Visit London Blog » Arts Enjoy the very best of London Tue, 13 Oct 2015 14:49:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A Tue, 17 Mar 2015 12:13:58 +0000 Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A

Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A

Following its record-breaking success at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Alexander McQueen exhibition makes its ‘homecoming’ at the V&A, but this exhibition goes well beyond fashion; it takes you down the rabbit hole of McQueen’s dark imagination.

Savage Beauty is an exhibition that eases you into things. It starts where McQueen did, in London, where his father was a taxi driver and McQueen learned the tools of his trade at Central St Martins and on Savile Row.

His talent for the nuts and bolts of fashion design, his technical skill, is on full display from the outset, as beautifully tailored jackets and items made from feathers and slashed leather are shown in the simplest room of the exhibition. The only hint of what’s to come is McQueen’s unmistakably cockney-accented voice, disembodied and echoing around the room.

It is testament to the curator Claire Wilcox’s ambition and talent that the exhibition goes beyond the clothes and into the mind of this beguiling artistic genius. Each room mirrors (and there are plenty of mirrors) a theme from McQueen’s work. You are soon plunged headfirst into the darker aspects of his psyche: a cave of bones and skulls feels like being taken underwater, where clothes inspired by African tribes are displayed to the sound of beating drums.

From here you enter a wood panelled room lifted straight from a Stanley Kubrick movie. The clothes should be dancing around a Victorian masquerade ball, seen through the prism of McQueen’s imagination. Here are the magnificent tartans and Victorian ball gowns that draw upon McQueen’s fascination with British and Scottish heritage. The controversy of his Highland Rape A/W show of 1995 on display, but with the edges firmly sanded off for the V&A audience.

Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A

Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A


Things then go up in scale, as you enter the central Cabinet of Curiosities, where pieces are piled so high up on four walls that it is impossible to take them all in. Here you get to see many of the famous accessories, including headgear made by Philip Treacy into a mesh of Swarovski crystals, a crown of butterflies and a hand-carved wooden Japanese garden. Your attention is drawn from all angles, particularly by screens showing clips from McQueen’s theatrical catwalk shows. Models walk on water, dance like puppets and are engulfed in flames to the thump of dance music.

A middle room gives a sudden changes of pace, as Kate Moss is conjured from nothing into a twisting, angelic figure, clad in flowing white silk, before contracting back into an exploding star. It’s a neat piece of hologram work, but it doesn’t quite fit within the greater context of the exhibition.

It’s good then that you are thrust back into McQueen’s world, with his Japanese-influenced works set upon twirling mannequins, set deep in mirrored alcoves. The twinkling music and twisting figures gives the impression of walking into a Japanese music box.

Finally, McQueen’s natural designs are given a clean space, with singing birds in the background and hand-stenciled walls of flowers, birds, babies and skulls (nature and death are McQueen’s most enduring, interconnected themes) giving the backdrop to an astounding dress made from silk and dried flowers and a gown made of lacquered razor clam shells.

As can be expected, the final room is an all-out aural assault. It is a tribute to McQueen’s last show, Plato’s Atlantis, and is the coalescence of his creative genius. Fashion, music and video installation combine for a fitting finale to a show that leaves your eyes delighted, your ears ringing and your head spinning.

Until 2 Aug

The V&A

The V&A


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Family Festive Day Out in London Tue, 16 Dec 2014 11:35:04 +0000 Father Christmas at Winter Wonderland

Father Christmas at Winter Wonderland

The twinkling lights are up, the mince pies out… London’s getting festive! Enjoy the magic of Christmas with the whole family on a festive day out in London.

Morning: Natural History Museum and Ice Rink

Natural History Museum ice skating

Natural History Museum ice skating

The Natural History Museum is always popular with children, who love the huge dinosaur skeletons, earthquake simulator and hands-on activities. Spend an hour or two exploring the museum’s amazing collections, then let off some steam with a skate around the outdoor ice rink – admiring the outside of the museum as you go for a spin.

There’s a large rink and a smaller one for beginners and children – plus a café/bar for those who prefer enjoying the antics from the sidelines with a tasty hot chocolate.

Lunch: Winter Wonderland

Jump on the 74 bus (towards Baker Street) and get off at Marble Arch, a stone’s throw from Winter Wonderland, just inside Hyde Park. Here you’ll find rides, a magical ice kingdom, a bustling Christmas market and much more.

