Visit London Blog » abbey road Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:00:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 I’m With the Band: Top 10 London Attractions for Musicians Tue, 04 Mar 2014 09:00:36 +0000

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 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.

]]> 0
Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles’ First Single with a Trip to London Mon, 15 Oct 2012 09:30:05 +0000

It’s now 50 years since The Beatles released their debut single, Love Me Do. The Fab Four quickly gained international fame, and many key moments in their ensuing career took place in London. To celebrate this important anniversary and the band’s close association with the capital, you can explore the sites listed below, all of which provide a great opportunity to connect with the world of Ringo, George, John and Paul.

Abbey Road
Pay a visit to the world’s most famous pedestrian crossing, located in St John’s Wood, where you and your friends can recreate the band’s iconic album cover. Afterwards, enjoy refreshments at the nearby Beatles Coffee Shop.

Beatles Tours
Beatles experts, including Beatles Coffee Shop owner Richard Porter, conduct regular tours of London locations relevant to the band. There are a wide range of tours to choose from, both pedestrian and chauffeur-driven, and you can see everything from studios and film locations to the church in which several band members were married.

Madame Tussauds
Get up close to the Beatles in their heyday thanks to the startlingly realistic wax figures of the band at Madame Tussauds. Make sure you get a photo with your favourite Beatle!

Let It Be
Enjoy an innovative theatrical experience at the Prince of Wales Theatre, where the Beatles’ history is retold through film footage and the live performance of more than 20 of their greatest hits. Let It Be is on in London until January next year – book your ticket now.

British Music Experience
Head to The O2 in Greenwich for an immersive introduction to the best of British music, which of course includes The Beatles! Using images, video and a wealth of audio clips, the British Music Experience brings The Beatles’ magic alive, and you can even see John Lennon’s glasses.

Beatles Shop
For the perfect end to your trip, head to this charming shop for a unique souvenir. The Beatles Store offers everything from mugs and t-shirts to platinum-coated albums.

Which Beatles hotspots have you visited in London and are there any we’ve missed?

]]> 2
In Pictures: Paralympic Torch Relay in London Wed, 29 Aug 2012 17:00:21 +0000 Tanni Grey-Thompson with the Paralympic Torch in Regent Street Torchbearing team 056: Barrie Guy, Antony Eames, and others pose outside the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir temple, as they carry the Paralympic Flame on the Torch Relay leg through Brent. © LOCOG Torchbearing team 067: Lucy Priest, Ketaki Vaidya, Kenneth Maidens, Graham Helm, Christopher Tattersall cross the Abbey Road zebra crossing, as they carry the Paralympic Flame on the Torch Relay leg between Brent and The City of Westminster. © LOCOG Torchbearing team 068: Theresa Robberts, Sarah Clare, Ramona Williams, Diane Marks, Danielle Garratt and Torchbearing team 069: Mark Allen, Gareth Burton, Brian Barnes, and others pose with the Paralympic Flame inside Lord's Cricket Ground on the Torch Relay leg through The City of Westminster. © LOCOG Torchbearing team 071: John Craig, Charlie Humphrys, Aruna Mahtani, and Adam Hollick with the Paralympic Flame, at the Penguin Beach at London Zoo, on the Torch Relay leg through The City of Westminster. © LOCOG Torchbearing team 078: Edward Parker, and others carry the Paralympic Flame in front of Big Ben, on the Torch Relay leg between The City of Westminster and The City of Westminster. © LOCOG

The countdown is on to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, with just hours to go before the Opening Ceremony

The Paralympic Flame has visited some of London’s most famous attractions on its relay route today, including Big Ben, London Zoo,Lord’s Cricket Ground and Abbey Road - and it’s not over yet! The flame is now travelling east, en route to Stratford.

The Paralympic Relay is running later than planned, but you can keep track of its progress here. The new schedule means it is due to arrive in Greenwich just before 6pm, and at Waltham Forest at 8.49pm.

Have you seen the torch today? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

]]> 1
Top 10 Best Bits from the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony Sat, 28 Jul 2012 09:00:26 +0000 London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony (rehearsal)Did you enjoy last night’s incredible Opening Ceremony? Danny Boyle’s magnum opus was a thrilling display of the history and culture of Great Britain, and had a massive positive response across the media, social networks, and with Londoners too.

From the rural beginnings with speeches from Shakespeare, through the Industrial Revolution, with nods to our great institutions (the NHS, Great Ormond Street Hospital, the inventor of the World Wide Web), with comedy from Messrs Bean and Bond, Boyle’s show stretched both our imaginations, and it seemed, the walls of the stadium, as the show seemed to encompass the whole world inside the “steel O” to misquote Shakespeare! Here are my top 10 moments from the show, with tips on places to visit in London if you were similarly impressed.

