Laura Porter

Sep 262016
 

Picasso Portraits

Opening on 6 October at the National Portrait Gallery (and on until 5 February 2017), Picasso Portraits includes over 75 portraits by the artist in all media, ranging from well-known masterpieces to works that have never been shown in Britain before.

This is the first major exhibition of portraits by Picasso in twenty years and all phases of the artist’s career are represented. From the realist portraits of his boyhood to the more gestural canvases of his old age.

Because Picasso did not work to commission and depicted people in his intimate circle, he enjoyed exceptional freedom as a portraitist. The exhibition includes a group of revealing self-portraits as well as portraits and caricatures of Picasso’s friends, lovers, wives and children.

Woman in a Hat (Olga) by Pablo Picasso, 1935

Woman in a Hat (Olga) by Pablo Picasso, 1935; Centre Pompidou, Paris. Musée national d’art moderne (Copyright: Succession Picasso/DACS London, 2016 Photo: Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais/Rights reserved)

 

Turner Prize 2016

The Turner Prize 2016 exhibition opened at Tate Britain on 27 September (and runs until 2 January 2017). It is one of the world’s most acclaimed contemporary art awards, and aims to promote public debate around new developments in contemporary British art.

The four shortlisted artists are Michael Dean, Anthea Hamilton, Helen Marten and Josephine Pryde. The exhibition showcases their work, with the winner announced on 5 December 2016.

Turner Prize 2016

Michael Dean, Sic Glyphs, 2016 © The Artist, courtesy of Herald St, London Josephine Pryde, Für Mich 2, 2014 © The Artist, courtesy Simon Lee Gallery, London Helen Marten, Night-blooming genera, 2015 (detail) © The Artist, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ Anthea Hamilton, Project for Door (After Gaetano Pesce), 2015 © The Artist

 

School of Rock – The Musical

Based on the 2003 cult movie, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony-nominated School of Rock – The Musical opens at the New London Theatre on 24 October.

The show follows the adventures of Dewey Finn, a failed wannabe rocker, as he impersonates a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school to get some money. Once he hears that the children of Horace Green are superbly musically talented, he decides to form his own band – the School of Rock.

He turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. While teaching these pint-sized prodigies what it means to truly rock, Dewey falls for the school’s beautiful but uptight headmistress, helping her rediscover the wild child within.

Featuring an original score by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater, including songs such as “You’re in the Band”, “In the End of Time” and “Teacher’s Pet”.

School of Rock Musical

NFL on Regent Street

Back by popular demand, NFL returns to Regent Street on Saturday 1 October for another blockbuster free event. Regent Street is closed to traffic between Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus to make way for all the fun. Look out for mini pitches, cheerleaders, live entertainment, special appearances from NFL players and the much-loved parade.

The London dates for the NFL International Series 2016 are:

Sunday 2 October: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars (Wembley Stadium)
Sunday 23 October: New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams (Twickenham Stadium)
Sunday 30 October: Washington Redskins at Cincinnati Bengals (Wembley Stadium)

NFL on Regent Street

Albert Memorial Tours

The stunning Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, opposite the Royal Albert Hall, is fascinating. It’s a memorial to Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, who was so influential in changing this area to become London’s cultural quarter.

The best way to really get to know it is to join a guided tour as you can then go inside the railings and get a closer look at the Frieze of Parnassus and other fine details of the greatest monument of the Victorian era.

The tours are on the first Sunday of the month (March to December) at 2pm and 3pm. Tours are about 45 minutes and you don’t need to book in advance.

Albert Memorial

Albert Memorial. Photo by David Iliff. License: CC-by-SA 3.0.

Royal Albert Hall Tours

There are a variety of tours available at this remarkable building. I once enjoyed a family tour with a costumed actor and was amazing how much there was to discover. Photography is permitted on tours and all tours offer you a discount in the cafe and gift shop too.

The Secret History Tour gets you backstage gossip, ghost tales and more, and the Inside Out Architecture Tour is a tour of both inside and outside of the building.

The Grand Tour takes you around this impressive Victorian building for the amazing views, including from the Royal Retiring Room, and the Afternoon Tea Tour gives you the Grand Tour followed by an elegant afternoon tea in the Verdi restaurant.

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall © David Iliff

Chocolate Week

10 to 16 October is Chocolate Week. It’s the UK’s biggest chocolate celebration and culminates in The Chocolate Show at Olympia National Hall on 14-16 October.

The Chocolate Show is a celebration of chocolate in all its forms – bars, truffles, cakes, desserts, ice cream, baking, cocktails, sculptures and more. As well as the most delectable chocolate treats on offer, there are celebrity chef demonstrations, workshops, tastings and masterclasses.

Don’t miss the amazing chocolate fashion show at 5pm each day with a stunning collection of couture chocolate dresses designed by top chocolatiers and fashion designers.

Chocolate Show Fashion Show

London Film Festival

The 60th BFI London Film Festival is on from 5 to 16 October showing 245 features films and 144 shorts. This is Britain’s leading film event and one of the world’s best and most established film festivals. The Festival will screen a total of 193 fiction and 52 documentary features, including 18 World Premieres, 8 International Premieres, 39 European Premieres.

Headline Galas are presented at the Odeon Leicester Square on each evening of the 12 day festival. And Festival visitors can enjoy a brand new cinema experience with Competition and Strand Galas presented at the new (temporary) Embankment Garden Cinema, in the beautiful Victoria Embankment Gardens.

This year’s festival includes an agenda-setting Symposium event that heralds the BFI’s Black Star project, the UK’s biggest ever season of film and television dedicated to celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors coming in late October. Films within the Festival programme will amplify the season, while the Symposium will ask searching questions about the continued under-representation of black actors on screen, probing why opportunities for black actors in the US and the UK remain limited and aiming to drive forward a progressive agenda by spotlighting and exploring key issues for the film industry.

BFI London Film Festival

 

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the October 2016 in London blog post from our sister hotel, London Bridge Hotel.

 

LOOKING AHEAD

The British Library’s major Autumn exhibition explores the tumultuous history of the 20th century through maps, drawing on powerful, intriguing and surprising examples from the British Library’s world-class cartography collections and beyond. Maps and the 20th Century opens on 4 November and runs to 1 March 2017.

From 26 November to 2 January, you can experience a magical Victorian Christmas at Kensington Palace, the childhood home of Queen Victoria. The palace will be dressed for the occasion, and there’ll be live Christmas themed musical performances and the chance to take part in a drop-in lantern-making workshop. (Included in palace admission.)

The National Theatre’s landmark production of J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls returns to the West End next month. On at the Playhouse Theatre from 4 November to 4 February, this classic thriller is about an unwelcome guests at The Birlings house as Inspector Goole interrupts their dinner party to investigate the death of a young woman.

