Category Archives: Tourist Attractions

Tourist attractions of London

Where Light Falls: A spectacular sound and light show on St Paul’s Cathedral

Antony Gormley review: Artist pushes the boundaries of the Royal Academy with his huge sculptures

Matrix III is one of the highlights of the Antony Gormley exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts

Antony Gormley is one of Britain’s most famous living artists, with his sculpture career dating back 45 years. He tends to focus his creations on the human form – usually his own – with his latest exhibition attempting to raise our awareness of the bodies we inhabit.

'Body' and 'Fruit' by Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts

‘Body’ and ‘Fruit’

The artist’s new exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts has taken over 13 rooms, with Gormley molding and adapting the Georgian rooms to fit his large-scale installations. The Academy has had to get some of the rooms water-proofed and reinforced to support the weight of some of the pieces. The exhibition features work throughout the decades, including his rarely-seen, early pieces from the 1970s. Also on display are many of his sketchbooks so you can see the progression from idea to fruition as a physical sculpture.

Before even entering Burlington House, you could be forgiven for nearly tripping over the first Gormley piece – ‘Iron Baby’ (1999) – in the courtyard. The sculpture is a newborn baby curled up in a ball, apparently inspired by the artist’s daughter. A contrasting piece – the strength of its iron with the vulnerability we usually associated with newborns.

From the beginning of the exhibition, Gormley’s presence is everywhere. ‘Slabworks’ is a series of metal figures that many would associate with the artist due to the prominence of similar pieces across the country. The shapes lie, stand and sit in various directions and contortions. Nearby is ‘Mother’s Pride’, a recent recreation of an old piece made out of white bread. A man’s (presumably Gormley’s) silhouette has been eaten out of the bread, with the natural expiration of the material displaying an evident reason why it had to be recreated for this year’s exhibition. Read the rest of this entry

Brighten up dark nights with interactive, light art installations at Winterfest at Wembley Park

The Sonic Runway will be one of the installations during Winterfest
© Jordan Laboucane

Lighting up the dark, cold nights this autumn is a new light festival at Wembley Park. Winterfest kicks off on 20 November 2019 and transform the area into an expanse of light, sound and colour. Guests will be able to move around the park and interact with the installations, creating plenty of Insta-moments to capture.

One of the highlights will be the light-art installation Sonic Runway, making its European debut following its success at Nevada’s Burning Man festival. Located on Olympic Way, the piece features music rippling down a 100-metre corridor of 32 concentric rings, with the light patterns moving at the speed of sound. During the launch night, the installation will be accompanied by a bespoke music soundtrack in partnership with Boxpark Wembley. Following the switch-on, guests can head to nearby Boxpark to chose from over 20 street food stalls and entertainment, including the world’s first free-roam virtual reality e-gaming arena.

Other installations includes the ‘Murmuration of Hopes’ light by architectural designer Elyne Legarnisson and digital scenographer Aurelien Lafargue. The commission is displayed across 15 huge LED banners and across the trees, with digital ‘birds’ perching on them. London’s tallest-ever LED Christmas tree will be unveiled, standing tall at 25-metres and including over 100,000 low-energy coloured lights. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the sounds of ‘Illumaphonium: Halo’, a series of eight, 3-metre music installations by musician and inventor Michael Davis. Visitors can interact and created music together. There will also be plenty of Instagrammable photo moments waiting, including the ‘LoveSpot… Under the Mistletoe’, a heart sculpture adorned with mistletoe and pulsating red lights; ‘Star Box’, a gift shaped cube, filled with golden lights and shimmering sequins; and ‘Saturation Surge’, a bold, colourful and geometric piece by street artist Maser.

As well as the art installations, there will be series of live music performances every weekend throughout November and December. Meanwhile, theatre fans can head to the new Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre to see the touring production of hit musical Fame from 21 December – 26 January 2020.

  • Winterfest runs from 20 November 2019 – 3 January 2020. Free admission. At Wembley Park, Wembley, HA9 0FD. Nearest stations: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. For more information, visit the Wembley Park website.

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

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

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Dolphins, and whales, and kelp – oh my! New Carnaby Christmas installation to be unveiled at shopping party

The Carnaby Christmas installation will highlight the plight of our oceans this year

The subject of the environment and the urgency to save the planet is rightly a big concern right now. So this festive season, Shaftesbury are collaborating with ocean conversation charity Project O to launch the Carnaby Christmas 2019 installation. Instead of traditional festive decorations, the light installation will be given an oceanic twist.

