio 3, on the Riverside Terrace on Thursday 29 September, Saturday 1 October and Thursday 6 October at 7.30am – 8.30pm. What a wonderful way to start the day!

Classical Yoga

© Sim Cannety-Clarke

Doctor Faustus

From Wednesday 7 September to Saturday 1 October, at the Barbican Theatre, you can see the Royal Shakespeare Company in Doctor Faustus. Transferring to London following its successful run at the RSC’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon, the production has Sandy Grierson and Oliver Ryan share the roles of the doctor and the demon. Who plays which character is decided at the start of the show as each actor lights a match and watches it burn. Whoever’s goes out first ‘loses’ and must play the fated doctor, while the other plays the demon Mephistophilis, in this notorious tale of vanity, greed and damnation.

Doctor Faustus

Photo by Helen Maybanks © RSC


Gregory S. Moss’s punkplay is on at the Southwark Playhouse from 7 September to 1 October. Duck and Mickey are kids of America and want to escape surburbia into the excitement and noise of punk.

It’s a coming-of-age story about subcultures, friendship and not-fitting-in – all on rollerskates.


Even More

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


Rodin & Dance: The Essence of Movement is on at the Courtauld Gallery from 20 October 2016. It’s the first major exhibition to explore Rodin’s fascination with dance and bodies in extreme acrobatic poses.

It focuses on the series of small scale experimental sculptures known as the Dance Movements, which were found in the artist’s studio after his death. The Dance Movements were not exhibited during Rodin’s lifetime or known beyond his close circle.

King Lear is on at the Old Vic soon, previewing from 25 October. It’s one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies and stars two-time Academy Award-winner Glenda Jackson, alongside Jane Horrocks and Rhys Ifans.

And The Queen’s House in Greenwich is due to re-open in October after over a year of extensive refurbishment to celebrate its 400th anniversary. Designed in 1616 by Inigo Jones for James I’s wife, Anne of Denmark, the Queen’s House is Britain’s first classical building and a masterpiece of 17th-century architecture.


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 and contributes to many other publications while maintaining an impressive afternoon tea addiction. 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.


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.


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 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 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.


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.


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 London Travel site and 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 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


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.


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.

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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.


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.



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 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 252014

While there is still plenty going on around Bankside for the Merge Festival (ends 19 October 2014) don’t forget to see Alex Chinnock’s Miner on the Moon which was created for the 2013 festival and is an upside down house by Blackfriars Bridge which I mentioned back in January.

© Laura Porter

© Laura Porter


The Big Draw is on all month and there are lots of events across the country. Near to London Bridge Hotel, this talk at The Menier Gallery looks good and this vintage fashion drawing workshop at the Fashion & Textile Museum looks great too (although it is for 12-16 year olds).


If the darker evenings make you feel like heading to the cinema, the BFI London Film Festival is on from 8 to 19 October and has 248 films on offer. Or check out some of the events or festival menus for the London Restaurant Festival on from 8 to 27 October.

London Restaurant Festival illustration




There are a couple of interesting events happening on Saturday 11 October at London Zoo and WWT London. London Zoo has a History and Architect Day and the London Wetland Centre has an introduction to bird watching day.


Another good way to support ZSL London Zoo’s conservation work is Roar With Laughter – a night of comedy on 17 October at the Apollo Theatre in Hammersmith.



London’s Pearly Kings and Queens are always a treat to see and they are having their Harvest Festival at St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden on Sunday 12 October. They are outside the church from 10am and are always happy to say hello. The church service is at 11am.




As I mentioned in September, the major autumn exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery is Anarchy and Beauty: William Morris and His Legacy 1860-1960 and it opens on 16 October 2014 (and ends on 11 January 2015).

William Morris by Frederick Hollyer, 1884. © National Portrait Gallery, London

William Morris by Frederick Hollyer, 1884. © National Portrait Gallery, London

I’m also looking forward to seeing the Sherlock Holmes exhibition at the Museum of London which opens on 17 October 2014 (and ends on 12 April 2015). This is the first major exhibition devoted to the world’s greatest detective in 60 years.



London Cocktail Week is on from 6 to 12 October and The Quarter Bar & Lounge is taking part. Once you’ve bought your festival wristband you can enjoy the signature cocktail for just £4.

If you enjoy free speech and sharing intellectual discussion the Battle of Ideas at the Barbican Centre on 18 and 19 October looks particularly good. It’s an annual event and encourages high level, thought-provoking debate.

Head down to Greenwich, to the National Maritime Museum, on Thursday 23 October (6.30-7.30pm) where The Virtue of Coffee will be discussed. Admission includes entry to the Ships, Clock & Stars exhibition.

If you are looking to buy something unique, Made London on 24-26 October is well worth seeing as it is one of the top selling events for designer makers in Europe.

On Sunday 26 October October Plenty is happening on Bankside and is one of the great quirky London traditions. It’s the annual Autumn harvest celebration and includes a procession and an outdoor play. Borough Market’s Apple Day is on the same day so it’s fun to attend both.



Don’t forget, the clocks go back on the last Sunday of October so we gain an extra hour in bed on Sunday 26 October.




As there’s a new Paddington Bear film coming out soon, fifty Paddington statues will be placed across London close to museums, parks, shops and key cultural and landmark hotspots. The Paddington Trail will be available from 4 November to 30 December.

