Visit London Blog » southbank centre http://blog.visitlondon.com Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 16 Jan 2015 16:06:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Cosy Nooks To Go With a Book http://blog.visitlondon.com/2015/01/cosy-nooks-to-go-with-a-book/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2015/01/cosy-nooks-to-go-with-a-book/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 15:58:09 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=39292 London Review Cake Shop

London Review Cake Shop

Want a comfy corner where you can devour the latest bestseller? Snuggle up in one of these bookworm holes, scattered across London:

Downstairs at Curzon Soho
The Curzon Soho cinema on Shaftesbury Avenue is a great central spot for readers on the go. Pick up a delicious cake from in-house café Konditor & Cook upstairs, then head down to the subterranean bar area and snag a seat on one of the sofas. Beware, if you’re reading a book about film, a visiting cinema buff may engage you in conversation!

Benugo Bar at BFI Southbank
Walking past the British Film Institute along the Thames, you may think the Riverfront café is where all the action is – but head further in (or round the back) and you’ll find Benugo Bar. Next to the bright dining area is a cosy lounge bar, with comfy seats, soft lighting and an extensive drinks list. If you want something more intimate, ask for the secret door to The Drawing Room – a snug cocktail bar hidden just off the lounge area.

London Review Bookshop
A bookshop with a café is an inspired mix. Bring your own or buy a book from the London Review Bookshop, then settle down to a good read over a pot of tea in the bright and welcoming Cake Shop. As the name suggests, you’ll find all sorts of baked treats here – plus savoury snacks too – to enjoy with your book.

The Cinnamon Club

The Cinnamon Club

The Library Bar at The Cinnamon Club
The Cinnamon Club is known for its delicious modern Indian food, but not everybody knows about its cosy bar. A nod to the building’s former life as the old Westminster Library, the aptly named Library Bar used to be the reading room. Today it’s a great spot to devour a book – before devouring lunch or dinner.

The Dove
The Dove in Hammersmith is a pub with a lot of nooks and crannies – ideal for a bookworm to squirrel away in. The place has a fair few stories of its own – for one, Charles II is said to have wined and dined his mistress Nell Gwynne here. So if you finish your book, you won’t be short of a tale or two to go with your pint!

The Martini Library at The Arch
It sounds like somewhere James Bond would hang out. And well he might, because this bar at the exclusive Arch London Hotel near Marble Arch is just the sort of place 007 might retire to after a hard day’s spying. Take a seat in an armchair by the roaring fire, flick through the stylish coffee-table books and sip on a glass of your own favourite Martini speciality.

Southbank Centre
If you want to read without spending a single penny, pop into the Southbank Centre along the River Thames. It may be a huge, world-leading arts centre, but it’s also a welcoming public space – with tables and chairs on every level, from the bustling Clore Ballroom to the more peaceful Saison Poetry Library.

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My Favourite Places To Go In London This Summer By Ezra, Age Eight And a Third http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/07/favourite-places-to-go-in-london-this-summer-by-ezra-age-eight-and-a-third/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/07/favourite-places-to-go-in-london-this-summer-by-ezra-age-eight-and-a-third/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 09:05:07 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=39064 Guest blog by Ezra from Babes About Town

Ezra

1. Granary Square, King’s Cross

I like Granary Square because there are fountains that change shape. At night it’s even better because the fountains go a bit higher and they turn loads of bright colours. It’s a really big space where you can jump and run around.

Sometimes there are food stalls, and there are other nice places to eat, plus there’s a space round the back where they have different activities. There’s table tennis, and last summer they had a roller skating rink. My friend had a party there and it was my first time ever roller skating. I did pretty well.

Sometimes we get to Granary Square by walking along the canal and you can sit by the water on these great big steps like long green sofas covered in grass. I once saw a guy doing a handstand on there. You can also do forward rolls although I wouldn’t do forward rolls down the stairs because it would hurt a lot and also you could fall into the canal! You can actually take a boat ride through a tunnel from there too.

