One day festival will see five stages across the north-west London neighbourhood on 4 June 2022.
Grab your dancing shoes this summer as Wembley Park celebrates the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with a dance party. The north-west London neighbourhood will be hosting five stages of live acts, DJs and dance leaders on Saturday 4 June 2022. Whether you want to see the professionals in action, or shake your tail feather instead, there’s something for everyone.
Along with dancing galore, there will be street food stalls, DJs, live music and family zones as Londoners come together to mark Queen Elizabeth II‘s 70 years on the throne. Across the stages across Olympic Way, there will be dance classes for all ages and abilities, showcasing different genres throughout the day.
One stage will feature live entertainment, including family shows and live bands. Families will have plenty to keep them occupied, including face painters, bubbleologists, circus acts, stilt walkers, street dancers and pavement artists. Aside from the entertainment, there will also be interactive areas, including photo booths, selfie stations and a giant photo wall of a digitally-generated portrait of Her Majesty, made of photos taken on the day.
- Jubilee Dance Party takes place on 4 June 2022, from 12pm-7pm. At Wembley Park, Wembley, HA9 0FD. Nearest stations: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. Free entry. For more information, visit the Wembley Park website.
Find out what festivals, events and exhibitions are on in the capital this spring, including prices and transport options.
Spring is in full swing and the sunshine is really becoming a regular around town… thank goodness! This month, there’s only one bank holiday (2 May) as the later one has been bumped later to 2-3 June for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. There’s also half-term holidays for kids from 30 May – 3 June.
With the rising cost of living biting many families’ pockets, there are plenty of free and affordable festivals and events on around London this May, such as the Herne Hill Free Film Festival, Eid in the Square and Canalway Cavalcade.
Here’s a guide to the best events, festivals and exhibitions on in London this May.
Look out for the 🐻 for family-friendly activities.
- 29 April – 1 May 2021 : Italian Sparkling Wine Festival
Taste over 60 types of Italian wine from over 15 wine specialists. Open 4pm-10pm. Tickets: £20-£30 (inc bespoke Eataly wine glass and limited-edition pouch). Eataly, 135 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3YD. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For tickets, visit the Eataly website.
- Now until 1 May 2022 : Marylebone Food Festival
Restaurants and cafes across Marylebone take part in a week-long foodie celebration. Featuring special festival menus, events and launch dinner hosted by Jay Rayner. At various venues in Marylebone Village, W1. Nearest stations: Bond Street, Marble Arch or Baker Street. For more information, visit the festival website.
- 1 May 2022 : Queen’s Yard Summer Party 2022
Festival spread out across Hackney Wick features the best of local art, culture, wellness, food and drink. At various venues across E9, including The Yard, Number 90, Lord Napier Star, Colour Factory and more. For listings and more information, visit the party’s website.
- 2 May 2022 : Beer and Bread Festival
Festival returns to the historic Brixton Windmill for the 5th year. Local businesses will be selling beer, ale, bread, pastries and bakes, while there will live music, craft workshops, children’s activities and meet-the-millers of the windmill. From 1pm-5pm. Free entry. Brixton Windmill, 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 2 May 2022 : 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 10am-5pm. Free. Little Venice, Maida Vale, W2. Nearest station: Warwick Avenue. For more information, visit the Inland Waterways Association website. For Metro Girl’s blog post on a previous year’s Cavalcade, click here. 🐻
- Now until 2 May 2022 : La Linea
The London Latin Music Festival returns at venues across the capital. Venues include Ritzy Picturehouse, Rich Mix, Union Chapel, Jazz Cafe and more. For more information, visit the Como No website.
- 5 – 8 May 2022 : Affordable Art Fair – Hampstead
An event giving people a chance to buy a unique piece of art or photography for their homes at an affordable price. There are over 100 galleries, with pieces for sale at more affordable prices. Open Thur 11am-9pm, Fri-Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 11am-6pm. Tickets from £11/£14. Hampstead Heath (Lower Fairground Site), East Heath Road, Hampstead, NW3 1TH. Nearest station: Hampstead Heath or Hampstead. For more information, visit the Affordable Art Fair website.
- 5 May – 29 August 2022 : Our Time On Earth
An immersive exploration of radical ideas for the way we live on Earth. Open Sun-Wed 10am-6pm, Thu-Sat 10am-8pm. Tickets: £18. Curve, Barbican Centre, City of London, EC2Y 8DS. Nearest stations: Moorgate or Barbican. For more information, visit the Barbican Centre website.
- 7 May 2022 : Eid in the Square
Celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid and the end of Ramadan in Trafalgar Square, with traditional and contemporary entertainment, costumes, food stalls, workshops, sporting events, and tours. 12pm-6pm. Free. Trafalgar Square, Westminster, WC2N 5DN. Nearest stations: Charing Cross, Embankment, Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the London.gov.uk website. 🐻
- Now until 8 May 2022 : Van Gogh Self-Portraits
Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portraiture is explored in a new exhibition. Entry times from 10am-5.15pm. Tickets: Adults £16-£20, Under 18s free. The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 0RN. Nearest station: Charing Cross, Embankment or Temple. For tickets, visit the Courtauld Gallery website. 🐻
- Now until 8 May 2022 : Grand Designs Live
Find inspiration to improve or build your home with experts and top brands. Open 10am-5pm. Tickets: Standard advance £12-£15, Standard on-the-door – weekday £17, weekend £20. ExCel, Royal Victoria Dock, Docklands, E16 1XL. Nearest stations: Prince Regent or Custom House (DLR). For more information, visit the show’s official website.
- 9 – 15 May 2022 : London Craft Week
A celebration of craftsmanship, featuring over 250 makers, designers, brands and galleries, with workshops, exhibitions, open studios, tastings, galleries and shops. At various venues across the capital. For more information, visit the London Craft Week website.
- 10 – 20 May 2022 : Herne Hill Free Film Festival
The free film festival returns to Herne Hill for the ninth year in a mini edition. Films include Tron, Another Round, The Father and more. Venues include Prince Regent pub, Canopy Beer, Herne Hill Velodrome, Herne Hill Baptist Church and effraspace. Nearest station: Herne Hill. For more details, visit the Free Film Festival website. 🐻
- 11 – 15 May 2022 : Photo London
Photography fair at Somerset House, featuring expanded exhibition spaces and the chance to experience a range of photographic practices. Tours and talks also available. Tickets: Adults from £29, Children under 13 free. Somerset House, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. For more information, visit the Somerset House website.
