Nov 092017
 

Royal Albert Hall

For the first time ever, Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Royal Albert Hall present The Nutcracker using state-of-the-art technology to conjure a vivid and magical winter wonderland.

The Royal Albert Hall’s specially-adapted version blends the best of the old and the new. The innovative production uses 75kg of artificial snow for a magical transformation scene, along with ground-breaking new projections from the award-winning 59 Productions (An American in Paris, National Theatre’s War Horse, London 2012’s opening ceremony).

There are seven performances of this new version of the universally-acclaimed, quintessential Christmas ballet, suitable for all the family, from 28 to 31 December 2017.

Royal Albert Hall - Nutcracker

 

Also on this month, rock legend Robert Plant returns for his first Royal Albert Hall show in four years. The electrifying former Led Zeppelin vocalist, now an accomplished solo performer, is performing songs from his latest album, Carry Fire, along with hits and rarities, at his one-off Hall date on Friday 8 December.

Special guests include Lakeman, Albanian cellist Redi Hasa, and Chrissie Hynde, who duets with Plant on Bluebirds Over The Mountain, written by rockabilly legend Ersel Hickey and later recorded by both Richie Valens and The Beach Boys.

And Christmas with Katherine Jenkins on 18 December is a wonderful way to get that festive feeling.

Chiswick House

The landscaped grounds of Chickwick House are again host to a Magical Lantern Festival. On from 24 November 2017 to 1 January 2018, this year has a Christmas theme. There are life-size and larger-than-life lanterns from ‘Santa and his reindeers’ to a large-scale recreation of an ‘Ancient City from the Song Dynasty’.

As well as the lantern trail, there’s plenty of food and drink and a Santa’s Grotto if you need to check if you’re on the naughty or nice list.

Magical Lantern Festival - Chiswick House

Queen’s Gallery

The Queen’s Gallery’s new exhibition is Charles ll: Art and Power on from 8 December 2017 to 13 May 2018. It looks at the resurgence of art, under Charles’s patronage after the austere Cromwellian era.

After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the court of Charles II became the centre for the patronage of leading artists and the collecting of great works of art. This served not only as decoration for the royal apartments but also as a means of glorifying the restored monarchy and reinforcing the position of Charles II as the rightful king.

The exhibition shows the rich material world of Charles II’s court and the role of the arts in the re-establishment of the Stuart monarchy.

John Michael Wright, Charles II, c.1676

John Michael Wright, Charles II, c.1676.
Royal Collection Trust/(c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Hyde Park

If you’re staying at the Kensington House Hotel this Christmas you’ll be able to take a Christmas Day morning stroll to the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park to watch the annual Serpentine Swimming Club Peter Pan Cup race.

Swimmers have met in London’s Hyde Park on Christmas morning since 1864 to compete in the Christmas Day swim. It became the Peter Pan Cup in 1904 when author J.M. Barrie donated the cup in the same year his Peter Pan play appeared on the London stage.

You can’t join in though as The Peter Pan Cup is only open to members of the Serpentine Swimming Club who have qualified during the season. Do be aware, the water is usually below 4C (40F) in the winter and I’ve even seen them have to break the ice just to get in.

The 100-yard race on 25 December starts at 9am and takes place on the south bank of the lake. Spectators are always welcome as everyone needs some encouragement on a chilly day.

Peter Pan Swimming Cup

British Museum

Living with gods peoples, places and worlds beyond is at the British Museum from 2 November 2017 to 8 April 2018. Belief is a key aspect of human behaviour and the exhibition notes not only the mystical and sociological aspects of this but also the innate neurological and psychological triggers.

There is no known culture in the world or in history without religious beliefs. What sustains this worldwide phenomenon? The answer to this question is usually set out in terms of what people believe. By contrast, this exhibition explores the practice and expression of religious beliefs in the lives of individuals and communities around the world and through time. It also touches on the benefits and risks of these behaviours in terms of co-existence and conflict in societies such as 17th–18th-century Japan, China and the Soviet Union, as well as modern Europe.

The British Museum has taken a new, experiential and innovative approach to the design of this exhibition. It incorporates the sounds, music and silence associated with religious practice, with moments of surprise, achieved with atmospheric lighting effects.

Wonder toad. China, late 1800s –early 1900s. Homes and businesses in China often have images of the three-legged toad that has a third foot on the end of its tail. With coins placed in their mouths, they bring wealth and happiness.

Wonder toad. China, late 1800s–early 1900s. Homes and businesses in China often have images of the three-legged toad that has a third foot on the end of its tail. With coins placed in their mouths, they bring wealth and happiness.© Religionskundliche Sammlung der Universität Marburg, Germany

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace is welcoming in the holiday season with a series of Christmas-themed entertainment and activities, from carolling in the courtyards to a special Elizabethan Christmas.

Visitors can take a spin on the ice at the Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink (24 November 2017 to 7 January 2018), where the palace’s Tudor facade provides a suitably magnificent backdrop to this magical riverside setting.

The BBC Good Food Show Festive Feast returns for another year on 8-10 December, setting mouths watering with over 50 stalls featuring handpicked producers, all filling the palace’s historic courtyards. Tickets are included in palace admission or choose a Festive Feast Twilight Shopping ticket for just £5 for 4-7pm access to Base Court and Clock Court only.

It won’t just be delicious treats filling the air either, with the Christmas Music Weekend (16 and 17 December) promising traditional carols and sacred hymns within the walls of the Great Hall. Performed on traditional instruments just like those used at the court of Elizabeth I, this special event offers a wonderful mix of traditions old and new.

And on 22 and 23 December (and 27 December to 1 January), visitors can also be treated to an Elizabethan Christmas, with Tudor-style courtyard entertainment, live period music and dance conjuring up the Christmas of 1592 with Elizabeth I and her court. The Tudor Queen herself will even be in residence for the celebrations.

Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace is also suitably dressed for the occasion this month with a Victorian Christmas theme running throughout the palace from 1 December. Complete with stunning lanterns, a gorgeous 25ft Christmas tree and a display of illuminated Victorian scenes, the Palace always looks amazing at this time of year.

On 3, 10 and 17 December there are free festive Under the Christmas Tree family activities to experience the excitement of Queen Victoria’s Christmas.

And there is live music in the Queen’s State Apartments between Christmas and New Year, filling the palace with the sound of traditional festive music.

Christmas at Kensington Palace

A view of Kensington Palace decorated for Christmas celebrations, east front. In the foreground is a marble statue of Queen Victoria at the time of her accession. The statue was commissioned by the residents of Kensington to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. Installed here in 1893, the statue was sculpted by Victoria’s fourth daughter Princess Louise. © Historic Royal Palaces

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month, have a look at the December 2017 in London blog post from our sister hotel, London Bridge Hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

Cirque du Soleil returns to the Royal Albert Hall in the near year with its OVO show. On from 7 January to 4 March 2018, the show is a colourful carnival of crazy crickets, amazing ants and flexible fleas. Crawling with fun, this show is a non-stop riot of energy and movement featuring many of Cirque du Soleil’s mind-blowing signature acts including a stunning 14m high flying trapeze act, the biggest of its kind.

If you enjoy the Charles II exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery this month (see above), why not find out more about his father? Charles I: King and Collector is at the Royal Academy from 27 January to 15 April 2018. During his reign, Charles I (1600-1649) acquired and commissioned exceptional masterpieces from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century. After he was executed in 1649, the collection was sold and dispersed across Europe. Although many works were retrieved by Charles II during the Restoration, others now form the core of collections such as the Musée du Louvre and the Museo Nacional del Prado. This exhibition reunites around 150 of the most important works for the first time since the seventeenth century, providing an unprecedented opportunity to experience the collection that changed the appreciation of art in England.

