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Aug 182016
 

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A little known fact about Kensington House Hotel, is that it is only eight minutes’ walk from the Royal Albert Hall. This year the schedule for the BBC Proms 2016 is as eclectic as London itself and with rates starting at just £138 per room at Kensington House Hotel* everyone will be happy. This great value package includes; overnight accommodation, continental buffet breakfast and a bottle of cava.

Here is our top pick:

Friday 19th August 2016 – Prom 45: Janáček: The Makropulos Case – this tragic satire is powered by a score that contains some of the composer’s most extreme and alluring music.

Saturday 20th August 2016 Prom 46: Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder And Mozart’s Mass In C Minor – Mozart’s unfinished Mass in C minor is a mix of the chamber and the operatic, the dancing and the devotional – a work ripe for the resonance of the Royal Albert Hall.

Tuesday 23rd August 2016 – Prom 50: Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov And Prokofiev– Alexander Vedernikov conducts it here after Stephen Hough plays Rachmaninov’s devilish and ever-entertaining ‘Paganini’ Variations, and the final instalment of fellow Russian Tchaikovsky’s three Shakepeare overtures.

Tuesday 30th August 2016 –  Prom 61: Late Night With Kamasi Washington – Thrilling California-based saxophonist and composer Kamasi Washington has been described as the biggest thing to hit jazz for years.

Thursday 8th September 2016 – Prom 72: Staatskapelle Dresden, Christian Thielemann And Nikolaj Znaider – the Staatskapelle Dresden and its Chief Conductor Christian Thielemann open with Beethoven’s most radiant, smiling work, his sublime Violin Concerto, in the sure hands of Nikolaj Znaider.

Saturday 10th September – Prom 75: The Last Night Of The Proms 2016 – Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez is the star soloist in a Last Night that also showcases a hand-picked selection of young singers in Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music.

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Jul 112016
 

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The 18th May marked the start of the Engineering Season at the V&A and this auspicious occasion was marked with the unveiling of the new installation, Elytra Filament Pavilion. The pavilion is the outcome of four years of ground-breaking research on the integration of architecture, engineering and biomimicry principles. The project explores how biological fibre systems can be transferred to architecture. The 200m² pavilion structure is inspired by lightweight construction principles found in nature – the fibrous structures of the forewing shells of flying beetles known as elytra.

Elytra Filament Pavilion is one of the highlights of the V&A’s first ever Engineering Season, which is curated by Maria Nicanor and Zofia Trafas White of the Museum’s Design, Architecture and Digital department. The season is complemented by the exhibition Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design, which opens on 18th June, as well as a series of other displays, events and digital initiatives dedicated to global engineering design. The V&A Engineering Season highlights the importance of engineering in our daily lives and considers engineers as the ‘unsung heroes’ of design, who play a vital and creative role in the creation of our built environment.

The Elytra Filament Pavilion can be seen in the John Madejski Garden at the Victoria & Albert Museum until the 6th November 2016 and – best of all – it’s free!

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Apr 192016
 

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Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear is a new exhibition, which opens tomorrow 16th April at the V&A, and tells the story of underwear design from the 18th century to the present day, considering the practical and personal, sensory and fashionable and exploring underwear’s roles of protecting and enhancing the body.

On display are more than 200 examples of underwear for men and women, highlighting the enduring themes of innovation and luxury. This exhibition explores the intimate relationship between underwear and fashion and its role in moulding the body to a fashionable ideal. Underwear is sometimes controversial, sparking debates about health and hygiene, body image and stereotyping. Its cut, fit, fabric and decoration reflect changing attitudes to gender, sex and morality; shifting notions of public and private; and innovations in fabric technology and design.

Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear will be held at The Victoria and Albert Museum from 16th April 2016 – 12 March 2017.  Tickets are on sale now cost £12 with concessions available. V&A Members go free. Advance booking is advised – this can be done in person at the V&A; online at www.vam.ac.uk/undressed; or by calling 0800 912 6961 (booking fee applies).

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

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Contributor: Alexandra Pinhorn – Photographs by various photographers – credits as follows: Courtesy of the Hans Schleger Estate; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; The Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove; Sebastian Faena, Model: Eniko Mihalik;© Jennie Baptise.

Mar 222016
 
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© Alan Barbier

With the last few months proving to be a washout, why not plan a visit to the Capital this spring and with rates starting at just £99 per room at Kensington House Hotel* now has never been a better time to explore London floral displays and take a walk amidst the flowers. This great value package includes; overnight accommodation, continental buffet breakfast and a bottle of house wine.

Here is our top park pick:

Kensington Park:

Every year millions of Londoners and tourists visit Kensington Gardens, one of the capital’s eight Royal Parks. Kensington Palace, the Italian Gardens, Albert Memorial, Peter Pan Statue and the Serpentine Galleries are all located within its 265 acres. Planted with formal avenues of magnificent trees and ornamental flower beds with 1000’s of bulbs planted every year. New for 2016 is the allotment which is open daily from 9:30 am – 4:00 pm. Visitors are welcome to wander in anytime to enjoy and relax at the allotment, as well as pick up some useful tips for growing their own fruit and vegetables.

