Category Archives: Families

Ideas for parents and grandparents to entertain the children.

The Snowman Experience review: A magical and nostalgic immersive screening of a Christmas classic at Winter Wonderland

Backyard Cinema presents The Snowman Experience is an immersive screening of the classic Christmas animation for adults and children alike.

Backyard Cinema Snowman Experience
This year marks the 40th anniversary of The Snowman book. Created by author Raymond Briggs, it was adapted into animated short film in 1982. Directed by Dianne Jackson, the film has become a Christmas classic and is shown on TV every year. As a child of the 1980s, I found The Snowman enchanting and moving and continue to watch it every Christmas as a tradition.

This festive season, Backyard Cinema has created an immersive live experience at Winter Wonderland. The walk-through experience is more than just a film screening, allowing you to visit the sets and even say hello to The Snowman himself.

This week, I went along to check out The Snowman Experience and absolutely loved it. Although the film is just 25 minutes long, the experience actually lasts 45 minutes and spans many different spaces inspired by the classic tale. Located near the giant wheel in Winter Wonderland, the experience starts every 20 minutes. Upon entering the huge tent, you walk through an atmospheric ‘snowy forest’ to reach the reception, where a photographer is waiting to capture you in a ‘flying’ pose to commemorate your visit.

Backyard Cinema Snowman Experience

The experience eventually begins in a large screening room in what appears to be the family home from the film. The familiar blue kitchen cabinets, Christmas cake, fireplace, TV and sleeping cat have been recreated faithfully, which helps kickstart the nostalgia before the film starts. Two windows with moving snowing scenes adds to the atmosphere. As the animation begins on the big screen, it is accompanied by a variety of effects in the surrounding rooms of the house, bringing a sense of magic. When its time for The Snowman and James to take off and fly on their night-time journey, we move on to the next room to watch it in a forest under a twinkling sky. Next, the action progresses to the snowmen’s party as we head into the third and final screening room, featuring a table full of balloons, streamers, hats and glasses ready for the celebrations. Children particularly are in for a treat when the star of the show – The Snowman himself – enters the room to say hello and show off some of his dance moves. Despite being a grown adult, I must admit it was lovely to see the Snowman and really made me feel nostalgic about how magical I found the character as a child.

Overall, it was a great experience. While children are guaranteed to love it, anyone that grew up watching The Snowman or reading the book are equally likely to be enthralled. Backyard Cinema have really brought the film to life and seeing it on a big screen along with the stunning soundtrack really showcases the beauty of Howard Blake’s music and vocals of Peter Auty. The experience made me feel like a little girl again and I am highly tempted to go back again I enjoyed it so much.

  • Backyard Cinema Presents: The Snowman™ Experience is on at Winter Wonderland until 6 January 2019. At Hyde Park, W2. Nearest stations: Hyde Park Corner or Marble Arch. Tickets (vary between standard, off-peak, and peak): Adults/teen £9.95-£14.95, Children £6.96-£12.95, Family tickets £27.80-£51.80. Shows start every 20 minutes. For booking, visit the Winter Wonderland website.

To find out what’s on in London in December, click here.

For a guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.

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Guide to what’s on in London in December 2018

Find out things to do in London this Christmas and December 2018.

Festive door Fitzrovia Christmas © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

London turns festive

It’s finally December! Although retailers have been pretending it’s the festive season for a month or more, it’s that time of year where things really crank up. All around town is a host of Christmas activities, pop-ups and events, with plenty of mulled booze and hot food on offer.

As well as guide to London’s events and festivals in December, Metro Girl has also rounded up an entertainment guide to all the capital’s ballets and pantomimes on this season.

For a guide to London’s outdoor ice rinks this festive and winter season, click here.

For a comprehensive guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.

For a guide to London’s Christmas pop-ups and festive cocktails, click here.

  • 1 – 9 DecemberSpitalfields Music Festival

Spitalfields Music return with their winter festival. Acts include Richard Reeve Parry, Fidelio Trio, Mary Bevan and Katherine Manley, among others. Including concerts, promenade performances, walks and more. At various venues in the Spitalfields area including Shoreditch Church, Rich Mix and the Huguenot Houses of Spitalfields. For booking, visit the Spitalfields Music website. Read Metro Girl’s review on last year’s festival.

  • 1 – 16 December : Ally Pally Christmas Carnival

Celebrate the re-opening of the historic theatre with a host of Christmas activities over three consecutive weekends and some weekdays. Including Luna Cinema screenings, Christmas market, street food and drink, Santa’s Grotto, Horrible Histories’ Horrible Christmas, and more. Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY. Nearest station: Alexandra Palace. For more information, visit the Ally Pally website.

  • Now until 2 December : London Illustration Fair

Three-day event celebrating illustration, featuring artist-led stands, talks, workshops, music, DJs, live signings. Fri-Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 11am-6pm. Entry: £10 advance. Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bankside, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars or Waterloo. For more information, visit the London Illustration Fair website.

  • Now until 4 December : Foodflix @ Bluebird Chelsea

Weekly film night comes to Bluebird Chelsea in their new cosy orangery. Expect Cointreau cocktails, gourmet fast food, popcorn and modern classic films. Tickets: £25 (includes film, welcome Cointreau cocktail and a Bluebird hotdog or vegan burger). Bluebird Chelsea, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest station: South Kensington. For more information, visit the Bluebird Chelsea website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the Foodflix.

