Visit London Blog » Shopping http://blog.visitlondon.com Enjoy the very best of London Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:05:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 A Quick Guide to London Beards http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/06/a-quick-guide-to-london-beards/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/06/a-quick-guide-to-london-beards/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 09:00:20 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=38797 Sham, winner of the beard contest at the 2014 Great British Tattoo Show at Alexandra Palace. Photograph by: Jonathan Daniel Pryce

Once the favoured accessory of weathered fishermen and chin-stroking academics, the beard has had a revival in fortunes of late – and no more so than in London.

New research warns we may have reached ‘peak beard’ – but you just try telling that to East London, where the ‘hipster’ beard reigns supreme. London’s finest fuzz was even captured by photographer Jonathan Daniel Pryce in his blog-turned-book 100Beards.

We look back at some of the beard’s most famous moments in London history and culture…

The UK’s most beard friendly pub

The Cock Tavern in Hackney was recently crowned the most beard-friendly UK pub 2014. It was selected in an online poll organised by The Beard Liberation Front. It’s also where the British Beard Club hold their meetings – although that might be more to do with the pub’s great range beers from different micro-breweries – including its own.

Henry VIII. Image credit: Lucas Horenbout/ Web Gallery of Art

Henry VIII’s Beard Tax

Everyone’s favourite head-chopping king, Henry VIII, is said to have introduced a ‘beard tax’ in 1535 – despite having one himself. Walk in the king’s footsteps at his stunning former home, Hampton Court Palace.

Tower Green and the Queen's House at the Tower of London

A bearded escape at the Tower of London

On the eve of his execution in 1716, Lord Nithsdale staged a daring escape from the Tower of London. His wife and two of her friends smuggled in a set of women’s clothes and managed to sneak out the prisoner disguised as one of them – even though he hadn’t had time to shave his long beard. Visit the Tower of London for a glimpse of the site where the Lieutenant’s Lodgings (where the Lord was held) once stood – next to what is now the Queen’s House.

Weird Beard Brewery

West London brewers Weird Beard Brew Co (“all beard, no sandals”) concoct fantastically named beers like American IPA Five O’Clock Shadow, K*ntish Town Beard and Black Perle. Give them a taste for yourself at the Craft Beer Co in Covent Garden or The Harp near Charing Cross, which regularly stock Weird Beard Brews – just two of many other pubs and bars across London to do so.

Margaret Thatcher with Ronald Regan outside Number 10 Downing Street. Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library.

Margaret Thatcher’s fear of beards

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had a thing against facial hair and famously declared “I wouldn’t tolerate any minister of mine wearing a beard”. See where the Iron Lady once lived by peering through the imposing gates of Downing Street.

The Beard of the Great Sphinx at the British Museum

The Great Sphinx is one of the most iconic sights of ancient Egypt – and the British Museum has a piece of this massive sculpture: specifically a fragment of its beard. It dates back to about 1500-1295 BC – possibly even further back – and was excavated at Giza in 1817. See it for yourself in Room 4 at the British Museum.

To Beard or Not To Beard window display at Selfridges London. Photograph by Gareth Davies/Snap Media Productions

To Beard or Not to Beard at Selfridges

The latest window display at Selfridges cheekily picks up on the beard/no beard debate. Titled To Beard Or Not To Beard, it features a recreated barber’s shop – with all the trimmings. Step inside and you’ll find an actual barber’s shop – a collaboration between the people behind Return of the Rudeboy (an upcoming exhibition at Somerset House), top hairdresser Johnnie Sapong and Soho salon We Are Cuts – snipping beards into shape until 12 June.

