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London Hong Kong Dragon Festival 2017: Boat racing, street food, entertainment and more

The London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival takes place in Docklands in June

Forget about the Oxbridge Boat Race, it’s so last season. This summer sees the return of the London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. The annual spectacle is Europe’s most prestigious dragon boat racing event, attracting 10,000 visitors from across the UK and overseas. This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the LHKDBF as it returns to the Docklands’ Regatta Centre on Sunday 25 June.

For those who don’t know, dragon boat festival date originated in ancient southern central China some 2,500 years ago along the banks of Yangtze River. Today it is one of the biggest water sports in China and internationally.

Over competing club, corporate and amateur teams will battle it out for six cups during the event. Meanwhile, on land, the food festival will represent cuisine from across South East Asia. Among the entertainment will be live music on the East West Festival stage, martial arts displays, and traditional Chinese lion dancing.

Organised by the London Chinatown Lions Club, the event raises money for the club’s nominated charities, and is supported by Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office, The Hong Kong Executives Club, London Chinatown Chinese Association and The London Chinatown Chinese Community Centre.

  • The London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival takes place on 25 June 2017 from 10am-6pm. Free entry. London Regatta Centre, Dockside Road, Docklands, E16 2QT. Nearest station: Royal Albert (DLR). For more information, visit the LHKDBF website.

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

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Guide to what’s on in London in May 2017

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Head to the Country Show at Morden Hall Park

Spring is in full swing with sunnier days becoming more frequent. The longer days, warmer weather (hopefully) and two bank holidays mean May is a bumper month for festivals and events on around the capital. Fans of cycling and drinking are particularly in for a treat with many themed events on around town. Here’s Metro Girl’s curated selection of what’s on in London this May.

Click here for a guide to London’s music festivals this summer.

For London’s pop-up and open-air cinemas this summer, click here.

  • 1 May : Beer And Bread Festival

Festival returns for the second year, featuring a wider selection of ales, beers, breads, pastries and cakes from local businesses. Includes live music from No Frills Band and CL!VE, and a performance by the Hammersmith Morris Men. 1-5pm. Free entry. Windmill Gardens (west end of Blenheim Gardens, off Brixton Hill), Brixton, SW2 5EU. Nearest station: Brixton. For more information, visit the Brixton Windmill website.

  • Now until 1 May : Canalway Cavalcade

A unique waterways and community festival at Little Venice. Features stalls, bands, kids’ activities, Morris dancers, a Real Ale bar, food and pageant of boats. Open Sat-Sun 10am-6pm, Mon 10am-5pm. Procession of illuminated boats @ 9pm on Sun 30. Free. Little Venice, Maida Vale, W2. Nearest station: Warwick Avenue. For more information, visit the Inland Waterways Association. For Metro Girl’s blog post on last year’s Cavalcade, click here.

  • Now until 1 May : Morden Hall Park Country Fair

Country show in the grounds of Morden Hall, featuring Savage Bike Skills Display Team, birds of prey flying displays, Grant Bazin the Horse Whisperer, terrier racing, children’s entertainer, Circus Skills Workshop, the goat show including bottle feeding lambs and kids, children’s petting pens, historical re-enactment and more. 10am-5pm. Tickets on the gate (or cheaper online): Adults £7.50, Children age 5-16 £3, Under 5s free. Morden Hall Road, Morden, SM4 5JD. Nearest station: Morden or Phipps Bridge (tram). For more information, visit the Oakleigh Fairs website. For Metro Girl’s post on Morden Hall Park, click here.

  • Now until 1 May : Wellbeing Festival

Festival of wellbeing, featuring workshops, demonstrations and performances on the live stage, lifestyle studio and wellbeing spa. Open Sun 30 10am-7pm, Mon 1 10am-5pm. Tickets: £11-£13. Kensington Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the MindBodySpirit website.

  • 2 May : Candlelight Opening @ Sir John Soane’s Museum

Late-night opening of the Sir John Soane’s Museum, the former home of the 19th century architect, which is full of his sculptures, painting and antiquities. First 200 visitors in the queue at 5.30pm guaranteed entry, After that it will be one-out, one-in until 8pm. 6-9pm. Free. Sir John’s Soane Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Holborn, WC2A 3BP. Nearest station: Holborn. For more information, visit the Sir John’s Soane Museum website.

  • 3 – 7 May : London Craft Week

A celebration of craftsmanship, featuring over 230 events, such as workshops, exhibitions, open studios, tastings, galleries and shops. Various venues across the capital. For more information, visit the London Craft Week website.

