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Open House London 2015: Highlights and advice on how to make the most of the weekend

For the 2016 guide to Open House London, click here.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Visit Lambeth Palace during Open House London over 19-20 September

The third weekend of September sees the return of Open House London. Now in its 23rd year, it’s essentially a festival of design and architecture. Over two days, around 700 homes, government buildings, offices and more will open their doors to the public for free. While some will be museums which are usually open to the public for a fee will be free, there are also rare opportunities to visit some very special buildings, such as 10 Downing Street or the BT Tower. Some buildings, such as the latter two I just mentioned, are entry by ballot only so you need to apply in advance. However, most you can just turn up and enter. Some popular venues, such as the Gherkin and Lambeth Palace, are likely to have a queue. With that in mind, here’s my guide to getting the most of Open House London.

Tips to making the most of Open House London

  • Comprise a list of places you hope to visit and also a few back-ups if the queues are too long.
  • Check out TFL’s website to make sure there are no engineering works affecting your transportation to the sites.
  • Buy an official guide book (available to order here) or download the app on iTunes or Google Play for £2.99.
  • Make sure your phone is fully charged so you can access Google maps… or bring an A-Z.
  • Bring ID – some official buildings or skyscrapers may want to check you out before letting you enter.
  • Bring your lunch with you – you’ll have plenty of time to eat it if you end up queuing.
  • Make sure you don’t carry too much in your bag, which will inevitably end up getting searched at many buildings.
  • Go the toilet whenever you find a public convenience. Some of the more unusual buildings may not have any available facilities.
  • Share your discoveries on social media under the hashtag #openhouselondon.

Highlights of Open House London 2015

30 Cardozo Road. A partially subterranean house built in 2013. Open Saturday 10am-5pm. 30 Cardozo Road, Holloyway, N7 9RL. Nearest stations: Holloway Road or Caledonian Road.

30 St Mary Axe, aka The Gherkin. Iconic skyscraper in the City of London, built in 2003. Open Sunday 8am-5pm (groups of 30 every 10 mins). 30 St Mary Axe, EC3A 8EP. Nearest stations: Bank, Aldgate or Liverpool Street.

55 Broadway (London Underground Head Office). Late 1920s office building featuring sculptures on its exterior. Open Saturday and Sunday 10.30am-5.30pm (pre-book tours). 55 Broadway, Victoria, SW1H 0BD. Nearest station: St James’s Park.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Visit buildings normally off limits to the public at Open House London, such as City Hall

6 Bevis Marks. Modern glass 16-floor office block with roof terrace in the City, built in 2013. Open Sunday 10am-5pm. 6 Bevis Marks (Entrance on Bury Court), City of London, EC3A 7BA. Nearest station: Liverpool Street or Aldgate.

Admiralty House. Grade I-listed Georgian building, now used by Cabinet Office, built in 1785. Open Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm. Ripley Courtyard, Whitehall, SW1A 2DY. Nearest station: Westminster, Charing Cross or Embankment.

Airport House. London’s first ever airport in Croydon, built in 1928. Open Saturday and Sunday 11am-3.30pm. Purley Way, Croydon, CR0 0XZ. Nearest station: West Croydon, East Croydon and Purley (then a bus).

Bank Of England. Imperial classical headquarters of England’s bank, built in 1925-1939. Open Saturday and Sunday 9:30am-4pm. Threadneedle Street, EC2R 8AH. Nearest tube: Bank.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Hindu temple, built in 1995. Open Saturday and Sunday 9am-4pm. 105-119 Brentfield Road, Neasden, NW10 8LD. Nearest tube: Harlesden.

Bruce Castle Museum. Tudor manor house, built in 1514. Open Saturday and Sunday 1-5pm. Lordship Lane, Tottenham, N17 8NU. Nearest station: Bruce Grove.

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Up in the air: 100,000 giant balloons fill Covent Garden Market

Soul food and jumpin’ beats as The Bayou Banquet comes to The Vaults

Slap Ya Papa

Soul food: Slap Ya Papa will be serving up four courses of Louisiana food at the Bayou Banquet

This September, a slice of New Orleans is coming to London with a mix of soul food and funky live music. For two weeks, supper club kings Slap Ya Papa will be whipping up their Louisiana-influenced culinary creations, while a rotation of entertainment supremos will be bringing the party with their live music.