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Things To Do in London During Menswear Fashion Week http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/06/celebrate-menswear-in-london/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/06/celebrate-menswear-in-london/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 09:00:37 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=38934 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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Spotlight On: Greenwich http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/04/top-5-things-to-do-in-the-london-borough-of-greenwich/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/04/top-5-things-to-do-in-the-london-borough-of-greenwich/#comments Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:00:11 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=38541 Mercedes tall ship. Photo credit: Royal Borough of Greenwich

You’ve probably heard of Greenwich for its rich maritime history, World Heritage status and great time-keeping (this is the home of Greenwich Mean Time, no less). But there’s plenty more to discover across this Royal Borough, from sky-high cable cars to an Art Deco mansion. Here are just five things to do while you’re staying in the area:

1. See Tall Ships and Nelson’s Uniform

Nelson's Trafalgar Uniform. © National Maritime Museum

If you’re visiting London this September, don’t miss the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Regatta. Over five days (from 5 to 9 September), some 50 majestic tall ships will be arriving from the coast of Cornwall. But don’t worry if you miss out, one ship that’s not going anywhere is Cutty Sark – the last surviving tea clipper and the fastest and greatest of its time – now permanently docked in Greenwich. Don’t forget to pop into the nearby National Maritime Museum too to hear more fantastic sea tales – and see the coat Admiral Nelson wore at the Battle of Trafalgar (complete with bullet hole).
While you’re there… Eat lunch at The Trafalgar Tavern, a historic 19th century pub overlooking the River Thames.

2. See Time and Space at the Royal Observatory and Planetarium

Royal Observatory. Courtesy of Visit Greenwich

Sitting high above Greenwich town centre is the Royal Observatory, home of not only Greenwich Mean Time, but also the Prime Meridian of the world (the zero point of longitude), London’s only planetarium and the UK’s largest refracting telescope. Take in a show at the planetarium, marvel at Harrison’s timekeepers and stand astride the Prime Meridian line – with one foot in the east, the other in the west. Look out for new exhibitions too, such as Longitude Punk’d – featuring modern-day versions of the weird, wonderful and somewhat wacky inventions submitted during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
While you’re there… Go on a ramble around Greenwich Park. This rolling green space is popular with locals and tourists alike for picnics, team games, strolls, boating-lake rides and squirrel spotting.

3. Soak up the view from a cable car or on top of The O2

Emirates Air Line

Get a bird’s eye view of Greenwich and across London from on top of The O2. How do you get up there? You climb of course. It’s all part of the Up At The O2 experience, a 90-minute journey to a 360-degree viewing platform atop the famous domed venue. Alternatively head to the nearby south terminal of the Emirates Air Line and take a cable car across the river to the north stop, Emirates Royal Docks. Or if you prefer to have your head in the clouds but your feet firmly on the ground, don’t miss the new Emirates Aviation Experience, where you can get a feel for life in the skies with the help of flight simulators and interactive aviation displays.
While you’re there… Experience another unusual form of London transport and travel back to Central London by boat with City Cruises or Thames Clippers.

4. Visit A Royal Residence

Queen's House. Courtesy of Visit Greenwich

Picturesquely located along the river, Queen’s House has ironically not housed many queens. Queen Anne (wife of James I) died before the building she commissioned was completed, and Henrietta Maria (wife of Charles I) spent little time there before the Civil War forced her to exile to France. It’s since fared better as an orphanage and then fine-art gallery – which it remains today. For something more off the beaten track, jump on the train to Eltham and visit the childhood home of Henry VIII, Eltham Palace – and the 1930s Art Deco mansion built next to the remains of this medieval royal palace.
While you’re there… Sample one of the homegrown, limited-edition beers at The Old Brewery, a working brewery with a restaurant/cafe and bar on the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College.

5.  Browse Greenwich Market

Greenwich Market stall

You don’t need to leave Greenwich to find great treasures, like maritime explorers of past, there are plenty of gems to uncover at Greenwich Market. Here, artists and craftspeople from the local area and beyond gather to sell their creations – from fashion to gifts, homemade candles and jewellery. There’s also a food section that’s always packed full of stalls selling street snacks from around the world. Head down on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for antiques and collectibles, and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and weekends for arts and crafts.

While you’re there… If it’s the weekend (or a bank holiday) don’t forget to pay a visit to Greenwich’s other market, the Greenwich Clocktower Market, where you’ll find quirky antique and vintage pieces.

See the Visit Greenwich website for more things to do in Greenwich.