You’ll also find lots of food stalls and pop-up cafes, where you can enjoy a lunch of piping hot bratwurst sausage in the Bavarian Village, or whatever else takes your fancy. Note: Winter Wonderland is free to enter but some rides and attractions are ticketed and need to be booked in advance.

Afternoon: Oxford Street Christmas lights and Hamleys

Oxford Street Christmas Lights

Oxford Street Christmas Lights

Stroll from Marble Arch along Oxford Street, admiring the beautiful white orb Christmas decorations above. It should just be getting dark by now – the perfect time to see the lights in all their glory.

Turn right onto Regent Street at Oxford Circus and head for Hamleys, better known as every child’s dream shop. Inside they’ll find all their favourite toys, see expert demonstrations and (if you get there for 5pm) you can watch it snow!

Dinner: Spaghetti House

Continue down Regent Street, through Leicester Square and onto St Martin’s Lane. Take a well-earned rest and refuel over dinner at Spaghetti House at number 30. A two-course dinner of Italian favourites is £10.50 for adults and £5 for kids.

Evening: Paddington Bear Trail and Carol Singing in Trafalgar Square

The Bear of London

The Bear of London

After you’ve eaten your fill of pasta, pizza and profiteroles, make your way to London’s iconic Trafalgar Square – just a few minutes away. Look out for The Bear of London, one of 50 unique statues of Paddington Bear dotted around the city. You can even do a whole Paddington Trail, to see all of the statues on one walk. But maybe save that for another day…

Then what better way to end the day than with some uplifting carol singing around the giant Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square? Performances take place from 4-8pm on weekdays, and from 2-6pm at the weekend. It’s enough to make even Scrooge feel festive.

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A Dickensian Christmas in London Thu, 11 Dec 2014 13:58:06 +0000 A Christmas Carol at the Southbank Centre

A Christmas Carol at the Southbank Centre

Many of London’s Christmas traditions date back to the Victorian era, so why not step back in time and explore Christmas as it was for Charles Dickens – the writer of the much-loved classic A Christmas Carol.

See A Christmas Carol on the stage

Many theatres and venues stage their own production of A Christmas Carol every year. There’s a star-studded narration at the Southbank Centre, a ‘chilling and contemporary’ take by the Old Red Lion Theatre, a family-friendly show at the Museum of London, and many more.

If you fancy something a little more dark, try Sikes & Nancy at Trafalgar Studios – retelling the story of two of the most famous characters in Dickens’s Oliver Twist.

Walk in the author’s footsteps on the Charles Dickens London Walk

A Dickens Of A Christmas

A Dickens Of A Christmas

Every Friday (except 26 Dec), London Walks leads a tour into the underbelly of the City of London – the tiny alleys, nooks and crannies where Dickens himself lived and worked. The walk begins at Temple Tube station at 2.15pm.

Enjoy a Dickens of a Christmas at the Dickens Museum

Given the strong connection between Christmas in London and Charles Dickens’s work, it’s no surprise the Dickens Museum has one or two things planned for the festive season. Under the A Dickens of A Christmas umbrella, you can be entertained at A Very Dickensian Christmas Eve, explore Dickens’ former home by candlelight, learn about the darker side of Dickens’ festive works on Bah Humbug Tuesdays, and much more.

Have a festive drink at The George Inn

The George Inn is not only the last galleried coaching inn in London, but also where Dickens himself used to go for a drink – he even wrote it into Little Dorrit. The pub, which can be traced back to 1542, today belongs to the National Trust. Drop in for a pint and take a pew in the Middle Bar, which was once the Coffee Room where Dickens would sit.

Feast on London’s Christmas specialties

Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market

It is said that on Christmas Eve, Dickens would visit the Christmas markets in London’s East End between Aldgate and Bow. Take a leaf from his book and explore the sights, sounds and tastes to be found under the elegant Victorian roof of Leadenhall Market – the setting of the fictional bar Blue Boar Inn in The Pickwick Papers. It may be more upmarket than what Dickens would have encountered in his day – but luckily there’ll definitely be something better than gruel on the menu!

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London Video of the Week: Top 10 London Attractions Fri, 20 Jun 2014 09:44:02 +0000

From the British Museum to the EDF Energy London Eye, Tate Modern to the Natural History Museum, watch this video to discover London’s top 10 most popular tourist attractions, based on visitor numbers.