Opening on 3 February 2018, the V&A has the first ever exhibition to explore the design and cultural impact of the ocean liner on an international scale. Ocean Liners: Speed & Style explores all aspects of these mighty vessels, from the ground-breaking engineering, architecture and interiors to the fashion and lifestyle aboard.

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Do check out the latest offers as Kensington House Hotel has some great weekend deals. You can sign up for special offer alerts here.

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.

Oct 052017
 

Winter Wonderland

The UK’s ultimate Christmas destination returns to Hyde Park for its 11th year on 17 November. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland has free entry and stays for 6 weeks.

There’s the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink and The Magical Ice Kingdom has a ‘Deep Sea Adventure’ theme made completely from snow and ice. The Imperial Ice Stars present Cinderella on Ice and there’s Bar Ice for a cool drink too.

Zippos Circus has daytime shows boasting incredible acrobatic displays and mind-blowing illusion. And the Cirque Berserk evening performances showcase jaw-dropping aerial stunts, contortion, spectacular trapeze and a must-see finale.

Take it easy and admire the view from the iconic Giant Observation Wheel, get some gift shopping done at the Angels Christmas market featuring over 150 chalets and go wild on some rides – including the world’s largest transportable roller coaster, the Munich Looping. Then enjoy food and drink at the Bavarian Village along with free entertainment.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Ghost Tours

A royal palace steeped in history is always a fun place to explore after dark. Hampton Court Palace has Ghost Tours on 5, 12 and 19 November (and a family Ghost Tour on 5 November too).

Attendees will hear chilling tales such as the Tudor royal nurse whose spirit is said to stalk her former apartments, or the mysterious figure ‘Skeletor’ caught on CCTV in the palace in the dead of night.

The tours are nearly two hours long and you’ll even discover Hampton Court’s own species of spider!

ghosts

Cézanne Portraits

If you have any doubts around Cezanne’s genius, simply visit the permanent collection at The Courtauld Gallery and gaze upon his landscapes. In a different take on the impressionist master, the National Portrait Gallery has a new exhibition with over 50 portraits, including works never before seen in the UK. Cézanne Portraits opened on 26 October and runs until 11 February.

Cézanne is widely understood to be one of the most influential artists of the nineteenth century. Generally categorised as a Post-Impressionist, his unique method of building form with colour, and his analytical approach to nature, influenced the art of Cubists, Fauvists, and successive generations of avant-garde artists. Both Matisse and Picasso called Cézanne ‘the father of us all.’

Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Chair

Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Chair, 1888-90 by Paul Cézanne.
Copyright: Wilson L. Mead Fund, 1948.54, The Art Institute of Chicago

Lake Keitele

Around the corner at the National Gallery is a free display called Lake Keitele: A Vision of Finland. A leading figure in modern Finnish painting, Akseli Gallen-Kallela was mesmerised by the beauty of the Finnish landscape and returned to Lake Keitele, north of Helsinki, throughout his career.

Open from 15 November 2017 (and on until 4 February 2018), this exhibition reunites all four of the artist’s depictions of the lake, displaying them side by side in the order he painted them; demonstrating the gradual shift of the composition from an observed, naturalistic landscape towards a highly stylised and abstracted image.

Alongside the Lake Keitele paintings are more than a dozen works from international avant-gardes who Gallen-Kallela was in contact with during much of his working life, on loan from public and private Finnish collections.

Lake Keitele

Ferrari: Under The Skin

As I mentioned last month, the Design Museum has a major exhibition opening on 15 November. Ferrari: Under the Skin reveals the fascinating history of the brand and celebrates 70 years of precision design, from the launch of the first Ferrari car to the latest car production.

The exhibition pays tribute to Enzo Ferrari and his passion for racing which ultimately gave rise to the brand. The son of a manufacturer in Modena, he became a racing driver in 1919 and competed for Alfa Romeo. In 1947, Enzo Ferrari launched his own car – a new, complex 12-cylinder engine designed entirely with performance in mind – a bold move in post-war Italy. His cars soon started to win races and attract a clientele of wealthy and famous patrons, which in turn built the reputation for the brand.

This ambitious display brings together early design models, drawings, letters and memorabilia as well as some of the most famous Ferraris to be seen on roads and racing circuits around the world. Together, these artefacts and original documents provide an unprecedented study of automotive design.

Ferrari 166-195 Sport Coupé MM Figurino a colori 13

Impressionists in London, French Artists in Exile

Open from 2 November, Impressionists in London French Artists in Exile at Tate Britain focuses on the French artists who sought refuge in London during and after the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71).

This is the first large-scale exhibition to map the connections between French and British artists, patrons and art dealers during this traumatic period in French history. The exhibition examines the historical and political context that forced French artists into exile and looks at their engagement with British culture and society as outsiders.

James Tissot and the sculptors Jules Dalou and Edouard Lantéri were among the artists who had a career in Britain. Others, including Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro, returned to France after a few months, coming back to England on later occasions to engage with British motifs in more auspicious circumstances.

The exhibition looks at French painters’ keen observations of British culture and social life, which were notably different to the café culture found in Paris. Evocative depictions of figures enjoying London parks such as Pissarro’s Kew Green (1892), that were in stark contrast to formal French gardens where walking on the grass was prohibited. Scenes of regattas fringed with bunting as painted by Alfred Sisley and James Tissot in The Ball on Shipboard (c.1874) is also on display, demonstrating how British social codes and traditions captured the imagination of the Impressionists at the time.

Houses of Parliament, Sunlight Effect

Venus in Fur

David Oakes and Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer stars in this sexually charged West End production of Venus In Fur at Theatre Royal Haymarket. On until 9 December, this is the West End premiere of David Ives’ critically acclaimed Broadway smash hit.

Based on the 1870 novel Venus In Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who inspired the term “masochism”, the play is an intoxicating comedy about desire, fantasy… and an innate love of fur.

When an enigmatic actress called Vanda Jordan turns up unannounced for an audition with director Thomas Novachek, she appears to be absolutely determined to win the leading role in their new play, despite being totally wrong for the part. But it’s when she meets the director in a downtown bar that she really begins to push her case.

Venus in Fur - London

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month, have a look at the November 2017 in London blog post from our sister hotel, London Bridge Hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

If you’re looking for something fun to bring in 2018 the New Year’s Eve: Under the Sea event at the Natural History Museum looks good. Inspired by the arrival of Hope, the blue whale in the newly redeveloped Hintze Hall, you can explore the dinosaurs gallery, tear up the dance floor at the silent disco, try your luck at Musical Bingo or sing along with the crowd for Massaoke (mass-karaoke) before counting down to midnight.

For the first time ever, Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Royal Albert Hall present The Nutcracker this Christmas, using state-of-the-art technology to conjure a vivid and magical winter wonderland. This new version of the universally-acclaimed, quintessential Christmas ballet, suitable for all the family, is on from 28 to 31 December 2017.

Winnie The Pooh – Exploring A Classic opens at the V&A on 9 December 2017. See the manuscripts, drawings, letters and photographs that contributed to the creation of this world-famous children’s character. Designed for both children and adults, visitors will be led on a multi-sensory journey to rediscover these classic books.

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Do check out the latest offers as Kensington House Hotel has some great weekend deals. You can sign up for special offer alerts here.

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.

Sep 122017
 

Royal Albert Hall

On Friday 20 October at the Royal Albert Hall, Michael Giacchino at 50 celebrates the 50th birthday of the most in-demand composer in Hollywood. Some of Hollywood’s hottest directors are joining Michael Giacchino on stage at the acclaimed composer’s first ever major career retrospective.

Born in New Jersey in October 1967, Giacchino began his career writing video game music for DreamWorks. After being talent-spotted by Steven Spielberg, he became the first person to write an orchestral score for the PlayStation.