  • 4 – 8 DecemberPigs Ear Beer And Cider Festival

Annual beer festival in conjunction with CAMRA, featuring over 230 real ales plus ciders, perries and bottled beers, food stalls and unique festival brews. Opening hours TBC. Entry: £3 (CAMRA members), £5 (non-members). Round Chapel, Powerscroft Road, Hackney, E5 0PU. Nearest station: Hackney Downs or Hackney Central. For more information, visit the Pig’s Ear website.

  • 6 – 22 December : Enchanted Eltham

Late-night opening of Eltham Palace sees the Tudor and Art Deco buildings and gardens dazzle in a show of light, colour and sound. Follow the trail around the gardens. Also including fairground rides and hot food and drink on offer, including a roasting marshmallow pit. 4.30pm-9pm on Thu-Sun only. Tickets: Adults £12, Children 5-15 yrs £7.50. Eltham Palace, Court Yard, Eltham, SE9 5QE. Nearest station: Eltham or Mottingham. For more information, visit the English Heritage website. Check out Metro Girl’s review of Eltham Palace

  • 7 – 9 DecemberHampton Court Palace Festive Fayre

Festive food event in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, featuring shopping, live music, mulled wine, seasonal demos, tastings, choirs and more. Tickets: Adults £19.20, Children £9.60. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (36 minutes from Waterloo). For more information and tickets, visit the HRP Food Festivals website.

  • 8 December : The Great Christmas Pudding Race

Watch or take part in the annual Great Christmas Pudding Race in Covent Garden, which sees participants dressing up and raising money for Cancer Research UK. From 11am. Free for spectators. Covent Garden Piazza, WC1. Nearest station: Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information and details on entering, visit the Great Christmas Pudding Race website.

  • Now until 9 December : Strange Days – Memories Of the Future

Video and films by 21 radical film-makers, presented as large-scale, multi-screen video installations. Tues-Sat 12pm-7pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. Free entry. The Store X, 180 The Strand, WC2R 1EA. Nearest station: Temple or Charing Cross. For more information, visit the website.

  • 10 – 30 December : The Four Realms at Christmas

Creative wizards Bompas & Parr have created a special, immersive Christmas experience, inspired by Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Enter the Land of Snowflakes, navigate the icy mirror maze, tickle your senses in the Land of Flowers and the Land of Sweets, before arriving at the Fourth Realm. Open Mon-Sat 12pm-9pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. Tickets: Adults £5, Children 12 and under Free (but still need to register for a ticket). The Atrium, Westfield London, Ariel Way, White City, W12 7GF. Nearest station: Shepherd’s Bush, White City or Shepherd’s Bush Market. For more information and booking, visit the Westfield London website.

  • 11 December : The Honeypot Children’s Charity’s Christmas Carol Concert

A night of festive entertainment and carols to raise money for The Honeypot Children charity. Featuring Portobello Live Choir, West End Kids and Alex Gibson Music. Complimentary mulled wine and mince pies following the concert. Doors open 6.30pm for a 7pm start. Tickets: Adults and teens £15, Children under 12 £12. St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, WC2E 9ED. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For tickets, click here.

  • 12 December : An Evening Of Cheese

Late-night opening of Borough Market celebrates cheese. Twenty of the Market’s renowned cheesemongers showcase their range of UK and International cheeses. There are also demo kitchens and tastings, carol singers and traders competing in the ‘cracking of the parmesan wheel’ competition. 6pm-9pm. Free entry. Borough Market, Borough, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Borough Market website. Read Metro Girl’s blog on an Evening of Cheese.
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Backyard Cinema’s Christmas Labyrinth review: A wonderfully festive movie experience

Backyard Cinema Christmas Labyrinth © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Backyard Cinema has created a Christmas Labyrinth at Winterville at Clapham Common

This year sees Backyard Cinema launching their biggest film events to date. Setting up camp at festive experience Winterville is the Christmas Labyrinth. I’ve been going to Backyard Cinema events for several years and am always impressed by the various theme they come up with. It’s safe to say they’ve surpassed their previous themes with a fantastically Christmassy immersive experience on Clapham Common.

Backyard Cinema Christmas Labyrinth © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Which door will you choose?

The Christmas Labyrinth is one of two Backyard Cinema’s festive screening experiences – the other being The Snowman Experience at Winter Wonderland. This year, Backyard Cinema has taken over a large section of Winterville, with their huge, cosy tent hosting two screening rooms, a huge labyrinth adventure, cinemas bars, as well as a lobby bar with live entertainment.

Upon arrival, you can stop for a drink at the bar or head straight in to start your journey. Our evening began in a magical room, with a mysterious voice urging us to choose one of four different doors. I’m used to taking a special route to get to Backyard Cinema’s screening room, but this year’s Labyrinth experience is clearly much bigger, with many choices for the visitor. Although you are encouraged to take a separate door from your friend, my pal and I decided to take the same one and headed into the ‘Jester’ door, being the pair of jokers are we (according to my friend!). Our journey through the maze was disorientating, confusing, but exciting as we figured out what way to go. Finally, we ended up in a twinkling forest – which made me feel like I was in Narnia – which opened to the screening room.

