Coming to the Underbelly Festival Southbank for the end of the season is a tantalising and thrilling show. Combining cabaret, circus and performance in a dark and daring show from the Black Cat Cabaret. The company will be coming to the Spiegeltent to première their most ambitious show yet, Black Cat: Bohemia.
Opening on 22 August, the show will feature jaw-dropping acrobatics and toe-tapping music as the 12-strong troupe showcase their impressive skills. The production sees the smart and sexy cast bring the spirit of Bohemias past, from Montmartre to Weimar Berlin, from the Hotel Chelsea to the ’80s Blitz Kids, to the 21st century Southbank.
Among the dazzling performers will be flame-haired singer and host Miss Frisky (Frisky & Mannish); aerial daredevil Katharine Arnold; acrobatic duo Charlotte & Nicolas (Cirque du Soleil, Limbo); cyr wheel maestro Jo Moss; tumbler Leon Fagbemi (La Soirée); aerial feline LJ Marles; and burlesque goddess Missy Fatale.
- The Black Cat Cabaret is performing Bohemia at the Underbelly Festival from 22 August – 30 September 2018. At Jubilee Gardens, Belvedere Road South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. Performances at 7.15pm (Tues-Sat) and 9.15pm (Sat only). Tickets from £19. For tickets and further information, visit the Black Cat Cabaret website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in August, click here.
Brits just can’t enough of Spanish culture, with an estimated 18million of us visiting the Mediterranean country last year. However, this May, you won’t have to wait until your holidays to sample the best of Spain’s entertainment and cuisine.
The second May bank holiday will see Feria de Londres bringing the spirit of Andalusia to the capital. Bernie Spain Gardens on London’s picturesque South Bank will host a three-day long celebration of food, drink, music and dance. As you may know, Andalusia is one of the most popular regions of Spain, featuring resorts and cities such as Seville, Málaga, Marbella and Granada. Feria de Londres is inspired by southern Spain’s spring fairs, which date back to the Middle Ages.
During the festival, entertainers will dazzle in their striking, colourful traditional costumes as they sing, dance and play. Among the entertainment will be flamenco dancers, live bands and DJs. There will be the chance to show off your moves in Sevillana dance lessons to flamenco rhythm workshops. Meanwhile, families can get involved with child-friendly activities, such as face-painting, hair styling, arts and crafts.
Of course, no Spanish festival wouldn’t be complete without their fabulous cuisine. Visitors can tuck into delicious tapas, paella, Iberico ham and much more. Some of Spain’s top food experts and producers will be on hand, offering tastings and samples. When it comes to drink, the famous Tio Pepe will be hosting sherry masterclasses, as well as offering the traditional Andalusian cocktail, the Tio Pepe Rebujito. Guests can also enjoy a range of Spanish tipples, including Iberian beers and regional wines.
- Feria de Londres takes place on 25-27 May 2018. At Bernie Spain Gardens, South Bank, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars, Southwark, Waterloo East or Waterloo. Open Fri 25 4pm-9pm, Sat 26 12pm-9pm, Sun 27 12pm-8pm. Free entry. For more information, visit the Feria de Londres website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in May, click here.
Bringing a bit of sauce to this summer’s Underbelly Festival is The Black Cat Cabaret. The Parisian-inspired show will be at the pop-up venue on London’s South Bank from 20 May 2017 throughout the season.
The dark and daring cabaret extravaganza will be reviving the spirit of vintage Mortmartre at the Underbelly’s Spiegeltent. Guests will be wowed by the high-kicking showgirls, jaw-dropping acrobats, comic street singers, a fire-breathing siren and daredevil aerialists. Compered by the fabulous Dusty Limits, a talented array of performers will take to the stage, including absinthe-addled artistes, flame-haired courtesans and bittersweet comic chanteuses. Expect to be entertained with a combination of high skills circus, original music and choreography.
This summer marks the fourth year the Black Cat Cabaret have wowed the Underbelly (previously known as Udderbelly) crowd. This year’s run will feature the BCC’s original ‘after-hours Montmartre’ show for the first time since 2014. As well as Underbelly, the BCC have also appeared at a host of London’s top nightspots including Café de Paris, Hotel Café Royal, the Hippodrome Casino, and the former Pigalle Club. The show will also be pitching up at Live At Zédel in Piccadilly with their more intimate ‘Salon des Artistes’ dinner and show.
