As the subtle flavours of autumn begin to permeate the air, some of us will look back and begin to miss the endless days of summer. However, a change of the seasons brings about an entirely new kaleidoscope of activities to enjoy for those who may plan on visiting London. What are a handful of attractions and events that will definitely serve to punctuate any time spent here? Let’s list a few of the most popular and interesting.
If you are in the capital this Christmas – whether in your student housing in London, visiting family or on holiday – there is plenty to see and do to give you a great festive experience. London comes alive with seasonal fun during December but you may also want to use the time to tick off some sights you are yet to check out which are fun any time of the year. As one of the world’s leading city break locations London has a huge variety of attractions for you to experience whatever the weather. Here is a list of some sights which you can tick off your list during the Christmas holidays.
Houses of Parliament
The epicentre of power in the nation’s capital is steeped in history and is a wonderful example of architecture which spans the centuries. If you want to develop your understanding of some of the processes that government go through you can even attend a debate or sit in on a committee meeting. Although this may not put you in the Christmas spirit!
London’s Science Museum is renown around the world for innovative exhibitions and inspirational collections. The venue in South Kensington has been around for over 100 years and houses fascinating resources to feed your brain in your holiday down time.
Home of John Keats
An important address which is missed by many a visitor to the capital, Wentworth Place now hosts a museum devoted to the Romantic poet. The Hampstead property hosts regular events and it is possible to book group tours on days when the museum is closed to the public.
Wiltons Music Hall
Another hidden gem in the city, Wilton’s Music Hall is a place of lots of historical importance with the impressive status of the world’s oldest surviving Grand Music Hall. Its rugged charm has gained it many loyal regulars but Christmas is the perfect time for the uninitiated to pay homage. Mrs Hudson’s Christmas Corker is set in another great London address (Sherlock Holmes’ 221B Baker Street) and runs until New Years Eve.
During December, Hyde Park is transformed into a festive fun zone for all the family with an ice rink, giant wheel and circus. If you do find yourself in London during the Christmas period, this place truly is a must-see.
If you are living in East London and aren’t willing to venture to Hyde Park then you can still experience a Christmas treat for all the senses with horse-drawn carriages, a fairground and Christmas market at Winterville. Head over to Victoria Park from 2nd December for the full experience.
The London Eye
See London in all its glory from one of its newest icons. The Eye is the perfect place to get a wonderful view of all the capital’s famous landmarks. Catch a snowy festive day for an unparalleled visual spectacular.
I had the pleasure of visiting the oft under appreciated British Library about a week ago for the second time in as many years.It may not look like much from the outside, but if you’re a literary fan you know not to judge a book by its cover. Juxtaposed with its neighbour, the stunning St. Pancras Station, the British Library may look a little drab, but its bleak facade hides a treasure trove of paper treasures.
The library’s interior lobby is vast, but if you’ve never visited you don’t need to worry about most of the space. Instead, make a beeline for the Sir John Ritblat Gallery. The dimly lit exhibition space doesn’t allow photography, but you can get an idea of what the space looks like from the library’s official website.
The Gutenberg Bible, a manuscript of Beowulf, Leonardo da Vinci’s notes, and the hand scribbled lyrics of John Lennon – they all belong to the gallery’s permanent collection. In total, the library has over 170 million items in its collection, including a copy of the Magna Carta from 1215.
If you can pry yourself away from the main gallery (I recommend spending at least 90 minutes in there), then I suggest heading to the library’s cafe. Not only do they have a lovely Victoria sponge cake, but here you’ll also get a marvellous view an impressive collection of rare and historic book (see photo above).
For flex-workers, freelancers, and the like, the cafe at the British Library offers a pretty good wi-fi connection, and after my most recent visit I’m tempted to come back with my laptop in toe for a few concentrated hours of blogging.