Backyard Cinema Christmas Labyrinth © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

We walked through a magical labyrinth to the screening room

While the previous Backyard beanbags have always been comfortable, there’s some higher, bulkier and even cosier ones for their new Winterville home. My friend and I claimed a good set of beanbags with a prime position and headed to the nearby bar for some festive drinks. There’s a selection of craft beer, soft drinks, wine, prosecco and winter warmers. I’m a sucker for hot booze at the time of year so a mulled cider and rum was an easy choice… one I made twice as it happens. As you would expect for a cinema, there’s the typical snacks, including Proper Corn popcorn and pic and mix sweets. The bar is open throughout the screening should you feel the need to refresh yourself.

On our visit last week, we were watching the musical film The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron. We had never seen it before and I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. Throughout the film, I was really comfortable all settled in the beanbag, although I did use one of the BC provided blankets towards the last half hour to warm me up even further. Overall, it was a entertaining evening and the labyrinth was a creative and fun way to enter the cinema. Tickets are already sold out for many dates in the run-up to Christmas so I recommend buying them ASAP.

  • Backyard Cinema’s Christmas Labyrinth runs until 22 December 2018. At Winterville (entrance just north of the Long Pond), Clapham Common, SW4 9BX. Nearest stations: Clapham Common or Clapham South. Tickets: Adults from £18.98, Children from £9.98. Stalls, premium and loungers available. For booking, visit the Backyard Cinema website.

  • Backyard Cinema Presents: The Snowman™ Experience at Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, W2. Under 6 January 2019. Nearest stations: Hyde Park Corner or Marble Arch. Tickets (vary between standard, off-peak, and peak): Adults/teen £9.95-£14.95, Children £6.96-£12.95. For booking, visit the Winter Wonderland website. Read Metro Girl’s review of the Snowman Experience.

To find out what’s on in London in December, click here.

For a guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.

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Guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs in 2018

Shop for unique gifts and soak up some festive cheer at one of London’s many Christmas and markets and fairs this November and December 2018.

If you’re looking for something a bit different for your loved ones this Christmas, why not to head to one of London’s Christmas markets and fairs. There’s a host of long-term, charitable and weekend fairs on in the capital throughout November and December. Most are free entry, however some do charge a small entry fee with the money usually going to charity. Here’s a guide to the best Christmas markets in London for 2018.

Long-term markets

Some festive markets are popping up for the whole Christmas period, with some even running into the new year. Be aware, most of these markets will close earlier than usual on Christmas Eve and be closed all day on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

  • Christmas tree © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 20189 November – 5 January 2019 : Christmas in Leicester Square

The West End’s famous square will feature a Christmas market in Bavarian-style huts and Santa’s Grotto. A Spiegeltent will play host shows. Free entry to Leicester Square, but tickets required for Santa’s Grotto and the Spiegeltent. Leicester Square, WC2H. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Christmas In Leicester Square website.

  • 9 November – 6 January 2019 : South Bank Winter Market

Wooden chalets selling festive food, drink, gifts and treats alongside the river on the South Bank. Open Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. Free. Queen’s Walk, South Bank, SE1. Nearest station: Waterloo, Westminster or Embankment. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 15 November – 31 December : Kingston Christmas Market

Christmas market pops up in wooden huts pops up in Kingston town centre. Free. Kingston Market Place, Market Place, Kingston, KT1 1JH. Nearest station: Kingston. For more information, check out the Visit Kingston website.

  • 17 November – 23 December : Solo Craft Fair @ Winterville

Craft fair featuring independent designers selling art, jewellery, ceramics, kids’ clothing and more. Fair taking place on Saturday and Sundays only. 12pm-5pm. Entry: Sat £2 after 12pm & £5 after 6pm. Sun £2 all day. Winterville, Clapham Common, SW4 9DE. Nearest station: Clapham Common. For more information, visit the Winterville website.

  • 22 November – 6 January 2019 : Winter Wonderland Market

Winter Wonderland features a fun fair, food, drink, circus and an ice rink in Hyde Park over the festive period and includes a German market selling gifts too. 10am-10pm. Free entry. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch or Knightsbridge. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website.

  • 24 November – 23 December : Christmas Market on the Piazza

Festive market at Wimbledon every weekend and occasional Fridays (7 and 21 December). Featuring over 40 stalls, street food and more. 11am-6pm. Free entry. The Piazza, Wimbledon, SW19 1QB. Nearest station: Wimbledon. For more information, visit the Love Wimbledon website.

  • 29 November – 2 January 2019 : Christmas by the River

Annual festive market featuring food, drink, craft and gift stalls across The Scoop More London, Hay’s Galleria and London Bridge City Pier. 11am-10pm. Free entry. Queen’s Walk and Hay’s Galleria, SE1 2DB. Nearest station: London Bridge or Tower Hill. For more information, visit the London Bridge City website.

One-off or short-term Christmas fairs

  • 7 – 11 NovemberCountry Living Christmas

Handmade gifts from hundreds of artisan designers and makers. There will also be a lifestyle theatre with experts giving talks and demonstrations, crafting studio, Hampstead tea room and Champagne bar. Opening times vary. Tickets start from £15 (Adults), £8 (Children). Business Design Centre, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information and tickets, visit the Country Living Fair website.

