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Guide to what’s on in London in June 2019

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.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Imagine you’re in the country at Polo In The Park

  • 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

Review: Visiting the Tower of London with a Context Travel tour

Exploring the history of the Tower on a three-hour semi-private tour.

Tower of London © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

One of London’s most historic and important sights – the Tower of London

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.

Tower of London Tour © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

The White Tower is over 1,000 years old

Tower of London Tour © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2019

One of the Tower Guards on duty

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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Get away from the crowds in beautiful Montenegro

Escape to Montenegro and explore the Bay of Kotor, Budva Riviera and the mountains.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The stunning scenery of Sveti Stefan on the west coast of Montenegro

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.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

Weaving through the alleys of Kotor Old Town

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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Guide to what’s on in London in July 2018

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Live music at the Lambeth Country Show in Brockwell Park

Summer is in full swing and so is tourist season. London has one of its busiest months of the year as hordes of visitors descend on the capital and the school holidays kick off at the end of the month. It’s also a big month for sports fans with the World Cup and Wimbledon taking place.

For a guide to London’s urban beaches, click here.

Find out where London’s nearest lavender fields are.

  • Now until 1 July : Merge Festival

The annual arts, music and performance festival returns to Bankside, drawing upon the area’s heritage and contemporary culture. Events include the Emily Peasgood’s sound installation Requiem for Crossebones, and many more. For more information, visit the Merge Festival website.

  • Now until 1 July : Carters Steam Fair @ Hornsey

The vintage travelling funfair sets up camp in Hornsey, featuring rides from the late 19th century to the 1960s. Open Frid 3pm-8pm, Sat 11am-8pm and Sun 11am-8pm. Free admission. Priory Park, Hornsey, N8 8QR. Nearest station: Hornsey. For more information, visit the Carters Steam Fair website.

  • Now until 1 July : Hampstead Summer Festival

The festival takes place in and around Hampstead, including the Big Fair on Heath Street (1 July), open art competitions, poetry, art and literacy events, pub quizzes and more. Many activities are free. For more information, visit the HampsteadSummer Festival website.

  • 3 – 5 July : FoundHER Festival

A festival for working women bringing together inspiring women giving talks, workshops, entertainment and more. Times vary. The AllBright, 11 Rathbone Place, Soho, W1T 1HR. Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus or Goodge Street. For more information, visit the FoundHER festival website.

  • 3 – 8 July : RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Flower show in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace. Celebrity and expert speakers include Pippa Greenwood, Julia Bradbury, David Domoney, Bill Oddie, Chris Beardshaw, Carol Klein, Joe Swift and Ben Faulks. Open to RHS members only Tues-Wed, Public entry Mon and Thu-Sun. Advance tickets range from £19.50 to £37 depending on full/half-day and RHS membership. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (from Waterloo). For more information and tickets, visit the RHS website.

  • 3 July – 30 September : Scoop – The Wonderful World Of Ice Cream

A sensory immersive celebration of ice cream from food wizards Bompas & Parr. Featuring the history of ice cream, ice cream weather, glow-in-the-dark ice cream, the neuroscience of ice cream and the dark side of desserts. Open: Mon-Fri 12pm-8pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm. Tickets: Adults: £12, Conc £10, Under 16s £6 (+ booking fee). Unit 2, Gasholders Building, 1 Lewis Cubitt Square, Kings Cross, N1C 4BY. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information and booking, visit the BMOF website.

  • 4 – 8 July : Sail Royal Greenwich presents Tall Ships

Ten tall ships will be cruising up and down the River Thames. Visitors can enjoy a quite unique opportunity to cruise aboard one of the ships. Setting off from Woolwich Royal Arsenal Pier, there’ll be a range of cruise options available throughout the event with the route taking visitors past Canary Wharf and The O2 Arena as far as the Cutty Sark, Greenwich Royal Naval College and even the Thames Barrier or Tower Bridge depending on the chosen departure. There will also be firework displays each evening. Cruises packages and departure times vary. For more information, check out the Sail Royal Greenwich website.

