Visit London Blog » west end http://blog.visitlondon.com Enjoy the very best of London Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:38:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Top Five Secret Gardens in London http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/06/top-5-secret-gardens-in-london/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/06/top-5-secret-gardens-in-london/#comments Mon, 02 Jun 2014 09:00:19 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=38789 London is one of the greenest capital cities in the world. As well as the large parks and open spaces, you’ll find many charming, tucked-away gardens dotted around the capital. We’ve picked five of the best, which are free to enter and open all year round. Please note, many gardens are closed at dusk and/or locked in the evenings (check websites for opening times and special events before you visit).

1. Postman’s Park
This pretty park hidden away from the Square Mile’s hustle and bustle was once a popular lunch spot for workers at the nearby General Post Office (now closed). As well as containing a handsome sundial, flowerbeds and a fountain, Postman’s Park is home to the Watts memorial, which commemorates the bravery of persons who lost their lives saving others.
BEST FOR: Midweek lunch in the City

Barbican Conservatory

2.  Barbican Conservatory
In the centre of the Barbican Arts Centre is London’s second-largest Conservatory (the biggest is at Kew Gardens). This calm oasis contains more than 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees as well as exotic fish who circle lazily around the ponds.
BEST FOR: Relaxing with friends and family

3. Kyoto Japanese Garden in Holland Park
Inside Chelsea’s Holland Park you’ll find the tranquil Kyoto Garden. A gift from Kyoto’s Chamber of Commerce in 1991, this is a small piece of Japan in Central London. The Kyoto garden contains stone statues, waterfalls, Japanese plants and peacocks.
BEST FOR: Achieving Zen in Central London

Phoenix Garden. Photo: http://www.thephoenixgarden.org

4. Phoenix Garden
The Phoenix Garden is a community wildlife garden in London’s West End that showcases innovative and sustainable gardening techniques. The colourful array of wildflowers have been specially selected to withstand dry and low-water conditions, so they look beautiful all year round and provide a vital habitat for urban wildlife.
BEST FOR: The ultimate West End garden retreat

Dalston Eastern Curve Garden. Photo: http://dalstongarden.org

5. Dalston Eastern Curve Garden
This recently-opened garden was built on an old railway line and lies between Dalston Kingsland and Dalston Junction overland stations in trendy East London. The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden contains bee and butterfly-friendly plants as well as a pavilion for events, a cafe and a bike rack outside to chain your fixie.
BEST FOR: Urban hipsters

What’s your favourite secret garden in London? Tell us in the comments below.

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London Theatre News: The Scottsboro Boys gets its revival, and Hollywood stars Ben Foster and Juliette Binoche head for the West End http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/05/london-theatre-news-the-scottsboro-boys-gets-its-revival-and-hollywood-stars-ben-foster-and-juliette-binoche-head-for-the-west-end/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/05/london-theatre-news-the-scottsboro-boys-gets-its-revival-and-hollywood-stars-ben-foster-and-juliette-binoche-head-for-the-west-end/#comments Wed, 14 May 2014 09:00:19 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=38697

Since it closed at the Young Vic there have been rumours about The Scottsboro Boys transferring to a West End theatre. Brilliantly, these rumours have now been confirmed. From October, theatregoers at the Garrick Theatre can see exactly why critics and audience members in Waterloo were so excited about Kander and Ebb’s musical tale inspired by real events of the 1930s when nine young black men were falsely accused of rape.

The Olivier Award nominated show will open too late to join the productions taking part in West End LIVE, the free festival of all London’s theatre district has to offer. The annual event, held in Trafalgar Square, has announced it is happening on 21 and 22 June, and that Billy Elliot The Musical, The Bodyguard, Jersey Boys, Stomp and Wicked are already lined up to perform. More shows are set to be announced shortly.

Away from musicals, there have been a raft of exciting casting announcements.

Jane Horrocks – of Absolutely Fabulous and The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice – is returning to the West End as part of the eagerly awaited second Trafalgar Transformed season at the Trafalgar Studios. She’ll play the torn wife of George Khan in the revival of hit play East is East. The tale of a Pakistani chip shop owner trying to give his children a Muslim upbringing in 1970s Salford opens at the Trafalgar Studio 1 in October.

