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.

Nov 262015
 

There’s no need to hibernate in London in December as there’s simply too much going on. Wrap up warm and get out and enjoy the capital while it sparkles.

Kensington Palace

There’s a wonderful series of talks and debates at Kensington Palace and this month has Victoriana: Panto and Performance on Saturday 5 December at 11am-12.30pm. It’s called a ‘Brunchtime Lecture’ and tickets include a glass of bucks fizz and entry to Kensington Palace.

Kate Howard, historian and Creative Director for the UK’s oldest professional costumed historical interpretation company, Past Pleasures Ltd, will be the speaker and will bring to life tales of cross-dressing actors and backstage shenanigans in an era that brought entertainment to the masses.

The Cupola Room at Kensington Palace, London

The Cupola Room at Kensington Palace. © Historic Royal Palaces

Albert Memorial Tour

As the last blog post on here was all about the Albert Memorial I thought it would be good to highlight the Albert Memorial Tour on Sunday 6 December. The 45 minute tours start at 2pm and 3pm, and gives you access inside the memorial railings. Do note there are no tours in January or February.

Albert Memorial

© Sue Lowry

Winter Wonderland

Even though I included it last month, Winter Wonderland has so much going on it deserves another mention. It’s not just ice skating and a fun fair as there’s the popular Giant Observation Wheel and Zippos Circus too. Some people go just for the shopping and others go for the food and drink. And as it’s free entry you can visit as often as you like right up to 3 January 2016.

Winter Wonderland Ice Rink

Royal Albert Hall

I also mentioned last month, Champions Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall. From Wednesday 2 December to Sunday 6 December you can see big name players compete in this end of season finale. There’s Tim Henman, Pat Cash, John McEnroe and many more battling it out on the stage in both singles and doubles matches.

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall, © David Iliff

Plus, The London International Horse Show is back at Olympia on 15 to 21 December. Consider it an ‘equestrian Christmas party’ with big names in show jumping competing alongside the Household Cavalry, and there’s the Shetland Pony Grand National too.

The V&A

There’s always a reason to visit South Kensington’s Victoria and Albert Museum and this month sees the reopening of the Europe galleries. From 9 December we can see the final phase of the museum’s ongoing redevelopment programme to complete the restoration of the entire front wing of the Museum.

There are 1,100 objects on display across seven gallery spaces covering 17th- and 18th-century European art and design.

And another part of the V&A India Festival opened recently: Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection. This ticketed exhibition has spectacular objects from a single private collection. There’s traditional and contemporary Indian jewellery, and a look at the influence that India had on avant-garde European jewellery made by Cartier and other leading houses. The exhibition is on until 28 March 2016.

Royal Academy

This landmark exhibition of works by Honorary Royal Academician Ai Weiwei at The Royal Academy closes on 13 December so if you’ve not yet been it’s definitely worth considering for this month.

Although Ai is one of China’s leading contemporary artists, his work has not been seen extensively in Britain. The exhibition includes significant works from 1993 onwards, the date that marks Ai Weiwei’s return to China following more than a decade living in New York. Ai Weiwei has created new, site-specific installations and interventions throughout the Royal Academy’s spaces.

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei in his studio in Caochangdi, Beijing, taken in April 2015.

Chelsea Physic Garden

If you’ve still got some shopping to do consider going to the Chelsea Physic Garden Festive Shopping Days as there are seasonal discounts in the shop and it’s free to visit the Garden too. On 1–4 and 6–11 December the gift shop and cafe are open 10am to 4pm.

Chelsea Physic Garden

Chelsea Physic Garden. Image credit: Charlie Hopkinson

Merry Christmas!

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the December 2015 in London blog post from London Bridge Hotel, our sister hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

Lumiere London is on 14 to 17 January and it’s the biggest ever light festival in London. See iconic architecture transformed with 3D projections, interactive installations and other extraordinary light works.

There are more interesting Brunchtime Lectures coming up at Kensington Palace in the new year. On 16 January 2016 it’s Victoriana: Drinking and Dining, and on 13 February (an alternative Valentine’s weekend idea?) there’s Victoriana: Science and Séance.

And the Orchid Festival opens inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens on 6 February and runs until 6 March. There will be late evening openings 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.

Feb 272015
 

Spring is coming and London’s parks are looking wonderful as the blossom appears. Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park are always fantastic and this month sees the return of the guided tours of the Albert Memorial. These tours give you exclusive access inside the memorial railings, so you can appreciate up close the craftsmanship and the bravura marble carving of the Parnassus frieze comprising 169 figures of renowned poets, musicians, painters, sculptors and architects.

Albert Memorial

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

Sunday 1 March is the first tour of the year and more follow on the first Sunday of the month. Tours are at 2pm and 3pm and last 45-50 minutes.

 

The major spring exhibition we’ve all been waiting for at The V&A is Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty opening on 14 March (and running until 19 July 2015).

Duck feather dress created by Alexander McQueen.  Date: The Horn of Plenty, A/W 2009-10. Model: Magdalena Frackowiak represented by dna model management New York, Image: firstVIEW

Duck feather dress created by Alexander McQueen. Date: The Horn of Plenty, A/W 2009-10

This is the first and largest retrospective of the late designer’s work to be presented in Europe and will showcase McQueen’s visionary body of work. Spanning his 1992 MA graduate collection to his unfinished A/W 2010 collection, McQueen’s designs will be presented with the dramatic staging and sense of spectacle synonymous with his runway shows.

