Jun 152017
 

Trafalgar Square Opera

There are two opportunities to enjoy world class opera in Trafalgar Square for free this month. A big screen goes up for the live outdoor relays from the Royal Opera House on 4 and 14 July. Do arrive early as there are likely to be security checks.

On Tuesday 4 July, at 7pm, you can see La Traviata and on Friday 14 July, at 7.30pm, you can see Turandot. To help you enjoy these performances, the Royal Opera House has free digital programmes available to download.

And as screenings are happening across the UK, there are competitions for those at the events to enter on the night.

BP Big Screen in Trafalgar Square

Tudor Joust

Throughout the day on 15 and 16 July, the grounds of Hampton Court Palace will once again ring out with the sound of charging horses hooves and the clash of cold metal, as for one weekend only King Henry VIII and his court take up residence for that most Tudor of royal sports: the Tudor Joust.

Recreating all the pomp and ceremony of lavish court entertainment, visitors can be immersed in the sights, smells and sounds of the Tudor court. It’s all brought to life with displays of sword fighting, courtly games and music.

Young visitors can try on pieces of armour and we can all cheer on the rival knights as they compete for glory. All the fun is included with palace admission.

Tudor Jousting

Credit : Steve Woods / newsteam.co.uk/HRP

Real Tennis Champions Trophy

Also at Hampton Court Palace, The Real Tennis Champions Trophy is on 11 to 16 July. It’s a new annual international Real Tennis event celebrating Henry VIII’s favourite sport. The tournament brings together the world’s top players on the palace’s historic Royal Tennis Court. So if you didn’t manage to get tickets to Wimbledon this is the place for tennis fans to be.

Real Tennis is an ancient game played by kings of Europe, most famously by Henry VIII. The game today still embraces its history and intrigue yet is practised by dedicated professional athletes of great skill. Pros from America, Australia, France and the UK will grace the competition court and provide inspiration and entertainment.

This world ranking tournament is being played in a new format that reduces the size of the draw to the world’s top 8 players. This means there is exciting sporting action at every stage within the amazing backdrop of Hampton Court Palace.

The Royal Tennis Court, Hampton Court Palace

copy; Historic Royal Palaces

RHS Hampton Court Flower Show

And here’s yet another reason to come to Hampton Court, this time for the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show on 4 to 9 July. Held in the grounds of the Palace, this the world’s largest flower show.

As well as the large Show Gardens, new for this year are the ‘Gardens for a Changing World’ empowering gardeners to meet the challenges we face in our ever-changing, uncertain world.

The Floral Marquee has more than 98 specialist nurseries, and more plants and flowers are sold per square metre at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show than anywhere else in the UK.

Wildlife is a key theme at this year’s show to raise awareness of the UK’s declining wildlife population. The tropical Butterfly Dome returns this year filled with thousands of exotic butterflies, surrounded by a wildflower meadow, accompanied by nectar-rich plants for our native butterflies, and caterpillar food plants such as nettles, grasses and heather.

It’s a wonderful day out and can easily be combined with a visit to the Palace, if you have the stamina.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

© Adam Davies/RHS

Breathing Colour

Breathing Colour by Dutch designer Hella Jongerius, is an installation-based exhibition at the Design Museum. The exhibition aims to encourage us to take a deeper look at the way colour behaves, exploring shapes, materials, shadows and reflections.

We see the world in colour but rarely do we appreciate how colour shapes what we see. Drawing on 15 years of research, through a series of phenomenological studies and experiences, the exhibition makes us question one of the most elemental aspects of design.

A series of newly commissioned installations explore the effects that light conditions have on our perceptions of colour and form. The exhibition is divided into separate spaces that simulate daylight conditions at specific times of the day: morning, noon and evening. These three phases explore the impact of changing daylight on our perception of colour. Each installation includes a series of three-dimensional objects as well as textiles, some of which are hand-woven while others are produced on industrial looms.

Breathing Colour opened on 28 June and is on until 24 September 2017.

Breathing Colour by Hella Jongerius - Design Museum

Breathing Colour by Hella Jongerius © Roel van Tour

British Summer Time Open House

British Summer Time Hyde Park means big name shows in the royal park from 30 June to 9 July. Phil Collins, Green Day, Justin Bieber, Kings of Leon and The Killers are the headline acts.

But on the days there aren’t shows there’s British Summer Time’s Open House and the fun is completely free. There is four days of free entry and summer activities in Hyde Park on 3, 4, 5, 7 July.

There are outdoor movie nights, tennis screenings live from Wimbledon, street food stalls from all over the world, pop up bars, free live music and theatre, Major League Baseball and more!

BST Hyde Park Open House poster

The Encounter

The National Portrait Gallery has its first exhibition of old master European portrait drawings this summer. The Encounter: Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt opens on 13 July (and runs until 22 October 2017). It includes works by some of the outstanding masters of the Renaissance and Baroque, many rarely seen and some not displayed for decades.

There are fifty drawings from Britain’s finest collections by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer, Rubens and Rembrandt, and including eight portraits by Holbein from the Royal Collection.

The exhibition came about as a result of the Gallery’s continuing interest in exploring the practice of making portraits in a variety of media throughout history. The exhibition explores what the study of European portrait drawing can tell us about artistic practice and the process of sitting.

By including a display of the types of drawing tools and media used – from metalpoint to coloured chalks – and considering the individuals depicted in these often intimate portraits, many of whom remain unidentified, the exhibition shows how these artists moved away from the use of medieval pattern-books as source materials, to study the figure, and the face, from life.

Old Woman Wearing a Ruff and Cap,

Old Woman Wearing a Ruff and Cap, attributed to Jacob Jordaens, c.1625-40. National Galleries of Scotland (D1683). David Laing Bequest to the Royal Scottish Academy transferred 1910.

Also at the National Portrait Gallery is the 38th BP Portrait Award 2017. (It was included in the June recommendations.) On from 22 June to 24 September 2017, the Award continues to be an unmissable highlight of the annual art calendar. The shortlisted portraits, all featuring female sitters, were selected from 2,580 entries from 87 countries.

Double Portrait by Thomas Ehretsmann

Double Portrait by Thomas Ehretsmann © Thomas Ehretsmann (Shortlist for BP Portrait Award 2017)

Enlightened Princesses

As well as Diana: Her Fashion Story at Kensington Palace (which we recommended when it opened in February), there’s also Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte and the Shaping of the Modern World which opened on 22 June (and runs to 12 November 2017).

The exhibition features the lives of three German princesses who married into the British royal family. Their wide-ranging interests placed them at the very heart of the enlightenment underway in 18th century Britain.