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Brazil in London Fri, 13 Jun 2014 08:34:00 +0000 The Fontanas. Courtesy of Rich Mix

In case you missed the news (where on earth have you been?) the 2014 FIFA World Cup is being held in Brazil. But you don’t need to jet around the world to get into the spirit, there are plenty of amazing places and ways to enjoy Brazilian culture right here in London.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started – from dancing up a storm to sipping delicious rum cocktails.

Brazilian cocktails in London

Made in Brasil cocktail and snacks

The caipirinha is the most popular of Brazil’s cocktails – a refreshing kick of cachaça (sugar cane rum), sugar and lime. Enjoy a classic caipirinha – or one of the many spin-offs, made with fresh fruit – at the newly opened pop-up Barzinho in Soho, Guanabara in Covent Garden or Floripa in Old Street.

Brazilian restaurants in London

Brazil is famous for its barbeques (or churrascaria) – and Brazilians know a thing or two about grilling meat to perfection. Find out for yourself at London chain Rodizio Rico, which has branches in The O2, Islington and Notting Hill. Other dining options include Raizes in Hackney, Barraco in Kilburn or the Japanese-flavoured Sushisamba in the City. While other favourite dishes to look out for include Brazil’s national dish, feijoada (a hearty bean and pork stew), moqueca (a tasty fish stew made with coconut milk) and the deliciously sweet pudim (a caramel-like flan made with condensed milk).

Brazilian music in London

Made in Brasil

The Brazilian music scene is big in London – and growing all the time. To hear live music, you need to head to places like Vauxhall restaurant/bar Tia Maria, glitzy Covent Garden bar Guanabara and Camden restaurant/bar Made in Brasil. As well as samba you’ll find choro, bossa nova, forro, MPB… the list goes on. Many non-Brazilian venues also hold regular Brazilian music nights too, such as Ronnie’s Bar (above famous Soho jazz club Ronnie Scott’s) and Primo near Westminster. And don’t forget to look out for samba, samba reggae and maracatu bands and dancers parading at the Notting Hill Carnival in August.

Brazilian dance in London

Brasil Brasileiro. Courtesy: Sadler's Wells

Like with music, there are many different forms of Brazilian dance – and you find many of them in London. Learn how to shimmy to samba at the London School of Samba itself, partner up for forro dancing (Forro London lists all the different forro nights in London), discover empowering maracatu and samba reggae dance with Gandaia Arts in Brixton, cross continents with Irineu Nogueira’s fierce Afro-Brazilian dance sessions… you could dance every night of the week! If you prefer to watch rather than participate, why not check out Brasil Brasileiro, coming to top dance venue Sadler’s Wells on 8 July.

Brazilian martial arts in London

If you prefer your dance with bite, seek out Brazil’s famous martial arts/dance form: capoeira. You can learn to ‘ginga’ (and the rest) at the many capoeira schools across London. Another popular Brazilian martial art is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – a self-defence sport focused on grappling and ground fighting. Just make sure you don’t get the two mixed up!

Brazilian events in London

Joga Bola! at Rich Mix

If you want to find out what Brazilian events are happening in your area or right now, pay a visit to, a great online resource of Brazilian happenings and culture – with a handy monthly newsletter. Other top sites to visit include Brazilian/Latin American magazine Jungle Drums and the website of London’s Brazilian Embassy. Just three upcoming events not to miss include: the World Cup kickoff party Brazil Day at Trafalgar Square on 12 June, musical feast Joga Bola! at Rich Mix (from 12 June to 13 July) – with The Fontanas (pictured top) and many more, and Radical Geometry: Modern Art of South America at the Royal Academy of Arts (5 Jul-28 Sep).

Find out where to watch the World Cup in London.

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Things To Do in London During Menswear Fashion Week Thu, 12 Jun 2014 09:00:37 +0000 Guest post by Fashion City Insider 

London is the home of men’s fashion. As well as enjoying over 400 years of expert tailoring on Savile Row , a glut of emerging designers will be showing their wares at this month’s London Collections: Men (LC:M), the London fashion week for menswear.

As the world’s sharpest dressed men descend on the capital for LC:M next week, we’ve threaded together a few fashion-related events to enjoy.

Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition

Paul Smith and Jean Paul Gaultier exhibitions

For art and design lovers, immerse yourself in the world of iconic designer Paul Smith at the Design Museum on London’s South Bank. Hello, My Name Is Paul Smith (until 22 Jun) shows Smith’s roots in menswear. The Barbican’s The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk (until 17 Aug) celebrates Gaultier’s mastery of couture and ready-to-wear fashion, as well as film and music costume collaborations, with as much for guys as for girls.

John Deakin’s street style photography

The Photographer’s Gallery steps back into London of the 1950s and 1960s through the work of one of the best British photographers – John Deakin. Delve into the history of street style photography at Under The Influence: John Deakin And The Lure Of Soho displaying Deakin’s exploration of the hidden corners and colourful characters of London’s Soho. Until 13 Jul

Dapper gents on screen

The Institute of Contemporary Arts is celebrating the art of sharp tailoring and style with a special 35mm screening of The Million Pound Note (1954) staring Gregory Peck, hosted by Anthony Peck, son of the Hollywood legend and style icon. 17 Jun

Bowler Hat at The City of London Festival

And a giant Bowler hat!

The party continues in London even after the fashion media circus has left town at the The City of London Festival with a huge inflatable 10m-high bowler hat pop-up venue near St Paul’s Cathedral which will be hosting more than 100 events from drama, music , comedy to debates. 22 Jun-17 Jul

Fashion City Insider is a London fashion travel guide.

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Five Highlights Of The City of London Festival Mon, 09 Jun 2014 08:08:05 +0000 Guest blog by City of London Festival Director Paul Gudgin

The City of London Festival brings more than 250 events to the amazing buildings and spaces of the City of London from 22 June.  It is one of the biggest and broadest programmes in the festival’s 52-year history with music, comedy, dance, circus, cabaret and even a Korean production of Hamlet to whet the appetite.

FLOWN_PiratesOfTheCarabina_ Bowler Hat

The centrepiece this year will be the Bowler Hat; the iconic piece of City headwear has been turned into a large inflatable 200-seat theatre just beside St Paul’s Cathedral in Paternoster Square.

With so many events to choose from, here are a few festival highlights:

1. Immerse yourself in one of our 9th Symphony epics at St Paul’s Cathedral with the London Symphony Orchestra – Bruckner’s 9th Symphony (3 July) and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (15 July). Seeing a massive orchestral concert under the dome of St Paul’s is an experience everyone should try, and tickets start at just £5.

St Paul's Cathedral

2. Soak up outstanding City views and great jazz with our ‘Jazz with a View’ series. Choose from Clare Teal at Unilever House (6 Jun), Kit Downes at The Gherkin (29 Jun) and Roberto Pla on the Roof Terrace of One New Change (8 Jul). This idea was inspired by Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center in New York… we think our views are easily as good as their Manhattan skyline!

3. Enjoy music and beer in the Guildhall Yard with our City Beerfest (3 Jul). Sample a selection of beers from over a dozen of Britain’s most popular breweries while listening to live American bluegrass, folk and Old Appalachian music, overlooking the City’s ancient HQ.

4. See breathtaking circus performed in a giant Bowler Hat with exceptional contemporary circus companies PSiRC, Silver Lining and Pirates of the Carabina.

5. Have a good laugh with our comedy programme in the Bowler Hat – Doc Brown, Adam Kay, Russell Kane, Katherine Ryan, Andy Zaltzman, Richard Herring and many more well-known and up-and-coming comics.

Book events for The City of London Festival

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London Video of the Week: Mammoths at Natural History Museum Fri, 02 May 2014 11:52:31 +0000

Get a taste of the Natural History Museum’s upcoming exhibition Mammoths: Ice Age Giants by watching this comical video. Visitors can come face-to-face with some of the largest mammals ever to have walked Earth at this family-friendly exhibition which runs from 23 May until 7 September.

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5 Reasons to see Matisse at Tate Modern Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:00:50 +0000 Matisse Cut-Outs

Tomorrow’s big art opening is Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at London’s Tate Modern. The timing is apt as 2014 marks 60 years since the French modern master’s death. Here’s 5 more reasons to see Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs.

1. Tate is putting on the most comprehensive exhibition ever devoted to Matisse’s paper cut-outs, which were made towards the end of the great artist’s life – between 1943 and 1954 – after ill health prevented the him from being able to paint.

