Visit London Blog » Lauren Stopps Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 11 Jul 2014 10:26:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Christmas Family Events in London Tue, 17 Dec 2013 13:00:07 +0000 School is almost out for Christmas and the holidays are here, so take a peek at our fun family activities and start making some festive plans!

Slava’s Snowshow at the Royal Festival Hall

Internationally-acclaimed spectacle Slava’s Snowshow is returning to London’s Royal Festival Hall this Christmas after a sell-out winter season in 2013. This award-winning show combines theatrical clowning and stunning spectacle to create a visual masterpiece loved by children and adults alike. 17 December to 6 January

Christmas at ZSL London Zoo

For a very merry day out, look no further than ZSL London Zoo – a winter wonderland in the heart of the city. Children can meet Santa himself and join in with a host of festive activities including gingerbread decorating. Another must-see this Christmas are the Zoo’s reindeers! Until 24 December

The Harrods Christmas Grotto 2013

A visit to The Harrods Christmas Grotto is the perfect way to start the festive season. Meet Father Christmas in a magical library setting. Children will be given an exclusive Harrods book, badge and Christmas chocolate. Until 24 December

Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Visit Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London –The Making of Harry Potter.  This special feature allows visitors to see the Harry Potter film sets as they would have been during Christmas scenes for the first film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. See the Great Hall decorated for a festive feast and sip butterbeer outside Privet Drive under light snow fall.  Until 2 February

Kensington State Apartments

Aimed at the whole family, young princes and princesses are invited to try their hand at the games of court in the King’s Gallery and the King’s Drawing Room at the Kensington State Apartments. Until 6 January

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park

Festive family favourite Winter Wonderland has returned to London’s Hyde Park with ice skating, big top shows, the observation wheel and a huge Christmas market. Until 5 January

Seussical The Musical at the Arts Theatre

Prowling the stage in a colourful show for youngsters, the immortal creation of Dr Seuss is joined by his pal Horton the Elephant, who has discovered an entire small world passing by on a speck of dust. It’s Seussical The Musical of course! Until 5 January

Festive Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

This afternoon tea will bring out the kid in you! With golden eggs, gingerbread pops and playful flavoured candy floss, every item reflects the wit and wonder of Roald Dahl’s classic tale. Until 5 January

See more information about Christmas in London.

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The Foodie’s Guide to Christmas Treats in London Mon, 16 Dec 2013 22:11:28 +0000 If you’re a food enthusiast, here are some great shops and pop-ups in London where you can spoil yourself with yummy treats or pick up some foodie presents!

Black Vanilla

Fancy something a bit unique? Then try some festive gelato or sorbet at Black Vanilla located in Blackheath and Greenwich. Try cranberry gelato with a turkey ‘ripple’, or for fans of a festive tipple, there’s mulled wine sorbetto.

Other seasonal scoops including mince pie gelato: a merry mix of premium mincemeat and short crust pastry and Christmas pudding gelato laced with rich fruit cake.

Turkey & Cranberry gelato

The East India Company’s Pop Up Shop, St Martin’s Courtyard

The East India Company’s newly launched Pop Up Shop in St Martin’s Courtyard serves as the perfect destination shop for tea lovers and anyone looking for a luxurious but affordable Christmas gift for a foodie.

Find an exclusive selection of fine teas and coffees, artisan sweet and savoury biscuits, luxurious chocolate bars, coffee beans and nuts, and flavourful jams and marmalades.

Maison Blanc

Maison Blanc offers a beautiful collection of French-inspired, hand-crafted pâtisserie and novelty stocking fillers.

From the bakery you’ll be able to enjoy a gorgeous date and ginger Christmas tree sponge cake, luxuriously covered in a light cream cheese, pistachios and crunchy mini baubles.

London shops can be found in Fulham, Hampstead, Holland Park, Chiswick, Muswell Hill and St. John’s Wood.

La Maison Maille Boutique in Piccadilly

La Maison Maille Boutique is one of the capital’s newest destinations for food-lovers.

Complementing the long-established boutiques of Paris and Dijon, La Maison Maille’s new shop in Piccadilly invites London’s foodies to experience more than 60 brand new variants of mustards, vinegars and gherkins.

This year’s Autumn/Winter collection includes three brand new seasonal mustards, making an excellent Christmas gift.