  • 8 November : Carnaby Christmas Shopping Party

Shopping party at over 90 shops and boutiques of the Carnaby district. Including on-street entertainment and various store activities. Enjoy a 20% discount by signing up for your free ticket on the Carnaby website. 5pm-9pm. Carnaby London, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby London website

  • 14 November : A Merry Marylebone Christmas launch

Marylebone’s annual Christmas Lights charity switch-on, food and drink, gift stalls, tombola and live music performances. From 3-7pm (lights switch on at 6pm). Free. North end of Marylebone High Street, Paddington Street and Devonshire Street, Marylebone, W1G. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Baker Street. For more information, visit the Marylebone Village website.

Winter Wonderland Christmas market © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Shop till you drop with a thoroughly festive atmosphere

  • 15 November : Christmas Shopping Event @ Seven Dials

Get into the festive spirit with an evening of fashion, food and more as Seven Dials is closed off to traffic. Featuring music from a live orchestra and switching on the Christmas lights. The boutiques and eateries will be offering 20% discount. 5pm-9pm. Register for a free ticket on the website for discounts and freebies. Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H 9HD. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

  • 16 – 17 November : Hyper Japan Christmas

A Christmas edition of the popular summer celebration of Japanese culture and products. Includes cuisine, shopping, mix of pop and traditional culture. Open Fri 12pm-8pm, Sat 9am-9pm, Sun 9am-5pm. Tickets: £18.33-£31.59. Olympia National, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information and advance tickets, visit the Hyper Japan websiteRead the rest of this entry

Guide to what’s on in London in November 2018

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Fashion, beauty, careers, wellness and more at Stylist Live

The clocks have gone back, the trees are nearly bare and it now feels like we’re on a countdown to Christmas. However, there’s plenty of reasons to live in the moment and enjoy the main attractions November has to offer. With the festive season fast approaching, expect many themed events around London. Foodies and booze fans will be well catered for with events such as Taste of London, Proseccoville, Metro Mayhem and the Eat & Drink Festival taking place.

Check out the guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs.

For a guide to London’s outdoor ice rinks this festive and winter season, click here.

Check out the guide to London’s Christmas cocktails and festive pop-ups.

Here’s a guide to the best events on in London in November 2018.

  • 1 – 28 November : Richmond Literature Festival

A festivals of books and words at various locations across the borough. Featuring workshops, talks and Q&As from authors, including Angela Saini, Roma Agrawal, Stuart Hobday, Frances Welch, Terry Waite, Lynne Truss, Stephen Fay, David Kynaston, Claire Harman, Peter Fiennes, Dan Snow and more. Venues include The Bingham, Marble Hill House, Old Town Hall, Strawberry Hill House, Teddington Library and more. For booking, visit the Richmond Literature Festival website.

  • 1 November – summer 2019 : Room To Breathe @ Migration Museum

Interactive exhibition of a migrant’s experiences when they arrive in the UK and what it means to live as migrant. Open Thu 12pm-8pm, Fri-Sun 12pm-6pm. Free admission. At the Migration Museum @ The Workshop, 26 Lambeth High Street, Lambeth, SE1 7AG. Nearest station: Vauxhall, Westminster or Lambeth North. For more information, visit the Migration Museum website. For Metro Girl’s review on the exhibition, click here.

  • 2 November : Day Of The Dead Festival @ V&A

Celebrate the Día de Muertos Festival at a late-night opening of the V&A. Featuring live mariachi music, traditional Mexican dancers, giant skeleton puppets, special activities, costume competition and visit an ofrenda dedicated to Frida Kahlo. Fancy dress encouraged. 5pm-10pm. Free entry. Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 2RL. Nearest station: South Kensington. For more information, visit the V&A website.

  • Now until 3 November : London Horror Festival

Festival of live horror performance including cabaret, film screenings, Zombie weekends, midnight performances and a short horror play competition. Ticket prices vary. Most events take place at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, Islington, EC1V 4NJ. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the London Horror Festival website.

  • 3 November : Regent Street Motor Show

Three hundred cars from 125 years of motoring will be on display for the Regent Street Motorshow ahead of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run the following day. Featuring entertainment and interactive displays. The road will be closed to vehicle traffic. 10.30am-4pm. Free. Regent Street, W1B 5TD. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Regent Street Motor Show website.

  • 3 November : Proseccoville

Celebrate the best of prosecco with tastings, street food and music. 3pm-6pm. Tickets £22. Brixton Jamm, Brixton Road, SW9 6LH. Nearest station: Brixton. For more information, visit Brixton Jamm’s website.

  • Now until 4 November : Spirit Of Christmas Fair

For the super organised, get ready for Christmas early with this fair, where you can stock up on gifts, design and food all ready for the festive season from over 750 independent boutiques. There will also be a winter restaurant and a champagne bar. Opening times vary. Tickets from £25. Olympia Grand, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Spirit Of Christmas Fair website.

  • Now until 4 November : Winter Art & Antique Fair

Arts and antiques event, featuring over 120 dealers showcasing their unusual objects and art. Opening times vary. Tickets start from £15 (cheaper in advance). Olympia National, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Olympia Antiques website.

