Visit London Blog » special event Enjoy the very best of London Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:00:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 An IncrEdible Day Out at Kew Gardens Fri, 24 May 2013 11:49:13 +0000 Sam Bompas – Co-Creator of the Tutti Frutti boating lake. Photo by Ellie Roddy. Walkway to Pineapple Island. Photo by Ellie Roddy. Pineapple Island. Photo by Ellie Roddy. Boating lake from Pineapple Island. Photo by Ellie Roddy. Tutti Frutti boating lake. Photo by Ellie Roddy. Entering the banana grotto. Photo by Ellie Roddy. Touch, smell and taste at The Rose Garden Tea Party. Photo by Ellie Roddy. Kirsti Davies - designer of The Rose Garden Tea Party. Photo by Ellie Roddy. Not everything is what it seems at the tea party. Photo by Ellie Roddy. Learn where your favourite food products come from at the tea party with a twist. Photo by Ellie Roddy. Find out plants origins at the Global Kitchen Garden. Photo by Ellie Roddy. Find out what plants originate in South America at the Global Kitchen Garden. Photo by Ellie Roddy.

Always fancied rowing a slice of papaya through an interactive floating pineapple or entering a secret banana grotto? Of course you have, and this summer at Kew Gardens you can!

The gardens are opening their lake to the public for pleasure boating this year, for the first time ever. This comes as part of the IncrEdibles festival, which celebrates all the weird and wonderful food we eat that originates from plants. Not knowing an awful lot about plants myself, I went to Kew to find out more.

We were met by Sam Bompas of the famous food architects Bompas and Parr, who created the Tutti Frutti boating lake. He told us that the pineapple is “a symbol of welcome to the city.”  In the 18th and 19th century the pineapple was seen as a representation of hospitality, and therefore is now used by many buildings in London as decoration.

A definite highlight of the day was rowing the fruit inspired boats around the “Mediterranean” blue water, under the pineapple and through the banana grotto; wear 3D glasses for a psychedelic experience complete with the scent of banana! Don’t fancy rowing? Then take a stroll down the walkway out over the water to the island and watch the boats go by whilst communicating with the plants! Sounds mad, but touch them and see what happens…

Next take a tour of the Palm House, a tropical rainforest which is home to 60 edible plants. Then step outside and visit the tea party with a twist, a dining table on which edible plants grow out of plates, dishes, jugs and platters. Move from seat to seat and learn about where your favourite food products come from, for example Bakewell Tart and Earl Grey Tea. Kirsti Davies who designed the table tells us “not everything is as it seems” – the table is full of riddles and clues which encourage you to touch, smell and taste if you dare!

Go past the bouncy carrot tops to the Global Kitchen Garden – each bed geographically arranged in continents, from Europe to Asia, telling the story of the plants often surprising origins. For example, did you know that the carrot, which is grown all over the world today, originally came from Afghanistan? No, me neither!

The festival, which opens this weekend, will feed your imagination, inviting you to reconsider the way you look at plants, broadening your relationship with what you eat.

I had an incrEdibly good time and guarantee you will too!

IncrEdibles at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from 25 May to 3 Nov. More information


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Fashion’s Night Out in London: 6 September Thu, 30 Aug 2012 10:30:50 +0000

London’s best stores and shopping districts are taking part in Fashion’s Night Out on Thursday 6 September: a celebration of shopping that runs all over the world. If you’re into shopping, you don’t want to miss this! Here are some of London’s highlights:

Seven Dials
Seven Dials will be celebrating Fashion’s Night Out with complimentary drinks, makeovers and special offers across many of Seven Dials’ beauty salons, fashion and lifestyle stores and restaurants. Seven Dials is a really lovely area for shopping in London, so make sure you take advantage of the freebies on offer.