- The Black Cat Cabaret will be at the Underbelly Festival once a month from 20 May – 22 September 2017. At Jubilee Gardens, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. Tickets from £22.50. Over 18s only. For more information, visit the Black Cat website. Tickets can be purchased on the Underbelly website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in June, click here.
While I love the South Bank, few would disagree with me that the brutalist architecture and concrete isn’t the most visually appealing. Those passing under Hungerford Bridge as they walk from Jubilee Gardens to the Southbank Centre would be hard pressed to ignore the mud coloured walls surrounding them. Earlier this month (2-4 August 2013), the Southbank Centre hosted a three-day Urban: Celebrating Street Culture festival, which included DJs, breakdancers, street artists, skaters, free runners and poets doing their thing.
I attended on the first day and was fortunate enough to see street artist Stik in action creating a mural along a particularly drab piece of wall under the bridge. At the point I saw him, he had created a string of his white stick people against a yellow backdrop. When I returned a few days later, they had acquired outfits and different expressions.
Speaking about the South Bank, Stik was quoted as saying: ‘The South Bank has already made a commitment to having a great deal of artistic freedom for street artists and graffiti artists to come and express themselves on their premises. It’s become part of the institution of street art.’ I applaud the Southbank Centre for allowing Stik to create street art on the site and I hope it remains all the walls for the foreseeable future.
For another Metro Girl post on art on Hungerford Bridge, read A different kind of street art: Painter on Hungerford Bridge.
For me, and many Londoners, the jewel in the city’s crown has to be the River Thames. As well as providing a great way to travel, the rivers also showcases some fine bridges and is bordered by some of the capital’s most iconic buildings and attractions. No visit to London would not be complete for tourists without a visit to the River Thames and some of its sights.
When it comes to dining and drinking riverside, there are lots of options ranging from the affordable (Pizza Express Bankside or Giraffe in the Southbank Centre) to the lavish (Skylon at the Royal Festival Hall or Pont De La Tour on Shad Thames).
However, few of these Thames-side diners come with such a spectacular – and heady – view as the Oxo Tower Bar and Restaurant. I first went to the restaurant in 2001 for a family birthday meal – five years after it had opened and remember the tasty oysters and friendly service. The bar and restaurant is located on the eighth floor of the iconic building, with an outdoor terrace for alfresco drinking when the weather’s good. But before I wax lyrical on the amazing cocktails, good service and views I experienced on my recent visit, a little bit of history behind the building.
To those who have grown up in Britain, the brand of Oxo is well-known for its stock cubes. Although the building was originally built as a power station for the Post Office in the late 19th century, it was acquired by Liebeg (Oxo’s manufacturers) in the late 1920s. Although much of the building was demolished, the façade remained and was extended. Architect Albert W Moore (1874-1965) proposed spelling out Oxo in electric lights on the tower, but was refused permission, so the compromise of Oxo written in the window panes was agreed.
However, after Oxo moved out, over the years, the building fell into decline. However, a resurgence was in the pipeline when it was acquired by the Coin Street Community Builders in 1984. In the 1990s, the building and tower were refurbished to a high standard, giving the building over to shops, galleries, residential and restaurant space, with the latter opening as Oxo Tower Restaurant in 1996.
Still highly commended as one of London’s best restaurants, you are advised to book ahead to eat. However, when it comes to the bar, you may be lucky enough to have availability. On a sunny Friday afternoon in July, a friend and I decided to go up to the bar on the spur of the moment and were thrilled to be given a balcony-view table.
The extensive cocktail menu includes many original creations by Oxo’s mixologists, many of which are London and Thames-themed, with the average price of £12.50 per drink (average West End price for cocktails are £8-£9 so you’re paying a bit extra for the quality and setting). I chose a fruity Pleasure Boat – a Tiki-style drink complete with Tiki cup available to take home (for a price). The drink was a concoction of ‘Elements 8 barrel infused spiced rum & house orgeat, shaken with fresh pineapple, scooped passion fruit, fresh lime, falernum & aromatic bitters’ and tasted really good. My friend opted for a Port Of London, a refreshing combination of HN LBV Port, Beefeater winter release gin, lime cordial and lemon.
The service was friendly and efficient, our drinks came with a little plate of peanuts – a nice bonus that only the best cocktail bars provide – and the view was amazing. I can highly recommend the venue for drinks for a special occasion or something to remember to visitors.
- Oxo Tower Restaurant, Brasserie and Bar, Barge House Street, South Bank, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars or Waterloo. Visit the website for more information and booking.
For a list of other Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.