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48 Hour Gay Guide to East London http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/04/48-hour-gay-guide-to-east-london/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/04/48-hour-gay-guide-to-east-london/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 09:00:16 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=38310 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:

Shoreditch

FRIDAY NIGHT

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.

Loungelover

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

SATURDAY

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

SUNDAY

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.

Tramshed

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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London Shopping News: Karl Lagerfeld, Pop-up Tube Shops, Carnaby Shopping Party, Soho Flea Market http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/04/london-shopping-news/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/04/london-shopping-news/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 13:27:36 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=38231 From high-fashion store openings to pop-up shops on the London Underground, the capital is bursting with hot shopping happenings.

Shops on the London Underground

Karl Lagerfeld opens on Regent Street

Big news for fashionistas! Iconic designer Karl Lagerfeld has opened his first-ever heavenly flagship store in the UK on Regent Street. Expect luxury ready to wear collections, as well as a glittering stash of handbags, leather goods, watches, scarves and footwear. When trying on clothes, you can take a photo of yourself in the store’s photobooths then share on Facebook, Twitter and email. Also now open on Regent Street is Italian luxury leather shop Piquadro, the brand’s first UK flagship store.

Carnaby Shopping PartyCarnaby Shopping Party

A key diary date for May! Carnaby‘s unmissable fashion event is back on Thursday 1 May from 5-9pm. There will be live music, DJs, trend talks, a pop-up bar and 20% discount on new collections. Register for a free ticket.

Shop for gold at Westfield Stratford City

To celebrate the re-opening of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Westfield is putting on a slew of sporting activities. From basketball hoops to fitness skills training, kids and families can get active from Dame Judi Dench7-13 April at Chestnut Plaza. Children can show off their dance moves at the shopping mall’s Silent Disco (14-20 April), while petrolheads will love the Top Gear Experience at Chestnut Plaza on the Street (16-27 April).

Celebrities at Fenwick Bond Street

Big name stars like Joanna Lumley, Vanessa Redgrave and Christopher Biggins will be taking their spotlight to the shop floor at Fenwick of Bond Street in support of theatrical charity Acting For Others. From 6-8pm on 10 April, you can see actors manning the tills and acting as personal shoppers. There will also be a Q&A with Dame Judi Dench for £100. Find out more.

Dog Day Afternoon

Calling all dog lovers! Choose accessories for your pooch at Dog Day Afternoon in Marylebone Village on Saturday 26 April. Expect handmade four-poster dog beds, dog portraits and a pop-up photography studio. Competitions take place from 2pm, with categories including A Four poster bed for dogs, available at Dog Day AfternoonBit of Ruff for mixed breeds and New Kid on the Block – Best Puppy. Free admission.

Pop-up Shops on the Tube

Independent shops will be popping up across the London Underground network this month. The pop-up shops will open at key stations including Piccadilly Circus, St James’s Park and Baker Street. Eight pop-up shops will be opening at the end of April at Old Street station where the scheme is launching. Find out more.

Soho Flea Market

This artisan and designer crafts event is returningSoho Flea Market to Soho’s Dean Street on 25 May from 11am-7pm with its usual mix of jewellery designers, furniture makers, glassblowers, ceramicists, musicians and stage entertainers.

More London shopping

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London’s Top 10 Bizarre Places http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/londons-top-10-bizarre-places/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/londons-top-10-bizarre-places/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 10:00:01 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=38137 Guest Post by David Long, Author of Bizarre London

From the time of Boudicca to the Boris Bike, in a sprawling metropolis covering 600 square miles – a city where eight million Londoners speak 300 different languages – it’s only right to expect places which are unexplained, unusual or just plain odd. Here are 10 of our favourites:

The Wapping Project

London Hydraulic Power Company
For more than 100 years the turbines here sent pressurised water through 200 miles of pipes all over London to power hotel lifts, theatre curtains and even dockyard cranes. One of the turbines has now been transformed into a restaurant and art gallery called The Wapping Project.