Before that another brilliant British actress, Gina McKee – of Notting Hill and Our Friends In The North – joins The Hobbit’s Martin Freeman in the first show of the season, Shakespeare’s Richard III, from 1 July.

Then there’s Great Expectations’ Vanessa Kirby and X-Men: The Last Stand’s Ben Foster joining Gillian Anderson in the Young Vic’s A Streetcar Named Desire from 23 July, Oscar-winner Juliette Binoche starring in Antigone at the Barbican in 2015 and Neil Morrissey of Men Behaving Badly – and Bob the Builder – replacing Rory Bremner in Relative Values from 26 May.

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London Bar and Restaurant News: Horse Meat Burgers, Caribbean Covent Garden and a Potential Michelin Farmyard http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/04/london-bar-and-restaurant-news-horse-meat-burgers-caribbean-covent-garden-and-a-potential-michelin-farmyard/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/04/london-bar-and-restaurant-news-horse-meat-burgers-caribbean-covent-garden-and-a-potential-michelin-farmyard/#comments Thu, 03 Apr 2014 09:00:14 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=38253 London’s drinking and dining scene has been extremely busy of late. New bars and restaurants have been opening up all over London. One particular food craze and one specific area of London both seem to be flourishing at the moment.

Burger Crazy
The hunt for the best burgers in London continues: Tommi’s Burger Joint has opened a second restaurant on the King’s Road in Chelsea; StreetFeast regulars, Baba G’s will be dishing up their Bhangra Burger sliders at Apples & Pears on Brick Lane from 10 April; Psychic Burger will open their second outlet at The Old Queen’s Head in Angel on 24 April (with a menu that will feature a burger made from 100% ethically-sourced horse meat); and Patty & Bun open restaurant number two on Liverpool Street in the City of London on 23 April. In other burger related news, Honky Tonk Chelsea are creating a dessert burger for Easter made from a brioche bun and warm chocolate mousse; and Honest Burger recently teamed up with BrewDog bar to create a limited edition burger that required customers to show ID before ordering due to the alcoholic amber ale glaze on the burger.

Covent Garden is Blooming
Possibly London’s most prolific area for new bar and restaurant activity at the moment is Covent Garden in the West End. The American-inspired Big Easy now has a second London location where diners can enjoy their BBQ meats and seafood. Thai beer brand Singha has opened its first European restaurant Pacata in Covent Garden recently and Asian street food dominates the menu that was created by the first Michelin starred Ramen Chef. Following the recent Notting Hill opening of Boom Burger, Caribbean food now also has two new Covent Garden restaurants to boast: Jamaica Patty Company, headed by the twice-voted Caribbean Chef of the Year, and Dub Jam, a colourful BBQ and rum shack located in a former cloakroom. Dub Jam’s signature punch is pumped through the restaurant’s speakers to infuse the drink with authentic reggae sounds! On the Covent Garden horizon, keep an eye out for the new venture from popular Spanish restaurant, Barrafina (also of Soho) which opens in May.

Further New Bar and Restaurant Openings
One Kensington is the glamorous new hangout for lunch, dinner, cocktails and late supper overlooking Kensington Palace Gardens.

Chef Rainer Becker is back once again with yet more contemporary Japanese Robatayaki cuisine at Roka Mayfair.

Traditional Georgian cuisine served in the most splendid of Mayfair settings at Marani.

Michelin-starred chef Ollie Dabbous goes rustic with his second London restaurant Barnyard, which is decorated to match its name.

Bravas is a new Spanish restaurant in St Katharine Docks, only minutes from Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.

Holborn Dining Room and Delicatessen sees high class British dishes set amongst historical elegance in the new, ultra-luxury, five-star Rosewood London hotel.

Find more bars and restaurants in London

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visitlondon.com Guest Editor Boris Johnson http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/visitlondon-com-guest-editor-boris-johnson/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/visitlondon-com-guest-editor-boris-johnson/#comments Thu, 23 Jan 2014 12:36:01 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=37272

To celebrate the release of our latest London Story video featuring Mayor of London Boris Johnson, we asked Boris to be our guest editor on visitlondon.com’s homepage from 23 to 25 January 2014, populating it with some of his favourite London experiences.