The Hummingbird Bakery

London’s home of American baking has Christmas wrapped up with its seasonal cake selection.

Festive treats from The Hummingbird Bakery include hand-decorated Christmas cupcakes, mini delights and a selection of festive layer cakes in the bakery’s bestselling flavours including vanilla, chocolate and red velvet.

 Find out more about Christmas in London.

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Christmas Carol Concerts in London Fri, 13 Dec 2013 08:29:00 +0000 Nothing sings Christmas like a candlelit concert. Whether you’re looking to belt out a few notes of your own or sit back and soak up the surroundings, here’s the shortlist of the top locations to hear carols in the capital.

Christmas carols at Hampton Court Palace (17-23 Dec)

The fairytale one. Henry VII’s Tudor palace hosts its famous do-it-yourself carol singing accompanied by the Epsom & Ewell Silver Band. Sing your heart out beneath the stars in the courtyards of the palace. Illuminated in the dark, this makes a stunning night-time destination. Don’t forget to try out the ice rink!

Christmas Carols in Trafalgar Square (9-22 Dec)

The traditional one. For years crowds have flocked beneath this gigantic tree in Trafalgar Square to listen to songs and join in with carol services. Every night until 22 Dec, different carol groups will be singing all the classics, from Deck the Halls and Good King Wenceslas, to Ding Dong Merrily on High and The Holly and the Ivy, plus it’s all for charity.

Southwark Cathedral Christmas Carols (Throughout December)

The family one. Singing, readings, and music all under the roof of the stunning Southwark Cathedral. Highlights include the Cathedral Sing-in, The Southwark Cathedral Choir Concert and the Christmas Eve ceremonious Building of the Crib- an event created specially for children and which follows the Nativity Story with readings and carols. See choir boy Raphael revel in the festive atmosphere of Southwark Cathedral in this heart-warming video. Watch it for a chance to win a five night trip to London!

St-Martin-in-the-Fields Christmas Carols (Throughout December)

The grand one. This landmark church hosts an outstanding music programme throughout the year with lunchtime concerts and top musicians but is even busier than ever in the festive season. Special concerts include the incredibly popular Choir of Christ’s College Cambridge’s Glory of Christmas by Candlelight and two chances to see the English Chamber Choir and Belmont Ensemble of London perform Handel’s Messiah.

Royal Albert Hall Christmas Festival (13-24 Dec)

The lively one. The Royal Albert Hall’s Christmas Sing-along does exactly what it says on the tin and features all the classic tunes and Christmas hits. Other concerts at the venue include The Glory of Christmas, The BT Christmas Concert, Anton and Erin’s Christmas Cracker, Carols by Candleight and Royal Choral Society Christmas Carols.

Our pick of top upcoming carol concerts include:

See more about Christmas in London.

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London’s Best Christmas Trees Tue, 10 Dec 2013 10:00:52 +0000 Find out where to spot the most creative, sparkling Christmas trees in London, from one that looks so good you can actually eat it to one designed by two of the world’s top fashion designers.

Claridges’ Christmas Tree by Dolce & Gabbana

London’s legendary Mayfair hotel Claridges boasts a Christmas tree designed by none other than the hotel’s old friends and world-renowned designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana.

The fir received royal treatment having been adorned with more than 450 Italian festive glass baubles hand-painted with images of the sun, citrus groves, flowering almonds and prickly pears to recreate the idea of a Sicilian garden.  At the base of the tree, there are 30 handcrafted wooden Sicilian puppets including King Charlemagne of Italy and other medieval knights.

St Pancras’  Christmas Tree by Fortnum & Mason

This year the renowned St Pancras Christmas tree was provided by iconic British department store Fortnum & Mason. The impressive tree is 35 feet high and boasts a traditionally British look.

What makes this tree stand out is the 2,000 mini hampers hanging from the branches – a tribute to one of Fortnum & Mason’s most iconic gift items.

Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree

Enjoy festive carols and warming refreshments around this world-famous Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square (an annual gift from Norway since 1947).  Every night until 22 Dec, carol groups will be singing all the classics, from Deck the Halls and Good King Wenceslas, to Ding Dong Merrily on High and The Holly and the Ivy, and it’s all for charity.

