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.

Mar 242016

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

Barbican Theatre

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

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

Barbican - The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest © Stephen Cummiskey

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

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

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


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

The Complete Walk

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

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

Gala Concert

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

British Library

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

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

Rose Playhouse

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

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

Tower Bridge

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


Conceptual Art

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

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

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

Keith Arnatt, Art as an Act of Retraction, 1971

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

Pick Me Up

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

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

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

Goosebumps Alive

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

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

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

Goosebumps Alive

Udderbelly Festival

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

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


© Southbank Centre

Even More

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


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

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

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

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


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.

Jan 252016

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


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

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

Hamlet at Rose Playhouse

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

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

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Photo credit: Peter Le May / The Globe

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

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

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

Pancake Races

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

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

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

Inter Livery Pancake Race

© Laura Porter / @AboutLondon

Capturing The City

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

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

VE Day at the Bank (WARHO56)

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

Tattoo London

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

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

Two Temple Place

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

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

Performing for the Camera

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

Masahisa Fukase, From Window, 1974

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

Botticelli and Treasures from the Hamilton Collection

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

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

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

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

The Master Builder

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

Even More

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


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

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

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

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

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


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.

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


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.



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 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.