  • 5 July : A Walk Through Time @ Connaught Village

Connaught Village celebrates 150 years of history with a special event. Featuring live music, theatre, jelly art from Bompas & Parr, workshops, freebies and more. 3pm-7pm. Free to attend. Connaught Village, W2 2AA. Nearest station: Marble Arch, Paddington or Lancaster Gate. For more information, visit the Connaught Village website. Read Metro Girl’s blog post on the event.

  • 5 July : City Beerfest

One day beer festival comes to the City of London. Featuring 14 breweries, live music from City Music Foundation artists and food stalls. 12.30pm-9.30pm. Free entry or Beer packages from £12 (incl 4 beer tokens and 1 City Beerfest glass per person). Guildhall Yard, City of London, EC2V 5AE. Nearest station: St Paul’s. For tickets (save at least 10%), visit the City Beerfest website.

  • 5 July : Whisky 101 for American Independence Day

Celebrate the US holiday with a banquet of Southern American style food, beer and bourbon. Learn all things bourbon and beer with ambassadors for Heaven Hill and FourPure, while DJs will be spinning American classics on the decks. Tickets: £15 (inc food with 1 cocktail/beer). The Gallery, 190 Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead, NW6 3AY. Nearest station: West Hampstead. For more information, visit the Gallery website.

  • Now until 5 July : Masterpiece London

An imaginative art and antiques fair for traditional and contemporary. Featuring a week of cultural, culinary and social experiences. Tickets from £35. Royal Hospital, Chelsea, SW3 4SL. Nearest station: Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Masterpiece London website.

  • 6 – 8 July : Just V Show

Lifestyle festival for vegans, vegetarians or those who want to live a more plant-based diet. Open 10am-5pm. Tickets: £10 (also include entry to the Love Natural Love You and The Allergy & Free From Show). Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For tickets, visit the Just V Show website.

  • 7 July : Stockwell Festival

A celebration of the unique creativity and diversity of Stockwell. This year’s theme is ‘Stockwellbeing’. 12pm-6pm. Free entry. Larkhall Park, Stockwell, SW8 2PX. Nearest station: Stockwell or Wandsworth Road. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

  • 7 July : Art Night

A free contemporary arts festival takes over spaces, venues and landmarks in the capital for one night only, featuring art, architecture, dance and music. Every year, a cultural institution is invited to focus on a different part of London. This year, the event will take place in south of the Thames across Southbank, Vauxhall and Nine Elms. 6pm-6am. Free. For more information, visit the Art Night website.

  • 7 July : Rainbow Festival Pride Party @ Chotto Matte

Peruvian-Japanese restaurant Chotto Matte are hosting a party to celebrate Pride, featuring multi-coloured cocktails, rainbow menu, DJs and more. From 12pm-1pm, guests will be served free multi-coloured food and drink on the house. Chotto Matte, 11-13 Frith Street, Soho, W1D 4RB. Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Chotto Matte website.
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Guide to what’s on in London in June 2018

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2017

Summer is here!

Summer is here! We’ve had some fairly good weather in recent weeks, two glorious bank holidays and a good dose of wedding fever thanks to the royal nuptials. However, with all that excitement behind us, there’s still plenty to look forward to in June. There’s a host of arts and cultural events, the return of foodie extravaganza Taste Of London and Trooping The Colour and boozy festivals to celebrate World Gin Day, are among just some of the events on around town.

For a guide to this summer’s London’s outdoor cinemas, click here.

Find out where to watch the World Cup and Wimbledon on the big screen this summer.

  • 1 – 2 June : Mindful Living

Learn about the art of mindfulness and meditation and how it can help you in your life. Featuring keynote speakers Will Young, Professor Paul Gilbert OBE, Dr Kristin Neff, Madeleine Shaw, Angie Ward, John Siddique and many more. Activities include creative and physical workshops, talks, meditation spaces, zen products and more. Open Fri 10am-5.30pm, Sat 10am-5pm. Tickets: £30-£60. Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the show website.

  • 1 – 3 June : Stoke Newington Literary Festival

A festival featuring readings, workshops and performances at venues across the suburb. Speakers include Chelsea Clinton, Aaron Gillies (Technically Ron), Kerstin Rodgers, Lucy Mangan, The Secret Barrister, Tom Huddleston and many more. 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.

