Visit London Blog » st pauls cathedral Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Free Day Out For Families in London Mon, 07 Jul 2014 09:00:34 +0000 Family outside Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Guest post by Laura Porter

The South Bank is always a great destination for families. It’s traffic-free, has wide pavements, fantastic views of iconic London landmarks, and there’s always lots going on that costs nothing. Here’s a plan for a free day out with your family.

Start by the EDF Energy London Eye where you can look across to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. The nearest tube station is Waterloo.

Once you’ve taken some snaps let the kids play in Jubilee Gardens. As well as the green open space to run around safely there is also a playground for under 11s. (Be aware that bikes and scooters are not permitted at Jubilee Gardens.)

 Jubilee Gardens

Between The London Eye and Southbank Centre you’ll find lots of street performers vying for your attention. My daughter likes to take some coins to give to her favourites.

I know there’s a carousel here but we normally finds something more interesting at Southbank Centre, whether it’s a free event in the Royal Festival Hall (where there’s also a cafe and toilets), the summer garden on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall or a free festival alongside the river. There’s also the singing elevator (JCB Glass Lift) in the Royal Festival Hall and the skateboarders under the building to watch so you’ll always find something to entertain.

Carry on walking along the South Bank and you’ll soon reach Gabriel’s Wharf where there are often sand sculptures on the beach to admire. Head into Gabriel’s Wharf and there are some well-priced cafes (and more toilets).

Ten minutes further along the riverside walk and you’ll reach Tate Modern. There are many floors of modern artworks to admire and you only need to buy a ticket for special exhibitions. The river level cafe is incredibly family-friendly with a buggy park at the back, plenty of high chairs and a kid’s menu (and kids eat free when an adult buys a meal). Paper placemats and crayons are brought to the table for families too.

If you’d prefer a view from higher up go to Level 3 and from the balcony you can look across to St. Paul’s Cathedral and The City. There’s another small cafe on this level too, and, of course, more toilets. (Hey, anyone who’s travelled with children will appreciate this advice!).

Many people choose to continue along the South Bank past Shakespeare’s Globe and, maybe, onwards to Borough Market but my best tip is to cross over the Millennium Bridge (pedestrian only) and go into The City. You can walk from Tate Modern to St Paul’s in just ten minutes so it really is closer than you think.

Tip for kids: As you cross the bridge see if you can spot any love locks (small padlocks) attached to the sides.

If you check the tide tables in advance, under The City of London side of the Millennium Bridge is a great spot for mudlarking. There are steps to reach the river foreshore and it’s rarely muddy on this side so you can check the surface for old clay pipes and bits of pottery.

Afterwards, walk towards St Paul’s and on your left you’ll find the City Information Centre where you can pick up free trails, including one specifically for children which includes stickers. It has a few routes to try so let the kids choose the one that interests them.

Or, if it raining and you don’t want to wander far, the Museum of London is five minutes away from the other side of St Paul’s. This free museum is great for families and has two floors of exhibits to explore.

Museum of London

Laura Porter writes the London Travel site and contributes to many other publications while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival that of our Queen. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as AboutLondonLaura.

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Things To Do in London During Menswear Fashion Week Thu, 12 Jun 2014 09:00:37 +0000 Guest post by Fashion City Insider 

London is the home of men’s fashion. As well as enjoying over 400 years of expert tailoring on Savile Row , a glut of emerging designers will be showing their wares at this month’s London Collections: Men (LC:M), the London fashion week for menswear.

As the world’s sharpest dressed men descend on the capital for LC:M next week, we’ve threaded together a few fashion-related events to enjoy.

Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition

Paul Smith and Jean Paul Gaultier exhibitions

For art and design lovers, immerse yourself in the world of iconic designer Paul Smith at the Design Museum on London’s South Bank. Hello, My Name Is Paul Smith (until 22 Jun) shows Smith’s roots in menswear. The Barbican’s The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier, From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk (until 17 Aug) celebrates Gaultier’s mastery of couture and ready-to-wear fashion, as well as film and music costume collaborations, with as much for guys as for girls.