- 13 – 22 May 2022 : Dulwich Festival
After two years of a pared back festival due to Covid-19, the Dulwich Festival is back with a host of live events for its 29th year. With the theme of ‘Regeneration and Awakening’, there will be over 40 events, including live music, theatre, talks, fairs, local history, guided walks, workshops, street art walks, family events and more. At various locations in Dulwich Village, East Dulwich and West Dulwich, SE21 and SE22. Nearest stations: West Dulwich (12 mins from Victoria) and East Dulwich (13 mins from London Bridge. For more information and listings, visit the Dulwich Festival website. 🐻
- 14 – 16 May 2022 : Art Car Boot Fair
Shop for art from 120 artists, as well as live painting, portrait-making, games, raffles, a bar and live performances. Open Sat 14 2pm-7pm, online only Sun and Mon. Tickets: £15 (free after 5pm). Lewis Cubitt Square, King’s Cross, N1C. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the Art Car Boot Fair website.
- 15 May 2022 : Urban Village Fete
A contemporary twist on a traditional village fair featuring stalls, music, DJs, dance, art & design workshops and street food. From 11am-7pm. Free entry. Central Park, Greenwich Peninsula, Greenwich, SE10. Nearest station: North Greenwich. For more information, visit the Greenwich Peninsula website. 🐻
- 19 – 22 May 2022 : Sci-Fi London Film Festival
The annual celebration of the sci-fi genre returns to east London, featuring premieres, talks and screenings. Stratford Picturehouse, Salway Road, Stratford, E15 1BX. Nearest station: Stratford. For more information, visit the Sci-London Film Festival website.
Find out what’s on in London in April, including the Oxbridge boat race, the Vaisakhi festival and the London Games Festival.
April 2022 is sure to be a whole lot better than 2021, when the UK was in the middle of a phased exit from lockdown. With the weather getting warmer and summer fast approaching, London’s festival and event calendar is really kicking off.
This year, Easter weekend falls on 15-18 April so expect the capital to really come to life with a host of family and chocolate-themed activities. There is also an early May bank holiday weekend starting on 30 April.
Look out for the for family-friendly activities.
- 31 March – 3 April 2022 : London Coffee Festival
Java lovers should head to the East End for this four celebration of coffee. Featuring tastings, coffee masters, food & wine pairing, Global Coffee School, DJs and more. Entry times via timed sessions. Thu and Fri daytime for industry only. Open to public: Fri 4pm-8pm, Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 10am-5pm. Tickets from £24. Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, Spitalfields, E1 6QR. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street or Aldgate East. For more information and tickets, visit the London Coffee Festival website.
- 1 – 2 April 2022 : The Creative Craft Show
An event for stitchers, sewers and hobbycrafters, featuring workshops, demonstrations and talks. Open 10am-4pm. Tickets: Adults from £10, Children free if accompanied by an adult. ExCel, Royal Victoria Dock, Docklands, E16 1XL. Nearest stations: Prince Regent or Custom House (DLR). For more information, visit the show’s official website.
- 1 – 3 April 2022 : London Spanish Film Festival – Spring Weekend
Three day film event ahead of the London Spanish Film Festival in September, featuring several new Spanish language releases. Tickets TBA. Cine Lumiere, 17 Queensberry Place, Kensington, SW7 2DT. Nearest station: South Kensington. For more information, visit the London Spanish Film Festival website.
- 1 – 10 April 2022 : London Games Festival
In-person and online festival to promote gaming and interactive entertainment, including a Trafalgar Square exhibition, LGF World Stage, Games Finance Market, the Now Play This exhibition, BAFTA Games Awards, industry talks, and more. For more information, visit the Games London website. 🐻
- 1 – 18 April 2022 : Dino Kingdom
Enjoy an immersive pre-historic adventure with life-sized, animatronic dinosaurs, augmented reality, 3D mapping technology exhibits, excavation site, fun fair, food and drink and more. Open daily 10am-4pm (timed entry). Tickets: Adults £14/£17, Children 3-15 yrs £12/£15, infants free. Dino Kingdom London, Gunnersbury Park, Popes Lane, W3 8LQ. Nearest stations: Gunnersbury, South Ealing or Acton Town. For more information, visit the Dino Kingdom website. 🐻
- 1 April – 4 September 2022 : 150 Years of the Royal School of Needlework
Retrospective exhibition of one of the country’s oldest arts organisations. Open 11am-6pm. Tickets: £12.65. Fashion & Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XF. Nearest stations: London Bridge or Tower Hill. For more information, visit the museum website.
- Now until 2 April 2022 : Wandsworth Common Spring Beer Festival
The 12th annual beer festival returns to SW18, featuring 100 beers and 25 ciders to sample. Also featuring live entertainment. Open Wed 6pm-11pm, Thu 1pm-11pm, Fri 12.30pm-11pm, Sat 1pm-11pm. Tickets: £10-£40. Royal Victoria Patriotic Building, John Archer Way, Wandsworth, SW18 3SX. Nearest station: Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Town or Wandsworth Common. For tickets, visit Eventbrite.