John Lewis Oxford Street
Top London department store John Lewis Oxford Street is also joining in with Fashion’s Night Out. John Lewis is displaying the exclusive new Somerset by Alice Temperley collection in a live catwalk show between 6 and 9pm. There’ll be a DJ in store creating the perfect fashion party atmosphere, while you can enjoy delicious Charbonnel & Walker chocolates and a complimentary drink. And the John Lewis Beauty hall will be full to the brim with this season’s key products, ready to create wonderful new looks. I can’t think of a better excuse for an early evening make-over before heading out into London’s West End!

At Liberty, you’ll have the chance to meet Jonathan Saunders who’ll be in store running a photobooth where you can get involved in #showusyoursaunders: pose in your finest Jonathan Saunders wares for a photo with the man himself. In addition, Roksanda Ilincic will be signing exclusive hand-drawn sketches of her AW collection for you, and working with her muse and model Jade Parfitt. Jade will be on hand to model Roksanda’s designs and advise you on your purchases. Head up to the Shoe Lounge on the first floor where there’ll be a Victorian Fun Fare-styled photobooth where you can pose for photos in funky masks and accessories. If you’re a scarf fan, don’t miss the Liberty scarf styling team on the ground floor, who’ll be demonstrating a myriad of ways to wear your finest Liberty scarves. On the same floor, you can visit hair colourist Josh Wood and his team, who’ll be taking over the Liberty beauty hall. Finally, Cointreau has created a special cocktail menu to celebrate FNO, exclusively for Liberty shoppers, which you can sample in the Cointreau satellite cocktail bar on the first floor.

UGG Australia Piccadilly
Take a trip to NYC via the UGG store on Piccadilly on Fashion’s Night Out. For one night only, UGG will channel Manhattan with NYC-inspired treats for customers on the night. All shoppers on the night will receive an exclusive UGG Australia shopper with any purchase to carry their goodies home, while a DJ will spin iconic New York-themed songs to get shoppers in the Empire State of Mind; and the apple-flavoured cocktails will also give you a real “taste” of the Big Apple! Finally, there’ll be a classic yellow New York cab parked outside the store, where shoppers can enter hourly competitions to win all of the UGG goodies stowed in its “trunk”. Simply pick a car key from the basket in-store and if your key fits the lock, then the “booty” is yours!

Watch this space for more info on Fashion’s Night Out. Or you can follow them on facebook or on twitter with the #FNO hashtag

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In Pictures: Dodgeball Winter Rally Launch at The May Fair Hotel Thu, 01 Mar 2012 11:46:17 +0000 Some of the world’s finest cars were on display outside The May Fair hotel this morning at the launch of the Dodgeball Winter Rally, an invitation-only supercar rally.

The cars, including a McLaren MP4-12C and Ferrari 458, were taking a quick pit stop in their London starting location before heading off on a road trip around Europe. The luxury rally finishes in Verbier, Switzerland.


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Free Music Concert from The Monument: This Weekend Wed, 28 Sep 2011 14:30:38 +0000 The MonumentFor the first time ever this weekend, The Monument in the City of London will host a concert.

The free concert is being put on by Live Music Sculpture on Saturday and Sunday, 1 and 2 October.

If you’re around this weekend, look out for five musicians, including a soprano, positioned inside the four large alcoves and at the bottom of the stairs in The Monument.

The creator of the event, Samuel Bordoli, is a multi-award winning composer and musician. He’s composing a 15-minute piece, called Monument which will be played at regular intervals throughout the two days.

Samuel said, “I had been looking to do something different with acoustics for quite some time and on visiting the Monument last year I realised it was the perfect place to develop my ideas.

“Working with the building’s acoustical properties, we will be able to create sounds and musical effects which would be impossible to achieve anywhere else. This will be a truly historical event, and Live Music Sculpture will be the first people ever to have composed music for, and perform, in this magnificent structure. This [is] the first piece of music composed for a vertical space/column, an act which, as far as we are aware, is unprecedented.”

