Jun 262015
 

Ah, summer is here. Brighter light and warmer days so it’s time to get out and enjoy London.

If you go to the Natural History Museum this month do go to the Museum’s Wildlife Garden which is a haven for thousands of British plants and animals and demonstrates wildlife conservation in an urban environment. It’s also a lovely place to stop with a snack and enjoy the sunshine.

Other reasons to visit include The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, on until 30 August, Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea, on until 13 September, and Sensational Butterflies on the East Lawn also on until 13 September.

 

Across the road at The V&A you have one more month to see Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty as it closes on 2 August. As I explained back in March, this is the first and largest retrospective of the late designer’s work to be presented in Europe and the show has been incredibly popular.

 

If all that colour inspires you, why not visit the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show which is on from 30 June to 5 July. Unlike the Chelsea Flower Show, you can buy tickets on the door and it’s in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace so you can visit both on the same day. It’s the 25th year of the HCP Flower Show and you can enjoy gardens, flowers, food, talks, shopping and more. Hampton Court Palace is also have celebrations for its 500th anniversary this year.

 

Another great day trip in west London is Kew Gardens and the Full of Spice Festival is on all summer. If you would prefer to visit in the evening Kew the Music is on from 7 to 12 July with Paloma Faith being a particular highlight. Or, on 22 and 23 July, you could return for Kew the Movies and enjoy an open-air cinema experience.

Kew The Music © RBG Kew

Kew The Music © RBG Kew

 

For more amazing evening entertainment, Sadler’s Wells has Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man on from 14 July to 9 August. Loosely based on Bizet’s popular opera this dance thriller is set in 1960s America where the dreams and passions of a small town are shattered by the arrival of a handsome stranger.

 

If you are looking to do some shopping, Summer Streets at Regent Street means traffic-free Sundays throughout July. There will be music and a cycle roadshow and each Sunday is themed: Garden, Health & Fitness, Fashion, Arts & Culture.

 

On every Saturday and Sunday in July you could relive the drama and grandeur of the Napoleonic War with Waterloo Weekend at Apsley House. As it is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo you are invited to march with the Red Coats, take etiquette lessons and learn to dress the Regency way.

ApsleyHouse

 

For something unusual, the National Gallery has Soundscapes: Listening to Paintings from 8 July to 6 September. The Gallery asked six sound artists and musicians to create new work in response to a painting from the collection. Each artist has a room in the Sainsbury Wing exhibition galleries in which their chosen painting and their sound/musical response is installed.

Paul Cézanne - Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses), about 1894-1905  © The National Gallery, London

Paul Cézanne – Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses),
about 1894-1905
© The National Gallery, London

 

If you would like more good sounds then head to Eltham Palace as there is Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon on Sunday 5 and Sunday 19 July. The grounds are lovely for wandering and you could have a picnic while listening and relaxing.

 

If you are feeling hungry, Foodies Festival at Alexandra Palace, on 3-5 July, brings an outdoor summer feast with celebrity chefs, food and drink theatres, artisan producers and more street food than you can shake a satay stick at.

foodies-festival

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

This year, for the first time ever at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace, displays throughout the State Rooms will recreate the settings for state visits, receptions, garden parties, investitures and private audiences. From 1 August to 27 September.

Back at Apsley House there is a Regency Weekend on 29 and 30 August where there will be plenty of dancing and you may well feel like you’ve stepped into a Jane Austen novel.

And August has a Bank Holiday weekend which is celebrated with the annual Notting Hill Carnival on 30-31 August. The carnival parade has amazing costumes and very loud music so best keep on dancing!

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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.

May 272015
 

There’s so much going on this month it was hard to decide what to include but I think these recommendations will ensure you have a great time in London.

The V&A

The V&A has plenty of reasons to visit this month. The Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition is the main highlight. On from 13 June 2015 to 31 January 2016, this exhibition looks at the extremes of footwear from around the globe.

Parakeet Shoes

Parakeet shoes,
Artist: Caroline Groves (b.1959)
Credit: Photography by Dan Lowe

Over 200 pairs of shoes are on display from historic sandals to famous shoe wearers and collections. Cultural significance will be considered alongside the latest developments in footwear technology creating the possibility of ever higher heels and dramatic shapes.

 

The V&A also has Captain Linnaeus Trip: Photographer of India and Burma, 1854-1860 on from 24 June to 11 October, as part of the V&A India Festival, and the exhibition is free to visit.

