Category Archives: Activities
Get involved – things to do as well as see
Japanese cultural festival Japan Matsuri is returning to the capital this September. The annual one-day spectacular offers Londoners the chance to experience the best of Japanese food, music, dance and more. Designed for the whole family, the 10-hour festival is free to attend and takes place in the city’s iconic Trafalgar Square.
Kicking off at 10am, Japan Matsuri will host two stages featuring an exciting programme of traditional and modern theatre, dance, martial arts and music. Acts include Iwami Kagura; ICHI; Joji Hirota & the London Taiko Drummers; Hasiken; Okinawa Sanshinkai / Kenjinkai and Sonda Seinenkai Eisa Group; Hibiki Ichikawa & Akari Mochizuki; Yosakoi London – Temuzu; Hiroko Tanaka Nihon Buyo Group; O-HA-YA-SHI Couple“Reiwa” Group; and Naomi Suzuki. There will also be a family activity tent when visitors can enjoy free workshops in manga, calligraphy and origami, as well as the chance to dress up in Kimonos.
Foodies will be in for a treat with a wide variety of food stalls offering classic Japanese street snacks, including takoyaki octopus balls, yakisoba noodles and okonomiyaki pancakes. Or if you fancy something larger, you can choose from wagyu burgers, ramen, bento boxes, donburi rice bowls and sushi. For those with a sweet tooth, there will be plenty of dessert such as red-bean jam dorayaki pancakes to mochi rice cakes.
If you’re feeling inspired to visit the country, the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) will also be on-site offering travel inspiration and information. The JNTO are also one of the event sponsors.
- Japan Matsuri takes place on Sunday 29 September 2019. From 10am-8pm. Free. Trafalgar Square, Westminster, WC2N 5DN. Nearest stations: Charing Cross, Embankment, Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Japan Matsuri website.
For a guide to what else is on in London this September, click here.
With the current pace of building in the capital and developers looking to seize every last piece of land to build on, London’s wildlife is being squeezed into increasingly smaller environments. As banks of rivers and streams are absorbed into manmade land and structures, many animals and birds are running out of space to build nests, or even shelter during bad weather. While we need more homes in this overcrowded capital, it’s trying to balance fulfilling demand while protecting the wildlife’s habitats that is a real challenge.
Recently I paid a visit to the Creekside Discovery Center in Deptford, south-east London to join one of their Low Tide Walks. My boyfriend and I were up bright and early on a Sunday (well, by my standards early for a Sunday!) morning to get suited up for our visit to Deptford Creek. We were told to wear old clothes and a hat, with the CDC providing thigh-high waders and a walking stick. The Center itself is a one-storey educational space in a garden full of beautiful, coloured wildflowers. In fact there are over 130 different wildflower species across the site. It was rather amusing to see various memorabilia retrieved from the Creek dotted around like a modern art display, such as shopping trolleys, rollerskates and typewriters. I’m always baffled why someone would find enjoyment by throwing a trolley into a river or creek… perhaps they should get an actual hobby?!
The name Deptford comes from ‘deep ford’, with the Creek forming the north end of the River Ravensbourne before it flows into the Thames. We started our two-hour expedition being led down to the Creek by a conservationist Nick. We entered the water – and mud – near the historic lifting bridge. It was originally built in the 1830s for the London and Greenwich Railway, which connected London Bridge with Greenwich, which was incredibly busy at the time due to its naval and royal connections. The railway was the first steam service in the capital and also the first entirely elevated railway. When it came to crossing the Creek, the railway owners realised it was problematic. They couldn’t build a regular fixed crossing as that would have blocked the many ships passing up and down the Creek. Civil engineer George Thomas Landmann (1779-1854) came up with the idea of a lifting bridge, which would allow trains to pass over while in situ, but could be lifted up for passing barges via pulleys, chains and sliding rods with eight men required to operate it. The current bridge you can see today, is a younger replacement, with several bridges replacing the original 1830s one. At time of writing, it’s been out of action for decades and is a listed structure. Read the rest of this entry
Want to do your bit to help the planet? Feel like your cooking skills could do with some improvement? There’s an opportunity to do both at some new sustainable cooking classes popping up across London… and the best part – they’re free!
