Author Archives: Metro Girl

Totally Thames 2021: Celebrate the capital’s river as the heritage and culture festival returns

Enjoy walking tours, talks, workshops, art exhibitions and more as the annual festival returns 1 – 30 September 2021.

The Rivers of the World exhibition returns for the Totally Thames festival
© Milo Robinson

Without the River Thames, London wouldn’t be the city it is today. With the capital returning to life following the end of lockdown, why not head to this year’s Totally Thames? The annual festival returns for the 25th year from 1 – 30 September 2021, boasting a host of events celebrating the heritage, environment and culture of the Thames. From mudlarking to art exhibitions to light installations and walking tours, there’s a variety of events for all ages. While many events are in-person, there will also be plenty to enjoy online as well.

This year’s festival will feature a series of mudlarking events, including an exhibition of fascinating finds, portraits of mudlarkers, an immersive talk, an online writing workshop and Archaeological Foreshore Walks. Meanwhile, the riverside neighbourhoods of Silvertown and Woolwich will be the focus of heritage events, such as walking tours, a photography exhibition and history talks.

The Rivers of the World exhibition will return to the riverside by the Tate Modern with children’s artwork inspired by the river. Children and youth from Greenwich have teamed up with Ghanian schools and professional artists to produce a collection of artworks.

There will also be a series of events marking the completion of Leo Villareal’s Illuminated River project. The world’s longest public art installation sees the bridges of Lambeth, Westminster, Golden Jubilee, Waterloo, Blackfriars, Millennium, Southwark, Cannon Street and London lit up from sunset to 2am. Illuminated River will curate a three-day celebration from 23 – 25 September, including guided tours, talks and sketching workshops.

  • Totally Thames runs from 1 – 30 September 2021. At various locations on and around the River Thames. Prices for events vary, but many are free. For more information and booking, visit the Thames Festival Trust website.

Find out what else is on in London in September 2021 here.

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Guide to what’s on in London in August 2021

There’s a host of events on in the capital this summer, including plenty of family-friendly fun.

A host of festivals are returning to London this August

Summer is in full swing, lockdown has been eased and the kids are off school. Without a doubt, August is surely London’s busiest month when it comes to capital dwellers and visitors seeking leisure fun. Of course, there’s the August bank holiday at the end of the month, offering some carnival alternatives to the postponed action in Notting Hill. This month, expect plenty of festivals, from music to beer to cocktails and food. There’s also plenty of free events if you’re feeling a little short.

Look out for the 🐻 for family-friendly activities.

  • 7 August 2021 : Queen’s Park Summer Festival 2021

One-day summer festival featuring live entertainment, MCs, Sound Systems, food and drink, bouncy castles and children’s activities. Open 12pm-6pm. Register online for a free ticket. Queen’s Park Public Open Space, 67 Ilbert Street, W10 4QH. Nearest station: Queen’s Park. For more information, visit the Eventbrite page. 🐻

  • 7 – 8 August 2021 : London Jerk Fest 2021

Celebrate Jamaican independence with a festival of food, drink, music and culture. Open Sat 7 11am-8pm, Sun 8 11am-7pm. Tickets: Free (register via Eventbrite). Bohemia Place, Hackney, E8 1DU. Nearest station: Hackney Central. Find out more on the festival’s Eventbrite page. 🐻

  • 7 – 8 August 2021 : Classic Car Boot Sale

Vintage lovers can shop pre-loved and upcycled goods, including fashion, homewares, fashion and more at this retro festival. 10am-6pm. Tickets: £5, free entry for under 12s. Granary Square, Lewis Cubitt Square and Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, N1C. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the Classic Car Boot Sale website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the event

  • 12 – 15 August 2021 : Roy’s Art Fair

Roy’s Art Fair aims to make art more affordable and accessible. Meet and buy direct from the artists, take part in workshops and check out installations. Open Thurs 5pm-8:30pm, Fri 12pm-7pm, Sat 11am–7pm and Sun 11am-5pm. Register online for a free ticket. Bargehouse, Barge House Street, South Bank, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars, Southwark or Waterloo. Find out more information on the Roy’s Art Fair website.