The Bayou Banquet is a new pop-up, recreating the best sounds, smells and tastes of New Orleans in Victorian railway arches below Waterloo station. On offer will be a range of experiences, including supper clubs, Crescent City cocktail-fuelled parties, live music and cabaret, all-day Sunday brunches, interactive art exhibitions and auctions. With Slap Ya Papa providing the food, Marbles and Ware, Riot Jazz and Kansas Smitty will be taking turns to showcase live blues, jazz, funk and soul music.

Schedule of events:

Wednesday 16, Thursday 17 and Thursday 24 September – Slap Ya Papa Supper Club (£30). 2 dinner sittings at 7pm and 9pm.

Four courses of Louisiana soul food with the best in London’s live music.

Friday 18 September – Slap Ya Papa x Riot Jazz (£35). 1 dinner sitting @ 8pm, doors for party @ 10pm

Manchester’s Riot Jazz will be providing the music for Slap Ya Papa’s supper club, before cranking things up for the after-party until 2am.

Friday 25 September – Slap Ya Papa x Kansas Smitty (£35). 1 dinner sitting @ 8pm, doors for party @ 10pm

Mardi Gras flag boys Kansas Smitty will be providing the dinner soundtrack for Slap Ya Papa’s feast, before the party kicks off with live music and vinyl records until 2am.

Saturday 19 and Saturday 26 September – Marbles & Ware Bazaar (free entry). 10.30am-5pm.

Artisan makers and crafters will be selling their wares at a daytime market. Art and festival supremos Marbles & Ware are curating an exhibition in The Vaults gallery, featuring rising London artists inspired by the theme of Southern Wilds. The work will be auctioned off each Saturday night, while the Slap Ya Papa bar will be offering taster lunch menu.

Saturday 19  and Saturday 26 September – Marbles & Ware Bidders’ Banquet (£40). 1 dinner sitting @ 8pm

The market is clearer for a five-course feast with a frenzied bidding during the meal for items from the exhibition. Once the food is finished, there will be a New Orleans knees-up with live music and DJs.

Sunday 20 and Sunday 27 September – Slap Ya Papa presents: Egg, Bacon, Grits… SAUSAGE (£20). 2 sittings at 12pm and 2.30pm

Enjoy an all-day brunch with entertainment from Brixton bluesman and three-time UK harmonica champion Errol Linton with his accomplice and guitar virtuoso Adam Blake.

Monday 21 to Wednesday 23 September – The Bryan Batt Cabaret presents Tales from New Orleans (Mon/Tues ‐ £25 [non-dining], Wed – £40 [includes four course dinner]): Doors at 8pm.

Mad Men and 12 Years a Slave star Bryan Batt will be wowing diners with stories and songs from his hometown of New Orleans.

  • Slap Ya Papa presents The Bayou Banquet, The Vaults, Launcelot Street (off Lower Marsh), Waterloo, SE1 7AD. Nearest station: Waterloo. Takes place from 16 – 27 September 2015. For more information and booking, visit The Vaults website.

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

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Sail through history at the St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival

© Jesper Mattias

Check out the St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival
© Jesper Mattias

With speedboats and tourist cruisers the dominant vessels on the River Thames these days, it’s not often Londoners get the chance to see some classic boats. However, this September as part of the Totally Thames festival, St Katharine Docks will be playing host to the Classic Boat Festival.

Docking at central London’s only marina, 40 sail and power vessels will be on display over the weekend of 12-13 September 2015. Visitors will be given the chance to get up close with boats from a bygone era by chatting to the owners and even stepping on board.

As well as the nautical action, there will be plenty of waterside entertainment, including live music from the National Youth Jazz Orchestra Academy, the Sea Shanty Singers and the Dutch Marine Rowing Band. There will also be food and river related stalls and a national maritime museum gallery exhibition. When you fancy a bite to eat, there’s a huge choice of waterside restaurants, including Tom’s Kitchen, Bravas Tapas and White Mulberries.

Totally Thames is a month-long river-related events taking place on the 42-mile stretch of the River Thames. Among the activities taking place are the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival, The Great River Race, walks, archaeological explorations, live music and many more activities.

  • St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival takes place from 12-13 September 2015 between 11am-5pm. St Katharine Docks, 50 St. Katharine’s Way, Tower Bridge, E1W 1LA. Nearest station: Tower Hill or Tower Gateway (DLR). For more information, visit the St Katharine Docks website or Totally Thames.