  • 4 May : Carnaby Style Night

A shopping extravaganza where over 100 shops, restaurants and bars will be offering 20% off. There will also be Airstream GIF booth, on street haircuts from Johnny’s Chop Shop, a pop-up bar, live music and entertainment. 5-9pm. Carnaby, Soho, W1B. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. To register online for your free ticket, visit the Carnaby website. For more information on the event, read Metro Girl’s blog post.

  • 4 May – September : Rooftop Film Club

Roaming cinema club launch their spring/summer programme with outdoor screenings on rooftops. Venues include the Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch, the Bussey Building in Peckham Rye, Roof East in Stratford and Tobacco Dock in Shadwell. Ticket includes headphones, blankets and deckchairs. Tickets: £15. To find out more, visit the Rooftop Film Club website.

  • 5 May : Cinco de Mayo fiesta @ Barts

Chelsea speakeasy Barts is hosting a Mexican fiesta to mark Cinco de Mayo, including live entertainment, pinatas, Frozen Margaritas, maracas and sombreros. Barts, Chelsea Cloisters, 87 Sloane Avenue, Chelsea, SW3 3DW. Nearest stations: Sloane Square or South Kensington. For more information, visit the Barts website. For Metro Girl’s review of Barts, click here.

  • 5 – 21 May : Wandsworth Arts Fringe

Two week fringe festival in the borough of Wandsworth featuring theatre, dance, art, music, comedy, poetry, workshops, talks, markets and more. Highlights include London’s Vegetable Orchestra, the Antiques Breadboard Museum Pop-Up Gallery, Everything Stops For Tea, My Fanny Valentine, Clowning With Shakespeare and more. For more information, visit the Wandsworth Art Festival websiteRead the rest of this entry

Dulwich Festival 2017: Feel like ‘Home’ as the celebration of arts and culture returns

© Helen Jermyn

A celebration of arts and culture returns at the Dulwich Festival this May
© Helen Jermyn

Returning for its 24th year is the Dulwich Festival, a 10 day celebration of arts and culture in the leafy south London suburb. A host of concerts, talks, fairs, walks and more will be taking place across SE21, SE22 and the surrounding areas over 12 – 21 May 2017. The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Home’ and what that means to people.

Kicking off the festival on 12 May will be the Festival Of Choirs featuring performances from three very different choirs – Note-Orious, The Barberfellas and Gospel Essence. Meanwhile, Jazz fans will enjoy the Harlem Meer Cats, bringing the sounds of icon Duke Ellington to Dulwich, while indie-folk quintet Patch And The Giant will be rousing the crowd at Belair House. Classical aficionados are catered for too at a performance of ‘Façade’, William Walton’s setting of Edith Sitwell’s poem sequence.

© Barberfellas

The Barberfellas will be performing during the Festival Of Choirs

Among the talks on offer will be broadcaster and journalist Robin Lustig in conversation with BBC Deputy Political Editor, John Pienaar and new Dulwich Picture Gallery director Jennifer Scott. For those looking to get some exercise and education at the same time, there will be several walks on offer, including history walks and the Street Art Walk; and for nature fans the Bat Walk or Dawn Chorus Walk.

There will be plenty to keep the children entertained, including the charity Clown Without Borders, which encourages homeless child victims of displacement to laugh and play. Meanwhile, acclaimed Tangram Theatre Company will be performing ‘The Element in the Room: A Radioactive Musical Comedy about the Death and Life of Marie Curie’ for children aged 8-10 years.

During the festival there will be three fairs, representing each area of Dulwich – East, West and the Village. The Festival Fair on Goose Green on 14 May, Love West Dulwich Fair on 20 May and Dulwich Park Fair on 21 May.

In addition, over 250 artists will be opening their doors to their homes and studios during the two weekends of the festival. Visitors will have the chance to view their artwork and talk to the artists.

  • The Dulwich Festival is on from 12 – 21 May 2017 at various locations across Dulwich Village, West Dulwich and East Dulwich, SE21 and SE22. Nearest stations: West Dulwich (12 mins from Victoria), East Dulwich and North Dulwich (15-17 mins from London Bridge). For more information and booking, visit the Dulwich Festival website.

