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!

————————————————————————————————

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.

Mar 252015
 

I hope you remembered the clocks changed in the UK on Sunday 29 March (I reminded you last month) so we’re on British Summer Time. And as Easter arrives at the start of this month we can start thinking about being outside more.

Hampton Court Palace is the place to be the for Easter weekend (3-5 April) as it’s the 500th anniversary. The Palace will open for the three evenings for after hours festivities including pop up bars and live performances of period music. The evening will culminate in a dazzling 25 minute 3D projection onto the Palace’s south façade taking visitors on a kaleidoscopic journey through Hampton Court’s 500 year history. This truly unique event finishes with a spectacular firework display.

Hampton Court Palace

 

Another great excuse to get out and about this month is Shaun in the City: a ewe-nique art trail to find the sculptures of Shaun the Sheep created by artists, celebrities and designers. The sculptures will be auctioned in the summer for charity but the trails are on the website and are free.

shaun

 

As ever, the V&A is spoiling us this month with two new free exhibitions. All of This Belongs To You (14 April to 19 July) looks at the role of public institutions in contemporary life and what it means to be responsible for a national collection.

James Bridle: Five Eyes Image courtesy of V&A

James Bridle: Five Eyes Image courtesy of V&A

What is Luxury? (25 April to 27 September) is a collaboration with the Crafts Council to interrogate ideas of luxury today. It will address how luxury is made and understood in a physical, conceptual and cultural capacity, before exploring the future of luxury design.

Combs, Hair Highway, Studio Swine, 2014

Combs, Hair Highway, Studio Swine, 2014

The V&A also has many interesting evening talks and events. One that stood out to me this month is Michael Eavis: Glastonbury on Tuesday 21 April. The farmer and founder of the legendary festival will discuss music, politics and the festival history as The V&A has recently acquired the Glastonbury archives which will grow with each new festival.

 

If you take a walk in Hyde Park this month be prepared for it to be noisy on 21 April as we celebrate the Queen’s Birthday with a gun salute at 12pm and another at the Tower of London at 1pm.

Credit: Richard Lea-Hair / Historic Royal Palaces

Credit: Richard Lea-Hair / Historic Royal Palaces

 

Another annual treat is the Feast of St George in Trafalgar Square to celebrate the patron saint of England. This year the fun is on Saturday 25 April, 12-6pm, and everyone is welcome. There’s traditional English food including an English farmers’ market and live demos from leading chefs, plus family activities, music and more.

 

There’s a great weekend planned for 25-26 April at the London Transport Museum Depot in Acton, west London, where you can see treasures from London’s transport past and present. Visitors can take a trip on a moving miniature railway and a heritage bus, hear expert talks and see rare film screenings too. Plus, there’s lots for sale that I can never resist.

LT Depot

 

Back in South Kensington, the Natural History Museum’s Sensational Butterflies (2 April to 13 September) is a tropical butterfly house on the East Lawn where you can walk among hundreds of free-flying butterflies and learn about the science behind these delicate creatures.

© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Even More

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

 

LOOKING AHEAD

The V&A has even more to offer in May with a new gallery: Europe 1600-1800. This is actually seven galleries transformed to redisplay the Museum’s unrivalled collection of 17th- and 18th century European art and design.

The V&A also has Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 opening in May, tracing the development of the fashionable white wedding dress and its interpretation by leading couturiers and designers. And continuing the fashion theme, Shoes: Pleasure and Pain is opening in June to look at the extremes of footwear from around the globe.

And bring your walking shoes for Walk London’s Spring into Summer free led walks on 30 and 31 May.

————————————————————————————————

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.