  • 13 – 15 August : London Craft Beer Festival 2021

Popular beer festival returns to London, featuring over 100 world-class breweries. There will also be street food stalls and live music. Open Fri-Sat 11.30am-11pm, Sun 12pm-5pm. Tickets (early or evening sessions): £45-£53. Tobacco Quay, Wapping Lane, Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. For more information and booking, visit the London Craft Beer Festival website.

  • 13 – 24 August 2021 : Hampton Court Palace Festival

Annual concert series returns to the grounds of historic Hampton Court Palace. Including Bastille ReOrchestrated, Nile Rodgers & CHIC, Tom Jones, Keane, Van Morrison and Björn Again. Tickets from £87.50. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court. For more information, visit the Hampton Court Palace Festival website.

  • 14 August 2021 : Drag Fest London

Live music festival featuring a host of drag superstars over three stages. Featured names include Todrick Hall, United Kingdolls, Crystal Methyd, The Frock Destroyers, Symone and Priyanka, and many more. Over 14s only. Open 1pm-9pm. Tickets: £54.43-£97.55. Studio 338, 338 Boord Street, North Greenwich, SE10 0PF. Nearest station: North Greenwich. For booking, visit the Eventbrite page.

  • 15 August 2021 : BMW Classics presents London Symphony Orchestra

A free, alfresco concert by the London Symphony Orchestra in Trafalgar Square. Featuring young musicians from the LSO’s East London Academy and teenage violin prodigy Leia Zhu, guest soloist for Saint-Saëns’ great showpiece, Introduction and Rondo capriccioso. No glass or furniture allowed. 6.30pm. Free. Trafalgar Square, Westminster, WC2N 5DN. Nearest stations: Charing Cross, Embankment, Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the LSO website.

  • Now until 17 August 2021 : Be in Vauxhall presents Summer Screen

Enjoy alfresco cinema in Vauxhall over four consecutive Tuesday evenings for free. Films include Mamma Mia! (3 Aug), Paddington 2 (10 Aug), and Black Panther (17 Aug).  There will also be local vendors selling food and drink. Register on the website for your free ticket. Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, Vauxhall Walk, SE11 5HL. Nearest station: Vauxhall. For more information, visit the Be In Vauxhall website. 🐻

  • 20 – 21 August 2021 : Cocktails In The City Summer Series

The last of the London summer series of the popular cocktail festival has been taking place monthly since June. London’s top bars host their own pop-ups, alongside live music, street food, tastings and demonstrations. Open 12pm-4pm and 5pm-10pm. Tickets: £20 (daytime or evening slots). Bedford Square Gardens, Bloomsbury, WC1B. Nearest stations: Goodge Street or Tottenham Court Road. For tickets, visit the Cocktails In The City website.

  • 20 – 22 August 2021 : Foodies Festival @ Syon Park

Huge food festival featuring Chefs Theatre, Cake & Bake Theatre, Drinks Theatre, Kids’ Cookery Theatre, Kids’ Zone, Craft Tent, street food, live music, vintage cider tent, vintage tea tent and more. Open Fri 12pm-8pm, Sat-Sun 11am-8pm. Tickets: Adults £19, 12-18yrs £5, Under 12s free. Syon Park, Brentford, TW8 8JF. Nearest station: Syon Lane or Brentford. For more information and tickets, visit the Foodies Festival website. 🐻  Read the rest of this entry

Serpentine Pavilion 2021: Counterspace’s tribute to London’s community spaces

Leadenhall Market celebrates 700 years with a series of free events

Enjoy live music, art exhibitions and guided history tours at the City of London’s iconic market hall.