Kensal Green Cemetery
This Victorian cemetery with its huge elaborate tombs and beautiful landscaping is the final resting place of Thackeray, Trollope, Brunel and the great showman Blondin. Also two of George III’s children, Princess Sophia and Augustus, Duke of Sussex, were laid to rest here.

Fortnum & Mason
Far from the Highlands, the so-called Scotch Egg was actually invented in 1738 by upmarket grocers Fortnum & Mason. The store also sold Britain’s first-ever baked beans (after buying H.J.Heinz’s entire stock in 1866) and silver-plated ‘sporks’ – a combined spoon and fork – for soldiers to use in the trenches.

Dans Le Noir

Dans Le Noir
The great Victorian engineer Marc Brunel once held a banquet under the River Thames to show his tunnel was safe (it wasn’t and flooded soon afterwards) and in 1843 several stonemasons had supper at the top of Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square. Today, the Dans Le Noir restaurant offers guests the chance to eat in total darkness, allowing the food’s taste and texture to be appreciated without distraction.

 Burlington Arcade

Burlington Arcade
Opened in 1819, Burlington Arcade is one of London’s oldest shopping centres. Uniformed beadles are still on hand to enforce an old bylaw forbidding visitors to run, sing, whistle or open their umbrellas.

Christchurch Greyfriars Garden

Christchurch Greyfriars
The converted tower of a ruined Christopher Wren is London’s tallest house, with three bedrooms spread over 11 storeys. Christchurch Greyfriars Garden – open to the public and free to enter – is the burial place of no fewer than three queens.

Churchill War Rooms

Cabinet War Rooms
Winston Churchill’s wartime bunker is just a tiny portion of a vast, top secret government complex hidden under Whitehall. In the 1930s, more than six acres of bomb-proof offices were excavated beneath ministry buildings, shielded by a 17’ layer of concrete which can still be seen from the road outside. Visitors can explore this wartime bunker at the Churchill War Rooms.

The Mason’s Arms
This Central London pub was where condemned prisoners could enjoy a last pint free of charge on their way to the gallows at Tyburn. On hanging days it was traditional to deal with highwaymen first, as the ‘aristocrats of crime’, then common thieves and finally anyone convicted of treason. The gallows are long gone but the pub is still said to be haunted by at least one of the poor unfortunates. Enjoy a drink at the pub at 51 Upper Berkeley Street, W1.

The Travellers’ Club
Unique among London’s traditionally secretive gentleman’s clubs, The Travellers’ Club offers occasional guided tours for the public. It was founded in 1819 when new members were required to have travelled at least 500 miles from London.

Berry Bros & Rudd

Berry Bros. & Rudd
This 17th-century wine merchants is a veritable museum of viniculture, and is still family-run after more than 300 years. Giant leather-bound ledgers contain the personal details of distinguished customers. Not just Byron, Beau Brummell and George IV but Frenchmen too, including King Louis-Philippe and Napoleon III.

David Long is author of Bizarre London: Discover the Capital’s Secrets & Surprises

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I’m With the Band: Top 10 London Attractions for Musicians http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/im-with-the-band-top-10-london-attractions-for-musicians/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/03/im-with-the-band-top-10-london-attractions-for-musicians/#comments Tue, 04 Mar 2014 09:00:36 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=34272

London has long been a magnet for the world’s most famous singers and bands – and it’s produced a fair few itself, from Queen to Amy Winehouse. So the city is full of great attractions where musicians and lovers of music can learn about their idols, buy classic records and even record a tune. Here are 10 of the best:

Abbey Road
The iconic Beatles album cover picturing the famous four walking over a zebra crossing on London’s Abbey Road has inspired endless copies and parodies. The nearby Abbey Road Studios are not open to the public (unless you’ve booked a recording session), but they do have a live web cam online so why tell your friends back home to look out for you doing the famous walk?

Jersey Boys
Even if you’re not familiar with the name Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, you’ll know their songs: Bye Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye), Big Girls Don’t Cry, Beggin’, December 1963 (better known as Oh What A Night)… the list goes on. So Jersey Boys, the Olivier Award-winning musical about the band, is a must for all music fans – even if you think you’re not into musicals! Other great musicals to check out include Thriller – Live (Michael Jackson) and We Will Rock You (Queen).