John Deakin’s street style photography

The Photographer’s Gallery steps back into London of the 1950s and 1960s through the work of one of the best British photographers – John Deakin. Delve into the history of street style photography at Under The Influence: John Deakin And The Lure Of Soho displaying Deakin’s exploration of the hidden corners and colourful characters of London’s Soho. Until 13 Jul

Dapper gents on screen

The Institute of Contemporary Arts is celebrating the art of sharp tailoring and style with a special 35mm screening of The Million Pound Note (1954) staring Gregory Peck, hosted by Anthony Peck, son of the Hollywood legend and style icon. 17 Jun

Bowler Hat at The City of London Festival

And a giant Bowler hat!

The party continues in London even after the fashion media circus has left town at the The City of London Festival with a huge inflatable 10m-high bowler hat pop-up venue near St Paul’s Cathedral which will be hosting more than 100 events from drama, music , comedy to debates. 22 Jun-17 Jul

Fashion City Insider is a London fashion travel guide.

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Five Highlights Of The City of London Festival Mon, 09 Jun 2014 08:08:05 +0000 Guest blog by City of London Festival Director Paul Gudgin

The City of London Festival brings more than 250 events to the amazing buildings and spaces of the City of London from 22 June.  It is one of the biggest and broadest programmes in the festival’s 52-year history with music, comedy, dance, circus, cabaret and even a Korean production of Hamlet to whet the appetite.

FLOWN_PiratesOfTheCarabina_ Bowler Hat

The centrepiece this year will be the Bowler Hat; the iconic piece of City headwear has been turned into a large inflatable 200-seat theatre just beside St Paul’s Cathedral in Paternoster Square.

With so many events to choose from, here are a few festival highlights:

1. Immerse yourself in one of our 9th Symphony epics at St Paul’s Cathedral with the London Symphony Orchestra – Bruckner’s 9th Symphony (3 July) and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (15 July). Seeing a massive orchestral concert under the dome of St Paul’s is an experience everyone should try, and tickets start at just £5.

St Paul's Cathedral

2. Soak up outstanding City views and great jazz with our ‘Jazz with a View’ series. Choose from Clare Teal at Unilever House (6 Jun), Kit Downes at The Gherkin (29 Jun) and Roberto Pla on the Roof Terrace of One New Change (8 Jul). This idea was inspired by Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center in New York… we think our views are easily as good as their Manhattan skyline!

3. Enjoy music and beer in the Guildhall Yard with our City Beerfest (3 Jul). Sample a selection of beers from over a dozen of Britain’s most popular breweries while listening to live American bluegrass, folk and Old Appalachian music, overlooking the City’s ancient HQ.

4. See breathtaking circus performed in a giant Bowler Hat with exceptional contemporary circus companies PSiRC, Silver Lining and Pirates of the Carabina.

5. Have a good laugh with our comedy programme in the Bowler Hat – Doc Brown, Adam Kay, Russell Kane, Katherine Ryan, Andy Zaltzman, Richard Herring and many more well-known and up-and-coming comics.

Book events for The City of London Festival

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Top 10 Instagram photos: February 2014 Sat, 08 Mar 2014 10:07:55 +0000 Now that our Instagram account (@visitlondonofficial) is up and running, along with the #visitlondon hashtag, here is our pick of your best pictures from the last month.