The iconic Carnaby Street will be transformed into a theatrical underwater scene, with pink coral, whales, dolphins, clams and seahorses floating above you. The message ‘One Ocean, One Planet,’ will highlight the need for conservation and the desperate need to reverse the effects of climate change. One of the main features will be a 5-metre sculpted whale which blows bubbles. Meanwhile, on the side streets of Carnaby – Foubert’s Place and Newburgh Street, 200 illuminated vampire squids will glitter away, while a mermaid will be resting on the famous giant plug on Ganton Street.

A host of sustainable materials have been used to create the installation, with every element made using recycled and reusable materials, including repurposed fishing nets, 500m of used bubble wrap and 1,500 recycled plastic bottles. The installation will be given its colourful appearance with 100% cotton fabrics and 100 litres of water-based, eco-friendly vegan paint.

The lights switch-on will coincide with the annual Carnaby Christmas Shopping party, where visitors can enjoy special events, activities, promotions and discounts throughout the district’s over 100 shops, restaurants and bars. There will also be tap-to-donate points, with all money raised going to ocean charities.

  • The Carnaby Christmas Shopping Party takes place on 7 November 2019. From 5pm-9pm (lights switch-on at 6pm). Free. Carnaby London, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. The light installation will be on show throughout the festive period. For more information and to register for your 20% discount, visit the Carnaby London website.

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

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Tracing the footsteps of those who came before us: Family History Day at the Migration Museum

Family History Day with the Migration Museum
(My Grandparents’ Shop, 1913 ® Stephen Sedley)

Are you interested in your family history but don’t know where to start? Well, this autumn, the Migration Museum in London is offering visitors insights and opportunities to delve into their ancestry. On 2 November, a day-long event will feature workshops, talks, and meetings with experts to help you delve into your origins. The Migration Museum’s Family History Day will offer activities, talks and assistance from experts from the National Trust, the National Archives and London Metropolitan Archives.

There will be talks from TV star Robert Rinder, who delved into his own family’s past on BBC show Who Do You Think You Are?. Robert Kershaw from the National Archives will explain how its records can be searched and interpreted. Else Churchill from the Society of Genealogists will also be showing how you can search your family’s 20th century history, which can often be more difficult due to sealed records. Meanwhile, Robert Winder – author of Bloody Foreigners – shows how to put historical context into our personal family stories.

Throughout the day, there will also be a photograph dating with a National Trust expert, family history workshop, a chance to search for relatives who fought in WWI and WWII, an installation highlighting the history of black Britons with the Black Cultural Archives, and the chance to speak to war veterans.

Robyn Kasozi, Head of Public Engagement at the Migration Museum, enthused: “Our Family History Day aims to empower people to delve into their past and uncover their family’s migration stories, both within the UK and beyond its borders.”

  • Migration Museum’s Family History Day is on 2 November 2019. At the Migration Museum at The Workshop, 26 Lambeth High Street, London SE1 7AG. Nearest stations: Vauxhall, Lambeth North, Westminster or Waterloo. Open: 10.30am–4.30pm. Tickets: £5 (includes entry to all exhibitions). Book online at the Migration Museum website.

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

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Exploring the history of 55 Broadway with Hidden London

55 Broadway © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Visit 55 Broadway on a London Transport Museum Hidden London tour

Tube train monitoring dials in the lobby

If you’re interested in London history, architecture or its transport network, then check out a Hidden London tour from the London Transport Museum. Run for limited periods, I’ve previously visited the disused Aldywch tube station and the former World War II shelter underneath Clapham South tube station and found them fascinating. Although the Hidden London group offers visits to other disused platforms and tube stations, my last booking with them saw me remaining above ground. The tour lasts 90 minutes and covered many of the 14 floors of the building.

55 Broadway in St James was London’s first skyscraper because of the way it was built. Standing tall at 53 metres (175ft), the Grade I listed office block is an impressive piece of art deco architecture in Portland stone. The structure was originally built in 1927-1929 to a design by English architect Charles Holden (1875-1960). As well as 55 Broadway, Holden was also responsible for the University of London’s Senate House, Bristol Central Library and many tube stations, such as Acton Town, Balham, Clapham Common and Leicester Square, among others. 55 Broadway was briefly the tallest office block in London, before it was surpassed by Holden’s Senate House in the mid 1930s. It was originally constructed as the headquarters for the Underground Electric Railways Company of London Limited (UERL), on top of St James’s tube station.