  • 4 November : London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

Watch the beginning of 64 mile route from the capital to Brighton. Get up early to watch 500 classic cars setting off from Hyde Park Corner between 7.04-8/8.45am. Expect many drivers and passengers to be suitably dressed in costume and vintage clothing for the spectacle. Route goes from Hyde Park Corner, past Buckingham Palace, over Westminster Bridge and south via Kennington, Brixton and Streatham. Free to spectate. Hyde Park Corner, Westminster, W2 2UH. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner. For more information, visit the Veteran Car Run website.

  • 4 November : Light Up The Night

A celebration of Guy Fawkes and Diwali at Wembley Park. Featuring fireworks show, three stages with live performances, fire installations, fire and light parade, food market and more. 4pm-7pm. Free entry. Wembley Park (inc Arena Square, Olympic Way, Market Square), HA9 0NP. Nearest station: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. For more information, visit the Wembley Park website.

  • 6 November – 24 December : The Winter Forest

Seasonal pop-up returns to Broadgate Circle in the City of London. Featuring 300 snow-covered pine trees, twinkling lights, cosy wood cabins, live music, festive quiz nights (Mons), craft classes, Father Christmas, art exhibition and plenty of hot food and drink. Free. Broadgate Circle, Broadgate, EC2. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit The Broadgate website.

  • 7 November : Devonshire Square’s Diwali Festival

Free festival featuring India’s most traditional visual arts, Rangoli, and a dance show performed by some of the UK’s top Indian folk and classical dancers. 5pm-7pm. Free. Devonshire Square (Western Courtyard), City of London, EC2M. Nearest stations: Liverpool Street or Aldgate. For more information, visit the Devonshire Square website.

  • 7 – 11 November : Dulwich Literary Festival

Talks, readings, discussions and storytelling, with authors and speakers including Louis de Bernières, Kamal Ahmed, Jo Brand, Oliver Bullough, Stephanie Cross, Dharshini David, Isabel Hardman, Simon Heffer, Nick Hewer, Michael Hughes, John Suchet and more. Events at Dulwich College, Dulwich Common, Dulwich, SE21 7LD and Dulwich Books, 6 Croxted Road, West Dulwich, SE21 8SQ. Nearest station: West Dulwich. For more information, visit the Dulwich Literary Festival website.

  • 8 November : Carnaby Christmas Shopping Party

Shopping party at over 90 shops and boutiques of the Carnaby district. Including on-street entertainment and various store activities. Enjoy a 20% discount by signing up for your free ticket on the Carnaby website. 5pm-9pm. Carnaby London, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby London website.

  • 9 – 11 November : Stylist Live

Festival featuring the best of Stylist magazine, featuring fashion shows, learning labs, pop-up boutiques, farmers’ market, culture lounge, comedy, debates, street food, cocktails and talks and interviews from the likes of Clara Amfo, Dr Rangan Chatterjee, Matilda Egere-Cooper, Clementine Ford, Bryony Gordon, Nadiya Hussein, Annie Mac, Clio Wood and many more. Open: Fri-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 10am-6pm. Tickets start from £15. Olympia National, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Stylist Live website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Winter warmers and comfort food at Taste Of London Winter

  • 9 – 25 November : Enchanted Woodland

Syon Park in South West London is open after hours, with an illuminated trail through the gardens and arboretum. Exciting lighting effects will transform the trees, plants and lake into a magical place. Hot food and drinks also available. Open Fri-Sun, entry times every 20 minutes from 5pm-7.40pm. Tickets: Adults £10 (Fri), £12 (Sat-Sun), Children £5. Syon Park, London Road, Brentford, TW8 8JF. Nearest station: Syon Lane. For more information, visit the Enchanted Woodland website.

  • 9 November – 5 January 2019 : Christmas In Leicester Square

The West End’s famous square will feature a Christmas market and Santa’s Grotto. A Spiegeltent will play host shows including Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel, Briefs: Close Encounters and Club Briefs. Free entry to Leicester Square, but tickets required for Santa’s Grotto and the Spiegeltent. Leicester Square, WC2H. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Christmas In Leicester Square website.

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Guide to what’s on in London this Halloween 2018

Halloween pumpkin © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018The arrival of autumn means darker, colder nights and the coming of Halloween. Although traditionally just one night, there tends to be days, or sometimes weeks, of spooky celebrations. over the October period, sometimes creeping into early November. As it coincides with half-term, there’s some Halloween themed daytime fun on offer for children. However, when it comes to the nights, there a range of activities for those who want to celebrate – from simple film screenings or immersive, fancy dress parties.

For a guide to what’s else is on in London in October, click here.

Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to the best Halloween events and parties on around London this October:

Daytime jitters

  • 1 – 31 October : Screamfest @ London Dungeon

Special Halloween event at the London Dungeon, featuring 20 spooky tales, two rides and a Jack the Ripper show. Tickets from £27 (online), £31 (on the door). London Dungeon, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the London Dungeon website. For Metro Girl’s review of the London Dungeon, click here.

  • 20 – 27 October : Spookfest @ London Museum of Water & Steam

Learn the secret history of the engine houses, enjoy a ride on the ghost train, a trip through the creepy wood and Halloween craft activities. Tickets: adults £12.50, children £5.50 (10% discount for children’s in Halloween costume). London Museum of Water & Steam, Kew Bridge Road, Brentford, TW8 0EF. Nearest station: Kew Bridge. For more information, visit the London Museum of Water & Steam website.

