Category Archives: Activities

Get involved – things to do as well as see

Try your hand at curling as ‘Club Curling’ pops up at King’s Cross

Synthetic curling rinks will be appearing at Coal Drops Yard until 30 December 2021.

Club Curling comes to Coal Drops Yard this festive season

Ever watched the Winter Olympics and found yourself getting curious about curling? Well, this winter, you’ll have the chance to try the sport with the launch of Club Curling at King’s Cross.

Popping up at Coal Drops Yard from 11 November 2021, friends, families and couples will be able to aim for the targets on the six synthetic ice rinks. Club Curling will be running through the festive season against the backdrop of the Victorian arches and yards of Coal Drops Yard, a shopping and entertainment destination.

As well as trying out your curling skills on the rinks, you can also enjoy a Christmas cocktail at the adjacent Club Curling Cocktail Bar. Visitors are advised to pre-book, but Club Curling is also open to walk-ups subject to availability.

  • Club Curling runs from 11 November – 30 December 2021. At Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, N1C 4DQ. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. Open daily 11am-9pm. Tickets (45 minute sessions): Adults £5, Children under 12 free. For more information and booking, visit the King’s Cross website.

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Guide to London’s open-air ice rinks this winter 2021/2022

Find out prices, opening times and transport details for the capital’s alfresco, pop-up ice rinks this Christmas and winter season.

Natural History Museum ice rink © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The Natural History Museum ice rink is returning

After an absence last year due to the pandemic, London’s alfresco ice rinks are back again for the 2021 festive season. Some of the capital’s most iconic buildings are transforming their courtyards and outdoor spaces into winter sports venues. Along with pop-up ice rinks, many are accompanied by heated bars and stalls, selling festive food and drink to warm you up after a spot of ice skating.

This 2021/2022 season will be the last year ever for the Natural History Museum’s outdoor rink as the space is being transformed into an urban wildlife hub, while a bit further east, the Tower of London’s rink is also taking a hiatus until next year.

Most rinks are open daily during their seasonal sessions, including Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but are closed on Christmas Day.

Here’s a guide to London ice rinks – both outdoor and permanent – open this winter season.

London’s outdoor temporary rinks

  • 22 October 2021 – 16 January 2022 : Natural History Museum Ice Rink

One of the capital’s favourite open-air ice rink returns for the winter season for its final time. There is also a rink side café bar serving hot and cold drinks and meals. There is also a Penguin Skate Club, offering lessons for children aged 4-8yrs. Open 11am-10pm. Tickets: Adults from £12.65, Children from £8.80. Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 5BD. Nearest station: South Kensington. To book, visit the Natural History Museum website.

  • 23 October 2021 – 26 February 2022 : Ice Rink Canary Wharf

London’s longest open-air winter ice rink returns to Docklands after last year’s absence. There will also be the heated, Off Piste bar from Pravha serving drinks. Open daily 10am-10pm. Tickets (45 min sessions inc. skate hire): Adults and teens 13-18yrs £17.95, Children 4-12yrs £11.95. Canada Square Park, Canary Wharf, E14. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For booking, visit the Ice Rink Canary Wharf website.

  • 11 November 2021 – TBC January 2022 : Skylight London (Tobacco Dock)

Skate on London’s rooftops with views of the City of London’s skyscrapers. Features alfresco and covered bars, igloos, and street food. Open Thu-Sun only. Free entry to Skylight. Skating tickets: TBC (45 minutes inc. skate hire). Skylight (Pennington Street entrance), Tobacco Quay, WappingE1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. For booking and more information, visit the Skylight London website.