If you want the chance to be included in a future top ten get out there and start snapping our fantastic city, and make sure to hashtag it with #visitlondon

Yeoman and Raven by maviscfwang

Yeoman and Raven by maviscfwang

Westminster by rebekahesme

Westminster by rebekahesme

Tube escalator by i_shootfilm

Tube escalator by i_shootfilm

The Shard and Tower of London by mongulden

Old and New: The Shard and Tower of London by mongulden

Royal Arcade by nisaoliveira

Royal Arcade by nisaoliveira

View from the EDF London Eye by marenlm

View from the EDF London Eye by marenlm

The EDF London Eye from the river by joanamlimao

The EDF London Eye from the river by joanamlimao

Covent Garden by solar_patrick

Covent Garden by solar_patrick

Barbican by solar_patrick

Barbican by solar_patrick

Millenium Bridge by l_senator

Millenium Bridge by l_senator

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Top Accessible Attractions in London by Srin Madipalli Thu, 15 Aug 2013 13:56:42 +0000 London resident, wheelchair user and Disability Horizons co-founder Srin Madipalli, shares his thoughts on accessible attractions in London.

EDF Energy London Eye

The London Eye is one of my favourite tourist sites in London. On a clear day or evening, you get stunning views across the city of most of the major landmarks. There were no issues driving my wheelchair into the capsule, which was step-free.

Buckingham Palace

It’s been a long time since I went to Buckingham Palace (about 10 years ago!), but I remember being able to go everywhere. There was a small delay with one of the stair lifts, which struggled to lift my very heavy powered wheelchair.

The Natural History Museum, V&A Museum and Science Museum

All three museums are right by one another in South Kensington. They are big, fascinating and insightful places that have some fantastic exhibitions. Access is generally very good, but on busy days, or for special exhibitions, working through the crowds can be a bit difficult.

Tate Modern

For those of you who are like me, and know very little about the arts, or are generally unfamiliar with anything related to modern art, the Tate Modern is perfect. It’s accessible, spacious, easy to navigate and its exhibitions are well-presented. As it is free to enter, you can wander in and out as you wish.

Tate Modern is in a great location, on London’s South Bank, right by Shakespeare’s Globe and opposite St Paul’s Cathedral, so if you get bored of the art, there are other things in the vicinity to see. There is also a really good pub right by the Tate Modern called the Founder’s Arms which overlooks the Thames. Great place to have a beer on a warm summer’s day (it is wheelchair accessible and has an accessible toilet too).

The British Museum

Another one of the big mega museums of London that is free to enter. My law school was a two minute walk from the British Museum, so when I used to have periods of free time between lectures, I sometimes went for a wander around.

While it is fully accessible, it is also one of those museums that is difficult to fully see in just a day. If time is limited, I’d recommend going to one of the special exhibitions. Like with London’s other museums, they can get really crowded on certain busy days, which can make it difficult to fully appreciate what you are seeing.

Also, just be wary that is a big museum, so if have any difficulties with fatigue or tiredness, be sure to plan your visit and identify in advance any particular exhibitions or galleries that you would prefer to visit.

Kew Gardens

One of London’s real gems, the vast expanse of Kew Gardens can be a great day out, and it is accessible. As it is more towards the edge of the city, you will need to consider transport more carefully.

I recall Kew Gardens Station being step-free, but as there would be a big step to get onto the train, I had to arrange assisted travel with South West Trains, who organised a ramp. I found the most interesting bit of Kew Gardens to be the special greenhouses, where the controlled conditions enable plant-life that usually can’t grow in a British climate. Like with the museums, Kew Gardens is pretty big – more than 300 acres in fact – so if this is likely to cause any difficulties, plan your day.

London Dungeon

I really like the London Dungeon. It is a bit cheesy, but it is a good laugh and a good way to spend a couple of hours. While accessible, some parts of the London Dungeon can be quite dark, which could make it difficult for some. I recall people in costumes and waxwork exhibits jumping out from nowhere trying to “scare” you, which I found utterly hilarious, but imagine that some people wouldn’t!

St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is a tranquil and peaceful place that sits within the hustle and bustle of the busy financial district of central London known as the “Square Mile”. Once a upon a time, I used to go through the grounds of St Paul’s as short-cut on my way home. Most parts are accessible, but there are some areas that aren’t, such as the Whispering, Golden and Stone galleries, due to its age.

