Oct 232016
 

Fireworks

The month arrives with a bang as we celebrate a foiled attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament over 400 years ago. The annual celebrations mean fantastic fireworks displays and there’s one worth knowing about on Thursday 3 November at Wimbledon Park.

There are two themed performances with fireworks set to music at 6.45pm ‘Magic’ (more suitable for young children) and 8.30pm ‘All Around the World’. The evening entertainment also includes a funfair, refreshments and stalls open until 10pm.

fireworks

You Say You Want a Revolution

You Say You Want a Revolution: Records & Rebels 1966-70 is the latest blockbuster exhibition at the V&A. It examines the optimism, ideals and aspirations of the late 1960s, expressed through music, fashion, film, design and political activism, and their relevance to contemporary life. The exhibition investigates the upheaval, the explosive sense of freedom, and the legal changes that took place resulting in a fundamental shift in the mindset of the Western world.

As you would hope, the exhibition has fantastic music from the era. Visitors wear special headphones that adjust what you hear based on your position in the room to provide the soundtrack to what you are looking at.

Highlights include a moon rock on loan from NASA; a rare Apple 1 computer; an Ossie Clark costume for Mick Jagger; shards from Jimi Hendrix’s guitar; and the suits worn by John Lennon and George Harrison on the cover of ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ plus handwritten lyrics for ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ by the Beatles.

You Sat You Want a Revolution

South Africa – The Art of a Nation

Discover the history of South Africa through art in the new British Museum special exhibition. South Africa – The Art of a Nation opened on 27 October and runs until 26 February 2017. See the history of a nation from a new perspective and celebrate the diverse art created by the many peoples who have helped shape South Africa’s story.

The exhibition covers a 100,000-year journey starting with examples of early rock art – some of the oldest art in the world. There’s 800-year-old gold sculptures, powerful anti-apartheid pieces plus cutting-edge contemporary works.

Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds ends this month at the British Museum (on 27 November) and is also well worth seeing. It tells the story of two lost cities of ancient Egypt that were submerged under the sea for over a thousand years and only recently rediscovered.

ox-shaped-snuffbox South Africa - British Museum

Portrait of the Artist

Opening on 4 November at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, Portrait of the Artist is the first exhibition to focus on images of artists from within the Royal Collection. The exhibition includes over 150 objects, including paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and decorative arts ranging in date from the fifteenth to the twenty-first century.

There are, of course, self-portraits by world-renowned artists including Rembrandt, Rubens, Artemisia Gentileschi, Lucian Freud and David Hockney but also images of artists by their friends, relatives and pupils, including the most reliable surviving likeness of Leonardo da Vinci by his student, Francesco Melzi.

The role of monarchs in commissioning, collecting and displaying portraits of artists is discussed, as is the changing status of the artist over the centuries.

Sir Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, c.1627-8

Sir Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, c.1627-8

Dreamgirls

It’s taken 35 years for the award winning musical Dreamgirls to come to London but it’s opening this month at the Savoy Theatre. From 19 November you can see Amber Riley (from Glee) in the lead role as Effie White.

Dreamgirls transports you to a revolutionary time in American music history and charts the tumultuous journey of a young female singing trio from Chicago, Illinois called ‘The Dreams’. They learn the hard lesson that show business is as tough as it is fabulous.

This new production is directed and choreographed by the hugely successful, Tony® and Olivier award-winning Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Aladdin, Something Rotten!) and features the classic songs ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’, ‘I Am Changing’ and ‘One Night Only’.

Dreamgirls

Royal Albert Hall

As ever, the Royal Albert Hall has an eclectic mix of musical events on this month.

Legendary singer-songwriter Paul Simon returns to the Royal Albert Hall on 7 and 8 November with his new album Stranger to Stranger (June 2016).

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra presents Symphonic Rock on 23 November. It’s a night of classic rock anthems and hit songs with a spectacular light show to accompany the iconic music of: Queen, Coldplay, Bon Jovi, The Beatles, Elbow, Tina Turner, Adele, Meat Loaf, Led Zeppelin and many more.

On 25 and 26 November you can see Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. Multi-platinum recording artist Jools Holland is bringing two nights of jazz and blues to the Royal Albert Hall. Special guests make this the greatest boogie-woogie party in town.