British Music Experience
Roll back the years at the British Music Experience (located inside The O2) and explore amazing outfits, instruments, videos, photos and other memorabilia from the past and present of British popular music. Look out for John Lennon’s glasses, Ziggy Stardust’s 1970s number outfit and ‘Ginger Spice’ Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack dress. Plus you can show your best moves in the Dance The Decades booth, record a track in the Gibson Interactive Studio and transport yourself to some of the biggest concerts of the past 60 years in The Finale.

Open Mic Night at The Spice of Life
Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens and Jamie Cullum have all performed at The Spice of Life in Soho. And you can too if you pop along to its Open Mic Night, held every Monday. Make use of the in-house piano and PA, or bring along your own instrument. The music kicks off at 7pm, but performers should sign up at 6.30pm to be sure of getting a spot.

Denmark Street
Denmark Street, near Leicester Square, is known as London’s Tin Pan Alley. Both sides of the small street are lined with music shops, including Wunjo Guitars (selling new, used and vintage guitars), Vintage & Rare Guitars and Sax.co.uk. Stick around into the evening to enjoy live music at the intimate 12 Bar Club or Alleycat Bar Club, located below Regent Sounds Studio – where the Rolling Stones recorded their first album.

Rock and Roll London Walk
If you love to be regaled by tales of rockstar exploits, book a spot on the fascinating, two-hour-long Rock and Roll London Walk. You’ll visit the famous Marquee Club, pop into the pub where Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton once jammed, discover the location of the Sex Pistols’ world debut, and much more. No need to book, just turn up at Tottenham Court Road station (Exit 3) any Friday at 2pm.

Honest Jon’s Records
Arguably the most legendary of London’s independent record stores, Honest Jon’s is the retail arm of the acclaimed record label of the same name. Specialising in reggae, jazz and soul, Honest Jon’s has enjoyed a colourful, rollercoaster existence since its birth in 1974 and is still considered to be one of London’s best record shops by those in the know.

Wembley Arena
Every musician dreams of shouting “Hello Wembley!” to a sea of screaming fans – and many have done it, including Madonna, David Bowie and Prince. Check out Visit London’s music section for listings of gigs taking place every night across London at venues including Wembley Arena.

Music Gallery at Horniman Museum
See, hear and play instruments from around the world at Horniman Museum – from a 3,500-year-old pair of Egyptian bone clappers to a retro synth. Make time to visit ongoing exhibition The Art of Harmony, exploring Western classical music traditions, as well as the Hands-On Base, where you can give the instruments a go. Other London music museums to check out are The Royal Academy of Music Museum and The Royal College of Music’s Museum of Instruments.

Hard Rock Cafe
Today there are Hard Rock Cafes all around the world, but the London branch is where it all began in 1971. The walls of the restaurant – and the vault below – are lined with memorabilia, including the first piece donated to the cafe: Eric Clapton’s Lead II Fender. You may even spot the odd rock star popping in for a burger, according to the cafe – or witness one of the occasional jamming sessions. And if you don’t, you’ll still get a great meal out of it.

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Spotlight on: Kingston upon Thames http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/02/spotlight-on-kingston-upon-thames/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/02/spotlight-on-kingston-upon-thames/#comments Wed, 12 Feb 2014 10:00:40 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=37714 Kingston's falling over phone boxes

The picturesque riverside town of Kingston upon Thames is just a 30-minute train journey from Central London and is well worth the short journey.

Here’s why:

For messing about on the river

Kingston’s stunning location on the River Thames is a big part of its appeal. In summer watch the world go by while dining al fresco in Charter Quay or enjoying a health bite at The Terrace Eatery or drink on the terrace of the ever popular Woody’s pub.

Alternatively experience the river up close on a cruise. Turks Launches has 300 years of boating heritage and operates regular cruises between Kingston, Hampton Court Palace and Richmond.