National Gallery and Trafalgar Square

The National Gallery is one of the smaller of London’s premier galleries, but it is still very impressive. I recently visited the National Gallery for a special collection of the works of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Again, they are both free to visit and accessible but, like all museums in London, can be a pain to make the most of when busy. Trafalgar Square, with Nelson’s Column, is one of the those must-see public squares and is within walking distance of Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards Parade, the Houses of Parliament, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Trafalgar Square is step-free with an accessible route to the National Gallery which sits right behind it.

Shakespeare's Globe TheatreShakespeare’s Globe

I went to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on a kind of date many years ago. I strongly recommend watching a performance there. I loved the fact that I could choose to be in the wheelchair platform in the covered stands or in the open standing area near the stage. I chose to position my wheelchair in the standing area by the stage, which was exposed to the elements!

The atmosphere in the audience was a lot of fun – the pouring rain made it just that much more a novelty. The performances at The Globe are a world away from the boring and static way in which Shakespeare is taught in the classroom and watching a modernised play live with its characteristic audience participation is a really enjoyable experience.

More accessible attractions in London

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London Video of the Week: Beautiful London by Chris Brooker Fri, 05 Jul 2013 11:09:18 +0000

We love this gorgeous time-lapse/hyper-lapse video by Chris Brooker. The film took three weeks to make and consists of more than 15,000 still images.

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Visiting the Past: The Paintings of John O’Connor Mon, 24 Jun 2013 11:20:06 +0000 John O’Connor is a relatively unknown artist who was born 12 August 1830, and whose paintings are among the most popular at the Museum of London.

Here we see the Gothic spires of St Pancras, now home of the Eurostar, rising towards a glorious sunset. They tower above the busy crowded thoroughfare of Pentonville Road, filled with workers hurrying home, sandwich board men and omnibuses. A pile of debris bottom right indicates the rubbish which can pile up in everyday life, as opposed to the majesty of the wealth and prosperity of business and technology exemplified by the railways.

O’Connor was an Irishman who trained as a theatre set painter and came to London to work in the highly lucrative theatres painting set designs. His eye for colour and his harmonious designs demonstrate this background.

The Museum of London also has another very popular oil called The Embankment which shows the view from the terrace of Somerset House looking down river to St Paul’s Cathedral and Blackfriars Bridge.

A guest post by Pat Hardy, Curator of Paintings, Prints and Drawings at the Museum of London. More Visiting the Past next week

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O Tours de Londres: A French Language Tour of London Wed, 24 Apr 2013 09:30:13 +0000

O Tours de Londres offer French language tours of London. Guest blogger Hugo took an afternoon tour of London and and gives us his thoughts (in French, of course!) below:

“Visitez Londres est une expérience fascinante. En effet, la ville a été le témoin de 21 siècles d’Histoire… Cependant, il est parfois difficile pour de nombreuses personnes non anglophones de réellement comprendre et découvrir la capitale anglaise. Heureusement, Ô Tours de Londres propose un circuit au bord de la Tamise adapté à tous les francophones.

“Pendant près de 2h30, vous marcherez de la Tour de Londres jusqu’à la Cathédrale St Paul en passant notamment par le Tower Bridge. Sur le trajet se succèdent d’incontournables monuments comme la Cathédrale Southwark miraculeusement conservée, le Shakespeare Globe Theatre ou encore les ruines du Palais de Winchester… Vous découvrirez aussi l’incroyable histoire du London Bridge, l’unique pont de Londres pendant près de 18 siècles…

“Au total, cette balade guidée comporte 13 arrêts qui vous permettront de découvrir des lieux mythiques de l’Histoire de Londres.

“Les guides compétents, dynamiques et disponibles vous dévoileront, de façon simple et claire, récits et anecdotes. Ils partageront avec vous les secrets des rues Londoniennes et de la Tamise et vous emmèneront sur les pas de Guillaume le Conquérant, Henri VIII, William Shakespeare ou encore Charles Dickens.