  • 1 – 9 JuneBrockley Max

Nine-day community arts festival featuring live music, dance, craft markets, poetry, art installations, film screenings, workshops, talks, interactive games and more. At venues across Brockley, Ladywell, Crofton Park and Honor Oak. For more information, visit the Brockley Max website.

  • 1 June – 20 July : 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. 6-10pm. Tickets: £18.50. 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.

  • 1 – 30 June : London Festival Of Architecture

A month-long celebration of architecture, with this year’s theme being ‘identity’. Featuring talks, installations, tours, exhibitions, open studios, film screenings, debates and conferences. 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 or ThisIsSoho.co.uk. Read Metro Girl’s blog post on this year’s event.

  • Now until 1 June : Herne Hill Free Film Festival

Month-long free celebration of film, featuring screenings, workshops, competitions, short films, live music around Herne Hill. Movies include Get Out, Paddington 2, Coco, Loving Vincent, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and more. At venues around SE24, including Prince Regent pub, Effraspace, Lido Café, Half Moon pub, The Florence and more. For more information, visit the Free Film Festivals site.

  • Now until 2 June : London Burlesque Festival

The world’s finest burlesque performers gather in the capital for an extended five-week festival. Doors open 7pm, shows start at 8.05pm. Tickets: General £24, Priority £35. Shaw Theatre, 110 Euston Road, NW1 2AJ. Nearest station: Euston or Kings Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the London Burlesque Festival website.

  • 3 JuneLondon Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

Forty dragon boat teams will race at the London Regatta Centre in Docklands. As well the race, the free festival includes martial arts displays, live East West music festival, traditional lion and dragon dancing, a Hong Kong food festival, cultural festival and children’s games. 10am-5pm. Free. London Regatta Centre, Dockside Road, Docklands, E16 2QT. Nearest station: Royal Albert (DLR). For more information, visit the London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival website. Read Metro Girl’s blog post on this year’s event.

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

  • Now until 3 June : Sundance 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, 15 shorts and special events. Festival passes for £150 or individual tickets available. 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.

  • 3 – 6 June : Graduate Fashion Week 2018

Fashion fans and aspiring designers will get the chance to check out the rising talent in the industry. Featuring catwalk shows, showcases and more. Tickets start from £8. Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, Spitalfields, E1 6QR. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street, Liverpool Street or Aldgate East. For more information, visit the Graduate Fashion Week websiteRead the rest of this entry

Guide to what’s on in London in May 2018

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

The Canalway Cavalcade returns to Little Venic

It’s May – whoopee! It means two Bank Holidays, a royal wedding (although not in London), longer days, warmer weather and we’re in touching distance of summer. With spring in full swing, more events and festivals are taking place alfresco. Film fans will find plenty of movie offerings, while there’s many art exhibitions on for those seeking some culture. Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to the best of London’s events on in May.

For a guide to London’s outdoor and pop-up cinemas this summer, click here.

  • 1 – 7 May : Sci-Fi London Film Festival

The 18th annual celebration of the sci-fi genre, featuring premieres, talks and screenings. At BFI Southbank, Stratford Picturehouse, Rich Mix, The Trampery, JuJu’s Bar & Stage, EXP, Science Museum IMAX, and the Moth Club. For more information, visit the Sci-London Film Festival website.

  • 1 May – 1 June : Herne Hill Free Film Festival

Month-long free celebration of film, featuring screenings, workshops, competitions, short films, live music around Herne Hill. Movies include Get Out, Paddington 2, Coco, Loving Vincent, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and more. At venues around SE24, including Prince Regent pub, Effraspace, Lido Café, Half Moon pub, The Florence and more. For more information, visit the Free Film Festivals site.

  • 3 May – 31 August : Neverland London

Head to the river for Fulham’s beach club. Includes Jimmy Garcia’s BBQ Club pop up restaurant, two bars, live DJs, bottomless brunches, games and activities, including yoga and cocktail masterclasses. Open Wed-Fri 6pm-11pm, Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-8pm. Entry from £5. Neverland London, 364 Wandsworth Bridge Road, Fulham, SW6 2TY. Nearest station: Wandsworth Town. For more information, visit the Neverland London website.