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

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Guide to what’s on in London this Easter 2017 for adults and children

© onefox/Pixabay

Chicks, chocolate and bunnies galore in London this Easter
© onefox/Pixabay

Easter is fast approaching! To many of us that means a long weekend, lots of chocolate and (hopefully) warmer temperatures. With parents searching for ways to entertain their children, a host of London attractions have curated special activities over the break. My monthly ‘what’s on guides’ include many activities on in the capital during April, however for those looking for more family and Easter-centric ideas of what’s on during the holidays, here’s listings of things to keep you occupied. However, it’s not all for the kids, with a special section at the bottom with adults-only Easter fun over the Bank Holiday weekend (which is 14 – 17 April in case you’re wondering).

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

  • 24 March – 23 April : George Irvin’s Funfairs

Travelling funfairs will be setting up camp at Crystal Palace (24 Mar – 9 Apr), Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (1 – 17 Apr), Clapham Common (1 – 23 Apr) and Hampton Court (13 – 18 Apr) over the Easter break. Rides include Big Apple Coaster, Dodgems, Bungee Trampolines, Tea Cups, Waltzer, Inflatable Slide and Carousel, among many others. For more information, visit the Irvin Leisure website.

  • 1 – 16 April : Bunny Hop and Seek for Easter @ Museum Of Brands

Hunt a parade of Easter bunnies around the museum and through the Time Tunnel. Tues-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-5pm. Activities free with museum entrance: Adults £9, Children 7-16yrs £5. Museum Of Brands, 111-117 Lancaster Road, Notting Hill, W11 1QT. Nearest station: Ladbroke Grove. For more information, visit the Museum Of Brands website.

  • 1 – 17 April : Moomin Adventures @ Kew Gardens

Explore Kew Gardens on an interactive trail before ending up at the magical Moomin Festival Camp in the wild woodland. There will also be the opportunity for craft workshops, sample the Moomins’ pancakes and visit the Hemulens’ Herbarium. There will also be Lindt chocolate treats for every visitor. Tickets: Adults: £14, Children £2.50. Kew Gardens, Brentford Gate, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information and tickets, visit the Kew Gardens website.

  • 1 – 17 April : Jurassic Kingdom

Dinosaur fans will get the opportunity to see 30 life-sized installations of animated dinosaurs, which move and make noise. There will also be street food and drink vendors on site. 10am-6pm. Tickets: Adults – £13.50 (online), £15 (on the door), Children £11.50 (online), £13 (on the door). Osterley Park, Jersey Road, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 4RB. Nearest station: Osterley. For tickets, visit the Jurassic Kingdom website.

  • 1 – 17 April : Easter Egg Hunt @ Battersea Park Zoo

Find out what zoo animals will be holding Easter eggs. Open 10am-4.30pm. Visitors can purchase a £1.50 (including prize) quiz sheet upon entry and follow the trail. General admission: Adults £8.95, Children 2-15 yrs £6.95. Battersea Park Zoo, Battersea Park, Chelsea Embankment, Battersea, SW11 4NJ. Nearest station: Battersea Park. For more information, visit the Battersea Park Zoo website.

  • 1 – 17 April : Easter Family Fun @ Hampton Court Palace

Go on a Lindt Gold Bunny Hunt at the homes and gardens of King Henry VIII. Other activities include meet Princess Caroline, decorate your own chocolate cup and find out how Georgians used to drink their chocolate. Open 10am-6pm. Tickets: Adults £23 (£20.30 online), Children £11.50 (£10.20 online). Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (36 minutes from Waterloo). For more information, visit the Historic Royal Palaces website.

  • 1 – 21 April : Easter @ WWT London Wetland Centre

Enjoy the Celebrity Dusty Duck Trail and Easter Giant Duck Hunt (1 – 17 April only) during the Easter Holidays. The trail (£1 entry) will feature 6ft sculpture of Dusty Duck with a chocolate prize at the end, while the hunt (£1 entry) will feature ducks hidden around the reserve with a prize at the end. Entrance tickets: Adult £12.26-£13.49, 4-16 years £6.75-£7.42, family tickets £34.36-£37.80. London Wetland Centre, Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, SW13 9WT. Nearest station: Barnes or Barnes Bridge. For more information, visit the London Wetland Centre website. Read the rest of this entry

Guide to what’s on in London in March 2017

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Spring is in the air!

Spring is here… allegedly! The temperatures are rising – just a bit – and the nights are getting lighter. With the advent of March, London starts to come alive with a lot more festivals and events on around town. There’s also a host of film, food and drinking festivals if that whets your whistle.

For a guide to what’s on in London over the Easter holidays, click here.