His scores for the hit TV series Alias and Lost – for which he won an Emmy – were followed by feature films: Mission Impossible III, Super 8, Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness.

He became one of animation studio Pixar’s favourite composers, creating the music for smash-hit successes Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Inside Out and, most memorably, Up, which won him an Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Grammy.

Subsequent successes have included Jurassic World, Zootropolis, Doctor Strange and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, being the musical director for the Oscars in 2008, and dominating this summer at the box-office, with the scores for War for the Planet of the Apes and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Michael Giacchino at 50

National Portrait Gallery

Opening on 6 October at the National Portrait Gallery, Julian Opie after Van Dyck features one of Britain’s foremost contemporary artists. Julian Opie has been invited to present his work in dialogue with Van Dyck’s self-portrait (c.1640) in the 17th century galleries in this free display.

While, at first glance, Opie’s portraits are distinctly modern in their concise and abstracted forms, the style, composition and media are inspired by a variety of historic and contemporary visual sources. These range from ancient Egyptian and Roman art, and Dutch and British painted portraits of the 17th and 18th centuries, to 18th and 19th century Japanese prints, and the symbolic language of modern signage.

The influence of 17th century British portraiture on the works in this display is evident in the elegant pose of several of the sitters, and the turning postures that playfully reference Van Dyck’s self-portrait. Viewing the old and new portraits side by side illuminates the influence and continuing relevance of Old Masters such as Van Dyck on British contemporary portrait practice.

(from left) George. by Julian Opie, 2014; Self-portrait by Anthony van Dyck, c. 1640 © National Portrait Gallery; Faime. by Julian Opie, 2016

Kensington Palace

There’s a special study day happening on 14 October at Kensington Palace. Participants at A Very British Princess will enjoy a private view of Kensington Palace’s Enlightened Princesses exhibition, followed by expert lectures exploring just how ‘British’ the Georgian royal women were. With talks, demonstrations on science, dance and the arts, the day explores the national identities and cultural influences working in Georgian court and what this meant for wider society.

On 21 October, Kensington Palace plays host to the theatre company Austentatious who put on an entirely improvised comedy play in the style of Jane Austen. The cast creates a riotously funny new literary masterpiece, based on a title suggested by the audience. Dressed in full Regency costume and complete with live musical accompaniment, the company explore the themes of 19th century roles for women, royal scandals and Georgian etiquette through raucous comedy theatre.

Austentatious at Kenington Palace

National Gallery

Opening on 2 October at the National Gallery, Reflections: Van Eyck and The Pre-Raphaelites transports us back to art in the middle ages through to the 19th century. The exhibition looks at the lasting impact of Van Eyck’s Arnolfini masterpiece on Pre-Raphaelite artists Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt.

Acquired by the National Gallery in 1842, the Arnolfini Portrait informed the Pre-Raphaelites’ belief in empirical observation, their ideas about draughtsmanship, colour and technique, and the ways in which objects in a picture could carry symbolic meaning.

Jan van Eyck Portrait of Giovanni (?) Arnolfini and his Wife and 'The Arnolfini Portrait' 1434

Jan van Eyck – Portrait of Giovanni (?) Arnolfini and his Wife and ‘The Arnolfini Portrait’’, 1434
© The National Gallery, London

Kew Gardens

Handmade at Kew returns to Kew Gardens for 12 – 15 October. It’s an innovative craft fair organised by Handmade in Britain where you can browse and buy directly from artists and craft-makers.

This international contemporary craft event offers you the opportunity to meet and buy directly from over 200 extraordinary designer-makers working across all disciplines including ceramics, jewellery, fashion and textiles, glass, paper, furniture, metalwork, sculpture and interior accessories.

The event is housed in an elegant pavilion next to Kew Palace and tickets to the event include entry to both the event and Kew Gardens.

Sackler crossing - Kew Gardens

British Library

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the British LIbrary have Harry Potter: A History of Magic opening on 20 October. It showcases wizarding books, manuscripts and magical objects, and combines centuries-old British Library treasures with original material from Bloomsbury Publishing’s and J.K. Rowling’s own archives.

A highlight is the gargantuan 16th century Ripley Scroll that explains how to create a Philosopher’s Stone. The structure of the exhibition has been inspired by the subjects that Harry and his friends studied at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, from Potions and Herbology, to Astronomy and Care of Magical Creatures.

DETAIL - A phoenix rising from the ashes in a 13th-century bestiary (c) British Library

DETAIL – A phoenix rising from the ashes in a 13th-century bestiary (c) British Library

London Transport Museum

Poster Girls is opening at the London Transport Museum on 13 October. This major new exhibition celebrates female poster artists and reveals the stories behind their work. With over 150 original posters and original artworks on display, the exhibition celebrates the often hidden contribution of female artists to the rise of the poster over the last hundred years. Starting in the early 1900s when poster art was in its infancy, the exhibition charts the key role played by London Transport in commissioning women designers and providing a platform for their art.

As well as original posters, the exhibition includes letters, books, ceramics, photographs and original artworks.

Visitors can be amongst the first to enjoy the exhibition at the Friday Late launch evening on 13 October. The evening has talks, music and a bar, make-and-take workshops, a pub-style quiz, special curator tours of the new exhibition and the chance to see the museum’s collection after dark.

Poster Girls - London Transport Museum

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the October 2017 in London blog post from our sister hotel, London Bridge Hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

Opening on 10 November at the Natural History Museum, Venom: Killer and Cure explores the visceral fear and ever-lasting fascination that venom evokes. This groundbreaking exhibition explores venom as the ultimate weapon found in nature occurring throughout the animal kingdom.

The Design Museum has a major exhibition opening on 15 November. Ferrari: Under the Skin reveals the fascinating history of the brand and celebrates 70 years of precision design, from the launch of the first Ferrari car in 1947 to the latest car production.

And on 2 November at Tate Britain Impressionists in London French Artists in Exile opens. The exhibition focuses on the French artists who sought refuge in London during and after the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). This is the first large-scale exhibition to map the connections between French and British artists, patrons and art dealers during this traumatic period in French history.

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Do check out the latest offers as Kensington House Hotel has some great weekend deals. You can sign up for special offer alerts here.

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.

Aug 172017
 

Kew Gardens

Here are a couple of great reasons to go to Kew Gardens this month.

It’s not the end of the summer open-air film opportunities in London yet as Kew the Movies outdoor cinema festival is back. On 6 September you can see Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and on 7 September it’s time to sing-a-long to Grease.

Do note, there’s no seating so you’ll be relaxing on the grass but you don’t need to bring a picnic as food and drink is available.

Kew Gardens - Kew The Movies

© RBG Kew

Or come in the daytime to admire the Gardens as Sculpt at Kew is on from 18 September to 15 October. There are more than 70 sculptures displayed across the Gardens making it a wonderful excuse to stroll and explore.

The artworks are by over 30 renowned British and international artists and include stunning figurative, abstract and modern sculptures in a range of media including ceramics, bronze, glass and woodwork.

And, as an added bonus, all of these original works of contemporary art are available to buy.

Vintage Summer Steam

I’ve done this and can assure you Vintage Summer Steam really is a lot of fun. On 9 and 10 September, passengers can enjoy journeys evocative of the early 20th century when the Metropolitan No. 1 steam locomotive and the 1938 art deco Tube stock train run on the Metropolitan line between Amersham and Harrow-on-the-Hill.

The heritage vehicles also include Steam Locomotive No. 9466, two class 20 diesel locomotives, and the 1950s ex British Rail coaches resplendent in their new London Transport red livery.

Costumed characters bring the history of past travel to life at Amersham station. And there is also a pop-up vintage tea experience for day trippers who purchase a tea room ticket.