Overshadowed by some of the bigger public museums in London, the British Library doesn’t quite get its do. If you find yourself in London for a few days, I recommend stopping by for at least a short visit. The library is conveniently located right next to King’s Cross St. Pancras, and those of you who are hopping the Eurostar to Paris can easily pop in for a visit before bounding off to Paris.
I’m not in London at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping an eye on what’s going down in my home city. Last weekend I dispatched Girl in London’s chief photography (aka my boyfriend) to check out the Tall Ships festival at Wood Warf, Greenwich, and Royal Arsenal.
London, of course, has a rich maritime history and if you look at old paintings of the Thames, you’ll see the river full of clippers and other tall ships. If you haven’t already, I recommend visiting the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich to learn more about the UK’s seafaring heritage.
My other half informed me that though they looked old, most of the ships at the festival were actually built in the last 50 years or so. However, if you want to see a real 19th-century ship, you can once again head to Greenwich and climb on board the Cutty Sark, which was perhaps the most famous and fast clipper ships of its day and logged many nautical miles at sea.
I’ll be back in London (and back to putting up more posts) in a few days. In the meantime, enjoy the tall ships!
Sorry for the lack of updates recently – I’m on a trip to Bangkok and am absolutely swamped with work and other business. I’ll be back in London town soon enough with lots and lots of content for ya’ll.
In the mean time, here’s a great infographic from LA Stretch Limos with some great tips for London visitors. Enjoy!
Last winter seems to have lasted forever, but warm weather is finally here and summer is just around the corner. Summer is my favourite season in London, partly because of the lovely climes, and partly because there’s so much to do! Here are some of the top festivals, events and attractions on the docket for London, summer 2014:
Taste of London – London’s best known foodie event is coming to beautiful Regent’s park from 18-22 June. 40 of the city’s top restaurants will make an appearance at this stored event, which will also include celebrity chef appearances, cooking demonstrations and plenty of food and merchandise vendors. Tickets are 25.80 online, 28.00 at the door.
Street Feast London – Operating from 5pm – midnight each Friday and Saturday from May 16/17 through to September, Street Feast London represents East London at its finest. Quirky street eats from equally quirky vendors come together for this indulgent event. Entry is free before 7pm (£3 after) and most dishes (ranging from hot dogs to kimchi) can be purchased for under £10. To attend, head to Dalston Yard – just a few steps away from the Dalston Junction overground station.
London’s world class museums almost all feature late-open nights, but the long daylight hours of summer make museum lates even more special this time of the year.
The British Museum – Open late each Friday until 8:30pm, visitors can enjoy splendid food from the museum’s cafe and browse through the world class exhibits. Free 20-minute tours starting at 5pm highlight some notable areas of the museums collection like the Rosetta Stone, ‘Death in Egypt’, ‘Enlightenment’ and ‘The Parthenon’. Special paid exhibits like the ‘Vikings: Life and Legend‘ (until June 22nd) are also open late.
The V&A Museum – Open late each Friday until 10:00pm, with a themed event each week. This typically includes highlights of special exhibits, live music and more.
Late at Tate Britain – Open from 6:00pm to 10:00pm on selected Friday. Events include live performances as well as discussions and talks about art, films, culture and more.
Not to be outdone, the London Zoo in Regent’s Park also opens its doors to summertime frolickers late into the evening. Zoo Lates is an adult friendly event where those of us old enough to drink alcohol can chow down on street eats and guzzle bubbly alongside all our favourite zoo animals. The event runs every Friday night in June and July from 6:00pm to 10:00pm. Tickets can be purchased from the zoo’s website here.
This favorite annual event will be running from 18 July – 13 September this year and will feature all types of classical, world and pop music. Most events will take place at Royal Albert Hall, just opposite Hyde Park in Central London. A complete schedule of prom events can be found here. Showtimes and ticket prices vary.
