Fancy a bit of Alpine action, but can’t get to the slopes? Well, the Vauxhall Winter Village is bringing some winter fun to the capital. Following their November-December opening before the Christmas and New Year break, the Village is reopening for business from 19 January 2017.
The Vauxhall Winter Village is presented by the team behind Vauxhall Street Food Garden and offers weekday lunchtime and evening venue for eating, drinking and socialising. Located just moments from Vauxhall station, the pop-up alpine ski village features plenty to keep you entertained, including a Retro Ski Wear with Cable Car Photo Booth, bookable alpine cabin booths and Winter Sports Bar screening the latest sports.
For those feeling peckish, there is a host of street food stalls, including Valcie Flavours jerk shack, City Burger, Win & Lilly’s Oriental Foods, Country Kitchen and Souper Soups and special weekly foodie pop-ups on Fridays. Meanwhile, drinkers can head to the Smirnoff pop-up bar, serving Hot Pimm’s Winter Cider, Festive Glühwein or Mulled Cider, together with spiced drinks; beer, wine, spirits and champagne. There is also the Red Bull Winter Lodge serving Red Bull cocktails while showing Red Bull TV. With the temperatures biting outside, the Winter Village is fully undercover with heating and lighting to give a cosy and relaxed atmosphere with plenty of dining areas to sit.
- Vauxhall Winter Village is open from 19 January 2017 on Monday to Fridays only from 11.30am-10pm. Free entry. Vauxhall Winter Village, South Lambeth Place, Vauxhall, SW8 1SP. Nearest station: Vauxhall. For more information, visit the Vauxhall Winter Village website or the Facebook page.
To find out what else is on in London in January, click here.
While Christmas is fast becoming a distant memory already, it’s probably a bit premature to be thinking about Easter. However, it’s never too early to think about eating chocolate eggs! This January, a rather exciting pop-up is coming to the capital to lift us out of the winter doldrums.
With Easter approaching, you may have noticed Cadbury Creme Eggs appearing more prominent on shelves in recent days. Fresh from the new Cadbury Creme Egg advert, the travelling Hunting Lodge will be going on tour, with three dates in the capital. Creme egg fans will have the chance to enjoy an immersive chocolate experience.
The Hunting Lodge will feature a display of Creme Egg hunting paraphernalia, the chance for guests to hone their hunting skills and chow down on a range of Creme Egg inspired treats. The cosy outdoor area will feature four choco-tastic dishes for diners to sample, including:
- Gooey Creme Egg S’mores – gooey Creme Egg pieces and a giant marshmallow, sandwiched between two toasted biscuits.
- Creme Egg Hunters’ Hot Choc – Cadbury hot chocolate, with melted Creme Egg added in.
- Creme Egg Forest Fridge Cake – crushed biscuits, nuts and apricots, coated in a thick layer of Cadbury chocolate, topped with Creme Egg pieces.
- Creme Black Forest Toastie – Creme Eggs mixed with black cherries, sandwiched between golden toast.
There will also be a takeaway area for those in a rush, serving Creme Egg S’mores to-go. Meanwhile, 100% of the proceeds at the Lodge will be donated to the Prince’s Trust Charity.
- The Cadbury Creme Egg Hunting Lodge will stop at the Coca-Cola London Eye, Jubilee Gardens, South Bank, SE1 7PB on 27 January (4.50pm-9pm) and 25-26 February 2017 (1.50pm-6pm). The lodge will also be touring Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds and Edinburgh. For more information, visit the Facebook event page, or tweet @CadburyUK using the hashtag #CremeEggHuntingSeason, or booking, check out Eventbrite.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
Brightening up gloomy February is the Ealing Music and Film Festival 2017. Returning to the West London suburb for the fifth year, the festival’s theme is Ealing’s cultural heart. The five-day event will bring together world talents and home-grown artists performing a range of genres from across three centuries at venues across Ealing.
Classical fans will be entertained by the world’s most recorded chamber orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, who are teaming up with the Tenebrae Choir and conductor Nigel Short, to perform Allegri Miserere, Mozart Clarinet Concerto and Mozart Requiem on 9 February. Meanwhile, a day later, the Ealing Youth Orchestra and conductor Leon Gee will perform Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1 with soloist Martin James Bartlett and Mahler Symphony No.1.
For those who like the blues, The Ealing Club presents The Blues Band’s Paul Jones and Dave Kelly at the iconic Red Room venue, where the Rolling Stones famously played in the ’60s. Other musical acts include pianist and Head of Classical Performance at the London College of Music, Emilie Capulet with a free lunchtime piano recital and the Tippett Quartet and Festival Artistic Director, composer and conductor Julian Gallant will be giving a public concert on 12 February.