  • 1 – 5 March : Cinema Made In Italy

Film festival of the newest features from Italy at the Ciné Lumière, featuring screenings and Q&As including 7 Minutes, Ears, Pericles The Black, The Confessions, In Guerra Per Amore, Slam, Pawn Streets, Vangelo and I Was A Dreamer. Tickets: Adults £12, Children £10. Ciné Lumière, 17 Queensbury Place, SW7 2DT. Nearest station: South Kensington. For more information, visit the Ciné Lumière website.

  • 1 March – 3 September : The Art Of The Brick – DC Super Heroes

Lego artist Nathan Sawaya has created an exhibition of Lego sculptures of Super Heroes and Villains including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Joker and Harley Quinn. Open Sun-Wed 10am-6pm, Thurs 10am-8pm, Fri-Sat 10am-7pm. Tickets: Adults £16.50, Children £11. The exhibition is in a temporary structure on the corner of Upper Ground and Cornwall Road, South Bank, SE1 9PP. Nearest station: Waterloo. For booking, visit the Art Of The Brick website. For a review of the previous Art Of The Brick exhibition, click here.

  • 3 March – 7 May : The Iris @ Now Gallery

A new art installation from artist Rebecca Louise Law, featuring 10,000 fresh irises suspended from the ceiling. Open Mon-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat-Sun 11am-4pm. Free entry. NOW Gallery, The Gateway Pavilions, Peninsula Square, Greenwich Peninsula, Greenwich, SE10 0SQ. Nearest station: North Greenwich. For more information, visit the NOW Gallery website.

  • Now until 5 March : Orchid Festival

An orchid display is coming to the Princess of Wales Conservatory for four weeks, with this year being inspired by India. The sea of colour from one of the world’s most stunning flowers will certainly brighten up a dull winter’s day. General entrance tickets to Kew Gardens includes orchid exhibition: £8 adults or £2.50 children. Kew Gardens, Brentford Gate, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website.

  • Now until 5 March : Vault Festival

Six week arts festival in the tunnels beneath Waterloo across three venues, five bars and a restaurant. Entertainment includes live music, theatre, film, dance, comedy and late-night parties. Open Wed-Sun. Ticket prices vary, although venue entry is free. The Vaults, Arch 233, 10 Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo and Lambeth North. For booking, visit the Vault Festival website. For highlights, check out Metro Girl’s blog post on this year’s festival.

  • 5 – 12 March : French Fest @ Live At Zedel

An eight day celebration of French culture, featuring music, opera, theatre and comedy in French or English or both. Dining options also available. Live At Zedel takes place at Crazy Coqs or Brasserie Zédel, 20 Sherwood Street, Soho, W1F 7ED. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Brasserie Zedel website.

  • 7 – 12 March : Women Of The World Festival

A festival of talks, debates, music, film and comedy celebrating women. Gillian Anderson, Sandi Toksvig, Catherine Mayer, Nilüfer Yanya, Reni Eddo-Lodge, among the featured names. Events range from free to £30 or many included with day pass £22. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 8 – 10 March : London Drinker Beer & Cider Festival

CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) North London host a beer and cider festival. As well as over 150 beers, ciders and perries to choose from, there is also food, tombola and ‘shut the box’. Opening times vary. Tickets: £4 (£3 for CAMRA members), but free during Wed and Thur lunchtime openings. Camden Centre, Bidborough Street, WC1H  AU. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information visit the CAMRA North London website.

  • 9 – 12 March : Affordable Art Fair @ Battersea Park

For those among us who aren’t loaded, this event is a chance for people to buy a unique piece of art or photography for their homes at an affordable price. There is over 100 galleries, with pieces for sale ranging for £40 to £4,000. Tickets: £10-£12 in advance, more on the door. Battersea Evolution, Battersea, SW11 4NJ. Nearest station: Battersea Park or short bus ride from Sloane Square tube. For more information, visit the Affordable Art Fair website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

The Art Of The Brick Lego art returns to London with a superhero theme

  • 9 March – 18 June : American Dream – Pop To The Present

Look back over 60 years of the world superpower with prints from American artists including Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Kara Walker and Julie Mehretu. Tickets: Adults £16.50, Children under 16 free (w/ a paying adult). British Museum, Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, WC1B 3DG. Nearest station: Holborn or Tottenham Court Road. For more information, visit the American Dream Exhibition website. Read the rest of this entry

Guide to what’s on in London in February 2017

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Celebrate Chinese New Year at the Magical Lantern Festival

Gloomy January is over so by now you’ve hopefully got used to the cold weather and your finances have recovered after the festive season. With winter in full swing, February gets a little injection of colour (well, pink and red) in the middle of the month with the saccharine fest that is Valentine’s Day (more on that in another blog post!). There’s also half-term holidays so no doubt parents will be looking for things to occupy their little ones. Here’s a guide to what’s on in London this February.

