Apr 122017
 

Sensational Butterflies

The Natural History Museum has Sensational Butterflies back on the East Lawn (in front of the museum) for the ninth year. This is definitely an immersive exhibition as you get to walk through the tropical butterfly house.

Butterflies species found in the tropical forests of Central and South America, Africa and Asia fly freely, and you can see chomping caterpillars plus glistening (and hatching) chrysalises.

The exhibition is inspired by the Museum’s world-leading butterfly and moth collection of more than 10 million specimens assembled over 200 years. The collection is used by scientists around the world studying the diversity of the species and how they are affected by environmental changes.

Sensational Butterflies is on until 17 September.

Sensational Butterflies

© The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Playing the Fool

Hampton Court Palace is always a good day out but go on Tuesday 23 May and you can stay for an evening talk. Playing the Fool is part of the palace’s Power and Performance season.

‘Natural fools’ were prized as entertainers and had favour and authority with the king. In this after-hours talk with historian Dr Suzannah Lipscomb, uncover how the ‘foolish things of the world’ had the power to confound the wise and learned at court, and the unique access afforded to Henry VIII’s court jester Will Somers.

Pic: Richard Lea-Hair Credit: Historic Royal Palaces/newsteam.co.uk

California – designing freedom

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

While California’s mid-century modernism is well documented, this is the first exhibition to examine the state’s current global reach. Picking up the story in the 1960s, the exhibition charts the journey from the counterculture to Silicon Valley’s tech culture.

Its central idea is that California has pioneered tools of personal liberation, from LSD to skateboards and iPhones. This ambitious survey brings together political posters, personal computers and self-driving cars but also looks beyond hardware to explore how user interface designers in the Bay Area are shaping some of our most common daily experiences. The exhibition reveals how this culture of design and technology has made us all Californians.

Design Museum: California

© Spectacles, Snap Inc.

Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave

From 25 May (to 13 August), the British Museum has an exhibition of one of Japan’s greatest artists. Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave explores the artistic journey through the last 30 years of Katsushika Hokusai’s life, when he produced some of his most famous masterpieces.

Prints and paintings are are on loan from across the world making this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these works together.

Artworks include intimate domestic scenes that capture fleeting moments in private lives, plus exquisite depictions of flora and fauna display an innate skill in representing the natural world. The artist’s imagination is given full rein in the portrayal of supernatural creatures such as ghosts and deities. Through all of these works, explore Hokusai’s personal beliefs and gain a fascinating insight into the artist’s spiritual and artistic quest in his later years.

Hokusai - Great Wave

Bluebells

The bluebells in the conservation area at Kew Gardens are in full bloom in May and make for a stunning day out.

What’s more, the Great Broad Walk Borders, whose installation was completed in 2016, will be at peak bloom between late May and September. It is Europe’s longest double herbaceous border stretching 320m and has around 30,000 plants full of vibrant summer colour.

Bluebells at Kew

© RBG Kew

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

This is the last full month of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in the West End at it leaves The Gielgud Theatre on 3 June 2017.

The Olivier and Tony Award®-winning play was adapted from Mark Haddon’s best-selling book by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott. It is the recipient of a record-breaking seven Olivier Awards, including Best New Play, Best Director, Best Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design – more Oliviers than any other single play in the history of the West End.

The show tells the story of 15 year old Christopher Boone, who has an extraordinary brain; and is exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He sets out to solve a mystery of who killed his neighbour’s dog, but his detective work takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world.

Ticket are priced from £18 (100 seats at £18 for every performance) also with an allocation of £15 Day Seats available for every performance from the Gielgud Theatre box office from 10am.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, National Theatre London
Gielgud Theatre, Cast 2016/2017

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion

The V&A has the first ever UK exhibition exploring the work of Cristóbal Balenciaga and his continuing influence on modern fashion. Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion opens on 27 May and is a must-visit for any fashion enthusiasts as it includes never before seen couture gowns from this influential Spanish designer.

The exhibition marks the centenary of the opening of Balenciaga’s first fashion house in San Sebastian and the 80th anniversary of the opening of his famous fashion house in Paris. On display are over 100 garments and 20 hats, many of which have never been on public display before.

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion focuses on the latter part of Balenciaga’s long career in the 1950s and 1960s, arguably one of his most creative periods. It was during these years that he not only dressed some of the most renowned women of the time, but also introduced revolutionary shapes including the tunic, the sack, ‘baby doll’ and shift dress – all of which remain style staples today.

Elise Daniels with street performers, suit by Balenciaga, Le Marais, Paris, 1948. Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation

Chelsea Fringe

While tickets for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show are near impossible to get, The Chelsea Fringe features a wonderful mix of horticultural happenings and celebrations across London.