Granary Square Fountains

Hyde Park

I like Hyde Park because it’s like a country of green lands. It’s like a giant, giant park that’s probably bigger than two buildings stacked on top of each other. It’s a good place for running around as there’s loads of space to play. It’s a great place to have a picnic. We love playing football there — sometimes we find two trees and another two trees next to each other so it makes a great goal.

At Hyde Park there are always people playing sports and loads of people rollerskating down the pathway, skateboarding, doing back flips and tricks. There’s a very long lake (it has to be long because Hyde Park is giant!). You can sit by the lake on a deckchair and sometimes the ducks fly out so you can feed them.

Princess Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park

Southbank Centre

I love the South Bank because not only is it really big, there’s a food market at the bottom where you can get loads of stuff to eat. There’s a really cool skate park; I like watching them skate and do bike tricks. There’s space to run around, you can see the River Thames.

You can get a river cruise or a sightseeing tour and one time we went on a super-fast speed boat ride! From the Southbank Centre you can see all the famous buildings like Big Ben and the EDF Energy London Eye. When you walk along, you can see buskers who do stunts like flipping off their bicycle or these amazing African acrobats. We’ve seen lots of shows there, like Slava’s Snowshow in winter which is a very funny show.

Skateboarder on the South Bank

Science Museum

I like the Science Museum because there’s a place called the Launchpad where you can test things out and do the actual experiment yourself. You can fire a water bottle rocket by pressing two buttons, it’s really cool. There are different sections where you can find out about science, outer space and how the world was created, or how people lived in the olden days. The space section is cool because it tells you about the galaxy and stuff which hasn’t even been discovered yet.

Science Museum

Street Food Fairs and Markets

My dad does street food and we love going to street food fairs and markets. There’s Kerb, there’s Street Feast, there’s Feast, loads of different ones. I’ve tried different types of food from all different countries, even vegetarian Indian! I usually eat quite a few things because it all looks so nice. One time at an event I made some meatballs and we had them in a sauce and it was yummy. I had two helpings! Most of the time, the food doesn’t cost as much as restaurants and you can just walk around outdoors eating. It’s pretty cool.

South Bank Market

Ezra is one of the babes at Babes about Town, a blog that celebrates the best activities and coolest finds for families in London and beyond.www.babesabouttown.com

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Where to See Live Music for Free in London http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/02/where-to-see-live-music-for-free-in-london/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/02/where-to-see-live-music-for-free-in-london/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 10:00:27 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=37599 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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Top Art Exhibitions to See in London in 2014 http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/12/top-exhibitions-in-2014/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/12/top-exhibitions-in-2014/#comments Fri, 27 Dec 2013 10:00:35 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=36652 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

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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.

Colour

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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London for Chocolate Lovers http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/11/chocolate-lovers-london/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/11/chocolate-lovers-london/#comments Tue, 19 Nov 2013 08:50:07 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=36115

Chocolate has been a rich, delicious part of London life ever since 1657, when the first chocolate house opened in Bishopsgate.

These days, London is a veritable chocolate kingdom, home to chocolate shops, tastings, workshops, tours and even festivals. Here are some of our favourite chocolate-related activities to get you started.

The London Chocolate Festival at the Southbank Centre

The tempting (and free!) London Chocolate Festival returns to the Southbank Centre Square (behind the Royal Festival Hall) from 13-15 December. Head down to create your perfect chocolate bar, learn from the experts at the Masters of Chocolate Afternoon and, of course, indulge your cocoa cravings.

The Chocolate Ecstasy Tour

The Chocolate Ecstasy Tour is the guilt-free way to sample delicious chocolate in London – all that walking will burn off any calories, right? After enjoying a hot chocolate you’ll take to the streets in pursuit of the finest chocolate in town, while learning about the history of cocoa in the capital. There are four tours to choose from: the traditional Mayfair Chocolate Ecstasy Tour, the cutting-edge Chelsea Chocolate Ecstasy Tour, the Evening Chocolate Ecstasy Tour (including a chocolate cocktail) and the Full Day Chocolate Ecstasy Tour.