  • 20 – 28 October : Gruesome Nature Live @ London Zoo

A week of fiendish fun at London Zoo, featuring interactive musical show. Open 10am-5pm. Activities are free with entry to zoo. Entrance tickets: Adults £24.50, Child £18.00 (cheaper online). London Zoo, Regent’s Park, Marylebone, NW1 4RY. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Camden Town. For booking, visit the ZSL website.

  • 20 – 31 October : Ascarium @ London Aquarium

A spooky adventure at Sea Life London with the Sea Witch asking visitors to help unlock her treasure chest. Tickets start from £21 (online), £26 (on the day). Sea Life London Aquarium, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, South Bank, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information, visit the Sea Life website.

  • 22 – 30 October : Wizard and Witch Woodland Walk @ Strawberry Hill

A spooky walk for little wizards and witches and their families, then cast a spell in the ‘cauldron room’ and hear a spooky story. Times: 4pm-5pm (4-6yrs), 5.30pm-6.30pm (7-10yrs). Tickets: £8. Strawberry Hill, 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham, TW1 4ST. Nearest station: Strawberry Hill. For more information, visit the Strawberry Hill website. For Metro Girl’s review of Strawberry Hill, click here.

  • 23 October : Family Day: Halloween @ Benjamin Franklin House

A spooky family day with spooky 18th century stories told by Polly Hewson and gruesome games for 5-11 year olds. 4pm-5pm. Free, but advanced booking recommend. Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, Westminster, WC2N 5NG. Nearest stations: Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information, visit the Benjamin Franklin House website.

  • 24 – 28 October : Halloween Horrors @ Sutton House

Halloween fun and games in a Tudor manor designed by Tea Break Theatre. Fancy dress encouraged. Halloween activities are with normal entry. 12pm-5pm. Tickets (general admission): Adults £7, Children £3.50. Sutton House, 2-4 Homerton High Street, Hackney, E9 6JQ. Nearest station: Homerton. For more information, visit the National Trust website.

  • 27 – 28 October : Horniman Halloween Fair

Meet creepy crawlies, spooky storytelling, arts and crafts markets and food stalls. Halloween costume encouraged. 10.30am-4.30pm. Free entry. Horniman Museum and Gardens, 100 London Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3PQ. Nearest station: Forest Hill. For more information, visit the Horniman Museum website.

Things that go bump in the night

  • 7 October – 3 November : London Horror Festival

Festival of live horror performance including cabaret, film screenings, Zombie weekends, midnight performances and a short horror play competition. Ticket prices vary. Most events take place at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, Islington, EC1V 4NJ. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the London Horror Festival website.

  • 12, 16-19 and 30-31 October : The Silhouette in the Smoke

An immersive theatrical experience with a murder mystery written especially for the London Museum of Water and Steam. Victorian high tea included. You must solve the mystery in groups of six. Over 16s only. 7.15pm. Tickets: £28. London Museum of Water & Steam, Kew Bridge Road, Brentford, TW8 0EF. Nearest station: Kew Bridge. For more information, visit the London Museum of Water & Steam websiteRead the rest of this entry

The Savoy launches The Tiger Who Came To Tea afternoon tea for families

The Tiger Who Came to Tea at The Savoy

The Tiger Who Came to Tea afternoon tea for children is launching at The Savoy

Launching this October is a rather special afternoon tea for families. Judith Kerr’s beloved children’s book The Tiger Who Came To Tea has been charming readers since 1968. Like many, I owned the book as a children and loved my parents reading it to me.

From this week, The Savoy hotel has teamed up with publishers HarperCollins to create a unique children’s afternoon tea inspired by the classic book as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. This food and drink extravaganza will be the five-star hotel’s first dedicated children’s afternoon tea offering in its 129 year history. The variety of treats are drawn from the tea that Sophie and her mum shared with the visiting tiger. The Savoy’s pastry team have dreamed up an enchanting menu served on bespoke chinaware inspired by the book. The stunning china will also be available to buy from Savoy Tea.

The menu is as follows:

  • Sophie’s Sandwiches

Peanut Butter & Jam Bites; Red Leicester Cheese Whirl; and Honey Roast Ham Finger Sandwiches.

  • Tiger Scones

Freshly-baked stripy scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

  • Treats with the Tiger

Sophie’s Tights (Blue and pink Battenberg), The Milkman Special (Vanilla yoghurt, raspberry compote), Mummy’s Cookie Crumbs (Dark chocolate cookie dipped in chocolate); Tiger Food (Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting); and Owp! (Handmade marzipan tiger).

  • Drinks

Accompanying the food will be a choice of hot or cold drink, including Vanilla Black Tea; Blackcurrant & Hibiscus Tea; Tiger Hot Chocolate (Served with cream and tiger stripes) or Orange juice.

The Tiger Who Came To Tea menu will be available for children at the first two sittings of Afternoon Tea in The Savoy’s iconic Thames Foyer. Adults may prefer the Traditional Afternoon Tea, Champagne Afternoon Tea and High Tea, which will continue to be offered.

  • The Savoy’s special edition The Tiger Who Came to Tea at The Savoy, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 0EZ. Nearest station: Embankment, Charing Cross or Temple. Available Mon-Fri afternoons for the first two sittings from 8 October 2018. Price: £40 per child (aged 5-12years). Dress code: Smart casual. For more information booking, visit The Savoy’s website.