Somerset House ice rink © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Skate in the historic Georgian courtyard of Somerset House

  • 17 November 2021 – 16 January 2022 : Skate @ Somerset House

Take to the ice in the courtyard of the historic Somerset House. As well as general skating, they are also club nights on ice and skating lessons. Also in the courtyard will be gourmet dining at Chalet Barragiste with Jimmy Garcia and hot and cold drinks at the Skate Lounge by Moët & Chandon. Session times last 45 minutes. Tickets: Adults from £11, children from £8.50. Somerset House, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. For more information and booking, visit the Somerset House website. Read the rest of this entry

Tusk Lion Trail: Prowl around London with a big cat sculpture trail

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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Old Royal Naval College to reopen with workshops, history tours and foodie treats

Enjoy the grounds and retail offerings as the Greenwich landmark partially re-opens after lockdown, along with illustration workshops and guided tours.

greenwich Old Royal Naval College

Greenwich is reopening to the public following lockdown

It’s been a long, dull winter in lockdown so no doubt Londoners are crying out for their favourite spaces in the capital to reopen. Fortunately, one of the capital’s riverside gems, the Old Royal Naval College will be opening their gates again from 12 April 2021. Although indoor access will have to wait, there will be outdoor events and online experiences at the Greenwich destination, as well as reopening of the gift shops and café.

Ahead of the opening of illustrator Nick Ellwood’s physical exhibition ‘Mischief and Misadventure’ in May (or when guidelines allow), he will be hosting online drawing workshops for children and adults from April. Participants will be guided through assignments to hone their children’s book illustration skills, following by masterclass workshops in May for those who want to elevate their drawing to the next level.

Meanwhile, the iconic Old Royal Naval College will open its grounds to the public, who will be able to explore the history and the sights with guided and self-guided tours. The knowledgeable volunteers will be showing off the gorgeous features of the grounds and details of Sir Christopher Wren’s amazing architecture on small, socially-distanced guided tours (four dailt). Alternatively, families can download one of the free, self-guided tours from the Smartify app and enjoy a treasure trail around the outdoor space, while educating their children about the area’s history on the ‘Building Detectives’ tour. Or history buffs can learn more about the buildings with the Architecture tour.

While most of the indoor spaces of the ORNC are off-limits for a little while longer, the gift shops in the Visitor Centre and King William Undercroft will be open, while the Old Brewery will be serving outdoors from 12 April. Every weekend, the King William Lawn will host pop-up stalls serving hot and cold foods, drinks, afternoon teas and picnics for visitors to enjoy outside. Deckchairs and picnic blankets will be available for rent so you can have an alfresco feast while enjoying the views.

  • Old Royal Naval College, King William Walk, Greenwich, SE10 9NN. Nearest station: Greenwich or Cutty Sark. For more information, visit the ORNC website.
  • Nick Ellwood workshops are taking place on 1, 8 and 15 April and 13, 20 and 27 May 2021. Tickets: £50. For tickets to the workshop and other events, visit the ORNC online booking tool. Ellwood’s ‘Mischief and Misadventure’ exhibition with run from 17 May – 6 September 2021 at the Old Royal Naval College.

Find out what’s on in London in May 2021 here.

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Winterfest returns to Wembley | Light installations bring joy for the festive season

Wembley Park are hosting a collection of light installations from November 2020.

Wembley Park – Winterfest 2020

Winterfest returns to Wembley Park this autumn

UPDATE: Winterfest and the ‘Reflections of the Future’ installation has been postponed until November 2021 due to the latest Covid-19 lockdown. However, the LED Christmas tree and other illuminations and digital artworks will still be on display.

As the pandemic continues to change our lives, it will undoubtedly be a different winter this year. With indoor and large activities restricted, we are looking to the great outdoors for our entertainment. One such alfresco event set to light up the dark wintry nights is Winterfest 2020.

Following the inaugural event in 2019, the free, immersive light festival is returning to Wembley Park on 26 November 2020. The theme for this year is ‘United in Light’ and hopes to bring joy to the local community and visitors over the festive period.