On Saturday 9 September The Susie Qs, a 1940s close-harmony trio are singing Andrew’s Sisters classics and performing the dance moves to match. And on Sunday 10 September passengers can take a free heritage bus ride from Amersham Station to Amersham Old Town for the town’s annual Heritage Day where there is live bands, market stalls and a children’s area and fairground.

Vintage Summer Steam

Scythians

Opening on 14 September at the British Museum, Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia explores the story of the Scythians – nomadic tribes and masters of mounted warfare, who flourished between 900 and 200 BC. Their influence was felt all over Central Asia – from China to the northern Black Sea.

For centuries all trace of their culture was lost – buried beneath the ice – but discoveries of ancient tombs have unearthed a wealth of Scythian treasures that are revealing the truth about these people’s lives.

The Scythians were exceptional horsemen and warriors, and feared adversaries and neighbours of the ancient Greeks, Assyrians and Persians. This exhibition tells their story through exciting archaeological discoveries and perfectly preserved objects frozen in time.

If, like me, you know little about this area of history, the British Museum have written this helpful article to introduce the Scythians.

Scythian rider

Scythian rider. gold plaque depicting a Scythian rider with a spear in his right hand; Gold; Second half of the fourth century BC; Kul’ Oba.© The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, 2017. Photo: V Terebenin.

Drawn in Colour

Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell is a free exhibition at the National Gallery. Opening on 20 September (and on until April 2018), this is a rare opportunity to see stunning paintings, pastels, and drawings by leading French Impressionist Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (1834–1917).

The Burrell Collection in Glasgow holds one of the greatest collections of Degas’s works in the world. Rarely seen in public, this exhibition marks the first time the group of pastels has been shown outside of Scotland, since they were acquired at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Burrell’s thirteen pastels, three drawings, and four oil paintings, are exhibited alongside a selection of oil paintings and pastels from the National Gallery’s own Degas collection, as well as loans from other collections which relate thematically or stylistically to the Burrell works.

The exhibition marks the centenary of the artist’s death on 27 September 1917, and is a fitting tribute to one of the greatest creative figures of French art.

Degas - Ballet Dancers

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas – Ballet Dancers (about 1890-1900).
© The National Gallery, London

BBC Proms in the Park

The Proms are on at the Royal Albert Hall until Saturday 9 September when there is the popular (but already sold-out) Last Night of the Proms. A wonderful way to still enjoy this finale event is at the BBC Proms in the Park in Hyde Park.

There are big screen link-ups to the performances at the Royal Albert Hall plus live concerts too. It’s not all classical music here as legendary singer-songwriter and The Kinks frontman, Sir Ray Davies is the headline act.

Sir Ray is joined by leading soloists including bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel, singer and actress Elaine Paige and 1970’s sensation Gilbert O’Sullivan. Steps and Texas bring the pop songs, and the early evening entertainment also includes a performance from the cast of Five Guys Named Moe.

Proms In The Park

© Neil Rickard

Jasper Johns

Considered one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Jasper Johns is featured in a major exhibition at The Royal Academy from 23 September to 10 December. This landmark exhibition of this Honorary Royal Academician brings together his paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings to explore his unconventional and experimental approach.

This is the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s work to be held in the UK in 40 years. Over 150 works including sculpture, drawings and prints are on display, together with new work from the artist.

The exhibition span over 60 years from his early career, right up to the present time, bringing together artworks that rarely travel from international private and public collections.

Jasper Johns, Target, 1961.

Jasper Johns, Target, 1961. Encaustic and collage on canvas. 167.6 x 167.6 cm. The Art Institute of Chicago c Jasper Johns / VAGA, New York / DACS, London. Photo: c 2017. The Art Institute of Chicago / Art Resource, NY / Scala, Florence

Rachel Whiteread

Tate Britain has a major exhibition of work by Rachel Whiteread to celebrate her position as one of the UK’s most highly respected sculptors. From 12 September 2017 to 4 February 2018, we can see both large and small scale scultpures in the range of materials characteristically used by the artist – plaster, resin, rubber, concrete and metal.

This is the most substantial showing of Whiteread’s works from her 30 year career and includes new work not previously exhibited. The exhibition also has drawings and documentation of the public projects that have punctuated her career including House (1993-4) which existed for only a few months before its controversial destruction, and helped win Whiteread the Turner Prize in 1993.

Large-scale pieces include Untitled (Book Corridors) 1997-8 and Untitled (Room 101) 2003 – a cast of the room at the BBC’s broadcasting House thought to be the model for Room 101 in George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty Four. And some of the smaller sculptures include casts in different materials and colours from architectural features such as floors, doors and windows to domestic objects such as tables, boxes and a selection of Torsos, Whiteread’s casts of hot water bottles.

Another highlight of the exhibition is Untitled (One Hundred Spaces) 1995 – an installation of 100 resin casts of the underside of chairs – shown in Tate Britain’s Duveen galleries.

Rachel Whiteread House 1993

Rachel Whiteread House 1993
Photo: Sue Omerod © Rachel Whiteread

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the September 2017 in London blog post from our sister hotel, London Bridge Hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

To mark the UK-India Year of Culture 2017-18, and celebrate the vibrant cultural history of the two countries, the Science Museum has the Illuminating India Season from 4 October 2017 to 19 March 2018. There will be two exhibitions celebrating the rich culture and history of innovation in India. One is an ambitious and unprecedented survey of photography in India from the emergence of the medium in the 19th century to the present day. The other highlights India’s long tradition of scientific thought from the ancient past to now.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic opens at the British Library on 20 October to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Presenting a thrilling display of wizarding books, manuscripts and magical objects alongside centuries-old British Library treasures, this is about as close to the Hogwarts library as we’re ever likely to get.

Together the V&A and the Royal Opera House present a landmark exhibition exploring a vivid story of opera from its origins in late-Renaissance Italy to the present day. Opera: Passion, Power and Politics opens at the V&A on 30 September. Told through the lens of seven premieres in seven European cities, this immersive exhibition takes you on a journey through nearly 400 years, culminating in the international explosion of opera in the 20th and 21st centuries.

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Do check out the latest offers as Kensington House Hotel has some great weekend deals. You can sign up for special offer alerts here.

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.

Aug 012017
 

As a rule when visiting a new city I like to book onto a city tour – it is a great way to get your  bearings and learn a little bit about the history and local culture. However they can sometimes lack a little imagination so I am always on the look out for a tour with a little je ne sais quoi and I am pleased to say that my hunt has been rewarded with the discovery of London’s Chocolate Ecstasy Tours – mmmmmm!

Chocolate Ecstasy Tours began in 2005, the founder, Jennifer Earle, wrote a list of things she loved which included chocolate, meeting people, talking, eating and London. From this she brainstormed how she could start a business and – voila! – Chocolate Ecstasy Tours was born. It began as a part time hobby and attracted other passionate chocoholics to join her guiding some of the tours as well. Now Jennifer spends the majority of her time guiding tours and tastings, judging chocolate and other food awards, tasting and consulting for various chocolate companies and travelling to attend conferences or visit plantations, boutiques and factories in the UK and beyond. In short, she is obsessed with chocolate.

All of the team love chocolate. They are also super-friendly, genuine people who care about guests having a wonderful time. Many of them are experienced tour guides, but none of them will deliver a lecture. The tours are personal small groups so they are able to tailor the information to what people are most interested in learning about.   They research every area thoroughly before launching a tour, ensuring they’re well-versed in local history and armed with a collection of fascinating stories and obscure facts to entertain you en route.  Many guests – especially locals! – say this is their favourite part of the tours.

The best bit they guarantee that you leave the Chocolate Ecstasy Tour completely full of chocolate.  Apparently some guests start to falter along the way – who are these people(?) –  if this is the case the team provide crackers to help you try more!

What’s next? Not content with just chocolate and London, Jennifer and her awesome guides are on a mission to support and explore chocolate and other fine foods in the UK. At the end of 2016 she launched Taste Tripper which aims to connect people to high quality food and drink retailers, first in London and then beyond.