 

Paul A Young at Heal’s

Award-winning chocolatier Paul A Young has four stores in London, including a newly-opened shop/café at Heal’s on Tottenham Court Road. All the chocolates are handmade by Paul and his team using fresh ingredients – and the proof is in the tasting. Stop by to shop, sample specialist varieties (don’t miss Paul’s famous sea salted caramels) or take part in one of the regular workshops, such as the upcoming ganache making class on 28 November at the flagship Soho branch.

The Chocolate Museum

Chocolate has a long, colourful history in London. At The Chocolate Museum in Brixton you can discover more about its bittersweet past in the British History of Chocolate exhibition, featuring chocolate memorabilia dating back as far as the 18th century. There’s also a café and a busy programme of events, tasting sessions and workshops for all ages.

 

Menier Chocolate Factory

With a cosy restaurant upstairs and a fabulous theatre downstairs, Menier Chocolate Factory is a hidden gem close to London Bridge. Each set menu is inspired by the whatever show is on at the theatre, currently Candide, Leonard Bernstein’s witty adaptation of the 18th century novella by Voltaire – so expect Hungarian beef goulash and vegetable stroganoff. Or go for the a la carte menu, which features the very decadent Menier chocolate platter.

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory at Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Willy Wonka, Charlie Bucket and the Oompa-Loompas are back in a new musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s much-loved book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Directed by Sam Mendes, this dazzling production uses imagination and innovation to bring the world of Willy Wonka to life – from the chocolate garden to the army of squirrels. Get your golden ticket now!

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What’s On This Weekend: 16-17 November 2013 http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/11/whats-on-this-weekend-16-17-november-2013/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/11/whats-on-this-weekend-16-17-november-2013/#comments Mon, 11 Nov 2013 10:00:36 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=36002

Strap on your skates this weekend as two of London’s most beautiful ice skating rinks open for the festive season, or for something a bit more magical Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter will be blanketed in snow from 15 November.

London’s Best Ice Skating Rinks

There are plenty of places to scrub up your Dancing on Ice skills in the capital this winter, but two of the most iconic locations, namely Somerset House (14 Nov) and The Tower of London (16 Nov), open this weekend. Tickets start at £8.75 at Somerset House and £11.50 at the Tower of London. Until 5 Jan

Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter is going festive from 15 November. The castle and sets will all be redecorated using the actual props from the Christmas scenes in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Fans can also see Harry’s first ever Christmas present – his invisibility cloak – and the hand-knitted jumpers that Molly Weasley gave Ron and Harry. 15 Nov-6 Jan

Christmas at ZSL London Zoo

The Christmas events keep coming this weekend as London Zoo rolls out Santa and his sleigh from 16 November. Kids can meet Santa and his reindeers, decorate gingerbread and prepare special treats and presents for the zoo’s other animals. Tickets to meet Santa are £25.50 for children aged 3-10 and £15.50 for ages 11-16. 16 Nov-24 Dec

Southbank Centre Christmas Market

Adults and children will both appreciate the treats on offer down at the Southbank Centre from Saturday onwards. More than 80 wooden chalets will set up along the river for the festive period, offering hand crafted gifts and traditional German market fare, including Glühwein, bratwurst and even chestnuts roasting on an open fire. 16 Nov-24 Dec

Hello, My Name is Paul Smith at the Design Museum

If it feels a bit too early to be getting into the Christmas spirit there are some great exhibitions opening this weekend, including an insight into the career of British fashion designer Paul Smith at the Design Museum. Adult tickets start at £11.75. From 15 Nov

Large Hadron Collider at the Science Museum

For a more educational outing, the Science Museum launches its latest big exhibition on 13 November. Guests can immerse themselves in the world of CERN scientists, buried deep beneath the Swiss-French border in an effort to discover the elusive Higgs boson particle. Adult tickets are £10. From 13 Nov

Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and Disney’s Fantasia

Finally, you can revisit the weird and wonderful world of Disney classic Fantasia at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday as the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra will accompany a restored version of the original 1940 cut, dancing broomsticks and all. Tickets from £30.50-45. 14:30 and 19:00 on 16 Nov

More London events

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London Shopping News: Classic Car Boot Sale, Brompton Junction London, Gourmet Food Market, The Village Bicycle, The National Theatre Pop-up http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/10/london-shopping-news-brompton-junction-london-gourmet-food-market-the-village-bicycle-the-national-theatre-pop-up/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/10/london-shopping-news-brompton-junction-london-gourmet-food-market-the-village-bicycle-the-national-theatre-pop-up/#comments Wed, 02 Oct 2013 20:28:31 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=35600 From classic car boot sales to theatrical pop-ups, London is heaving with exciting new shopping events!

The Village Bicycle moves to Shoreditch

Fashion boutique The Village Bicycle has moved from West London to Brick Lane in East London. The shop is stashed with global treasures, including caps made of coke cans from Bangkok and Day of the Dead frames from Mexico. It also stocks everything from lingerie, shoes and accessories to art, furniture and music. There’s also a Lucy in Disguise vintage rail for pre-loved marvels.

Brompton Junction London Opens

Calling all bicycle fans! The first-ever Brompton-only store is opening next week in Covent Garden. Made in London, Brompton is the UK’s largest hand-made folding bicycle brand. A common sight on London’s streets, the handily portable bicycles can even be taken on the Tube (as well as boats and planes). The wheely exciting store opening comes in the same year that Brompton celebrates its 25th birthday. Opens 8 Oct

Classic Car Boot Sale at the Southbank Centre

Classic cars and vintage vehicles will cruise onto the Southbank Centre‘s riverfront next weekend for London’s first-ever classic car boot sale, curated by Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway and the Vintage Festival team. Taking place between Queen’s Walk, Hungerford Bridge and Jubilee Gardens, traders will peddle the finest vintage fashion, homeware and pop culture memorabilia from the boot of their vintage vehicles that will vary from the Aston Martin DB4 to VW campervans. DJs will be playing vinyl from the top of an open-air London Routemaster bus, while the gourmet fare on sale will include lobster rolls and artisan smoked sausages. Entry is £3 and tickets can be purchased from the Southbank Centre on the day of the event. 12 Oct from 10am-6pm 

The National Theatre Launches Pop-up

The National Theatre will present a fun and theatrical pop-up, Shopping and E*ting, in celebration of the theatre’s 50th anniversary. It will showcase an eclectic mix of quirky and theatrical products from iconic artists such as Adam Dant, Michael Craig-Martin, Jamie Reid, Paula Scher and David Carson: think limited edition prints, mugs, greeting cards, bags and tea-towels. Shoppers can feast on street food from the National Theatre’s 1950s Citroen van. 14 Oct – 12 Jan

New Gourmet Food Market

Food markets are all the rage in London right now, and the latest one is in Wapping’s Thomas More Square, near Tower Hill tube station. The weekly market offers artisan food from around the globe, including hot and cold delicacies, fine wines, and sweet and savoury treats to take home. Every Tuesday from 11am-3pm

 

 

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What’s On This Weekend. 23-26 August 2013 http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/08/whats-on-this-weekend-23-26-august-2013/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/08/whats-on-this-weekend-23-26-august-2013/#comments Mon, 19 Aug 2013 09:00:50 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=35191
It’s the August Bank Holiday weekend – get set for three days of colourful parties, family activities and, hopefully, summer weather!