Leadenhall Market will celebrate 700 years of history with a series of events
© Leadenhall Market

With so many of London’s original market halls no longer serving their original purpose, it’s a notable feat to still be trading centuries later. This summer, Leadenhall Market will market 700 years of selling with a series of events.

The City of London market was established in 1321 on the heart of what was Roman London, meaning people have been trading on the spot for nearly two millennia. The site is still owned by the City of London Corporation, who were gifted it by former Lord Mayor Richard ‘Dick’ Whittington back in 1411. When the current Sir Horace Jones-designed building was erected in the Victorian era, Leadenhall was known for being a meat, poultry and game market. Today, it is now a destination for diners and drinkers, as well as boutique shopping.

This July and August, there will be a series of free events exploring the market’s vast history. From live music to exhibitions, to organised tours and self-guided walks, there will be plenty of activities on offer.

  • Leadenhall Market guided tour (Wednesdays 6.30pm-7.45pm, 7 July – 4 August)

Discover the secrets of the Victorian arcades of Leadenhall Market on a guided walking tour. They are free to join, but limited spaces require booking.

  • Lunchtime Lives (Thursday and Friday lunchtimes, 15 July – 6 August)

Enjoy live music from across the decades, from Victorian music hall to ’50s jazz and street bands.

  • Legends of Leadenhall self-guided tour

Discover the characters of Leadenhall’s past and its fascinating tales with an interactive audio guided tour. Find the QR code on posters within the market to download the app and play at your leisure.

  • Electric City exhibition (open daily until midnight, now until 31 July)

The team behind God’s Own Junkyard in Walthamstow have curated an exhibition of stunning neon art, from film sets of the past 40 years. Free to visit. An information hub is open 11.30am-7pm Wed-Sat.

  • UAL Graduate Showcase (Open daily until late August)

Check out the designs of final year students from the University of the Arts London. One of the market’s shop windows will be displaying costumes for theatre productions, animal models, set design maquettes and creative boards.

  • Leadenhall Market are celebrating 700 years during July and August 2021. At Leadenhall Market (access from Gracechurch Street, Lime Street and Whittington Avenue), City of London, EC3V 1LT. Nearest stations: Monument or Fenchurch Street. For more information, visit the Leadenhall Market website.

Find out what else is on in London this August.

Read more on the history of Leadenhall Market.

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Guide to what’s on in London in July 2021

There’s a host of events on, including Taste of London, RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, Cocktails in the City and London Wonderground.

Taste of London © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Taste of London returns to Regent’s Park

Lockdown appears to be largely relaxing this month so London’s seasonal events are starting to return. A host of festivals, exhibitions and more are bringing life back to the capital. With the school holidays kicking off later this month, expect lots of attractions for families. Many events will be offering limited numbers compared to previous years to provide social distancing, so are likely to sell out fast.

Look out for the 🐻 for family-friendly activities.

  • 1 July : Meet Me in Marylebone Shopping and Dining Day

One-day shopping event in Marylebone Village, featuring local shops and restaurants offering activations, promotions, offers, freebies and special menus. Event takes place all day. Marylebone Village is a short walk from Marble Arch and Oxford Street. Nearest stations: Baker Street, Regent’s Park and Great Portland Street. For more information, visit the Marylebone Village website.

  • 1 July – 31 August 2021 : Louis Roederer pop-up @ The Savoy

Champagne house Louis Roederer is hosting a chic pop-up at London’s iconic Savoy this summer. Along with a boutique selling Louis Roederer champagnes, including rare vintages, there will also be a Suite Dining Experience, offering a three-course private dinner accompanied by Champagne in a riverview suite. Find out more on The Savoy website.