Jack Wills in Kingston

To shop until you drop  

No trip to Kingston upon Thames is complete without a spot of shopping. With over 500 stores the town has something for every taste and budget, ranging from designer brands and high street fashion in large retail outlets like the The Eden Walk Shopping Centre and The Bentall Centre, to independent boutiques that appeal to those seeking one off or unique finds.

A great area for more unusual purchases is Old London Road – marked by Kingston’s famous falling over phone boxes (officially named ‘Out of Order’ by artist David Mach).

Old London Road is also home to the Kingston Antiques Centre, one of the biggest, liveliest and most affordable destinations for collectors in the South-East of England with more than 100 dealers offering a startling array of antiques and quality vintage items.

For its rich history

Kingston is a town steeped in history. In 1208 it was granted its first Royal charter by King John and it is said that seven Saxon kings were crowned here – the Coronation Stone remains to this day.

Discover the town’s rich history at the fascinating Kingston Museum. Housed in a beautiful, custom-built building, the museum has three permanent exhibitions. Two tell the story of the borough from Saxon times and the third details the life and work of renowned Kingston-born Victorian photographer Eadweard Muybridge.

See its historical sites up-close on a guided walking tour. Tours take place every Sunday during summer and on the first Sunday of the month in winter and depart from All Saints Church.

Rose Theatre

To see a show

Catching a show in the 900 seat Rose Theatre is a real treat.  Its circular design brings great intimacy and epic scale to all the productions that appear here.

The Rose works with internationally-renowned theatre companies and many West End stars appear here. The theatre even has a pit area where audiences can sit on cushions to watch performances, a popular option for families or those on a budget.

For fabulous food

Visitors to Kingston are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out. Choose from homely pubs, like the Druids Head, and riverside restaurants to al fresco cafes and stylish and even stately venues for afternoon tea.

The ancient market place is home to a six-days-a-week market, featuring a fabulous range of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Also choose fresh fish at Webster’s Fishmongers, pick out delicious meat cuts at Jimmy’s Meats or sample the flavours of Morocco at Exotic Tagine and tasty fresh sushi at Namu.

This blog post was provided by Kingstonfirst, which is branding for the Business Improvement District (BID) of Kingston Town Centre. The branding is used for the delivery of all events, services and marketing undertaken.

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Valentine’s Day London Shopping News http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/02/valentines-day-london-shopping-news/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/02/valentines-day-london-shopping-news/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 11:22:33 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=37749

London is heaving with show-stopping shopping events in the lead-up to London Fashion Week and Valentine’s Day. Here are a few of our favourites:

Black Roses in Carnaby

Go gothic this Valentine’s Day by getting your mitts on a macabre bouquet of black roses. London creative Miss Cakehead has teamed up with Kraken Black Spiced Rum to open the Think Ink pop-up, the first-ever florist offering only black roses. The bouquets will be lovingly arranged in grave vases, full of Kraken rum, rather than water, turning them black. A bottle of rum will be given in place of the traditional Champagne option. Open from 8am on 14 Feb for one day only. G12 Kingly Court, Carnaby W1

Free Roses in Chelsea

Feel the love in Chelsea this Valentine’s Day! More than 1,000 complimentary roses will be handed out to commuters and passers-by on 14 February at shopping hub Duke of York Square. A violinist will be playing romantic music and serenading on request.

 Message on a Bottle of GinBombay Sapphire from Selfridges

Add a personal message for your loved one onto a bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin, through an exclusive hand-graving service at Selfridges. The service is free for all those buying a bottle of the gin. Available on 12 Feb.

 Vintage Fashion Fairs

Got a passion for designer vintage? Don’t miss The Vintage Collections at Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair, a So Vintage Fashion Fairhighlight of the fashion week schedule. Popular with costume designers and fashion bloggers, this fashion week event offers classic labels like Vivienne Westwood, Ossie Clark and Biba. Sun 16 Feb from 11am-5pm at The Old Finsbury Town Hall, Rosebury Avenue, EC1R 4RP. Entry is £4.

