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New Orleans comes to London at Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras celebration in The Vaults

Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras

Drinking, dancing and fun at the Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras party at The Vaults in Waterloo

This February, the spirit of New Orleans is coming to London with a Mardi Gras carnival and party. As part of the six-week Vault Festival in the tunnels below Waterloo station, there will be a two-day celebration of Fat Tuesday on 5 and 6 February 2016.

Kansas Smitty’s and Shotgun Carousel are teaming up to host a late night party, featuring live music, costume parade, dancing and lots of liquor. The Kansas Smitty’s House Band will be trekking over from their East London home to bring the carnival spirit to the South Bank as they lead a parade fronted by the performers of Shotgun Carousel. Smitty’s House Band will bring the New Orleans’ 9th Ward to The Vaults with their ‘swamp rock’ blend of funk, soul, zydeco and brass band classics.

Guests will be encouraged to wear their most elaborate, imaginative and outlandish costumes with prizes for the best, with The King and Queen of Mardi Gras being crowned during the festivities.

Fat Tuesday – Mardi Gras takes place during the six-week Vault Festival, an art festival featuring live music, dance, drama, comedy and late-night parties across eight venues, three bars and a restaurant.

  • Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras takes place on 5 and 6 February 2016 from 10pm-3am. At The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo or Lambeth North. Tickets: £12. For tickets, visit MardiGrasLdn.com. For more information about The Vault Festival, click here.

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

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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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Alice’s Adventures Underground review: Feel like a child again on a fantastical immersive theatre experience

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Head to another world in immersive theatre experience Alice’s Adventures Underground

Immersive theatre and cinema has been steadily growing in popularity in London in recent years, with Secret Cinema and Punch Drunk two stellar examples. With the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland this year, theatre company Les Enfants Terribles have created an immersive journey into Wonderland in the vaults below Waterloo station.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

A dodo acrobat in the Wonderland bar

My friend and I paid a recent visit on a Sunday afternoon. It’s admittedly a bit tricky to review as different groups have totally different experiences and I wouldn’t want to ruin it for any potential visitors so I will try to give a flavour of what to expect. Photos aren’t allowed (except in the Wonderland bar afterwards) so you are free to fully immerse yourselves in the experience without the distraction of cameraphones.

After arriving 15 minutes before our allotted time, we were put into a large group and shown into a dark, messy room full of Victoriana – the study of Lewis Carroll. It isn’t long before we were given the choice of ‘Eat Me’ or ‘Drink Me’, splitting the group in half. We chose ‘Eat Me’, so ended up going through a special door. It wasn’t long before our groups are split in half again. As our journey continued, we were taken from room to room where we met characters from Wonderland, including the White Rabbit, the Playing Cards and a female version of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. Throughout the experience, there is plenty of opportunities for interaction with the residents of Wonderland. I had a brief exchange with Alice, while my friend spoke to one of the Hearts playing cards.

One of the highlights was the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – where all our original group were reunited for a fantastically chaotic tea party with the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the sleepy Dormouse. My friend and I admitted we wished we had our cameras because it was such a fantastic sight. After finally getting the chance to see the terrifically scary Queen Of Hearts at the climax of show, we emerged into the atmospheric Wonderland Bar. The bar serves suitably themed cocktails and nibbles, but is also open late on Fridays and Saturday with live music and DJs.

My friend and I totally loved the show. It was a surreal and entertaining experience. The cast were brilliant and it is really down to them that the theatrical journey was so real. I was a fan of Alice In Wonderland when I was younger and the production really made me feel like a child again.

  • Alice’s Adventures Underground takes place at The Vaults, Launcelot Street (off Lower Marsh), Waterloo, SE1 7AD until 30 August 2015. Nearest station: Waterloo. Tickets (should be booked in advance for specific time slots): Tues, Wed and Sunday £35, Thurs £40-£47.50, Fri and Sat £47.50. For more information and booking, visit the Alice’s Adventures Underground website.

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Going Underground… Easter Holiday Camp @ Old Vic Tunnels

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Easter Holiday Camp @ Old Vic Tunnels

London has always been a subterranean place. Aside from the obvious tube network, there’s a host of amazing spaces underground – basements, World War II bunkers, toliets…

But so many of these underground places are off-limits to the public. In the opposite direction, rooftop bars are becoming more popular every year, but unfortunately given our unpredictable weather, these open-air venues never reach their full potential.

The olde stalls @ Old Vic Tunnels

However, when it comes to weather, the unique London venue that is the Old Vic Tunnels has nothing to worry about. Having been curious about this venue for quite some time, I was intrigued when I found out about the Easter Holiday Camp taking place over the Easter Weekend, which turned out to have disapointing weather.The large venue had been turned into a retro Easter Holiday Camp spread over several tunnels – think Hi-De-Hi meets school fete. What was so appealing was it had things on offer you hadn’t done since your schooldays, such as the coconut shy, a badminton court and bouncy castle. A bonus was there were no children… as much as I like children, their presence would have made the camp feel like a normal school fair. Having attended a few children’s parties over the years, I’ve always lusted after a good jumping session on the bouncy castle, but it’s socially unacceptable for adults to do this alongside little kids. Unsurprisingly at the Easter Camp, there was a bit of a queue for the bouncy castle, with a host of twentysomethings and thirtysomethings desperate to relive their childhood. Once on it with my friends, we and the other people on it found ourselves laughing our heads off – it really is quite hilarious being hurled into the air when your friend has landed on the next bump.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Coconut Shy @ Easter Holiday Camp

Another element which made the fair an altogether adult experience was several bars serving a selection of alcohol and the ultimate British summer beverages, Pimms. Who needs sunshine when you’re chilling out on a deckchair with a jug of Pimms and a stick of candy floss (which was free BTW… a nice touch!)? As we chilled out on the chairs, we were entertained by the retro sounds of girl band, the Tootsie Rollers, who got the crowd going, despite looking rather chilly in their outfits.

Overall, the camp itself was entertaining and an unusual way to spend some of the Easter Weekend. I loved the venue of the Old Vic Tunnels and will definitely be keeping my eye out for future events in such a unique venue.

  • The Old Vic Tunnels are located on Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 8SW. Nearest tube/overland Waterloo.

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