The pink ceiling of the Executive Office

55 Broadway corridor © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Walnut panelled doors and travertine marble on every landing

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What’s on in London this Halloween and Day of the Dead 2019

Find out what fairs, club nights, film screenings, late-night museum openings and other Halloween activities are on in October and November, including half-term fun.

Pumpkins Halloween © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019Get ready for the scariest season of the year! As well as Halloween, there has been a rise in popularity of Day of the Dead festivities from Mexico.

This year, Halloween comes after the half-term holidays, so plenty of London attractions are kick-starting their spooky events early. If you’re a parent, there’s plenty of Halloween events on during the daytime and early evening.

Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to the best daytime and nighttime – for both children or adults – Halloween and Day of the Dead activities on in the capital this October and early November.

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

Daytime jitters

  • 27 September – 10 November : Dark Arts @ Warner Bros Studio Tour

Dark Arts returns to the Harry Potter experience for the Halloween season. The Great Hall is full of 100 floating pumpkins, while the table features a Halloween feast on red apples, pumpkins and cauldrons of lollipops. Watch a live duel between the Death Eaters. Tickets: Adults £45, Children £37. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, Hertfordshire, WD25 7LR. Nearest station: Watford (then a shuttle bus to studios). For more information, visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour website.

  • 1 – 31 October : The Home of Halloween @ London Dungeon

One of London’s most ghoulish destinations offers a Halloween experience. Meet some of London’s most notorious characters such as Jack the Ripper, Sweeney Todd, The Plague Doctor and The Torturer, watch an exclusive Halloween show and enjoy the rides. Tickets: Adults £30, Children £24. London Dungeon, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the London Dungeon website.

  • 19 – 27 October : Halloween @ London Zoo

A week of fiendish fun at London Zoo, featuring Grim Keeper tours, creepy crafts, spooky animals and more. Open 10am-5pm. Activities are free with entry to zoo. Entrance tickets: Adults £27.00, Child £17.55 (cheaper online). London Zoo, Regent’s Park, Marylebone, NW1 4RY. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Camden Town. For booking, visit the ZSL website.

  • 19 – 27 October : Spooky Cats @ the London Museum of Water & Steam

Listen to a cat story every weekday at 11am, make your own cat craft, explore our Splash Cat trail, find the Museum’s hidden cats. Children in cat costumes enter for free. Tickets: Adults £12.50, Children £5.50. 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.

  • 19 – 27 October : Halloween @ Battersea Power Station

A host of Halloween family activities are taking place over the half-term holidays, including Halloween scavenger hunt, eerie ear-making workship, pumpkin carving, Wicked Witches and Wizard Worshop. Dates and times vary for each activity. Free. Battersea Power Station, 188 Kirtling Street, Nine Elms, SW8 5BN. Nearest station: Battersea Park or Queenstown Road Battersea. For more information, visit the Battersea Power Station website.

  • 19 October – 3 November : Ascarium @ London Aquarium

A Halloween experience 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.

  • 19 – 23 October : Pumpkin Carving @ Morden Hall Park

Carve your own pumpkin at the National Trust grounds and property of Morden Hall Park. Children must be supervised by an adult. 11am-4pm. Small pumpkin £4, medium pumpkin £5. Stableyard, Morden Hall Park, Morden Hall Road, Morden, SM4 5JD. Nearest station: Morden or Phipps Bridge (Tramlink). For more information and opening times, visit the National Trust website. For Metro Girl’s blog post about Morden Hall Park, click here.

  • 21 October – 3 November : No Tricks Just Treats – Halloween @ London Designer Outlet

A host of events and activities will be taking place over half-term and Halloween, including complimentary face-painting, ghoulish actors, film screenings @ Cineworld, and a replica of the Ghostbusters Cadillac (1-3 Nov) to pose alongside for photos. Times vary. London Designer Outlet, Wembley Park Boulevard, Wembley, HA9 0FD. Nearest station: Wembley Stadium. For more information, visit the London Designer Outlet website.

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

A spooky family day with spooky 18th century stories told by Polly Hewson and gruesome games and crafts for 5-11 year olds. 4pm-5.30pm. 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.