For more information on the tours and how to book visit – www.chocolateecstasytours.com/tours. Get social Instagram: @chocolatetours / Twitter: @chocolatetours / Facebook: ChocolateTours

Contributor: Alexandra Pinhorn / Photos: Chocolate Ecstasy Tours

Magellan PR is on twitter: @MagellanPR / on Facebook: MagellanPR / on Instagram Magellan_PR. For more information on our company, visit www.magellan-pr.com.

Jul 132017
 

Clarence House

Throughout August we have the opportunity to go inside Clarence House, the official residence of TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall (Charles and Camilla).

Clarence House was built for the future King William IV while he was the Duke of Clarence, hence its name. It is one of the last remaining aristocratic townhouses in London.

Visitors are able to see the five rooms on the ground floor where official engagements are undertaken by Their Royal Highnesses. A guide accompanies all visitors and the tour is just £10. There are also more exclusive tours available (£35) that include the Cornwall Room where 22 of The Prince of Wales’s watercolours are hung. Those tours conclude with a glass of Champagne and a view of the garden.

Clarence House

Parliament

Parliament and the First World War is a new, free exhibition in Parliament’s historic Westminster Hall. Running until 28 September 2017, the exhibition enables visitors to explore documents, paintings and objects which demonstrate the profound changes in Parliament and democracy that occurred during the war years.

A poignant addition to the exhibition is a light projection of the names of those recorded on the First World War memorials in Parliament. These names include the 46 Parliamentarians and 26 Parliamentary staff killed in service.

Entry to the exhibition is free of charge and you can visit Monday to Saturday 9am to 6pm (last entry 5:30pm). Access is via the Cromwell Green Entrance. Visitors booked on tours of the Palace of Westminster will have access to the exhibition too.

Women workers at the National Shell Filling Factory, Chilwell, July 1917

Women workers at the National Shell Filling Factory, Chilwell, July 1917. Photograph by Horace Nicholls. © IWM (Q 30040) With permission of the First World War Centenary Partnership, led by Imperial War Museums

Natural History Museum

It’s definitely worth visiting the Natural History Museum this month as there have been some big changes. The most striking is the transformed Hintze Hall – the large space you enter from the main entrance.

The dinosaur cast (Dippy the diplodocus) has gone and since 14 July it has been replaced by a gigantic 25.2-metre blue whale skeleton (real this time) suspended from the ceiling. The ‘wonder bays’ in the hall have ten other star specimens including the skeleton of an American mastodon that went extinct 13,000 years ago.

To complement these changes, the new exhibition, Whales: Beneath the surface, also opened on 14 July. More than 100 specimens from the Museum’s research collection have been brought out from behind the scenes for the first time to show the huge diversity of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Complete skeletons reveal the secret to swimming like a whale, and skulls, flippers and jaw bones uncover how they move, breathe, feed and sense their surroundings. It’s an immersive experience where you can see how some whales, dolphins and porpoises sense their prey using sound.

Humpback whale

© Kerstin Meyer, Getty Images

Wizarding Wardrobes

During the ten years of filming, more than 25,000 unique items of clothing were created for the Harry Potter filmss. Warner Bros Studio Tour is showcasing some of the best never-before-seen costumes from the magical film series with Wizarding Wardrobes on from 21 July to 4 September.

Visitors can see the whole process from initial designs to the finished costumes, as well as learning how new clothes were made to look centuries old or battle-worn through the art of costume distressing.

Hundreds of unique wizard hats were created for Harry’s first trip to Diagon Alley and these are on display at the Studio Tour. And there is the opportunity to step inside Professor Slughorn’s armchair suit used as a disguise to evade capture by Death Eaters in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Wizarding Wardrobes - Warner Bros Studio Tour London

Outdoor Cinema

The immaculate gardens of Kensington Palace make for the ultimate setting for a night of cinema under the stars. The lawn of the Orangery, with its beautiful formal gardens, this summer plays host to some classic cinema, including Bridget Jones’ Baby, The Goonies, Moulin Rouge and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.

On from 8 to 11 August, tickets are on sale now. You can pre-order blankets and backrests and there is hot food available each evening. Or treat yourself to a Premium Ticket and have a two course pre-film dining experience at the Orangery Restaurant, a complimentary glass of prosecco and a premium position to enjoy the movie while relaxing in a Director’s chair.

Bridget Jones's Baby

Matisse in The Studio

Matisse In The Studio opens at The Royal Academy of Arts on 5 August. It takes us into the studio of one of the world’s most popular artists, exploring his prized possessions and artistic process.

Henri Matisse’s studio had an eclectic collection from across world: Buddhist statuary from Thailand, Bamana figures from Mali, plus furniture and textiles from North Africa. Rarely of material value, these objects were nonetheless precious. Offering points of departure to which he could return again and again, they appear in his work in different guises and across spans of decades, reinvented afresh in each new setting.

This exhibition offers a rare glimpse into the artist’s personal collection, as well as the paintings, sculptures and drawings it inspired. Seen together, they reveal how Matisse’s vision of rich and masterful energy first stemmed from the collage of patterns and rhythms which he found in the world of objects.

Henri Matisse, The Moorish Screen, 1921.

Henri Matisse, The Moorish Screen, 1921. Philadelphia Museum of Art. Bequest of Lisa Norris Elkins, 1950. Photo © Philadelphia Museum of Art/Art Resource, NY

Great British Beer Festival

The 40th anniversary of The Great British Beer Festival is on at London Olympia from 8 to 12 August (and for the first time they are including English wines too!)

This is the biggest beer festival in Britain and the Exhibition Hall becomes one big pub. But it is not all about boozing for the sake of it as everyone here is passionate about their beer and capable of recommending the perfect drink for connoisseurs and enthusiastic amateurs alike.

Over 900 drinks are on offer from real ales, fruit beers and ciders, to stouts, bitters and international beers. And there are also pub snacks, pub games and competitions.

Clinking beer glasses

Serpentine Boats

This is the perfect month to enjoy boating on the Serpentine in Hyde Park. There is a fleet of rowing and pedal boats which are a lot of fun with friends as each boat holds up to 6 people. Boats are available daily until sundown.

Or why not try the UK’s first Solarshuttle? It glides silently across the lake powered only by the sun and can carry up to 40 passengers. The SolarShuttle has two extra Ship’s Wheels so that children (or adults!) can enjoy trying their hand at being a Captain for the trip.

The SolarShuttle travels between the Diana, Princess Of Wales Memorial Fountain, which is on the south side of the Serpentine, to the Boat House on the northern edge of the lake near the Dell restaurant. The service runs every half hour or so from midday to dusk.

Update: The Solar Shuttle has some technical difficulties so may not be running this summer. Looks like the rowing and pedal boats will be the best choice!

Solar Shuttle - Serpentine, Hyde Park

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the August 2017 in London blog post from our sister hotel, London Bridge Hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

Presented by Kirstie Allsopp, The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court Palace is all about appreciating the beauty of handmade, and learning the skills to become a maker. On from 15 to 17 September, there will be the chance to learn how to make something from scratch or up-cycle an old piece of furniture, with the fair promising to make life that little more beautiful.

Celebrate the finale of two months of BBC Proms classical concerts with the BBC Proms in the Park in Hyde Park on 9 September. As well as the live music there are fireworks and plenty of excuses to sing along.

Opening on 12 September at Tate Britain is a major exhibition of the work of Rachel Whiteread to celebrate her position as one of the UK’s most highly respected sculptors. Bringing together large and small scale sculptures in the range of materials characteristically used by the artist – plaster, resin, rubber, concrete and metal – it will be the most substantial showing of Whiteread’s work to date and include new work not previously exhibited.