- 2 – 19 April 2022 : Power UP
Interactive gaming events explores five decades of video games and consoles. For ages 5 and over. Tickets from £8. Science Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, SW7 2DD. Nearest station: South Kensington. For tickets and more information, visit the Science Museum website. 🐻
- 3 April 2022 : Oxbridge Boat Race
Watch the historic annual boat race between the Cambridge and Oxford University crews. Thousands will line the banks between Putney Bridge and Mortlake to watch the action. Women’s boat race @ 2.23pm and Men’s boat race @ 3.23pm. Free. Nearest stations: Putney Bridge, Hammersmith, Ravenscourt Park, Stamford Brook, East Putney, Chiswick or Barnes Bridge. For more information, visit the Boat Race website. 🐻
- 5 – 26 April 2022 : The Arks of Gimokudan
Filipino artist-designer Leeroy New presents his first UK large-scale installation to mark Earth Day 2022. The installation will feature three ships made of recycled and reused materials and waste. Free. Somerset House courtyard, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. For more information, visit the Somerset House website. 🐻
- 7 April 2022 : SicilyFEST London 2022
A celebration of Sicily and its food, wine, produce and culture. Also featuring a kids’ area and DJs. Open Thur 5.30pm-10pm, Fri 11am-10pm, Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 10am-5pm. Tickets: £2.50 (advance), £3 (on the door). Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the FeverUp website. 🐻
- 7 – 10 April 2022 : Roy’s Art Fair
Roy’s Art Fair returns, aiming to make art more affordable and accessible. Meet and buy direct from the artists, take part in workshops and check out installations. Open Thur 5pm–8.30pm, Fri 2pm-8pm, Sat 12pm–6pm, Sun 12pm-5pm. Free. At Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, South Bank, SE1 9PH. Nearest stations: Waterloo, Blackfriars or Southwark. For more information, visit the Roy’s People Art Fair website.
- 7 – 12 April 2022 : F R A G M E N T S Festival
An experiential festival featuring short events dotted across the City celebrating the 100th anniversary of T S Eliot’s poem The Waste Land. Tickets: £20 (all-access). Events take place at 22 City of London churches. For more information, visit the festival’s website.
- 8 – 10 April 2022 : Now Play This 2022
Festival of experimental games returns to the capital. Open Fri 12pm-8pm, Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 11am-6pm. Tickets: £9/£6.50 conc. Somerset House, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. For more information, visit the Somerset House website. 🐻
- 8 – 10 April 2022 : Ceramic Art London
Contemporary arts event, featuring exhibitions, talks, and opportunities the buy. Open Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 10am-5pm. Tickets: Adults £16, Children free. Central St Martins, Granary Square, King’s Cross, N1C 4AA. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the Ceramic Art London website.
- 8 April – 29 August 2022 : Football – Designing the Beautiful Game
Explore the stories of design from the world of football. Open Sun-Thu 10am-6pm, Fri-Sat 10am-9pm. Tickets: Adults from £16.80. Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High St, Kensington, W8 6AG. Nearest stations: Earls Court, High Street Kensington or Holland Park. For booking, visit the Design Museum website.
- 8 April – 11 September 2022 : Inspired!
Exhibition explores how visual artists have taken inspiration from the literary arts. Opening hours TBC. Tickets: £8. Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, City of London, EC2V 5AE. Nearest station: St Paul’s, Bank or Moorgate. For more information, visit the City of London.gov website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the exhibition.
- Now until 10 April 2022 : Telegraph Hill Festival
Arts and entertainment festival in South East London, including music, open studios, art shows, interactive exhibits, classes, workshops, talks, literary events, plays, performance art and music events. Lots of events are free, but some will cost. At various venues across New Cross, Nunhead, Hatcham, Brockley and Honor Oak. For more information, visit the Telegraph Hill festival website. 🐻
- 11 April – 26 October 2022 : Magnificent Maps of London
London Metropolitan Archives show off their historical map collection in a new exhibition. Featuring maps from the 16th century to present day. Open Mon-Thu 10am-4pm. Free entry. London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, Clerkenwell, EC1R 0HB. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the City of London.gov.uk website.
- 12 April – 31 May 2022 : Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY)
Check out 138 photographs of landscapes and people from around the world in an outdoor exhibition. Open 24/7. Free. Granary Square, King’s Cross, N1C 4DQ. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the TPOTY website. 🐻
Exhibition explores the theatre, literature and music which has inspired the visual arts.
Artists find inspiration in many places, often in real-life subjects, such as people or landscapes. However, there’s a wealth of artworks which have grown from the fictional – be it theatre, literature and music. Launching this spring at the Guildhall Art Gallery is a new exhibition which explores the way artists have turned to poetry, plays, novels and music to inspire their work.
A large section of Inspired! will focus on Victorian story-telling. Much of the period’s artwork was nostalgic in reaction to the Industrial Revolution with artists looking back to simpler times, thanks to William Shakespeare‘s works, Medieval folktales and Greek myths. For example, Thomas Lawrence’s portrait of actor John Philip Kemble (1757-1823) as Coriolanus in the Bard’s tragedy. Meanwhile, the burning of Drury Lane Theatre in 1808 was depicted by Abraham Pether’s painting the following year.
For those who enjoy Pre-Raphaelite art, pieces by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910), John Everett Millais (1829-1896) and George Frederic Watts (1817-1904) found inspiration in the Romantic poets and the work of John Ruskin and Thomas Carlyle. Also at the exhibition include works inspired by the likes of Sir Walter Scott, Chopin, Joseph Addison, among many others.
Inspired! Art inspired by theatre, literature and music runs from 8 April – 11 September 2022. Opening times TBC. Tickets: £8. Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, City of London, EC2V 5AE. Nearest stations: St Paul’s, Bank or Moorgate. For more information, visit the City of London.gov website.
Find out what’s on in the capital, including art fairs, Secret Cinema’s Bridgerton experience and the Ideal Home Show.
Spring is in the air… well at least it’s supposed to be! With March having notoriously erratic weather, fortunately London has plenty of indoor festivals, exhibitions and events on this month.
Look out for the 🐻 for family-friendly activities.
- 3 – 6 March 2022 : The Stitch Festival
Haberdashery festival featuring hundreds of workshops, demonstrations, interactive features and 200 exhibitors selling specialist craft supplies. Open 9.30am-5.30pm. Tickets: Adults £15.50, Children £7.50. Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the Stitch Festival website.
- Now until 6 March 2022 : Orchid Festival @ Kew Gardens
An orchid display is coming to the Princess of Wales Conservatory for four weeks, with this year being inspired by Costa Rica. General entrance tickets to Kew Gardens includes orchid exhibition: Adults £15, Children (4-15yr) £5. Kew Gardens, Brentford Gate, Kew, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website.