  • 3 May – mid September : Skylight

Rooftop bar Skylight London returns to Wapping with city views, cocktails, street food, lawn games, World Cup and Wimbledon screenings and more. Open Thu-Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-11pm. Free entry. Croquet: Indoor £25, Outdoor £35 (45 min game), Petanque: £15 (2-4 players). Skylight, Tobacco Quay (Pennington Street entrance), Wapping, E1CW 2SF. Nearest station: Shadwell or Wapping. For more information, visit the Skylight London website. For Metro Girl’s review, click here.

  • 3 May – September : Rooftop Film Club

Pop-up cinema returns to rooftops across the capital, screening new and classic films. Venues include Bussey Building (Peckham), Queen of Hoxton (Shoreditch) and Roof East (Stratford). Tickets start from £14/95/£15.96 (includes seating and wireless headphones). For more information and tickets, visit Rooftop Film Club website.

  • 4 – 6 May : Be: Fit London

The UK’s health and fitness festival for women is back for its fifth year, featuring classes, talks, cooking demos, workshops and shopping village. Tickets start from £18. Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the Be: Fit London website.

  • 4 – 7 May : Alchemy Festival

A festival of music, dance, film, literature, theatre and performance from India, the UK and South Asia, featuring Aakash Odedra, Luke Sital-Singh, The Ska Vengers, Talvin Singh, Tez Ilyas and much more. Prices vary, with some activities free. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information and tickets, visit the Southbank Centre website.

  • 4 – 20 May : Wandsworth Arts Fringe

Two week fringe festival in the borough of Wandsworth featuring over 180 events, including theatre, dance, art, music, comedy, poetry, workshops, talks, markets and more. Highlights include Pump House Gallery Pavilion, National Opera Studio Magic Wandsworth, Wes Barker, Swing Patrol and much more. For more information, visit the Wandsworth Arts Fringe website.

  • 5 May : The Tweed Run

The 10th annual bicycle ride sees participants dressing up in vintage tweed and cycling past London’s landmarks. Starting in a secret location yet to be revealed and going for 10 miles, before ending for the Closing Ceremony (4-9pm) in Spa Fields, Clerkenwell, EC1. Rider tickets are sold out, but spectators can watch for free. Nearest station: Angel or Farringdon. For more information, visit The Tweed Run website.

  • 5 May : Cycle Revolution

Cycling festival returns to Clerkenwell to coincide with the Tweed Run. Featuring demos, street food, vinyl DJs, workshops, stalls and cocktails from Bourne & Hollingsworth. 12pm-8pm. Free entry. Spa Fields, Clerkenwell, EC1R 0HU. Nearest station: Farringdon or Angel. For more information, visit the Cycle Revolution website.

  • 5 May : Day Of Dance

The Westminster Morris Men and Morris Dance teams from across the country will gather in Trafalgar Square for a day of dancing. 2pm-5pm. Free. Trafalgar Square, Westminster, WC2N. Nearest station: Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the London.gov.uk website.

  • 5 May : Cinco de Mayo with Cahoots and Cointreau

Underground drinking den Cahoots is teaming up with Cointreau to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Special drinks have been created for the evening, such as You’’ll Never Smile Again, 1948 In The Big Smoke, and Seventy Years Of Cheers. From 5pm. Cahoots, 13 Kingly Court, Soho, W1B 5PG. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For more information or to book a table, visit the Cahoots website. Read Metro Girl’s review of Cahoots.

  • 5 – 7 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. 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 a previous year’s Cavalcade, click here.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Head to the Country Show at Morden Hall Park

  • 5 – 7 May : Morden Hall Park Country Show

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 5-18 £5, 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.

  • 5 – 13 May : Grand Designs Live

Based on the Channel 4 TV series, the show features ideas and inspiration for your own grand design, including workshops, consultations, lectures and celebrity guests. Tickets: Weekday £12, Weekend £15. ExCel, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Prince Regent (DLR). For more information and tickets, visit the Grand Designs Live websiteRead the rest of this entry

Mail Rail review: Travel under London on the Royal Mail’s underground railway

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The Mail Rail is a ride on the Royal Mail’s former underground railway

We all know about the Victorian origins of the London Underground, which has been transporting commuters since 1863. However, did you know it’s not the capital’s only underground railway in existence? For eight decades, the Post Office ran their own subterranean train system to transport letters and parcels under the city’s streets. Affectionately known as the ‘Mail Rail’, it closed for good in 2003. However, in September 2017, the railway was brought back to life and adapted for human passengers as part of a new experience at the Postal Museum.