  • 1 July – 26 September 2021 : London in the Sky

Take the phrase ‘dine with a view’ to a whole new level as you are suspended 100ft in the air while dining. Enjoy breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea or cocktails while safely strapped to a hovering platform above the O2 in Greenwich. Diners must be at 1.4metres tall. Times vary. Tickets: £89-£199. The O2, Peninsula Square, Greenwich Peninsula, SE10 0DX. Nearest station: North Greenwich. For more information and booking, visit the London in the Sky website.

  • 5 – 11 July 2021 : London Cocktail Week Warm-Up Festival

A one-off reopening celebration to support our favourite bars returning to their glory after a difficult time, ahead of the official LCW in October. Thirty bars across the capital will be offering special £7 signature cocktails to those with a participating wristband. Tickets £15. At participating bars only. For more information, visit the LCW website.

  • 6 – 11 July 2021 : RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival 2021

The world’s largest garden show returns to the grounds of the historical Hampton Court. Attractions include show gardens, floral marquee, plant village, shopping, Festival of Roses, and celebrity talks, demonstrations and workshops. Open Tues-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 10am-5pm. Tickets: £28.75-£43.75 (cheaper for RHS members). Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court. For tickets, visit the RHS website.

  • 7 – 11 and 14 – 18 July 2021 : Taste of London

Following a hiatus due to the pandemic, Taste of London is back with a bang, taking place over two consecutive weekends so Londoners can get reacquainted with London’s restaurant scene after a challenging time for the industry. Expect pop-ups, tasting menus, workshops, demos, talks and plenty of opportunities to eat and drink to your heart’s content. Tickets start from £23 (choose a timeslot). Regent’s Park, NW1 4NR. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Great Portland Street. For more information and tickets, visit the Taste Of London website.

  • 7 July – late August 2021 : The Summer of 1321 @ Leadenhall Market

The City of London market celebrates 700 years of history with a series of free events. From live music to art exhibitions to guided and self-guided history tours. Leadenhall Market (access from Gracechurch Street, Lime Street and Whittington Avenue), City of London, EC3V 1LT. Nearest stations: Monument or Fenchurch Street. For more information, visit the Leadenhall Market website.

  • 13 July 2021 : The Comedy Store @ Skylight Rooftop

Rooftop destination Skylight are teaming up with The Comedy Store for a night of alfresco laughs. Acts include Jarred Christmas (MC), Dane Baptiste and Jo Caulfield, among others. Doors: 5.30pm, First act: 7.30pm. Tickets: £15. Skylight, Tobacco Quay, Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. For more information or tickets, visit Design My Night.

  • 13 – 31 July 2021 : Sommergäste: Jean Dubuffet exhibition

A new summer series of single work spotlight exhibitions launches at the BASTIAN gallery. For three weeks in July, it will showcase French artist Jean Dubuffet’s Site avec 5 personnages (Site with 5 characters). Open Tues-Sat 10am-6pm. Free entry. BASTIAN, 8 Davies Street, Mayfair, W1K 3DW. Nearest station: Green Park or Bond Street. For more information, visit the BASTIAN website.

  • 14 – 17 July 2021 : Vauxhall Pride

Celebrate Pride with four days of entertainment at Vauxhall Food & Beer Garden. Including bingo, live music, drag and cabaret performances and a closing party. Times and ticket prices vary. Vauxhall Food & Beer Garden, 6A South Lambeth Place, Vauxhall, SW8 1SP. Nearest station: Vauxhall. For more information, visit the Be In Vauxhall website.

  • 15 July – 22 August 2021 : Dodge @ Somerset House

The iconic courtyard of Somerset House is transformed into an open-air fun palace, featuring dodgems, art installations and drinking and dining options, as well as late-night DJ events. Times vary. Dodgem tickets: £5pp. Somerset House, Strand, Aldwych, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. For more information and booking, visit the Somerset House website.