While making his London Story video for us – which was filmed in a pod on The EDF Energy London Eye – Boris waxed lyrical about some of his top things to see and do in London.

British Museum

“As I kid, because I was a bit of a nerd, I used to love going to the British museum where I would spend hours loitering in  the Duveen galleries,  looking at the Elgin Marbles – the ‘ta Elgíneia Mármara’, as they are called in Greece.”

The British Museum in Bloomsbury is the UK’s most visited tourist attraction, welcoming millions of people each year. Entry is free and provides access to an enormous wealth of historical artefacts, paintings, sculptures and scriptures from across the world (8 million in total) that make up the museum’s stores. These include the Rosetta Stone, The Elgin Marbles, the Easter Island Statue of Hoa Hakananai’a, and The Vindolanda tablets. As well as permanent exhibits, the museum curates temporary displays, and the Great Court and Reading Room are particularly popular with visitors due to their impressive architecture.

Regent’s Canal

“I cycle a lot but I also particularly like walking down the canal. There’s a fantastic walk just near us along the Regent’s Canal where you see these ancient bits of industrial architecture with new dwellings springing up among them.
“The buildings have got all this glass and steel and it’s the combination that’s so attractive. It’s 18th and 19th century industrial architecture that’s been brilliantly renovated with 21st century technology. It’s a fantastically vibrant area and so unlike any other city.
“We walk down the canal for a purpose – not just because it’s romantic and beautiful but because there is a pub, called The Narrow Boat, that sells fantastic sausage and mash.”

The 8.6-mile (14km) Regent’s Canal links the River Thames in the Limehouse Basin with Little Venice in north-west London. Along its route the canal bisects ZSL London Zoo, curves along the edge of Regent’s Park, passes through the busy shopping district of Camden, and then on to Islington and on to East London’s developing landscape, such as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. When it was built in the early 19th century, the canal’s primary function was for carrying goods; today it mainly provides a conduit for relaxation and leisure time.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

“I love getting on my bicycle and riding all the way through Hackney. It is an area changing very, very fast with all these bars being opened and new startup businesses. I then go through Victoria Park, right the way to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park which is connected up in the most extraordinary way. I recommend that for a day out and particularly when we reopen the whole park this year.”

Once London secured the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, work began on this piece of land in East London to turn what was previously wasteland into a hub for Londoners and visitors alike. The initial phase saw the creation of Europe’s largest shopping mall, Westfield Stratford City, next door, followed soon after by the Olympic Stadium and its sister sporting arenas. When the London 2012 Games finished, the park closed for refurbishment but the north section has since reopened for sporting events and festivals. Incremental new openings will occur throughout 2014 including parklands featuring new plant life, affordable homes, plus a variety of public-use sports and event venues.

Riverbus / Boat to Greenwich

“[My family and I] go to Greenwich and hang out there because it has such a beautiful park. You can have a wonderful afternoon having a picnic, feeding the ducks, hiring a boat – which you can also do at the Serpentine – and all that kind of stuff.”

London’s River Thames has a number of river bus services available. To get to Greenwich you can board one at Embankment, head east past the London Eye, Tower of London, Canary Wharf, and onto Greenwich where you disembark to enjoy The Cutty Sark, the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory Greenwich and Greenwich Park. As well as hosting the Prime Meridian Line, this 183 acre (74 hectare) Royal Park dates back to 1427 and offers a stunning vantage point from which you can look across London at landmarks such as The O2 Arena, Canary Wharf and The Gherkin. There is also an enclosure for wildlife including deer and foxes.