Film aficionados will enjoy the concert by Ealing Symphony Orchestra and conductor John Gibbons as they perform iconic scores from movies with Ealing connections. Meanwhile, there will be a screening of David Cronenberg’s Spider (2002) starring Ralph Fiennes, Gabriel Byrne, Miranda Richardson and Lynn Redgrave, in partnership with Classic Cinema Club Ealing. Playing on the area’s cinematic history, there will be a guided location walk and film screening of historical comedy drama Pride (2014) at the ‘Island Triangle’ in North Acton on 11 February.
- The Ealing Music and Film Festival takes place from 8 – 12 February 2017. Events range from free to £30. Venues include the University of West London, Church of St Barnabas, The Red Room (formerly The Ealing Club), St Mary’s Church and The Collective Old Oak. For more information and booking, visit the festival website.
For a guide to what else is on in London, click here.
Crystal Palace Park is a South London gem. Although well-known by locals, many people living in the other parts of the capital haven’t made the journey… and they’re missing out! As a born and bred South Londoner, I’ve been visiting the park since I was little and continue to today. The park was established in 1854 as a permanent base for the Crystal Palace – built for the Great Exhibition three years earlier. The Crystal Palace – a huge iron and glass structure designed by architect Sir Joseph Paxton (1803-1865) – had already wowed visitors in Hyde Park, and would have a long-term home at the expansive Sydenham grounds with views across Croydon and Surrey. Together with the surrounding land, the park became a Victorian pleasure ground. Two train stations serviced the park, while an Italian garden and fountains, a maze, an English landscape garden and dinosaur exhibition were opened.
The Crystal Palace stood for decades until it was destroyed by a fire in November 1936. Today, the only remainder of the Palace is its Victorian terraces, ruins of its water towers and the surviving six of the original collection of 12 sphinxes. The sculptures of the half-man, half-lions flank flights of steps on the Upper Terrace and feature cartouches and hieroglyphs on their bodies and base. The sphinxes were based on the red granite sphinx at the Louvre museum in Paris – from the reign of Egyptian Pharaoh Amenemhat II (1929-1895 BC). They are likely to have been the idea of architect Owen Jones (1809-1874), who was partially responsible for the decoration and layout of the Palace in its new environment and designed the Egyptian, Greek and Roman courts within the exhibition.
For decades, the sphinxes were painted red to match their original inspiration across the channel in France. Tests have shown the re-painting stopped in the 1900s when the popularity in the Palace had declined. For most of the 20th century, the sphinxes were their base grey colour. Understandably, they’ve taken quite a battering from the element over the years and were cracking, ending up on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register.
In 2016, the Grade II-listed sphinxes were restored as part of a £2.4million project funded by the Mayor of London, Historic England and Bromley Council. The project also includes the restoration of the terrace steps, the famous Victorian dinosaur sculptures and a new café. The work included repairs to the holes and cracks and repainting to their original Victorian colour of red with a mineral paint to help conserve them longer. I’ve loved the sphinxes since I was a child and having witnessed their deterioration over the years, I was thrilled to see them restored to their former glory. I hope they continue to survey the park for another 150 years and beyond.
- The Sphinxes are located by the terraces on the northern-western part of Crystal Palace Park (access from Crystal Palace Parade, Upper Norwood, SE19. Nearest station: Crystal Palace. For information about visiting the park, check out Bromley Council’s website.
To find out about another set of London sphinxes on the Victoria Embankment, click here.
For more of Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.
Decades before the likes of Westfield and Brent Cross came to London, those who wanted to shop in comfort headed to one of the capital’s arcades. Like the mega malls of today, these arcades featured numerous shops under one roof, providing a sheltered retail experience whatever the weather. However, as well laid out as these modern fashion meccas are, they just can’t compare to the historic and upmarket designs of the late Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods. As part of Metro Girl’s series on the five historic arcades of Mayfair and St James, Part 4 will be focusing on the Edwardian of the quintet – the Piccadilly Arcade.
At the dawn of the 20th century, the St James area was a hangout for the capital’s gentry and royals with a host of gentlemen’s shops and businesses catering for the upper classes. St James’s Palace was in the area, as well as prestigious members’ clubs, such as The Athenaeum and The Carlton Club. Swiss hotelier César Ritz (1850-1918) had opened his ground-breaking Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly in 1906. Following the death of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and the ascension of King Edward VII (1841-1910), the country was changing, with styles of fashion and architecture evolving into less gloomy and simpler designs.