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Do check out the latest offers as Kensington House Hotel has some great weekend deals. You can sign up for special offer alerts here.

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.

Jun 292017
 

The other week I was lucky enough to visit Timmy Green – the all-day Australian restaurant and bar is part of the popular brunch haunt Daisy Green – at Victoria’s newest upscale development Nova Food. The space is light, bright and open with great service and of course excellent food.  Intrigued by this little dining gem I was determined to find out more.

Named after founder Prue Freeman’s late brother, a true Australian cowboy whose life was devoted to the land and whose legacy inspires much of the menu, the restaurant focuses on big prime grass-fed steaks and creative small plates designed to share – as my reverse vegetarianism is not going overly well I had the amazing veggie burger pictured below.

Timmy is set over two floors with an alfresco extended outdoor seating area, all of which moves effortlessly from casual coffee spot to buzzing evening bar and restaurant. Extensive local craft beers are served alongside an almost all Australian natural wine list and innovative cocktails.

Most importantly they do the all important and ever so fashionable  all-day brunch offering favourites from sibling Daisy Green including the “Fancy bacon roll” (paratha roti, back bacon, crispy onion crusted poached eggs, the Ribman’s Holy F*ck hollandaise) and the “award-winning banana bread sandwich” with mascarpone, fresh berries, flaked almonds and honey. Exclusive new dishes such as “steak & eggs” (crispy rice, rump steak, fried eggs, mushrooms, chimichurri) and “Hot and healthy breakfast greens” also join Timmy’s brunch menu. The renowned Beany Green Espresso blend is complimented with changing single origins, hand roasted by fellow Aussies, The Roasting Party.

I have already told all my friends and anyone who will listen that they must go there, so go there, go there now! You will find Timmy Green at Nova Victoria on the corner of Bressenden Place and Buckingham Palace Road – opposite Hotel Rubens. This place will be the next big thing so reservations are recommended so email reservations@daisygreenfood.com before you visit.

Get social Instagram: @daisygreencollection / Twitter: @daisygreenfood / Facebook: daisygreenfood

Contributor: Alexandra Pinhorn / Photos: Leyla Kazim / Food Styling: Fran Day

Magellan PR is on twitter: @MagellanPR / on Facebook: MagellanPR / on Instagram Magellan_PR. For more information on our company, visit www.magellan-pr.com.

 

Jun 152017
 

Trafalgar Square Opera

There are two opportunities to enjoy world class opera in Trafalgar Square for free this month. A big screen goes up for the live outdoor relays from the Royal Opera House on 4 and 14 July. Do arrive early as there are likely to be security checks.

On Tuesday 4 July, at 7pm, you can see La Traviata and on Friday 14 July, at 7.30pm, you can see Turandot. To help you enjoy these performances, the Royal Opera House has free digital programmes available to download.

And as screenings are happening across the UK, there are competitions for those at the events to enter on the night.

BP Big Screen in Trafalgar Square

Tudor Joust

Throughout the day on 15 and 16 July, the grounds of Hampton Court Palace will once again ring out with the sound of charging horses hooves and the clash of cold metal, as for one weekend only King Henry VIII and his court take up residence for that most Tudor of royal sports: the Tudor Joust.

Recreating all the pomp and ceremony of lavish court entertainment, visitors can be immersed in the sights, smells and sounds of the Tudor court. It’s all brought to life with displays of sword fighting, courtly games and music.

Young visitors can try on pieces of armour and we can all cheer on the rival knights as they compete for glory. All the fun is included with palace admission.

Tudor Jousting

Credit : Steve Woods / newsteam.co.uk/HRP

Real Tennis Champions Trophy

Also at Hampton Court Palace, The Real Tennis Champions Trophy is on 11 to 16 July. It’s a new annual international Real Tennis event celebrating Henry VIII’s favourite sport. The tournament brings together the world’s top players on the palace’s historic Royal Tennis Court. So if you didn’t manage to get tickets to Wimbledon this is the place for tennis fans to be.

Real Tennis is an ancient game played by kings of Europe, most famously by Henry VIII. The game today still embraces its history and intrigue yet is practised by dedicated professional athletes of great skill. Pros from America, Australia, France and the UK will grace the competition court and provide inspiration and entertainment.

This world ranking tournament is being played in a new format that reduces the size of the draw to the world’s top 8 players. This means there is exciting sporting action at every stage within the amazing backdrop of Hampton Court Palace.

The Royal Tennis Court, Hampton Court Palace

copy; Historic Royal Palaces

RHS Hampton Court Flower Show

And here’s yet another reason to come to Hampton Court, this time for the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show on 4 to 9 July. Held in the grounds of the Palace, this the world’s largest flower show.

As well as the large Show Gardens, new for this year are the ‘Gardens for a Changing World’ empowering gardeners to meet the challenges we face in our ever-changing, uncertain world.

The Floral Marquee has more than 98 specialist nurseries, and more plants and flowers are sold per square metre at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show than anywhere else in the UK.

Wildlife is a key theme at this year’s show to raise awareness of the UK’s declining wildlife population. The tropical Butterfly Dome returns this year filled with thousands of exotic butterflies, surrounded by a wildflower meadow, accompanied by nectar-rich plants for our native butterflies, and caterpillar food plants such as nettles, grasses and heather.

It’s a wonderful day out and can easily be combined with a visit to the Palace, if you have the stamina.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

© Adam Davies/RHS

Breathing Colour

Breathing Colour by Dutch designer Hella Jongerius, is an installation-based exhibition at the Design Museum. The exhibition aims to encourage us to take a deeper look at the way colour behaves, exploring shapes, materials, shadows and reflections.

We see the world in colour but rarely do we appreciate how colour shapes what we see. Drawing on 15 years of research, through a series of phenomenological studies and experiences, the exhibition makes us question one of the most elemental aspects of design.

A series of newly commissioned installations explore the effects that light conditions have on our perceptions of colour and form. The exhibition is divided into separate spaces that simulate daylight conditions at specific times of the day: morning, noon and evening. These three phases explore the impact of changing daylight on our perception of colour. Each installation includes a series of three-dimensional objects as well as textiles, some of which are hand-woven while others are produced on industrial looms.

Breathing Colour opened on 28 June and is on until 24 September 2017.

Breathing Colour by Hella Jongerius - Design Museum

Breathing Colour by Hella Jongerius © Roel van Tour

British Summer Time Open House

British Summer Time Hyde Park means big name shows in the royal park from 30 June to 9 July. Phil Collins, Green Day, Justin Bieber, Kings of Leon and The Killers are the headline acts.

But on the days there aren’t shows there’s British Summer Time’s Open House and the fun is completely free. There is four days of free entry and summer activities in Hyde Park on 3, 4, 5, 7 July.

There are outdoor movie nights, tennis screenings live from Wimbledon, street food stalls from all over the world, pop up bars, free live music and theatre, Major League Baseball and more!

BST Hyde Park Open House poster

The Encounter

The National Portrait Gallery has its first exhibition of old master European portrait drawings this summer. The Encounter: Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt opens on 13 July (and runs until 22 October 2017). It includes works by some of the outstanding masters of the Renaissance and Baroque, many rarely seen and some not displayed for decades.

There are fifty drawings from Britain’s finest collections by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer, Rubens and Rembrandt, and including eight portraits by Holbein from the Royal Collection.

The exhibition came about as a result of the Gallery’s continuing interest in exploring the practice of making portraits in a variety of media throughout history. The exhibition explores what the study of European portrait drawing can tell us about artistic practice and the process of sitting.

By including a display of the types of drawing tools and media used – from metalpoint to coloured chalks – and considering the individuals depicted in these often intimate portraits, many of whom remain unidentified, the exhibition shows how these artists moved away from the use of medieval pattern-books as source materials, to study the figure, and the face, from life.