- Now until 6 March 2022 : Beano – The Art of Breaking the Rules
Exhibition of Britain’s naughtiest kid and the comic’s history. Explore original artwork and artefacts. Open Sat, Sun & Tue 10am-6pm, Wed-Fri 11am-8pm. Tickets: Adults £16, concs £12.50, Under 6s free. Embankment Galleries (South Wing), Somerset House, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station: Temple. For more information and booking, visit the Somerset House website. 🐻
- Now until 9 March 2022 : The Green Planet AR Experience
Enjoy an immersive, augmented reality experience with Sir David Attenborough as you explore the green planet. Open Mon-Wed 10am-6pm, Thu-Sun 10am-8pm. Free entry, but book a time slot in advance. 55 Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, W1 5RF. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Green Planet Experience website. 🐻
- 10 – 13 March 2022 : Affordable Art Fair – Battersea Spring
A chance for people to buy a unique piece of art or photography for their homes at an affordable price. There are over 100 galleries, with pieces for sale ranging from £50 to £7,500. Tickets: £10-£27. Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, SW11 4NJ. Nearest station: Battersea Park or short bus ride from Sloane Square tube. For more information, visit the Affordable Art Fair website.
- 11 – 13 March 2022 : WOW – Women of the World
A festival of talks, debates, music, film and comedy celebrating women. Marian Keyes, Lisa Taddeo, Pandora Sykes, Patrisse Calours, Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, Warsan Shire, Deborah Frances-White and Elizabeth White among the featured names. Events range from free to £38. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit the Southbank Centre website.
- 11 – 13 March 2022 : Move It
The world’s biggest dance event featuring performances, classes, workshops, shopping, and talks by experts from all genres, including Layton Williams, Dane Bates, Dannielle ‘Rhimes’ Lecointe, Dark Angels, Flawless, Jess Baddie, Josh Denyer, Josh Wharmby, Kloe Dean and more. Day tickets: Adults from £21, Children from £16.50 (show and class tickets also available). ExCel, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, Docklands, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Custom House or Prince Regent. For more information, visit the Move It website. 🐻
- 11 – 27 March 2022 : Ideal Home Show
A place of inspiration for homeowners including interiors, fittings and gardens. Includes plenty of opportunities to buy things both big and small for the house and food. Celebrity guests and experts include Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Phil Spencer, Martin Lewis, David Domoney, Rosemary Shrager, Lisa Faulkner, Melissa Helmsley, and many more. Open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm. Advance tickets (more on the door): Weekday £14 or Weekend £16, Children 15 yrs and younger free (Tickets also include free access to the Eat & Drink Festival). Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more tickets, visit the Ideal Home Show website. Read the rest of this entry
Discover festive markets and fairs in central, north, south, east, and west London in November and December 2021.
With Christmas getting closer all the time and depressing warnings about ‘supply issues’ at the big chain stores, the thought of in-person shopping from independent traders is more appealing than ever. What better way to pick up some gifts for your loved ones, while getting an injection of festive spirit at one of London’s many Christmas markets and fairs.
Whether you live in north, south, east or west London, or just visiting the capital, there’s plenty of festive shopping opportunities around town. This season we’ll see the return of some popular, long-term markets, while many local communities, museums and charities are hosting one-off or weekend fairs.
Many of the markets and fairs have free entry, while some charge a small entry fee to raise money for charity. Be aware that some events are asking visitors to register for a free ticket online so they can control crowd numbers as the pandemic continues.
Here’s a guide to London’s best Christmas markets and fairs this 2021.
Long-term Christmas markets in London
Some markets are opening throughout the run-up to Christmas, with some still going into the new year. Most of these markets will close earlier than usual on Christmas Eve and be closed all day on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
- 4 November – 24 December 2021 : Southbank Centre Winter Market
Wooden chalets selling festive food, drink, gifts and treats alongside the river on the South Bank. Open daily 11am-11pm. Free. Queen’s Walk, South Bank, SE1. Nearest station: Waterloo, Westminster or Embankment. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.
- 12 November 2021 – 9 January 2022 : Christmas in Leicester Square
The West End’s famous square will feature a Christmas market in Bavarian-style huts. There will also be a Santa’s Grotto for kids and a Spiegeltent, which will host a production of La Clique. Open Mon-Fri 12pm-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm. Free entry to the market, but tickets required for Santa’s Grotto and the Spiegeltent. Leicester Square, WC2H. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Christmas In Leicester Square website.
- 16 November 2021 – 2 January 2022 : Christmas By The River 2021
Annual festive market featuring food, drink, craft and gift stalls across The Scoop More London, Hay’s Galleria and London Bridge City Pier. Open daily 11am-10pm. Free entry. Queen’s Walk and Hay’s Galleria, SE1 2DB. Nearest station: London Bridge or Tower Hill. For more information, visit the London Bridge City website.
- 18 November – 24 December 2021 : Kingston Christmas Market
Over 40 wooden cabins will be selling festive food, drink and gifts. Times TBC. Free entry. Market is located across two sites: The first in between Clarence Street and High Street, and the 2nd in front of All Saints Church, Kingston-upon-Thames, KT1. Nearest station: Kingston. For more information, visit the Kingston Christmas Market website.
- 19 November 2021 – 3 January 2022 : Winter Wonderland Market
Winter Wonderland returns to Hyde Park and offers a German market selling gifts, as well as food and drink. You can bring the whole family and get into the festive spirit with a fun fair, circus, live shows and an ice rink. Open daily 10am-10pm. General entry: (must be pre-booked) Peak £5-£7.50, Off-peak free. Entrance fee waived if you spend over £20 on attractions, rides or games in advance. Hyde Park, Westminster, W2 2UH. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch or Knightsbridge. For more information, visit the Winter Wonderland website.
One-off or short-term London Christmas fairs and markets
- 1 – 7 November 2021: Spirit Of Christmas Fair
For the super organised, get ready for Christmas early with this fair, where you can stock up on gifts, design and food all ready for the festive season from over 750 independent boutiques. There will also be a winter restaurant and a champagne bar. Open Mon-Sat: 10am-6pm, Thur: 10am-9pm, Sun: 10am-5pm. Tickets: Adults start from £21 (from £25 on the door), Children 13-16 yrs from £14 (£18 on the door), 12 and under free. Olympia Grand, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Spirit Of Christmas Fair website.