When it came to London’s shopping arcades, by the early 20th century, it had been a while since any new ones had been built. The Royal Opera and Burlington Arcades were over eight decades old at this point, while the Lowther Arcade was demolished in 1904 after standing on The Strand for over 70 years. In 1909, work started on a new shopping mecca – the Piccadilly Arcade. The Edwardian arcade linked Piccadilly and Jermyn Street – famous as London’s retail destination for well-dressed gentlemen. Architect George Thrale Jell of Waterloo Place was brought in to design it. Throughout his career, Jell was a popular architect for retailers, having designed several stores in Oxford Street, including the Hanan-Gingell shoe shop in 1908 (now home to branches of Fossil watches and Sunglasses Hut), flats in Bury Street and converted the Georgian building, 138 Park Lane into offices and flats in the late 1920s.
The arcade was constructed by builders Messrs. Leslie and Co. of Kensington Square in 1910. The ground-floor arcade featured 28 shops, while the remaining upper floors were used as offices and chambers. The façade of the building is made of Portland stone and features four columns supporting a architrave with the words ‘Piccadilly Arcade’. Above, a wide wrought iron balcony spans the five windows of the 2nd floor, with further storeys of windows and smaller balconies above. The fifth floor features another wide balcony, while dormer windows stand out on the 6th floor slated roof. The upper storeys were converted into the Felix Hotel in 1915, but is now called Empire House and is mostly offices.
Among the first businesses to open in the arcade were the shirtmakers Budd, who are still trading today over a century later. Harold Budd established his shirt shop at No.4 in 1910, which was set over three floors. Meanwhile, tailors Hawes & Curtis, founded by Ralph Hawes and George Frederick Curtis, opened their first store at No.24 in February 1913. Over one hundred years later, they now have over 20 stores in the UK.
The Piccadilly Arcade traded in peace for 20 years before World War II brought death and destruction to the streets of London. At 3.10am on 17 April 1941, the Jermyn Street end of the building was severely damaged by a 2,200lb parachute bomb. Twenty three people were killed, including the 1930s singer Al Bowlly (1898-1941), who lived on the corner of Jermyn Street. The Dunhill store on the corner of Jermyn Street took a direct hit, while Fortnum & Mason and the Cavendish Hotel were also damaged. Budd’s shop at No.4 in the arcade was burnt down so Harold Budd swiftly purchased the remaining leases on the only two intact stores in the arcade; 1A and 3, where Budd remains trading today. The Piccadilly Arcade was gradually restored, with work finishing in 1957.
Today, the Piccadilly Arcade is home to tailors, shirtmakers, shoe shops, jewellers, hairdressers, womenswear, pharmacy and mustard and vinegar makers. Meanwhile, those who enter or exit through the Arcade’s south entrance of Jermyn Street will be greeted by Irena Sedlecká’s sculpture of Beau Brummell (1778-1840), a Regency dandy who was famous for his dress sense.
- Piccadilly Arcade, Piccadilly or Jermyn Street, St. James’s, SW1Y 6NH. Nearest station: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Piccadilly Arcade website.
‘Shopping In Style’ is a series of blog posts on the history of London’s oldest shopping arcades. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ to keep up to date with my latest posts. Read Part 1 on the Burlington Arcade here, Part 2 on the Royal Opera Arcade here or Part 3 on the Royal Arcade here.
For more of Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.
Happy New Year! January tends to be a bit of an anti-climax after all the fun of December. We’re all feeling lighter in our pockets, our bills are bulkier than usual and the weather’s not helping to lift our spirits either. Fortunately, there’s plenty going on around town – many of it free – to lift us out of the winter doldrums. Here’s a guide to what’s on in London this January.
- 1 January : New Year’s Day Parade
Hundreds of thousands of spectators will line the streets of London to watch 10,000 performers from around the world. Starts from Piccadilly’s Berkeley Street at 12pm, ending at Parliament Square at 3.30pm. Free. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus, Westminster or Charing Cross. For more information, visit the Parade website.
- Now until 2 January : Winter Wonderland
The south east corner of Hyde Park is transformed into a Christmas fair with rides, food and drink stalls, ice rink, Zippos Christmas Circus and Cirque Berserk – an alternative circus show. It’s free to enter, but of course the aforementioned will cost. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner, Victoria, Knightsbridge or Marble Arch. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website. Read about Metro Girl’s previous visit to Winter Wonderland.