  • 15 July – 25 September 2021 : London Wonderground

Summer culture extravaganza has moved from the South Bank to Earls Court. Expect the best in comedy, circus, music and family entertainment in the big top and upside cow Udderbelly. As well as performances, there will also be outdoor bars, street food, musical bandstand performances, vintage fairground rides, family activities and a ‘beach’. Tickets: free entry to site, but shows are ticketed. London Wonderground, Empress Place, Earls Court, SW6 1TT. Nearest station: West Brompton. For more information and tickets, visit the London Wonderground website. 🐻

  • 17 July 2021 : Crouch End Festival Chorus

Enjoy some big band jazz and works for an unaccompanied choir at the concert hall of Ally Pally. Doors 6pm, Curtains: 7.30pm. Tickets: £10-£20. Alexandra Palace Theatre, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY. Nearest stations: Alexandra Palace or Wood Green. For more information, visit the Alexandra Palace website.

  • 17 July 2021 : Nocturnal Creatures

A late-night art festival, featuring new installations, films, live performances, music and food experiences. 6pm-11pm. Free. Aldgate Square, Aldgate High Street, Aldgate, EC3N 1AF. Nearest station: Aldgate or Fenchurch Street. For more information, visit the Whitechapel Art Gallery website.

  • 17 July – 30 August 2021 : Summer Showtime on The Coaling Jetty

Enjoy open-air theatre and cinema against the backdrop of the River Thames and the iconic Battersea Power Station. The theatre will features many family-friendly productions. Times vary. Cinema tickets: Two seats £35, Four seats £60. Theatre tickets vary. The Coaling Jetty, Battersea Power Station Pier, SW8 4NR. Nearest stations: Battersea Park or Queenstown Road Battersea. For more information, visit the Battersea Power Station website. 🐻

  • 18 July 2021 : Independent Label Market

As part of Soho Music Month, a one-day vinyl market comes to Carnaby Street. Expect to see a host of independent labels for sale across many stalls. 12pm-6pm. Free entry. Carnaby Street, Soho, W1F. Nearest stations: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby website.

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Shop back in time as the Classic Car Boot Sale returns to King’s Cross

The vintage shopping extravaganza comes to Granary Square, Coal Drops Yard and Lewis Cubitt Square on 7 – 8 August 2021.

The Classic Car Boot Sale returns to King’s Cross

Fans of vintage and upcycled shopping are in for a treat this August as the Classic Car Boot Sale returns to King’s Cross. The mini festival will be taking over Granary Square, Coal Drops Yard and Lewis Cubitt Square on 7 – 8 August 2021. As well as over 100 stalls selling homewares, art, fashion and accessories, there will also be classic vehicles, DJs, a vintage Routemaster bar and food stalls.

A variety of goods will be on sale, from repurposed to pre-loved, retro pieces, including: prints, artwork, accessories, ceramics, vinyl records, fashion, jewellery, homewares, and textiles. Among the stallholders will be Vinyl Underground Herbie Mensah, Woowoo Boutique and Hang Up Vintage.

Petrolheads will have plenty of opportunities to gaze at some stunning old motors from Afro Classics Register and Dream Cars, as well as some classic bikes, scooters and vans.

Meanwhile, there will be plenty to keep you fed and water during your retro retail therapy, with many street food vendors and drinks on sale from the vintage Routemaster bus. Nearby, 60s Tiki specialist Martin Green and WAG club DJ Chris Sullivan will be spinning their best soul, funk, reggae and disco vinyl.

The event has been curated by design studio HemingwayDesign, famous for The Vintage Festival. Visitors are invited to embrace the past and dress up in their favourite vintage ware should they wish to look the part.

  • Classic Car Boot Sale takes place on 7 – 8 August 2021. Open 10am-6pm. Tickets: £5, free entry for under 12s. Granary Square, Lewis Cubitt Square and Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, N1C. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the Classic Car Boot Sale website.
  • NB: The event has been rescheduled to 7-8 August from its original date of 17-18 July.

Find out what else is on in London this August.