Notting Hill Carnival

There are always lots of great parties during the August bank holiday weekend, but nothing beats the Notting Hill Carnival. This incredible, Caribbean-themed spectacle sees thousands of colourfully-dressed people take to the streets for a parade that features dancing, themed floats and lots of great music. Head to the area on Sunday for the family-themed day, or turn up on bank holiday Monday for the main event, which is always followed by a wide range of after-parties! 25-26 Aug

Rugby League World Cup Fan Zone in Trafalgar Square

Don’t miss this free Rugby League event in Trafalgar Square, which takes place shortly before the Tetley’s Challenge Cup final. Between 10am and 4pm you can see the World Cup trophy up close, meet big names such as Steve McNamara, Martin Offiah and Kevin Sinfield, and watch the England Wheelchair Rugby League squad play an exhibition game. Families can also take part in interactive activities, which might just inspire the next generation of Rugby League stars! 23 Aug

Strictly Summer Ballroom at the Southbank Centre

Ballroom dancing expert Nicky Miles is waltzing into the Southbank Centre for a glorious afternoon of traditional dance on Monday. Between 12pm to 3pm, you can learn how to perform dances such as the tango and foxtrot, before demonstrating your new-found skills to the sounds of the Ross Mitchell Combo. This is followed by a live show from professionals between 4pm and 5pm, after which you’ll have another chance to try out your moves. The event is free. 26 Aug

The Paw Pageant at Old Spitalfields Market

Love dogs? Head to Old Spitalfields Market at 1pm on Bank Holiday for the most fun you can have on four paws! Visitors can see a glitzy canine fashion show, browse the pet product market and see the top dogs awarded prizes at the end of the day. Entry is free. 26 Aug

Family Fun Days at Islington Boat Club

Families will have a great day on the water at the Islington Boat Club this Saturday thanks to their range of fun activities. You can enjoy a narrowboat trip, hire a pedalo, take part in a workshop or just relax with some tasty BBQ food and live music! Entry is free, although there will be nominal charges for activities and the BBQ. 24 Aug

More London events

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Chill Out! 8 Places to Cool Off When it’s Hot in London http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/07/chill-out-8-places-to-cool-off-when-its-hot-in-london/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/07/chill-out-8-places-to-cool-off-when-its-hot-in-london/#comments Thu, 18 Jul 2013 10:00:14 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=34636 Yesterday, the Met Office issued a Level 3 heatwave warning in London as temperatures reach 30C (86F) in the capital. While that might seem normal for some of our overseas visitors, it’s a bit of a shock for others used to seeing more lukewarm sunshine-and-showers while they’re in town.

If you’re looking for somewhere to escape the heat, we’ve got the following suggestions for top places to chill out in London this weekend:

Icebar London

Drink in an Igloo
Made of Swedish ice and maintained at a constant -5C all year round, Icebar is literally the UK’s coolest bar. You’ll need to book ahead, but you’re sure to cool down pretty quickly with one of their chilled cocktails: the Bunga Spritz is this month’s tipple of choice: Aperol, Ruby Port Reduction, Grapefruit bitter and Prosecco

Ice Climbing
Forget sunbathing, this weather calls for ice climbing! Head to Ellis Brigham’s Covent Garden store where you can clamber all over their Vertical Chill Ice Wall for an hour’s seriously chilly fun.

Ice Skating
Slightly less daunting than climbing a wall of ice, why not try skating gracefully over it instead? The Lee Valley Ice Centre is an international sized (56m x 26m) rink with space for 800 skaters. They offer learn to skate courses for novices.

Ice Cream Fit for a Queen
The Parlour Restaurant situated on the First Floor of Fortnum & Mason offers top-quality gastronomic ice cream indulgence to children (and adults!) of all ages. If you’re after weird and wacky flavours, this is the place for you: many are unique to F&M.

Dive In
Many of London’s outdoor pools are unheated: particular favourites among the team here are Brockwell Lido in South East London, and Hampstead Heath’s bathing ponds to the North of the city.

Brockwell Lido

Cool Culture
Head into one of London’s free cultural institutions, and you’ll be greeted with a wave of cooling, cultured air. Galleries have to maintain strict temperatures to preserve their exhibits: inside the National Gallery, it’s usually 23C. We’re big fans of escaping the heat in the V&A’s ceramics gallery. Inside the British Library, it’s usually between a cool 18C and 21C, to keep all those glorious books in tip top condition. And quiet too. Bliss.