Back for its sixth year, the Festival is on from 20 May to 4 June.

The Fringe is all about harnessing and spreading some of the excitement and energy that fizzes around gardens and gardening at this time of year. Its events encompass everything from grassroots community garden projects to avant-garde art installations. There’s a Musical Garden Party, London’s first floating park, a dog show, art, perfume, picnics and more.

Selfie to Self-Expression

Selfie to Self-Expression is at The Saatchi Gallery until 30 May and looks at this worldwide cultural phenomenon. This is the world’s first exhibition exploring the history of the selfie from the old masters to the present day, and celebrates the truly creative potential of a form of expression often derided for its inanity.

The show highlights the emerging role of the mobile phone as an artistic medium for self-expression by commissioning ten exciting young British photographers to create new works using Huawei’s newest breakthrough dual lens smartphones co-engineered with Leica. There was also an international competition for the most creative selfies to be included in the exhibition.

Selfie to Self Expression

© Saatchi Gallery

Restless Shadow

Restless Shadow: Dickens the Campaigner is the next exhibition at the Charles Dickens Museum opening on 9 May. It explore Dickens’s work as an investigative journalist and campaigner, looking at his epic walks into all corners of London and the causes and injustices he brought to his massive audience.

He campaigned on behalf of many charities, several of which are still going today. This exhibition throws light on Dickens’s uncelebrated other career and some of the key pieces of his journalism.

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

After the roaring success of Wolfgang Buttress’ stunning Hive installation last summer – a beacon for the importance of bee health – summer 2017 will see the unveiling of the world’s largest Insect Hotel at Kew Gardens.

Next month also sees Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! open at the Serpentine Gallery. The wonderfully flamboyant ceramic artist reminds us why he is one of the greatest artists of our time.

And the Hampton Court Palace Festival means amazing concerts at this royal palace. This year’s performers include Michael Ball, Bryan Ferry, Van Morrison and Will Young in the 25th anniversary of this iconic summer festival.

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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 232016
 

It’s the season to be jolly so we’ve got lots of fun ideas for the end of the year.

Christmas at Kew

Christmas at Kew is a fabulous mile long illuminated trail through the Gardens for a magical after dark experience.

This year there are also three artworks: a glittering Crystal Tree dripping with giant illuminated crystals, twelve enormous yet delicate colour-changing reeds rising high into the night sky, and seventy five pulsating crystal flowers scattered across the ground creating a shimmering crystal lawn.

The popular Tunnel of Lights is animated by 63,000 pixels creating patterns and pictures to a well-known Christmas soundtrack, and the Kew Christmas Karaoke Juke Box means the whole family can have a Christmas sing along.

The scented Fire Garden is perfect to warm up on a cold evening before the spectacular finale at the Palm House Pond sees an explosion of brightly coloured laser beams, streams of light and flickering orbs that dance in time to much-loved Christmas classics. Christmas at Kew is open from 23 November 2016 to 2 January 2017.

Christmas at Kew

© RBG Kew

Winter Wonderland

In central London, Winter Wonderland is back at Hyde Park for its 10th year. There are six weeks of festive fun from 18 November 2016 to 2 January 2017 and entry is free.

You can just go for a walk to soak up the atmosphere with the bright lights and Christmas tunes or stop for a drink at the Bavarian Village. The Christmas markets are great for gift shopping and there are thrill rides including The Munich Looping, the world’s largest transportable roller coaster.

It’s worth booking ahead for the attractions, especially on weekends when it guarantees you beat the queues. You can try ice skating or book tickets to see the professionals in The Nutcracker on Ice. Walk through The Magical Ice Kingdom (literally created from ice and snow) or head to Bar Ice where even the glasses are made of ice. And the best place to warm up – and to be entertained – is the Zippos Circus megadome where its always warm inside. Youngsters will love the morning Sooty Christmas Show, and the afternoon Zippos Christmas Show is great for everyone. The real thrill seekers should book for the evening Cirque Berserk where the stunts will amaze.

Winter Wonderland

Victorian Christmas

Kensington Palace, the childhood home of Queen Victoria, is dressed for a Victorian Christmas from 26 November 2016 to 2 January 2017. Included in palace admission there are live Christmas themed musical performances and the chance to take part in a drop-in lantern-making workshop.

Musical entertainment is from The Prince Regent’s Band, formed to explore the wealth of historic chamber music for brass and wind instruments from a period roughly defined as between the French Revolution of 1785 and the end of First World War in 1918.

