Visit London Blog » royal academy of arts Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:00:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mother’s Day in London: Top 5 Afternoon Teas and Restaurant Treats For Mums Mon, 10 Mar 2014 09:00:20 +0000 You know the story: you’ve arranged the Mother’s Day flowers and baked the Mother’s Day cake, but still want to treat your mum to something special on Mother’s Day itself.

Here are the best Mother’s day ideas for mums who’ll be in London on Sunday 30 March 2014, including Mother’s Day afternoon tea and Mother’s Day brunch.

Fortnum and Mason
As well as a mother-daughter pampering session in the beauty rooms, Fortnum and Mason is hosting a classic Mother’s Day afternoon tea in the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon (from £45 per person) on 30 March. This afternoon tea is set in the quintessentially British environment of the famous department store and includes sandwiches, scones, and an array of sweet treats. Plus, for all those extra special mums on Mothering Sunday, there’s a free gift to take home.

The Royal Academy of Arts
Here’s a great gift for mothers who have (a) a fondness for art, and (b) a fondness for London and will therefore return to the city throughout the year. Purchase an annual Friends of RA membership as a Mother’s Day gift (£90) – giving mum unlimited access to world class exhibits and a host of other goodies at The Royal Academy of Arts – and you’ll receive a free cream tea for two at the exclusive members-only Keepers House.

Kensington Palace

On Sunday 30 March, mothers can take a regal trip through history with the Georgian Tea Party at Kensington Palace. After taking a royal stroll through the splendid gardens, mums will be invited to partake in ladylike pursuits in the palace. A special afternoon tea will also be served in the 18th century Orangery restaurant. The Georgian Tea Party is included as part of the normal entrance ticket price but tea at The Orangery is not.

Chelsea Riverside Brasserie
The Chelsea Riverside Brasserie at the Wyndham Grand London Chelsea Harbour hotel is a secluded hidden gem. The view out across the boats and the Thames creates a tranquil backdrop for spoiling mums. If you want to go grand with your Mother’s Day gift, treat her to an overnight stay, Champagne afternoon tea, chocolate truffles on arrival and full English breakfast (Mother’s Dearest Package from £330 per room per night). Alternatively, simply enjoy a leisurely brunch with unlimited Champagne for £55 per person on Sunday 30 March. If four or more adults dine, mums go for free.

Planet Hollywood and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! London
For families visiting London with younger children, there’s an opportunity to combine two of the West End’s most exciting experiences on Mother’s Day. For £36 per adult and £34 per child, you can enjoy the bizarre world of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! London (pictured right), home to exhibits like the mirror maze and a full size knitted Ferrari. The fun doesn’t stop there because included in the price is a two-course lunch or dinner with drink at movie memorabilia restaurant, Planet Hollywood.

More Mother’s Day ideas

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Top Art Exhibitions to See in London in 2014 Fri, 27 Dec 2013 10:00:35 +0000 2014 is set to be an exciting year with plenty of blockbuster exhibitions planned across the capital. From art to architecture, collage to contemporary, don’t miss these fantastic exhibitions.

Henri Matisse Cut-Outs

Tate Modern, 17 Apr-7 Sep 2014

While Matisse became famous for his use of bright colours and simplified use of line, towards the end of his illustrious career he gradually became blind which left him unable to continue with these types of paintings. To remedy this he chose instead to work with cut-out shapes. These wonderful mature works live on in collage and will be available to view this summer at  the Tate Modern.

Sensing Spaces: Architecture Re-imagined

Royal Academy of Arts, 25 Jan–6 Apr 2014

The unmissable opening 2014 exhibition at The Royal Academy of Arts will be entirely experiential. Involving unique commissions from seven internationally-renowned architecture firms, Sensing Spaces explores how visitors respond to environments, buildings and spaces. There will be six installations, each re-imagining the boundaries between art and architecture and how visitors might interpret what they see, feel, hear and smell.