Visit to find out more about The Monument

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Mayor’s Thames Festival Lifts London: Thames Festival Picture Gallery Tue, 14 Sep 2010 11:30:54 +0000 Dancing in Potters Fields Park Enjoying drinks on Southwark Bridge The feast on Southwark Bridge Dancers at the al fresco dancefloor A mariachi band on Southwark Bridge Three Beards play at the bandstand stage A samba dancer at the night carnival Festival flags near Tower Bridge A giant skull at the night carnival

Last weekend the Mayor’s Thames Festival whipped up a blissful, celebratory spirit along central London’s riverside, helped along by good weather (I even managed to get a touch of sunburn), rhythms originating from the Balkans to Cuba, and plenty of cold beer.

The two-day long party surrounding London’s waterway featured an al fresco dance floor enjoyed by jive and swing dancers and a feast taking place all the way across Southwark Bridge in which diners where serenaded by mariachi singers.

To top off the weekend, samba dancers, drumming troupes and even a group of zombie walkers paraded down the streets from Victoria Embankment to the South Bank, celebrating the last of the summer.

Did you go to the Mayor’s Thames Festival? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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Brazil! Brazil! A festival of Capoeira, Football and Samba Thu, 10 Jun 2010 09:22:07 +0000
I was given a terrific opportunity to see a taster of the eagerly anticipated Brazil! Brazil! show before the London leg of the tour starts on Friday at the E4 Udderbelly on the South Bank.

After warming up with a number of keepie uppies with the football, the performers stripped off to reveal their scarily toned bodies and set about showing me what they could do.

It was obvious this group of athletic Brazilians are an extremely gifted bunch. Some were playing their drums in the rhythmic samba beat; others were doing back flips and practising capoeira- a martial art performed to music. Meanwhile, Brazil’s national football freestyle champion, Arthur Mansilla, was busy juggling the football in all manner of ways.

Brazil! Brazil! explores the link between capoeira,  samba, and football. The show also tells the story of how the origins of these cultural obsessions in Brazil stem from slavery – particularly in the north-eastern Bahia region.

The skills needed for capoeira, samba and football are very similar. The word Ginga, which means dodging, is used in all three activities. While capoeira and samba were formed by slaves, Brazilian football was transformed by them into what it is today.

Mickey Beigi, a capoeira artist from Salvador da Bahia told me: “I practised capoeira since I was ten years old and today capoeira and dancing is my job, my work and my life. In Brazil everybody likes capoeira and everybody likes music. My capoeira has taught me a good life; it has shown me different cultures and different people.”

He tells me how excited he is to be in London: “It’s my first time in London but I have [always] intended to come to London because it is so big and so beautiful,” he says. “I haven’t seen much yet but once the show has started I want to see more. I want to see Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Harrods.”

Beigi also says he is looking forward to watching the World Cup while in London. With Brazil fever surrounding every World Cup, there is no better time to showcase the Brazilian culture. The show forms part of Southbank Centre’s three-month Festival Brazil.

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Chessboxing in London Thu, 25 Mar 2010 16:53:44 +0000 A couple of weeks ago I headed to Tufnell Park for my second experience of the hybrid sport of chessboxing. In a chessboxing fight two opponents play alternating rounds of chess and boxing and, although I’m the first to admit it sounds a little crazy,  it really works.  

The Chessboxing Organisation’s site states that “Through chessboxing training we embrace a system of continual personal development without limitations”. All I know is it makes for a hugely entertaining evening, particularly once you throw in some dry ice, a hulahooper and a dancing man in a blue suit!

A round of chess takes four minutes and a round of boxing three minutes. Between the rounds there is a one minute pause, during which competitors change their gear. A win can be decided by either the chess or boxing.

If you think this sounds like your cup of tea and want to get involved, you have a couple of options.  You can come along as a spectator to the next bout on 15 May at The Boston Arms, tickets to be released.  