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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 212016
 

Abstract Expressionism

Abstract Expressionism opens at the Royal Academy on 24 September (and runs until 2 January 2017). It’s the first major exhibition of the art movement in the UK for almost 60 years. There are over 150 paintings, sculptures and photographs on display from the most acclaimed American artists of the movement including Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.

Water of the Flowery Mill

Water of the Flowery Mill, 1944. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
(c) ARS, NY and DACS, London 2016
Digital image (c) 2016. The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/Scala, Florence

Pride and Prejudice

You can see Jane Austen’s acclaimed romantic comedy, Pride and Prejudice, at The Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park from 2 to 17 September. Mr and Mrs Bennet are played by the Olivier Award-winning Matthew Kelly (Of Mice and Men, Educating Rita, Waiting for Godot) and Felicity Montagu (Alan Partridge, Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Durrells) so you know this is going to be good.

Pride and Prejudice

Silent Cinema

Also in Regent’s Park, there’s Silent Outdoor Cinema on at London Zoo from 6 to 10 September, in the evenings.

Aired on a huge screen in the heart of the Zoo, the cinema appears to be completely silent, with the film broadcast via FM radio headsets, which means the late night flicks won’t keep the animals up past their bedtime.

Guests will be taken on a pre-movie twilight tour around specially-chosen enclosures before settling down to see the open-air screening.

Silent Cinema London Zoo

The Libertine

For more evening entertainment, Dominic Cooper returns to the stage to play the notorious Earl of Rochester in this major revival of The Libertine, for 10 weeks only at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

On from 22 September, the Stephen Jeffreys’ play, later made into a film, tells the true story of hedonistic John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester – a charismatic poet, playwright and cad with a legendary appetite for excess. It’s a wild romp through 1670s London with plenty of wit too.

The Libertine

A Curious Turn

A Curious Turn is a new exhibition in Chelsea featuring 30 pieces of extraordinary automata. The show previews at Habitat’s Platform Gallery as part of London Design Festival before a national tour.

A Curious Turn presents automata by leading makers of the last 40 years that range from the humorous to the macabre and from the playful to the satirical. Works on show take a look at key automata makers such as Rowland Emmett, famous for creating the elaborate inventions of Caractacus Potts in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968).

Visitors will be able to turn, push and crank to see many of the pieces in action, while other pieces will have films to show them in motion. A Curious Turn is on display from 15 September to 2 October.

Mule Make Mule. Tim Lewis, 2010

Mule Make Mule. Tim Lewis, 2010. © Tim Lewis, Courtesy Flowers Gallery London & New York

London Design Festival at the V&A

The London Design Festival is across London from 17 to 25 September. LDF has partnered again with The V&A to bring a series of exciting installations.

Green Room is monumental and was conceived by a watchmaker. You can see it at staircase G on Level 6.

Liquid Marble can be seen in the Norfolk House Music Room, Britain 1500-1760, Room, 52b, Level 2. It’s jet black polished marble and doesn’t move but the light reflections make it feel like the sea.

And Istanbul-based architecture firm Tabanlıoğlu Architects have brought Sabahattin Ali’s classic 1943 novel Madonna in a Fur Coat to life with Beloved on the bridge over the V&A’s Medieval & Renaissance galleries.

London Design Festival at the V&A

Sunken Cities

Sunken Cities opened in May at the British Museum and is getting excellent reviews. The exhibition is on until 27 November.

Submerged under the sea for over a thousand years, two lost cities of ancient Egypt were recently rediscovered. Their story is told for the first time in this unmissable exhibitio, where deep connections between ancient Egypt and Greece are revealed.

Sunken Cities British Museum

Requiem

And for an uproarious night out this looks like a must. Three choirs come together to combine 300 voices to perform Verdi’s choral masterpiece in the majestic setting of the Royal Albert Hall. Requiem is on Saturday 24 September.

Royal Albert Hall - Verdi Requiem

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the September 2016 in London blog post from our sister hotel, London Bridge Hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

Opening on 24 October, get your air guitar ready to rock out at the School of Rock the Musical, on at the New London Theatre.

Uncover the surreal and mystical side of English landscapes through one of the most distinctive British painters. A Paul Nash exhibition opens at Tate Britain on 24 October.

And explore the influence of one of art’s most infamous and revolutionary figures when Beyond Caravaggio opens at the National Gallery on 12 October.

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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.

Jul 212016
 

Open-Air Cinema at Kensington Palace

With the longer summer days, watching a movie outside in the evening is really enjoyable. The Luna Cinema returns to Kensington Palace for four nights of classic films from 2 to 5 August.

You can choose from the Spectre, The Breakfast ClubFour Weddings and a Funeral or Some Like it Hot. Tickets must be booked in advance and there’s food and drink available.

Luna Cinema

The Entertainer

Kenneth Branagh is practically taking over the Garrick Theatre for a whole year, with a series of five different plays. The fifth offering is John Osborne’s modern classic The Entertainer, opening on 20 August (and on until 12 November 2016).

Set against the backdrop of post-war Britain, the play conjures the seedy glamour of the old music halls for an explosive examination of public masks and private torment.

Rob Ashford directs Kenneth Branagh as the unforgettable Archie Rice with a cast including Phil Dunster, Jonah Hauer-King, Crispin Letts, Sophie McShera and Greta Scacchi.

Do note, John Hurt will no longer be appearing in The Entertainer following medical advice.

The Entertainer Garrick Theatre

The Proms

The 122nd BBC Proms started on 15 July and continues until 10 September. It’s an annual season of classical music made more accessible with affordable prices and an informal atmosphere.

The main venue is the wonderful Royal Albert Hall but a new feature this year is to have concerts in four other unique and unusual London settings, from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Camden Roundhouse, to the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich and a large car park in Peckham, south London.

To help you get in the carnival spirit as the Rio Olympics unfold this summer there’s music from Latin America, including the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Symphony Orchestra.

BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall

© Chris Christodoulou

Notting Hill Carnival

Speaking of carnivals, Britain’s biggest street party, the Notting Hill Carnival is on Sunday 28 and Monday 29 August.

Sunday is Children’s Day which doesn’t mean it’s only for kids; it’s just a bit more family friendly on the first day. There’s still a carnival parade with lots of music and dancing.

On Monday it’s the Grand Finale Parade with 60 bands and incredible costumes. There’s also 38 sound systems on side streets from the carnival route to keep the party going.

On both days you can expect huge crowds, loud whistles, big smiles and the best jerk chicken.