- Now until 2 January : Christmas at Kew
A one mile glittering trail which weaves its way through Kew Gardens with stunning sights lit up upon the way. There will also be Santa at the North Pole Village, a Tunnel of Light, vintage rides, festive food and drinks. 5-10pm. Tickets (advance): Adults £16-£18, Children £10-£12. Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website.
- 6 – 15 January : London Boat Show
Boats of all shapes and sizes on show at ExCel in Docklands. Open 10am-6pm (late nights Thurs until 8pm). Tickets: Adult £15-£20, Children 15 years and under free with a paying adult. ExCel, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Custom House (DLR). For more information and to book tickets, visit the London Boat Show website.
- 6 – 15 January : London Short Film Festival
Ten day festival celebrating the best in short film-making at venues across the capital, including the ICA, Ace Hotel, Round Chapel, Oval Space, Hackney Attic, and Hackney Picturehouse. For more information, visit the London Short Film Festival website.
- 7 – 8 January : Vegan Life Live
Two day festival celebrating and exploring the vegan lifestyle. Open Sat 7 10am-6pm, Open Sun 8 10am-5pm. Tickets start from £10. The West Hall, Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY. Nearest station: Alexandra Palace. For more information, visit the Vegan Life Live website.
- Now until 8 January : Christmas in Leicester Square
The West End’s famous square features a Christmas market. A Spiegeltent will play host to La Soiree‘s variety show, starring The English Gents, Acantha Lang, Hamish McCann, Denis Lock and Ursula Martinez. Free entry to Leicester Square, but tickets required for Spiegeltent. Leicester Square, WC2H. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square.
- 8 January : Twelfth Night Celebration
Theatre company the Lions Part host their annual celebration of the new year, ‘mixing ancient seasonal customs with contemporary festivity’ in the Bankside area of London. From 2pm. Free. Outside Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside, SE1 9DT. Nearest stations: Blackfriars, London Bridge or Southwark. For more information, visit the Lions Part website. Read the rest of this entry
Happy New Year! It’s that time of year when we look back and reflect on the past 12 months. Well, it goes without saying that 2016 is going to be one year that stands out in the history books years from now. The huge volume of celebrity deaths, the shock Brexit and Trump results, among other events, have provided plenty of things to talk, lament and worry about.
In terms of my blog, it has continued to grow and the feedback and engagement I get from my audience is encouraging. Every new year since I launched MOAMG back in 2012, I wonder how long I can keep my blog going. Well for now, I am still enjoying it as much as ever and documenting my exploration of my hometown so expect plenty more posts in 2017.
Taking my listings guides out of the equation, here’s Metro Girl’s most popular blog posts of 2016.
- Artist Julian Opie creates new permanent artwork for Carnaby as Lumiere London kicks off
- Revisit the romance and energy of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet with Backyard Cinema
- Beyond The Waterfall: Take a boat trip to a magical cocktail bar at Westfield London this Christmas
- Trade Union review: London’s most versatile day and night destination opens in Wapping
- St Katharine Docks: A hidden oasis in the centre of London
Wishing all my readers a very Happy New Year and see you in 2017 for more London adventures.
Love Metro Girl
Wishing all MOAMG readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
We’re approaching the end of 2016 and it’s been quite a year. Politically the country and the world is in turmoil right now.
It’s that time of year when London becomes somewhat of a ghost town for a few days when many of the capital’s residents flee to their hometowns across the country and overseas to spend the festive period with family… or perhaps in the sunshine.
As for me, I’ll be spending another Christmas here in London, as I always do, with my family. Yet again, my lifetime hope for a white Christmas is unlikely to be realised this year.
For those who are staying in the capital over the festive period, here’s a few ideas of things to do:
– If you fancy a spot of ice-skating at one of London’s many pop-up rinks, check out where to go here.
– Sip on a festive cocktail from one of these London bars.
– For a what’s on guide to what’s on in London this Christmas, click here.
– Or if you need some ideas of how to see in the New Year, click here.
See you in 2017 for more London fun and frolics!
While it looks like a chic French brasserie from street level, Zedel in Piccadilly is actually a multi-function venue, offering entertainment, dining and drinking. I’ve been a fan of Bar Americain at Zedel since I first discovered it last year and have been charmed by the Art Deco interiors. Halfway downstairs to the basement level – which features Bar Americain and Brasserie Zedel’s main dining room – is an intimate little club called the Crazy Coqs.