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

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Show off your pool skills (and raise money for a good cause) at Cue For Change at Devonshire Square

© Patrizia Ilaria Sechi

Ready for the challenge? Naz Maeem of MISCO won the first day of the Cue For Change tournament in Devonshire Square
© Patrizia Ilaria Sechi

Fancy yourself a bit of a whiz at the pool table? Well  for over 10 days this September, London’s Devonshire Square will be playing host to a charity pool tournament. Cue For Change will take place in the historic surroundings of the former 18th century warehouses with money raised going to the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.

City workers and pool enthusiasts will be invited to play a game or two on the three pool tables between 12.30-2.30pm each day for the tournament, with more relaxed playing available outside those hours. The games will cost £1, with proceeds going to Dame Kelly’s trust, which supports athletes and young people. The prize giving will be conducted by European Junior Champion, Triple Jumper and Rio 2016 hopeful Julien Allwood.

During the tournament, Hix City will be hosting a pop-up restaurant, serving a special £5 per item menu of food and drinks. They’ll also be giving out free chicken popcorn to anyone who donates to the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.

  • Cue For Change will run from 1 – 10 September 2015. The tournament will take place daily between 12.30-2.30pm, while the pool tables will be available to play on outside of these hours. Devonshire Square, EC2M. Nearest station: Liverpool Street, Aldgate or Aldgate East. For more information, visit the Devonshire Square website.
© Patrizia Ilaria Sechi

Foodies feast: Hix City are hosting a pop-up during the tournament serving food and drink at £5 per item
© Patrizia Ilaria Sechi

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

Guide to what’s on in London in September 2015

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Head to the river for Totally Thames, a month long festival

Although summer is technically over, we all know September is usually one of the nicest and warmest months of the year. A lot of the tourists depart, so it’s not quite as busy. Although the nights are starting to get darker, they’re often still pretty balmy. Here’s a guide to what’s on in London this September.

For a guide to London’s pop-up cinemas, click here.

  • 1 – 10 September : Cue For Change

Play in a pool tournament and raise money for charity. Hix City will also be hosting a pop-up restaurant serving £5 food and drink. The tournament will take place daily between 12.30-2.30pm, while the pool tables will be available to play on outside of these hours. Devonshire Square, EC2M. Nearest station: Liverpool Street, Aldgate or Aldgate East. For more information, visit the Devonshire Square website. For more information, read Metro Girl’s blog post on the tournament.

  • 1 – 30 September : Totally Thames

Totally Thames is a month-long celebration of our city’s main waterway. Among the many activities taking place are the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival, St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival (12-13 Sept), The Great River Race (12 Sept), walks, live music, theatre and many more activities. For more information, visit the Totally Thames website.

  • 2 – 24 September :  More London Free Film Festival

There will be free screenings of films in The Scoop, near Potter’s Field Park. Films include The Imitation Game, Paddington, Ghostbusters, Frozen, The Theory Of Everything, Moulin Rouge!, Big, Zoolander and The Sound Of Music. 7.30pm. The Scoop, Queen’s Walk, SE1 2DB. Nearest tube: London Bridge. For more information and listings, visit the More London website.

  • 3 – 13 September : Peckham & Nunhead Free Film Festival

Ten day festival featuring free screenings in the Peckham and Nunhead area at various locations, including The Montpelier, Bussey Building, Old Nun’s Head and the Peckham Liberal Club. Nearest stations: Peckham Rye, Queen’s Road Peckham and Nunhead. For more information and listings, visit the PNFFF website.

  • 3 – 20 September : Portobello Film Festival

Two and half week festival returns to Notting Hill with screenings and events at the KPH, Pop Up Cinema in Acklam Road and Westbourne Studios. Free. Nearest stations: Ladbroke Grove or Westbourne Park. For more information, visit the Portobello Film Festival website.

  • 5 – 6 September : Grillstock BBQ & Music

A festival of music and food, featuring Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Cuban Brothers, Grandmaster Flash, Levi Roots, Razorlight, The Computers, DJ Yoda and more. Tickets start from £30. Chestnuts Field, Walthamstow, E17 4JF. Nearest station: Wood Street or Walthamstow Central. For more information and tickets, visit Grillstock’s website.

  • 6 September : Angel Canal Festival

One day festival in the City Road Lock, Basin and Regents Canal towpath. Featuring a children’s fun fair, Punch & Judy, story-teller, boat trips, art projects and galleries, live music and street theatre. Free admission. 11am-5pm. For more information, visit the Angel Canal Festival website.