Notting Hill Carnival

© VisitBritain / Jon Spaull

V&A

There’s always something marvellous at the V&A and highlights this month include a display of Beatrix Potter’s London, on from 28 July 2016 to 28 April 2017, to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter this year.

The display explores how the children’s author and illustrator was influenced by the cultural life of her birthplace. Although Potter is often associated with the sweeping landscapes of Scotland and the Lake District depicted in her illustrations, she spent most of her life at her family home at 2 Bolton Gardens in London, about 20 minutes walk from the V&A.

Potter was a frequent visitor to the South Kensington museums, including the V&A where she sketched items from the collection. This display brings together artworks, original sketches and Potter’s earliest published works to look at the inspirational role London played throughout her career.

View from 2 Bolton Gardens by Beatrix Potter

View from 2 Bolton Gardens by Beatrix Potter (1882)
© V&A with kind permission of Frederick Warne & Co

Also at the V&A, this month is the last chance to see Curtain Up: Celebrating 40 Years of Theatre in London and New York as the display ends on 31 August.

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Olivier Awards this year, you can see the extraordinary range of craft and collaboration that goes into creating award-winning plays, musicals and productions in the West End of London and New York’s Broadway.

The display is an immersive theatrical experience taking visitors from the stage, to the design workshops and through the history of the awards to the red carpet. You can see costumes, designs, models, photographs, archival production material, film and awards from productions such as The Phantom of the Opera, A Chorus Line and Wolf Hall.

And there’s a related evening event on Friday 19 August, as Christian Holder is discussing his experience of working in both theatre industries. Holder was a leading dancer with the Joffrey Ballet in New York during the 1970s and later designed costumes for ballet and celebrities including Tina Turner. He is now based in London where as a child he attended the Corona Academy Stage School, acted in British television, and danced with his father’s company, Boscoe Holder and his Caribbean Dancers.

The Mechanics of Genius

More than just an artist, Leonardo da Vinci was an incredible inventor too. Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius is on at the Science Museum until 4 September.

He created a remarkable body of mechanical drawings that showed a radical approach to the challenges of flight, manufacturing and war. The exhibition includes 39 historical models of Leonardo’s inventions including flying machines, diving equipment and weapons, plus modern examples of bio-inspired robotics, aviation and materials technology.

Great British Beer Festival

The annual Great British Beer Festival is back on 9-13 August at London Olympia with over 900 tipples on offer from real ales, fruit beers and ciders, to stouts, bitters and international beers. The exhibition hall is basically one big giant pub, staffed by people who are both passionate about their beer and capable of recommending the perfect drink for connoisseurs and enthusiastic amateurs alike.

It’s not a ‘get drunk quick’ event but an opportunity to try a huge variety of beers, plus it’s free entry for accompanied under 18s with a family area upstairs.

Great British Beer Festival

Houses of Parliament Tours

While the Houses of Parliament are open on Saturdays throughout the year, during the summer we can visit on weekdays too. It’s best to book ahead for Houses of Parliament tours as they are popular.

You can choose between guided tours or self-guided audio tours. Both options allow you to see the Robing Room, the Royal Gallery, plus the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and more. The tours start and end in Westminster Hall – the historic chamber which witnessed the State trials of Guy Fawkes and Charles I.

Houses of Parliament

Buckingham Palace

The summer opening of the Buckingham Palace State Rooms includes a special exhibition Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe.

Dresses worn by The Queen for two of the most significant occasions in Her Majesty’s life will be seen together for the first time ever from 23 July to 2 October 2016.

The wedding dress worn by Princess Elizabeth for her marriage to The Duke of Edinburgh on 20 November 1947, and The Queen’s Coronation dress, both designed by the great British couturier Sir Norman Hartnell (1901–1979), will be wonderful additions to a visit to this magnificent palace.

I’ve got a special tip for you too. This photo shows The White Room and the Queen can access her private rooms through here but can you see the door? It’s very well hidden as the mirror on the left, and the cabinet in front of it, can swing open to allow her retreat unobtrusively.

Buckingham Palace

© Royal Collection Trust / Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the August 2016 in London blog post from London Bridge Hotel, our sister hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

You’ve got until 11 September to see the eighth year of Sensational Butterflies at the Natural History Museum.
Follow chomping caterpillars turning into beautiful butterflies and along the way discover fascinating facts about one of our planet’s most amazing life cycles.

Opening on 10 September at the V&A, You Say You Want a Revolution: Records & Rebels 1966-70 is a major exhibition examining the optimism, ideals and aspirations of the late 1960s, expressed through music, fashion, film, design and political activism, and their relevance to contemporary life.

For one night only on 25 September, Science Uncovered is your chance to discover more about the latest research, meet scientists, and enjoy a drink in the grand setting of the Natural History Museum’s Hintze Hall.

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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 sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival that of our Queen. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.

Jun 252016
 

Chap Olympiad

What ho! The annual silliness that is The Chap Olympiad returns on Saturday 16 July to Bedford Square in Bloomsbury. It’s a day for dressing in your finery to celebrate ‘Britain’s sporting ineptitude’.

Wonderfully eccentric, the games include cucumber sandwich throwing, umbrella jousting and Martini Knockout Relay.

Entertainment is from midday to 10pm so tickets are really good value for so much fun.

Punk Weekender

Get the 27 bus from Kensington Church Street to Camden for the Roundhouse Punk Weekender on 8-10 July.

Almost 40 years on since the Ramones played their seminal gig at the Roundhouse, the legendary Camden venue explores the subculture’s continued legacy and future with three days of live shows, film and panel discussions, inspired by the theme of ‘what has punk ever done for us?’.

The Roundhouse Punk Weekender includes Youth Man, who head up a bill of ten incredible emerging punk bands, alongside Phill Jupitus and Linton Kwesi Johnson performing punk poetry, plus a documentary-in-progress screening of new interviews with pioneering women who played in punk bands in the 1970s plus much more.

Roundhouse Punk Weekender

Hyde Park Events

British Summer Time Hyde Park has big name music acts such as Tate That and Stevie Wonder this month but there are also free ‘Open House’ events on 4-7 July. On these days you can access the site for free daytime and evening entertainment.

You can watch Wimbledon on the big screen or join in a free ping pong festival. You could learn to play Badminton or even try circus trapeze. There are DJs, music, and open-air movies each day too. Plus there is the Betterview platform offering amazing views of Hyde Park and London’s skyline from 100ft above the ground – again, for free!

Engineering Season

The V&A Engineering Season is on until 6 November and it includes a newly-commissioned installation by experimental architect Achim Menges with Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer that has been built in the John Madejski Garden.