Earlier this year, the venue launches its Live at Zedel series, comprising a series of talks, performance and other entertainment across Crazy Coqs and Brasserie Zedel. Last week, I was invited to check out the House Of Q – a cabaret and variety act at the Crazy Coqs. Stepping inside, the CC (as I’m calling it) is a cosy little nightspot with a vintage style, black and white interiors. Small tables, individual lighting and curved chairs face the intimate stage. The menu features a mix of wines, bubbles, cocktails and a few bar snacks, such as chips, deep fried prawns and pork belly if you’re feeling peckish.
House Of Q perform monthly at the Crazy Coqs with their unique mix of magic, burlesque and music. The ‘House’ is comprised of singer Mercury, showgirl Felicity Furore and illusionist Neil Kelso. Each of the three acts have their own distinct personalities and talents. Felicity is confident and sexy, Mercury is the host with the most, but isn’t afraid to show his vulnerable side, while Neil initially comes across as bashful, before his quirkiness and humour shines through. Despite the limited space and props, the trio move seamlessly from one different segment to the next. Being in such a venue, it’s no surprise to see there is some audience participation, with guests invited to take part in magic tricks. While, admittedly the acts are very different, there’s certainly something for everyone and it’s not just for your typical cabaret fans. On the night in question, there were many big groups of friends celebrating birthdays or Christmas. Mercury veered off a traditional cabaret songbook with his own musical offering about life as a barista – a witty and humorous take on life behind the counter catering to the whim of London’s demanding coffee drinkers. By the end of the show, we left feeling humoured, entertained and slightly tipsy thanks to their delicious cocktails. The House of Q are preparing a new show for 2017, so I definitely recommend checking them out.
- Live At Zedel takes place at Crazy Coqs, 20 Sherwood Street, Soho, W1F 7ED. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Brasserie Zedel website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in December, click here.
Many of you have probably heard of Bompas & Parr, the food and drink wizards who have created a series of sensory, taste experiences. I visited their Alcoholic Architecture – a room full of inhalable alcohol in Borough Market earlier this year and was looking forward to visiting subsequent projects. When I heard about their special Christmas experience – Beyond The Waterfall – I knew it was right up my street. It combines an immersive theatrical experience and cocktails so I was eager to take part.
This week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to their special preview night. Beyond The Waterfall is located in the plush The Village area of Westfield London – surrounded by designer shops. The fact they have managed to turn what I presume was a standard retail unit into a magical land is pretty impressive. Standing outside the front door, we were treated to a glimpse of what to expect as we peered through the windows to see the gloomy and misty lagoon. Upon entering, we were greeted by who I would describe as glamorous nautical advisers, giving us warnings of what to expect and tokens to exchange later for fantastical concoctions.
The first part of the journey was across a 20 metre lagoon – yes, they have actually created a huge water feature in a shopping centre. We boarded small, individual boats and made our way up the lagoon – with varying degrees of success in terms of speed and direction, depending on your paddling skills! Fortunately, there are strategically placed seafarers along the way to guide or push you in the right direction – which is ultimately ‘beyond the waterfall’. Don’t worry, you won’t get wet (unless you want to!), as waterproof ponchos and a large umbrella for the actual waterfall part are provided.
A quick pit stop with a wise man gives you an insight into the faraway world you have travelled to and the chance to show off your drinking skills as you down your first cocktail – an interesting brown liquid in a bottle. Finally, we ended up in the hidden cavern – a mythical cocktail bar staffed by mermen and the very fabulous host Ruby. After being greeted with some welcome punch, we settled down to peruse the menu and mingle with the mermen, who entertained us with their various talents. The cocktail menu has been inspired by the sea and features unusual ingredients such as undersea botanicals, real gunpowder and rare ambergris. I ended up enjoying a Shipwreck Sour (Shipwreck cider brandy, Coral Calvados, Creme de Peche, lemon juice, shipwreck bitters and egg white), which was frothy and sweet.
Overall, we had a really fun experience. My friend and I embraced the spirit of the event and enjoyed the various flavours of alcohol we tried. The staff and entertainers we encountered along the way certainly brought a sense of adventure and theatrics so we felt a world away from the bustling shops of Westfield outside. The event has been so popular, further dates are likely to get added, so I really recommend keeping an eye out for more tickets.
- Beyond The Waterfall runs from 9 – 23 December 2016. At The Village, Westfield London, Ariel Way, White City, W12 7GF. Nearest station: Shepherd’s Bush, White City or Shepherd’s Bush Market. Open 4-10pm. Tickets are time-slotted and last 60 minutes. Tickets: £15 (includes 2 drink tokens). For tickets, visit Westfield London website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in December, click here.