From advocating the latest scientific and medical advancements to their involvement in charity work these remarkable women all played a role in shaping ideas of a national identity.

The exhibition brings together for the first time at the Palace almost 200 objects owned by the princesses. Personal possessions such as Charlotte’s hand-embroidered needlework pocketbook and pastels of the royal children are displayed alongside artworks and fine ceramics commissioned from some of the greatest artists and craftsmen of their day.

Children of George III and Queen Charlotte, Royal Collection Trust

Children of George III and Queen Charlotte, Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Summer Exhibition

Almost 250 years ago, the RA’s founding members agreed to hold an “Annual Exhibition of Paintings, Sculptures and Designs … open to all Artists”, to help finance the training of young artists in the Royal Academy Schools.

The Royal Academy of Art’s Summer Exhibition is the largest open contemporary art exhibition in the world. The exhibition attracts around 12,000 entrants every year from established, emerging and unknown artists.

Expect to find a panorama of over 1,200 artworks in all media from painting, printmaking, film and photography to sculpture, architectural works and performance art. Visitors can collect a catalogue when they enter and put in a bid for any works they like.

Don’t miss work by internationally renowned artists Tomoaki Suzuki, Mark Wallinger and Sean Scully RA, as well as submissions by new Royal Academicians including Gilbert & George and David Adjaye. Other highlights include Yinka Shonibare RA’s six metre high colourful wind sculpture in the RA Courtyard, and Farshid Moussavi RA’s unique focus on construction coordination drawings in the Architecture Gallery.

The Summer Exhibition opened on 13 June and is on until 20 August 2017. If you visit on a Friday evening you can join a free introductory tour at 7pm, weekly until 18 August.

Eileen Cooper - Till the Morning Comes

Eileen Cooper OBE RA: Till the Morning Comes.
© Eileen Cooper. Photography: Justin Piperger

BBC Proms

The BBC Proms returns to the Royal Albert Hall in 2017 for its 123rd season from 14 July to 9 September.

The Proms is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts which make up the world’s largest and longest-running music festival. This year there are almost 90 concerts, including 30 premieres, over two months, in venues across London. Other venues this year include Cadogan Hall, Southwark Cathedral, Wilton’s Music Hall, the Tanks at Tate Modern, and Bold Tendencies’ car park.

This season of informal concerts aims to bring the finest classical music to as many people as possible at affordable prices. Around 500 standing (Promming) tickets are available to buy on the door before each concert for under £10 each.

Enjoy a series of jazz and soul music concerts, one of the focuses of the festival this year, which celebrate the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus and more. Celebrate the birthdays of renowned composers including Monteverdi’s 450th, John Williams’ 85th, John Adams’ 70th and Philip Glass’ 80th, as well as the 300th anniversary of the premiere of Handel’s Water Music, with special performances dedicated to their works.

Being so close to the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington House Hotel has an exclusive package on offer throughout the 2017 Proms. Rates start from £138 per room and include a complimentary bottle of Cava for the evening and breakfast in the morning.

Royal Albert Hall

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

This summer Kew Gardens will be transformed into the perfect outdoor cinema set against the backdrop of Kew Palace. Kew the Movies has screenings of classic films Ghostbusters, Pulp Fiction and Grease (sing-a-long). The open air screenings take place on 30 August, 6 and 7 September 2017.

Also in collaboration with Luna Cinema, Kensington Palace has outdoor cinema on 8, 9, 10 and 11 August. The immaculate gardens of Kensington Palace make for the ultimate setting for a night of cinema under the stars. The lawn of the Orangery, with its beautiful formal gardens, will play host to some classic cinema including Bridget Jones’ Baby, The Goonies, Moulin Rouge and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.

And Matisse In The Studio opens at The Royal Academy on 5 August. This summer exhibition will take us into the studio of one of the world’s most popular artists, exploring his prized possessions and artistic process.

————————————————————————————————

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.

May 082017
 

Zoo Nights

Every Friday this month you can enjoy an after-hours adventure at London Zoo. Zoo Nights is for over 18s only so you can also take in fun tours and talks with grown-up themes: mating, death and the gruesome bits!

Test your knowledge in Zooniversity Challenge or become an eco-detective in an interactive, forensic trail that shines a light on the illegal wildlife trade. And along the way you’ll meet street entertainers and stilt walkers too.

Street food vendors will have dishes from around the globe, and the pop-up watering holes will keep you refreshed.

Zoo Nights - ZSL London Zoo

© ZSL London Zoo

Taste of London

Another reason to head to Regent’s Park is for Taste of London on 14-18 June. A highlight of the summer foodie calendar, it’s five days of eating, drinking and live entertainment.

Taste of London showcases the capital’s best restaurants, top chefs and leading food and drink brands. Restaurants serve taster-size signature dishes, world-class chefs offer live cooking demonstrations and there are interactive masterclasses and shopping opportunities with more than 200 food and drink purveyors in attendance.

Taste London

Pink Floyd

To mark 50 years since the band released their first single Arnold Layne, and over 200 million record sales later, this is the first major international retrospective of Pink Floyd.

The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains is on at the V&A until 1 October 2017. It’s  an immersive, multi-sensory and theatrical journey chronicling the music, iconic visuals and staging of the band, from the underground psychedelic scene in 1960s London to today.

Over 350 objects are featured including album sleeve artwork, posters and stage props.

David Gilmour playing the Black Strat in 1973/4

Pink Floyd circa 1972-75 by Jill Furmanovsky

Grayson Perry

Opening at the Serpentine Gallery on 8 June, Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! is a major exhibition of his latest work. Perry won the Turner Prize in 2003, was elected a Royal Academician in 2012, received a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List in 2013, and in 2015 became a Trustee of the British Museum and Chancellor of the University of Arts London.

Perry’s subject matter is drawn from his childhood and his life as a transvestite, as well as wider social issues ranging from class and politics to sex and religion. The artworks on display touch on themes including popularity and art, masculinity and the current social landscape.

Grayson Perry, Puff Piece, 2017

Grayson Perry, Puff Piece, 2017 © Grayson Perry Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London (photography Angus Mill)

Neon Workshop

This looks like a wonderful one-off event. Museum Makers: Illuminate London is a beginner-friendly neon workshop at the London Transport Museum on Thursday 22 June 2017.

The plan is to make your own neon style artwork inspired by the London skyline, architecture and landmarks. All materials and tuition plus a colourful cocktail and goody bag are included.

Do note, this workshop uses electro-luminescent wire, a safe battery-powered alternative to traditional glass and gas neon.

