Visit London Blog » martin creed Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Where to See Live Music for Free in London Thu, 20 Feb 2014 10:00:27 +0000 Ain't Nothing But... blues bar

In most cities, the only free music you’ll find is the odd busker. In London, you can find free gigs and concerts taking place every night across the capital – at prestigious arts centres, happening bars and even galleries.

The venues we’ve picked below offer everything from jazz and soul to classical and world music – some of their events are ticketed, but many are totally free. Check times and listings for full info.

Southbank Centre

The Southbank Centre is a fantastic community arts centre, so it’s fitting that it holds regular free musical performances in the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall. February highlights include Argentian duo Sigamos (28 Feb).

St Martin-in-the-fields concert

St Martin-in-the-Fields

St Martin-in-the-Fields, located bang opposite Trafalgar Square, is known for its candlelit concerts. But this striking church also hosts regular free lunchtime concerts. Future participants include the NLSO Flute Trio (25 Feb).

The Forge

The Forge

A few minutes walk from Camden Town Station, The Forge is a bar/music venue, with an unusual central stage. Classical, jazz, world and folk music is on the bill here, with free jazz concerts every Monday night.

Royal College of Music performance. Photo credit: Chris Christodoulou

Royal College Of Music

Musicians studying at the Royal College of Music perform free lunchtime concerts at St Mary Abbots every Friday (1.05pm) and free ‘rush-hour’ concerts every Friday at the National Gallery (6pm) and V&A (6.30pm). Visit the RCM website for full listings of future events and participating venues.

Hip hop at Hootananny Brixton

Hootananny Brixton

About 10 minutes’ walk from the centre of bustling Brixton, Hootananny is the place to go for ska, roots, reggae and folk rhythms. Upcoming free gigs feature the likes of The Fontanas + Barking Bateria + New Street Adventure (22 Feb) and Rollo Markee & The Tail Shakers (26 Feb). Check the listings before you go, as some events are ticketed and others are only free until 10pm (or earlier).

Union Chapel

Union Chapel

A working church and community centre, Union Chapel is a wonderfully atmospheric venue for live music. As well as its popular concert series, the chapel puts on free music performances in its Daylight Music series. This month’s guests include Chris T-T & The Hoodrats + The Capybaras + Laura Cannell (22 Feb).

Katie Bradley and Chris Corcoran

Ain’t Nothing But…

This excellently named blues bar, tucked away just off Regent Street, is a real find. Every night at Ain’t Nothing But… there’s live music, and entry is free Sunday to Thursday – and before 8.30pm on Friday and Saturday. Singing (or playing) the blues this month is the Dust Me Down Blues Band (26 Feb).

Charlie Wright's

Charlie Wright’s

With the name and relaxed feel of an underground jazz club of yesteryear, Charlie Wright’s is an intimate music lounge/restaurant located close to Old Street Station. The venue has been serving up live music (and, somewhat randomly, delicious Thai food) since 1992. Today, entry is free on Mondays, when Charlie’s Comedy Club is followed by a late jazz jam session hosted by the Nikki Mackenzie Quartet, and also on Tuesdays, when drummer Shane Forbes hosts Charlie’s Jazz Jam.

Primo Bar

Primo Bar at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London Hotel

A short walk from the London Eye, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge is a design-led hotel with a surprisingly packed live music calendar. Every night in the hotel’s glossy Primo Bar you’ll find free performances, from ‘Brazilian Vibe’ Wednesdays to ‘Chilled Jazz’ Sunday with the Spitz Collective. With views out onto Big Ben and a lengthy cocktail menu, it could become a new favourite.

Check out our listings for more live music bars in London

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Fresco Dining: Art In London’s Restaurants Wed, 01 Aug 2012 15:00:38 +0000

Not only can you find some fantastic food in London, but it’s often served in aesthetically-pleasing surroundings. Some of the capital’s restaurants – regardless of whether you’re looking for haute cuisine or a quick burger – even offer you the chance to enjoy works from world-famous artists along with your food.

Burger King, Leicester Square
It’s probably not the first place you’d think to look, but the top floor of the fast food giant’s Leicester Square venue is graced with a two-metre wide painting by Damien Hirst (above). Entitled “Beautiful Psychedelic Gherkin Exploding Tomato Sauce All Over Your Face, Flame Grilled Painting 2003″, the work was made using the “spin painting technique” and is on loan to the venue until at least the end of the year.

