Mar 112017
 

Jurassic Kingdom

You can meet dinosaurs in Osterley Park this month! Jurassic Kingdom is the first outdoor dinosaur experience of its kind in the UK with animatronic dinosaurs blending into the paths, ponds, gardens and greenery.

Diplodocus heads poke 16 metres above the ground amongst the tree canopy as Triceratops escort their young through the bushes beneath. The ear-piercing screeches of the Pterosaurus will alert visitors to the danger in the skies above and guests must be wary of the spitting defence of the Pachycephalousaurus, in case he lurks around the next corner.

From 1 to 17 April you can see 30 dinosaur models and installations including the ‘King of the Tyrant Lizards’ – the Tyrannosaurus Rex, standing 18 metres from head to tail.

Jurassic Kingdom

Secrets of the Underground Open Weekend

On 22 and 23 April, the London Transport Museum’s Depot in Acton has a special Secrets of the Underground Open Weekend exploring the secrets and hidden spaces of the London Underground.

It’s a wonderful place that is only open for these special weekends so do make the most of it. There’s a programme of talks and interactive displays to hear from the experts. Then take a ride on a miniature railway, have a closer look at tunnelling ephemera and join a tour of the art and poster collection.

Enjoy some time travel inside old tube carriages, and don’t miss the scenic ride on a heritage bus around west London.

London Transport Museum Depot

National Army Museum

The National Army Museum in Chelsea has been closed for a three-year £23.75 million re-development project but reopens on 30 March 2017. Aiming to be a bridge between the British Army and society the Museum will encourage greater public engagement with ideas of defence and security, both past and present.

It’s been a radical transformation to maximise access to, and engagement with, the Collection. There are now five new galleries, with over 2,500 objects, laid out over four floors – Soldier, Army, Battle, Society and Insight. There is also a 500m2 temporary exhibition space.

The cafe looks even better than before, and there are free 20-minute welcome tours at 11am and 2pm every day.

National Army Museum

Queer British Art

As it’s the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in Britain so we can expect LGBT issues to feature more this year. Queer British Art is at Tate Britain from 5 April (to 1 October 2017) and is the first major exhibition in Britain on this subject. Some of the works in the show are intensely personal while others spoke to a wider public, helping to forge a sense of community.

The exhibition includes major figures, such as Oscar Wilde, and features works by Simeon Solomon, John Singer Sargent, Gluck, Ethel Sands, Dora Carrington, Keith Vaughan, David Hockney and Francis Bacon, alongside ephemera and personal photographs. Themes explored in the exhibition include coded desires amongst the Pre-Raphaelites, representations of and by women who defied convention (including Virginia Woolf), and love and lust in sixties Soho.

A highlight is a section focusing on the Bloomsbury set and their contemporaries – an artistic group famous for their bohemian attitude towards sexuality. The room includes intimate paintings of lovers, scenes of the homes artists shared with their partners and large commissions by artists such as Duncan Grant and Ethel Walker.

Bathing 1911 by Duncan Grant 1885-1978

Bathing 1911 Duncan Grant 1885-1978 Purchased 1931 © Tate

The Passion of Jesus in Trafalgar Square

Easter brings a four-day holiday weekend for 14-17 April. On Good Friday you can see the annual performance of The Passion of Jesus in Trafalgar Square by the Wintershall Players.

Returning for the eighth year, the performance includes a cast of more than 100 actors and volunteers in costume, as well as horses, donkeys and doves.

There are two 90-minute live performances of the biblical story at 12pm and 3.15pm. These free events are very popular so there are big screens to ensure all can follow the action. Do note, The Passion of Jesus includes a realistic interpretation of the crucifixion.

Passion of Jesus in Trafalgar Square

Rick Astley

Pop icon and multi-million selling artist Rick Astley is performing at the Royal Albert Hall on Thursday 13 April.

While he made his name in the 1980s with ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, this tour features new work from his eighth studio album, 50.

It’s Astley’s first studio album in more than 10 years and there’s still a strong desire from the public to see him perform live.

Rick Astley

Gun Salute

Does this happen for your birthday? On 21 April there’s a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park to mark the Queen’s 91st birthday (her real one, not the official one as that’s in June).

The salute is fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and is usually at midday. It happens in the north-eastern corner of the park, close to Speaker’s Corner.

There’s also another gun salute one hour later at the Tower of London. Do be aware, these gun salutes are incredibly loud.

Royal Gun Salute

Royal Gun Salute © Royal Parks

Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the April 2017 in London blog post from our sister hotel, London Bridge Hotel.

LOOKING AHEAD

Opening on 24 May, California – designing freedom is at the Design Museum exploring how “designed in California” expresses a distinctive approach to design and life, from skateboards to iPhones.

The British Museum has Hokusai – beyond the Great Wave from 25 May looking at the work of one of Japan’s greatest artists. The exhibition will be an artistic journey through the last 30 years of Hokusai’s life, when he produced some of his most famous masterpieces.