24 Hours in London: Food & World-Class Attractions  

“London has a superb range of places to eat and you are spoilt for choice for Michelin starred restaurants – not that I go to Michelin Star restaurants! I love this café called Frank’s in Southwark Street, where you can get one of the best fry-ups in the world or I can recommend a Turkish joint in Islington, called Pasha.
“It is very, very important to see the British Museum and the Tower of London. The Tower was built in Norman times and is the most interesting example of how London thrives on alien imports because every stone of that initial structure came from Caen in France.  Visitors should also go and see the crown jewels.
“There are so many unbelievable hidden jewels in London, like the Wallace Collection for instance.
“Then you’ve got the Tate Modern – which is not only the biggest but has the most number of visitors of any modern art museum in the world.”

Discover more stories and enter a competition to win a fantastic stay in London at www.visitlondon.com/story #TheLondonStory

What would you recommend to visitors to London?

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GQ’s Dylan Jones on London Menswear: Street Style http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/guest-editor-gqs-dylan-jones-on-london-menswear-street-style/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2014/01/guest-editor-gqs-dylan-jones-on-london-menswear-street-style/#comments Tue, 07 Jan 2014 14:00:32 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=36622 London invented Street Style. Photo: GLA

Dylan Jones, editor of British GQ and chair of London Collections: Men is contributing a series of guest blogs to visitlondon.com on why London is the place to be for men’s fashion.

Street Style: Let’s face it – London has invented every decent youth cult and street style worth its salt. From the Teddy Boys of the Fifties, through the mods, the rockers, skinheads and punks, right up to the multitudinous style we see on the capital’s streets today. If it came from the street, it came from one of London’s streets.

At its best, fashion has always been about play-acting, a way of artificially presenting one’s self to the world, an elaborate form of disguise or fancy dress. Fashion still has the ability to shock us in ways to which we think we’ve become immune, and over the years it has encouraged us to look like gypsies, tramps and thieves, as well as hoodlums, members of the Beider Meinhoff gang or undernourished Nepalese peasants.

To the world at large, London really became the centre of street style during the Swinging Sixties. Looking back now, it almost seems as though everything happened at once. In a decade dominated by youth, London suddenly

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burst into bloom. It was swinging, and it was the scene. The Union Jack suddenly became as ubiquitous as the black cab or the red Routemaster, and all became icons of the city. Carnaby Street’s turnover was over £5 million in 1966 alone (money absorbed from the West End’s own “Carnabitian Army”, in Ray Davies’s famous words).

Quite simply, London was where it was at. In the space of a few months the skies over London had become kaleidoscopic, full of multi-coloured swirls and curls, and curlicues of every imaginable shape and size. It was as though colour had replaced coin as a symbol of wealth and success, as though pigment was the cure for all known evils. There appeared to be no affliction not tempered by the application of some glitter mascara, or the donning of some extravagant garb. Colour became almost confrontational. Fuelled by growing prosperity, social mobility, post-war optimism and wave after wave of youthful enterprise, the city captured the imagination of the world media. Here was the centre of the sexual revolution – the pill had been introduced in 1961 – the musical revolution, the sartorial revolution. London was a veritable cauldron of benign revolt.

And so it is today.

London Collections: Men is on 6-8 January 2014

Take a look at our London Menswear Map to explore the evolution of men’s fashion in London during the past 300 years.

Watch Dylan Jones’ London Story video on why London is the home of menswear

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Top Tips for Going to the Theatre in London http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/05/top-tips-for-going-to-the-theatre-in-london/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/05/top-tips-for-going-to-the-theatre-in-london/#comments Thu, 30 May 2013 09:00:07 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=33504

You’ve got your tickets to London’s hottest show, but haven’t a clue what to wear, or how much time you need to get to the theatre! Luckily, Matthew Amer, Senior Editor at OfficialLondonTheatre.co.uk is on hand to give first time theatregoers his top tips:

“I’ve been working in West End theatre for a decade. I was fresh to the scene when I first set foot in the hallowed foyers of London’s incredible venues. I’d been a regular theatergoer before, of course, but not in London. Not in the famous West End. I didn’t know quite what to expect. I was unsure exactly how to act. I’ve learned a lot since then:

  1. It really doesn’t matter what you wear. When I first experienced the magic of going to the West End as a child, it was as a once a year treat we spent months looking forward to. The whole family would dress in their best clothes; this was our special night out, after all. For many theatergoers I’m sure this is still the case, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, wear that. I’ve seen theatregoers in shorts, vests, fancy dress. If you’re happy, and you’re not making anyone else unhappy, it really doesn’t matter.
  2. Give yourself time. There’s honestly nothing worse than getting caught on the Tube or stuck in traffic and realising you’re going to miss the start of the show. Your heart rate goes up, you start to sweat, you check your watch every 10 seconds. Where’s the fun in that? Get there early and relax. You can always find a bar, pub or restaurant to keep yourself amused in, this is London after all.
  3. If you want interval drinks – and who doesn’t? – you can often order them before the show. That way you avoid what can be a very long wait at the bar, which makes that drink taste all the sweeter.
  4. If you want to avoid the rest of the audience staring at you and tutting during the show’s most dramatic moment, turn your phone off! There is nothing more embarrassing than sitting in a near-silent theatre, everyone absorbed in one of the year’s finest performances, only to hear a Europop ringtone blaring from your pocket. Avoid that feeling of wanting to sink into your chair and turn it off at the start.

“Looking back now, it seems obvious. But back then, as a timid young thing, this was the most important information I could learn. Hopefully it can help you too.”

For the latest theatre news, interviews and show information, check out www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk

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Top 10 Long-Running London Theatre Shows http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/05/top-10-long-running-london-theatre-shows/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/05/top-10-long-running-london-theatre-shows/#comments Wed, 22 May 2013 10:00:41 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=32485 Some West-End shows come and go, while others become a permanent fixture on London’s theatre scene. To celebrate London Theatre Month, we’ve compiled a list of the longest-running plays and musicals that are currently playing in London’s West End.

The Mousetrap: 61 years
The Mousetrap is the world’s longest-running play, captivating London audiences since 1952. Packed with suspense, the classic whodunit takes place in a remote English country house hotel during a snow storm.

Les Miserables: 28 years
Now in its 28th year, Les Misérables is the longest running musical in the world.  This global stage sensation has been seen by more than 60 million people in 42 countries. Set in 19th-century France, Les Mis follows the plight of an ex-convict turned mayor who is hunted for decades by a ruthless policeman.

Phantom of the OperaThe Phantom of the Opera: 27 years
The Phantom of the Opera has reigned at Her Majesty’s Theatre for a whopping 27 years. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epic musical, which opened on 9 October 1986,  tells the tale of a disfigured composer who terrorises the Paris Opera in an attempt to make his protégé a leading lady.

The Woman in Black: 24 years
The Woman in Black has been terrifying audiences since 1989, making it the second longest-running play in the history of the West End. Based on Susan Hill’s eponymous novel, the spooky show sees a malevolent ghost haunting a small English town, bringing devastation to the lives of anyone who lays eyes on it.

The Lion King: 14 years
Still a roaring success, The Lion King is celebrating its 14th year at London’s Lyceum Theatre. Bursting with colour and brilliant songs, the Disney-movie-turned-musical sees fearless lion cub Simba making his epic journey to fulfil his destiny as king of the lions. The Lion King is one of five musicals to play for 10 or more years on both Broadway and the West End.

Mamma Mia: 14 years
Mamma Mia is now well into its second decade, after first opening in the West End in 1999. Based on the catchy tunes of Swedish pop quartet ABBA and set on a Greek island paradise, this feel-good show follows a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father.

We Will Rock You: 11 years
Mega-musical We Will Rock You has been a permanent fixture at the Dominion Theatre since 2002. Based on the songs of rock legends Queen, the show is set in a futuristic world where rock music has been banned.

Stomp: 10 years
Celebrating its 10th year in London, Stomp has been kept fresh with new routines, choreography and music. As its title suggests, talented performers use everything from zippo lighters to bin lids to hammer out a feel-good rhythm.

Billy Elliot: 8 years
Billy Elliot has been dazzling London’s West End since 2005 with its heart-warming tale of a young boy who struggles against the odds to fulfil his dream of becoming a ballet dancer. The all-singing all-dancing musical features an acclaimed score by Elton John.