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.

 

The V&A also has some interesting evening talks this month including Margaret Atwood: Fashion and Fiction on Friday 13 March. Margaret Atwood is an internationally acclaimed author and also a dressmaker who has been photographed by Vogue. Atwood has always attributed great significance to dress in her novels, including The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Blind Assassin. In this talk she discusses her lifelong passion for clothes with broadcast journalist Rosie Goldsmith.

On Friday 20 March Yinka Shonibare MBE reflects on his work and talks about his studio project space. Yinka Shonibare is one of Britain’s most well-known contemporary artists whose work ranges from film and photography to sculpture and major installations, such as his ship in a bottle commission in Trafalgar Square in 2010-12. In this talk he discusses his early paintings, his use of costume, photography and performance, and his most recent series of public sculptures.

 

Over at the Natural History Museum, Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea opens on 27 March (and runs until 13 September 2015).

© Natural History Museum, London

© Natural History Museum, London

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 the 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 allowing us to explore the richness of life on these busy, bustling cities of the sea.

 

Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden opens at The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace on 20 March (and runs until 11 October 2015).

Studio of Marco Ricci, A View of the Cascade, Bushey Park Water Gardens, c.1715  Royal Collection Trust / (C) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014.

Studio of Marco Ricci, A View of the Cascade, Bushey Park Water Gardens, c.1715
Royal Collection Trust / (C) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014.

Whether a sacred sanctuary, a place for scientific study, a haven for the solitary thinker or a space for pure enjoyment and delight, gardens are where mankind and nature meet. This exhibition explores the many ways in which the garden has been celebrated in art through over 150 paintings, drawings, books, manuscripts and decorative arts from the Royal Collection, including some of the earliest and rarest surviving records of gardens and plants. The enduring appeal for artists from the 16th to the early 20th century, includes work by Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt and Carl Fabergé.

 

For a more light-hearted day out the St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival is on Sunday 15 March. The Parade leaves Green Park and heads off along Piccadilly at midday and travels to Trafalgar Square for fun all afternoon with live Irish music, plenty of Guinness and lots of smiles.

 

It’s also Mother’s Day in the UK on Sunday 15 March so you might want to think about booking afternoon tea and the Kensington Palace Orangery is very special, as well as well-priced.

Afternoon Tea at Kensington Palace Orangery. © Laura Porter

Afternoon Tea at Kensington Palace Orangery. © Laura Porter

 

If you are looking to buy something special in London The BADA Antiques & Fine Art Fair is on from 18 to 24 March at The Duke of York Square in Chelsea, SW3. Nearly 100 art and antique dealers exhibit at this fair making it wonderful to see even if you are not thinking about purchasing.

 

And my last recommendation is Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy at the British Library which opens on Friday 13 March (and runs until 1 September 2015). The British Library is the custodian of two original Magna Carta manuscripts and this year marks the 800th anniversary of this charter.

King John hunting,[Miniature only] King John hunting a stag with hounds. Originally published/produced in England; 14th century. © British Library

King John hunting,[Miniature only] King John hunting a stag with hounds.
Originally published/produced in England; 14th century. © British Library

When granted by King John in 1215, Magna Carta was a practical solution to a political crisis, but in the centuries since it has become a potent symbol of liberty and the rule of law. This exhibition takes us on a journey from its medieval origins to the modern uses of Magna Carta.

Also on display will be Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten text of the Declaration of Independence, an original copy of the US Bill of Rights, together with other key documents and artifacts.

 

Clocks Change

Don’t forget, the clocks go forward one hour in the UK (and across Europe) to move to British Summer Time (BST) at 1am on the last Sunday in March so this year the date is Sunday 29 March.

© Laura Porter

© Laura Porter

 

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the March 2015 in London blog post from London Bridge Hotel, our sister hotel.

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Easter is 3-6 April this year and there will be lots of celebrations – mostly involving eating copious amounts of chocolate.

At Hampton Court Palace they are starting the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the palace with impressive evening parties on 3, 4 and 5 April. Over the Easter weekend you can see a state of the art 3D film projection onto the Palace’s south facade that will take a kaleidoscopic journey through the building’s history, re-modelling and life of the palace in four ‘movements’. The Palace will be dressed for a celebration, with carriages from different eras parked outside the famous Tudor gatehouse.

On 27 AprilWhat is Luxury? opens at the V&A presenting exceptional examples of contemporary design and craftsmanship alongside conceptual projects. From a diamond made from roadkill to a vending machine stocked with DNA, a golden crown for ecclesiastical use to traditional military tailoring, over 100 objects will address how luxury is made and understood in a physical, conceptual and cultural capacity.

Sensational Butterflies opens at the Natural History Museum’s East Lawn on 2 April. Visitors can walk among hundreds of free-flying butterflies at this family-friendly exhibition.

And on 2 May a new gallery opens at the V&A: Europe 1600-1800. Seven galleries are being transformed for the redisplay of the Museum’s unrivalled collection of 17th- and 18th century European art and design.

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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 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.