They will be performing Christmas carols that were popular in Victorian times, played entirely on 19th century brass instruments, and the band will take time between carols to tell you both about the carols they’re performing and the instruments themselves.

Kensington Palace at Christmas

© Historic Royal Palaces

Hampton Court Palace

At another Historic Royal Palace in London, Hampton Court Palace is having an Elizabethan Christmas from 21 to 23 December and 27 December to 1 January. Travel back in time to Elizabethan England and the Tudor court in 1592 as Hampton Court Palace celebrates the festive season in royal style. Queen Elizabeth I is in attendance with her court, promising live drama, historic cookery and musical performance.

If the festive season means indulging in a feast the BBC Good Food Festive Fayre is at Hampton Court Palace from 9 to 11 December. From the best local and British produce to Christmas-themed music and carolling, the weekend offers culinary delights, all set against the stunning backdrop of the palace’s historic Tudor courtyards. (Entrance is included in palace admission.)

And if all you want to do is sing at this time of year why not join one of Hampton Court’s annual carol singing evenings and get into the festive spirit in truly palatial surroundings? Carol Singing is on 18, 19, 21, 22, 23 December and 5 January. (Book tickets in advance.)

Hampton Court Palace at Christmas

© Historic Royal Palaces

Royal Albert Hall

From 30 November to 4 December, tennis greats bring their skills and loads of fun to the Champions Tennis tournament at the Royal Albert Hall. Grand Slam Champions, former World No.1s and national icons return to the Hall for a dazzling display of high quality tennis and entertainment.

Players include two-time US Open Champion Pat Rafter, seven-time Grand Slam Champion John McEnroe, British fan favourite Tim Henman and former British Number 1 Greg Rusedski.

And from 13 to 24 December it’s the Royal Albert Hall Christmas Festival with lots of festive concerts, including Carols by Candlelight on 23 and 24 December.

Royal Albert Hall at Christmas

Rent

A new production celebrating the 20th anniversary of RENT the Musical opens at the St James Theatre on 8 December (and is on until 28 January 2017).

Inspired by Puccini’s classic opera La Boheme, RENT features unforgettable music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson including the much-loved songs Seasons of Love, Take Me or Leave Me and La Vie Boheme. Winner of four Tony Awards, six Drama Desk Awards and the hugely prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Drama, it ran on Broadway for an astonishing 12 years.

This landmark musical tells the story of a group of impoverished young artist friends struggling to survive in New York City’s East Village in the thriving days of 1980s Bohemian excess.

Rent the Musical

Australian Impressionism

The National Gallery has the first UK exhibition to focus on Australian Impressionism, a significant and distinctive movement, little known compared with the European movement. The exhibition is on from 7 December 2016 to 26 March 2017, and showcases four innovative Australian Impressionist artists, Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder, and John Russell.

Roberts, Streeton, and Conder came to epitomise a growing sense of national identity, yet Russell, by contrast, was an Australian expatriate who spent almost his entire career in France, building friendships with Van Gogh, Monet, and Matisse.

Golden Summer, Eaglemont, 1889

Golden Summer, Eaglemont, 1889 by Arthur Streeton
© National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Lazarus

Written by David Bowie and Enda Walsh, Lazarus is the musical sequel to the cult classic film The Man Who Fell to Earth. On at the King’s Cross Theatre until 22 January 2017, the show originally premiered off-Broadway in the final weeks of Bowie’s life. Michael C Hall, best known for his role as the moonlighting serial killer in Dexter, and Michael Esper (A Beautiful Mind) reprise their roles from the original New York production.

Lazarus focuses on Thomas Newton, as he remains still on Earth – a ‘man’ unable to die, his head soaked in cheap gin and haunted by a past love. The story follows Newton during the course of a few days where the arrival of another lost soul might finally set him free. Lazarus is predictably abstract but compelling, and a must-watch for Bowie fans. The soundtrack is a goldmine of 70s Bowie hits, plus a few tracks penned solely for the stage show.

Lazarus the Musical

Ladybird Books

The Charles Dickens Museum is celebrating the classic Ladybird children’s books with an exhibition of The Ladybird Life of Dickens: An Illustrated Adventure on from 30 November 2016 to 16 April 2017.

Visitors can see 24 original illustrations that English artist John Kenney (who also illustrated Thomas the Tank Engine) produced for the 1965 Ladybird book on Dickens. The accompanying words came from English author and playwright L. du Garde Peach for the book, An Adventure in History: Charles Dickens. Du Garde Peach classifies Dickens as a storyteller who drew upon ‘the events of his life, and the characters whom he knew’ to people his books and create his stories.