Road traffic has been a problem in London for centuries, stemming back to the days of horses and carts. For owners of the Post Office, the impact on their deliveries arriving late was not good for business so something had to be done. In 1909, a committee was set up to devise a traffic-proof delivery system, and by 1911 had settled on the idea of driverless electric trains. Construction began in 1914 with a trial tunnel in Plumstead Marshes, south-east London, with the main 6 1/2 miles of tunnels completed by 1917. By this time, World War I was in full swing so lack of labour and materials meant the project was put on hold. However, the tunnels did find some use during WWI as the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate stored some of their artworks in them for safe-keeping. Following the end of the Great War, costs of materials had risen so much, it wasn’t until 1923 that work could finally resume. Finally, on 5 December 1927, parcels were transported underground between Mount Pleasant and Paddington for the first time.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

One of the former stations, where busy Royal Mail workers would be hauling carts of post to and from trains

The trains run in a single 9ft tunnel featuring a double 2ft gauge track. Approaching each station, the tunnel would split into two 7ft tunnels with a single track each. The railway’s deepest point was 70ft, although the stations tended to be slightly closer to street level. By 1930, the original rolling stock were knackered so they were replaced with new trains. These new ones featured a 27ft single car train with each container having a capacity for 15 bags of letters or six bags of parcels. These were used until they were replaced in 1980 by a new fleet. Over the decades, some of the stations came and went, including the Western Parcels Office and Western District Office, with the latter name being reused at a new station at Rathbone Place, which opened in 1965. In 1987, the train system was renamed ‘Mail Rail’ to mark its 60th anniversary. In 1993, the whole system was computerised so the trains could be controlled from a single point. By the end of the 1990s, only the stations at Paddington, Western Delivery Office, Mount Pleasant, and the East District Office were being used, carrying over 6 million bags of mail annually. However, as the system aged, Royal Mail decided it was becoming too costly to run the railway, claiming road transport was cheaper and its death warrant was signed. On 31 May 2003, the Mail Rail was closed for good.  Read the rest of this entry

Lumiere London 2018: The capital becomes a gallery of neon

Where to celebrate New Year’s Eve 2017 in London

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Happy New Year! 2018 is coming…

What a year 2017 has been – Trump shenanigans, the on-going Brexit negotiations, a wave of harassment allegations in Hollywood, the horror of Grenfell Tower and more. There are many of us who are looking forward to closing the door on this year and greeting 2018 with open arms. Fortunately, there’s a host of celebrations to help you welcome in the new year from clubbing, to meals and fancy dress or fireworks, depending on your taste and budget. With all the listings below, I would highly recommend booking in advance to take advantage of some early bird prices and to avoid disappointment as many will sell out. Many events won’t be taking walk-ups. Whatever you do, have a good one!

Don’t forget, TFL will be providing free public transport from 11.45pm on New Year’s Eve until 4.30am on New Year’s Day.

Central London

  • New Year’s Eve firework display over the River Thames

Thousands expected to take to the north and south of the River to watch the fireworks display near the London Eye. Since 2014, City Hall has introduced a fee to cover costs, this year’s being £10. Tickets went on sale in November. There will be a lot of congestion or potential closures of some tube stations around the Embankments so check with TFL before you travel. For more information of where you can and can’t access without a ticket, visit the London.gov.uk website.

  • Vintage New Year’s Eve Party @ Royal Festival Hal

Travel back in time with a glamorous extravaganza of live bands and DJs spread across six pop-up vintage nightclubs from the 1920s to the 1990s, with dining, bars, beauty parlours and photo studios also on site. Around midnight, some of the action will move to one of the balconies (weather permitting) for a great vista of the New Year’s Eve fireworks over the Thames. 7pm-2am. Tickets start from £99. Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. For booking, visit the Southbank Centre website. For more information, read Metro Girl’s blog post on the evening.