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Open-air cinema, EURO 2020 football, live music and art as Summer of Play launches at Wembley Park

A host of free events will be taking place this summer in Wembley Park.

Head to Wembley Park for a season of events

Enjoy 13 weeks of seasonal fun and entertainment as Wembley Park launches its Summer of Play season this week. After over a year of COVID-19 restrictions, Londoners are ready to have fun again and sample some of the many cultural offerings from our fair city. Covering a huge site, Wembley Park is a perfect venue to offer an array of open-air entertainment, from film and football to live music.

As a world-famous home of football, Wembley Stadium will be hosting eight matches of the UEFA EURO 2020 games, including three of England’s initial group D games, along with the semi-final and final in July.

However, there’s much more to Wembley besides the ‘Beautiful Game’. The popular open-air cinema screenings are back, along with live music performances, public art trails, and sporting and exercise opportunities – all free.

Among the events taking place are:

  • 4 June – 27 August : Wembley Park Live

Pop-up live music performances will be taking place at the new Bandstand. Expect an array of talent, from the local Brent musicians to soloists and duos from the Busk in London roster and musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

– Performances every Fri (3pm-5pm, 5pm-7pm); Sat (12pm-2pm, 2pm-4pm, 4pm-6pm) and Sun (12pm-2pm, 2pm-4pm, 4pm-6pm). At The Bandstand, Olympic Way and Wembley Park Boulevard.

  • June – 30 September : Wembley Park Public Art Trail

Three more commissions are being added to Wembley Park’s burgeoning outdoor public art collection. The new pieces include Meadows of Change (HagenHinderdael in partnership with Quintain and Artistic Statements) and Against The Odds (Micah Purnell)

– At various locations. For more information, visit the digital art map.

  • 25 July : International Busking Day

Back at Wembley Park for a third year, International Busking Day will be celebrated with pop-up music and street performances from both local and international talent.

– Performances between 2pm-8pm. At various locations across Wembley Park.

  • 1 June – 1 September : Inside Out exhibition

French artist JR is bringing his ‘Inside Out’ project to London to coincide with the UEFA EUROs. Wembley Park will feature portraits of 16 Brent residents.

– Various locations across Wembley Park.

  • 29 July – 5 September : Summer on Screen

A free outdoor cinema will pop-up over five weeks, with a mix of Hollywood, British and Bollywood classics and newer favourites. Guests can sit on a deckchair or bean bag, accompanied by refreshments and snacks, and check out the action on the big screen. First come, first served.

– Screenings on Thursday-Sunday evenings. Events Pad, Wembley Park Boulevard. For more information and listings, visit the Wembley Park website.

  • Summer of Play takes place from 4 June – 30 September 2021. At locations in and around Wembley Park, HA9. Nearest stations: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. For more information, visit the Wembley Park website.

Find out what else is on in London this August.

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Guide to what’s on in London in June 2021

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018Summer is here! It’s been a long, tough winter and spring thanks to lockdown and the dismal weather of May! But thankfully, London is starting to open up a bit more and everyone is feeling more positive. While, some big events will be missing from the usual London summer calendar, there’s no chance of getting bored with plenty of culture and fun on around town. Of course, half-term has kicked off already so parents will no doubt be looking for ways to entertain the children after spending way more time at home recently than anyone wanted!

Look out for the 🐻 for family-friendly activities.

  • 1 – 30 June 2021 : London Festival of Architecture

After the year we’ve had, it’s no surprise to see this year’s festival theme is ‘care’. Expect a host of virtual and physical events across town, including exhibitions, walks, talks, workshops, conferences and many more. For more information, visit the London Festival of Architecture website.

  • 4 June – 26 September 2021 : Van Gogh Alive UK

An immersive, multi-sensory experience inspired by the art and life of Vincent Van Gogh. Open: Sun–Thur 10am–8pm, Fri–Sat 10am–9pm. Tickets: Adults £24. Kensington Gardens (East Albert Lawn), Kensington, SW7 2AP. Nearest stations: Gloucester Road, Knightsbridge or High Street Kensington. For more information, visit the Van Gogh Alive website.