  • 23 – 31 October : Spooky Storytime @ London Eye

Families will love the Halloween experience on the London Eye. Enjoy fast-track entry and step into a capsule for a 30-minute rotation while listening to spooky stories and leave with a Hotel Chocolat goodie bag. Tickets: £35 (adult and child combi). London Eye, Jubilee Gardens, South Bank, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo, Westminster or Embankment. For tickets, visit the London Eye website.

  • 24 October – 1 November : Spooktacular Kids Tour

Let your children see the sights of a capital with a 45 minute bus tour of the capital with live guided commentary for chidren. Departs at 4pm. Tickets: Adults £15, Children (5-15) £8. For more information and departure points, visit the Original Tour website.

  • 26 – 27 October : Horniman Halloween Fair

A Halloween fair for the whole family, featuring creepy crawlies, Halloween trail, spooky storytelling, arts and crafts stalls, and food stalls. 10.30am-4.30pm. Free. Horniman Museum & Gardens, 100 London Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3PQ. Nearest station: Forest Hill. For more information, visit the Horniman Museum website.

  • 26 October – 3 November : Halloween @ Ham House

Scare yourself silly on a family ghost tour of the 17th century house, which is said to have 15 different ghosts. Ages 7+. Tours from 6pm. Tickets: Adults £15, Children £15. Ham House & Gardens, Ham Street, Ham, TW10 7RS. Nearest station: Richmond Station. For more information, visit the National Trust website.

  • 28 October – 3 November : Halloween @ Backyard Cinema

Travel through the Winter Night Garden to watch one of your favourite Halloween films at Backyard Cinema’s new permanent home in Wandsworth. Films include Beetlejuice, Scream, Shaun of the Dead, Hocus Pocus, Casper, The Witches and more. Matinees and evening screenings. Full bar and street food stalls available. Tickets: Adults £18.99, Children £9.50. Capital Studios, 13 Wandsworth Plain, Wandsworth, SW18 1ET. Nearest station: Wandsworth Town. For booking, visit the Backyard Cinema website.


Things that go bump in the night

  • 26 September – 10 November : Journey to the Underworld

An immersive, theatrical dining experience on a luxury train carriage on a journey to the Underworld. Featuring a four-course meal and interactions with characters. Time slots vary. Tickets: £57-£60. Pedley Street Station, Arch 63, Pedley Street, Bethnal Green, E1 5BW. Nearest station: Bethnal Green. For more information and tickets, visit the Funincular Productions website.

Switch up your Halloween routine and mark Day of the Dead

  • 8 October – 2 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; or Pleasance, Carpenters Mews, North Road, Islington, N7 9EF. Nearest station: Caledonian Road. For more information, visit the London Horror Festival website.

  • 18 October : Halloween Late @ London Dungeon

After-hours fun for adults-only, featuring a darker experience and drinks. Over 18s only. Arrival from 7pm-9pm. Tickets: £29. 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.

  • 19 October : Festival of the Dead

Mexican-style festival comes to Limehouse. Expect full pageantry, giant skull processions, acrobats, dancers, decorative art, amazing costumes, confetti, CO2, light shows, live music and DJs. 9pm-2am. Tickets: £29.59. Troxy, 490 Commercial Road, Limehouse, E1 0HX. Nearest station: Limehouse. For more information, visit the Troxy website. Read the rest of this entry

Olafur Eliasson – In Real Life review: An interactive, sensory journey through colours and tricks

Your Uncertain Shadow by Olafur Eliasson at the Tate Modern

One of the most popular art exhibitions in London this year has been Olafur Eliasson at the Tate Modern. His ‘In Real Life’ exhibition invites visitors to interact with and change their environments. I previously saw his giant sun for his Weather Project installation in the Tate’s Turbine Hall 16 years ago and really loved it. I had seen clips of what to expected on Instagram so went along to pay a visit to In Real Life last month.

His series of installations allow you to become more aware of your senses and the space around you. Some were playful and entertaining, while others were confusing or even headache-inducing. Many used reflections, shadows and light to change your perception of your reality. One of the first pieces you come across is ‘Moss Wall’ – a huge wall of Icelandic reindeer moss which invites you to reach out and touch.

We moved on to ‘Beauty’ – an indoor rain room with light trickery creating flickers of rainbow colours with the water appearing to ‘dance’ in front of you. A similar sensation came from ‘Your Spiral View’ – a moving installation which allows people to walk through a giant kaleidoscope with mirrors bouncing the light off as it rotates.