  • 6 September : London Mela

Festival celebrating South Asian culture, featuring nine zones, five stages, outdoor arts, DJs,  world food market and more. 1-9pm. Tickets: Adults £6.50, Concs & 12-16 yrs £4.50, Children under 12 £3.50. Gunnersbury Park, Popes Lane, W3 8LQ. Nearest tubes: Gunnersbury, South Ealing or Acton Town. For more information, visit the London Mela website.

  • 6 September : Klezmer In The Park

JFS Klezmer Band, Don Kipper, Stewart Curtis’ K-Groove, The Turbans, She’Koyokh and Tantz will perform in Regents Park. 12-6pm. Free. The Bandstand, Regent’s Park, Chester Road, NW1 4NR. Nearest station: Camden Town or Regent’s Park. For more information, visit the Jewish Music Institute website.

  • Now until 6 September : Carsten Höller: Decision

Belgium-born artist Carsten Höller’s exhibition explores perception and decision making, prompting an interactive experience for guests. You will then get the chance to exit the exhibition down a slide! Tickets: Adults £13.50-£15, Student £11. Hayward Gallery, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Nearest tube: Waterloo. For information and tickets, visit the Southbank Centre website. For Metro Girl’s review of the exhibition, click here.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Soar above the roofs at the Southbank on the flying machines at Carsten Holler: Decision exhibition at the Hayward Gallery

  • Now until 6 September : Light Echoes

A light installation using lasers by LA digital artists Aaron Koblin and Ben Tricklebank. Free. The Curve, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS. Nearest tube: Barbican or Moorgate. For more information, visit the Barbican website.

  • 10 – 20 September : Spiegeltent

A Spiegeltent is popping up in Canary Wharf for 10 years with a host of entertainment for adults and children, including comedy, live music, cabaret, burlesque, circus and more. Ticket prices range from free to £16 depending on event. Canada Square Park, Canary Wharf, E14 5AH. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For most tickets, visit SeeTickets, or for Daniel Sloss tickets, visit LiveNation. For Metro Girl’s post with more information about the Spiegeltent, click here.

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Say goodbye to summer with music, circus, food and more at JJ’s Soulshack End of Summer Festival

JJ's Soulshack

A host of live music, DJs, circus and more will be part of JJ’s Soulshack End Of Summer Festival

With the advent of September, it means another British summer is drawing to a close. So why not say goodbye to our favourite season at JJ’s Soulshack End Of Summer Festival. For one night only, the festival will be offering live music, circus entertainment, food, drinks and market stalls across two rooms. The event takes place at the Islington Metal Works, a historic venue built in the late 19th century, which was originally used to store horses that pulled London’s trams. During the festival, the venue will place host to a live music room, a magical secret garden and an indoor courtyard complete with a tube carriage cocktail bar and BBQ.

Now in their 6th year of live events, JJ’s Soulshack is run by talented sisters Jessica and Juliette Ashby. Jessica is a circus performer, while Juliette is a singer/songwriter. JJ’s Soulshack originally started out as a musical showcase for both unsigned and signed artists. It’s played host to performers such as double platinum selling soul artist/writer Jon B and Grammy nominated Glenn Lewis as well as Kwabs, Michael Kiwanuka, Laura White, Ade Omotayo and Daniel Walker.

So far on the bill for the festival, there will be entertainment from Jack Tyson Charles, Juliette Ashby, Terri Walker, Amie Jean, Teresa Callan, Jessica Ashby (aka Miss CiCi Steele) and more TBA. Among the market stalls will be Love YaaYaa (unique fashion accessories handmade in the UK and Ghana) and Sun & Moon Holistic (reflexology, holistic facials & homemade products).

  • JJ’s SoulShack End of Summer Festival takes place on Sunday 13 September 2015 from 5-11pm. The Islington Metal Works, 7 Torrens Street, Islington, EC1V 1NQ. Nearest station: Angel. Over 18s only. General admission tickets include entrance, 1 drink and 1 BBQ meal (veggie options available) for £20. For tickets, visit Billetto. For more information, check out JJ’s Soulshack’s Facebook page or visit their official website.

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

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Roll up, roll up to the Spiegeltent: Comedy, music, acrobatics and more come to Canary Wharf

Ready Steady Colour

Ready Steady Colour, an interactive theatre experience for families, is among the entertainment at the Spiegeltent in Canary Wharf this September

With its skyscraper offices and busy professionals, Canary Wharf is usually associated with work. However, this September, the area is getting a huge injection of fun in the form of a 11 day festival in The Spiegeltent. Pitching up at Canary Square Park, The Spiegeltent will host comedy, music, dance, cabaret, acrobatics, theatre for both adults and families.