Run by the Small Change, Big Difference campaign, a new series of 30 classes are offering Londoners the chance to expand their cooking skills. Along with whipping up some gastro delights, the classes will also aim to reduce the estimated 910,000 tonnes of food wasted by the capital’s residents every year. You can find inspiration on how to create quick and easy recipes using whatever is lingering in your fridge or cupboards. Expert chefs will showcase their passion for food and teach you how you can improve your health and protect the planet by choosing the right ingredients.
The first workshops have launched already with weekly ‘Waste-FREE Lunch’ every Thursdays (in July) at Mercato Metropolitano in Borough. Attendees can learn how to make a healthy, sustainable packed lunch – before eating it! – in a lunchtime session. There will also be classes on Wednesday evenings through the month at venues in Brixton, Stoke Newington, Battersea and Oxford Circus.
The remaining July workshops include:
– Sunday 21 July : Waste-FREE cookery class at Newburgh Street, Soho. (10.30am-11.15am)
– Wednesday 24 July : Cookery School at Little Portland Street, Oxford Circus (6.30pm-9pm)
– Thursday 25 July : ‘Waste-FREE lunch’ at Mercato Metropolitano, Elephant and Castle (12.45pm-1.40pm).
You book a space on one of the classes through a Eventbrite, which will require a fully-refundable £10 deposit to guarantee your spot. The classes are running from now until October 2019.
- Small Change, Big Difference cookery workshops are taking place from now until October 2019 on selected dates. Places are free, but a £10 returnable deposit is required to secure your place (You will be refunded after attending the class, however this is not refunded in the event of a no-show, with the money donated to charity). Book your place (up to 2 weeks in advance) via Eventbrite or find more information on the Small Change, Big Difference website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in September, click here.
It’s that time of year again. The whole country goes tennis mad for two weeks as the Wimbledon tournament kicks off from 1-13 July. If you haven’t been lucky enough to get tickets, then you can still enjoy the action and get into the sporting spirit at one of the Wimbledon screenings on in the capital. As well as the action from SW19, there’s also a host of other sporting events over the summer, including Tour de France, The Ashes, the US Open and the Cricket World Cup. Many of the screenings are free, but seats aren’t usually reserved so it’s recommended to get there early if you want to a guarantee a good spot.
Here’s a guide on where to watch Wimbledon and other sporting events on the big screen in London this summer.
- 1 June – 2 November : Summer of Sports – Wimbledon @ Flat Iron Square
Head to Southwark’s street food hub to watch the matches on a 100in big screen in the garden. Flat Iron Square will also be screening the Ashes and the Cricket World Cup during the summer and the Rugby World Cup from September onwards. Free entry. Flat Iron Square, 68 Union Street, Bankside, SE1 1TD. Nearest station: Borough, London Bridge or Southwark. For more information, visit the Flat Iron Square website.
- 5 June – 16 August : Big Screen @ Broadgate
Broadgate as hosting a bumper summer of sports screenings, featuring the Wimbledon, Cricket World Cup, US Open, French Open Tennis, various Grand Prix, Africa Cup of Nations, Queens Club Fever-Tree Championships, Tour de France, Netball World Cup, British Open, England vs Ireland Test Match, Glorious Goodwood and The Ashes. The BBQ pop-up Club will also be serving food. 11am-11pm. Free entry. Exchange Square, Broadgate, EC2A 2BR. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit the Broadgate website.
- 10 June – 25 September : Summer Screens @ Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf will be hosting open-air screenings of many sporting events over the summer, including Wimbledon, ICC Cricket World Cup, Tour de France, Women’s Ashes, British Open Golf, The Ashes, US Open Tennis, FIBA Basketball World Cup and UCI Road World Championships. Times vary. Free. Cabot Square and Canada Square Park, Canary Wharf, E14. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Canary Wharf website.