Late Turner: Painting Set Free

Tate Britain, 10 Sep 2014 – 25 Jan 2015

This exhibition at the Tate Britain will pay tribute to the revolutionary work of Turner whose late landscapes depicted studies of light and atmosphere where the air becomes misty, the light ethereal, and where the land evaporates into the sky.  This exhibition is dedicated to Turner’s later works – all produced after the artist turned 60 and covering the period 1835-50. A star of the show will be Turner’s masterpiece Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway from 1844 which depicts a hare seemingly in a race with a steam train as it puffs through a rain storm.

Martin Creed 

Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, 29 Jan– 27 Apr 2014

Famous for his Turner Prize-winning piece (Work No. 227, the lights going on and off, 2001), Martin Creed is an artist that people tend to either love or hate.  This new exhibition at the Hayward Gallery is your chance to make your mind up about his highly conceptual art. Throughout the duration of the show there will be a spattering of events at which that Creed plays live, which may even include a song counting from 1 to 100.

The Great War in Portraits 

National Portrait Gallery, 27 Feb-15 Jun 2014

One of the first events in London commemorating the World War I centenary is the National Portrait Gallery’s The Great War in Portraits show. Rather than focus on war-torn landscape pictures, this exhibition will tell the story of the Great War in images of people. With artists including Ludwig Kirchner and William Orpen’s self-portraits from their time in the army, and more Expressionist works providing a window into the political and psychological turmoil experienced, this will be a revealing show.

Vikings: Life and Legend

British Museum, 6 March – 22 June 2014

How did the Vikings change the history of Britain? The British Museum sets out to explore exactly that with its major 2014 exhibition Vikings: Life and Legend. With important and delicate artefacts on loan from Denmark and Scandinavia, this show is set to redefine how we perceive the Vikings. Often portrayed as violent thugs, The Vikings were actually an enterprising, often-nomadic civilisation who commanded more communities via their trade routes than any other established people of the same era in the British Isles or Europe. Quite apart from an educational experience, there will be gold and jewels on display, as well as impressive fragments of an original Viking longboat, transported for the first time from Denmark.

Constable: The Making of a Master 

Victoria & Albert Museum, 20 Sep 2014 – 11 Jan 2015

John Constable’s The Hay Wain, is one of the most famous paintings in London’s National Gallery and one that tourists flock to see. And though it won’t move far in 2014, it will form part of a revealing display at the V&A. This and a select group of masterpieces form the centrepiece of this show, while Constable’s early oil sketches tell us how he evolved to become such a reputable painter. Unequalled in his portrayal of the natural landscape, this is a rare chance to get behind Constable’s famous works and learn more about the man.


National Gallery, 18 Jun-7 Sep 2014

The perfect introduction to how painting evolved throughout the centuries. Using its vast collection to tell the story of colour, this ambitious show at the National Gallery spans 700 years; each room devoted to one colour. So, whether you’re interested in colour theory, the chemistry of pigments and their production, or how brush-strokes form a picture on the canvas, this exhibition will cover it all.

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What’s On This Weekend: 16-18 August Mon, 12 Aug 2013 09:30:12 +0000

Get set for another fabulous summer weekend in London: see world class art, marvel at some thrilling sport or take the kids to their first festival.

World Rugby Sevens at Twickenham

The inaugural World Club Rugby Sevens is a major new 7s tournament which brings together some of the globe’s biggest names in club and provincial rugby for two days of thrilling sport. Taking place in Twickenham Stadium, the spiritual home of rugby, the tournament will see 12 teams competing to be crowned champions. As well as home sides such as the Harlequins, teams come from countries such as South Africa, Australia, Argentina, America and Russia, so expect to see lots of national flags on show! Tickets start from £30. 17 – 18 Aug

The Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition

Don’t miss your last chance to see the 245th Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition, which displays more than 1,000 works by artists ranging from Academicians to those starting out in their career. Chosen from thousands of entries by a panel of experts, the works include paintings, sculpture, photography and more. Highlights this year include a series of six tapestries by the renowned Grayson Perry, as well as a large-scale sculpture by Anthoy Caro. Tickets start from £10. Until 18 Aug