Elytra Filament Pavilion explores the impact of emerging robotic technologies on architectural design, engineering and making. Inspired by a lightweight construction principle found in nature, the fibrous structures of the forewing shells of flying beetles known as elytra, the pavilion forms an undulating canopy of tightly-woven carbon fibre cells created using a novel robotic production process.

The pavilion will grow over the course of the V&A Engineering Season in response to data on structural behaviour and patterns of inhabitation of the garden that will be captured by real-time sensors in its canopy fibres.

Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V&A

Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V&A © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Wildlife Garden

As well as the Sensational Butterflies at the Natural History Museum, there is a Wildlife Garden too. Not always noticed by visitors, it’s accessed from inside the Museum in the Orange Zone, near the Cocoon entrance.

The garden has thousands of types of British fauna and is a wonderfully calm space in a busy attraction.

NHM Wildlife Garden

© Natural History Museum, London

Garden History Tours

There are free Garden History Tours at Kensington Palace on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Tours are one hour long and run from midday and 2pm.

The tours explain the story behind the creation of the Queen Victoria statue and reflect on the beauty of the iconic Gold Gates. The highlight of the tour is exclusive access into the Baroque-inspired Sunken Garden where you can experience a unique view of the palace unseen to most.

The Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace

© Historic Royal Palaces

Dawn of the Photograph

The Science Museum has an exhibition exploring the life and career of the father of photography. Fox Talbot – Dawn of the Photograph is an opportunity to see some of the rarest objects of British photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot’s work in photography for the first time.

The exhibition looks at the birth of photography in Britain within its industrial and social context, and his invention of the negative-positive process which formed the basis of photography around the world for over 150 years, and immortalised him as the father of the medium.

Fox Talbot Trafalgar Square

Nelson’s Column under Construction, Trafalgar Square, 1844

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the July 2016 in London blog post from London Bridge Hotel, our sister hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

There’s an open-air cinema at Kensington Palace in August for four nights.

You can visit the Buckingham Palace State Rooms from 23 July so we’ll talk more about this next month.

And it’s the annual Notting Hill Carnival on 30 and 31 August so get ready for dancing in the streets.

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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 sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival that of our Queen. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.

May 252016
 

We’re celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday this month but that’s just one of the reasons for royal gun salutes in the Royal Parks.

Royal Gun Salutes

On 2 June in Hyde Park the royal gun salute is for Coronation Day, celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.

On 10 June in Hyde Park the royal gun salute is for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Birthday.

And on 14 June in Green Park (at 12.52pm) the royal gun salute is for the Queen’s Official Birthday.

Royal Gun Salute

Royal Gun Salute © Royal Parks

Swan Lake

For more gentile entertainment, the English National Ballet is performing Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall from 1 to 12 June, with Tchaikovsky’s memorable score played by the English National Ballet Philharmonic.

Derek Dean’s in-the-round production has 60 swans and spectacular lighting transforming the Royal Albert Hall into a magical lake.

English National Ballet Swan Lake

English National Ballet’s Swan Lake at The Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I and II

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opens at The Palace Theatre with preview performances from 7 June.

This is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and has been broken down into two parts – at two separate performances so it is recommended that you book for both part one and part two and watch consecutively.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus struggles with the weight of his family legacy. As past and present fuse, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Harry Potter the Play

London Festival of Architecture

From 1 to 30 June, the annual London Festival of Architecture celebrates London as a global hub of architectural experimentation, practice and debate. This year’s theme is ‘Community’ and there are walks, talks, exhibitions and open studios to encourage festival participants to comment on and propose ideas to improve the city.

skypool

The Hive

At Kew Gardens you can reconnect with nature and venture into the world of pollinators this summer as you experience the world of the honeybee come alive within Wolfgang Buttress’ award-winning, 17 metre high installation, The Hive. Conceived as the centrepiece of the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo, The Hive is the first ever British Pavilion to be reused. It opens on 18 June and will remain at Kew until the end of 2017.

The Hive Kew Gardens

The Hive Kew Gardens. Photographer credit: Mark Hadden

Serpentine Pavilion

The Serpentine Architecture Programme expands for 2016, with four Summer Houses joining the Serpentine Pavilion. The Pavilion opens on 10 June and remains until 9 October 2016.

The 16th annual Pavilion, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), is described as an ‘unzipped wall’. In the daytime it has a cafe and free family activities then at night it becomes a space for the Serpentine’s Park Nights programme of works by artists, writers and musicians.

The Summer Houses are inspired by Queen Caroline’s Temple, a classical style summer house built in 1734, close to the Serpentine Gallery.

Serpentine Pavilion 2016 designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

Serpentine Pavilion 2016 designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

Sunset Safari

You can visit ZSL London Zoo on Friday evenings from 3 June to 15 July 2016 for a Sunset Safari.

There are 750 species from around the world housed here and you can see more animal feeding times at night and listen to the zoo’s conservationists, scientists and keepers at a ‘Wild Talk’.

A street food festival means you won’t go hungry, and as the sun finally sets over the Zoo, there’s a peaceful acoustic guitar performance – providing an idyllic end to what promises to be an unforgettable evening.

Sunset Safari

Taste of London

Also in Regent’s Park, Taste of London is on from 15 to 19 June and is a foodie heaven restaurant festival. It’s five days of eating, drinking and entertainment.

You can sample signature small-plate dishes from over 40 of London’s best restaurants, see live demonstrations from well-known chefs, get involved with interactive masterclasses, indulge in tasting sessions and, of course, there’s plenty of gourmet shopping too.

Taste of London

Opera Holland Park

This annual summer programme is a real treat. This month there is a new production of the Italian opera La Bohème on 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 23 and 24 June.

Puccini’s masterpiece of Rodolfo and Mimi’s young love in Paris leads to heartbreak. Don’t expect a dry eye in the audience either.

West End Live

It’s West End Live in Trafalgar Square on 18 and 19 June. This means two days of performances from London’s West End plays and musicals live on the open-air stage, and it’s free for all to see.

It does get busy though so when the full line-up is announced make sure you arrive early to get a good view.

West End Live

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the June 2016 in London blog post from London Bridge Hotel, our sister hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

It’s the famous Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships from 27 June to 10 July. You could join the long queues each day for tickets or know that there are many bars in town showing the tennis so you could sip a Pimm’s in comfort. And don’t forget the strawberries and cream!

The Science Museum is set to explore the invisible revolution of big data when Our Lives in Data opens on 15 July 2016.

Also free at the Science Museum, Beyond the Lab opens on 7 July to look at how members of the public are playing a greater role in scientific research than ever before.

The Natural History Museum has Colour and Vision opening on 15 July. The exhibition tells the evolution of vision and the symbolic importance of colour in the natural world. It includes an iridescent light installation by British artist Liz West on site.