Open Garden Squares Weekend

Back for its twentieth year, Open Garden Squares Weekend is a well-loved annual event. Its a fabulous opportunity to visit over 200 private and little-known gardens across London. Taking place on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 June, the Weekend includes a programme of tours, walks, talks and cycle rides.

Gardens taking part range from the historic and traditional to the new and experimental. They include roof gardens, wildlife gardens, community allotments, corporate places and diminutive, secret spaces, as well as gardens in schools, churches and shops.

When you select a garden on the website it offers helpful suggestions of other gardens nearby making it easy to plan a really enjoyable weekend.

Kings Bench Walk, Inner Temple Garden

Inner Temple Garden, © Barbara-Neumann

Lady Day

For this month’s theatre recommendation, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill brings the extraordinary story of Billie Holliday’s life to Wyndham’s Theatre. Starring the six-time Tony Award winner, Broadway star Audra McDonald makes her West End debut as the legendary jazz icon.

Hear the personal stories of Holiday’s loves and losses through a turbulent but extraordinary life. And lose yourself in some of the most inspiring and moving songs ever written including God Bless the Child, What a Little Moonlight Can Do, Strange Fruit, Crazy He Calls Me and Taint Nobody’s Biz-ness.

The strictly limited season runs from 17 June to 9 September. Do be aware this production contains strong language and themes of an adult nature.

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill

Giovanni da Rimini

The National Gallery, in Trafalgar Square, has Giovanni da Rimini: An Early 14th Century Masterpiece Reunited from 14 June to 8 October 2017. The exhibition showcases a recent purchase of an exquisite piece by this master, alongside a pairing piece loaned from Rome and works from his contemporaries.

With artwork on display from several exceptional ivory plaques to a collection of Italian Trecento paintings, this exhibition highlights the extraordinary quality of da Rimini’s painting and illuminates a key moment in the history of art, when emphasis on observation and realism was born.

Giovanni da Rimini - Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints, 1300-1305

Giovanni da Rimini – Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints, 1300-1305. © The National Gallery, London

BP Portrait Award

Also in Trafalgar Square, The BP Portrait Award opens at the National Portrait Gallery on 22 June (and runs until 24 September). 2017 marks the Portrait Award’s 38th year at the National Portrait Gallery. This highly successful annual event is aimed at encouraging artists over the age of eighteen to focus upon, and develop, the theme of portraiture in their work.

Selected from 2,580 entries by artists from 87 countries around the world, the BP Portrait Award 2017 represents the very best in contemporary portrait painting.

The three portraits in the running for the First Prize are Double Portrait, by French painter and illustrator, Thomas Ehretsmann, depicting his pregnant wife Caroline (see below); Breech! by Suffolk based artist, Benjamin Sullivan, which captures his wife Virginia breastfeeding their eight month old daughter; and Emma, Antony Williams’s portrait of model turned friend, Emma Bruce, completed in his studio in Chertsey. The prize winners will be announced on 20 June 2017.

Double Portrait by Thomas Ehretsmann

Double Portrait by Thomas Ehretsmann. © Thomas Ehretsmann

Phil Collins

And the last recommendation is walking distance from the Kensington House Hotel. Phil Collins is on at the Royal Albert Hall from 4 to 9 June with his Not Yet Dead tour.

With 100 million record sales to his name, more UK top 40 singles than any other artist of the 1980s, and Number 1 albums the world over, Phil Collins is one of the most successful artists of his generation.

The tour is named after his autobiography, published last year, and these five nights are his first live dates in 10 years.

Collins is also headlining a night at the British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park on 30 June.

Phil Collins

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

Alma-Tadema: At Home in Antiquity is at Leighton House Museum from 7 July to 29 October 2017. The exhibition explores Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s fascination with the representation of domestic life in antiquity and how this interest related to his own domestic circumstances expressed through the two remarkable studio-houses that he created in St John’s Wood, north London, together with his wife Laura and daughters.

On 14 July a major new exhibition opens at the Natural History Museum. Whales: Beneath the Surface is the family exhibition that complements the blue whale skeleton taking centre stage in the Museum’s Hintze Hall this summer. More than 100 specimens from the Museum’s research collection will be brought out from behind-the-scenes for the first time to show the huge diversity of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

And The National Portrait Gallery is to stage its first exhibition of old master European portrait drawings this summer. The Encounter: Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt (13 July – 22 October 2017), will include works by some of the outstanding masters of the Renaissance and Baroque, many rarely seen, and some not displayed for decades.

————————————————————————————————

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 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’.

————————————————————————————————

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.

Feb 092017
 

Russell Howard

The month starts off with lots of laughs at the Royal Albert Hall. Russell Howard Round the World Live Tour is on 1-10 March. This ten day booking is the longest ever consecutive run of dates by a single comedian at the venue.

TV host of Russell Howard’s Good News, and considered one of the best-selling acts in British stand-up, Russell Howard returns to the live stage for the first time in three years with his biggest global tour to date.

Russell Howard

Design Museum

Imagine Moscow; Architecture, Propaganda, Revolution opens at the Design Museum on 15 March (and runs to 3 June 2017). Marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution, this exhibition explores Moscow as it was imagined by a bold new generation of architects and designers in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Drawing on rarely seen material, Imagine Moscow presents an idealistic vision of the Soviet capital that was never realised. Large-scale architectural drawings are supported by artwork, propaganda and publications from the period.

Each of the eight projects presented in the exhibition introduce a theme relevant to life and ideology in the Soviet Union: collectivisation, urban planning, aviation, communication, industrialisation, communal living and recreation.

Taken together, these unbuilt projects suggest an alternative reality for the city, offering a unique insight into the culture of the time.

Design Museum: imagine moscow: architecture, propaganda, revolution

Royal Academy

The Royal Academy has America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s on from 25 February to 4 June 2017.

The devastating impact of the Great Depression, brought about by the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and followed by the Dust Bowl, caused America to enter the 1930s in flux. Over the next decade, the consequences of economic insecurity and social hardship, fuelled by mass urbanisation, industrialisation and immigration, reverberated throughout the country, as it struggled to rebuild. Artists endeavoured to capture these rapid changes, seeking to redefine American identity in their work, inadvertently creating a debate over what would become the national art form.

The show has 45 iconic works from Pollock, O’Keeffe and Hopper among others, and American Gothic by Grant Wood which has never before left America. It explores post-crash America in flux, with rapid social change and financial insecurities through what is being billed as a ‘once in a generation’ exhibition.