Eid Festival in Trafalgar Square

Celebrate the end of the Muslim Ramadan at this free Eid festival in Trafalgar Square, which takes place between 1.30pm and 6pm. Spectators can enjoy a range of entertainment on the festival stage from the likes of Adam Ali, Saif Adam and Fursaan, as well as exhibitions, children’s activities and much more. In addition, to mark the end of the Ramadan fast there will be a food festival offering delicacies from across the Islamic world. 17 Aug

The Lollibop Festival at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

This vibrant event is the UK’s biggest festival for kids, and a perfect chance to introduce your young ones to the thrills of a festival in a suitable environment. Under 10s can see performances from popular figures such as Rastamouse, Shaun the Sheep and the Go!Go!Go! Show, as well as enjoy dance lessons, circus workshops, cooking classes and much more. The festival emphasises interactive play, and your kids will be kept busy all day long with the huge array of activities on offer! Tickets start from £23.50. 16 – 18 Aug

The Great British Beer Festival at Kensington Olympia

The UK is famous for its ales, and you can get a taste of this world-class reputation at the 36th Great British Beer Festival, the biggest event in the beer festival calendar. More than 800 real ales, ciders and perries will be on offer, allowing you to sample a huge range of styles that ranges from pale ales and milds to stouts and barley wines. Food, live music and pub games also feature, or you can simply soak up the fantastic atmosphere created by the tens thousands of real ale enthusiasts who attend over the festival’s five days. Tickets are £8 and available on the door; you will also need to rent a festival glass which you’ll be able to take away as a souvenir. 13-17 Aug

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What’s On This Weekend. 14-16 June 2013 Mon, 10 Jun 2013 09:00:17 +0000 Not only is there a lot going on in London this weekend, but it’s also Father’s Day – a great chance to show your dad the best of what the city has to offer!

The Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts

See more than 1,000 works by emerging and established artists at one of the world’s most prestigious art shows, which is now in its 245th year. The Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition displays painting, sculpture, photography, architecture and film that has been selected by a panel of 10 Royal Academicians from a substantial pool of entries. Everything on show is for sale, and highlights this year include a series of six tapestries by Grayson Perry and a large-scale sculpture by Athoy Caro. Tickets start from £10. 10 Jun – 18 Aug

Trooping the Colour, Horse Guards Parade & the Mall

Celebrate The Queen’s official birthday at this spectacular military parade, which has been taking place since 1820. You can stand on the Mall to watch the spectacle: after The Queen inspects the troops on Horse Guards Parade, resplendent in their ceremonial uniforms, you’ll see her lead them down the Mall to Buckingham Palace, before guns are fired in salute at Green Park. The celebration finishes with an RAF flypast, which The Queen will watch – alongside other members of the Royal Family – from the palace’s famous balcony. Entry is free, but arrive early to secure a good spot! 15 Jun

Backyard Cinema’s Weekend Movie Festival

Enjoy a movie experience with a difference at Backyard Cinema’s cinematic festival, which serves up beers, beanbags and BBQ alongside the film! Staged at London Fields Brewery, the festival offers a variety of fun films alongside the chance to sample street foods, craft beers and live music. Films on offer range from recent hit The Silver Linings Playbook to the classic musical The Blues Brothers – at which you can even sing and dance along! Tickets start from £10. 15-16 Jun

Ginstock, Hackney 

Get into the spirit of World Gin Day at Ginstock, where you can sample world-class gins, enjoy fantastic food and soak up the festival atmosphere. London-made gins such as Sipsmith will be matched with some of the capital’s best bartenders for undoubtedly spectacular results – don’t miss the announcement of the Ginstock winner at 6pm, after which you can party the night away at the Ginstock lock-in. Tickets are £36. 15 Jun