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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 sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival that of our Queen. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.

Apr 252016
 

May is a marvellous time to be in London as we get more blue skies and that wonderful Spring light that makes everything shine.

Vogue 100

This month is the last chance to see Vogue 100: A Century of Style at the National Portrait Gallery as it ends on 22 May 2016.

British Vogue was founded in 1916 and this exhibition showcases the remarkable range of photography that has been commissioned by the iconic magazine. Over 280 prints from the Condé Nast archive and international collections are on display together for the first time to tell the story of one of the most influential fashion magazines in the world.

The Beatles, by Peter Laurie, 1964.

The Beatles, by Peter Laurie, 1964. Copyright: The Condé Nast Publications Ltd


 

The V&A

There are always many good reasons to visit The V&A in South Kensington.

The latest major exhibition is Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear which opened on 16 April (and runs until 5 February 2017). It looks at the evolution of underwear design from the 18th-century to the present day, and addresses the practicalities of underwear and its role in the fashionable wardrobe whilst noting its sensual appeal.

There are over 200 examples of underwear for men and women on display, highlighting the enduring themes of innovation and luxury. From the custom-made, such as a rare example of home-made ‘stays’ worn by a working woman in England in the 18th-century, to pieces by current designers including Stella McCartney, Rigby & Peller and Paul Smith, the exhibition explores the relationship between underwear and fashion, and the notion of the ideal body.

 

Monday to Friday pants

Monday to Friday pants.
Credit: cheekfrills, 2015

 

Also at the V&A right now, Botticelli Reimagined is on until 3 July 2016. This exhibition explores the variety of ways artists and designers from the PreRaphaelites to the present have responded to the artistic legacy of Sandro Botticelli (1445- 1510).

This is the largest Botticelli exhibition in Britain since 1930, and includes around 50 original works by Botticelli from great collections across the world shown alongside more recent masterpieces of art and design including work by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, René Magritte, Elsa Schiaparelli, Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman.

La La Ghirlandata, Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 1873. London, Guildhall Library & Art Gallery

La La Ghirlandata, Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 1873. London, Guildhall Library & Art Gallery

 

The Royal Albert Hall

There’s lots of great music at the Royal Albert Hall this month.

On 20 May UK punk legends The Damned are celebrating their 40th anniversary with a special performance. True pioneers, the band are famed for being the first punk band from the UK to release a single, New Rose, in 1976, an album, Damned Damned Damned, in 1977, as well as being the first to tour the United States. This show is going to sell out.

Also this month, on 9 May, OMD are performing their classic 1980s albums Architecture and Morality and Dazzle Ships at the Royal Albert Hall – both albums to be performed in their entirety.

On 12 May, Ralph McTell, known for the iconic Streets of London, has decided to let his audience nominate the songs that will be performed on the night.

There’s some classic prog rock with Yes on 10 May, and Iggy Pop is on 13 May. Iggy Pop will have the supergroup album lineup of Josh Homme and Dean Fertita from Queens Of The Stone Age and Arctic Monkeys’ drummer Matt Helders.

The Manic Street Preachers are on 16-17 May and Josh Groban is on 18 May. What a month for good music, eh?

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall © David Iliff

 

Hampton Court Palace

To celebrate the 300th anniversary of the palace gardener, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, a rare collection of drawings are on display for the first time. The Empress and the Gardener is on until 4 September.

The exhibition explores the famous English gardener’s surprising influence on the Russian Empress, Catherine the Great, who was passionate about all things English and created English palaces and gardens in St Petersburg.

The exhibition brings together a collection of watercolours painted by Brown’s draughtsman, John Spyers, which provide a fascinating insight into how Hampton Court Palace’s gardens looked during George III’s reign. Sold to Catherine the Great for 1,000 roubles, these evocative drawings are a remarkable record of Brown’s tenure as Chief Gardener at Hampton Court in the 18th century, and have returned to the palace for the first time since their rediscovery at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg in 2002.

There are also contemporary portraits of Capability Brown and Empress Catherine on display and several pieces of the famous ‘Green Frog’ dinner service, a triumph of British design created for the Empress by Wedgwood.

If you are visiting with family the new Magic Garden also looks like a lot of fun. Both the exhibition and garden are included in palace admission.

Pic: Richard Lea-Hair Credit: Historic Royal Palaces/newsteam.co.uk

Pic: Richard Lea-Hair. Credit: Historic Royal Palaces/newsteam.co.uk

 

Butterflies

The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace has a display of Maria Merian’s Butterflies on until 9 October 2016. This remarkable woman spent two years living in Suriname in South America, in 1699-1701, to study animals and insects, exploring the life-cycle of the insects which was relatively unknown at the time.

The exhibition tells Merian’s story through her works in the Royal Collection, acquired by George III. Over 300 years since they were made, these are some of the finest images of the natural world ever produced showing brilliant partially printed and hand painted works.

Also on display at The Queen’s Gallery is Scottish Artists 1750 – 1900: From Caledonia to the Continent and your admission covers both exhibitions.

Branch of an unidentified tree with the Menelaus Blue Morpho Butterly, 1702-03

Branch of an unidentified tree with the Menelaus Blue Morpho Butterly, 1702-03. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016


 

State Opening of Parliament

Here’s a great opportunity to see the Queen in London during her 90th birthday year. It’s the State Opening of Parliament on 18 May and you can see the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in a horse-drawn coach between Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament).

The State Opening of Parliament marks the formal start of the parliamentary year and, as Head of State, it is The Queen’s duty to formally open each new session of Parliament. It is the only regular occasion when the three constituent parts of Parliament – the Sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons – meet.

Watch for the Queen on The Mall and Whitehall and in Parliament Square; here’s the timetable.

We can’t go inside to watch but it is broadcast live on BBC television.

State Opening of Parliament - The Queen

State Opening of Parliament. © UK Parliament

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the May 2016 in London blog post from London Bridge Hotel, our sister hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

Reconnect with nature this summer at Kew Gardens as you experience the world of the honeybee come alive within the award-winning installation, The Hive. Conceived as the centrepiece of the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo, The Hive is the first ever British Pavilion to be reused, and will be unveiled in June 2016.

It’s Open Garden Squares Weekend on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 June 2016. One tickets gets you entrance to 211 gardens and an unique opportunity to discover and explore some of London’s most fascinating squares, gardens and green spaces – most of which are not normally open to the public.

The Hampton Court Palace Festival 2016 has big name acts on from 8 to 23 June in Henry VIII’s Tudor courtyard. Confirmed acts include Tom Jones, George Benson, Van Morrison and Anastacia.