Hyde Park:

Hyde Park covers 350 acres and is home to a number of famous landmarks including the Serpentine Lake, Speakers’ Corner and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. The park also offers various recreational activities including open water swimming, boating, cycling, tennis and horse riding.  A timeless classic and a must see is theRose Garden. The rose planting is mixed with herbaceous planting, creating rich seasonal flower beds and strong scents. The spectacular seasonal bedding is a hugely popular feature; the gardens attract high numbers of tourists particularly in the summer months and are still popular throughout the year with local residents and office workers as a quiet contemplative place.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show – 24th – 28th May:

Over 500 exhibitors will already be making plans and tending to their most prized plants in preparation for the 2016 Chelsea Flower Show, which has taken place annually (apart from a few gaps during the two world wars) for over 100 years now.

Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park2nd, 8th and 9th July

Now fully established, Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park, is a totally unique and world class event which entertained over 350,000 fans in London.

In 2016, each live music-packed weekend will be linked by a midweek programme of diverse entertainment, accessible for all to enjoy. From Monday to Thursday, the entire site, saved for the main stage, will give visitors the chance to get involved with smaller, more intimate events offering film, music, literature, sport and a specific family day that will expand the experience to genuinely appeal to the whole family. The headlining acts for 2016 are Florence + The Machine, Kendrick Lamar, Mumford & Sons and Take That.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show – 5th – 10th  July:

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 2016 will once again bring you all the fun and excitement of a spectacular summer festival, in a historical setting. After a hugely successful 2015, look out for the famous Rose Marquee, brilliant show gardens and great family attractions in 2016.

Feb 182016
 

As tourists wander around Westminster absorbing the history of years, they stumble across King Charles 1st and Oliver Cromwell locked in each others’ sight for eternity.

It is often thought that Cromwell’s statue – erected in 1899 to a design by Sir William Thornycroft –  is avoiding the gaze of the Monarch he condemned to death. However, the bust of King Charles I was donated to the Church by The Society of King Charles the Martyr in 1956 – so sadly not true!

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

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Jan 202016
 

Royal Albert Hall by Sue Lowry

The Royal Albert Hall and SW7’s museums were built as a consequence of the public interest generated by The Great Exhibition of 1851 with its Crystal Palace built by Sir Joseph Paxton.  This precursor to the world fair took place originally in nearby Hyde Park before moving to its final resting place in Sydenham. When it became clear to His Highness and his advisors from the overwhelming success of The Great Exhibition that the general public had an appetite for culture and world achievements, the 35-hectare Gore estate was purchased in order to build a complex of public buildings – the Science Museum, The Natural History Museum and of course, the Victoria & Albert Museum, once known simply as the South Kensington Museum.

RoyalAlbertHall By Sue Lowry

Also on the site are the Royal Colleges of Art, Music & Organists, the Royal Geographical Society, Imperial College and the Central Hall, now known as the Royal Albert Hall.  In essence, a Central Hall of Arts & Sciences (renamed as the Royal Albert Hall unexpectedly by Queen Victoria in honour of her spouse!), surrounded by museums and places of learning.  To some, this area was known simply as Albertopolis. The Royal Albert Hall opened on 29th March 1871 with the largest iron roof structure and the largest pipe organ in the world at the time.  The design took inspiration from Henry Cole’s love of the amphitheatres of southern France – namely Nimes and Arles – and the interior does seem to have a similar horse-shoe shape, similar to Rome’s Colisseum.  Upon opening, a huge – seemingly unsurmountable – problem soon revealed itself – the acoustics were awful with a resounding echo which lead some wags to say that you pay for one concert and get a second free with the echo!

RoyalAlbertHall By Sue Lowry

It was only in 1969, that the problem was finally resolved with dampening discs.  More recently, between 1996 and 2004 in fact, further work took place – this time largely behind the scenes or rather below them – the largest refurbishment since the Hall opened to allow greater access and better services.  Today, over a million people a year watch sports, theatre, opera and rock concerts at this Grade I listed venue with over 350 performances per annum. Take a fascinating tour of the Hall for around GBP12 per adult – group size limited to 20 pax – for around an hour and enjoy 10% discount at both the shop and the rather tasty cafe next to it. I joined one on the day but you can book ahead via their website to avoid disappointment. Our tour included a visit to the Queen’s Box (well almost – viewed via an open door) and the Royal Retiring Room where Her Majesty and her guests assemble  pre-performance. In-between productions,  you may be allowed to take photographs inside the Hall but only when the guide gives permission.

RoyalAlbertHall By Sue Lowry

Follow the Royal Albert Hall on Facebook/Royal Albert Hall and on twitter: @RoyalAlbertHall.

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

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Nov 122015
 

By Sue Lowry

The most extravagant, the most recognisable and perhaps the most poignant statue in London for me has to be Queen Victoria’s memorial to her late lamented husband, Prince Albert, opposite the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London in Kensington Gardens.  It commemorates the life and work of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha – a life cut short at just 42 when he died of typhoid fever.