Your Blind Passenger

One of the most popular pieces was ‘Your Uncertain Shadow’, a colourful projection of shadows allowing you to see multiple versions of yourself. I thought it was a clever and fun piece, although at times the room was so busy the colourful shadows weren’t as fluid as you would hope. Read the rest of this entry

William Shakespeare’s London: Guide to The Bard’s former homes and haunts

Find out where William Shakespeare used to spend his time during his two decades in London.

Shakespeare Jimmy C mural © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

William Shakespeare mural by Jimmy C on Bankside

Although he was born, died and spent a lot of his life in Stratford-upon-Avon, actor, playwright and poet William Shakespeare (1564-1616) found fame – and fortune – on the London stage. Over 400 years after The Bard’s death, his life and works continue to fascinate and entertain people around the world. Although many of Shakespeare’s former homes and haunts in Warwickshire are in good condition, it’s rather more difficult to find his London hotspots. Fires, plagues, war and redevelopment over the centuries have changed the fabric of the City of London and Bankside and left little of Shakespearean sights. However, fans of the great literary legend can make a pilgrimage to some Shakespearean landmarks, with some buildings still in existence or plaques marking his presence.

What was William Shakespeare’s life like in London?

Born in 1564, Shakespeare moved to the capital in his twenties. It’s been difficult to pinpoint exactly when he headed for the big city, as historians have referred to 1585 and 1592 as Shakespeare’s “lost years” due to lack of records. However, it’s certain that he was a married man and a father-of-three by the time he sought fame and fortune in the capital. He was definitely working in London by 1592 when he was mentioned by a rival dramatist Robert Greene.

Shakespeare lived in London for around two decades, but split his time between the city and Stratford-upon-Avon, where his wife Anne (1556-1623) remained bringing up their children. Soon after arriving in London, he began his career as an actor and playwright, with records showing his plays were being performed by 1592. He started acting with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later becoming the King’s Men, and became part owner of several theatres, including The Globe. He turned his attention from plays to poetry when theatres were closed during the plague outbreak of 1593. He remained in London for another 20 years or so, eventually retiring to Stratford in 1613, three years before he died.

Guide to William Shakespeare’s London landmarks

  • The Crosse Keys

Today, the Crosse Keys is a Wetherspoons pub in a former Victorian bank. However, the pub takes its name from the former Crosse Keys Inn, which stood near the site in the late 16th century. Shakespeare’s troupe, the Chamberlain’s Men, performed for audiences of up to 500 people in the cobbled courtyard of the Inn on a regular basis in the early 1590s. The original Crosse Keys was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, with its replacement burning down in 1734.

– The Crosse Keys, 9 Gracechurch Street, City of London, EC3V 0DR. Nearest station: Bank.

  • St Helen’s Parish

By 1596, Shakespeare was living in the parish of St Helen’s, Bishopsgate, while his family back in Stratford had moved into the recently bought New Place. The exact address is not known, but it is believed he was living near Leadenhall Street and St Mary Avenue. The Bard is listed as failing to pay 5 shillings on £5 worth of taxable goods in November 1597. Living locally, it was likely he worshipped at St Helen’s Bishopgate church and is commemorated inside with a stained glass window of his image.

– St Helen’s Bishopsgate, Great St Helen’s, EC3A 6AT. Nearest station: Liverpool Street.

New Inn Broadway © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

Romeo and Juliet mural on the site of The Theatre

  • The Theatre

After the Plague led to plays being banned from the City of London, theatre troupes like Shakespeare and co started to move to just outside the jurisdiction of the City. The Theatre was built in 1576 on the site of the former Holywell Priory by actor and theatre impresario James Burbage – a colleague of Shakespeare at the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. By 1594, the group started performing The Bard’s plays exclusively and it soon became the leading acting company in London. Romeo & Juliet was believed to have been performed at The Theatre for the first time, with the tragedy estimated to have been written around 1591-95. However, The Theatre was dismantled in 1598, with some of its materials being used to build The Globe, after the company fell out with the land’s owner Giles Allen. Archaeologists discovered remains of the theatre in 2008. A building to house offices and a permanent exhibition about The Theatre is currently being constructed on site. Today, a mural of Romeo & Juliet commemorates Shakespeare’s spell in Shoreditch.

– New Inn Broadway, Shoreditch, EC2A 3PZ. Nearest stations: Shoreditch High Street or Old Street.

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Frieze Sculpture 2019: Step into Regent’s Park outdoor gallery of contemporary art