Wicked: 7 years
Wicked made its West End debut seven years ago in 2006. Still going strong, the show welcomed its five millionth audience member last month. The award-winning musical tells the story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two young trainee witches who meet at sorcery school.

Read more about all London’s theatre shows at visitlondon.com/theatre

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Interview with Sally Dexter from Viva Forever! http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/05/interview-with-sally-dexter-from-viva-forever/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/05/interview-with-sally-dexter-from-viva-forever/#comments Wed, 15 May 2013 10:00:14 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=32871 Sally DexterSally Dexter plays Simone in Viva Forever!, the Spice Girls musical currently running at the Piccadilly Theatre. The acclaimed actress won an Olivier award for Dalliance at the National Theatre and was Olivier-nominated for her performances in Sam Mendes’ Oliver! and for Closer at the National. She has performed lead roles in several major West End musicals including Billy Elliot and Sister Act.

What’s your favourite song from Viva Forever!?
At the moment my favourite song is “Who Do You Think You Are?” Jennifer’s [Saunders] put it in great context and written a fantastic scene around it; one minute it’s funny, the next minute it’s like a fight between all of us. It’s very exciting to enact and the audience respond really strongly to it.

Why do you think the Spice Girls songs are so popular?
I think the Spice Girls songs are the embodiment of fun and optimism. The Spice Girls aren’t afraid to aim high and go for their goals, while encouraging others to do the same. They shine a bright light in what sometimes seems a bit of a dull world!

What does performing in London’s West End mean to you?
It’s incredibly handy – a quick pedal up the hill on my bicycle and I’m there! That aside, London’s West End is a vibrant multicultural hub – and it’s amazing to be part of a phenomenal theatrical history that goes way back.

Do you prefer TV or stage work?
TV and stage work present different challenges, both of which I enjoy.

If you weren’t playing Simone in Viva Forever!, what other role would you like to play on stage at the moment?
Oh my – how long have you got?! There are a million things I’d like to do, but I feel strangely shy about talking about specific plays or shows – I must be more superstitious than I thought! I love working on classical texts. I love Mr Shakespeare and Mr Chaucer. I’ve never done a Chekhov, Tennessee Williams or Lorca play – or a full Greek Tragedy. I also passionately want to do a gig or two.

What part of a musical do you most enjoy – the dancing, singing or acting?
Singing! And acting is naturally at the heart of it anyway.

Do you have any lucky charms or rituals before you go on stage?
Mostly practical stuff – I fill up an old contact lens case with vital throat moistening sweets and pop them down my frontage because I don’t have any pockets. And I always put the left shoe on first – I’ve no idea why!

Why should London theatre-goers choose to see Viva Forever!?
Viva Forever is a fun party that everyone’s invited to. It’s the sort of party you don’t want to leave because you’re having too much fun – and the music is great. Come along and boogie!

Viva Forever! is currently playing at the Piccadilly Theatre. You can book tickets to see Viva Forever! here. You can follow Viva Forever! on twitter: @vivaforever

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London Shopping News: Carnaby Street, Charity Fashion Evenings, Westfield London, Seven Dials http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/04/london-shopping-news-carnaby-street-charity-fashion-evenings-westfield-london-seven-dials/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2013/04/london-shopping-news-carnaby-street-charity-fashion-evenings-westfield-london-seven-dials/#comments Fri, 12 Apr 2013 13:00:38 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=32564

From shop openings to designer sales, here are this week’s top London shopping news stories:

New shops for Carnaby Street
Start flexing your credit card because a slew of under-the-radar labels are opening up in Carnaby Street, in London’s West End. Here’s a sneak peak:

Iconic French fashion label Eleven Paris is opening its first UK store on 25 April. Inspired by music and art, the shop is launching with a campaign fronted by brooding rock star and style icon Lenny Kravitz. British design icon Paul Smith is also opening a store in Carnaby Street this month.

Women can treat themselves to a glam-over at make-up giant Benefit’s one-off beauty emporium, which is opening in June with a champagne bar, blow-dry bar, nail bar and treatment rooms offering waxing and spray tanning. Men, meanwhile, can enjoy a touch of old-school barbering at Pankhurst London’s first-ever flagship barbershop in the Newburgh Quarter. With Steve McQueen plastered on the walls and Sinatra providing the soothing soundtrack, men can be expertly groomed in style.