Opening the festival is award-winning Las Vegas veteran Peggy Sued with a variety night, featuring Pete Firman, Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer, Rod Laver, Felipe Reyes and burlesque bombshell Sophia St Villier. There’ll be the unique blend of circus swing and burlesque folk of Gabby Young + Other Animals plus the Nest Collective House Ceilidh Band.

Boudoir Circus 2

Aircraft Circus presents Boudoir Circus, a sexy mix of acrobatics and dance
© Dimitris Amvrazis

One of the Spiegeltent’s biggest acts will be Scotland’s internationally acclaimed and award-winning ‘half-man-half-Xbox’ Daniel Sloss, brining his Edinburgh Festival hit show Dark.

On 15 September, Alex Horne and The Horne Section will be getting the crowd laughing with their new barnstorming mix of stand-up and music. Turning circus on its head will be the Aircraft Circus presenting Boudoir Circus, a dark and sexy soiree with acrobatics and dance.

As well as performances, there will be workshops too so you can acquire new skills and entertain the children. Learn to dance with the London Academy Of Dance, create your own scrapbook with Shimelle and ice gingerbreads to perfection with Serena Montesissa. The kids will be able to burn off some energy at the Big Fish Little Fish and their Family Rave. Or get the children into comedy early at Comedy Club 4 Kids, with stand-up and sketch from Luke Toulson, Bec Hill and Howard Read. Other family entertainment includes musical workshops by Boppin Bunnies, Bach to Baby and Theatre of Widdershins performing their musical puppetry show The Elves and The Shoemaker.

Other acts performing over the festival include improvisation comedy champions BattleActs!, psychic siblings Twins Macabre, BBC Folk Club winners The Nest Collective, Nepalese band Night and impressionist, art-folk ensemble Firefly Burning.

During the festival, there will a bar providing refreshments while the many restaurants and bars of Canary Wharf will be moments away should you wish to eat.

  • The Spiegeltent will run at Canary Wharf from 10-20 September 2015. The tent will be pitched at Canada Square Park, Canary Wharf, E14 5AH. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. Ticket prices range from free to £16 depending on event. For most tickets, visit SeeTickets, or for Daniel Sloss tickets, visit LiveNation.

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

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London In The Sky: Fine dining suspended 25 metres in the air

London In The Sky

Fine dining in the air with London In The Sky

Calling all foodies with a head for heights! Move over The Shard and Walkie Talkie – this is fine dining with a view with a difference. A new pop-up restaurant is coming to London in September with diners suspended 25 metres (82 foot) above the ground. London In The Sky will be offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and Champagne Taittinger sessions while hovering over St Katharine Docks.

Twenty-two guests can be accommodated at a time, with diners being securely fastened in to their seats before the platform is raised from the ground. Some of London’s finest chefs will be in the centre of the table preparing meals in front of their customers. Among the chefs taking part are Dan Doherty of Duck & Waffle, Robert Ortiz of Lima, Sophie Michell of Pont Street, Michael Reid of M Restaurants, Martin Morales of Ceviche and Andina, Tom Aikens of Tom’s Kitchen, Calum Franklin of Holborn Dining Rooms and Chantelle Nicholson of Tredwell’s from Marcus Wareing. They will be serving up a menu of signature dishes, with dinner guests being treated to a Champagne Taittinger reception before their meals. All lunch and dinner guests will have their food paired with Villa Maria wines.

Dan Doherty of Duck & Waffle enthused: ‘London is now one of the leading food cities in the world. As if that wasn’t enough, we took it to another level with London in the Sky. It’s a view we are used to at Duck & Waffle being located on the 40th floor but to have the opportunity to cook outside suspended with a view of one of London’s landmarks, Tower Bridge, and being able to directly connect with our guests is something very special indeed.’

  • London In The Sky takes place on 17 – 30 September 2015. Tickets go on sale on 17 July 2015. Breakfast: £50 per head, Lunch: £125 per head, Dinner: £200 per head and Taittinger In The Sky flights at £75 per head. For more information and booking, visit the Events In The Sky website.
  • NB: Since publication, this event has now changed location from St Katharine Docks to the Southbank. It will now take place at 99A Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PP. Nearest station: Waterloo.

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

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