Hit the Water
There are plenty of boats offering cooling trips down the Thames. But none offer quite as effective rush of cold air as the speedboat tours. You might have white knuckles from holding on, but you’ll feel refreshed by the end!

Fun Fountains
It’s where the cool kids are: as the temperatures rise, the fountains on the Southbank, in More London near The Scoop, and in Granary Square are attracting scores of soaked children playing in the jets. If only the adults could get away with it too…

Do you have any more tips for beating the heat in London? Let us know in the comments below!

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Alternative Guide to the Universe at the Hayward Gallery http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/06/alternative-guide-to-the-universe-at-the-hayward-gallery/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/06/alternative-guide-to-the-universe-at-the-hayward-gallery/#comments Tue, 11 Jun 2013 14:08:45 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=33776 The Hayward Gallery Alfred Jensen, All the Beautiful Systems, 1979 - oil on canvas - The Museum of Everything Alfred Jensen, Twelve Events in a Dual Universe, 1978 - oil on canvas - National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Collectors Committee Bodys Isek Kingelez, Hirochima Palace, Palais d'Hirochima, 1991, CAAZ - The Pigozzi Collection, Geneva Bodys Isek Kingelez, International Sports, Sports Internationaux, 1997, Courtesy Andre Magnin, Paris Richard Greaves, The Sugar House or the Sugar Shack, 2001 and The Three Little Pigs House (side view), 2001 - photos by Mario del Curto Emery Blagdon, the 'Healing Machine' William Scott Remote Controlled Cart with Clothing, 2013, mixed media, Courtesy of artist - Wu Yulu

Step into a parallel universe at the Hayward Gallery this summer where mavericks, visionaries and outsiders have created an untraditional perspective of the world we live in, through art.

The Alternative Guide to the Universe exhibition comes as part of the Southbank Centre’s Festival of Neighbourhood. I went along to the press view, to delve into the world of eccentric art, before it officially opened today.

The exhibition focuses on individuals who depart from the accepted way of thinking and re-imagine the rules of culture and science, featuring contributions from self-taught artists and architects, fringe physicists, dreamers and visionary inventors who have created an artistic landscape that stretches to the far horizons of our imagination. Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery, described the exhibition as “going outside the parameters of the so-called art world … going outside the parameters of the so-called outsider art world.”

Through paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography and architectural models; alternative calendars, a detailed human nervous system, scientific charts, engineering plans, functioning robots and blueprints for cities of the future and the evolution of human consciousness are created.

What I found particularly thought-provoking was that this art isn’t produced to purely be aesthetically pleasing, but that its creators are motivated by a wide range of concerns. William Scott, for example, worked on a planning project to see his hometown of San Francisco rebuilt to be “spiritually and physically transformed” believing this change will come about from encounters between UFO’s and members of his local Baptist Church, enabling people to reinvent their lives.

Several photographers in the exhibition explore fictional identities and alter egos, including a homeless artist from Chicago, Lee Godie, who used photo-booths to create hundreds of self-portraits, portraying herself in different guises.

Most fascinating was the remote control child robot you can see wandering around the exhibition, created by Wu Yulu to chase people. Wu began creating the robots with specific abilities, such as cleaning and washing the dishes, with rubbish he found near his farm.

And that’s not all, upstairs is the Museum of Everything, a world famous wandering space for undiscovered artists of modern time. In keeping with the reinvention of reality, a number of sculptures, photographs and film are dedicated to visionary builder, Nek Chand. He has spent more than 50 years creating the world’s greatest outdoor art environment, the “Rock Garden”, outside Chandigarh, India, which is formed completely from scrap materials covering 20 acres.

If you want to explore the art further, you can take part in one of the tours, where you will visit the exhibition in the company of artists, scholars, curators and writers, who will present their own views on the artwork

Whether you are an art fanatic or not, this exhibition is sure to make you think outside of the conventional and question the definition of “normal” art.

Alternative Guide to the Universe at the Hayward Gallery until 26 August.

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