As the exhibition opens, Dickens’s Bloomsbury townhouse is dressed for a beautiful celebration of a Victorian Christmas; the historic rooms into which Dickens moved with his growing family in 1837 will be filled with the atmosphere of a 19th-century London Christmas.

Christmas at the Charles Dickens Museum runs from 30 November 2016 until 8 January 2017. Among this year’s highlights are atmospheric candlelit evenings, late nights and tours of the House, captivating performances of A Christmas Carol and a whole day of celebration on Christmas Eve.

Charles Dickens - A Ladybird Book

Peter Pan Cup

If you’re staying at the Kensington House Hotel this Christmas you’ll be able to take a Christmas Day morning stroll to the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park to watch the annual Serpentine Swimming Club Peter Pan Cup races.

Swimmers have met in London’s Hyde Park on Christmas morning since 1864 to compete in the Christmas Day swim. It became the Peter Pan Cup in 1904 when author J.M. Barrie donated the cup in the same year his Peter Pan play appeared on the London stage.

You can’t join in though as The Peter Pan Cup is only open to members of the Serpentine Swimming Club who have qualified during the season. Do be aware, the water is usually below 4C (40F) in the winter and I’ve even seen them have to break the ice just to get in.

The race on 25 December starts at 9am and takes place on the south bank of the lake. Spectators are always welcome as everyone needs some encouragement on a chilly day.

Peter Pan Swimming Cup

© Serpentine Swimming Club

Natural History Museum Ice Rink

The Natural History Museum Ice Rink is open until 8 January 2017 on the Museum’s East Lawn. It’s a lovely location, especially in the evening when the museum makes a wonderful backdrop. The ice rink stays open until at least 10pm each day making it great destination even after the museum has closed.

The Cafe Bar is available for non-skaters too and there’s a viewing platform to look down on your friends doing their Torvill and Dean (or Bambi) impressions. It’s a good place to warm up after skating with a delicious hot chocolate too.

Natural History Museum Ice Rink

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London opens at the V&A on 14 January 2017. This is the first exhibition exploring the life and work of Lockwood Kipling (1837-1911), an artist, teacher, curator and influential figure in the Arts and Crafts movement. Lockwood Kipling was a social campaigner for the preservation of Indian crafts, a craftsman whose terracotta panels can still be seen on the exterior of the V&A and was an illustrator of books by his son, the renowned writer Rudyard Kipling.

The Winter Wanders are free led walks across London on 28 & 29 January 2017. It’s a wonderful excuse to get outside and leave the winter hibernation behind.

And the Magical Lantern Festival returns to Chiswick House Gardens on 19 January 2017 with light sculptures and other attractions to mark the end of Chinese New Year, including a 15-metre illuminated sculpture of the Houses of Parliament. The theme for 2017 is the Silk Road, with Europe, Asia, Arabia, Egypt, Persia, India and Ancient China all represented. Centre stage will be a full-size replica of the ship that Chinese Admiral Zheng used on his trade explorations.

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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.

Jun 252016
 

Chap Olympiad

What ho! The annual silliness that is The Chap Olympiad returns on Saturday 16 July to Bedford Square in Bloomsbury. It’s a day for dressing in your finery to celebrate ‘Britain’s sporting ineptitude’.

Wonderfully eccentric, the games include cucumber sandwich throwing, umbrella jousting and Martini Knockout Relay.

Entertainment is from midday to 10pm so tickets are really good value for so much fun.

Punk Weekender

Get the 27 bus from Kensington Church Street to Camden for the Roundhouse Punk Weekender on 8-10 July.

Almost 40 years on since the Ramones played their seminal gig at the Roundhouse, the legendary Camden venue explores the subculture’s continued legacy and future with three days of live shows, film and panel discussions, inspired by the theme of ‘what has punk ever done for us?’.

The Roundhouse Punk Weekender includes Youth Man, who head up a bill of ten incredible emerging punk bands, alongside Phill Jupitus and Linton Kwesi Johnson performing punk poetry, plus a documentary-in-progress screening of new interviews with pioneering women who played in punk bands in the 1970s plus much more.

Roundhouse Punk Weekender

Hyde Park Events

British Summer Time Hyde Park has big name music acts such as Tate That and Stevie Wonder this month but there are also free ‘Open House’ events on 4-7 July. On these days you can access the site for free daytime and evening entertainment.

You can watch Wimbledon on the big screen or join in a free ping pong festival. You could learn to play Badminton or even try circus trapeze. There are DJs, music, and open-air movies each day too. Plus there is the Betterview platform offering amazing views of Hyde Park and London’s skyline from 100ft above the ground – again, for free!