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall © David Iliff

Design Museum

The Design Museum was based near Tower Bridge until earlier this year but reopens in its new Kensington home this month. The former Commonwealth Institute building on Kensington High Street opens as the Design Museum on 24 November 2016.

There are eleven new installations by a selection of the world’s most innovative and thought-provoking designers and architects working today in the opening exhibition: fear and love – reactions to a complex world.

These newly commissioned works explore a spectrum of issues that define our time, including networked sexuality, sentient robots, slow fashion and settled nomads. The exhibition shows how design is deeply connected not just to commerce and culture but to urgent underlying issues – issues that inspire fear and love. This is a multidisciplinary and global exhibition that aims to capture the mood of the present and establish the Design Museum as the home of design debate.

Design Museum

Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line

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.

Opening on 4 November, Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line includes a selection of Ministry of Defence maps, on public display for the first time, which were used as part of official college exams in the 1950s and 1960s. These fascinating maps show fictional scenarios such as a nuclear explosion fall-out in Scotland and southern England reimagined as a battlefield, reflecting the political uncertainties of the 20th century.

The exhibition also uncovers the fascinating story of how maps became everyday objects for the first time in the 20th century. From the London A-Z, created out of a need for newcomers to navigate the city conveniently thanks to a wave of mass immigration in the early 20th century, to lesser-known political pocket atlases like the ‘Plebs Atlas’ and the huge influence of maps like Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood which introduced millions of children to the concept of cartography for the first time.

British Library maps

Paul Nash

Uncover the surreal and mystical side of English landscapes through one of the most distinctive British painters as Tate Britain has the largest presentation of Paul Nash’s work for a generation. The Paul Nash exhibition opened on 26 October and runs until 5 March 2017.

Paul Nash was fascinated with Britain’s ancient past and spent time in southern England exploring the downs and coastal areas. Equally inspired by the equinox and the phases of the moon, he used all these influences in his work, interpreting his environment according to a unique, personal mythology, evolving throughout his career.

As well as Nash’s imaginative response to the natural world, this exhibition is the first to examine Nash’s position at the centre of developments in British modernism and his dialogues with international artists as one of the leading figures in British surrealism.

Paul Nash - Equivalents for the Megaliths 1935 ©Tate

Paul Nash – Equivalents for the Megaliths 1935 ©Tate

Hampton Court Palace

There are some very good reasons to visit Hampton Court Palace this month. The Hampton Court Ice Rink opens on 18 November, and remains until 8 January 2017. You can glide around Hampton Court’s famous ice rink, with the palace’s iconic Tudor facade providing a suitably magnificent backdrop to this magical riverside setting.

There are also some interesting talks this month. On 10 November it’s At Home with the Royal Tudors where you can join joint chief curator Tracy Borman as she reveals the intimate secrets of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and more.

And on 21 November it’s Henry VIII’s Six Wives when you can go behind the scenes with joint chief curator Lucy Worsley in her latest BBC series Henry VIII’s Six Wives. Explore a unique approach to drama and history, and unravel key moments in the lives of Henry VIII’s six wives.

Regent Street Motor Show

The iconic Regent Street Motor Show is a showcase of 125 years of motoring including veteran, vintage, classic, and modern-day cars. This year it’s on Saturday 5 November and Regent Street is traffic-free from 10.30am to 4pm. It’s free to visit, family-friendly, and loved by car enthusiasts and shoppers alike.

Many of the veteran cars taking part in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run on Sunday 6 November are on display together with some of the pioneering motor cars of the 19th, 20th and 21st century.

Regent Street Motor Show

 

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

A new production celebrating the 20th anniversary of Rent the Musical is coming to St James Theatre from 8 December to 28 January 2017. Jonathan Larson’s fantastic Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical follows the personal struggles of a group of friends in 1980s New York.

The National Gallery bring us the first UK exhibition to focus on Australian impressionism, a significant and distinctive movement, little known compared with the European movement. Australia’s Impressionists opens on 7 December. Showcasing Australia’s four major exponents of Impressionism – Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder, and John Russell – the exhibition comprises some forty loans, many never previously shown in the UK.

And pantomime season is coming which means family-friendly theatre fun. We have Christmas classics such as Cinderella at the Palladium which will feature great casting such as Paul O’Grady as the wicked stepmother from 10 December.

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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.

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.

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.

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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.