American Gothic


Grant Wood, American Gothic, 1930. The Art Institute of Chicago, friends of American Art Collection, 1930.934

National Gallery

While two excellent exhibitions close this month – Paul Nash at Tate Britain and Australia’s Impressionists at the National Gallery – another blockbuster opens.

Michelangelo & Sebastiano opens at The National Gallery on 15 March, and runs to 25 June 2017.

This major exhibition focuses on the extraordinary artistic relationship between Sebastiano del Piombo (about 1485–1547) and Michelangelo (1475–1564) from the 1510s through to the 1540s. In addition to covering their great collaborative projects, the exhibition includes works preceding their meeting, in part to better demonstrate the originality of their joint creations.

Their views on religious themes, how they worked together and how it helped both artists develop their own painting styles is explored.

Sebastiano del Piombo The Virgin and Child with Saint Joseph, Saint John the Baptist and a Donor, 1517

Sebastiano del Piombo
The Virgin and Child with Saint Joseph, Saint John the Baptist and a Donor, 1517
© The National Gallery, London

National Portrait Gallery

There are two new exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery this month. Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the mask, another mask opens on 9 March (and runs to 29 May 2017), and Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends opens on 23 March (and runs to 18 June 2017).

The first pairs the works of contemporary artist Gillian Wearing with the innovative early twentieth century photographer Claude Cahun. Both of them share a fascination with the self-portrait and use the self-image, through the medium of photography. While they were born seventy years apart, they share similar themes around gender, identity, masquerade and performance.

I am in training don't kiss me by Claude Cahun

I am in training don’t kiss me by Claude Cahun c. 1927; Copyright: Jersey Heritage

The second is devoted to the portraits of the British painter Howard Hodgkin. This important aspect of Hodgkin’s work has been largely overlooked because his work appears abstract.

With over 55 works from collections around the world and dating from 1949 to the present, the exhibition shows the development of Hodgkin’s portraits. The exhibition traces the evolution of the artist’s visual language and his engagement with a range of friends and others within the artist’s circle. Peter Blake, Stephen Buckley, Patrick Caulfield, David Hockney, Philip King, R.B.Kitaj and Richard Smith are among the many leading artists portrayed.

St Patrick’s Day

St Patrick’s Day is, of course, on 17 March but the London St Patrick’s Day parade is on Sunday 19 March. Building up to the big day there are free walking tours on 17, 18, and also on 19 March.

The parade goes from Piccadilly to Trafalgar Square where there’s a festival atmosphere for the rest of the day. The main stage has comedians, music and performances, and around the Square there will be plenty of street food stalls so you can stay all day.

Amy Winehouse

It’s worth heading up to Camden this month as the Jewish Museum has Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait opening on 16 March (and on until 24 September 2017). I saw this exhibition when it was first staged here in 2013 and can definitely recommend it.

Get to know the real Amy Winehouse through her personal belongings, from family photographs to fashion. Items on display reflect Amy’s love for her family, London and more.

The exhibition is accompanied by a new Amy-themed street art trail which leads to the newly-commissioned installation ‘Love Is A Losing Game’ by renowned street artist Pegasus. The street art tours and installation are only available until 4 June but do seem like an excellent way to complement the exhibition.

Amy Winehouse

42nd Street

Broadway’s biggest show is coming to the West End’s biggest stage this month. 42nd Street previews at Theatre Royal Drury Lane from 20 March. You know the iconic songs already such as We’re in the Money and I Only Have Eyes For You.

42nd Street is the song and dance, American dream fable of Broadway. Young Peggy Sawyer is fresh off the bus from small-town America and just another face in the chorus line on Broadway’s newest show. But when the leading lady gets injured, Peggy might just have the shot at stardom she’s always dreamed of…

Grammy Award winner Sheena Easton joins an all singing, high-kicking cast as Dorothy Brock with Tom Lister as Julian Marsh and Clare Halse as Peggy Sawyer.

42nd Street

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

With the arrival of spring, the Moomins will be coming out of hibernation and visiting Kew Gardens for all sorts of mischief and fun. See them at Kew’s Easter Festival from 1 to 17 April.

The National Army Museum in Chelsea is reopening on 30 March after a three-year redevelopment project. The site has been reconfigured to have five new galleries and a temporary exhibition space.

From April to October you can hire a pedal boat on the Serpentine. For those who want the views without the exertion there’s also the UK’s first Solarshuttle, that glides silently across the lake powered only by the sun.

————————————————————————————————

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.

Dec 182016
 

Hogwarts in the Snow

While you aren’t guaranteed snow in London during the winter you can see some magical snow at the Warner Bros Studio Tour. This is where the Harry Potter movies were filmed and Hogwarts in the Snow is the annual event where the rooms are decorated for Christmas, and the huge Hogwarts castle model is covered in snow.

On until 29 January 2017, you can see the Great Hall tables laid for a festive feast, and real Christmas cards the children in the films made and sent to each other. And when you head outside to see the triple decker Knight bus it really snows!

I’ve visited this winter and loved it. You must book in advance as there’s always limited availability.

Hogwarts in the Snow

© Warner Bros Studio Tour

London Art Fair

The 29th London Art Fair marks the beginning of the art world year, featuring museum-quality Modern British art alongside contemporary work from today’s leading artists. It’s on from 18 to 22 January 2017 at the Business Design Centre in Islington.

The contemporary artworks cover the period from the early 20th century to the present day, and the Fair features over one hundred carefully selected galleries from the UK and overseas.

Emerging artists are also featured alongside contemporary photography. The Fair is great for collectors but also for art enthusiasts as there is a programme of talks and interactive events running throughout the week.

London Art Fair

© London Art Fair

Amaluna

Cirque du Soleil has been wowing London audiences with jaw-dropping and daring circus shows at the Royal Albert Hall since 1996. Following the success of the 2016 premiere, Cirque du Soleil  – Amaluna is returning to the Royal Albert Hall from 12 January to 26 February 2017.

The show is over 2 hours long and tells the tale of castaway romance and the obstacles that true love presents, filled with spectacular performances.

The production is a celebration of love and a tribute to the work and voice of women, with female performers making up the band and the majority of the cast.

Amaluna Cirque du Soleil

Flaming June

Leighton House Museum has the Flaming June: The Making of an Icon exhibition on until 2 April 2017. This stunning painting has returned to the artist’s home for this short visit from the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico.

Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830-1896), was one of the pre-eminent artists of his day. President of the Royal Academy from 1878 to 1896, he achieved great fame and influence as a figurehead for art in late Victorian society.

You can stand in Leighton’s studio where the painting was created and see further works submitted by Leighton to the Academy in 1895.