Aqua Shard’s Christmas Tree by Matthew Williamson

Located on level 31 of The Shard, bar and restaurant Aqua Shard is showcasing a spectacular fir curated by fashion designer Matthew Williamson. The tree is adorned with baubles designed by a host of creative celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow, Rankin, Sienna Miller, Tom Dixon, Mary J Blige and Swarovski.

Each bauble will be auctioned off throughout December in aid of London children’s charity Kids Company.

Corinthia Hotel’s Gingerbread Christmas Tree

Feast your eyes on this 3m-high edible Christmas tree in the lobby of the Corinthia Hotel London. Laden with 5,000 gingerbread cookies and decorated with ice, handmade baubles and edible holly leaves, this fir looks like its come straight out of Hansel and Gretel.

It took 12 chefs to make the tree, using more than 180 egg yolks and five litres of milk! While you’ll need to be a hotel guest to enjoy the tree, additional lobby treats include mini mince pies, mulled wine and roasted chestnuts.

Find out more about Christmas in London.

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Things to do in London on New Year’s Eve Fri, 29 Nov 2013 15:01:34 +0000 New Year’s Eve is getting closer and with so much on offer you might be in need of a little inspiration. We’ve collated the best mix of what’s going on in the city, from cruises to comedy, club nights to cinema screenings. The most popular events will sell out so remember to book tickets in advance.

Mayor of London’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks Display at the EDF Energy London Eye (FREE)

New Year's Eve Fireworks

London’s spectacular New Year’s Eve Fireworks Display at the EDF Energy London Eye is famous around the world. This event will be very busy with around 250,000 people gathering to watch the fireworks. There are designated viewing areas, but these will close once full so get there early. Celebrations will continue until 12:45am with a live DJ set. Make sure you plan your journey in advance with Transport for London (TfL) as there will be major changes to public transport and services will be extremely busy.

The London Comedy Cellar – New Year’s Eve Special (£30)

If comedy is more your thing then why not head to The London Comedy Cellar. On New Year’s Eve there’s a fantastic line-up including French award-winning TV star Marcel Lucont, Michael McIntyre Roadshow star Ava Vidal and international comedian Nik Coppin. But the night doesn’t stop there because the ticket price also includes a special NYE Love Candy clubnight which will play all the classic floor fillers and best new releases.

Southbank Centre presents a Vintage New Year’s Eve (£115)

Vintage New Year's Eve at Southbank Centre

A Vintage New Year’s Eve Party at the Southbank Centre is back following its success last year.  Transforming the Royal Festival Hall into four floors of decadent entertainment, there’ll be five pop-up vintage nightclubs, stylish dining, a hair and beauty parlour, photo studios and a private terrace overlooking the Thames to view London’s world famous NYE fireworks.

New Year’s Eve Operetta Matinee at St-Martins-in-the-Fields (From £9)

Enjoy a beautiful afternoon concert at the historic St-Martin-in-the-Fields church. The landmark will play host to a wonderful array of arias and scenes from favourite operas and operettas presented by rising stars from London’s Royal Academy of Music.

NYE River Cruise with Golden Tours (from £119)

Welcome the arrival of the New Year on a Golden Tours Thames cruise- the perfect way to see the city.  While on-board enjoy breathtaking views of London’s famous landmarks spectacularly illuminated for the New Year Celebrations, such as St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. At midnight raise your glass of bubbly and celebrate in style as you watch the magnificent fireworks display over the world famous London Eye!  

New Year’s Eve Skate at Somerset House (£62)

See in the New Year at London’s most spectacular ice rink. Skate at Somerset House is offering you the opportunity to glide on the ice with entertainment from a live DJ. As the clock strikes 12, enjoy champagne and exclusive access to the River Terrace for a fantasic view of the Mayor’s Fireworks on the Thames. You”ll also have access to Tom’s Skate Lounge where you can buy festive mulled wine, hot chocolate, cocktails and warming snacks!

New Year’s Eve 2013 at The O2 featuring The Prodigy  (£75)

If you’re looking to rave the night away to world-renowned superstars then head to The O2. It’s the ultimate New Year’s Eve party featuring  The Prodigy alongside a DJ set from Rudimental, a live performance from the original ninja-DJ Jaguar Skills, London dubstep-rock band Modestep and Slipmatt. If that’s not your cup of tea, you won’t be short of options; alternative parties in the O2 Arena include Kisstory and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs headlining at Building 6.