The Mill Hill Music Festival

Head to north west London for a wide choice of exceptional music at the biennial Mill Hill Music Festival. The festival takes place all across the area, and highlights this weekend include Alan Warner’s All Stars and the Vo-De-O-Do Orchestra. Some concerts are free, check the website for full details15 – 22 Jun

More London events

Photograph by Cristiano Maia via Flickr

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What’s On This Weekend. 1-3 February 2013 Mon, 28 Jan 2013 12:15:09 +0000 This weekend sees a blockbuster opening in London – the View from the Shard at London Bridge. This sky-high viewing experience allows visitors the chance to view the capital from an unprecedented height, but if you can’t make it to the building’s 72nd floor, the city still has plenty of lowlier – yet equally enjoyable -attractions on offer.

The View from the Shard

From Friday you’ll be able to view London from Europe’s tallest building, as the View from the Shard opens for business. A ticket allows you access to the the building’s highest floors, from which you can enjoy a 40km-wide view over the city and its environs. Don’t forget to pay close attention to the displays on your way up – you might see a few familiar faces in surprising situations. Adult tickets start from £29.95.

Manet: Portraying Life at the Royal Academy of Arts

See the first major exhibition of Manet’s portraiture at the Royal Academy, which brings together works from around the world to highlight the artist’s skill in this complex field. This unique exhibition features more than 50 paintings, which depict everything from Manet’s friends and relatives to popular society figures of his day. For those looking to make a weekend of it, the nearby Athenaeum Hotel’s Manet Experience package offers a perfect combination of culture and luxury. Until 14 Apr

RAF Photographer of the Year 2012, at the RAF Museum

See stunning images of Air Force life at the RAF Photographer of the Year exhibition. The competition is now in its 23rd year and attracted more than 900 entries in 2012, depicting everything from life during overseas operations to the RAF’s world-class equipment. Not only can you see photographs by winner Corporal Mike Jones and many others, but you can also explore the rest of this fascinating museum, which features military aircraft displays, a 4D theatre and a chance to learn more about RAF history. Entry to the museum and exhibition is free.  Until 15 Apr

Snowdrop Days, Chelsea Physic Garden

Admire 10,000 newly-planted snowdrops in the Chelsea Physic Garden, which hosts this stunning celebration of the delicate white flower. As well as the garden displays, you can examine different varieties up close in the Snowdrop Theatre, or buy your own from the Chelsea Physic Garden shop. The Snowdrop Days are accompanied by programme of events that includes guided walks, lectures and workshops. Adult tickets are £9. Until 10 Feb

London Dungeon Car Boot Sale

Why exit through the gift shop when you can take the attraction home with you? Anyone who has enjoyed the deliciously terrifying delights of the London Dungeon will be delighted by the news that, on 3 February, the Dungeon will be selling off props from its old location at the Pimlico Car Boot Sale. You can purchase everything from cut-price period costumes to ghoulish fake body parts at this relocation sale, which precedes the start of the attraction’s new reign of terror at the Southbank in March. 3 Feb, from 11.30am

More events in London

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Five Major London Art Exhibitions to See in 2013 Sat, 29 Dec 2012 09:00:26 +0000

As well as being a fantastic year for sport, 2012 was a great year for art exhibitions in London. We’ve enjoyed blockbuster shows such as David Hockney at the Royal Academy of Arts, Damien Hirst at Tate Modern and Lucian Freud at the National Portrait Gallery.

Here are five exhibitions to look out – and book ahead – for in 2013.

Manet: Portraying Life, Royal Academy of Arts: The Royal Academy hosts the first-ever UK exhibition devoted to Edouard Manet’s portraiture. 26 Jan-14 Apr

Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, Tate Modern: See 125 of the best paintings and sculptures by Roy Lichtenstein, known for his bright, comic strip-style works. 21 Feb-27 May

Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, British Museum: Major display of objects excavated from two Roman cities buried by a catastrophic eruption in AD 79. 28 Mar-29 Sep

Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life, Tate Britain: This exhibition of Lowry landscapes is the first big London show devoted to the artist since his death in 1976. 26 Jun-20 Oct

Paul Klee, Tate Modern: Tate Modern charts Paul Klee’s complex, colourful drawings and paintings alongside the events that happened during his lifetime. 15 Oct-9 Mar

Which London art exhibitions are you looking forward to in 2013? Let us know in the comments below.