- 1 – 14 July : Wimbledon @ Merchant Square
Grab a deckchair or bean bag and watch the games while lounge canalside. Grab strawberries and cream or other grub from the street food market. 12pm-9pm. Free. The Lawn, Paddington Basin, W2 1JS. Nearest station: Paddington. For more information, visit the Merchant Square website.
- 1 – 14 July : Wimbledon @ Bluebird
Soak up the sun while watching the tennis on the big screen in the courtyard. Food and drink available from the Bluebird. Times vary. Bluebird, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest stations: Fulham Broadway, South Kensington or Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Bluebird website.
- 1 – 14 July : Wimbledon Screenings @ North Mayfair
Watch the matches on the big screen in the heart of Mayfair. Grab a deckchair and order food and drink while checking out the tennis. 11am-8pm. Free. Brown Hart Gardens (Duke Street Entrance), Mayfair, W1K 6JQ. Nearest station: Bond Street or Green Park. For more information, visit the Mayfair and Belgravia website. Read the rest of this entry
If you’re a big fan of tennis, or perhaps just like the atmosphere surrounding the Wimbledon tournament, then Big Screen on the Green could be right up your street. Setting up at two stunning sites in south-west London will be a premium festival of sports, film and live music over 13 and 14 July 2019.
The weekend festival will be setting up in two locations. The first at Fulham Palace Private Gardens, a National Heritage site by the Thames. The second will be located at Morden Hall Park, the sprawling grounds of a Georgian manor house.
Big Screen on the Green will host live screenings of the Wimbledon Ladies and Men’s Singles and Doubles finals, as well as highlights of the Cricket World Cup Final and Formula 1 British Grand Prix. As well as the sporting displays, there will also be live music to keep you entertained during the breaks.
There will be a host of premium food and drink on offer, including a Champagne lounge, summer cocktails; gourmet food; and strawberries and cream. There will also be a VIP marquee available and a premium viewing zone for the best seats in the house.
The ticket-only event will raise money for several charities, including Parkinson’s UK and Mind, while supporting the National Trust. Big Screen on the Green will also be plastic-free this year with its sustainability partner the Ocean Bottle, committing to funding the collection of x1,000 ocean-bound plastic bottles per item purchased during the event.
- Big Screen On The Green takes place on 13 and 14 July 2019 from 11.30am. At Fulham Palace Private Gardens, Bishop’s Avenue, Fulham, SW6 6EA. Nearest station: Putney Bridge and Morden Hall Park, Morden Hall Road, Morden, SM4 5JD. Nearest station: Morden. Tickets starts from £20. For more information and tickets, visit Big Screen on the Green website.
To find out what else is on in London in July, click here.
To find out about more Wimbledon screenings in London, click here.
One of the country’s most exciting sporting competitions is returning to the capital this summer. The London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is back at the London Regatta Centre on Sunday 30 June 2019. Around 10,000 visitors from the UK and internationally will be heading to the banks of the Thames for a free family-friendly celebration of sport and culture.
The annual LHKDB Festival offers the chance to experience Chinese culture in London. Over 40 competing club, corporate and amateur teams will be battling it out on the river. Novices will be bravely taking on some of the UK’s most experienced paddlers in the bid to win one of the six cups.
Meanwhile, on dry land, visitors can sample some of the culinary delights at a South East Asian food festival while being entertained by live music, martial art displays and traditional Chinese lion dancing on the East West Festival stage.
Dragon boat festivals date back to the banks of the Yangtze River in ancient southern China around 2,5000 years ago. The 2019 festival is the 24th in London and is organised by the London Chinatown Lions Club and is supported by Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, The Hong Kong Executives Club and The London Chinatown Chinese Community Centre.
- London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival takes place on Sunday 30 June 2019 from 10am-6pm. Free entry. At Royal Docks Adventure/London Regatta Centre, Dockside Road, Docklands, E16 2QT. Nearest station: Royal Albert or Prince Regent (DLR). For more information, visit the Dragon Boat Festival website.