Leighton was already unwell with the heart condition that would kill him at the time he made this last Academy submission. The assembled pictures represent his last statement as an artist and allow a reappraisal of his achievements.

Flaming June Frederic Leighton, 1895 ©Museo de Arte de Ponce. The Luis A. Ferré Foundation, Inc.

Flaming June Frederic Leighton, 1895 ©Museo de Arte de Ponce. The Luis A. Ferré Foundation, Inc.

The Kite Runner

Based on Khaled Hosseini’s international best-selling novel, The Kite Runner is on at Wyndham’s Theatre until 11 March 2017.

It’s a beautiful afternoon in Kabul and everybody is enjoying a kite flying tournament. But when a terrible incident takes place two childhood friends are torn apart and Afghanistan plunges into of war.

This stage production tells the powerful story of a friendship which spans cultures and continents, and allows one man to confront his past and find redemption.

The Kite Runner

La Traviata

Joyce El-Khoury, Ekaterina Bakanova and Corinne Winters lead three excellent casts in Richard Eyre’s much-loved production of Verdi’s most famous opera. La Traviata is on at the Royal Opera House from 16 January to 1 February 2017.

Richard Eyre’s classic production conveys the indulgent social whirl of 19th-century Paris, and provides a vivid setting for Verdi’s emotional score. The role of courtesan Violetta (the ‘fallen woman’ of the title) is one of Verdi’s most complex and enduring characters – and one of his most beloved.

The basic story is: Alfredo and Violetta fall in love, but Alfredo’s father, Giorgio, disapproves. Giorgio convinces Violetta to leave Alfredo, yet he doesn’t know that Violetta is very ill. Alfredo is distraught and doesn’t understand why she’s left him, but on her deathbed Giorgio tells Alfredo what he did and Alfredo can be with Violetta as she dies.

La Traviata

Venera Gimadieva and Saimir Pirgu in La traviata © ROH 2016. Photo by Tristram Kenton

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is on 28 January but in London we have the celebrations on Sunday 29 January 2017 from 10am to 6pm. The dragon and lions parade is the biggest in Europe and there’s entertainment in Trafalgar Square all afternoon.

Plus, as I mentioned last month, there is a Magical Lantern Festival on in Chiswick to celebrate Chinese New Year and the Year of the Rooster too.

Chinese New Year London

Winter Wanders

I also mentioned last month, the Winter Wanders are happening on 28 and 29 January 2017.

These are free guided walks across London which give you a wonderful reason to get out and enjoy the city. Some walks are just an hour and some take all day. The guides do an excellent job in making urban exploration enjoyable.

Winter Wanders

© Walk London

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

Opening on 24 February 2017, Diana: Her Fashion Story traces the evolution of the Princess’s style, from the demure, romantic outfits of her first public appearances, to the glamour, elegance and confidence of her later life. Twenty years on from her death, this new exhibition and temporary garden celebrating her life will be opened at Kensington Palace, her home for over 15 years.

The world’s most extensive retrospective of the work of David Hockney opens at Tate Britain on 9 February offering an unprecedented overview of the artist’s work to date. As the artist approaches his 80th birthday, this exhibition will celebrate his achievement across painting, drawing, print, photography and video.

Robots opens at the Science Museum on 8 February and features a unique collection of over 100 robots. From a 16th-century mechanical monk to robots from science fiction and modern-day research labs, this exhibition enables visitors to discover the cultural, historical and technological context of humanoid robots.

————————————————————————————————

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.

————————————————————————————————

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.

Sep 262016
 

Picasso Portraits

Opening on 6 October at the National Portrait Gallery (and on until 5 February 2017), Picasso Portraits includes over 75 portraits by the artist in all media, ranging from well-known masterpieces to works that have never been shown in Britain before.

This is the first major exhibition of portraits by Picasso in twenty years and all phases of the artist’s career are represented. From the realist portraits of his boyhood to the more gestural canvases of his old age.

Because Picasso did not work to commission and depicted people in his intimate circle, he enjoyed exceptional freedom as a portraitist. The exhibition includes a group of revealing self-portraits as well as portraits and caricatures of Picasso’s friends, lovers, wives and children.

Woman in a Hat (Olga) by Pablo Picasso, 1935

Woman in a Hat (Olga) by Pablo Picasso, 1935; Centre Pompidou, Paris. Musée national d’art moderne (Copyright: Succession Picasso/DACS London, 2016 Photo: Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais/Rights reserved)

 

Turner Prize 2016

The Turner Prize 2016 exhibition opened at Tate Britain on 27 September (and runs until 2 January 2017). It is one of the world’s most acclaimed contemporary art awards, and aims to promote public debate around new developments in contemporary British art.

The four shortlisted artists are Michael Dean, Anthea Hamilton, Helen Marten and Josephine Pryde. The exhibition showcases their work, with the winner announced on 5 December 2016.

Turner Prize 2016

Michael Dean, Sic Glyphs, 2016 © The Artist, courtesy of Herald St, London Josephine Pryde, Für Mich 2, 2014 © The Artist, courtesy Simon Lee Gallery, London Helen Marten, Night-blooming genera, 2015 (detail) © The Artist, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ Anthea Hamilton, Project for Door (After Gaetano Pesce), 2015 © The Artist

 

School of Rock – The Musical

Based on the 2003 cult movie, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony-nominated School of Rock – The Musical opens at the New London Theatre on 24 October.

The show follows the adventures of Dewey Finn, a failed wannabe rocker, as he impersonates a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school to get some money. Once he hears that the children of Horace Green are superbly musically talented, he decides to form his own band – the School of Rock.

He turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. While teaching these pint-sized prodigies what it means to truly rock, Dewey falls for the school’s beautiful but uptight headmistress, helping her rediscover the wild child within.

Featuring an original score by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater, including songs such as “You’re in the Band”, “In the End of Time” and “Teacher’s Pet”.

School of Rock Musical

NFL on Regent Street

Back by popular demand, NFL returns to Regent Street on Saturday 1 October for another blockbuster free event. Regent Street is closed to traffic between Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus to make way for all the fun. Look out for mini pitches, cheerleaders, live entertainment, special appearances from NFL players and the much-loved parade.

The London dates for the NFL International Series 2016 are:

Sunday 2 October: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars (Wembley Stadium)
Sunday 23 October: New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams (Twickenham Stadium)
Sunday 30 October: Washington Redskins at Cincinnati Bengals (Wembley Stadium)

NFL on Regent Street

Albert Memorial Tours

The stunning Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, opposite the Royal Albert Hall, is fascinating. It’s a memorial to Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, who was so influential in changing this area to become London’s cultural quarter.