- 7 November and 4 – 5 December 2021 : Crafty Fox Christmas Market @ Mercato Metropolitano
Buy gifts directly from crafters and makers, enjoy food and drink from street food stalls or take part in a make-your-own-botanical-necklace workshop. 11am-5pm. Free entry.
- 10 November 2021 : Merry Marylebone
A festive evening to coincide with the Christmas lights switch-on with charity partner Mind Brent, Wandsworth and Westminster. Featuring retailer discounts, food and gift stalls, charity tombola, wreath-making, live music, Santa’s grotto, fairground rides, with a celebrity switching on the lights. 3pm-7pm. Free to attend. Marylebone Village (Marylebone High Street, Paddington Street and Devonshire Street), W1. Nearest stations: Bond Street, Baker Street or Marylebone. For more information, visit the Marylebone Village website.
- 10 – 14 November 2021 : Country Living Christmas
Prepare for the festive season with a host of Christmas stalls and events, including expert talks, workshops, food hall, shopping emporium, meet-the-makers and champagne bar. Open Wed-Thur 10am-5pm, Fri-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 10am-3pm. Tickets: Adults from £20, Children 5-16yrs £9. Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information and booking, visit the County Living Fair website.
- 10 – 14 and 22 – 26 November 2021 : Finnish Church Christmas Fair
Christmas market featuring live music, Finnish treats and gifts, food and drink from the cafeteria. Opening hours vary. Free entry. Finnish Church, 33 Albion Street, Rotherhithe, SE16 7JG. Nearest station: Rotherhithe. For more information, visit the Finnish Church website. Read the rest of this entry
Find out what events are on in the capital in November, including the Lord Mayor’s Show, motor shows, Christmas shopping events, and more.
November is here, the nights are drawing in, it’s getting colder… but on the bright side, it’s all getting a bit Christmassy. After last year’s lockdown, this year Londoners will be wanting to make up for lost time and prepare for a fabulous festive season. As well as host of Christmas shopping events, expect to see light shows and trails; the Lord Mayor’s Show; Oktoberfest, Diwali celebrations, music festivals and the return of Winter Wonderland.
Look out for the 🐻 for family-friendly activities.
- 1 – 7 November 2021 : Spirit of Christmas
For the super organised, get ready for Christmas early with this fair, where you can stock up on gifts, design and food all ready for the festive season from over 600 independent boutiques and artisan makers. There will also be a winter restaurant and a champagne bar. Open Mon-Sat: 10am-6pm, Thur: 10am-9pm, Sun: 10am-5pm. Tickets: Adults start from £21 (from £25 on the door), Children 13-16 yrs from £14 (£18 on the door), 12 and under free. Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Spirit Of Christmas Fair website. 🐻
- 2 – 7 November 2021 : Winter Art & Antiques Fair
Arts and antiques event, featuring over 70 dealers showcasing over 20,000 pieces, ranging in price from £100 to £500,000. Open Tues-Wed & Fri-Sat 11am–6pm, Thur 11am–9pm, Sun 11am–5pm. Tickets: Tues-Fri – Adults £21, Children 13-16yrs £14. Weekends – Adults £23 (advance, more on the door), Children 13-16 yrs £16, 12 and under free. National Hall, Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Olympia Antiques website.
- 2 – 7 November 2021 : Diwali @ Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf celebrates the Hindu festival Diwali with a floating flower installation. Lights on from 5pm-11pm. Free. Jubilee Park, Canary Wharf, E14. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Canary Wharf website. 🐻
- 3 – 14 November 2021 : UK Green Film Festival
Watch documentaries exploring environmental issues. The UK-wide festival will be hosting London screenings in Dalston. Times and prices vary. Rio Cinema, 107 Kingsland Road, Dalston, E8 2PB. Nearest station: Dalston Kingsland or Dalston Junction. For more information, visit the festival website.
- 4 November 2021 : Diwali Festival @ Devonshire Square
Head to Devonshire Square to celebrate the Indian festival of lights. Featuring a dance show with Indian folk and classical dancers; complimentary tastings of Indian confectionary, Diwali canapes and tamarind soda drink from Cinnamon Kitchen; and the visual art of Rangoli lit by candles. 5.30pm-8pm. Free to attend, but register for a place through Eventbrite. Devonshire Square, City of London, EC2M. Nearest stations: Liverpool Street or Aldgate. For more information, visit the Devonshire Square website.
- 4 November 2021 : Carnaby Christmas Shopping & Dining Party
Festive evening sees over 100 shops, boutiques and restaurants of the Carnaby district are offering 20% discounts, in-store events, free drinks and goodie bags. Carnaby Street’s festive light installation will also be switched on. 12pm-8pm. Register online for a free ticket. Carnaby London, Soho, W1F. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Carnaby London website. 🐻
- 4 – 6 and 11 – 13 November 2021 : Oktoberfest London
Celebrate the German beer festival with plenty of Bavarian food, beer, and more. Open Thu-Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat 11am-11pm. Tickets: General admission £5-£15, Bavarian £21-£29 (inc 1 Mass of Bavarian FestBeer, Brezel snack and Bratwurst in bread). Dock X, Canada Water, 40 Surrey Quays Road, Docklands, SE16 7DX. Nearest station: Canada Water or Rotherhithe. For more information and tickets, visit the Oktoberfest London website.