  • 4 June – September 2021 : Summer of Play @ Wembley Park

A whole season of free events are taking place in and around Wembley Park, including live music, outdoor cinema screenings, public art trail and sporting activities. Free. At various locations in Wembley Park. Nearest stations: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. For more information, visit the Wembley Park website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the exhibition. 🐻

  • Now until 10 June 2021 : Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) 2020 exhibition

Check out 160 travel photographs of landscapes and people from around the world during a crazy year. Alfresco exhibition allows social-distancing and safe perusal of the imagery. Open 24/7. Free. Coal Drops Yard, Stable Street, King’s Cross, N1C 4DQ. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the TPOTY website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the exhibition.

  • 11 June – 17 October 2021 : Serpentine Pavilion 2021

After a 2020 hiatus, the latest temporary pavilion by the Serpentine Gallery has been unveiled. This year’s Serpentine Pavilion is designed by Johannesburg-based practice Counterspace, directed by Sumayya Vally. Open 10am-6pm. Free. Serpentine Pavilion, Kensington Gardens, W2 3XA. Nearest stations: Lancaster Gate, Knightsbridge or South Kensington. For more information, visit the Serpentine Gallery website.

  • 12 – 14 June 2021 : London Fashion Week

The latest season of fashion week is dedicated to gender-neutral fashion. Expect a mix of virtual and physical events showcasing what we’ll be wearing next season. For more information, visit the London Fashion Week website.

  • 18 – 19 June 2021 : Cocktails in The City Summers Series

This season, the London summer series of  the popular cocktail festival with take place over three weekend monthly. Kicking off the first one in June, with London’s top bars setting up their own pop-ups, as well as live music, street food, tastings and demonstrations. Open 12pm-4pm and 5pm-10pm. Tickets: £20 (daytime or evening slots). Bedford Square Gardens, Bloomsbury, WC1B. Nearest stations: Goodge Street or Tottenham Court Road. For tickets, visit the Cocktails In The City website.

  • 25 – 27 June 2021 : London Classic Car Show 2021

Petrolheads with a penchant for the old school motors should head to Syon Park for a COVID-safe, outdoor car show. Expect vehicles dating back over the past 135 years, with opportunities to view and even purchase. Open Fri 10am–6pm, Sat 10am–7pm, Sun 10am–6pm. Tickets start from £26.62. Syon Park, Brent Lea, Brentford, TW8 8JF. Nearest station: Syon Lane. For more information, visit the London Classic Car Show website.

  • Now until 27 June 2021 : Sonia Delaunay: Rhythm and Colour

An exhibition of abstraction art pioneer Sonia Delaunay’s works from her Rythmes-Coleurs series. Open Tues-Sat 10am-6pm. Free entry. BASTIAN, 8 Davies Street, Mayfair, W1K 3DW. Nearest station: Green Park or Bond Street. For more information, visit the Bastian Gallery website.

  • Now until 1 July 2021: Gaia at the Painted Hall

Luke Jerram’s striking Earth installation is suspended in the recently-restored Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College for one month only. Late night openings on Fridays 5.30pm-10pm. Tickets: £13.50. Old Royal Naval College, King William Walk, Greenwich, SE10 9NN. Nearest stations: Greenwich, Cutty Sark or Maze Hill. For more information, visit the ORNC website.  Check out Metro Girl’s post for details. 
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Top London podcasts to inform and inspire

Discover these seven audio series dedicated to exploring the capital’s history and culture.

During lockdown, many of us have been kept entertained and informed by some of the tens of thousands of podcasts out there. Whatever your interests, there is guaranteed to be umpteen episodes on offers to whet your appetite.