Rooftop Film Club
Now in Shoreditch, Peckham Rye and Kensington, the Rooftop Film Club presents all kids of celebrated films throughout the summer in beautiful rooftop locations. Most venues have a bar and offer snacks to accompany the film. Tickets sell out quickly, so it’s best to reserve them in advance. View the schedule for the Rooftop Film Club here.
Opera in the Park
Each year throughout June and July, Holland Park (close to Kensington and Kensington Gardens) hosts a number of live operas to the delight of Londoners and visitors alike. This year will feature performances of Alice in Wonderland, Madame Butterfly and much more. Tickets range from a very modest 12.00 GPB to 67.50 GBP and can be purchased in advance here.
City of London Festival – Running from 22 June to 17 July, the City of London Festival is jam packed with a series of fun events, performances, discussions and a whole lot more. Venues are scattered across the city, with certain events requiring tickets and other events free of charge.
Greenwich and Docklands International Festival – This large annual theatre event is on from 20 – 28 June and includes a large selection of free street performances and large theatre productions.
Notting Hill Carnival – Scantily clad ladies, live music and great West Indian cooking. What’s not to like about the Notting Hill Carnival? This year the carnival is on from 24 – 25 August and like every year, it’s bound to get a little crazy. Visitors and locals alike tend to get wild at this carnival that unofficially marks the end of summer.
If you’re studying, visiting, or living in London for more than a few weeks, then a trip to Paris pretty much has to be on your itinerary. The two cities are so tantalisingly close to one another that you can’t not visit Paris, what with all its fabulous landmarks, museums, and restaurants.
There are a couple of options when it comes to making it across the channel, but sadly few are budget-friendly. One of the few exceptions is iDBUS, which offers fix prices for all their lines – including London to Paris; meaning if you fancy a last-minute getaway you won’t be paying up to your eye-balls!
Once safely inside Paris, if you’re an art lover or culture vulture like me you’re first stop will be one of the City of Light’s world renowned museums. Not sure where to start? No worries! Together with the folks at iDBUS, I’ve compiled a list of the Paris’ top museums
This museum is a converted railway station with rooms flooded by natural light that enters through a glass and iron canopy roof. If you’re a fan of impressionism, D’Orsay is for you. It boasts the world’s largest collection of impressionist paintings, including works by Renoir, Monet, Cezanne, Degas and Gauguin, just to name a few!
Centre Pompidou is better known for its unusual exterior than for the artwork it carries within its interior. It’s anomaly in a city filled with rows of Belle Epoque masterpieces. The decidedly modern facade is the product of three architects who decided to expose all the components of a building that are normally hidden from the outside, including plumbing lines, structural beams, and elevators.
In terms of the artwork inside, there is an interesting and eclectic collection of modern 20th century art, on par with that you would see in the Tate Modern in London (Think Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism, Expressionism and some abstract works).
Entirely dedicated to the French sculptor Auguste Rodin, Musée Rodin houses some of his most famous works, including The Kiss and The Thinker. Almost as remarkable as Rodin’s sculptures are the mansion and beautiful gardens that act as a backdrop to the museum. I recommend visiting in the spring, when the gardens are at their most lush and everything just feels so quintessentially Parisian.
Like D’Orsay, The Pagoda is a bit of an anomaly. This much lesser known museum is an actual Chinese pagoda right smack in the middle of Paris. Once the home of a Chinese art collector, the Pagoda houses some of the finest examples of Asian artwork in the West and boasts impressive interiors indicative of 16th and 17th century Chinese architecture.
No list of museums in Paris is complete without mentioning The Louvre. The former royal palace is one of the largest museums in the world, so don’t try to see it all in one day – it’s impossible. Instead, plan what you want to see before you visit and stop by either early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the major tourist crowds.
The collections at the Louvre spans everything from sculptures and artwork from the ancient world all the way through to the Renaissance and beyond. It’s of course most famous for housing The Mona Lisa, which has a sizeable crowd surrounding it around the clock.
This post was sponsored by iDBUS.