- 6 November 2021 : Regent Street Motor Show
Dozens of vintage cars from 125 years of motoring will be on display for the Regent Street Motorshow ahead of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run the following day. Featuring entertainment and interactive displays. The road will be closed to vehicle traffic. 10.30am-4pm. Free. Regent Street, W1B 5TD. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information, visit the Regent Street Motor Show website. 🐻
- 7 November 2021 : Veteran Car Run
Watch the beginning of 64 mile route from the capital to Brighton. Get up early to watch 500 classic cars setting off from Hyde Park Corner between 6.56am and 8.15am. Expect many drivers and passengers to be suitably dressed in costume and vintage clothing for the spectacle. Route starts at Serpentine Road in Hyde Park, past Buckingham Palace, over Westminster Bridge and south via Kennington, Brixton and Streatham. Free to spectate. Hyde Park Corner, Westminster, W2 2UH. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner. For more information, visit the Veteran Car Run website. 🐻
- 10 November 2021 : Merry Marylebone
A festive evening to coincide with the Christmas lights switch-on with charity partner Mind Brent, Wandsworth and Westminster. Featuring retailer discounts, food and gift stalls, charity tombola, wreath-making, live music, Santa’s grotto, fairground rides, with a celebrity switching on the lights. 3pm-7pm. Free to attend. Marylebone Village (Marylebone High Street, Paddington Street and Devonshire Street), W1. Nearest stations: Bond Street, Baker Street or Marylebone. For more information, visit the Marylebone Village website. 🐻
- 10 – 14 November 2021 : Country Living Christmas
Prepare for the festive season with a host of Christmas stalls and events, including expert talks, workshops, food hall, shopping emporium, meet-the-makers and champagne bar. Open Wed-Thur 10am-5pm, Fri-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 10am-3pm. Tickets: Adults from £20, Children 5-16yrs £9. Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information and booking, visit the County Living Fair website. 🐻
- 11 November – 18 December 2021 : The Great Feast
A new music and food festival pops up at the Selfridges Hotel. Featuring Michelin-starred chefs, immersive dining, creative cocktails and live music. Over 18s only. Open 11-20 Nov: Thu-Sat 6pm-12am, 25-27 Nov: 12pm-3pm and 6pm-12am, 1-18 Dec: Wed-Sat 12pm-3pm, 6pm-12am. Tickets: £20-£60. Old Selfridges Hotel, 1 Orchard St, Marylebone, W1H 6HJ. Nearest stations: Bond Street or Marble Arch. For more information and booking, visit The Great Feast website.
- 11 November – 30 December 2021 : Club Curling
Try your hand at curling as the winter sports pops up at King’s Cross for the festive season. Visitors can enjoy a 45 minute curling slot on one of the six synthetic ice rinks, before enjoying a cocktail at the bar. Open daily 11am-9pm. Tickets: Adults £5, Children under 12 free. Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, N1C 4DQ. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information and booking, visit the King’s Cross website. Check out Metro Girl’s post for more details. 🐻
- 12 – 14 November 2021 : Destination Star Trek
Europe’s official Star Trek convention comes to London, with the chance to see some of the series’ iconic faces, including George Takei, Kate Mulgrew, Jeri Ryan, Doug Jones, Robert Beltran, Marianna Hill, Mark Rolston, Alice Krige and more. Open Fri 2pm-8pm, Sat-Sun 9am-6pm. Tickets: One day £29 (Sat or Sun), Weekend £44 (Sat & Sun), three day £54. Premium ticket packages also available. ExCel London, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, Docklands, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Prince Regent or Custom House (DLR). For more information and tickets, visit the Destination Star Trek website. 🐻
- 12 – 14 November 2021 : Balance Festival 2021
Wellness festival returns to the East End for a weekend of mindfulness, fitness, relaxation and more. Opening times vary (morning and afternoon sessions). Tickets vary depending on day and session. Adults start from £26.50 (half-day), from £50 (full-day). The Old Truman Brewery, 15 Hanbury Street, Spitalfields, E1 6QR. Nearest stations: Shoreditch High Street or Liverpool Street. For more information and tickets, visit the Balance Festival website.
- 12 – 21 November 2021 : EFG London Jazz Festival
International jazz stars gather at venues all over the capital, including Dave Holland and John Scofield; Nu Civilisation Orchestra; Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita; Gwenifer Raymound; Black Midi & Moor Mother; Robocobra Quartet & Archipelago; Archie Sheep and Jason Moran; and many more. Gigs range from free to ticketed. At various locations across London. For listings and bookings, visit the EFG London Jazz Festival website.
- 12 – 28 November 2021 : Enchanted Woodland
Follow an illuminated trail through the gardens and arboretum of Syon Park. Lighting will transform the trees, plants and lake. Hot food and drinks available for sale. Open Fri-Sun, entry slots every 20 minutes from 5pm-7.40pm. Tickets: Adults £10, Children £7.50. Syon Park, London Road, Brentford, TW8 8JF. Nearest station: Syon Lane. For more information, visit the Enchanted Woodland website. 🐻
- 13 November 2021 : Lord Mayor’s Show
The spectacle is known as the oldest and largest civic procession in the world and marks the new Lord Mayor of London in a three-mile procession. The procession sets off from Mansion House at 11am, passes St Pauls before heading down Ludgate Hill to Fleet Street, then returns via the Victoria Embankment (approx 1.15pm-2.30pm) to Mansion House (arriving 2.30pm). Free to spectate. Nearest stations: Mansion House, Temple, Blackfriars, St Paul’s and Cannon Street. For more information visit the Lord Mayor’s Show website. 🐻
- 13 – 28 November 2021 : Wimbledon International Music Festival
A host of world-class musicians gather in Wimbledon for a series of classical, opera and jazz concerts and recitals. Artists include Sir Willard White, Imogen Cooper, The Tallis Scholars and Tango Club. Ticket prices vary. At various venues in Wimbledon, including King’s College School, Trinity United Reformed Church, St. John’s Church, Wimbledon College Hall, Wimbledon Synagogue. Nearest stations: Wimbledon or Raynes Park. For more information and tickets, visit the WIMF website.
- 13 November 2021 – 16 January 2022 : Hogwarts in the Snow
Visit your favourite Harry Potter sets, such as the Forbidden Forest, Diagon Alley, Hagrid’s Hut and the Hogwarts castle, which have been transformed with snow for the festive season. Tickets from £47. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, Hertfordshire, WD25 7LR. Nearest station: Watford (then a shuttle bus to studios). For more information and tickets, visit the WB Studio Tour website. 🐻
- Now until 14 November 2021 : Remember the Future exhibition
Artists in residence will set up studio at Orleans House and explore in art ways we could fix the Earth’s ecological crisis. Among the artists taking part in the six-month project include Ackroyd & Harvey; Nestor Pestana; Bryony Benge-Abbott; Vicky Long and Eloise Moody. During the exhibition, there will also be workshops, talks, family activities and late night events. Open Tues-Sun 10am-5pm. Entry: Free (donations welcome). Orleans House Gallery, Orleans Road, Twickenham, TW1 3BL. Nearest station: St Margaret’s. For more information, visit the Orleans House Gallery website.