For the latest what’s on guide in London in June, click here.
If you think bingo is just for pensioners, you’re very much mistaken. In recent years, modern approaches to bingo has been gaining popularity with younger generations. In late 2018, London’s first permanent modern bingo hall opened and I went along to check it out last month. Like traditional bingo, it involves dabbing your numbers in the hope of winning a prize when your numbers are called. However, Dabbers Social Bingo involves a lot of saucy innuendo, cocktails galore, fabulous food and a general party atmosphere.
Dabbers Social Bingo is located on Houndsditch, where the City meets the East End. From the street, you enter a medium-sized bar with outdoor terrace (would be great in summer, but definitely not in January thanks!). I liked the fact the cocktail bar gives no hint of the wildness to come downstairs! After a glass of Prosecco to loosen us up, we headed down to the expansive bingo hall in the basement. It was a surprisingly large space with a variety of tables to suit different sizes from couples to larger groups of friends.
After my companion and I grabbed a well-situated table with a view of the stage, we started with simple, but refreshing pink gin cocktails and settled down for some pre-bingo grub. The food menu has been inspired by bingo balls so features many physically round dishes. It consists mostly of sharing plates, sort of tapas style portions in the spirit of the ‘social’ part of the game. They range from £4-£9.50 and have a wide choice, with a decent amount of vegetarian options. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the food was as I had expected it to take a back seat to the bingo, entertainment and cocktails. We really enjoyed the seared prawn tiger skewers, buffalo glazed chicken skewers, mozzarella ball skewers and pizza bread. It’s worth noting they have brunch bingo on Saturdays and family brunch bingo on Sundays.
Once we were fed and watered, it was time for the main event to kick off. Our compere for the evening was the fabulous Boogaloo Stu. After Stu gave us an introduction to the night, it was over to host James Loveridge and the glamorous bingo calling duo. Bingo newbies are given an explanation to the rules and prizes, before the first game kicks off at a steady pace. While there’s some traditional bingo lingo like ‘legs eleven’, be prepared for some very saucy numerical rhyming, which can be hilariously distracting when you’re trying to strike off your numbers. At various points during the game, a special ball being drawn kicks off a mini disco with the crowd encouraged to drop their dabbers and throw some shapes as the DJ cranks up the music. Throughout the game, people who win one or two lines or a full house are invited on stage to compete for a prize. By this stage, the alcoholic lubrication and the building excitement in the room had clearly got some of the winners as they got on stage so their enthusiastic celebrations were pretty jubilant and amusing to the rest of us in the room.
Overall, we had a really fun evening and it was probably the most raucous Wednesday night I’ve seen in years! The food and drink were brilliant and there was a really fun, high-energy atmosphere. Dabbers certainly offers a more entertaining alternative to the usual catch-up in the a pub, with the added bonus of being able to walk away with a prize. I would particularly recommend Dabbers for group nights out, particularly for birthdays and hen nights.
- Dabbers Social Bingo, 13-22 Houndsditch, City of London, EC3A 7DB. Nearest stations: Aldgate, Liverpool Street or Fenchurch Street. Open Mon-Wed and Sun 12pm-11pm, Thu-Sat 12pm-3am. For more information, visit the Dabbers Social Bingo website.
For more of Metro Girl’s restaurant and bar reviews, click here.
Turning bingo on its head – cocktails, grub, DJs and amazing prizes as Dabbers Social Bingo opens in London
There’s a permanent new modern bingo hall for the younger generations launching in London this December 2018.
Think bingo is just a tame evening activity for pensioners? Think again! Unless you’ve been hiding a rock, you may have heard of a resurgence of bingo in recent years. New generations of Londoners, from Generation X-ers to Millennials have been enjoying the more raucous, modern take on bingo at festivals and one-off evenings.