Or, you can have a go yourself!  There is chessboxing training available this weekend at Rooney’s Boxing Gym near London Bridge.

I was really pleased to see that the second event I attended had an even bigger turnout than the previous one (hopefully aided by me and my friends telling all and sundry that they are missing THE night out in London).  There may even be a special event in April so keep an eye on The Chessboxing Organisation website.

Hope to see you there in May!

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Heinz Launch Pop-Up Café in London Wed, 06 Jan 2010 16:48:40 +0000 If the freezing temperatures and onslaught of snow have left you longing for some good old-fashioned comfort food, head to Shoreditch next week, where Heinz Beanz will be hosting a pop-up café.

Enjoy a warming meal of Heinz Beanz on toast as well as a fuzzy feeling inside that only comes from giving to charity – the café is raising money for Help A London Child.

The Heinz Pop-Up Café will be at 3-10 Shoreditch High Street from 11 January until 14 January. Suggested donation 50p.

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Halloween Clubs: Party Like A Zombie Fri, 30 Oct 2009 09:00:08 +0000 Halloween fun

You may have noticed that the VL Blog has gone all spooky of late. We’ve been to the Hammer Horror Festival, drooled over the Met Bar’s Scream Tea, and donned our fishnets for Sing-a-long Rocky Horror.

So it won’t surprise you to know we’re getting excited about Halloween, especially as it sparks some of the best club nights of the year. Fancy dress, evil laughs and the Ghostbusters theme tune should all feature. Take a look at our favourites:

  • Oh My God! I Miss You Presents…I Love Lucifer 
    No-one loves dressing up more than the crowd at OMGIMY, so we can’t wait to see what they’ll do with the instruction to “dress to decompose.” Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club will be turned into a ghost train and guests will be entertained with a magic show, a Secret SINema, Gore Gore Girls and lots more unsettling goings on.
  • I Spit On Your Rave Spectacular
    The Big Chill venues have a bit of a thing for zombies, having managed to break the world record for a gathering of them at The Big Chill Festival this year. Head to either of their London locations for more undead action, including grisly cocktails, DJs and face painting (with proceeds going to The Big Issue.)
  • It’s A Party
    If pointy hats and broomsticks don’t do it for you, head to The Peacock Bar’s Halloween special, as the venue has suggested a more glamorous “vamped-up” dress theme for the evening. The usual mix of cabaret, comedy and cheese will all feature, albeit with a special ghoulish twist.
  • Halloween Zombie Ball
    Prepare to see a real ghost or two at  The Old Queen’s Head, which claims to be one of the most haunted pubs in London. Sip a Zombie Iced Tea, chomp on pumpkin chips and take advantage of free face painting from Brighton-based tattoo artist Viv La Hen (we hope it washes off!)
  • The Playground’s Halloween Mash-Up
    Scare yourself silly at 93 Feet East who will be projecting a mix of silent and modern horror films across the dance floor, plus live music and DJ sets until 6am.

Do you know of any freakishly frightening Halloween parties? Tell us your Halloween plans.

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Free Outdoor Film Screening in Trafalgar Square for London Film Festival Thu, 22 Oct 2009 06:00:30 +0000 Film still from 1905 showing transport on Tower Bridge

We’re currently halfway through the 53rd Times BFI London Film Festival (LFF), which showcases films from around the world in cinemas across the city.

You may not have managed to walk the red carpet with George Clooney and co at LFF’s glitzy opening night premiere of Fantastic Mr Fox, but there’s still plenty of time to get involved with the festival.

Tonight there is a free screening in Trafalgar Square of “London Moves Me” – a showreel of archive film shorts that tracks the evolution of transport in London. The footage shows everything from London trams in 1896 to skateboarders in 2009.

London Moves Me is projected on a giant inflatable  screen in Trafalgar Square and will be accompanied by a live pianist. The event is free and suitable for all ages.

For further details about the Outdoor Screening and other LFF events, visit

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