Old Woman Wearing a Ruff and Cap,

Old Woman Wearing a Ruff and Cap, attributed to Jacob Jordaens, c.1625-40. National Galleries of Scotland (D1683). David Laing Bequest to the Royal Scottish Academy transferred 1910.

Also at the National Portrait Gallery is the 38th BP Portrait Award 2017. (It was included in the June recommendations.) On from 22 June to 24 September 2017, the Award continues to be an unmissable highlight of the annual art calendar. The shortlisted portraits, all featuring female sitters, were selected from 2,580 entries from 87 countries.

Double Portrait by Thomas Ehretsmann

Double Portrait by Thomas Ehretsmann © Thomas Ehretsmann (Shortlist for BP Portrait Award 2017)

Enlightened Princesses

As well as Diana: Her Fashion Story at Kensington Palace (which we recommended when it opened in February), there’s also Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte and the Shaping of the Modern World which opened on 22 June (and runs to 12 November 2017).

The exhibition features the lives of three German princesses who married into the British royal family. Their wide-ranging interests placed them at the very heart of the enlightenment underway in 18th century Britain.

From advocating the latest scientific and medical advancements to their involvement in charity work these remarkable women all played a role in shaping ideas of a national identity.

The exhibition brings together for the first time at the Palace almost 200 objects owned by the princesses. Personal possessions such as Charlotte’s hand-embroidered needlework pocketbook and pastels of the royal children are displayed alongside artworks and fine ceramics commissioned from some of the greatest artists and craftsmen of their day.

Children of George III and Queen Charlotte, Royal Collection Trust

Children of George III and Queen Charlotte, Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Summer Exhibition

Almost 250 years ago, the RA’s founding members agreed to hold an “Annual Exhibition of Paintings, Sculptures and Designs … open to all Artists”, to help finance the training of young artists in the Royal Academy Schools.

The Royal Academy of Art’s Summer Exhibition is the largest open contemporary art exhibition in the world. The exhibition attracts around 12,000 entrants every year from established, emerging and unknown artists.

Expect to find a panorama of over 1,200 artworks in all media from painting, printmaking, film and photography to sculpture, architectural works and performance art. Visitors can collect a catalogue when they enter and put in a bid for any works they like.

Don’t miss work by internationally renowned artists Tomoaki Suzuki, Mark Wallinger and Sean Scully RA, as well as submissions by new Royal Academicians including Gilbert & George and David Adjaye. Other highlights include Yinka Shonibare RA’s six metre high colourful wind sculpture in the RA Courtyard, and Farshid Moussavi RA’s unique focus on construction coordination drawings in the Architecture Gallery.

The Summer Exhibition opened on 13 June and is on until 20 August 2017. If you visit on a Friday evening you can join a free introductory tour at 7pm, weekly until 18 August.

Eileen Cooper - Till the Morning Comes

Eileen Cooper OBE RA: Till the Morning Comes.
© Eileen Cooper. Photography: Justin Piperger

BBC Proms

The BBC Proms returns to the Royal Albert Hall in 2017 for its 123rd season from 14 July to 9 September.

The Proms is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts which make up the world’s largest and longest-running music festival. This year there are almost 90 concerts, including 30 premieres, over two months, in venues across London. Other venues this year include Cadogan Hall, Southwark Cathedral, Wilton’s Music Hall, the Tanks at Tate Modern, and Bold Tendencies’ car park.

This season of informal concerts aims to bring the finest classical music to as many people as possible at affordable prices. Around 500 standing (Promming) tickets are available to buy on the door before each concert for under £10 each.

Enjoy a series of jazz and soul music concerts, one of the focuses of the festival this year, which celebrate the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus and more. Celebrate the birthdays of renowned composers including Monteverdi’s 450th, John Williams’ 85th, John Adams’ 70th and Philip Glass’ 80th, as well as the 300th anniversary of the premiere of Handel’s Water Music, with special performances dedicated to their works.

Being so close to the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington House Hotel has an exclusive package on offer throughout the 2017 Proms. Rates start from £138 per room and include a complimentary bottle of Cava for the evening and breakfast in the morning.

Royal Albert Hall

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the July 2017 in London blog post from our sister hotel, London Bridge Hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

This summer Kew Gardens will be transformed into the perfect outdoor cinema set against the backdrop of Kew Palace. Kew the Movies has screenings of classic films Ghostbusters, Pulp Fiction and Grease (sing-a-long). The open air screenings take place on 30 August, 6 and 7 September 2017.

Also in collaboration with Luna Cinema, Kensington Palace has outdoor cinema on 8, 9, 10 and 11 August. The immaculate gardens of Kensington Palace make for the ultimate setting for a night of cinema under the stars. The lawn of the Orangery, with its beautiful formal gardens, will play host to some classic cinema including Bridget Jones’ Baby, The Goonies, Moulin Rouge and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.

And Matisse In The Studio opens at The Royal Academy on 5 August. This summer exhibition will take us into the studio of one of the world’s most popular artists, exploring his prized possessions and artistic process.

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Do check out the latest offers as Kensington House Hotel has some great weekend deals. You can sign up for special offer alerts here.

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.

May 082017
 

Zoo Nights

Every Friday this month you can enjoy an after-hours adventure at London Zoo. Zoo Nights is for over 18s only so you can also take in fun tours and talks with grown-up themes: mating, death and the gruesome bits!

Test your knowledge in Zooniversity Challenge or become an eco-detective in an interactive, forensic trail that shines a light on the illegal wildlife trade. And along the way you’ll meet street entertainers and stilt walkers too.

Street food vendors will have dishes from around the globe, and the pop-up watering holes will keep you refreshed.

Zoo Nights - ZSL London Zoo

© ZSL London Zoo

Taste of London

Another reason to head to Regent’s Park is for Taste of London on 14-18 June. A highlight of the summer foodie calendar, it’s five days of eating, drinking and live entertainment.

Taste of London showcases the capital’s best restaurants, top chefs and leading food and drink brands. Restaurants serve taster-size signature dishes, world-class chefs offer live cooking demonstrations and there are interactive masterclasses and shopping opportunities with more than 200 food and drink purveyors in attendance.

Taste London

Pink Floyd

To mark 50 years since the band released their first single Arnold Layne, and over 200 million record sales later, this is the first major international retrospective of Pink Floyd.

The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains is on at the V&A until 1 October 2017. It’s  an immersive, multi-sensory and theatrical journey chronicling the music, iconic visuals and staging of the band, from the underground psychedelic scene in 1960s London to today.

Over 350 objects are featured including album sleeve artwork, posters and stage props.

David Gilmour playing the Black Strat in 1973/4

Pink Floyd circa 1972-75 by Jill Furmanovsky

Grayson Perry

Opening at the Serpentine Gallery on 8 June, Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! is a major exhibition of his latest work. Perry won the Turner Prize in 2003, was elected a Royal Academician in 2012, received a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List in 2013, and in 2015 became a Trustee of the British Museum and Chancellor of the University of Arts London.

Perry’s subject matter is drawn from his childhood and his life as a transvestite, as well as wider social issues ranging from class and politics to sex and religion. The artworks on display touch on themes including popularity and art, masculinity and the current social landscape.

Grayson Perry, Puff Piece, 2017

Grayson Perry, Puff Piece, 2017 © Grayson Perry Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London (photography Angus Mill)

Neon Workshop

This looks like a wonderful one-off event. Museum Makers: Illuminate London is a beginner-friendly neon workshop at the London Transport Museum on Thursday 22 June 2017.

The plan is to make your own neon style artwork inspired by the London skyline, architecture and landmarks. All materials and tuition plus a colourful cocktail and goody bag are included.

Do note, this workshop uses electro-luminescent wire, a safe battery-powered alternative to traditional glass and gas neon.