The Artist in concert at the Royal Albert Hall (£25-£65)

See multi-award winning film The Artist dramatically brought to life on stage with the London Symphony Orchestra playing the soundtrack alongside the high-definition screening at the Royal Albert Hall.

NYE at the Bavarian Beerhouses in Old Street and Tower Hill (£29.50)

Celebrate New Year’s Eve in typical Oktoberfest-style. The Bavarian Beerhouses in Old Street and Tower Hill ensure their guests have lots of fun- Bavarian-style. Expect considerable amounts of eating, drinking and partying. Enjoy a Bavarian buffet followed by a disco- which means a DJ playing international and German songs.

Gatsby New Year’s Eve Party at Mansion Bar (£75)

Gatsby’s 1920′s mansion is recreated for this NYE party. Mansion Bar is pulling out all the stops so dress up in your best flapper dress or braces and prepare to enjoy live Jazz and Blues with Charleston dancers.  There’ll be plenty of Champagne and canapés as well as live coverage of the fireworks along the Thames.

Fuerzabruta at The Roundhouse (£39.50)

Looking for something a little different this New Year’s Eve? Catch the legendary Fuerzabruta at The Roundhouse.  This weird and wonderful theatrical experience features mind-blowing visual effects and is sure to leave you speechless.

See more events and information on New Year’s Eve in London.

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Christmas Day Dining in London Sun, 24 Nov 2013 09:00:42 +0000 Whether you’re visiting London from abroad over the Christmas season, or you simply want to leave the cooking to the chefs, make sure you book ahead for Christmas Day dining. Much of London is closed on 25 December but we’ve put together a guide to some of the best restaurants that will be open- whether you’re looking for a traditional Christmas meal or something a bit different. You can find out more about Christmas Day closures on our Christmas Essential Information page.

The Reform Social and Grill Restaurant at The Mandeville (two courses for £50 or three courses for £70)

Enjoy a traditional Christmas menu at The Mandeville, a 4-star deluxe hotel in Central London. The Reform Social and Grill Restaurant offers champagne on arrival followed by a two or three course menu boasting all of the traditional trimmings. Served from 12pm until 4pm. View the menu.

Society Bar and Restaurant at Hilton London Olympia (Buffet menu £69.00 per person, £34.50 per child, under 2’s free)

Enjoy a relaxed Christmas Day Lunch prepared for you by the chefs at Society Bar and Restaurant. The buffet offers a wide range of vegetarian starters from root vegetable and spiced tomato casserole with herb crumble to wild mushroom and spinach strudel with white bean stew. The main course includes traditional Christmas turkey, mustard crusted roast beef and sweet cinnamon braised pork belly. The buffet will be served from 12pm until 3.30 p.m. View the menu.

La Sophia (£49.00 per person, £20 per child)

This French Mediterranean cuisine uses unique Palestinian ingredients. On Christmas Day you can enjoy a four course traditional lunch with a range of festive dishes to choose from. The main course offers either crispy sea bass filllet, roast turkey, roast rump of lamb or a roasted winter vegetables dish as a vegetarian option. Served from 12pm until 10.30pm. View the menu. Book online.

Café Royal (£150 per person, £75 per child, under 5s free)

This luxury 5-star hotel offers a very British Christmas inspired by the magic of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. Its grand Christmas Day lunch offers four courses, including wild mushroom and truffle velouté, smoked London cure salmon, Norfolk turkey with traditional garnishes, Christmas pudding and mince pies. For £200, each course comes accompanied by a specially chosen wine. Served 12pm until 3pm.View the menu.

The Orange Public House and Hotel (£80 per person)

With champagne served on arrival, the Christmas Day menu here is made to impress; from potted Gressingham duck to herb-fed free range Bronze turkey with cranberry and chestnut stuffing. There’s also a list of traditional festive sides that won’t disppoint. View the menu.

Cinnamon Club (£85 per person)

Served in the Grade II-listed Old Westminster Library, The Cinnamon Club is an Indian restaurant with a great reputation that offers an alternative to the traditional Christmas lunch. Christmas Day dishes include stir-fry of shrimps with cracked pepper and curry leaves, slow-braised Pyrenean milk-fed lamb shoulder with saffron sauce, and Garam masala Christmas pudding with nutmeg custard. Served from 12pm until 4.30pm. View the menu.