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Coming Soon to the Royal Academy of Arts Thu, 01 Nov 2012 16:55:58 +0000

This morning, the Royal Academy of Arts announced its exhibition programme for 2013. With such a remarkable year behind it, including the blockbuster David Hockney exhibition, expectations for the coming year’s exhibitions are high. So what can art lovers look forward to?

The 2013 programme will be a world tour of art, with exhibitions by artists from Japan, France, USA, Mexico  and Australia, as well as the UK. Upcoming exhibitions include:

  • Constable, Gainsborough, Turner and the Making of Landscape: Explore the development of British landscape painting through work by three of the greatest British landscape painters. 8 Dec-17 Feb
  • Mariko Mori: Rebirth: A solo exhibition of work by New York-based Japanese artist Mariko Mori, showing sequential work centred on the death and birth of a star. Includes photography, sound work, sculpture and immersive installations.13 Dec-17 Feb
  • Manet: Portraying Life: A major exhibition of Edouard Manet’s portraiture, examining the relationship between his portrait painting and themes of modern life. 26 Jan-14 Apr
  • George Bellows (1882-1925): The first ever retrospective of American realist painter George Bellows. Although not well known in the UK, at the time of his death he was considered to be one of the greatest American artists. 16 Mar- 9 Jun
  • Mexico: A Revolution in Art, 1910-1940: An exhibition examining the intense 30 year period of artist creativity that took place in Mexico at the beginning of the 20th Century. 6 Jul-29 Sep
  • Australia: A survey covering 200 years of Australian art, including more than 180 paintings, prints, drawings, watercolours, photographs and multimedia works. 21 Sep- 8 Dec

Find out more about the exhibitions

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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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David Hockney: A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy of Arts Mon, 23 Jan 2012 15:49:04 +0000

If you manage to get your hands on tickets for David Hockney: A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy of Arts, you are in for a treat.

David Hockney is one of Britain’s finest and most-loved artists. He was asked to take part in this exhibition almost five years ago, after the Royal Academy of Arts realised they could base a whole exhibition on his most recent works. 

The paintings are mainly local landscapes created in Hockney’s native Yorkshire. Many of the 150 paintings on display were made within the last eight years and various mediums and media have been used. Some of the most interesting on display are his iPad paintings, depicting glorious landscapes and effectively replacing the traditional sketchbook.

Some huge paintings have been done using several canvases. “Winter Timber, 2009″ is one example: an oil painting on 15 canvases.  Others are individual paintings filling an entire wall and again, the vivid colours pop out and bring the room to life. 

Some of my favourite paintings on display were inspired by memories from Hockney’s childhood, as well as his recent recollections and they present an extraordinary collection.  The landscapes seem real yet we know they contain an element of the imagined.

David Hockney: A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy of Arts until 9 April 2012

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Our Best Bits: The VL Team’s London Highlights of 2011 Fri, 30 Dec 2011 11:50:01 +0000

Madelene Yeshin
All my theatre highlights took place at The National, from Danny Boyle’s mind-blowing production of Frankenstein, to the hilarious One Man, Two Guvnors and finally to the beautiful, romantic and funny play by Daniel Kitson -It’s Alright Now, until Later. On the food front, I had an incredible dining experience at Heston’s Dinner in Knightsbridge, and dicovered a new favourite Oxford Street eatery at Riding House Café - perfect for escaping the shopping crowds. Finally, my most bizarre experience of the year was rowing across the roof of Selfridges on an emerald lake courtesy of Bombas and Parr.