L’Escargot, Soho
This renowned Soho restaurant is littered with fine art. See works by the likes of Hockney, Matisse, Chagall, Warhol and Miro downstairs, or check out the fantastic selection of Picasso sketches on the first floor.

Rules, Covent Garden
The walls of this venerable restaurant, which serves delicious British cuisine, are covered in hundreds of paintings and drawings. Don’t miss the large allegorical painting by John Springs, which features a triumphant Margaret Thatcher against a backdrop of the Faulkland Islands.

Le Gavroche, Mayfair
Admire works by Miro, Giacometti, Dali and Picasso from one of the sought-after tables at this brilliant restaurant from Michel Roux Jr.

Rivington Grill, Shoreditch
This Shoreditch hotspot hosts a regularly changing selection of work from the nearby Carl Freedman Gallery, as well as two works by Tracey Emin: “No Time” and “Life Without You. Never”.

Langan’s Brasserie, Piccadilly
See art by Lucien Freud, Francis Bacon, David Hockney and many others at this popular brasserie, which is sister to the equally art-infested Odin’s. 

Sketch, Oxford Street
Turner prize-winner Martin Creed, creator of All The Bells, has designed the restaurant at Sketch. It consists of various of his works: look out for the 96 types of marble on the zigzagging floor, the large scale wall paintings and the astounding attention to detail paid to the furniture and cutlery, every item of which is different.

Tramshed, Shoreditch
Damien Hirst has installed two of his pieces in the latest meat-centric outpost of Mark Hix’s restaurant empire. You can’t miss “Cock and Bull”, the huge formaldehyde installation suspended in the middle of the restaurant, but look out for his “Beef and Chicken” painting too.

The Restaurant at the Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly
The spectacular range of art extends into the restaurant of this world-famous venue, and diners can enjoy fantastic sculptures and murals alongside tasty dishes.

Nandos, venues across London
The popular chicken chain deserves an honourable mention for its commitment to showcasing South African art in its restaurants. It now has the largest collection in the UK, and you can see a variety of examples at their restaurants around town.

Have you spotted any more art over your supper at a London restaurant? Let us know in the comments below.

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Martin Creed’s All The Bells On HMS Belfast Fri, 27 Jul 2012 11:30:32 +0000

This morning, we were lucky enough to experience part of Martin Creed’s mass participation artwork, All The Bells on HMS Belfast.

More than 300 children from around the city joined in the piece, which celebrated the first day of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. There were Brownies, Scouts, Sea Cadets and girls and boys wearing traditional Bangladeshi costumes all taking part. Ruth Mackenzie, Director of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival and Jeremy Hunt (the Minister for Culture, Olympics and Sport) also joined in, as did Channel 4 news anchor, Jon Snow.

At 8.12am, the ship’s cannon fired, and everyone on board rang their bells for three minutes. Across the UK, church bells, bicycle bells, door bells, mobile phones and more were rung for three minutes. Even the bells of Big Ben joined in; it’s the first time the clock’s bells have chimed anything other than the hour since 1952.

It sounded fantastic, and the children involved all had a great time. “It was brilliant,” one Brownie told me. “I’m really excited about the Olympics now. My favourite event is the diving – I want Tom Daley to win!”

“It was outstanding,” said Lee Harrison, 59, from Peckham, the Yeoman of HMS Belfast. “I’m quite taken aback, actually. I didn’t expect it to be as good as this! We’re a multicultural nation, and this’ll be a multicultural Games, bringing everybody together in peace and unity. And we’ve reflected that this morning. Getting the whole of Britain together to do this today is absolutely brilliant. As an ex-serviceman, I feel very honoured to be able to do this on the ship. But I’m going to have a serious lie-down now; I’m going to tell my wife to get the Radox out, cos my knees are aching!”

Ruth Mackenzie also found it quite a tiring exercise: “I was in the middle of the huge crowd, I can scarcely hear a thing, and it’s quite hard work actually – a young child from Wales next to me said ‘This is like a work out!’ and it was! It was quite good training.”

And what was the message of this mass bell ringing? “It’s our welcome message. Our message that London is a fantastic place. A great place to live, to visit, and it welcomes people from all around the world as tourists, as partners; we’ve got artists from all around the world as part of the London 2012 Festival, and of course, to welcome the athletes who are about to take centre stage with the greatest show in the world.”

Did you ring bells at 8.12 this morning? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

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