Skylounge at DoubleTree by Hilton- Tower of London (£70 per person)

Located on the 12th floor of the DoubleTree by Hilton – Tower of LondonSkylounge boasts unrivalled views across the London City. Enjoy fantastic views of Tower Bridge and the Shard with a glass of bubbly on arrival. The three-course menu includes pan-fried pigeon breast with beetroot and white onion tart, traditional roasted turkey with sage and onion stuffing, fondant potatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts and chestnuts, and traditional Christmas pudding with brandy crème anglais and vanilla ice cream. View the menu.

The Spaniard’s Inn (£70 per person)

This characterful 16th century inn is one of London’s oldest pubs and was documented by Dickens. Settle down next to a roaring fire, and enjoy a real British pub. Dishes include pork & rabbit terrine, braised beef skirt, roasted free range turkey & smoked pork belly and for dessert, treacle tart, sea salt and walnut ice-cream. There’s also an award-winning cheese board. View the menu.

The Ritz Restaurant (£390 per adult, £195 per child)

As you might expect, Christmas dining at The Ritz is nothing short of spectacular; a traditional Christmas Day luncheon in The Ritz Restaurant includes a six course menu and live entertainment including a magician, caricaturists and a visit from Father Christmas. At an extra cost you can also choose to dine in the stunning 18th Century setting of The Music Room. View the brochure.

Blueprint Café at the Design Museum (£80 per person)

Situated on the 1st floor of the Design Museum, Blueprint Café boasts panoramic City views. This Christmas they’ll be serving up a four course festive feast of traditional Norfolk turkey, whole pheasants, stuffed Orchard Farm pork loins and an abundance of Christmas puddings. While you’ll have to pay extra for a window seat, you can always have a pre-dinner drink on the rooftop terrace. View the menu.

Min Jiang at the Royal Garden Hotel (£90 per person)

This restaurant on the tenth floor of the Royal Gardens Hotel offers stunning views of neighbouring Kensington Gardens. The Cantonese Christmas Day menu offers five delicious courses: grilled lobster dumpling, wood-fired beijing duck, double-boiled winter melon soup with morels, cumin-spiced fillet of beef with foie gras and for dessert, chilled ginger and orange soup with cranberry ice-cream. Plus for an additional £20 there’s the option of an extra course of honey and soy roast black cod. Served 12pm until 3pm and 6pm until 10.30pm. View the menu.

More restaurants open on Christmas Day:

Find out more about Christmas in London.

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Five Christmas Afternoon Teas in London Wed, 20 Nov 2013 13:45:47 +0000 Winter’s here so it’s time to treat yourself to a traditional British afternoon tea with festive twist. We’ve picked out five Christmas-themed afternoon teas in London.

Winter Afternoon Tea at No.Ten Manchester Street, Marlyebone £28 per person (1 November – 30 December)

Elegant boutique hotel No. Ten Manchester Street in Marlyebone has teamed up with its tea supplier, the luxury UK tea emporium Tea Palace, to create an afternoon tea inspired by tea itself.

Served daily at Dieci restaurant, Tea Palace’s festive blends permeate all elements of the festive platter creating a selection of irresistible treats. Expect panna cotta infused with winter apple tea, mini panettones infused with spiced pear tea, mini Christmas spice tea mince pies and Christmas blend infused scones.

Family Christmas Afternoon Tea at The Capital Hotel, Knightsbridge £29.50 per adult (available every Sunday from 1 December)

This Christmas afternoon tea, created by a Michelin-starred team,  includes an array of sandwiches such as smoked salmon and cream cheese, salt beef and English mustard and a turkey roll with cranberry jelly.

Sweet treats include comforting scones with homemade strawberry jam and clotted cream, spiced ginger cake with butterscotch, dark chocolate and Clementine mouse and a chestnut cream tart.

Children’s tea is offered at a discount price of £15 and one grandparent or child (under 12) can enjoy a complimentary tea with every two paying adults.

Festive Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory £34.50 per person  (25 November 2013 and 5 January)

Luxury Covent Garden Hotel One Aldwych presents a  fabulously fun afternoon tea inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  For theatre fans, there’s even an option to combine your afternoon tea with a top price ticket to see the West End musical.

Tuck into blueberry brioche, chocolate golden eggs, gingerbread pops and homemade candy floss! These wonderfully themed treats recall the wit and wonder of Roald Dahl’s classic tale and will leave you feeling like a big kid. This seasonal edition includes cranberry and turkey dishes, spiced pear tea and other winter warmers.