Lettice Kemp
My 2011 highlights included following the craft trail at the Thames Festival, seeing Milton Jones’ stand-up show, being utterly terrified by Daleks at the Doctor Who Experience, visiting the Tower Bridge Exhibition, watching Arthur “Rory” Darvill in Doctor Faustus at Shakespeare’s Globe and attending Knit Nation for the first time. Tapping into the trend for shocking Christmas jumpers, I took a one-day knitting class at Loop and mastered Fair Isle knitting. I also took a silver clay class at the London Jewellery School and a lampshade making class at The Make Lounge, both of which I heartily recommend. Best of all was South Pacific at the Barbican: just beautiful and dreamy.

Aly Garvey
There were some gorgeous exhibitions in London this year including the Glamour of the Gods at the National Portrait Gallery which I loved. Degas and the Ballet at the Royal Academy of Arts was fantastic too. I enjoyed dinner at two of London’s most well-known restaurants, the OXO Tower and the Rib Room which have both had refurbishments this year and reopened looking better than ever with food and drinks to match.

Hannah Collingbourne
After seeing Shrek The Musical, my friend declared, “That’s the best thing that’s happened to me all week!”. I have to agree; in fact it was one of my top events for the whole year. Audience members of all ages left the theatre with a smile on their face. If you need cheering up in the dark winter months after Christmas, I’d recommend a visit to Shrek.

Lisa Williams
Walking along the Southbank with all the beach huts, beach and drinking Pimms on the roof top garden bar during the Southbank Centre’s Festival of Britain was fantastic. I was also lucky enough to go to The O2 to watch the ATP Tennis semi-final matches, which was truly inspiring. Next would be my preview trip of the Harry Potter tour which is opening in March – I just couldn’t believe how much detail had gone into making the sets! Finally, my trip on the Orient Express: being treated like royalty, drinking champagne and eating divine food while pottering around in a beautiful train… what a year!

Jenny Owen
From the swashbuckling Pirates exhibition, to the beautiful and delicate paintings of Degas, it’s been a great year for soaking up some culture in London. I spent hours at the Mirá½¹ exhibiton at Tate Modern, and now we have the Dickens exhibition, which I think really deserves all the hype. Other stand-out moments included visiting The Ritz (every bit as decadent as I’d imagined); touring the Tower of London by night and visiting beautiful Lancaster House during a rare public opening.

Lianne Kolirin
Matilda was unquestionably the highlight of my year in London. The kids loved it too, but you don’t need a little one in tow to appreciate this musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic. I also enjoyed visiting World Travel Market over the autumn. Practically every country around the world occupies a tiny corner of the enormous ExCel exhibition centre. It’s so huge; you could spend a whole week taking in the atmosphere. Earlier in the year, I saw John Bishop compere a comedy benefit in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall. So many great acts, so many laughs. Best of the bunch was Seann Walsh, who is definitely a face to look out for in 2012.

Tom Butler
Skylight at Commonwealth Institute2011 has been a great year for discovering new spaces in London, from inside the former Commonwealth Institute as part of Open House London, to the Eden Project-designed Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden & Bar for the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain. I’m glad this beautiful, grassy rooftop will be back in 2012. Other highlights included a Q&A with author Kazuo Ishiguro at a screening of Never Let Me Go in February (the venue, the Ritzy in Brixton, had an incredible year of events celebrating its 100th birthday), and Hackney Wicked in July. Finally, the best single moments were the decision to award the 2017 World Athletics Championships to London, and the discovery of (possibly) London’s best burritos at Picante Mexican Grillin Victoria – both are a fantastic result for the city.

Zoe Craig
There have been some great shows in London this year. Highlights for me included the brilliantly acted plays Clybourne Park, Frankenstein and The Westbridge; and classy musicals Crazy For You, Matilda and Betty Blue Eyes. Best of the lot was One Man, Two Guvnors – a wonderful script, a fantastic cast, and whole lot of fun. I also loved seeing the new Penguin Beach at London Zoo earlier in the summer.

What were your highlights of 2011? Let us know in the comments below…

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