Engineering Season

The V&A Engineering Season is on until 6 November and it includes a newly-commissioned installation by experimental architect Achim Menges with Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer that has been built in the John Madejski Garden.

Elytra Filament Pavilion explores the impact of emerging robotic technologies on architectural design, engineering and making. Inspired by a lightweight construction principle found in nature, the fibrous structures of the forewing shells of flying beetles known as elytra, the pavilion forms an undulating canopy of tightly-woven carbon fibre cells created using a novel robotic production process.

The pavilion will grow over the course of the V&A Engineering Season in response to data on structural behaviour and patterns of inhabitation of the garden that will be captured by real-time sensors in its canopy fibres.

Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V&A

Elytra Filament Pavilion at the V&A © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Wildlife Garden

As well as the Sensational Butterflies at the Natural History Museum, there is a Wildlife Garden too. Not always noticed by visitors, it’s accessed from inside the Museum in the Orange Zone, near the Cocoon entrance.

The garden has thousands of types of British fauna and is a wonderfully calm space in a busy attraction.

NHM Wildlife Garden

© Natural History Museum, London

Garden History Tours

There are free Garden History Tours at Kensington Palace on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Tours are one hour long and run from midday and 2pm.

The tours explain the story behind the creation of the Queen Victoria statue and reflect on the beauty of the iconic Gold Gates. The highlight of the tour is exclusive access into the Baroque-inspired Sunken Garden where you can experience a unique view of the palace unseen to most.

The Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace

© Historic Royal Palaces

Dawn of the Photograph

The Science Museum has an exhibition exploring the life and career of the father of photography. Fox Talbot – Dawn of the Photograph is an opportunity to see some of the rarest objects of British photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot’s work in photography for the first time.

The exhibition looks at the birth of photography in Britain within its industrial and social context, and his invention of the negative-positive process which formed the basis of photography around the world for over 150 years, and immortalised him as the father of the medium.

Fox Talbot Trafalgar Square

Nelson’s Column under Construction, Trafalgar Square, 1844

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

There’s an open-air cinema at Kensington Palace in August for four nights.

You can visit the Buckingham Palace State Rooms from 23 July so we’ll talk more about this next month.

And it’s the annual Notting Hill Carnival on 30 and 31 August so get ready for dancing in the streets.

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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 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 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.

Oct 282015
 

Even though it’s not December, Christmas really does start this month with the Christmas lights going on across town and the festive fun beginning. It’s not all about shopping so here are my recommendations for November in London.

Bonfire Night

With absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, my first recommendation is for the annual pyrotechnic entertainment that is Bonfire Night. As a way of remembering an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament over 400 years ago we have fireworks on 5 November and the nearest weekend. You can make a night of it and go to one of the organised displays across London or just look up and enjoy the “oohs” and “ahhs”.

fireworks

The Harrods Festival of Christmas

To really get you in the mood for the festivities ahead, Harrods has a weekend festival on 7 and 8 November. Father Christmas arrives to take up residence in the grotto and families are invited to join in the fun in Hans Crescent over the weekend and discover beautiful trees and decorations, festive characters and entertainment for the children. Peter Pumpernickel and his troupe of all-singing, all-dancing mice will be there and other special guests.

The Christmas windows will be unveiled too and the Once Upon a Christmas Fair theme means puppets and a stage in each window with lots of little extra treats to notice.

It can get really busy on Brompton Road during November and December when the store is open so if you’re not shopping I recommend going to see the windows late in the evening.

Ice Skating

The annual winter ice rinks open this month and two to consider are the Natural History Museum Ice Rink and Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink.

The Natural History Museum Ice Rink opens on 29 October so you can skate throughout the whole of November until 10pm each night. It’s a lovely venue when the museum is illuminated in the evening and hot chocolate or mulled wine in the cafe bar is a good way to warm up afterwards.

Over at Hampton Court Palace, the ice rink opens on 20 November and is another beautiful location.

ice skating

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

There’s ice skating here but that’s not the half of it. There’s the giant observation wheel, Santa Land, the Bavarian Village and the Magical Ice Kingdom too. And my favourite is Zippos Circus which has popular daytime shows for the family and Cirque Berserk in the evening for the thrill seekers.

It’s free to visit Winter Wonderland and it’s open from 20 November.

Winter Wonderland

London Jazz Festival

It’s the 23rd EFG London Jazz Festival on 13 to 22 November. It’s held across various locations including the Royal Albert Hall, Cadogan Hall, Wigmore Hall, Barbican, Shakespeare’s Globe and Ronnie Scott’s.