- 17 November 2021 – 9 January 2022 : Christmas at Kew
Follow a magical trail around Kew Gardens, through tunnels of light, past dancing waterfalls, illuminations and the Fire Garden, and a light display at the Palm House. 4pm-10pm. Tickets: Standard advance adult: Off peak £21.50/Peak £26.50, Children: Off peak £14/peak £16.50. Kew Gardens (Royal Botanic Gardens), Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AB. Nearest station: Kew Gardens. For more information, visit the Kew Gardens website. 🐻 Read the rest of this entry
Find out what’s happening in London, including festivals, gin and Pride.
Summer is here at last! Expect to see plenty of outdoor festivals, with Pride, World Gin Day and the month-long London Festival of Architecture among the highlights of June. If you’re short on cash, there’s plenty of free events, including Soho Music Month’s free gigs and London Seafood Festival.
For a guide to Wimbledon screenings in London, click here.
For a guide to London’s outdoor and pop-up cinemas this summer, click here.
Here’s Metro Girl’s round-up of the best London events on in June.
- Now until 1 June : Herne Hill Free Film Festival
The free film festival returns to Herne Hill for the seventh year. Films include Black Panther, Mary Poppins Returns, The Babadook, American Animals, Wreck It Ralph 2, Bohemian Rhapsody, Isle Of Dogs and more. Venues include The Lido Café, Station Hall, Prince Regent pub, Brockwell Lido, The Half Moon, Herne Hill Velodrome and more. Nearest station: Herne Hill. For more details, visit the Free Film Festival website.
- 1 – 30 June : London Festival Of Architecture
A month-long celebration of architecture, with this year’s theme being ‘boundaries’. Featuring talks, installations, tours, exhibitions, open studios, film screenings, debate, conferences and the ‘Lunch Break’ installation. At various venues around town. For more information, visit the London Festival of Architecture website.
- 1 – 30 June : Soho Music Month
A month-long series of events celebrating the cultural heritage of Soho. Featuring DJ sessions, panel discussions, free gigs, special food and drink menus and more. At venues around Soho, including Carnaby and Newburgh Quarter. Nearest stations: Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus. For more information, visit Carnaby website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post on the event.
- 2 June : London Pizza Festival
Help find the world’s best pizza as six pizzerias battle to be crowned the winner. Sample different slices, while enjoying a beer and listening to a DJ. 12pm-6pm (entrance at timed slots). Tickets: £28 (inc 6 quarter slices of pizza, 1 beer or soft drink and entrance to the festival). Borough Market (Green Market), Borough, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Young & Foodish website.
- Now until 2 June : Swinging Sixties exhibition
New exhibition celebrates the fashion, textiles, homewares and furniture of the Swinging Sixties. Including vintage designs by Mary Quant, Laura Ashley and Terence Conran. Open Tues-Sat 11am–6pm, Thurs 11am-8pm, Sun 11am–5pm. Tickets: £9.90. Fashion & Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XF. Nearest station: London Bridge or Tower Hill. For more information, visit the museum website.
- Now until 2 June : Sundance Film Festival – London
The Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, comes to London to showcase the best of independent movies, featuring UK and International feature film premieres, shorts and special events. Tickets prices vary. Picturehouse Central, corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Great Windmill Street, Piccadilly, W1D 7DH. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus. For more information and tickets, visit the Picturehouse website.
- Now until early June : Sculpture In The City 2018/2019
Free public art exhibition, bringing contemporary pieces to the streets and spaces of the City of London. Free. At various sites around the Square Mile. Nearest stations: Fenchurch Street, Monument or Liverpool Street. For more information and a map of the artworks, visit the City Of London’s official website. Check out Metro Girl’s gallery of the 2017/2018 exhibition.
- 3 – 9 June : Pittsburgh Art on the Bank
Pop-up art exhibition comes to the South Bank for one week only, featuring pieces from Pittsburgh’s established and emerging artists. Visitors can also enter a competition to win a trip to Pittsburgh with British Airways by snapping a selfie with their favourite piece. South Bank, SE1. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information, visit the Visit Pittsburgh website.
- 5 – 6 June : Beating Retreat
An evening pageant of music, horses, cannons and fireworks against the backdrop of St James’s Park and Horse Guards Parade. A military precision drill from the Household Division in the week preceding Trooping The Colour. 8pm. Tickets from £20. Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall, SW1A 2AX. Nearest station: Charing Cross, Embankment or Westminster. For more information, visit the Household Division’s website.
- 5 – 9 June : World Gin Day Festival
Four day festival celebrating ‘mother’s ruin’ from Drink Up London – the people behind London Cocktail Week. Some of London’s best bars will be offering special £6 gin cocktails to those with a festival pass. There will also be a World Gin Day Festival hub in Devonshire Square. Bars include Basement Sate, Two One Four, Bluebird Chelsea, Flight Club, Graphic, Le Pont de la Tour, Nine Lives, Oriole, The Little Yellow Door, The Ned and many more. Festival pass: £10 on the Drink Up London app (valid for four days). For more information, visit the DrinkUpLondon website.
- 6 – 7 June : Poetry & Lyrics Festival
Versatile music and poetry festiva, covering jazz, neo-soul, punk, and disco. Headliners include Lavinia Greenlaw, Village Hall Disco, Belinda Zhawi and members of Steam Down Collective. King’s Place, 90 York Way, King’s Cross, N1 9AG. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For tickets, visit the King’s Place website.
- 7 – 9 June : Polo In The Park
Bringing polo from the country estates into London. As well as watching the polo, there is plenty of entertainment and food and drink venues, including The Grazing Paddock (restaurants and street food), Champagne Lanson Garden, Mahiki and Polo Bars, Slingsby Cocktail Bar, PIMM’s Bus, Fever-Tree Bar and Garden, Luxury Shopping Village and Little Hooves Kids’ Club. Tickets start from £15.20 (adults), £10 (children). Hurlingham Park, Fulham, SW6 3RH. Nearest station: Putney Bridge or Parson’s Green. For more information and tickets, visit Chestertons Polo In The Park’s website.