If your budget doesn’t stretch to designer labels, rummage for vintage clothes for men and women, retro accessories, reworked jewellery and one-of-a-kind homeware at the So Vintage London Fair at Old Spitalfields Market. 1 Mar from 11am-5pm

Donutterie to Open in Box ParkTom Daley is mesmorised by a box of Dum Dum Doughnuts

Celebrity favourite Dum Dum Doughnuts is opening is first-ever Donutterie in Box Park later this month. These tasty treats are freshly baked rather than fried and only have 6 grams of fat compared to the usual 17 grams of fat in a classic American jam donut. Big name stars like Olympian Tom Daley have already been flocking to the Westfield Stratford City doughnut stand to sample the baked goods.

Underground Attraction at HamleysLuke Friend and Hamley Bear at the Hamleys Underground

Legendary toy store Hamleys has unveiled a lost underground station at its Regent Street store. The new Hamleys Underground will see a tube station come to life through experiences including games, such as a NERF tunnel target board, a kiosk and entertainment. Central to the attraction is an actual driver’s cab that was used on the Piccadilly line in the 1970s.

More shopping in London

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Westfield: East vs West http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/02/westfield-east-vs-west/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/02/westfield-east-vs-west/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 09:00:21 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=36997

Two giants of shopping heaven in London, both called Westfield. But which is the best one for your visit? We check out what’s on offer at Westfield London (West) and Westfield Stratford City (East).

Eating at Westfield London

Where to Eat in Westfield London?

There are more than 60 places to eat at Westfield London, from tasty treats at Ben’s Cookies to Jamie’s Italian. See your food prepared live in front of you on The Balcony, or settle down at one of the restaurants clustered along the Southern Terrace – such as the homely Bill’s, sizzling steakhouse The Meat Co. or Penang! for Malaysian food – tapas style.

Where to Eat in Westfield Stratford City?

There are 78 food retailers spread throughout Westfield Stratford City: at the World Food Court, along The Street, inside the Fast Food Court… As well as family favourites like bowling alley/diner All Star Lanes and Pizza Express, there are international options like Pho, Comptoir Libanais and Rhythm Kitchen and a branch of celeb hangout Bumpkin.

Ryan Giggs (left) and Gary Neville (right) at Cafe Football

What’s new in Westfield London?

Bath, body and beauty connoisseur Molton Brown has opened a new store, turning the air at Westfield London beautiful with its gorgeous perfumes, shower gels, body lotions and candles. Other new openings include fashion favourite Weekend by Max Mara, hand-woven fabric specialists Khaadi, vintage-inspired childrenswear store Their Nibs and Euro-Russian brand Amaka Design. Jimmy Choo has also reopened after a refurbishment.

What’s new in Westfield Stratford City?

The hot new arrival to Westfield Stratford City is Café Football, the new 140-seater restaurant from football legends Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs. Glam accessories label Follie Follie and American Apparel have also recently opened stores at the mall.

Westfield London The Village

Where to shop in Westfield London?

The highlight of Westfield London is undoubtedly The Village, a high-end shopping enclave lined with more than 40 exclusive brands such as Prada, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton and Burberry. The rest of the mall is home to some 300 luxury and high-street stores, including Debenhams, Next, M&S and House of Fraser.

Where to shop in Westfield Stratford City?

John Lewis, Primark and Forever 21 are just three of the shops you’ll find at Westfield Stratford City but not Westfield London. As well as 250 great stores selling everything from fashion and jewellery to tech gadgets and furniture, there’s the Great Eastern Market too – shopping central for foodies.

The LEGO shop at Westfield

What facilities are there for children at Westfield?

Both Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City do everything they can to make your visit with your little ones super easy and stress-free. Both malls are very pram-friendly with spacious layouts and lots of lifts. There are also Kiddy Cars to hire, designated Family Rooms (perfect for baby changing), an under-5s play area and Parents with Prams spaces in the car park.

Win a trip to London!

Watch this video (below), which explores London’s style scene and how Westfield has transformed the east and west of the city, for a chance to win a five-night trip to London!

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