There are over 300 gigs during the festival and the highlight for me is rapper and actor Ice-T with trumpeter Ron McCurdy in a 21st century realisation of Langston Hughes’ jazz poem Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz.

There are also film screenings and special talks that take an in-depth look at different jazz styles and performers.

Spirit of Christmas Fair

If you’ve got to start the Christmas shopping this month this is a wonderful place to begin. The Spirit of Christmas Fair is at Olympia from 2 to 8 November.

The exhibitors cover stylish gifts for all of the family (and maybe a few for you as well). You can get everything you need to make your home elegant and welcoming over the winter season, plus plenty of tasty treats too.

Spirit of Christmas Fair

Christmas at Kew

Later this month Christmas at Kew brings us evening openings with seasonal illuminations. From 25 November (until 2 January) you can visit Kew after dark to experience the new winter trail.

The one-mile sparkling path winds its way through the world-famous botanic gardens with dancing illuminated fountains and glowing waterside reflections, a Choir of Holly Bushes, Tunnel of Lights and scented Fire Garden. Plus vintage rides, Christmas gifts and traditional festive fare.

Christmas at Kew

V&A Japanese Art Gallery

The Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art is reopening on 4 November after a full redisplay and refurbishment.

The Victoria and Albert Museum has been collecting Japanese art since it was founded in 1852. The 400 pieces on display include Hello Kitty! kitchen pieces and an ensemble from Issey Miyake’s A/W 2015 collection. But it’s not all contemporary as the gallery illustrates the extraordinary craftsmanship and artistic wealth of Japan from about the 6th century up to the present day.

V&A Japanese Gallery

‘OO-IX’ Sculpture by Hayashi Shigeki (2013)
© Hayashi Shigeki and Yufuku Gallery. Photograph copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The V&A also has some interesting evening events this month including internationally renowned shoe designer Manolo Blahnik in conversation with fashion writer Gianluca Longo on Friday 6 November. Combining this with a visit to the Shoes: Pleasure and Pain exhibition makes a lot of sense.

On Tuesday 24 November there’s an evening talk with Sandy Powell, the Oscar and BAFTA winning costume designer. She has worked on both historical and contemporary projects and her many films include Shakespeare in Love, The Young Victoria, The Wolf of Wall Street, and most recently, Carol.

And this month’s ‘Friday Late‘ is on Friday 27 November. The theme is ‘Made in India’ and the evening opening will include underground music and digitally designed, Indian-inspired textiles on display.

The Queen’s Gallery

The next exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace – Masters of the Everyday: Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer – looks particularly worth seeing. Opening on 13 November, this is a chance to see 28 of the finest 17th and 18th-century Dutch paintings in the Royal Collection, including Vermeer’s ‘The Music Lesson’ (seen here).

The Dutch artists of the 17th century painted ordinary people doing everyday things. They offer us a glimpse into the rumbustious life of village taverns and peasant cottages, and the quiet domesticity of courtyards and parlours.

Vermeer - The Music Lesson

Johannes Vermeer, ‘Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman or ‘The Music Lesson”, 1662-5
Royal Collection Trust/ © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

Elf the Musical

If you’re still feeling ‘bah humbug’ this is the show to get you in the Christmas swing. Elf the Musical opens on 5 November at the Dominion Theatre for just 10 weeks. Ben Forster, Kimberley Walsh, Joe McGann and Jessica Martin star in the London premiere of Elf, based on the 2003 movie starring Will Ferrell. Elf is the tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole.

Elf the Musical

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

Of course, December has even more Christmas fun, including the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree lights being switched on in the evening on Thursday 3 December, and A Victorian Christmas at Kensington Palace.

Sporting possibilities include The London International Horse Show at Olympia. Big names in the show jumping world gather to compete alongside the Household Cavalry and the Shetland Pony Grand National. And Champions Tennis is on at the Royal Albert Hall too.

Foodies should head to Hampton Court Palace for the BBC Good Food Festival Christmas Fayre on 4-6 December.

And the new Europe 1600-1815 gallery opens at the V&A on 9 December 2015 with a redisplay of 1,100 objects from the Museum’s collection of 17th- and 18th-century European art and design, completing the restoration of the entire front wing of the Museum.

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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.

Sep 282015
 

October means the evenings are drawing in and getting ready for Halloween at the end of the month. The clocks go back one hour on Sunday 25 October and there is a school holiday on 26-30 October.