And there’s Summer Garden Nights at Hampton Court Palace on 28, 29, 30 June in the new Magic Garden as acclaimed historians, gardeners and writers explore why our imaginations are compelled by the idyllic vision of the garden.

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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 sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival that of our Queen. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.

Mar 242016
 

Spring has arrived and we have a fine selection of reasons to get out and enjoy London this month.

Sensational Butterflies

The Natural History Museum has this wonderful treat on the East Lawn each year. Sensational Butterflies is a fabulous tropical butterfly house where you can watch the caterpillars, chrysalises and, of course, many butterflies.

Not just for kids, it’s fascinating to get close-up views and to have the butterflies flying about freely. They sometimes land on visitors and it just reminds you to slow down and take in what’s around you.

Sensational Butterflies

Exhibitionism

Opening on 2 April (and on until 4 September 2016) at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, Exhibitionism is the first ever major international exhibition on the Rolling Stones.

There are nine thematic galleries taking up the entire two floors of the gallery with over 500 original Stones’ artefacts from the band’s personal archives. It covers all aspects of art & design, film, video, fashion, performance, rare sound archives, and of course, at the heart of it, the Stones’ musical heritage.

Exhibitionism

Sicily: Culture and Conquest

The British Museum has Sicily: Culture and Conquest on from 21 April to 14 August 2016. This is the first exhibition in the UK to explore 4000 years of history of the island of Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean. The exhibition provides insight into the vibrant past of the Italian island and sheds light on the remarkable artistic and architectural achievements of the island. Over 200 objects have been brought together from the British Museum’s own collection, along with loans from Sicily and around the world.

Gorgon Antefix

© British Museum

The A to Z of London

The London Transport Museum has a depot in Acton, west London, where their larger display items are stored and there’s an open weekend for visitors on 23 and 24 April. The A to Z of London weekend is all about celebrating the centenary of the Johnston font created by Edward Johnston for London public transport signs.

As well as seeing the trains and buses stored here, the weekend’s events include calligraphy demonstrations, font making activities, talks about Edward Johnston, and the opportunity to see the Big Steam Print in action, printing on a giant scale using a vintage steam roller called Murphy.

There’s also rides on the miniature railway, family fun workshops, curator led tours behind the scenes and transport displays brought along by model makers from across the south east of England.

Acton

Feast of St George

London celebrates St George’s Day with the Feast of St George – a day inspired by St George’s Day’s 13th-century origins as a national day of feasting.

Head to Trafalgar Square on Saturday 23 April, from midday to 6pm, for free activities, food stalls, children’s games and more with the focus on cooking and eating excellent English food.

Feast of St George

Funny Girl

After a sold out run at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Funny Girl, starring multi-award-winning stage and screen star Sheridan Smith, has transferred to the Savoy Theatre.

Back in the West End during the show’s fiftieth anniversary, the 12 week run is from 9 April to 10 September. This modern classic is based on the bitter-sweet story of Fanny Brice and her rise to Broadway fame amidst a stormy relationship with gambler Nicky Arnstein. Prepare to sing your heart out as the iconic score returns with songs including Don’t Rain on My Parade, People, and You Are Woman, I Am Man.

Funny Girl

Tate Britain

There are some good reasons to go to Tate Britain this month.

On display until this summer, you can see Tracey Emin’s My Bed – yes that famous unmade bed – alongside two of Francis Bacon’s work chosen by Emin.

my bed

My Bed, 1998. Tate. © Tracey Emin

From 12 April (until 29 August 2016) Conceptual Art in Britain 1964-79 shows how artists working in Britain transformed the nature of art. This exhibition traces the course of this pivotal movement from its origins in the mid-1960s through to the late 1970s, bringing together 70 works by 21 artists.

And from 26 April (to 9 October 2016), The Tate Britain Commission 2016 is on display. Pablo Bronstein: Historical Dances in an Antique Setting is the latest site-specific work in response to the imposing Duveen galleries which sit at the heart of Tate Britain.

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the April 2016 in London blog post from London Bridge Hotel, our sister hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

The V&A Engineering Season is on from May to November and includes the first major retrospective of the most influential engineer of the 20th century (Ove Arup). There will also be a site specific installation inspired by nature and fabricated by robots on display in the John Madejski Garden.

Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds is at the British Museum from May to November looking at two lost cities of ancient Egypt that have been submerged under the sea for a thousand years.

Tate Britain has Painting with Light from May to September exploring the relationship between pioneering early photographers and Pre-Raphaelite, Aesthetic and Impressionist artists, including works by John Everett Millais, John William Waterhouse, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Julia Margaret Cameron and Henry Fox Talbot.

And the latest Serpentine pavilion will be free to explore in Hyde Park from June to October.

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

Feb 262016
 

March means springtime and what a wonderful time to be in London. We’ve got Mothering Sunday on 6 March, St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Trafalgar Square on Sunday 13 March and Easter celebrations at the end of the month. And yet I’ve found even more activities to recommend to you to enjoy March in London.

Women’s History Month

To celebrate Women’s History Month, the Houses of Parliament is running a series of free events in Portcullis House this month. There are talks and film screenings throughout the month as part of their Suffragette Season which also includes some special tours.

Suffragette Season at the Houses of Parliament

Hampton Court Palace

The gardens at Hampton Court Palace are going to be featured more this year. It’s Florimania on 3-6 March. This is lovely treat for the Mother’s Day weekend as flower displays, inspired by the palace gardens, are added to the State Apartments.

From 18 March, Encounters With The Past brings the palace to life with characters from the palace’s past. Do look out for Shakespeare rehearsing with his King’s Men Company.

And then at the end of the month, at Easter, an imaginative new garden for families, designed by Chelsea award winning landscape architect Robert Myers – The Magic Garden – will open in King Henry VIII’s former Tiltyard, where the elaborate spectacle of Tudor tournaments once played out. Inspired by tales from the palace’s history, this is an immersive world, populated by mythical beasts (including a 25m dragon!) It’s all about discovery and exploration, with towers to besiege, battlements to storm, and a secret grotto too.

Pond Garden, Hampton Court Palace © HRP

Pond Garden, Hampton Court Palace © HRP

Kew Palace

And yet another palace worth noting this month is Kew Palace as it reopens on 23 March after it’s winter closure. Kew Palace is at Kew Gardens so a visit can be part of a full day out.

The Palace was home to King George III and his family in the early 1800’s, and a visit makes an interesting addition to a day in the famous botanical gardens.

Credit: Nigel Iskander/HRP/newsteam.co.uk

Credit: Nigel Iskander/HRP/newsteam.co.uk

Queen’s Gallery

The new exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery opens on 18 March. Scottish Artists 1750-1900: from Caledonia to the Continent displays paintings, drawings and miniatures collected by monarchs from George III to Queen Victoria.