Coming this December on the fringes of the City and the East End is Dabbers Social Bingo. Opening on Houndsditch, this will be the UK’s first, permanent modern bingo venue. Founder Ed Wethered has teamed up with the gang behind Musical Bingo, Gospeloke, and Comedy House Party, with backing from the founder of Picturehouse Cinemas.
Dabbers is reinventing the classic game with interactive game show elements, sought-after prizes and fabulous food and drinks. Expect cocktails instead of tea, comedians stepping into the bingo callers role and incredible experiences as prizes.
As soon as you enter the venue, the lobby will pay tribute to the game’s heritage with memorabilia from the past. Grab a drink from the lively bar while listening to the live DJ. Next, grab your bingo cards and your ‘gaming drink’ ready to take your seat in the bingo arena. You have the choice of social bingo tables if you’re up for meeting some new friends or a more intimate experience in the banquette tables. Alternatively, groups can hire one of the Baller Booths and receive a free bottle of fizz. During the game, expect to be impressed by the custom-made bingo blower machine, glittering lights, pyrotechnics and a sensational sound system.
During the week will be a variety of themed nights to suit different tastes. Vintage Bingo on Tuesday will offer a more literal interpretation of the classic game hosted by veteran bingo callers. Travel junkies should head to Dabbers on Friday for Bingo Voyage, with the main prize offering a weekend away. If you fancy a boogie, head to Disco Bingo on Saturday nights for a real party atmosphere with UV lights, while Family Brunch bingo on Sunday lunchtimes are open to families.
On the drinks menu will be a selection of craft beers, cocktails and a decent wine list. As well as booze and bingo, there will also be the ‘Well Rounded Menu’, offering round food. Including treats such as melon balls wrapped in ham to round Waffles with ample Crumble and Cinnamon Sugar (vegans and vegetarians catered for too).
- Dabbers Social Bingo, 13 – 22 Houndsditch, City of London, EC3A 7DB. Nearest stations: Aldgate or Fenchurch Street. Open Mon-Wed and Sun 12pm-11pm, Thu-Sat 12pm-3am. Dabbers Social Bingo officially launches on 3 December 2018 (soft opening from 28 November 2018). For more information, visit the Dabbers Bingo website.
For a review of Dabbers Social Bingo, click here.
For the latest guide to what’s on in London, click here.
Want to go ice skating in London? Here’s a guide to the capital’s open-air ice rinks (and permanent rinks) this festive season.
The countdown to Christmas in London means many things… mulled wine, lots of tinsel and open-air ice rinks. With the trees, decorations and twinkling lights making the capital looking rather festive, taking to the ice at this time of year can seem rather appealing.
Here’s where to find London’s pop-up ice rinks this Christmas and winter season, with details of prices, times and how to get there.
- 20 October – 6 January 2019 : Skyline Skating @ John Lewis
Skate on the roof of the John Lewis department store. Along with Sipsmith ice rink, there is also Mypies fresh pies and hot gin being served. Sun-Wed 12pm-9pm, Thu-Sat 12pm-11pm. Tickets: £8pp. John Lewis rooftop, 300 Oxford Street, Marylebone, W1C 1DX. Nearest station: Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the John Lewis website.
- 25 October – 6 January 2019 : Natural History Museum Ice Rink
A 1,000 square metre rink in the gardens of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. Opening hours vary. Session times last 1 hour. Adults from £12.65, Children 12 and under from £8.80. Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 5BD. Nearest station: South Kensington. To book, visit the Natural History Museum website.
- 1 November – January 2019 : Skylight London
Skate on London’s rooftops with views of the City of London’s skyscrapers. Features alfresco and covered bars, fondue and ice hockey slap shot. Open Thu-Sun only. Free entry to Skylight. Skating tickets: £10 (45 minutes). Skylight, Tobacco Quay, Pennington Street entrance, Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. For booking, visit the Skylight London website.