Follow in the dapper footsteps of rock gods David Bowie and Led Zeppelin by swinging by shoe legend Terry de Havilland’s new store, which opens in the Newburgh Quarter on 25 April. The shops homes winkle pickers, bespoke platform picture wedges, 80s platform sandals and stiletto mules.

Designer Labels at Charity Fashion Evenings

Calling all label lovers! Designer and vintage fashion fans can get their mitts on original pieces from the likes of Givenchy, Chanel, Stella McCartney, Christian Louboutin, Dolce and Gabbana and Ossie Clark. The items will be on sale at two special shopping events at the Octavia Foundation’s Charity shops on the Brompton Road and Fulham Road. Guests will be treated to special offers and refreshments. 5-8pm on Thursday 18 April at Octavia Foundation Brompton Road. Thursday 16 May at Octavia Foundation Fulham Road. RSVP info@octaviafoundation.org.uk

Shop Openings at Westfield
Belgian luxury chocolatier Godiva has launched a new kiosk at White City’s Westfield Shopping Centre. Melt-in-the-mouth treats on sale include biscuits, carrés, chocolate spread and gold gift boxes. Also opening this weekend is fashion-forward shoe and accessories brand Mascotte.

Rock Photography Pop-up at Seven Dials
Rock photography store Rockarchive has opened a pop-up shop and exhibition in Monmouth Street. The space is showcasing never-seen-before photos and iconic rock images of legends like Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie. Open until 27 April.

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Theatre Review: The Bodyguard at the Adelphi Theatre http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/12/theatre-review-the-bodyguard-at-the-adelphi-theatre/ http://blog.visitlondon.com/2012/12/theatre-review-the-bodyguard-at-the-adelphi-theatre/#comments Thu, 06 Dec 2012 17:15:59 +0000 http://blog.visitlondon.com/?p=30542

WHEN Whitney Houston died earlier this year, admirers worldwide mourned her passing. Her hits rang out from every radio station and friends, family and fans paid tribute to one of the most successful female singers of all time.

So it was hardly surprising when just months later it was revealed that a musical version of the film The Bodyguard, in which Houston starred, was to hit the West End.

Last night the production opened at The Adelphi Theatre on the Strand. While one might have expected it to be a rather schmaltzy tribute show, The Bodyguard is anything but.

I never saw the 1992 film and have never considered myself to be a Houstonfan, so my expectations for the evening were not especially high. Yet the truth is that neither is a prerequisite for seeing the show.

The storyline is pretty simple. Rachel Marron is a hugely successful pop singer who has a mystery stalker. Former Secret Service agent Frank Farmer is hired to protect her and try and track down the unsavoury character. The singer and her bodyguard clash at first, then gradually overcome their differences and fall in love.

There are no hidden depths to this tale, so don’t go expecting Shakespeare or Chekhov.

However, that does not stop it from being a thoroughly enjoyable show with something all too often absent from the theatre – the feel-good factor. US actress Heather Headley is outstanding in the lead role. Her powerful voice is magnificent and she glows with charisma.

Rachel’s sister Nicki is played by Debbie Kurup, another female powerhouse. The male lead is played by Lloyd Owen, who is not quite Kevin Costner but comes a pretty good second. Rachel has a son, Fletcher, who is played by one of six different boys. On the night I went, it was the turn of Malaki Paul – who you may recall from the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent last year.

If you’re someone who doesn’t especially like musical theatre, The Bodyguard could be the show to convert you. On the whole, the characters do not spontaneously burst into song. The music is integrated and the story has not been adapted to be told through Whitney’s greatest hits.

I was surprised at how many of Whitney’s songs I actually knew and just how catchy some of them are. By the end of the show, I was up in the aisles with the rest of the audience singing, dancing and – I confess – even whooping, to the sounds of I Wanna Dance With Somebody.

The Bodyguard at The Adelphi Theatre is currently booking until 27 April 2013

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