Category Archives: Families

Ideas for parents and grandparents to entertain the children.

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.

Read the rest of this entry

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.

For a guide to what else is on in London in February, 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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Jewel Tower – a Medieval survivor of the Palace Of Westminster

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The Jewel Tower is a small remainder of London’s Medieval history

When it comes to London’s royal palaces, most of them tend to be rather young, with the oldest parts of Buckingham Palace dating back to 1703 and Clarence House, a few years shy of its 200th anniversary. However, long before the monarch resided at Buck House, the King or Queen had a home in the huge Palace Of Westminster. Today, the title belongs to the Houses of Parliament, the seat of our Government.

Jewel Tower door © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The fireproof door contains the year 1621 and the mark of James I

Most of the Medieval Palace of Westminster was destroyed by a huge fire in the 1800s, to be rebuilt as the iconic masterpiece, which remains today. However, two buildings managed to survive, the 11th century Westminster Hall, and the 14th century Jewel Tower. Now owned by English Heritage, the diminutive Jewel Tower is open to the public. Recently, I paid a visit to this small, but interesting piece of Medieval London. It’s a small space with the exhibition taking about an hour to see.

The Jewel Tower was built around 1365-6 at the southern end of the Palace of Westminster to house the treasures of King Edward III (1312-1377). The Tower stood at the end of the garden and was protected by a moat to the south and west of the building. It was built under the direction of master mason Henry Yevele (1320-1400) and master carpenter Hugh Herland (1330-1411) on land which had been appropriated from Westminster Abbey, to the chagrin of the monks. The keeper would have worked on the ground or first floor, logging the King’s treasures coming in and going out of the Tower. The most valuable goods were kept on the second floor.

Jewel Tower stairs © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The spiral staircase

For 150 years, the Tower was used to house the subsequent Kings’ treasures until a fire at the palace in 1512. The building then became home to less valuable items, such as clothing, bed linen, furniture and royal children’s toys, according to an inventory in 1547. In 1600, the building was repurposed for the Government, rather than royals, when it became a parliamentary office. A three-storey timber extension was added to the side of the Tower as a house for the Clerk of the Parliament. The ground floor of the Jewel Tower became the kitchen and scullery, while the first floor was used as a repository for various parliament documents. In 1621, the building was renovated to become more secure to protect the important documents. On the first floor, a brick vault was added with a metal door featuring the year inscribed on the exterior and the cipher of King James I (1566-1625). That very door still exists today and can be seen on your visit.

By the 18th century, the Tower was apparently a bit of a state so work was taken to renovate and improve it. Larger windows and a new chimney were added, while the building was made more fireproof to protect the documents inside. Throughout the century, the Tower was gradually hidden by the buildings popping up around it. By 1827, the House of Lords’ records had been moved out of the Tower because it was too small and it was known as part of Old Palace Yard, with the name Jewel Tower dropping out of use.  Read the rest of this entry

Guide to what’s on in London in August 2018

Underbelly South Bank © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The Underbelly Festival on the South Bank is just one of many attractions in London this August

School’s out for summer! August is, without a doubt, the busiest time in the capital. Parents and grandparents are taking to London’s parks and museums to entertain the kids, while tourists are arriving en masse to take advantage of our city’s fabulous sights and attractions. After a scorching few months in the capital, many Londoners will be hoping for more hot weather… although a few rainstorms may be welcome for our poor parched parks and not-so-green spaces. Across London, there’s plenty of events and festivals taking place this August. Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to the best of the city this month.

Here’s a guide to London’s urban beaches and lidos.

  • 3 August : Wear – an opera performance

Tête à Tête brings a modern, immersive opera production to King’s Cross, exploring the themes of fashion and the future. 8pm. Tickets: £7.50 (advance), £9.50 (on the door). The Crossing, King’s Cross, N1C 4AA. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the King’s Cross website.

  • 3 – 4 August : Cocktails In The City – London Summer

London’s best bars gather in one space for a festival of cocktails. Participating bars include Barrio, Mr Fogg’s, Cahoots, The Nightjar and The Cocktail Trading Co. Open Fri 5pm-10pm, Sat 12pm-5pm and 5.30pm-10pm. Tickets: £20 (inc welcome cocktail). Bedford Square Gardens, Fitzrovia, WC1B 3HH. Nearest station: Russell Square or Tottenham Court Road. For more information, visit the Cocktails In The City website.

  • 3 – 5 August : London Craft Beer Festival

Over 65 breweries from London, the UK, Europe and USA will be showing off 100s of beers. Also including food stalls, live music and DJs from Two Door Cinema Club, Hercules & Love Affair, Huey Morgan, Toddla T, Everything Everything, Trojan Sound System, Hip Hop Karaoke and more. Times vary. Tickets: £46.50 (includes free glass and unlimited small pours). Tobacco Dock, 50 Porters Walk, Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest station: Wapping or Shadwell. For more information, visit the London Craft Beer Festival.

  • Now until 3 August : Festibowl 2018

Festival of lawn bowling returns to the City every Thursday and Friday throughout the summer. There will also be DJs, street food and cocktails. 12pm-11pm. Tickets from £25. Finsbury Square, City of London, EC2A. Nearest stations: Moorgate, Liverpool Street or Old Street. For tickets, visit the Festibowl website.