“C’est après ce fantastique voyage dans le temps, que vous serez à même de comprendre l’évolution de Londres, de sa mentalité et de ses habitants.

“Accessible à tous, cette balade est proposée à un prix très abordable : 15 £ par personne (17,5 €) (Gratuit pour les enfants de moins de 8 ans). Alors oubliez la barrière de la langue et allez découvrir Londres et son Histoire dans la bonne humeur grâce à Ô Tours de Londres !”

Pour plus d’informations et pour les réservations, n’hésitez pas à consulter le site de Ô Tours de Londres :

Hugo was a guest of O Tours de Londres.

More London tours

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London Video of the Week: London Time-Lapse by Lucas Veuve Fri, 04 Jan 2013 14:00:02 +0000

Thanks to reader Lucas Veuve who got in touch with this fab London video. Lucas says:

“When I first moved to London, I was struck by the number of people living in this great city and the speed at which they move from one place to another. I wanted to capture how I saw London when I first moved here.”

We think he’s done a great job. Look out for great shots of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Gherkin and The Shard, Tower Bridge, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the Southbank Centre and Trafalgar Square.

Look out for more London videos on our YouTube channel:

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What’s On This Weekend: 21-23 December 2012 Mon, 17 Dec 2012 12:27:26 +0000 Providing Friday doesn’t herald the end of the world, there are lots of great things to do in London this weekend. Watch equestrian events of all shapes and sizes, enjoy festive films, music and shows, or find original African Christmas gifts in Dalston.

The London International Horse Show at Olympia

See Olympic medal winners at the thrilling London International Horse Show, which is celebrating its 40th year at Olympia. Not only are there world class dressage and show jumping events, but you can also watch carriage driving, dog agility trials and the Shetland Pony Grand National. Don’t miss the extensive shopping village where you can find great equestrian gifts and treats. Tickets start from £15. 17-22 Dec

A Wetland Christmas Carol at the WWT London Wetland Centre

A unique festive show crowns a varied programme of family activities at the WWT London Wetland Centre this weekend. “A Wetland Christmas Carol” features a suitably-themed twist on the classic tale, with a mud-hating Scrooge visited by the ghosts of Wetland Past, Present and Future. Alongside the performances, which take place at 12pm and 3.30pm, you can feed otters, craft your own Christmas decorations or take a guided tour. Events are free but standard admission charges apply – see the website for full details. 22-24 Dec

Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, St Paul’s Cathedral

Get into the Christmas spirit with this beautiful choral work by Benjamin Britten, performed in the exquisite surroundings of St Paul’s Cathedral. Commencing at 5pm, it is performed by the Choristers of St Pauls and the Vicars Choral, with Sioned Williams playing the harp. Entry is free, and other carol services take place here throughout the weekend – see the website for details.  21 Dec

Pop Up Screens at the Truman Brewery

The popular Pop Up Screens brings a week-long programme of Christmas films to the Old Truman Brewery, which are perfect for some laid back festive fun. Screenings include Bad Santa, Scrooged and Nightmare Before Christmas, and a wide range of refreshments is available from their bar. Tickets are £14.  18-23 Dec

Christmas African Market, Dalston

Head to Gillett Square in Dalston between 11am-5pm for your chance to pick up original gifts at the Christmas African Market.  Stalls will be selling everything from jewellery and clothing to arts and crafts, plus there’s a varied programme of family activities that includes face painting, mask making and a drumming circle. 22 Dec

Greenwich Charity Pantomime Horse Race

The other horse-related event this weekend is slightly more frivolous, but every bit as enjoyable. On Sunday, people dressed as pantomime horses will race around Greenwich to raise money for Demelza Hospice, which cares for terminally ill children. The hilarious caper starts at 1pm, but you can also watch the opening ceremony at 12pm or enjoy a charity concert starring Not The Rolling Stones after the race (tickets are £20 and must be booked in advance). 23 Dec

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