Rangoon: Henzas on the East Side of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda,  November 1855 Artist: Linnaeus Tripe

Rangoon: Henzas on the East Side of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, November 1855
Artist: Linnaeus Tripe

This display features some of the earliest and most striking views of the landscape and architecture of India and Burma, by a pioneering British photographer.

Other reasons to visit The V&A this month include comedian Paul Merton: In Conversation on 19 June and the monthly Friday Late on 26 June. This month’s theme is Art Is Good For You and the evening will explore the capacity of art and design to empower and transform, and ask questions of art, design, and architecture’s relevance as a tool for social development today.

 

Kew Gardens

Full of Spice is the summer festival at Kew Gardens, on until 6 September.

Kew Gardens

© RGB Kew

We don’t think twice about the peppermill on our dining table or the vanilla in our ice-cream, but the power of some plants to colour, flavour and preserve, makes them worth more than their weight in gold.

This summer, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is exploring the botanical origins of these mystical commodities. Come face-to-face with nutmeg, turmeric and tamarind in the steamy Palm House, or chillies, ginger and vanilla orchids in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

You can meet the Kew Scientists and there are lots of ‘hands on’ sessions too. Every Sunday you can get a ride on the Cinnamon, Pepper or Cardamom Rickshaw for an immersive, theatrical and yet educational ride around the Gardens. And there’s a Botanical Bar on weekends too, and a Strictly Spice Dance competition on the lawn in front of the Orangery throughout the summer holidays.

 

The Battle of Waterloo Bicentenary

Apsley House is celebrating 200 years since The Battle of Waterloo with a vegetable reenactment! Visit on Thursday 18 June to find out about Regency clothes and dressing and prepare to celebrate when the Duke returns.

Apsley House

The re-presented Waterloo Gallery in Apsley House with magnificent silver gilt dinner service on the banqueting table.

Another reason to visit Apsley House this month is for the Preparing For a Waterloo Banquet weekend on 20-21 June. Prepare your toasts and perfect your speeches as the house is readied for the imminent return of the Duke of Wellington and the annual Waterloo banquet.

On the same weekend (20-21 June) you could head to Eltham Palace in southeast London for the Grand Medieval Joust. Knights compete on horseback and the cheeky court jester brings the laughs for this medieval entertainment.

 

Barbara Hepworth

The summer exhibition at Tate Britain is Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World, on from 24 June to 25 October.

Barbara Hepworth, Sculpture with Colour (Deep Blue and Red) (6) 1943 © The Hepworth Estate

Barbara Hepworth, Sculpture with Colour (Deep Blue and Red) (6) 1943
© The Hepworth Estate

Hepworth is often overshadowed by her contemporary Henry Moore, although she really shouldn’t be. Here’s a chance to appreciate the full portfolio of her work including textiles, collages, drawings and trademark sculptures.

Also at Tate Britain is the BP Spotlight: Tracey Emin and Francis Bacon where you can see Tracey Emin’s famous unmade bed as it is back on display until summer 2016 and is free to see.

Another popular exhibition this month is the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition from 8 June to 16 August. It is the world’s oldest open-submission exhibition and includes painting, printmaking and sculpture through to installation, photography and film. Look out for Conrad Shawcross’s installation in the courtyard which consists of a group of five steel ‘clouds’.

 

Sporting Highlights

If you would like to attend a quintessentially British summer occasion (and didn’t manage to get tickets for Wimbledon)  Polo in the Park is at Hurlingham Park on 5, 6, 7 June. Or you can watch world-class motorsport at the London ePrix on 27-28 June. The track is in Battersea Park, next to The River Thames, for 20 Formula E drivers to zoom around.

Polo in the Park

Even More

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

 

LOOKING AHEAD

Apsley House has a Waterloo Weekend every weekend in July where you can meet Wellington’s Troops in the midst of the combat campaign. There are also etiquette lessons and tips on dressing the Regency way.

Soundscapes: Listening to Paintings opens at the National Gallery on 8 July where you can ‘hear’ the paintings and ‘see’ the sound.

Eltham Palace has Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon on 5 & 19 July for you to relax and enjoy a summertime stroll in the stunning surroundings.

And this year, at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace the theme is A Royal Welcome and you can discover what goes on behind the scenes from 1 August to 27 September.

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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.