To find out what’s on in London in December, click here.

This post is taking part in #CulturedKids, sharing cultural blog posts aimed at children. Thanks to Catherine at Cultured Wednesdays for getting me involved.

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Guide to what’s on in London in October 2018

Brockwell Park Clock Tower © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Herne Hill Music Festival kicks off in October

Autumn is finally here after a super long summer. Some may be welcoming the cooler temperatures, while others may be lamenting the fast approach of winter. However, lets live in the moment and focus on October. There’s plenty going on around town with many events creeping into the warmer indoor settings. Of course, there’s Halloween at the end of the month and half-term holidays so expect plenty of ghoulish and family events – or both – going on. October is a good month for booze fans with lots of beer and cocktail festivals. The nights may be getting darker, but you could brighten up your home with a purchase from one of the many art fairs on this month.

For a guide to what’s on in London this Halloween, click here.

  • 1 – 7 October : London Cocktail Week

Over 300 bars, restaurants and other surprising venues are celebrating London Cocktail Week with a variety of offers and events around the capital. To get the most out of it, buy a £10 digital pass so you can enjoy cocktails at participating venues for as little as £6. For more information, visit the London Cocktail Week website. Find out about the Broken Shaker pop-up bar at Madison.

  • 1 – 31 October : London Restaurant Festival

Restaurants all over the capital are taking place in this festival, offering special menus, discounts and events celebrating the capital’s culinary culture. Highlights include Gourmet Odysseys, Eat Film, Restaurant Hopping Tours, Eat Art @ Saatchi Gallery and more. For more information, visit the London Restaurant Festival website.

  • 2 – 3 October : RHS Harvest Festival Show

Horticultural show including fruit and vegetable competition, pumpkin display, nursery and harvest displays, harvest games, cocktails and live music. Open 10am-5pm. Free entry. Lindley Hall, RHS Horticultural Halls, 80 Vincent Square, SW1P 2PE. Nearest station: Victoria. For more information, visit the RHS website.

  • 2 October – 9 December : Strange Days – Memories Of the Future

Video and films by 21 radical film-makers, presented as large-scale, multi-screen video installations. Tues-Sat 12pm-7pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. Free entry. The Store X, 180 The Strand, WC2R 1EA. Nearest station: Temple or Charing Cross. For more information, visit the website.

  • 4 OctoberYoung Marketeers’ Harvest Sale @ Borough Market

Local schoolchildren will be trading their homegrown fruit and vegetables at Borough Market. Proceeds go to the FareShare charity. 11am-1.30pm. Free entry. Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Borough Market website.

  • 4 – 7 October : The Other Art Fair

The bi-annual fair is a great place to buy art from 130 emerging and undiscovered artists. There will also be guest artists, immersive theatre, live music, bar and restaurant. Opening times vary. Tickets: £8.96-£22.40. Victoria House, Southampton Row, Holborn, WC1A 2QP. Nearest station: Holborn. For tickets, visit The Other Art Fair website.

  • 4 – 7 OctoberFrieze Art Fair

Contemporary art event in Regent’s Park, featuring over 150 galleries from around the world. Opening hours vary. Tickets start from £38.50. Regents Park (Art Fair near the Outer Circle in SE corner of the park). Nearest stations: Regent’s Park, Great Portland Street, Baker Street or Camden Town. For more information and tickets, visit the Frieze London website.

  • 4 – 14 October : Oktoberfest London

Celebrate the German beer fest in Docklands, featuring a host of beer, food and entertainment. Opening hours vary. General admission starts from free to £10 (depending on day). Millwall Park, Manchester Road, Isle of Dogs, E14 3AY. Nearest station: Island Gardens or Mudchute. For booking, visit the London Oktoberfest website.

  • 4 – 14 OctoberWimbledon Bookfest

Festival featuring readings, children’s events, storytelling, comedy, courses, screenings, walks and interviews from a wide range of authors, including Graham Norton, Alan Davies, Lionel Shriver, Sebastian Faulks, Cathy Newman, Michael Rosen, Max Hastings, Billy Bragg and more. Tickets prices vary. A majority of events take place in tents on Wimbledon Common, but also other venues nearby. Nearest station: Wimbledon. For more information and tickets, visit the BookFest website.

  • 5 – 7 OctoberCake And Bake Show

Event celebrating all things baking and decorating, featuring celebrity experts, stalls selling baking equipment, cake competitions and more. Open 10am-5pm. Tickets: £13. ExCel, 1 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Prince Regent or Custom House. For tickets, visit the Cake And Bake Show website.

  • 5 – 7 OctoberTequila And Mezcal Fest

A weekend celebration of Tequila and Mezcal, including Mexican food, live Mariachi bands, Mexican art and artisan products on sale. Open Sat 12pm-9.30pm, Sun 8 1-9pm. Tickets start from £20 (early bird tickets include Tequila or Mezcal samples and free entry to seminars and master classes). Oxo Tower Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars or Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit the Tequila Fest website.