The V&A

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

Wall hanging (detail), cotton applique, Gujarat Credit: Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Wall hanging (detail), cotton applique, Gujarat
Credit: Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Included is a spectacular 18th-century tent belonging to Tipu Sultan, a stunning range of historic costume, highly prized textiles made for trade, and fashion by contemporary Indian designers such as Manish Arora and Rajesh Pratap Singh. Over 200 objects illustrate the skills, variety and adaptability of Indian textile makers and the enduring nature of techniques for dyeing, weaving and embroidery across India.

V&A evening events this month include supermodel Cindy CrawfordNadja Swarovski from the crystal business, and designer John Galliano.

 

Natural History Museum

Across the road at the Natural History Museum, The Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 exhibition opens on 16 October. Wrestling komodo dragons, ethereal egrets and curious squirrels are among the creatures captured on camera by this year’s finalists.

The exhibition showcases the beauty, magnificence and diversity of life on our planet, while also highlighting its fragility and the role photography can play in preserving it. Incredible work from talented professionals and gifted amateur photographers from around the globe.

Squirrel and seagull face to face. The photo was taken in Morro Bay, California (USA).

“To drink or not” Squirrel and seagull face to face. The photo was taken in Morro Bay, California (USA) by Carlos Perez Naval, finalist in the 10 and under category.

While at the Natural History Museum, why not try David Attenborough’s First Life Virtual Reality Experience which is on until 25 October?

Journey back to the ancient ocean with Sir David Attenborough in this fully immersive experience that brings natural history to life through cinematic virtual reality technology. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, the experience takes you on a 3D journey to meet some of the Earth’s earliest inhabitants.

 

Trafalgar Square

There are always lots of reasons to visit this iconic location. One of the best reasons this month is to see Goya: The Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery on the north side of Trafalgar Square. Opening on 7 October, this major exhibition features one of Spain’s most celebrated artists.

Photo by Diliff, via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Diliff, via Wikimedia Commons

Or why not visit on Saturday 10 October for Africa on the Square 2015? It’s a celebration of African culture with live music and a DJ, a fashion show, food, a market and a popular family area.

The next day is great too as Sunday 11 October is The Diwali Festival. This is the Hindu, Sikh and Jain festival of lights. The Children’s Parade re-enacts the return of victorious Lord Ram to his Kingdom, and there’s contemporary Asian music as well as traditional religious music and rites to open and close the show. The food is exceptional at this event and there’s always activities for the kids too.

 

NFL in London

At the start of the month, the New York Jets play against the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 4 October. But even if you don’t have tickets the NFL Fan Rally in Trafalgar Square on Saturday 3 October is worth attending as it’s a great atmosphere.

American Football has a growing following in London so expect some crowds and some top entertainment from players, cheerleaders and NFL legends.

Later in the month you can have some fun on Regent Street ahead of the Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars game at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 25 October.

On Saturday 24 October it’s the NFL Fan Festival on Regent Street with lots of entertainment, popular on-stage events and a mini field for the junior players.

 

Regent Street Motor Show

Another reason to visit Regent Street, and a great alternative to the obvious Halloween activities, is the Regent Street Motor Show on Saturday 31 October.

The annual motoring event is back to delight motoring fans with an array of classic, vintage and super cars on display along Regent Street. Visitors will be able to get up close and personal with amazing vehicles before they all head off on the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run the next day.

Regent Street Motor Show

Photo © Garry Knight

 

Foodie Love

It’s the London Restaurant Festival so all month there are dining tours and some really interesting foodie tours.

And 12-18 October is Chocolate Week where this sweet treat is honoured with a popular Chocolate Show on 16-18 October where you can buy from iconic brands, meet chefs and cocoa experts.

 

Even More

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

 

LOOKING AHEAD

We’ve got to be brave and admit Christmas needs to be mentioned as the Christmas lights will all be switched on during November.

Christmas at Kew looks really good as the botanical gardens are illuminated after dark from 25 November.

The V&A keeps on bringing us something new and exciting. Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection has spectacular Indian jewellery, drawn from a single private collection. Highlights include Mughal jades, a rare jewelled gold finial from the throne of Tipu Sultan, and pieces that reveal the dramatic changes that took place in Indian jewellery design during the early 20th century.

And The V&A keeps on improving as the Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art reopens on 4 November after a full redisplay and refurbishment as part of the V&A’s ongoing FuturePlan scheme.

An unusual but interesting idea for next month is Sleeve Notes with Alan Parsons – lectures hosted in Abbey Road’s legendary Studio Two. Alan Parsons is a lauded producer and musician synonymous with Pink Floyd, The Beatles and Abbey Road Studios.

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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.

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.

————————————————————————————————

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.

Jul 272015
 

South Kensington Museums

As always, there’s lots going on at the South Kensington Museums this month.