Among the pieces on show will be the new ‘Reflections of the Future’, a 100 metre long corridor of lights and mirrors, which alters perception of distance and space. The tallest LED Christmas tree in London returns following last year, adorned with a new digital art commission. The walk-through tree stands tall at 25 metres and features 100,000 LED light display. Along with other light installations, there will also be an outdoor photography exhibition in Arena Square during December.

  • Winterfest runs from 26 November 2020 – 17 January 2021. At Wembley Park, Wembley, HA9 0FD. Nearest stations: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. Installations will be on from 12pm-10pm daily. For more information, visit the Wembley Park website.

Find out what’s on in London in November 2020 here.

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Totally Thames 2020: Celebrate the capital’s lifeblood with an outdoors and digital festival

This year’s festival will feature a mix of online and socially-distanced outdoor events.

Aïcha El Beloui Totally Thames

Moroccan artist Aïcha El Beloui took part in the Rivers of the World project at this year’s Totally Thames festival

Although many popular London festivals have been postponed until next year, one of my favourite ones – Totally Thames – is fortunately returning in September (its usual slot). However, the 2020 edition of the annual festival will be a mix of digital and outdoor events, so people can take part safely through social distancing or the comfort of their own home.

Now in its 24th year, Totally Thames is a celebration of the River Thames which flows through our capital. Kicking off on 1 September, the month-long festival will include arts events, activities, environmental initiatives, heritage and education programmes. Some of the outdoor events include paddlesports (kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding), angling competition, public art walks, workshops, boat trips, guided walks, art exhibitions and more. Meanwhile, there are plenty of digital offerings, including storytelling, audio and virtual tours, kids’ choir and more.

One of the highlights of this year’s festival is Rivers of the World, with artists working remotely with over 2,000 13 and 13-year-old students around the world to create river-themed art. The participating students created art from home during the Covid-19 lockdown thanks to digital briefs and short films by the artists teaching them new skills and about the importance of the river. The artworks will be displayed on boards and flags by the river alongside the Tate Modern this September.

  • Totally Thames 2020 takes place from 1 – 30 September 2020. At various locations (physically and online) including the South Bank and the Totally Thames website.

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Ultimate London Quiz Part 2 | Questions and answers about the capital

Test your knowledge of London and its history in your next virtual pub quiz with these questions and answers.

St Pauls © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2020Earlier in the Covid-19 pandemic, Metro Girl published its first Ultimate London Quiz. It proved popular with many readers, so here’s a sequel! Although lockdown has eased (at time of writing), many people are still sheltering at home so quizzes can provide an opportunity for entertaining and socialising.

Next time you’re hosting a Zoom, Hangouts or House Party video quiz with your friends and family, why not test them on their knowledge of London?

Here’s a specially selected 20 questions and answers on the capital, If you don’t know all the answers, hopefully you may learn something new instead.

This second London quiz covers a wide range of trivia and history, from Roman Londinium, to Victorian train stations to The Shard.

London quiz questions

Q1) Britain’s oldest door can be found in which religious building in London?

Q2) Which English monarch brought in the rule that the Tower of London’s ravens should be protected?

Q3) Which London department store has a weathervane on the roof depicting The Mayflower?

Q4) What is the capital’s oldest mainline train station in zone one?

Q5) How many times has London hosted the Olympic Games?

Q6)  What year did the Romans found Londinium? A) AD72, B) 10BC or C) AD43.

Q7) Which European country donates a Christmas tree to the City of Westminster every year?

Q8) The Buxton Memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens (beside the Houses of Parliament) commemorates which important law?

Q9) Which famous talk show host was born at Highgate tube station?

Q10) Which Soho street is named after a Charles Dickens character?

Q11) How many Premier League football teams are there in London?

Q12) Who was the first monarch to live in Buckingham Palace?

Q13) Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital in which London attraction/building?

Q14) Great Ormond Street Hospital hold the rights to which famous children’s book?

Q15) What London street is famous for its medical clinics?

Q16) What is the shortest line on the London Underground network?