  • 5 – 14 OctoberHerne Hill Music Festival

Music festival in Herne Hill, south London at various venues across SE24 and neighbouring areas including The Half Moon, Off The Cuff, Canopy Bar, St Faith’s Church, Brockwell Hall and Herne Hill School. Tickets range from free to £50. Nearest station: Herne Hill. For more information, visit the Herne Hill Music Festival website.

  • 5 October – 18 November : Poppies – Weeping Window

The Weeping Window from artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper’s famous 2014 poppy installation at the Tower of London has been touring the UK and returns to the capital. Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, Lambeth, SE1 6HZ. Nearest station: Lambeth North. For more information, visit the Imperial War Museum website. For Metro Girl’s blog post on the installation, click here.

  • 7 October – 3 November : London Horror Festival

Festival of live horror performance including cabaret, film screenings, Zombie weekends, midnight performances and a short horror play competition. Ticket prices vary. Most events take place at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, Islington, EC1V 4NJ. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the London Horror Festival websiteRead the rest of this entry

Thames Rockets review: See iconic London sights at 35mph on a thrilling boat trip

Tower Bridge and Shard Thames Rockets © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

A view of Tower Bridge and The Shard from a Thames Rocket boat

Thames Rockets boat © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

One of the Thames Rockets departs London Eye Pier

I’ve long recommended a boat trip down the River Thames as a ‘must do’ to friends and family visiting London from abroad. It’s a great place to get an overview of the capital and some of its most iconic landmarks. such as the Tower of London, the London Eye and Cleopatra’s Needle. Personally, I’ve been down the river many times over the years on the Thames Clippers, party boats or the tourist cruises. However, the one Thames experience missing from my personal history was a speedboat ride… until now.

I had occasionally seen Thames Rockets on the Thames over the years as a pedestrian on dry land. Finally, last week, I got the chance to experience a trip on a Rocket myself. The company, which launched in 2006, offers six different experiences, ranging from a 15 minute ‘Thames Taster’ to the 80 minute Thames Barrier Explorers Voyage. I was on the Ultimate London Adventure, which aims to provide a “fun-filled adrenaline-fuelled 50 minute” journey. Ahead of my trip, I was intrigued how they would combine a sight-seeing tour and speed.

Arriving 15 minutes before departure, I was greeted by the friendly Thames Rockets team, who fitted my lifejacket at the pier just by the London Eye. Next, we were given a safety briefing before climbing in. The Thames Rockets boats are speedboats with seats for about 12 people, each with a driver and guide abroad during your journey. I managed to get a coveted spot at the front of the boat, which was perfect for me as I was planning to photograph and video a lot of the journey. We were introduced to our driver Doug and our guide Bill and prepared to set off.

Tate Modern © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The Tate Modern and Millennium Bridge

The first part of our journey was a musical trip past some of London’s most famous sights, such as Shakespeare’s Globe, Waterloo Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral. We slowed down a bit just before Tower Bridge so we could get some good photos. Soon after we passed under Tower Bridge and passed the River Police Station at Wapping, it was time to crank things up a gear. With this eastern passage of the Thames being wider and less busy than central London, Doug was free to increase the speed. Soon enough, we were holding on tight to the railings as we twisted, turned, and jumped over the waves at speeds of up to 30 knots (35mph). There was plenty of whooping and screaming as the group reacted to the various stunts. Sitting by the port side of the boat, I did get a little wet from the spray, but I was well prepared in a raincoat and it was all part of the fun. As we raced towards Canary Wharf, there were times I couldn’t even see the skyscrapers as the bow rode up in front of us as we leaped over the waves. The side turns were particularly hair-raising and certainly showed our skipper’s impressive skills at the wheel.  Read the rest of this entry

Conservation and colours as the Tusk Rhino Trail comes to the capital

Rhino Trail Covent Garden © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Patrick Hughes’ The Rainbosceros in Covent Garden for The Rhino Trail

If you’ve been in central London recently, you may have noticed some pretty new pieces of street furniture. Twenty one rhino sculptures have been erected near iconic sights as part of the Tusk Rhino Trail. Each piece of art has been customised by international artists, to raise awareness of the rhinos’ plight. These magnificent creatures are under threat of extinction due to poaching and they must be protected.

Rhino Trail St Pancras © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Nick Gentry’s silver rhino at St Pancras

The capital-wide art installation has been curated by Chris Westbrook for the Tusk conservation charity. The sculptures will remain in situ until World Rhino Day on 22 September 2018. The following month, all 21 will be auctioned by Christie’s to raise money for the charity on 9 October.

Artists taking part include Ronnie Wood, Marc Quinn, Gavin Turk, Axel Scheffler, the Chapman Brothers, Charming Baker, Glen Baxter, Nick and Rob Carter, Eileen Cooper, Nancy Fouts, Nick Gentry, Zhang Huan, Patrick Hughes, David Mach, Gerry McGovern, Harland Miller, Mauro Perruchetti, Dave White, David Yarrow and Jonathan Yeo. Locations include Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Guildhall, Marble Arch and St Paul’s. Why not download a map and bring your children rhino spotting.

  • The Tusk Rhino Trail is on now until 22 September 2018. To download the trail map and find out more about the charity’s work, visit the Tusk Rhino Trail website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in September, click here.

This post is taking part in #CulturedKids, sharing cultural blog posts aimed at children. Thanks to Catherine at Cultured Wednesdays for getting me involved.

CulturedKids

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