Open Garden Squares Weekend

Back for its twentieth year, Open Garden Squares Weekend is a well-loved annual event. Its a fabulous opportunity to visit over 200 private and little-known gardens across London. Taking place on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 June, the Weekend includes a programme of tours, walks, talks and cycle rides.

Gardens taking part range from the historic and traditional to the new and experimental. They include roof gardens, wildlife gardens, community allotments, corporate places and diminutive, secret spaces, as well as gardens in schools, churches and shops.

When you select a garden on the website it offers helpful suggestions of other gardens nearby making it easy to plan a really enjoyable weekend.

Kings Bench Walk, Inner Temple Garden

Inner Temple Garden, © Barbara-Neumann

Lady Day

For this month’s theatre recommendation, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill brings the extraordinary story of Billie Holliday’s life to Wyndham’s Theatre. Starring the six-time Tony Award winner, Broadway star Audra McDonald makes her West End debut as the legendary jazz icon.

Hear the personal stories of Holiday’s loves and losses through a turbulent but extraordinary life. And lose yourself in some of the most inspiring and moving songs ever written including God Bless the Child, What a Little Moonlight Can Do, Strange Fruit, Crazy He Calls Me and Taint Nobody’s Biz-ness.

The strictly limited season runs from 17 June to 9 September. Do be aware this production contains strong language and themes of an adult nature.

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill

Giovanni da Rimini

The National Gallery, in Trafalgar Square, has Giovanni da Rimini: An Early 14th Century Masterpiece Reunited from 14 June to 8 October 2017. The exhibition showcases a recent purchase of an exquisite piece by this master, alongside a pairing piece loaned from Rome and works from his contemporaries.

With artwork on display from several exceptional ivory plaques to a collection of Italian Trecento paintings, this exhibition highlights the extraordinary quality of da Rimini’s painting and illuminates a key moment in the history of art, when emphasis on observation and realism was born.

Giovanni da Rimini - Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints, 1300-1305

Giovanni da Rimini – Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints, 1300-1305. © The National Gallery, London

BP Portrait Award

Also in Trafalgar Square, The BP Portrait Award opens at the National Portrait Gallery on 22 June (and runs until 24 September). 2017 marks the Portrait Award’s 38th year at the National Portrait Gallery. This highly successful annual event is aimed at encouraging artists over the age of eighteen to focus upon, and develop, the theme of portraiture in their work.

Selected from 2,580 entries by artists from 87 countries around the world, the BP Portrait Award 2017 represents the very best in contemporary portrait painting.

The three portraits in the running for the First Prize are Double Portrait, by French painter and illustrator, Thomas Ehretsmann, depicting his pregnant wife Caroline (see below); Breech! by Suffolk based artist, Benjamin Sullivan, which captures his wife Virginia breastfeeding their eight month old daughter; and Emma, Antony Williams’s portrait of model turned friend, Emma Bruce, completed in his studio in Chertsey. The prize winners will be announced on 20 June 2017.

Double Portrait by Thomas Ehretsmann

Double Portrait by Thomas Ehretsmann. © Thomas Ehretsmann

Phil Collins

And the last recommendation is walking distance from the Kensington House Hotel. Phil Collins is on at the Royal Albert Hall from 4 to 9 June with his Not Yet Dead tour.

With 100 million record sales to his name, more UK top 40 singles than any other artist of the 1980s, and Number 1 albums the world over, Phil Collins is one of the most successful artists of his generation.

The tour is named after his autobiography, published last year, and these five nights are his first live dates in 10 years.

Collins is also headlining a night at the British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park on 30 June.

Phil Collins

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the June 2017 in London blog post from our sister hotel, London Bridge Hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

Alma-Tadema: At Home in Antiquity is at Leighton House Museum from 7 July to 29 October 2017. The exhibition explores Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s fascination with the representation of domestic life in antiquity and how this interest related to his own domestic circumstances expressed through the two remarkable studio-houses that he created in St John’s Wood, north London, together with his wife Laura and daughters.

On 14 July a major new exhibition opens at the Natural History Museum. Whales: Beneath the Surface is the family exhibition that complements the blue whale skeleton taking centre stage in the Museum’s Hintze Hall this summer. More than 100 specimens from the Museum’s research collection will be brought out from behind-the-scenes for the first time to show the huge diversity of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

And The National Portrait Gallery is to stage its first exhibition of old master European portrait drawings this summer. The Encounter: Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt (13 July – 22 October 2017), will include works by some of the outstanding masters of the Renaissance and Baroque, many rarely seen, and some not displayed for decades.

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Do check out the latest offers as Kensington House Hotel has some great weekend deals. You can sign up for special offer alerts here.

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.

Apr 192017
 

What is it?

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion is the first ever UK exhibition exploring the work of Cristóbal Balenciaga and his continuing influence on modern fashion.  On display will be over 100 garments and 20 hats, many of which have never been on public display before. These will be accompanied by archive sketches, patterns, photographs, fabric samples and catwalk footage revealing Balenciaga’s uncompromising creativity. In addition x-rays, animated patterns and short films on couture-making processes will uncover the hidden details that made his work so exceptional. The exhibition will draw mostly on the V&A’s fashion holdings – the largest collection of Balenciaga in the UK. The collection was initiated for the Museum by Cecil Beaton in the 1970s.

Where is it?

At the V & A of course – where else?!

Why visit?

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion will be the first of its kind to look at Balenciaga’s unique approach to making and will showcase pieces by his protégés and contemporary designers working in the same innovative way today. Sometimes, it’s best to see design in real life rather than via a social media lens.

When should I go there?

It opens on 27th May 2017 – 18th February 2018. Book a slot for early in the day to avoid the crowds.

Anything else?

The exhibition marks the centenary of the opening of Balenciaga’s first fashion house in San Sebastian and the 80th anniversary of the opening of his famous fashion house in Paris. It will feature iconic pieces from the V&A’s Balenciaga collections and trace the courturier’s influence on fashion designers working today, from Molly Goddard to Simone Rochca, J.W. Anderson and Demna Gvasalia, among others.

The exhibit will focus on the latter part of Balenciaga’s long career in the 1950s and 1960s, arguably one of his most creative periods. It was during these years that he not only dressed some of the most renowned women of the time, but also introduced revolutionary shapes including the tunic, the sack, ‘baby doll’ and shift dress – all of which remain style staples today. Highlights will include ensembles made by Balenciaga for Hollywood actress Ava Gardner, dresses and hats belonging to socialite and 1960s fashion icon Gloria Guinness, and pieces worn by one of the world’s wealthiest women, Mona von Bismarck, who commissioned everything from ball-gowns to gardening shorts from the couturier.

Get Social:

Follow the V&A: Facebook @victoriaandalbertmuseum; Twitter @V_&_A; Instagram @vamuseum.

Contributor:  Sue Lowry

Images Credits: Images with thanks to Victoria and Albert Museum:

  • Alberta Tiburzi in ‘envelope’ dress by Cristóbal Balenciaga, Harper’s Bazaar, June 1967 © Hiro 1967
  • ‘Baby doll’ cocktail dress, crêpe de chine, lace and satin, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Paris, 1958 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
  • Bolero jacket, EISA, Spain, 1947 © Museo Cristóbal Balenciaga
  • Cristóbal Balenciaga at work, Paris, 1968. Photograph Henri Cartier-Bresson © Henri Cartier-Bresson, Magnum Photos
  • Dovima with Sacha, cloche and suit by Balenciaga, Café des Deux Magots, Paris, 1955. Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation
  • Evening dress, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Paris, 1962. Photograph by Cecil Beaton, 1971 © Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s
  • Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn wearing coat by Cristóbal Balenciaga, Paris, 1950. Photograph by Irving Penn © Condé Nast, Irving Penn Foundation