Valrhona Chocolate Afternoon Tea at Brasserie Blanc  £25 per person (14 December only)

Enjoy an exclusive Chocolate Afternoon Tea inspired by the  international best-selling novel Chocolat. While the tea is organised by The Chocolate Festival, it is hosted by expert French Chocolatier Valrhona. Look forward to beautiful chocolate scones, savouries and pastries specially created by Andrew Gravett, Valrhona’s Patissier for Nothern Europe.

The tea will be served in the comfortable surroundings of Brasserie Blanc just opposite The Chocolate Festival itself, plus food experts Kendall & Simms will be creating a special selection of savoury dishes to accompany the sweet treats.

Mamma Mia Afternoon Tea at The Waldorf Hilton  £45 per person (16 December only)

Enjoy a West End Afternoon Tea as the stars of Mamma Mia! give a one-off live performance at The Wardolf Hilton, London. This is the perfect opportunity to combine the glamour and magic of London theatre. Settle down into the elegant surroundings of Palm Court to watch an intimate performance of songs from the show as well as some festive favourites.

The festive afternoon tea includes mini mince pies, winter spice Madeleine, red velvet cupcakes, Mont Blanc tart, mandarin délice and ginger bread.

£5 from every afternoon tea will be donated to the hotel’s partner charity, Barnardo’s, the UK’s largest children’s charity.

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Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London Tue, 19 Nov 2013 15:22:53 +0000 Warner Bros. is treating Harry Potter fans to an early Christmas present as its London studio tour has been given a festive makeover. Hogwarts in the Snow launched last week and offers visitors the opportunity to see the studio dressed for Christmas.

Although the studio tours run throughout the year, Christmas is one of the most magical times of year to experience Hogwarts. A gigantic Christmas tree lights up the lobby, while the Great Hall reveals Christmas as it was at Hogwarts in the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

The Great Hall has been extravagantly decorated with Christmas trees, holly, mistletoe and golden wreaths, while the dining tables are laid as if for a festive feast. To add to the magic, the windows give the illusion of snow falling outside. Seasonal props include the dress worn by Hermione at the Yule Ball, while festive sets include the Boy’s Dormitory and Gryffindor Common Room festooned with tinsel and Christmas cards.

When you step outside, you can experience a light snow fall, try some Butterbeer and have your photo taken outside Privet Drive and the eerily-lit Hogwarts Bridge.

The most mind-boggling and spectacular sight of all is the castle model of Hogwarts in all its snowy glory. This hand sculpted 1:24 scale construction would have taken one man 74 years to complete and is the jewel of the art department. Rich in detail with real plants, hinged doors and thousands of lights, the model was used for aerial photography and fooled many movie-goers into believing it was a real castle.

The artificial snow used on the Hogwarts castle model throughout the Harry Potter film series is dendritic salt. Visitors can enjoy interactive demonstrations involving the artificial snow-making process. During the filming of the model castle for winter scenes, a member of the crew had to put salt on the model by hand with a sieve – like dusting sugar onto a cake.

If you ever wished you lived at Hogwarts, you’ll love this fabulously festive tour! 

Hogwarts in the Snow runs until 12 January. Book here.

Learn more about the Harry Potter Studio Tour by watching Dan Quirke sharing his London Story. Watch this video for a chance to win a dream trip to London for two. Find out more here.

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Tower of London Twilight Tour Fri, 08 Nov 2013 10:33:59 +0000 Dare you take a spooky twilight tour of the Tower of London this winter? Historic Royal Palaces are giving visitors a unique opportunity to gain after-hours access to the ancient fortress as well as hear the gruesome stories which make it world famous.

The tours are led by the iconic and entertaining Beefeaters who not only share tales of intrigue, imprisonment, execution and torture but also get a kick out of making you jump.

Although largely spent outdoors, the tour also includes a brief look in the Bloody Tower, where two young princes disappeared from their beds while under the care of their Uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Two centuries later, workmen at the Tower dug up a wooden box containing two small human skeletons.