- 7 – 9 June : Stoke Newington Literary Festival
Annual literary festival returns to various venues around Stoke Newington. Tickets range from free to £8. Venues include Abney Hall, Stoke Newington Town Hall, St Paul’s Church Hall, Unitarian Chapel, Ryan’s Bar, Mascara Bar and William Patten School. For more information and tickets, visit the Stoke Newington Literary Festival website.
- 7 – 9 June : Carters Steam Fair @ Walthamstow
The vintage travelling fun fair sets up camp in East London, featuring rides from the late 19th century to the 1960s. Open Fri 4-10pm; Sat 12-10pm and Sun 12-8pm. Free admission. Lloyd Park, Forest Road, Walthamstow, E17 4PP. Nearest station: Walthamstow Central. For more information, visit the Carters Steam Fair website.
- 7 – 28 June : Zoo Nights @ London Zoo
London Zoo are hosting late summer evening openings for adults-only on Fridays through June. As well as checking out the animals, you can follow a trail, listen to music, enjoy a drink and feast at the world food market. 6pm-10pm. Tickets: £19.95. London Zoo, Outer Circle (Regent’s Park), NW1 4RY. Nearest stations: Camden Town or Regent’s Park. For more information and booking, visit the Zoological Society London website. Read the rest of this entry
Exploring the history of the Tower on a three-hour semi-private tour.
The Tower of London is one of the capital’s most iconic sights. It’s been standing on the fringes of the City, looming over the River Thames, for over 1,000 years. With such an amazing heritage, the layers of history within the Tower walls can be overwhelming for a visitor. I previously visited the Tower of London as a teenager and didn’t really absorb the stories of the complex as I knew I would as an adult. Over the Easter Weekend, I paid a long-awaited return to the Tower on a semi-private tour with Context Travel.
Context Travel is a specialist walking tour company, which offers private, semi-private and custom tours in over 50 cities worldwide. Aiming to put tourist sights ‘in context’, the tours are hosted by experts in their field, giving you an in-depth knowledge while taking you off-the-beaten track to find hidden places and details. Context Travel semi-private tours are in small groups, which immediately appealed to me because I’m not a fan of sharing my travel/tourist experiences (even in my hometown of London!) with a huge group of people.
My three-hour tour started on a sunny Sunday morning so the weather was on our side. Myself and two other participants met our guide Lesley outside Tower Hill station and headed straight to the entrance of the complex. The immediate bonus of visiting on a group tour I noticed was being able to bypass the long queue and we were within the tower walls within no time.
We swiftly passed through the Middle Tower and crossed the now-dry moat before passing under the Byward Tower for our first stop on the tour. Looking at the complex, I would find it hard to identify the ages of the different parts. However, Lesley shared her great knowledge of each buildings’ history, which King (or Queen) was responsible for its building and how their use had evolved over time.
Before delving deeper into the various sections, Lesley suggested we head straight to the Jewel House to visit the world-famous Crown Jewels. As guides aren’t allowed to accompany tour groups inside during busy periods, Lesley gave us easy-to-remember pointers on what to focus on inside. Covering 800 years of the British monarchy, the Jewel House contains some truly amazing sights and spectacular examples of wealth. I recognised many crowns and other regalia and vestments I had seen worn by Queen Elizabeth II over the decades. It was great to see them in the flesh so to speak – albeit surrounded by heavy security.
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Escape to Montenegro and explore the Bay of Kotor, Budva Riviera and the mountains.
Eastern Europe as a travel destination has been rising in popularity over the past decade, with countries such as Croatia and Poland attracting huge numbers from around the world. Of course, the downside of this is overcrowding, sometimes sparking a backlash from local residents. When planning a summer holiday, I was looking for somewhere in Europe a bit more off-the-beaten track with a lot less tourists and I thought about Montenegro. When I mentioned the country to a few friends, hardly anyone had been and many could not even point it out on the map.
Montenegro shares the same Adriatic coastline as Croatia, Albania… and if you go even further south, Greece. By European standards, it’s a relatively small country and takes a few hours to drive from the Albanian border to the Croatian. When it comes to flights from the UK, some of the budget airlines fly direct to Tivat (Bay of Kotor) and the capital Podgorica. However, these flights aren’t daily (at time of writing) and were quite expensive, so we opted to fly to Dubrovnik and rent a car from there, which is only 17km north of the border. As this piece is about Montenegro, I won’t linger too long on Dubrovnik. We decided to spend a total of two nights in the Croatian resort at the beginning and end of our holiday, staying at this cute little B&B Guesthouse Rustico in the Old Town. Daytime in the old town was pretty overwhelming thanks to the huge crowds of cruise ship travellers, but once they headed back to the boats in the evening, it’s was a lot more enjoyable and less frantic.
When it comes to renting a car for our trip to Montenegro, we looked at a variety of options, but decided renting a car from Dubrovnik would be easier. We had seen a few horror stories online regarding so-called ‘damage’ and high insurance excess from some local car companies so stuck to Hertz. Whatever car you rent, you must make sure you are insured to drive it in Montenegro (some companies may charge extra for leaving Croatia) and you must have the right car documentation to show at the border. When we drove into Montenegro, they didn’t ask for it, but on the way back to Croatia, they did request the vehicle paperwork. Overall, it was pretty straightforward process. The queue at the border was about 45 minutes, although it was a lot quicker returning to Croatia a week later.
After crossing the border, within 15 minutes we reached the stunning Bay of Kotor – one of Montenegro’s most popular tourist destinations. It is a stunning span of water surrounded by mountains with Venetian settlements dotted along the bay. If you want to cross to the southern part of the Bay, you have two options – drive all the way around or get the short car ferry connecting Kamenari and Lepetane. For our first trip around the Bay, we wanted to drive the whole way so took the scenic route past the various villages and towns, such as Herceg Novi, Lipci and Perast. Kotor town is one of the main hubs in the Bay and is often a stop-off for cruise ships during the day. As we were seeking a bit more tranquillity, we rented a self-catering apartment in Muo – a waterside fishing village 1.5 miles away from Kotor. We had a huge apartment with two double beds and a seaview balcony, with free parking and bike rental available. Within a couple of minutes walk, there were plenty of small, empty pebbly beaches or piers so you could easily go swimming in the clear blue waters.
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