The best way to really get to know it is to join a guided tour as you can then go inside the railings and get a closer look at the Frieze of Parnassus and other fine details of the greatest monument of the Victorian era.

The tours are on the first Sunday of the month (March to December) at 2pm and 3pm. Tours are about 45 minutes and you don’t need to book in advance.

Albert Memorial

Albert Memorial. Photo by David Iliff. License: CC-by-SA 3.0.

Royal Albert Hall Tours

There are a variety of tours available at this remarkable building. I once enjoyed a family tour with a costumed actor and was amazing how much there was to discover. Photography is permitted on tours and all tours offer you a discount in the cafe and gift shop too.

The Secret History Tour gets you backstage gossip, ghost tales and more, and the Inside Out Architecture Tour is a tour of both inside and outside of the building.

The Grand Tour takes you around this impressive Victorian building for the amazing views, including from the Royal Retiring Room, and the Afternoon Tea Tour gives you the Grand Tour followed by an elegant afternoon tea in the Verdi restaurant.

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall © David Iliff

Chocolate Week

10 to 16 October is Chocolate Week. It’s the UK’s biggest chocolate celebration and culminates in The Chocolate Show at Olympia National Hall on 14-16 October.

The Chocolate Show is a celebration of chocolate in all its forms – bars, truffles, cakes, desserts, ice cream, baking, cocktails, sculptures and more. As well as the most delectable chocolate treats on offer, there are celebrity chef demonstrations, workshops, tastings and masterclasses.

Don’t miss the amazing chocolate fashion show at 5pm each day with a stunning collection of couture chocolate dresses designed by top chocolatiers and fashion designers.

Chocolate Show Fashion Show

London Film Festival

The 60th BFI London Film Festival is on from 5 to 16 October showing 245 features films and 144 shorts. This is Britain’s leading film event and one of the world’s best and most established film festivals. The Festival will screen a total of 193 fiction and 52 documentary features, including 18 World Premieres, 8 International Premieres, 39 European Premieres.

Headline Galas are presented at the Odeon Leicester Square on each evening of the 12 day festival. And Festival visitors can enjoy a brand new cinema experience with Competition and Strand Galas presented at the new (temporary) Embankment Garden Cinema, in the beautiful Victoria Embankment Gardens.

This year’s festival includes an agenda-setting Symposium event that heralds the BFI’s Black Star project, the UK’s biggest ever season of film and television dedicated to celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors coming in late October. Films within the Festival programme will amplify the season, while the Symposium will ask searching questions about the continued under-representation of black actors on screen, probing why opportunities for black actors in the US and the UK remain limited and aiming to drive forward a progressive agenda by spotlighting and exploring key issues for the film industry.

BFI London Film Festival

 

Even More

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

 

LOOKING AHEAD

The British Library’s major Autumn exhibition explores the tumultuous history of the 20th century through maps, drawing on powerful, intriguing and surprising examples from the British Library’s world-class cartography collections and beyond. Maps and the 20th Century opens on 4 November and runs to 1 March 2017.

From 26 November to 2 January, you can experience a magical Victorian Christmas at Kensington Palace, the childhood home of Queen Victoria. The palace will be dressed for the occasion, and there’ll be live Christmas themed musical performances and the chance to take part in a drop-in lantern-making workshop. (Included in palace admission.)

The National Theatre’s landmark production of J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls returns to the West End next month. On at the Playhouse Theatre from 4 November to 4 February, this classic thriller is about an unwelcome guests at The Birlings house as Inspector Goole interrupts their dinner party to investigate the death of a young woman.

————————————————————————————————

Do check out the latest offers as Kensington House Hotel has some great weekend deals. You can sign up for special offer alerts here.

Laura Porter writes AboutLondonLaura.com and contributes to many other publications while maintaining an impressive afternoon tea addiction. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.

Aug 212016
 

Abstract Expressionism

Abstract Expressionism opens at the Royal Academy on 24 September (and runs until 2 January 2017). It’s the first major exhibition of the art movement in the UK for almost 60 years. There are over 150 paintings, sculptures and photographs on display from the most acclaimed American artists of the movement including Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.

Water of the Flowery Mill

Water of the Flowery Mill, 1944. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
(c) ARS, NY and DACS, London 2016
Digital image (c) 2016. The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/Scala, Florence

Pride and Prejudice

You can see Jane Austen’s acclaimed romantic comedy, Pride and Prejudice, at The Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park from 2 to 17 September. Mr and Mrs Bennet are played by the Olivier Award-winning Matthew Kelly (Of Mice and Men, Educating Rita, Waiting for Godot) and Felicity Montagu (Alan Partridge, Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Durrells) so you know this is going to be good.

Pride and Prejudice

Silent Cinema

Also in Regent’s Park, there’s Silent Outdoor Cinema on at London Zoo from 6 to 10 September, in the evenings.

Aired on a huge screen in the heart of the Zoo, the cinema appears to be completely silent, with the film broadcast via FM radio headsets, which means the late night flicks won’t keep the animals up past their bedtime.

Guests will be taken on a pre-movie twilight tour around specially-chosen enclosures before settling down to see the open-air screening.

Silent Cinema London Zoo

The Libertine

For more evening entertainment, Dominic Cooper returns to the stage to play the notorious Earl of Rochester in this major revival of The Libertine, for 10 weeks only at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

On from 22 September, the Stephen Jeffreys’ play, later made into a film, tells the true story of hedonistic John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester – a charismatic poet, playwright and cad with a legendary appetite for excess. It’s a wild romp through 1670s London with plenty of wit too.

The Libertine

A Curious Turn

A Curious Turn is a new exhibition in Chelsea featuring 30 pieces of extraordinary automata. The show previews at Habitat’s Platform Gallery as part of London Design Festival before a national tour.

A Curious Turn presents automata by leading makers of the last 40 years that range from the humorous to the macabre and from the playful to the satirical. Works on show take a look at key automata makers such as Rowland Emmett, famous for creating the elaborate inventions of Caractacus Potts in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968).

Visitors will be able to turn, push and crank to see many of the pieces in action, while other pieces will have films to show them in motion. A Curious Turn is on display from 15 September to 2 October.

Mule Make Mule. Tim Lewis, 2010

Mule Make Mule. Tim Lewis, 2010. © Tim Lewis, Courtesy Flowers Gallery London & New York

London Design Festival at the V&A

The London Design Festival is across London from 17 to 25 September. LDF has partnered again with The V&A to bring a series of exciting installations.