Q17) Six people climbed The Shard in 2013 to protest in the name of which charity?

Q18) What London park hosts a temporary pavilion every summer?

Q19) What do you call the Royal Navy equivalent of the Chelsea Pensioners?

Q20) Brunel’s Thames Tunnel connected the south London district of Rotherhithe with which East London district?

Read the rest of this entry

London pride | Celebrating the capital’s women of World War II for VE Day 75

Discover the stories of the London women of the Second World War

This May marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Moving the Bank Holiday from the usual Monday to Friday 8 May 2020, we will commemorate the end of World War II. Today, there aren’t many alive who remember the war, so it’s important to keep the stories of heroism and sacrifice alive so we’re always reminded to never get in another conflict like this again.

While it was predominantly men on the battlefield and leading the government during the war, women paid vitally important roles in WWII, both on the home front and abroad.

To mark VE Day, let’s look back at some of London’s women who made great contributions to the war effort.

  • Dame Doris Winifred Beale, DBE, RRC & Bar (1889-1971)

Born in Forest Hill, south London, Dame Doris grew up to become a military nurse. During the war, she served as Matron-in-Chief of Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service from 1941-1944. She was made a Dame in the 1944 Birthday Honours. She is also believed to have died in her home district of Forest Hill at 84 London Road.

  • Faith Bennett (1903-1969)

Born Margaret Ellen Riddick in East Dulwich, south London, she went on to have contrasting careers in acting and flying. While acting under the name Faith Bennett in the 1930s, she also took flying lessons, earning licenses in both the US and UK. After divorcing her husband Charles Alfred Sewlyn Bennett, she joined the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) in 1941. She was assigned to the No. 5 Ferry Pilot Pool (F.P.P.), but two days later sustained ‘slight injuries’ after she made a crash landing due to bad weather and engine trouble. She was assigned to the Training Ferry Pool and remained with the ATA until July 1945.

  • Captain Hannah Billig, MBE GM (1901-1987)

Born to Russian refugee parents in Hanbury Street, Spitalfields, Hannah Billig won a scholarship to read medicine at the University of London in the early 1920s. After qualifying as a doctor, she set up a small clinic near Cable Street in 1927, later moving round the corner to 198 Cable Street in 1935 (where a blue plaque commemorates her today). During the Blitz, she was the chief doctor for the air raid shelters in Wapping, tending to the sick and wounded in incredibly challenging conditions. She was awarded the George Medal for a particularly courageous act in March 1941. Billig broke her ankle when a bomb blasted her out of a Wapping shelter, where she had been attending to those inside. She bandaged her own ankle, rescued those trapped in the rubble and provided medical care to them, earning the nickname ‘The Angel of Cable Street’. In 1942, she went to Calcutta, India, with the Indian Army Medical Corps. She received an MBE in 1945 for her efforts during the war. Following VE Day, she resumed her practice on Cable Street and later retired to Israel.

  • Lady Ursula Isabel d’Abo [née Manners, formerly Marreco] (1916-2017)

Born into wealth in London, Lady Ursula joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment during World War II. She started out cleaning railway carriages, before working as a nurse at Battersea General Hospital, and later St George’s Hospital at Hyde Park. She managed to survive uninjured when her mother’s house in Mayfair was bombed. After leaving London, she started working at an ammunitions factory in Grantham, overseeing 2,000 women. The war years are just a small piece of her fascinating life, which is detailed in her autobiography The Girl with the Widow’s Peak: The Memoirs.

  • Martha Gellhorn (1908-1998)

Missouri, USA-born Gellhorn was a pioneer as a female war correspondent, whose coverage of WWII and the Spanish Civil War was well respected. She spent her latter years living at 72 Cadogan Square in Knightsbridge, where she is commemorated with a blue plaque. Read the rest of this entry

Scenes in the Square: Meet icons of cinema on Leicester Square’s art trail