At the Natural History Museum it’s the last month to see the 50th year of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition as it closes on 30 August. You can see the extraordinary work of talented professionals and gifted amateur photographers from around the globe.

Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea has a live reef, a virtual dive and more than 200 strange and beautiful specimens. The exhibition closes on 13 September.

And Sensational Butterflies, on the East Lawn, is the opportunity to enter a tropical butterfly house and see caterpillars and butterflies flying freely. This also closes on 13 September.

© Natural History Museum, London

© Natural History Museum, London

Across the road at The V&AFacing History: Contemporary Portraiture features a variety of portraits by contemporary artists and photographers, from Grayson Perry to Gavin Turk. The exhibition is on from 27 July to 24 April 2016 and shows how artists have adapted historical or conventional modes of portraiture such as silhouettes, portrait miniatures, medals, Old Master paintings, and death masks, as well as passport photographs, ID cards and election campaign posters.

What is Luxury? is the major exhibition this month and looks at how luxury is made and it’s controversy.

And around the corner at The Science Museum there’s a summer of fun with lots of family activities including building a magic lantern and taking part in a real scientific experiment. In the Cravings gallery you can find out if your head or your stomach controls what you eat. And in the Information Age gallery you can see the computer on which Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, plus he’s there (in a virtual form) to explain how it works.

And the museum is staying open later – until 7pm – from 25 July to 30 August.

12653832805_f64126d6d1_z

Kensington Palace

Even without buying a ticket to visit the Palace you could join a free Garden History Tours that gives exclusive access to the Sunken Garden. Or you could visit the gardens in the evening for some open-air cinema. And if you’ve brought the family – and remember, kids always go free at Kensington Palace – you could join Queen Caroline’s Garden Party on 21-23 August and complete a series of challenges to transform yourself into the perfect Georgian courtier.

© Historyc Royal Palaces

© Historic Royal Palaces

Also, in Kensington, The Proms have started at Royal Albert Hall and go on until 12 September.

London Landmarks

Buckingham Palace State Rooms are open to visitors from 25 July to 27 September. This year the theme is ‘A Royal Welcome’ and we get to enter the Palace through the Grand Entrance for the first time. The Australian State Coach is on display at the Grand Entrance Portico and inside we’ll see how the Palace prepares for formal occasions. Look out for the knighting stool and a sword used to confer knighthoods on display, plus the red leather seating-planner.

The Ballroom at Buckingham Palace set up for a State Banquet. Royal Collection Trust (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2015

The Ballroom at Buckingham Palace set up for a State Banquet.
Royal Collection Trust (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2015

St Paul’s Cathedral is worth visiting all year round but there are a couple of special days this month as they are allowing photography inside the Cathedral on Monday 3 August and Monday 17 August. Usually photography is banned to maintain a sense of calm for a place of worship but for these special days you are free to snap away to your heart’s content.

Food and Drink

The biggest pub in the world is back this month at the Great British Beer Festival at Olympia from 11 to 15 August. You can try over 900 real ales, ciders, perries and international beers but it’s probably best not to try them all on the same day.

Hampton Court Palace has the BBC Good Food Festival from 29 to 31 August – the Bank Holiday weekend. You can meet producers, watch demonstrations and enjoy the live music too making this a lovely choice for all ages.

The South Front of Hampton Court Palace shows off the Baroque style, designed by Christopher Wren, which replaced an earlier Tudor building erected for Henry V111. Two visitors walk up through the Privy Garden from the direction of the river Thames. Pic: Richard Lea-Hair Credit: Historic Royal Palaces/newsteam.co.uk

The South Front of Hampton Court Palace shows off the Baroque style, designed by Christopher Wren. Photographer: Richard Lea-Hair Credit: Historic Royal Palaces/newsteam.co.uk

To End The Month

More ideas to end the month include the Regency Weekend at Apsley House on 29 and 30 August where you can join in etiquette lessons and find out all about dressing, and dancing, the Regency way.

And, of course, there’s the Notting Hill Carnival on 30 and 31 August for amazing costumes in the parades and lots of Caribbean food, drink and music to keep you feeling tropical whatever the weather.

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

A six metre high ceramic installation created for the V&A by artist Barnaby Barford will be displayed in the Museum’s Medieval & Renaissance Galleries from 8 September to 1 November 2015.

On 18 September, the Science Museum will open its doors to a ground-breaking exhibition, Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age.

And The Royal Academy will present a landmark exhibition of the Honorary RA, Ai Weiwei from 19 September to 13 December. As the first significant British survey of his artistic output, the exhibition will include major works spanning Ai Weiwei’s career, as well as including new work by the artist.

————————————————————————————————

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.

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.