  • Now until 3 August : Somnai

Experience a live, multi-sensory experience with immersive technologies including virtual reality. Somnai is said to be the biggest theatrical event since Punch Drunk and offers a ‘lucid dreaming’ experience. Over 18s only. 90 minutes long. Times vary. Tickets from £35. Somnai, 2 Pear Tree Street, Clerkenwell, EC1V 3SB. Nearest stations: Old Street, Barbican or Farringdon. For booking and more information, visit the Somnai website. Read Metro Girl’s review.

  • 4 August : London Tequila Festival

Live music and DJs, over 30 different Tequilas, Processions and piñatas, Tequila cocktail bar, tacos, fajitas and more. 12.30pm-10.30pm. Tickets £16.99-£22.99 (inc complimentary shot). Acklam Village Market, Acklam Road, Ladbroke Grove, W10 5TY. Nearest station: Ladbroke Grove. For tickets, visit Eventbrite.

© Bourne & Hollingsworth

Cocktails In The City: Summer Edition sees London’s best bars in one space
© Bourne & Hollingsworth

  • 7 – 11 August : Great British Beer Festival

Hundreds of real ales, ciders, perries and foreign beers with be available to try, while there will also be plenty of entertainment and food. Tickets start from £11 advance (£14 on the door). Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information and tickets, visit the Great British Beer Festival website.

  • 8 – 25 August : Secret Cinema presents William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet

Immersive cinema company brings Baz Lurhmann’s vision of Verona Beach to the capital. Expect love, violence, Hawaiian shirts and a banging soundtrack in a five-hour outdoor festival, including screening. No cameras allowed. Times vary. Tickets start from £51.67. At a secret London location. For more information and tickets, visit the Secret Cinema website. Read Metro Girl’s review of a previous Secret Cinema event.

  • 8 August – 2 September : Summer By The River – Outdoor Theatre

Watch a live outdoor performance of The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz by the Thames. Performances from Wed-Sat at 6pm, Sun at 4pm. Free entry. The Scoop, Queen’s Walk, London Bridge, SE1 2DB. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the London Bridge City websiteRead the rest of this entry

Where to find lavender fields near London

Guide to the closest lavender fields to London, including opening hours, transport and more.

Mayfield lavender field © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Mayfield is one of several lavender fields on the outskirts of the capital

Scrolling through your social media feeds recently, you may be seeing lovely shots of people running through lavender fields. Obviously, an over-crowded metropolis like London doesn’t have the room for huge fields, but there are several of these floral paradises just outside the capital. Lavender season is usually from late May until September, with July to August the best time to visit. As these tend to be in the countryside, it’s advisable to go via car if you can, however some public transport routes have been detailed below. The fields are all family friendly so it’s a great day out with the children during the summer holidays.

  • Mayfield Lavender Farm

Despite some London guides claiming this is in Croydon, it isn’t. Located in the Surrey Downs, in the London Borough of Sutton, it’s at least a 45 minute commute from Croydon town centre. Mayfield has 25 acres of fields with an Insta-tastic red phonebox and tractor for those perfect poses. It also has a shop selling lavender products and a café, serving drinks and snacks, many featuring lavender flavours. Find out more on their website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post about her visit.

Mayfield Lavender Farm, 1 Carshalton Road, Banstead, Surrey SM7 3JA. Open daily 9am-6pm from 1 June – 16 September. Tickets: Adults £2, Under 16s free.

Getting there by public transport: The nearest train stations are Chipstead (42 mins from London Bridge) or Banstead (56 mins from Victoria), before a short bus ride (166) or a 40-45 minute walk. Alternatively you can get the 166 bus earlier from West Croydon which takes about 45 minutes.

  • Hitchin Lavender

    Mayfield lavender field © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

    Many of the fields have on-site shops so you can buy lavender products

Situated north of the capital in Hertfordshire, Hitchin boasts 25 miles of rows from which you can pick your own lavender. It also features a sunflower field and wildflower area. There’s a 17th century barn on-site selling lunches and cakes, as well as a shop. Find out more on their website.

Hitchin Lavender, Cadwell Farm, Ickleford, Hitchin, Herts SG5 3UA. Open daily 10am-5pm from 19 June until the end of August. Tickets (picking included): Adults £6, Under 14s £3, Under 5s free.

Getting there by public transport: From King’s Cross, you can get a Thameslink train to Arlesey (54 mins). Take the 72 bus to ‘The Green’ stop, a few minutes walk from the field.

  • Kentish Lavender

Castle Farm in Kent is home to the largest lavender farm in the UK with over 95 acres of the purple stuff! Their Hop Shop is open all year round, selling lavender and other farm products. You can only visit the fields on a guided group tour or a sunset pop-up picnic. Check out their website to find out more.

Castle Farm, Redmans Lane, Shoreham, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN14 7UB. The Hop Shop is open Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 10am-5pm. Group tour tickets: Adults £6/£7, Children 5-14ys £3/£3.50.

Getting there by public transport: From Blackfriars, you can get a Thameslink train to Eynsford (55 mins) or Shoreham (59 mins). From either, there are several bus routes (approx. 15 mins) going to the Hop Shop.

  • Lavender Fields @ Hartley Park Farm

This is a lot further afield in Hampshire, but if you’re willing to make the journey, then you may find it quieter than the ones closer to London. There’s an on-site shop open from mid-April under late September, but the lavender fields are only accessible during their open days. Check out their website to find out when their open days are taking place.

Hartley Park Farm, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 3HP. Tickets (open days only): Adults £4, Under 12s free.

Getting there by public transport: From Waterloo, you can get a South Western train to Petersfield (1 hour). Take the 38 bus to the ‘Hartley Park Farm’ stop.

For the latest’s what’s on guide to London, click here.

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