Another highlight of the tour is the chance to hear ghost stories at Tower Green, a historical burial ground and the site where three English Queens (Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Jane Grey) were beheaded. If you feel tired, you can rest your legs in the Chapel where their headless bodies lie. Rumour has it that there might be some more right beneath your feet…

Finally, you’ll head to the bottom of the Wakefield Tower where hundreds of prisoners were held at one time and where you can see three terrifying instruments used to torture traitors. Not one for the faint-hearted!

The tour is interspersed with tales of apparitions appearing in photographs, mirages passing through bodies and unknown guests being seen on tours…

Evening tours run in November, January, February and March. Tickets are £25. Book a twilight tour here.

Learn more about the legendary Tower of London in Tudor Times by watching Tower Beefeater Barney Chandler sharing his London Story. Watch this video  for a chance to win a dream trip to London for two. Find out more here.

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10 Alternative Christmas Events in London Tue, 05 Nov 2013 11:05:43 +0000 Christmas planning is officially underway. Have yourself a quirky little Christmas this year and discover some real winter gems with our list of 10 alternative festive events.

1. Bluebird Ice Rink, Chelsea (£10)

Don’t miss this glamorous pop-up ice rink in the heart of Chelsea. Away from the more mainstream rinks, this little gem is nestled in the wonderful Courtyard at Bluebird Chelsea. Take to the ice for Christmas parties, festive drinks with friends or fun dates. 11 November to 5 January

2. Belgravia Christmas Market (FREE)

Explore this classic one-day Christmas market in the prestigious London district of Belgravia. See Elizabeth Street glowing with festive lights and packed with traditional Christmas stalls before taking a stroll down to Pimlico Road where you’ll find jugglers, trumpeters and stalls selling roast chestnuts and toffee apples. 1 December

3. Fish Market’s Funfair Terrace, Liverpool Street

A real winter wonder! Based inside the city’s oldest surviving warehouse built by the East India Company, D&D’s Fish Market offers a taste of the freshest fish and shellfish sourced from the British Isles. Cosy up with a blanket and a mug of hot spiced cider in the heated terrace, complete with a wall of twinkling fairy lights and snow globes. Don’t leave without trying an alcoholic snow cone! 1 November to 24 December

4. Christmas Dollshouse Festival at Kensington Town Hall (£11)

The one-day event attracts visitors from all over the globe and is regarded as the world’s finest gathering of craftsmen who work in miniature. Many celebrities including Helena Bonham-Carter, Tim Burton and Jonathan Ross have been spotted perusing the festival. 30 November

5. Christmas Fair at Chelsea Physic Garden (£5)

This unique two-day Christmas fair is held at London’s oldest Botanic Garden. Shop exclusively selected seasonal gifts before taking a guided tour of one of the most important centres of botany and plant exchange in the world. 30 November to 1 December

6. Enchanted Woodland at Syon Park (£7)

Take a romantic stroll through the illuminated woodland, soaking up the magical atmosphere of the 18th century lake. The trail finishes at the Great Conservatory on the site of an old medieval abbey. This charming event is the perfect way to experience the striking London home of the Duke of Northumberland. 16 November to 2 December

7. Once Upon a Christmas in Covent Garden (£35)

Explore the heart and hidden charms of Covent Garden’s iconic Piazza as the area is transformed into a panto playground for adults. In this immersive theatre event, audience members are sent to the hidden corners of Covent Garden in order to save Christmas. Adults-only. 18 November to 15 December

8. Santa & His Huskies at the London Wetland Centre (£5)

One for the kids. Snuggle up with huskies and let them take you on a sleigh ride before visiting Santa in his cosy Christmas grotto in the northern pine forest. There’s plenty of mulled cider, hot chocolate and mince pies to go round. 7 to 8 December

9. Christmas Past: 400 Years of Seasonal Traditions in English Homes at the Geffrye Museum (FREE)

Rediscover the rich and vibrant traditions of Christmas gone-by at this free event at the Geffrye Museum. Authentic festive decorations transform the Geffrye Museum’s period rooms so that you can take a glimpse into how Christmas has been celebrated in English middle-class homes over the past 400 years. 26 November to 5 January

10. Prêt-à-portea- A fashionista’s Afternoon Tea at the Berkeley (£29-£55)

Style gurus will want to feast on this new Autumn/ Winter 2013 Collection. See designer items turned into cakes, mousses and biscuits. Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley Hotel sees all the classic elements of the traditional English afternoon tea except that the pastries resemble the latest catwalk designs.

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