1. Bradley Wiggins and that Huge Bell
What a way to start. Winner of the Tour de France and in possession of a snazzy new yellow jersey, Londoner Bradley Wiggins rang the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world, at 23-tonnes cast by the Whitechapel Bell Company (est in 1570). Fancy visiting their factory? You can.

2. Kenneth Branagh as Isambard Kingdom Brunel
I’m a huge fan of actor Kenneth Branagh, and his reading of the “Isle is full of noises” speech was fantastic. He was representing Isambard Kingdom Brunel, an engineer responsible for many of the UK’s bridges and dockyards. You can learn more about this famous chap at the Brunel Museum, and take a tour through his Thames tunnel in Rotherhithe.

3. London Symphony Orchestra (and, of course, Mr Bean)
Have you ever seen a better one-finger ostinato than that performed by Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean? It was one of several very funny moments, but behind it all was the London Symphony Orchestra, with Vangelis’ tune from Chariots of Fire swelling under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle. You can see the orchestra play throughout the year in London.

4. James Bond Visiting Buckingham Palace
Another brilliant comic turn, this time from HM The Queen herself. A pouty Daniel Craig took a trip to Buckingham Palace before executing the most incredible arrival at a party ever; you too can visit the Queen’s residence during the summer months. And if you’re a big Bond fan, don’t miss the current Barbican exhibition about our most famous spy.

5. JK Rowling Reading Peter Pan
Another of my highlights was hearing Harry Potter author JK Rowling reading from Peter Pan, before a team of hundreds of children performed a piece representing the wealth of children’s literature from Great Britain. If you were inspired by the literary display, why not try our Peter Pan Day Out, or visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter to see behind the scenes of JK Rowling’s incredible world.

6. Tim Berners-Lee – Inventor of the World Wide Web
An unsung hero of the modern age, and a key player in the digital revolution, Londoner Tim Berners-Lee made a guest appearance in the Ceremony, live tweeting “This is for everyone” which certainly made me want to cry! You can learn more about computer scientists like Tim at the Science Museum in London.

7. Dancer Akram Khan’s Moving Nod to Mortality
Earlier silliness was tempered with stillness as another Londoner, British Bangladeshi dancer Akram Khan performed a moving dance work called Mortality. Having held the post of associate artist at the Southbank Centre, he’s currently associate artist at Sadler’s Wells, and regularly performs in London. Keep an eye on our dance pages to see him perform again in London.

8. David Beckham’s Speedboat Along the Thames
Later, the mood changed again, as we were treated to the view of the lovely David Beckham sweeping along the Thames on a speedboat. Were you tempted? I’ve done it too, on one of the Speedboat Tours available in London, and I totally recommend it. (I can’t promise you’ll get the same fireworks as you pass under Tower Bridge, but the adrenaline rush is the same!)

9. The Olympic Cauldron by Thomas Heatherwick
There were so many well-kept secrets surrounding the ceremony, but one of the best was the cauldron and the identity of the final torchbearers. It was yet another emotional moment when the young athletes circled the stadium, and lit the 204 petals representing each country, which then rose together to create the cauldron. Want to know more about the Thomas Heatherwick Design Studios? There’s an exhibition dedicated to the team on at the V&A until 30 September.

10. The Great British Music
Finally, what about the amazing music that played throughout? So many great British musicians were given a moment in the spotlight: from Elgar to Underworld; from Charles Parry to the Arctic Monkeys; from the Sex Pistols to Dizzee Rascal. If you’re a fan of Sir Paul McCartney, make sure you visit the famous Abbey Road zebra crossing next time you’re in London; you can also pay tribute to the history of British music at the British Music Experience at The O2.

What were your favourite moments? Let us know in the comments below.

]]> 20
London Photo of the Week: Abbey Road Sat, 20 Nov 2010 09:00:58 +0000

Have you been to Abbey Road with your friends to recreate the famous Beatles Abbey Road album cover? Ktominac has and shared the photo with the Visit London Flickr group.

If you’ve photographed something interesting in London, perhaps Her Majesty or an octopus’s garden, enter our Only in London Flickr photo competition by adding your photos to the group and tag them onlyinlondon2010. You could win top price tickets to award-winning musical Jersey Boys and a night for two at the Thistle Marble Arch with a bottle of champagne!

]]> 3