The the big event for November in The City is the Lord Mayor’s Show which will be on 8 November with the usual wonderful procession of floats.


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

Mar 242014

I hope you didn’t miss the tip in the March article about the clocks changing. The UK moves to British Summer Time on Sunday 30 March and the clocks go forward one hour. Which means we’re officially in Spring! It’s also Easter this month with Easter Sunday on 20 April 2014. It is actually one of the few days when all large shops must be closed but most museums and attractions will be open.


This April is a fantastic month for sports fans. The first weekend of the month sees the opening of the South Park of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park over in Stratford. The area looked stunning during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and we’re now free to enjoy the parklands, fountains and walkways again. The Lee Valley VeloPark is open, as is the Copper Box Arena and the wonderful London Aquatics Centre which is the best swimming pool I’ve ever been swimming at. Ever.


The ArcelorMittal Orbit also reopens on 5 April 2014 (it’s the tall building you can see in the photo above). Designed by Anish Kapoor, it’s the UK’s tallest sculpture and has two high viewing galleries.

On 6 April it’s time for the annual Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race. This is the 160th Boat Race and is one of the oldest sporting events in the world. It doesn’t happen on the stretch of The Thames near the London Bridge Hotel; it’s further west, between Putney Bridge and Chiswick Bridge. It’s a great excuse to sit by the river, or in one of the parks near the race to watch the large screens for the atmosphere. The race starts at 6pm and these are the best places to watch.

The following weekend is the London Marathon (13 April 2014) and you can see it from near to the London Bridge Hotel as the race goes over Tower Bridge at mile 12 before looping around the Docklands and then continuing along the north bank of the river for the last few miles. Good luck if you are running this year and, if not, enjoy cheering on as a spectator.


With 2014 marking 450 years since the birth of playwright William Shakespeare, you can expect plenty of celebrations – especially on 23 April.

A world tour of Hamlet opens on the bard’s birthday at Shakespeare’s Globe to start the open air theatre’s 2014 season. This production will tour every country in the world over a two-year period.

The Rose Theatre has Richard III on this month, and the Noel Coward Theatre will have Shakespeare in Love from July to October.

If you’d like to see the London locations that were known to Shakespeare, London Walks have tours on Wednesdays at 11am and on Sundays at 2pm that combine Shakespeare’s & Dickens’s London.

23 April is also St George’s Day, the patron saint of England, but we’ll celebrate on 21 April 2014 with the Feast of St George in Trafalgar Square. There will be banqueting seating for 250 between the iconic fountains and plenty of stalls to buy something delicious to eat.



The latest exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum, Artists Textiles: Picasso to Warhol (which I mentioned in February), has proven so popular that the museum is opening on Sundays from 6 April 2014. They have a series of free Sunday events available and there’s a map you can pick up at the museum that has a local history tour of Bermondsey Street’s fashion heritage.

There’s also a trainers display at the FTM and on Thursday 3 April there’s a panel discussion on How to Wear Trainers with British tailor Timothy Everest MBE and other fashion industry experts.

Across the road at London Glassblowing, Peter Layton is launching two new glass series – Beach and Tempest – for the Spring Open House from 4 to 13 April.


If you are planning to visit Collect: The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects at the Saatchi Gallery from 9 to 12 May, you will also appreciate Gather at London Glassblowing from 25 April to 21 May which will present museum-quality work by the same group of artists exhibited by London Glassblowing at Collect, with the addition of two new names on the glass art scene, Laura McKinley and Elliot Walker.



If you head over to Borough Market, do pop into The Wheatsheaf pub as they have a medieval flagon on display as it was found here during recent railway construction work. It may have been used to serve ale in the Abbot of Waverley’s town house, on the same site as the current pub. The Museum of London have worked out it was made between 1350 and 1440.

Henri Matisse Cut-Outs opens at Tate Modern on 17 April to be the major summer exhibition. And at Tate Britain, sculptor Phyllida Barlow will unveil her largest and most ambitious work for the Tate Britain Commission 2014. It will be on display from 31 March to 2 November 2014.

French couturier Jean Paul Gaultier is celebrated at the Barbican Art Gallery with an exhibition featuring more than 140 of Gaultier’s boundary-pushing designs, including iconic pieces created for Madonna, Kylie Minogue and for the films of Pedro Almodóvar. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk opens on 9 April and runs to 25 August 2014.


Over at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, Longitude Punk’d displays steampunk artwork inspired by the technical inventions that were presented to the Board of Longitude between 1714 and 1828. The exhibition opens at Easter and runs until February 2015.

The Houses of Parliament has audio tours available from this month so you don’t have to take a guided tour any more. But if you like guided tours the current offering is being extended with more stops to sit and enjoy the building.

Alan Ayckbourn’s A Small Family Business, a riotous exposure of entrepreneurial greed, returns to the National Theatre on the Southbank where it premiered in 1987. The cast is led by Nigel Lindsay as Jack McCracken. The play opens on 1 April and runs to the end of May 2014.



The London Tweed Run is on 17 May 2014. Do read their Etiquette page which did make me smile. It should be a lot of fun to watch as antique bicycles come out and the dress sense of the participants always adhere to the requirement for gentility and decorum.

Looking further ahead, Tate Britain will have an exhibition of Late Turner paintings opening in September. Once he turned 60 in 1835 there were accusations of madness and senility but this exhibition hopes to show he was just as prolific and just as creative as he travelled more and planned his contentious legacy.

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 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.