George IV’s visit to Scotland in 1822, the first by a reigning British monarch for nearly two centuries, offered a major opportunity for royal patronage. This exhibitions tells the story of royal patronage and the importance and influence of artists whose work was shaped by the ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment.

Sir David Wilkie, The Entrance of George IV to Holyroodhouse, 1822-30

Sir David Wilkie, The Entrance of George IV to Holyroodhouse, 1822-30

Land of the Lions

Keeping that royal theme, the king of the jungle gets a new home at ZSL London Zoo this month. Land of the Lions opens on Friday 25 March (in time for the busy Easter weekend). This multi-million pound space is home to a pride of endangered Asiatic lions. As visitors enter the crumbling ruin of an amphitheatre-style Lion Temple, the majestic big cats will roam just metres away, separated only by fine wires.

London Zoo is in Regent’s Park and is easy to reach from Kensington House Hotel. Simply walk across to the other side of Kensington Gardens and you can catch the 274 bus all the way to the zoo.

Male Asiatic lion, India

Image © Raj Amin

Motown The Musical

It’s time for some excellent evening entertainment so how about Motown the Musical? Already a success on Broadway, this musical charts the story of Berry Gordy who founded the famous record label.

This will have you dancing in the aisles at the Shaftesbury Theatre!

Motown the Musical

Immortal Tango

From the best music to the best dance show in town. Immortal Tango is on at the Peacock Theatre from 1 to 19 March, Immortal Tango brings alive the glamour of vintage Hollywood in a new dance spectacular. Brimming with smouldering dance moves, sultry energy and authentic Argentinian tango. Cornejo, internationally-renowned dancer, and partner Gisela Galeassi lead an outstanding cast of world tango champions, accompanied by a live band playing the sensual rhythm of Buenos Aires.

Immortal Tango

© Gustavo Piola

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the March 2016 in London blog post from London Bridge Hotel, our sister hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

The Tate Britain Commission 2016 is Pablo Bronstein. From 26 April to 9 October, he will create a site-specific work in response to the imposing Duveen galleries which sit at the heart of gallery.

Underwear takes centre stage at the V&A with Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear on from 16 April to 5 February 2017. This exhibition addresses the practicalities of underwear and its role in the fashionable wardrobe whilst highlighting its sensual, sexual appeal.

For family fun, Sensational Butterflies returns to the East Lawn at the Natural History Museum from 2 April to 13 September. Inside the temporary tropical butterfly house you can see caterpillars, chrysalises and many butterflies.

And the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea hosts the first international exhibition on the Rolling Stones. Exhibitionism takes over the entire two floors of the gallery from 5 April to 4 September 2016.

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

Jan 252016
 

The last month of winter can mean a few sprinkles of snow in London but nothing to stop you from enjoying the city. Here are some of the best things to do to enjoy February in London.

Magical Lantern Festival

Light festivals are proving to be incredibly popular in London and this one looks like a ‘must see’. From 3 February to 6 March, Chiswick House Gardens has more than 50 giant illuminated creations including a 10m-high recreation of Beijing’s Temple of Heaven and an 8m Imperial Palace, plus a lit-up life-size London bus and a phone box lantern.

You can also see life-sized flamingos, zebras, kangaroos and elephants nestled among the trees — a nod to the history of Chiswick House Garden, where former owner, the sixth Duke of Devonshire, kept these exotic beasts in its expansive gardens.

The event runs in the evening from 5pm to 8.45pm. The Magical Lantern Festival marks Chinese New Year, the year of the monkey.

magical lantern festival

Chinese New Year

We’re welcoming the Year of the Monkey with Chinese New Year celebrations in London on Sunday 14 February. The parade starts at 10.15am and goes from Trafalgar Square to nearby Chinatown with ten lion teams performing along the short route. There are displays in Trafalgar Square and Chinatown for the rest of the day.

Cirque Berserk

To see some “Wowzer, how do they do that?!” performances you need to see Cirque Berserk at The Peacock Theatre from 8 to 24 February. This is real circus made for theatre and includes the world’s most dangerous circus act – the legendary motorcycle ‘Globe of Terror’. That’s up to four motorcyclists inside a metal sphere cage riding at up to 60mph!

Cirque Berserk

Monet to Matisse

Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse is at Royal Academy of Arts from 30 January to 20 April. It’s not just the two great painters mentioned in the title who are feature in this exhibition though. This landmark exhibition examines the role gardens played in the evolution of art from the early 1860s through to the 1920s. Expect to see works by Renoir, Cezanne, Pissarro, Klimt, Van Gogh and more.

Monet Waterlillies

Claude Monet, 1914-1915, oil on canvas, Museum Purchase: Helen Thurston Ayer Fund. Photo (c) Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon

Pre-Raphaelites on Paper

Moving from painting to drawing, at the stunning Leighton House in Kensington, Pre-Raphaelites on Paper: Victorian Drawings from the Lanigan Collection opens on 12 February (and runs until 29 May 2016).

Illustrating the broad evolution of draughtsmanship and the new appreciation for the art of drawing that emerged during the reign of Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901, the selection of artworks ranges from preparatory sketches to highly finished drawings intended as works of art in themselves.

Highlights are the works of the foremost Pre-Raphaelite artists, John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, as well as exceptional drawings by artists such as Edward Burne-Jones, Simeon Solomon, George Frederic Watts, and Frederic Leighton himself.

Dickensian

Here’s another good reason to visit the Charles Dickens Museum. From 19 January to 17 April 2016, the new BBC Drama series Dickensian has brought behind the scenes costumes and props to the most Dickensian house in London. As you enter each room there will be additions from the TV series helping to build the atmosphere and to get to know the characters.

More reasons to visit this month include The Housemaid’s Tour on Sunday 21 February, and The Museum by Candlelight on Wednesday 24 February.

Dickensian

Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art

From 17 February to 22 May 2016, The National Gallery has Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art.

Described as the last painter of the Grand Style and the first of the modern masters, Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863) was the pre-eminent French artist of the first half of the 19th century – complex, contradictory, a rebel, and an outsider. Few artists had more of a profound and lasting influence on his contemporaries and future generations.

This exhibitions looks not only at Delacroix’s fantastic Romantic masterpieces but also how his work influenced the Impressionists and beyond.

Olive Trees Vincent Van Gogh

Olive Trees, Vincent Van Gogh (1889)

Vogue 100: A Century of Style

It’s the centenary of Vogue magazine and this exhibition showcases the remarkable range of photography that has been commissioned by British Vogue since it was founded in 1916. Vogue 100: A Century of Style is at the National Portrait Gallery from 11 February to 22 May 2016.

