The Houses of Parliament have more tours this year as there is a General Election coming up in May. This month there are tours on 7, 14, 21, 28 February (all the Saturdays) and on 13, 17, 18, 19, 20 February as well.
And from 20 January you’ll see the start of a new and colourful banner exhibition in Westminster Hall that charts an 800 year history of rights and representation. Nine artists have been commissioned to create 18 large banners which will line the walls of this magnificent medieval space where numerous trials, banquets and important state occasions have taken place.
Other significant anniversaries this year along the theme of ‘Parliament in the Making’ include 800 years since the sealing of Magna Carta (1215) and 750 years since Simon de Montfort’s first parliament (1265).
In 2015, Parliament can offer more opening dates and tour options than ever before including at Easter and throughout April during the dissolution period preceding the General Election.
As I mentioned last month, the first blockbuster art exhibition of the year is Rubens and his Legacy: Van Dyck to Cézanne at The Royal Academy. The exhibition runs until 10 April 2015 and looks at Rubens’ influence on art history and his artistic legacy.
The next art blockbuster is at the National Portrait Gallery and opens on 12 February. Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends has astounding works from some of the 20th-century’s greatest artists who were inspired by John Singer Sargent. Based on the theme of friendship, the works on display are primarily of Sargent’s colleagues, friends and contemporaries. This unique exhibition has brought together some exceptional loans from galleries and private collections, many of which are rarely viewed in public.
As ever, there are lots of reasons to visit The V&A this month. Opening on 31 January 2015, Blue & White: British Printed Ceramics looks at this pronounced British phenomenon and its continuing appeal. The range of ceramics on display demonstrate how these objects reflect changes in British society and culture from the 1750s to today.
On 10 February there’s a V&A evening talk about Marella Agnelli – Style Icon who was one of the most photographed beauties of international high-society in the 1950s and 60s. In this talk, her niece Marella Caracdolo Chia, talks about her aunt’s glamorous life and achievements.
This free photography exhibition, opening on 16 February, also looks worth seeing. Staying Power showcases a variety of photographic responses to black British experience from the 1950s to the 1990s.
Royal Albert Hall
There’s also a photography exhibition at the Royal Albert Hall until 15 February. The annual Royal Photographic Society International Print Exhibition has been held almost every year since 1854, and is the longest standing exhibition of its kind in the world. From the artistic to documentary, from portraiture to natural history, all styles of photography can be entered for consideration. The resulting show is unique in subject and style and showcases the variety of photographic work that is currently being created worldwide. This year over 6,600 images were submitted to the competition from photographers in 72 countries.
For another reason to visit the Royal Albert Hall, Madam Butterfly is on from 26 February when The Royal Albert Hall will once again be turned into an enchanting Japanese water garden for the return of the spectacular in-the-round production.
Another place that is always worth visiting is the Science Museum. At the end of January the museum opened the UK’s first exhibition on Churchill and science to mark the 50th anniversary of his death.
Another reason to visit is for Cravings: Can Your Food Control You? which opens on 12 February. You can discover the surprising secret powers that your diet holds over you as the biological complexities of diet and cravings can be traced all the way back to the womb, where the human body learns to enjoy certain flavours that will influence taste in later life.
Chinese New Year
London’s Chinese New Year celebrations are the largest outside Asia and we’ll be having fun for the whole day on 22 February.
There is a Parade and festivities in Chinatown and Shaftesbury Avenue with even more fun in Trafalgar Square for performances from local artists and traditional food and craft stalls. Kung Hei Fat Choi!
If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the February 2015 in London blog post from London Bridge Hotel, our sister hotel.
The one many have been waiting for is almost here. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty opens at The V&A on 14 March 2015. This is the first and largest retrospective of the late designer’s work to be presented in Europe. (The original version of Savage Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 2011 was organised by the Costume Institute and became one of the Museum’s top 10 most visited exhibitions.)
Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea opens at the Natural History Museum on 27 March 2015. Coral reefs grow in the shallow waters of the tropics, and are home to almost a quarter of all living species in the sea. While they only make up around 0.1% of Earth’s surface, more than 500 million people depend on coral reefs for their livelihood. The exhibition includes a live reef, a virtual dive and more than 200 specimens such as corals, fish and fossils.
Starting from the first Sunday in March (1 March 2015) you can take a guided tour of The Albert Memorial. This gives you exclusive access inside the memorial railings, so you can appreciate up close the craftsmanship.
And the BADA Antiques & Fine Art Fair is at The Duke of York Square in Chelsea from 18 to 24 March 2015.
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.