And The Queen’s Gallery has Canaletto & the Art of Venice from 19 May. The Royal Collection contains the world’s finest group of paintings, drawings and prints by Venice’s most famous view-painter, Canaletto (1697-1768), so this will be a ‘must see’.

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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.

Aug 262015
 

The V&A

It looks like there are lots of reasons to visit The V&A this month. It’s a ‘last chance to see’ What is Luxury? which closes on 27 September. This free exhibition interrogates ideas of luxury today and addresses how luxury is made and understood in a physical, conceptual and cultural capacity.

Visit the Museum’s Medieval & Renaissance Galleries and you will find a six metre high ceramic installation created for the V&A by artist Barnaby Barford and on display from 8 September to 1 November 2015.

 Artist's impression of a section of The Tower. Artist: (c) Barnaby Barford

Artist’s impression of a section of The Tower.
Artist: (c) Barnaby Barford

The Tower of Babel is composed of 3,000 individual bone china buildings, each measuring 10-13cm tall and depicting a real London shop. The tower depicts London’s streets in the early 21st century, cataloguing a variety of types of shops, including independent shops, department stores, and charity shops and those that have been left derelict. More affordable properties will be situated at the base of the Tower and the more prestigious but less affordable towards the top. And yes, you can buy replicas in the Museum shop.

And from 19 to 27 September the V&A is the main hub for the nine day London Design Festival. The Tower of Babel is one of the special installations but there will be more spread throughout the Museum, as well as the latest acquisitions on display.

In the V&A’s John Madjeski Garden, Mexican architect Frida Escobedo’s pavilion, ‘You know you cannot see yourself so well as by reflection‘, marks the Year of Mexico in the United Kingdom.

Science Museum

On 18 September the Science Museum opens its ground-breaking exhibition: Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age. This autumn blockbuster represents the most comprehensive and in-depth look into the Russian space programme, showcasing the most significant collection of the country’s spacecraft and artefacts ever to be shown outside of Russia.

In 1957 Russia launched the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik, into space and just four years later sent the first ever human – Yuri Gagarin. Discover the dramatic story of how Russia turned the dream of space travel into a reality and became the first nation to explore space.

Cosmonauts

Natural History Museum

There’s a special Science Uncovered evening at the Natural History Museum on Friday 25 September. For one night only, discover the Natural History Museum’s hidden wonders at this annual free after-hours extravaganza.

Science Uncovered involves over 300 scientists from across the Museum and from other leading organisations, and for many visitors, meeting the scientists is one of the most surprising highlights of the evening. There’s over 200 different activities on the night, from Science Bars and nature games to debates with scientists, and seeing extraordinary specimens from the Museum’s collections not normally on display.

It’s also your ‘last chance to see’ Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea and Sensational Butterflies as they both close on 13 September.

London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week is a chance to get ahead of the fashion curve with catwalk shows and splash out on some new clothes too, with collections looking ahead to spring/summer 2016. This year it moves to the Saatchi Gallery on the Kings Road so expect a whole new vibe compared with Somerset House. From 24 to 27 September you can see catwalk shows, trend presentations and panel discussions with industry experts.

London Fashion Week

Kew Literary Festival

From 24 to 28 September the inaugural Kew Literary Festival has Booker Prize winners to poets and nature writers. The festival has over 80 events across all genres, from fiction to science, children’s to cookery.

Margaret Atwood will launch her latest novel at Write on Kew, Bill Bryson will offer illuminating talks on travel in Britain, Andrew Marr focuses on Britain through its poetry and Iain Sinclair on London’s Ginger Line. The children’s programme looks outstanding too with Judith Kerr, Michael Morpurgo and Jacqueline Wilson.

London Transport Museum Depot Open Weekend

A fun place to visit is the London Transport Museum Depot where you can see Museum’s store of many larger transport exhibits they can’t have on display at the Covent Garden museum. There’s an Open Weekend on 26-27 September when you can explore over 300,000 objects with a focus this autumn on design classics. Saturday includes a rare opportunity to visit the Heathrow Express Depot too.

This is one of my personal highlights for the year as I love the stalls selling transport memorabilia.

Acton

Late Night Comedy

As well as hosting the annual Proms (which end on 12 September), the Royal Albert Hall also has late night comedy. Join some of comedy’s finest up and coming and established names in the Elgar Room. Many of these comedians will have come fresh from Edinburgh as these shows present the best of the Festival.

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

The highlight of the V&A’s India Season, The Fabric of India exhibition is the first major exhibition to explore the dynamic and multifaceted world of handmade textiles from India from the 3rd to the 21st century. Opening on 3 October and running until 10 January 2016.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum combines the extraordinary work of talented professionals and gifted amateur photographers from around the globe. The 2015 exhibition opens in October.

Running the whole of October, the London Restaurant Festival helps you discover London’s finest cooking and encourages a lot more eating out.

Apsley House has torchlight Twilight Tours on Wednesdays throughout October.

And the National Gallery blockbuster autumn exhibition is Goya: The Portraits opening on 7 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 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.

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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.