For a guide to Valentine’s Day events, click here.

  • Now until 2 February : Broadgate Ice

Temporary ice rink at Broadgate Circle in the City of London is open for over three months. There is also a rinkside bar and street food stalls. Open 10am-10pm. Session times last 1 hour. Adults £13.50, Children £9.50. Broadgate Ice Rink, Exchange Square, Broadgate, EC2A 2BQ. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit Broadgate’s website.

  • 2 – 5 February : Destinations – The Holiday & Travel Show

Presented by The Times, the Holiday and Travel show is full of inspiration for your next adventure or holiday. As well as lots of travel companies, there is photography masterclasses, health advice and meet the experts. Open 10am-5.30pm. Tickets: £11 in advance, Under 12s free when accompanied by paying adult. Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information and tickets, visit the Destinations – Holiday & Travel Show website.

  • 3 – 4 February : London Remixed Festival

A two day celebration of emerging talents from the worlds of ghetto funk, drum and bass, reggae, anarchic hoedown, Latin breaks, brass band hip hop, electro-Afro music, Balkan beats, blues remix, electro swing, tropical bass, Ethiopian dub, DMC scratch masters +and more. Open: Fri 8pm-1am, Sat 8pm-4am. Tickets: £8-£15. Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, E1 6LA. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street or Old Street. For more information, visit the London Remixed Festival website.

  • Now until 4 FebruaryLondon International Mime Festival

Festival at various events across London including performances of physical theatre, dance, circus, puppetry and live art. Workshops also available. Tickets range from £9.50-£29. Venues include the Barbican, Jacksons Lane, Platform Theatre, Soho Theatre, Southbank Centre, Shoreditch Town Hall and The Peacock. For more information, visit the London International Mime Festival website.

  • Now until 4 February : Amaluna by Cirque du Soleil

The newest touring production from the Cirque, a spectacular re-telling of The Tempest. Tickets range from £20-£115. Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP. Nearest stations: South Kensington, Knightsbridge or High Street Kensington. For more information and booking, visit the Cirque Du Soleil website.

  • 4 – 5 February : Fare Healthy

Feel good festival of food, exercise and wellbeing. Featuring Deliciously Ella, Skye Gyngell, Anna Jones, Natasha Corrett, Martin Morales, Dale Pinnock, Madeleine Shaw, Melanie Sykes, James Duigan, Gaby Roslin and many more. 9.30am-6pm. Tickets: £25. Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, Shoreditch, E1 6QL. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street, Liverpool Street or Aldgate East. For tickets, visit the Fare Healthy website. Read the rest of this entry

Bringing contemporary art to the Big Smoke: Sculpture In The City 2016/2017

Happy New Year! A look back on Metro Girl’s 2016 of blogging

Here's to a sparkling new year

Here’s to a sparkling new year

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year when we look back and reflect on the past 12 months. Well, it goes without saying that 2016 is going to be one year that stands out in the history books years from now. The huge volume of celebrity deaths, the shock Brexit and Trump results, among other events, have provided plenty of things to talk, lament and worry about.

In terms of my blog, it has continued to grow and the feedback and engagement I get from my audience is encouraging. Every new year since I launched MOAMG back in 2012, I wonder how long I can keep my blog going. Well for now, I am still enjoying it as much as ever and documenting my exploration of my hometown so expect plenty more posts in 2017.

Taking my listings guides out of the equation, here’s Metro Girl’s most popular blog posts of 2016.

  1. Artist Julian Opie creates new permanent artwork for Carnaby as Lumiere London kicks off
  2. Revisit the romance and energy of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet with Backyard Cinema
  3. Beyond The Waterfall: Take a boat trip to a magical cocktail bar at Westfield London this Christmas
  4. Trade Union review: London’s most versatile day and night destination opens in Wapping
  5. St Katharine Docks: A hidden oasis in the centre of London

Wishing all my readers a very Happy New Year and see you in 2017 for more London adventures.

Love Metro Girl

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Beyond The Waterfall: Take a boat trip to a magical cocktail bar at Westfield London this Christmas

Beyond The Waterfall Bompas Parr Westfield by Addie Chinn
At shopping malls across the country, it can feel like the kids are getting all the fun with their visits to Santa’s Grotto. However, this December, food and drink wizards Bompas & Parr are creating a festive experience for grown-ups.