2. You’ll get to see around 120 of these colourful and innovative cut-out works that Matisse made using scissors and coloured paper. Many works are displayed together for first time.

3. It’s the first time the artist’s classic Jazz maquettes have been shown outside of France alongside faithful copies of the 20 plates and hand-written notes by Matisse for the book they appeared in, Jazz, published in 1947.

4. Back together for the first time! See Tate’s The Snail (1953), with its two companion works Memory of Oceania (MoMa, New York) and Large Composition with Masks 1953 (National Gallery of Art, Washington). A photograph of Matisse’s studio reveals that these the three pieces were initially conceived as a unified whole, but it’s the first time they’ve been exhibited together since they were made.

5. Catch the largest number of Matisse’s Blue Nudes ever shown together. The exhibition includes the most famous and recognisable of the group Blue Nude I 1952 (Beyeler Foundation, Basel).

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs opens this Thursday 17 Apr – 7 Sep. Buy Matisse tickets here

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48 Hour Gay Guide to East London Wed, 09 Apr 2014 09:00:16 +0000 A guest blog post by Adam Groffman, author of travel blog Travels of Adam

London’s East End is one of the capital’s coolest neighborhoods. A longtime working class area, East London is now home to some of the city’s best restaurants and bars. And while London’s gay scene is traditionally in Soho, most hipsters have moved further afield to Shoreditch and Hackney. Here’s our guide to a fun weekend in East London, including gay nightlife and tourist attractions:



Stay at The Boundary Hotel
A former Victorian warehouse, Shoreditch’s Boundary Hotel is a great place to stay if you’re visiting on a romantic weekend as it has a rooftop restaurant and bar, as well as a boutique style which make the place seem homely yet elegant. Rooms from £200 per night.

A Taste of the East
Rather than splurging on a meal at the rooftop bar in the hotel, visit the popular Indian restaurant across the street Dishoom. The garden and laid-back style make it a great place to chill out before heading out for the night.


Cocktails at Loungelover
For a Friday night nightcap, take a short stroll to the trendy Loungelover bar, which has won countless awards for its menu as well as its design. Every room is luxuriously decorated.

Shoreditch grafitti


Enjoy a food tour
To get a taste of East London, skip breakfast at the hotel and instead make your way to Spitalfields Market. There, at 10am, the East End Food Tour begins. At £59, the walking food tour includes enough food to cover both breakfast and lunch taking in some of East London’s best eateries. It also covers Brick Lane and a bit of history about Jack the Ripper. On a budget? Free Tours by Foot offer pay-what-you-like food and history tours of the East End.

Vintage shopping at Broadway Market
Broadway Market takes place at the foot of London Fields park every Saturday. It’s basically a food market, though some of the shops along the street include bookstores and vintage shops. If you want to visit an authentic London pub, enjoy a pint at The Cat & Mutton.

Dining out in Shoreditch
After a long day of walking through East London, a relaxed dinner near Shoreditch High Street is in order. Keep an eye out for one of the food trucks to grab a light snack. Across the street from Shoreditch Box Park on the High Street is a canopied food hall (inside you’ll want to try Tulum Tacos or Yalla Yalla). Across the street is the trendy Hoi Polloi restaurant inside ACE Hotel. They’ve got a selection of small food plates and great cocktails to go with them.

Gay clubs in East London
For a proper night out, there are a few great options for gay clubs in East London. Dalston Superstore is a classic. Check their website for a calendar of events. East Bloc  is where all the indie boys and girls go — so you’ll be sure to get some good music and fun nights there. But if you’re after a more British setting, go to the George & Dragon pub on Hackney Street for a sample of the Shoreditch hipster scene.

Columbia Road


Brick Lane and Columbia Road Markets
Sunday is arguably the best day to be hanging out in East London. With the Columbia Road Flower Market in Hackney and the massive Brick Lane market, there are more than enough things to do and see. Here you’ll find vendors selling everything from street food to vintage clothing.


Art gallery in a restaurant basement
To top off the weekend, make your way to the trendy Tramshed Restaurant on Rivington Street. In the basement is a small gallery space featuring a wide range of artists — not just established ones, but local up-and-coming ones as well.

TRAVELS OF ADAM focuses on the most hip and cool things to do around the world. Follow Adam on Instagram and Pinterest to discover his latest cool travel finds.

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