If you’re interested in London history, trivia or culture, then check out some of these audio discoveries, along with some handy links to get listening straight-away:

Ladies Who London Podcast

Blue Badge tour guides Alex Lacey and Emily Dell started their London history podcast at the beginning of lockdown. Every week they choose a different area of the capital or Londoner. They often highlight lesser-known Londoners, particularly women or people of colour, who have been usually been under-represented by the history books. The Ladies Who London podcast is not all serious though and expect plenty of banter in between the facts.

Open City Podcast

The Open City team – who are famous for organising Open House London – started a radio show platforming conversations about the capital in summer 2020. Exploring everything from its people to buildings to its organisations, from past, present and future. Recent episodes include the Guildhall, Old Kent Road and rethinking London’s green spaces.

Macabre London Podcast

Whether you love Halloween… or are just intrigued by the more sinister side of the capital all-year round, the Macabre London podcast is for you. Host and writer Nikki Druce tells gruesome stories from London’s past so expect murder, mystery, and perhaps the odd ghost or two. Recent episodes include the Central Line, an Edwardian cold case set in Battersea and London’s killer weather.

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The lost Moorish palace of showbiz and sin: The story of Leicester Square’s Alhambra

The history of the West End theatre and music hall, which stood on the current site of the Odeon Luxe cinema.

The Alhambra in Leicester Square in 1879
(Engraving from The Illustrated London News, 1874)

Situated in the heart of the West End, Leicester Square is known for its cinemas, casinos, chain pubs/restaurants and cheesy nightclubs. As a lifelong Londoner, I’ve always gone out of my way to avoid it if I’m honest. However, I can appreciate it’s a destination for film fans, thanks to the premieres and awards ceremonies which take place there. Of course, it wasn’t always cinemas which drew people to Leicester Square, as the area has long been a destination for Londoners and tourists seeking nocturnal entertainment. One of the lost Victorian venues which lured in the crowds was the Alhambra, previously on the site of the current Odeon Luxe cinema.

Leicester Square was established in the 17th century, taking its name from Leicester House, the grand home built by politician Robert Sidney, 2nd Earl of Leicester (1595–1677). It was largely residential in the early centuries, but started to evolve into a hub for tourism and entertainment by the 19th century. Before the Alhambra was built at 24-27 Leicester Square, it was occupied by four houses, dating back to the 1670s. These buildings were homes to Lords, Ladies, Barons and Earls over the years, although No.27 was converted into a bagnio (bath house) in the 1720s.

In Victorian London, Leicester Square boasted a host of attractions to amaze and entertain. Among the delights on offer were Wyld’s Great Globe, the Savile House museum, and the Empire Theatre of Varieties (the predecessor to the Empire cinema). The first Alhambra was first built in 1854 as an attraction named the Royal Panopticon of Science Arts. Designed by Thomas Hayter Lewis (1818-1898), it opened in March 1854 and hosted art exhibitions and scientific demonstrations (see a 1854 sketch of the interior). The façade was a bold Moorish style, feature two minaret-esque towers and a dome. Although initially a hit with a reported 1,000 visitors daily, it soon fell out of favour and prompted the owners to sell up for just £9,000 in 1857. The new proprietor, E.T. Smith was an experienced theatre owner and envisioned the building as an entertainment venue. He had a circus ring constructed in time for its re-opening as the Alhambra Circus in April 1858. Smith managed to secure a license for music and dance performances later that year and went on to host ballet and variety shows. After a few years, he sold the building to William Wilde Jnr, who used it for music hall and circus productions. The famous French acrobat Charles Blondin (1824-1897) performed in front of the future King Edward VII (1841-1910) at the Alhambra soon after his successful Niagara Falls tightrope. In May 1861, the venue hosted another legendary French acrobat, Jules Léotard (1838-1870), who wowed with his flying trapeze act over the heads of the audience below. As he proved a huge draw, Léotard was paid £180 a week – an impressive salary at the time. Read the rest of this entry