Beyond The Waterfall is an immersive and multi-sensory Christmas adventure at The Village in Westfield London. Shoppers will be taken whisked across an undersea lagoon to a mysterious island, with mythical creatures staffing a cocktail bar.

The journey will start with guests riding across a 20m lagoon on small boats and passing through a waterfall. After disembarking on the shore, they will explore an Aladdin’s Cave full of gemstones before arriving at the secret cocktail tavern. At the bar, mermen mixologists will whip up boozy delights from the marine-inspired cocktail list. Ingredients include undersea botanicals and minerals, promising psychological, emotional and physiological reactions.

This is the latest experience from Bompas & Parr, who have been responsible for Alcoholic Architecture, the Museum of Food and Dinners With The Twits, among others. Beyond The Waterfall is one of B&P’s most ambitious projects yet, with structural engineers, mining consultants and theatrical prop-makers taking part.

Harry Parr, partner of Bompas & Parr, said: ‘Christmas is obviously a magical time of year but many people find it hugely predictable so we’ve designed a radical new form of escapism that still evokes the emotions and nostalgia of the season – the group activity draws people together, with a real sense of discovery and emotion associated with gift-giving and an indulgent treat at its heart.’

  • Beyond The Waterfall runs from 9 – 23 December 2016. At The Village, Westfield London, Ariel Way, White City, W12 7GF. Nearest station: Shepherd’s Bush, White City or Shepherd’s Bush Market. Open 4-10pm. Tickets are time-slotted and last 60 minutes. Tickets: £15 (includes 2 drink tokens). For tickets, visit Westfield London website.

For Metro Girl’s review of Beyond The Waterfall, click here.


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

For a guide to London’s Christmas markets and fairs, click here.

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Shopping in style – Part 1: The history of the Burlington Arcade

Burlington Arcade © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Burlington Arcade has been standing in Mayfair since 1819

Decades before the likes of Westfield came to London, those who wanted to shop in comfort headed to one of the capital’s arcades. Like the mega malls of today, these arcades featured numerous shops under one roof, providing a sheltered retail experience whatever the weather. However, as well laid out as these modern fashion meccas are, they just can’t compare to the historic and upmarket designs of the late Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian period. As part of Metro Girl’s series on the five historic arcades of Mayfair and St James, I will be starting with the Burlington Arcade – the longest and the 2nd oldest of the arcades.

In the early 19th century, the site of the arcade was owned by the wealthy aristocratic Cavendish family. The family had inherited neighbouring Burlington House through marriage when Richard, 3rd Earl of Burlington’s (1694-1753) daughter Lady Charlotte Elizabeth Boyle (1731-1754) wed William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire (1720-1764), who briefly served as Prime Minister. The couple’s son Lord George Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire, (1754-1834) inherited Burlington House in 1815 and ended up using some of the side garden to erect the arcade. His apparent reasoning for building the mini mall was to prevent the passing public from lobbing oyster shells – a common and affordable food at the time – over the wall into his home. As well as give him more privacy, it would also be a tidy earner for the estate.

Lord George enlisted architect Samuel Ware (1781-1860) to design the arcade with building starting in February 1818. While it was being constructed, the world’s oldest existing shopping arcade, the Royal Opera Arcade opened on Pall Mall in 1818. While the Royal Opera only had shops on one side, the Burlington was a double-sided arcade. Opening on 20 March 1819, the Regency-style building featured a 196 yard long walkway lined by 72 two-storey shop units. The high ceiling covered the walkway featured windows letting in lots of light, with Palladian-style, Ionic columns bringing in some style from the classical world. The arcade cost £29,329, with all shops being occupied by the end of the year. Originally, there were 47 leaseholders, including some females, with tenants and their families residing in the cramped living quarters above their shops.

Wikimedia Commons

Burlington Arcade in 1828 by Thomas H Shepherd from ‘Metropolitan Improvements; or London in the Nineteenth Century’.
Image via Wikimedia Commons

By 1828, it appeared the arcade was certainly prospering, with milliners, hosiers, linen shops, shoemakers, hairdressers, jewellers, watchmakers, tobacconists, umbrella sellers and florists among the many businesses on site. In 1830, Burlington retailer James Drew was the first in the arcade to receive the Royal Warrant. He made the famous high collars for Prime Minister William Gladstone (1809-1898) and invented the soft collar. Read the rest of this entry