There are over 280 prints from the Condé Nast archive and international collections on display to tell the story of one of the most influential fashion magazines in the world.

 

Also, available to see this month at the National Portrait Gallery is a major display of personal items, original manuscripts and works of art to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charlotte Brontë, author of Jane Eyre. The display opens on 22 February and runs until 14 August 2016. It explores the author’s life, creative development and professional success.

Fashion Rules: Restyled

From 11 February, the Fashion Rules exhibition at Kensington Palace reopens with a new focus on different periods in the wardrobes of HM The Queen, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales, expanding our glimpse into the era-defining style choices of these three royal women.

From the ‘New Look’ glamour of Princess Margaret in the 1950s, the elegance of HM The Queen in the 1960s and 1970s, and the tailored drama of outfits created for Diana, Princess of Wales in the early 1990s, the display continues to explore how these women navigated the fashion ‘rules’ defined by their royal duties in unique style.

Fashion Rules, Kensington Palace

Another reason to visit Kensington Palace this month is for the Victoriana: Science and Séance event on 13 February. You can find out how science, religion, fanaticism and the supernatural co-existed and what this meant for morality, beliefs and culture in Victorian society. Tickets includes a glass of Bucks Fizz and entry to Kensington Palace.

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the February 2016 in London blog post from London Bridge Hotel, our sister hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

Easter is slightly earlier this year so we’re being celebrating in March (Easter Sunday is 27 March 2016).

It’s the Hampton Court Palace Half Marathon on 20 March that includes road routes and Thames river paths.

And Kew Palace reopens at Kew Gardens on 24 March where you can see The Royal Kitchens and Queen Charlotte’s Cottage too.

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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 the About.com London Travel site and AboutLondonLaura.com 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.

Dec 272015
 

Happy new Year! Don’t worry if you think London may be cold this month as we’ve got lots of indoor ideas to keep you warm and happy.

Hogwarts in the Snow

We don’t often get snow in London so if you want to be guaranteed to see some this month I recommend going to the Warner Bros Studio Tour to see Hogwarts in the Snow which is on until the end of January. The filming location for the Harry Potter movies is transformed for the winter with the most iconic sets decorated for festive scenes.

The Hogwarts castle model is covered in hand-sprinkled snow, this time made from a combination of granulated paper and grains of salt – chosen because it clumps like real snowflakes and catches the light like ice. Visitors are able to touch samples of the different types of ‘snow’ used during production, each selected for its ability to float like falling snow, crunch under foot or glisten in the light.

Hogwarts in the snow
 

La Traviata

The Royal Opera House has La Traviata on from 16 January until 19 March 2016.

Verdi’s tragic opera of a Parisian courtesan who sacrifices all for love is vividly told in Richard Eyre’s production, with three world-class casts led by Venera Gimadieva, Maria Agresta and Nicole Cabell.

The Royal Opera House is a beautiful venue and is Britain’s leading opera house. It’s a large venue, with over 2,000 seats, but is designed so that wherever you sit you get an unobstructed view and excellent acoustics too.

Do go early so you can stop at The Amphitheatre Bar, inside the Royal Opera House, as it has views over the stunning Victorian Floral Hall – now used for afternoon tea but was used to sell exotic flowers when Covent Garden was a flower market. Or, if it’s warm enough, you could sit out on the terrace overlooking Covent Garden Piazza which is excellent for people watching.

La Traviata

© Catherine Ashmore, courtesy of Royal Opera House


 

Eddie Izzard

Nearly three years after launching his epic circumnavigation of the globe, Eddie Izzard – comedian, actor, marathon runner and sometime escapologist – will celebrate his unofficial comedy world record of performing in 28 countries (and in four languages) – from Moscow to the Hollywood Bowl – when he heads back home for a four week residency at The Palace Theatre. Eddie Izzard: Force Majeure Reloaded is at The Palace Theatre from 18 January to 13 February 2016.

Eddie Izzard
 

Goodnight Mr Tim

It’s the 35th anniversary of Michelle Magorian’s wonderfully uplifting tale and it is brought to life in this excellent stage adaptation. Goodnight Mister Tom is at the Duke of York’s Theatre until 20 February 2016.

Set during the dangerous build up to the Second World War, Goodnight Mister Tom follows young William Beech, who is evacuated to the idyllic English countryside and forges a remarkable and heart-warming friendship with the elderly recluse, Tom Oakley, played by David Troughton. All is perfect until William is suddenly summoned by his mother back to London.

Goodnight Mister Tom

Cirque Du Soleil

The Royal Albert Hall has a treat to offer with the brand new Cirque du Soleil show Amaluna which opens on Saturday 16 January (and runs until Sunday 6 March 2016).

Cirque du Soleil has been wowing London audiences with jaw-dropping and daring circus shows at the Royal Albert Hall since 1996. For their 20th year, the production is Amaluna and it has never before been seen in the UK. It’s a celebration of love and a tribute to the work and voice of women, with female performers making up the majority of the cast, and all eight members of the band also women.

Amaluna Cirque du Soleil
 

Celts

Celts: Art and Identity at The British Museum closes at the end of this month. This is the first major exhibition to examine the full history of Celtic art and identity from 2,500 years ago to today.

There are Iron Age objects on display from London and from across Europe that explore contemporary Celtic influences. A Liberty tea set and even a modern football shirt tell a constantly evolving British and Irish story.

 

Peter Pan Goes Wrong

The original cast of the West End’s hit comedy The Play That Goes Wrong are back this winter in J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan. Peter Pan Goes Wrong is on until 31 January 2016. It’s a lot of fun to see the members of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society battle against technical hitches, flying mishaps and cast disputes.

Peter Pan Goes Wrong

 

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the January 2016 in London blog post from London Bridge Hotel, our sister hotel.

 

LOOKING AHEAD

The National Portrait Gallery has a major exhibition celebrating 100 years of cutting-edge fashion, beauty and portrait photography opening in February 2016. Vogue 100: A Century of Style showcases the remarkable range of photography that has been commissioned by British Vogue since it was founded in 1916, with over 280 prints from the Condé Nast archive and international collections being brought together for the first time to tell the story of one of the most influential fashion magazines in the world.

On for one month, from 6 February 2016, is the Orchid Festival 2016 – A Carnival of Tropical Colour at Kew Gardens in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

I’m a big fan of Zippos Circus and they are bringing their Cirque Berserk! theatre show to The Peacock Theatre from 8 to 24 February.

And the Science Museum’s next major exhibition, Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius opens on 10 February 2016.

————————————————————————————————

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 the About.com London Travel site and AboutLondonLaura.com 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.