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

punkplay

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.

Punkplay

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.

LOOKING AHEAD

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.

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

Laura Porter writes AboutLondonLaura.com and contributes to many other publications while maintaining an impressive afternoon tea addiction. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.

Jan 252014
 
© anniemullinsuk

This is still, technically,  the quiet time of the year for London but, as we discovered in the January round-up, there’s always an incredible amount going on.

We start the month with the celebrations for Chinese New Year which falls on 31 January but London’s celebrations are on Sunday 2 February. 2014 is the Chinese Year of the Horse and the festivities will be across Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and Chinatown.

ChineseNY-1

If you’re looking for some Chinese food near to London Bridge, I can recommend Dim T at More London as you can dine while looking out to Tower Bridge, or Hutong on level 33 of The Shard.

 thamesjet22

For those with no fear, and who are craving something to blow away the winter cobwebs, can I suggest Thamesjet for speedboat sightseeing? A trip on The Thames is always a good way to see the London sights and this is the fastest ride available on The Thames (up to 40mph).

Valentine’s Ideas

romantic-candlelight

This is also the month of lurve. While there are many romantic dining opportunities available (the Londinium restaurant is, of course, a fine choice, as is afternoon tea in the Quarter Bar & Lounge) there are some more unusual ways to spend Valentine’s Day in London this year.

Valentines-Late

How about stepping back in time and learning to dance the Jitterbug before sitting down to compose a love letter, 1940s-style? The Churchill War Rooms have a special late night opening on 14 February with vintage gifts in the shop and a pop-up bar.

© Laura Porter

© Laura Porter

Moving even further back in history to Victorian times, the Charles Dickens Museum is celebrating Valentine’s on 13 February with The Literary Gin Palace. While exploring the home of Dickens and his family you can follow a botanicals trail and even create your own unique gin and tonic in the original kitchen.

Or, if you’re in London later in the month, the Charles Dickens Museum has a candlelit evening on 26 February. There isn’t a guided tour but it would be wonderful to see the home lit this way as Dickens often wrote by candlelight.

Historic homes and candlelight do seem a popular collaboration as the stunning Georgian townhouse that is Dr Johnson’s House, in the City of London, has a candlelit tour on  Valentine’s Day when you can hear about Johnson’s views on love and ‘the fairer sex’. Tours include wine and a recital in the Withdrawing Room.

And there is a monthly candlelit tour at Sir John Soane’s House, at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, on the first Tuesday of each month (so that’s 4 February this month).

Southbank

A walk along the Southbank is for everyone, not just the romantics.

Pop into BFI Southbank during February and March and you’ll find they are having a Derek Jarman film retrospective as part of their Queer Pagan Punk Season. Across Waterloo Bridge, at Somerset House, there’s a Derek Jarman exhibition too with more of his Super 8 films. Pandemonium is hosted by King’s College London as he was a student there in the 1960s.

A_Taste_of_Honey_NoTitle-11

Keeping with a theme of taboos, A Taste of Honey at the National Theatre was written in the 1950s and depicts the harsh working-class life in post-war England with plenty of love and humour too. Previews start from 10 February and it’s booking until 5 April.

Another reason to visit the National Theatre is to try one of the Backstage Tours which run daily. On Saturdays there’s a Costume Tour so you can see the costume and wig room, and during school holidays there are special family tours too.

Speaking of school holidays, do note that most London schoolchildren have a one week break from 17 to 22 February.

If you need to entertain the family, do consider the annual Imagine Children’s Festival at Southbank Centre which is on from 10 to 23 February. There are more than 100 events for families to enjoy.

Barbican

There’s a lot going on at the Barbican Centre this month including a new installation in The Curve from 13 February. What could just be a pathway within the building is used for interesting art projects; the latest from United Visual Artists (UVA) is called Momentum and combines light, sound and movement through the 90 metre long gallery.

MND

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the first collaboration between Handspring Puppet Company and Tom Morris since War Horse and runs from 6 to 15 February. And on 6 February there’s also Blow the Bloody Doors Off! – a concert celebrating the music featured in the defining films of Michael Caine’s career.

Bermondsey Street

© London Glassblowing

© London Glassblowing

There are more good reasons to take a stroll down Bermondsey Street this month as the Silent Auction at London Glassblowing starts on 27 February (and ends on 15 March). This is your opportunity to acquire a unique piece of contemporary studio glass from internationally renowned glass artist, Peter Layton, at less than than the usual gallery price. You’ll have to wait until 6 March for everything to be on display but, as I mentioned in January, it’s always worth visiting the workshop, especially on a cold day.

Do cross the road and see the Fashion & Textile Museum (FTM) which reopens on 31 January with a new exhibition: Artists Textiles: Matisse to Warhol that traces the history of 20th century art in textiles.

There’s also an interesting talk on 27 February celebrating Lucienne Day’s designs for textiles, carpet, wallpaper and ceramics called In the Spirit of the Age.

A Treat

© Laura Porter

© Laura Porter

Let’s end with something relaxing. Did you know there are Sunday organ recitals at St Paul’s Cathedral? They start at 4.45pm, last for half an hour and are free to attend.

 

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.