Green Room is monumental and was conceived by a watchmaker. You can see it at staircase G on Level 6.

Liquid Marble can be seen in the Norfolk House Music Room, Britain 1500-1760, Room, 52b, Level 2. It’s jet black polished marble and doesn’t move but the light reflections make it feel like the sea.

And Istanbul-based architecture firm Tabanlıoğlu Architects have brought Sabahattin Ali’s classic 1943 novel Madonna in a Fur Coat to life with Beloved on the bridge over the V&A’s Medieval & Renaissance galleries.

London Design Festival at the V&A

Sunken Cities

Sunken Cities opened in May at the British Museum and is getting excellent reviews. The exhibition is on until 27 November.

Submerged under the sea for over a thousand years, two lost cities of ancient Egypt were recently rediscovered. Their story is told for the first time in this unmissable exhibitio, where deep connections between ancient Egypt and Greece are revealed.

Sunken Cities British Museum

Requiem

And for an uproarious night out this looks like a must. Three choirs come together to combine 300 voices to perform Verdi’s choral masterpiece in the majestic setting of the Royal Albert Hall. Requiem is on Saturday 24 September.

Royal Albert Hall - Verdi Requiem

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

Opening on 24 October, get your air guitar ready to rock out at the School of Rock the Musical, on at the New London Theatre.

Uncover the surreal and mystical side of English landscapes through one of the most distinctive British painters. A Paul Nash exhibition opens at Tate Britain on 24 October.

And explore the influence of one of art’s most infamous and revolutionary figures when Beyond Caravaggio opens at the National Gallery on 12 October.

————————————————————————————————

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.

Jul 212016
 

Open-Air Cinema at Kensington Palace

With the longer summer days, watching a movie outside in the evening is really enjoyable. The Luna Cinema returns to Kensington Palace for four nights of classic films from 2 to 5 August.

You can choose from the Spectre, The Breakfast ClubFour Weddings and a Funeral or Some Like it Hot. Tickets must be booked in advance and there’s food and drink available.

Luna Cinema

The Entertainer

Kenneth Branagh is practically taking over the Garrick Theatre for a whole year, with a series of five different plays. The fifth offering is John Osborne’s modern classic The Entertainer, opening on 20 August (and on until 12 November 2016).

Set against the backdrop of post-war Britain, the play conjures the seedy glamour of the old music halls for an explosive examination of public masks and private torment.

Rob Ashford directs Kenneth Branagh as the unforgettable Archie Rice with a cast including Phil Dunster, Jonah Hauer-King, Crispin Letts, Sophie McShera and Greta Scacchi.

Do note, John Hurt will no longer be appearing in The Entertainer following medical advice.

The Entertainer Garrick Theatre

The Proms

The 122nd BBC Proms started on 15 July and continues until 10 September. It’s an annual season of classical music made more accessible with affordable prices and an informal atmosphere.

The main venue is the wonderful Royal Albert Hall but a new feature this year is to have concerts in four other unique and unusual London settings, from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Camden Roundhouse, to the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich and a large car park in Peckham, south London.

To help you get in the carnival spirit as the Rio Olympics unfold this summer there’s music from Latin America, including the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Symphony Orchestra.

BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall

© Chris Christodoulou

Notting Hill Carnival

Speaking of carnivals, Britain’s biggest street party, the Notting Hill Carnival is on Sunday 28 and Monday 29 August.

Sunday is Children’s Day which doesn’t mean it’s only for kids; it’s just a bit more family friendly on the first day. There’s still a carnival parade with lots of music and dancing.

On Monday it’s the Grand Finale Parade with 60 bands and incredible costumes. There’s also 38 sound systems on side streets from the carnival route to keep the party going.

On both days you can expect huge crowds, loud whistles, big smiles and the best jerk chicken.

Notting Hill Carnival

© VisitBritain / Jon Spaull

V&A

There’s always something marvellous at the V&A and highlights this month include a display of Beatrix Potter’s London, on from 28 July 2016 to 28 April 2017, to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter this year.

The display explores how the children’s author and illustrator was influenced by the cultural life of her birthplace. Although Potter is often associated with the sweeping landscapes of Scotland and the Lake District depicted in her illustrations, she spent most of her life at her family home at 2 Bolton Gardens in London, about 20 minutes walk from the V&A.

Potter was a frequent visitor to the South Kensington museums, including the V&A where she sketched items from the collection. This display brings together artworks, original sketches and Potter’s earliest published works to look at the inspirational role London played throughout her career.

View from 2 Bolton Gardens by Beatrix Potter

View from 2 Bolton Gardens by Beatrix Potter (1882)
© V&A with kind permission of Frederick Warne & Co

Also at the V&A, this month is the last chance to see Curtain Up: Celebrating 40 Years of Theatre in London and New York as the display ends on 31 August.

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Olivier Awards this year, you can see the extraordinary range of craft and collaboration that goes into creating award-winning plays, musicals and productions in the West End of London and New York’s Broadway.

The display is an immersive theatrical experience taking visitors from the stage, to the design workshops and through the history of the awards to the red carpet. You can see costumes, designs, models, photographs, archival production material, film and awards from productions such as The Phantom of the Opera, A Chorus Line and Wolf Hall.

And there’s a related evening event on Friday 19 August, as Christian Holder is discussing his experience of working in both theatre industries. Holder was a leading dancer with the Joffrey Ballet in New York during the 1970s and later designed costumes for ballet and celebrities including Tina Turner. He is now based in London where as a child he attended the Corona Academy Stage School, acted in British television, and danced with his father’s company, Boscoe Holder and his Caribbean Dancers.

The Mechanics of Genius

More than just an artist, Leonardo da Vinci was an incredible inventor too. Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius is on at the Science Museum until 4 September.

He created a remarkable body of mechanical drawings that showed a radical approach to the challenges of flight, manufacturing and war. The exhibition includes 39 historical models of Leonardo’s inventions including flying machines, diving equipment and weapons, plus modern examples of bio-inspired robotics, aviation and materials technology.

Great British Beer Festival

The annual Great British Beer Festival is back on 9-13 August at London Olympia with over 900 tipples on offer from real ales, fruit beers and ciders, to stouts, bitters and international beers. The exhibition hall is basically one big giant pub, staffed by people who are both passionate about their beer and capable of recommending the perfect drink for connoisseurs and enthusiastic amateurs alike.

It’s not a ‘get drunk quick’ event but an opportunity to try a huge variety of beers, plus it’s free entry for accompanied under 18s with a family area upstairs.