By Sue Lowry

He left behind him a grief-stricken widow who would wear her mournful weeds for the rest of her life.  This memorial to her husband took eight years to complete, was designed in the gothic manner by George Gilbert Scott and involved an army of artists and craftsmen in its complex design.

By Sue Lowry

The iconography of the statutory is slightly confusing but from what I can gather, the main large sculptures on the outer edges symbolise the various continents of the world who exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 which to a large degree, was organised by Prince Albert.  It took place in a temporary Crystal Palace created just a few metres away in Hyde Park.  The groups above the main frieze are symbolic of Agriculture, Manufacture, Commerce and Engineering – the major themes of the Exhibition.

By Sue Lowry

The Parnassus frieze however, which runs around the memorial, depicts those figures that the Victorians considered the greatest figures in Western culture, arranged within the fields of poetry, music, painting, sculpture and architecture. Most of the statues are hewn from Campanella marble but for the figure of Prince Albert (for which 72 tons of cannon barrels were provided by Woolwich Arsenal), gilded bronze was used.

By Sue Lowry

The sculptor of Albert himself – or rather sculptors – was firstly Baron Marochetti (who died), then John Foley (who again died before the statue was cast) and finally Thomas Brock who completed the work.  It shows him in his Garter robes, holding a volume of the Great Exhibition catalogue. The actual memorial opened to the general public in 1872 but without the Prince’s statue which was eventually installed three years later.  It was then covered up again  for another year so it could be gilded before being finally unveiled in March 1876.  Scott was knighted for his work on the memorial.

The monument incurred slight damage in both World Wars but it was only when a piece of lead fell off in 1983, that a full restoration was commissioned.  The monument, complete with an Albert now covered in 24-carat gold, was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in October 1998.  Rumour has it, it is a bit too ornate for her taste ….

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

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Oct 132015
 

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The Fabric of India is the first exhibition in the UK to fully explore the incomparably rich world of handmade textiles from India. From the earliest known fragments to contemporary fashion, the exhibition will illustrate the technical mastery and creativity of Indian textiles. The Fabric of India will be held at The Victoria and Albert Museum until 10 January 2016.

Tickets cost £14 with concessions available. V&A Members go free. Advance booking is advised – this can be done in person at the V&A or online (booking fee applies).

Celebrating the variety, virtuosity and continuous innovation of India’s textile traditions, The Fabric of India presents 200 everyday fabrics and unseen treasures all made by hand. From ancient ceremonial banners to contemporary saris, from sacred temple hangings to bandanna handkerchiefs, to the spectacular tent used by Tipu Sultan (1750-1799), the famed ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore; this exhibition offers an introduction to the raw materials and processes of making cloth by hand.

The opening section shows fabrics dyed with natural materials such as pomegranate and indigo and the complex techniques of block printing, weaving and embroidery across the ages, together creating a visual compendium of India’s astonishingly diverse array of fabrics. Highlights range from muslin embroidered with glittering green beetle wings, to a vast wall hanging appliqued with designs of elephants and geometrical patterns, to a boy’s jacket densely embroidered with brightly coloured silk thread and mirrors.

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

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Photographs by various photographers – credits as follows: Abraham & Thakore;  Victoria and Albert Museum, London and National Trust Images.

Sep 162015
 

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Botticelli Reimagined is a new major exhibition, opening 5th March 2016 at the V&A, exploring, for the first time the variety of ways artists and designers from the Pre-Raphaelites to the present have responded to the artistic legacy of Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), assembling 150 works from around the world.

Botticelli Reimagined will be held at The Victoria and Albert Museum from 5th March – 3rd July 2016.  Tickets will go on sale in September this year and will cost £15 with concessions available. V&A Members go free. Advance booking is advised – this can be done in person at the V&A; online at www.vam.ac.uk/Botticelli; or by calling 0800 912 6961 (booking fee applies).

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

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.

Contributor: Alexandra Pinhorn – Photographs by various photographers – credits as follows: Venus,Volker-H. Schneider; Venus, after Botticelli, Private collection, courtesy Duhamel Fine Art, Paris; Portrait of a Young Man, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington; Rebirth of Venus, David LaChapelle; The Renaissance of Venus, Tate, London 2015; The Virgin and Child with Two Angels, courtesy Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der Bildenden Künste Vienna; The Orchard, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Pallas and the Centaur, courtesy of the Ministero Beni e Att. Cultura; Portrait of a Lady known as Smeralda Bandinelli, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Allegory of Abundance or Autumn, The Trustees of the British Museum; Venus Dress: Look 15, Catwalking.com.

Aug 202015
 

George Washington, by Sue Lowry

The statue of George Washington located at the eastern end of the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, London was a gift to Britain by the State of Virginia.  This oversized bronze statue is a copy of the original marble sculpture by Jean-Antoine Houdon which stands in the Capitol in Richmond, Virginia.

Although originally made in 1914, it finally made it to the UK after the First World War and was unveiled in 1921 by Judith Brewer, the daughter of the then Speaker of the House of Delegates of Virginia.  Washington famously said that he would never set foot on British soil so it is rumoured that American earth was brought over and placed under the statue.  I have no idea if that is true but I do like the tale.

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

Via Magellan PR, a boutique travel PR company.