- 2 November – 16 February 2019 : Ice Rink Canary Wharf
Skate over ice in the middle of the soaring skyscrapers of Canary Wharf. Non-skaters can watch the action from the bar or street food stalls. Session times last 1 hour. Opening times vary. Adults £9.95-£16.95, Children £9.95-£10.95. Canada Square Park, E14 5AB. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. To book, visit the Ice Rink Canary Wharf website.
- 14 November – 13 January 2019 : Skate at Somerset House with Fortnum & Mason
One of the original pop-up ice rinks located in the historic courtyard of Somerset House. As well as general skating, they also host club nights on ice and skate lessons. Session times last 1 hour and are from 10am until 10.30pm (later for club nights and New Year’s Eve). Tickets start from £11. Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. To book, visit the Somerset House website.
- 15 November – 23 December : Winterville Ice Rink
Clapham‘s alternative winter attraction features an alfresco ice rink over 600 square metres. Mon-Fri 12pm-10pm, Sat-Sun 11am-10pm. Tickets: Adults £14, Children (under 12s) £9.50, Teens £12. Clapham Common, SW4 9DE. Nearest station: Clapham Common. For more information, visit the Winterville website.
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QUEENS Skate Dine Bowl has added a new attraction to its versatile venue – a rinkside bar and diner. The Sin Bin offers beers, cocktails and burgers just moments from the action on the ice. What’s special about QUEENS is that you can do more than ice skating on its indoor rink – it also offers opportunities to play ice hockey or go ice karting or curling.
I went along to the launch last week to try the Sin Bin’s cocktails and burgers and make my second attempt at curling. Despite being rinkside, the bar is thankfully lovely and cosy with heaters warming you up after you’ve been chilling on the ice. The long, slender space has a dive bar vibe with plenty of seating, including many stools looking out on the rink. The rinkside setting means people who don’t feel confident on the ice can watch their companions in action from a more comfortable, non-slip space.
When it came to drinks, we decided on cocktails from their menu of creative originals, mostly reasonably priced around the £7.50-£8.50 mark. I tried a lovely, sweet Silver Angel (Finlandia vodka with peach and passion fruit topped with fizz), while my boyfriend opted for a St Lawrence (Woodford Reserve with maple syrup, lemon juice and a dash of bitters). I continued the vodka theme with a Henrietta Fizz (Grey Goose Poire vodka with pear, strawberry and fresh lemon topped with fizz), which was deliciously light, something that would make a great aperitif.
The food menu is from MEATliquor, who have already established a diner at QUEENS. MEATliquor’s full menu is available to Sin Bin diners, including popular favourites, Hot Mess (hash browns with blue cheese sauce, jalapenos, buffalo sauce and pickles), deep-friend mac ‘n’ cheese, and chicken wings. During our visit, my boyfriend and I had the cheeseburger (beef patty, cheese, red onions, pickles, lettuce, French’s mustard and ketchup) and the halloumi and mushroom burger (halloumi, mushroom, red onions, pickles, lettuce, French’s mustard and ketchup) respectively. When it comes to food of a ‘fast’ nature, I don’t always have high expectations, however we agreed our burgers were really tasty and I could have easily eaten a second. Our burgers were accompanied by some delicious Cajun fries, with the seasoning really giving them an extra something.
During the evening, we stepped on to the ice for a spot of curling. I had tried it a year ago and was pretty bad. However, this year the shoe grips were slightly different and I felt a bit more stable on the ice. This time, we also had access to brooms as well as the curling stones. We were given instructions by experienced curlers and managed to pull off a pretty good game for a bunch of amateurs. It was a lot of fun and definitely offers something a bit different to your usual night out with a group of friends.
As well as the various ice activities, MEATliquor and the Sin Bin, QUEENS also has a bowling alley and arcade. There’s currently plans to expand the site further with five private bowling lanes, the Liquor Lanes, in the near future.
- The Sin Bin @ Queens, 17 Queensway, W2 4PQ. Nearest station: Queensway or Bayswater. Open Sun-Thu 12pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-12am. For more information and booking, visit the Queens website.