Great British Beer Festival

Houses of Parliament Tours

While the Houses of Parliament are open on Saturdays throughout the year, during the summer we can visit on weekdays too. It’s best to book ahead for Houses of Parliament tours as they are popular.

You can choose between guided tours or self-guided audio tours. Both options allow you to see the Robing Room, the Royal Gallery, plus the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and more. The tours start and end in Westminster Hall – the historic chamber which witnessed the State trials of Guy Fawkes and Charles I.

Houses of Parliament

Buckingham Palace

The summer opening of the Buckingham Palace State Rooms includes a special exhibition Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe.

Dresses worn by The Queen for two of the most significant occasions in Her Majesty’s life will be seen together for the first time ever from 23 July to 2 October 2016.

The wedding dress worn by Princess Elizabeth for her marriage to The Duke of Edinburgh on 20 November 1947, and The Queen’s Coronation dress, both designed by the great British couturier Sir Norman Hartnell (1901–1979), will be wonderful additions to a visit to this magnificent palace.

I’ve got a special tip for you too. This photo shows The White Room and the Queen can access her private rooms through here but can you see the door? It’s very well hidden as the mirror on the left, and the cabinet in front of it, can swing open to allow her retreat unobtrusively.

Buckingham Palace

© Royal Collection Trust / Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

You’ve got until 11 September to see the eighth year of Sensational Butterflies at the Natural History Museum.
Follow chomping caterpillars turning into beautiful butterflies and along the way discover fascinating facts about one of our planet’s most amazing life cycles.

Opening on 10 September at the V&A, You Say You Want a Revolution: Records & Rebels 1966-70 is a major exhibition examining the optimism, ideals and aspirations of the late 1960s, expressed through music, fashion, film, design and political activism, and their relevance to contemporary life.

For one night only on 25 September, Science Uncovered is your chance to discover more about the latest research, meet scientists, and enjoy a drink in the grand setting of the Natural History Museum’s Hintze Hall.

————————————————————————————————

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.

May 252016
 

We’re celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday this month but that’s just one of the reasons for royal gun salutes in the Royal Parks.

Royal Gun Salutes

On 2 June in Hyde Park the royal gun salute is for Coronation Day, celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.

On 10 June in Hyde Park the royal gun salute is for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Birthday.

And on 14 June in Green Park (at 12.52pm) the royal gun salute is for the Queen’s Official Birthday.

Royal Gun Salute

Royal Gun Salute © Royal Parks

Swan Lake

For more gentile entertainment, the English National Ballet is performing Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall from 1 to 12 June, with Tchaikovsky’s memorable score played by the English National Ballet Philharmonic.

Derek Dean’s in-the-round production has 60 swans and spectacular lighting transforming the Royal Albert Hall into a magical lake.

English National Ballet Swan Lake

English National Ballet’s Swan Lake at The Royal Albert Hall. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I and II

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opens at The Palace Theatre with preview performances from 7 June.

This is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and has been broken down into two parts – at two separate performances so it is recommended that you book for both part one and part two and watch consecutively.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus struggles with the weight of his family legacy. As past and present fuse, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Harry Potter the Play

London Festival of Architecture

From 1 to 30 June, the annual London Festival of Architecture celebrates London as a global hub of architectural experimentation, practice and debate. This year’s theme is ‘Community’ and there are walks, talks, exhibitions and open studios to encourage festival participants to comment on and propose ideas to improve the city.

skypool

The Hive

At Kew Gardens you can reconnect with nature and venture into the world of pollinators this summer as you experience the world of the honeybee come alive within Wolfgang Buttress’ award-winning, 17 metre high installation, The Hive. Conceived as the centrepiece of the UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo, The Hive is the first ever British Pavilion to be reused. It opens on 18 June and will remain at Kew until the end of 2017.

The Hive Kew Gardens

The Hive Kew Gardens. Photographer credit: Mark Hadden

Serpentine Pavilion

The Serpentine Architecture Programme expands for 2016, with four Summer Houses joining the Serpentine Pavilion. The Pavilion opens on 10 June and remains until 9 October 2016.

The 16th annual Pavilion, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), is described as an ‘unzipped wall’. In the daytime it has a cafe and free family activities then at night it becomes a space for the Serpentine’s Park Nights programme of works by artists, writers and musicians.

The Summer Houses are inspired by Queen Caroline’s Temple, a classical style summer house built in 1734, close to the Serpentine Gallery.

Serpentine Pavilion 2016 designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

Serpentine Pavilion 2016 designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

Sunset Safari

You can visit ZSL London Zoo on Friday evenings from 3 June to 15 July 2016 for a Sunset Safari.

There are 750 species from around the world housed here and you can see more animal feeding times at night and listen to the zoo’s conservationists, scientists and keepers at a ‘Wild Talk’.

A street food festival means you won’t go hungry, and as the sun finally sets over the Zoo, there’s a peaceful acoustic guitar performance – providing an idyllic end to what promises to be an unforgettable evening.

Sunset Safari

Taste of London

Also in Regent’s Park, Taste of London is on from 15 to 19 June and is a foodie heaven restaurant festival. It’s five days of eating, drinking and entertainment.

You can sample signature small-plate dishes from over 40 of London’s best restaurants, see live demonstrations from well-known chefs, get involved with interactive masterclasses, indulge in tasting sessions and, of course, there’s plenty of gourmet shopping too.

Taste of London

Opera Holland Park

This annual summer programme is a real treat. This month there is a new production of the Italian opera La Bohème on 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 23 and 24 June.

Puccini’s masterpiece of Rodolfo and Mimi’s young love in Paris leads to heartbreak. Don’t expect a dry eye in the audience either.

West End Live

It’s West End Live in Trafalgar Square on 18 and 19 June. This means two days of performances from London’s West End plays and musicals live on the open-air stage, and it’s free for all to see.

It does get busy though so when the full line-up is announced make sure you arrive early to get a good view.

West End Live

Even More

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

LOOKING AHEAD

It’s the famous Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships from 27 June to 10 July. You could join the long queues each day for tickets or know that there are many bars in town showing the tennis so you could sip a Pimm’s in comfort. And don’t forget the strawberries and cream!

The Science Museum is set to explore the invisible revolution of big data when Our Lives in Data opens on 15 July 2016.

Also free at the Science Museum, Beyond the Lab opens on 7 July to look at how members of the public are playing a greater role in scientific research than ever before.

The Natural History Museum has Colour and Vision opening on 15 July. The exhibition tells the evolution of vision and the symbolic importance of colour in the natural world. It includes an iridescent light installation by British artist Liz West on site.

————————————————————————————————

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.