  • New Year’s Eve Stand Up Show – Comedy Store

See in the new year laughing your socks off with MC Mandy Knight, Felicity Ward, Jeff Innocent, Tom Lucy and The Noise Next Door. There are two shows – an early one if you’ve got plans for midnight or the later one, with a DJ spinning tracks for the after-party. Doors open at 5pm/8pm, two shows at 6pm and 9.30pm. Tickets £27-£65. The Comedy Store, 1a Oxendon Street, SW1Y 4EE. Nearest stations: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Comedy Store website.

  • Black Cat NYE and Black Cat Ball

London’s dark and daring cabaret show is offering two opportunities to see in the New Year in the Spiegeltent in Leicester Square. The cabaret show at 6.30pm for early starters or the Black Cat Ball from 9.30pm, features a cabaret show, promenade circus spectacle, live music, roving performers and extended DJ set. 6.30/9.30pm-2am. Tickets: 6.30pm cabaret show £24-£29, Black Cat Ball £55 (includes glass of bubbly). Spiegeltent, Leicester Square, WC2H 7NA. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus. For tickets, visit Black Cat website.

  • Great Gatsby New Year’s Eve @ Sky Garden

Celebrate New Year’s Eve at the top of the ‘Walkie Talkie’ in the bars and restaurants of the Sky Garden with views over London. Food, drink, entertainment and DJs. 6pm-2am. Tickets prices start from £95. Sky Garden, 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London, EC3M 3BY. Nearest station: Fenchurch Street or Monument. For booking, visit the Sky Garden website. For Metro Girl’s review of the Sky Garden, click here.

  • Life Of A Legend @ Playboy Club

The Playboy Club pays tribute to its late founder Hugh Hefner with a decadent bash. The club will be transformed into the Playboy Mansion, with games area, film zone, photo studio, live music, DJs, American canapés, complimentary midnight fizz and, of course, bunnies. 8pm-3am. Tickets: £49. Playboy Club, 14 Old Park Lane, Mayfair, W1K 1ND. Nearest station: Hyde Park Corner. For more information, visit the Playboy Club website.

  • Prohibition 1920s New Year’s Eve party

Welcome the new year, 1920s style at this prohibition-themed party from Bourne & Hollingsworth, featuring live music, gramophone DJs, gambling, dancers and cocktails. Dress code: 1920s. 9pm-3am. Tickets: £55. In a secret London location to be revealed two weeks before. For more information, visit the Prohibition Party website.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2014

Gaze out over London at View From The Shard

  • New Year’s Eve Party @ The Shard

Watch the fireworks from the highest party in London, featuring welcome cocktail, DJs, complimentary champagne toast, goody bag and 360 degree view of the capital. 10pm-2am. Tickets: £199. View From The Shard, Floor 72, Joiner Street, London Bridge, SE1 9QU. Nearest station: London Bridge. For booking, visit View From The Shard.

  • Vintage New Year’s Knees Up @ Cahoots

Vintage lovers will enjoy this post-war shenangians in an old underground war shelter, featuring a Moet & Chandon and canape reception, Bottomless Belvedere cocktails, live entertainment by the Hotsie Totsies, New Year’s Eve toast and DJ set by The Roustabouts. Dress code: Post-war chic. 5pm-3.30am. Tickets: Bar £100, Table £150. Cahoots, 13 Kingly Court, Soho, W1B 5PW. Nearest station: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. For booking, visit the Cahoots website. For Metro Girl’s review of Cahoots, click here.

  • New Year’s Eve @ Flight Club

Dancing, drinking and darts at the Bloomsbury branch of Flight Club. Featuring DJs playing party hits, 90 minutes social darts session, fizz on arrival and more. 7pm-2am. Tickets from £15. Flight Club, New Oxford Street, Bloomsbury, WC1A 1BS. Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road. For tickets, visit DesignMyNight.

  • New Year’s Eve @ Devonshire Club

The City’s private members club is opening its doors for the New Year. Start your night with welcome drinks and canapes, before a decadent three or five-course dinner in the brasserie. Live entertainment from The Night Lights and DJs until the early hours. From 6.30pm until late. Tickets range from £50 (members)/£75 (non-members) to £255 depending on package. Devonshire Club, 5 Devonshire Square, City of London, EC2M 4YD. Nearest station: Liverpool Street. For more information, visit the Devonshire Club websiteRead the rest of this entry

Guide to what’s on in London in December 2017

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Wishing my readers a Merry Christmas

It’s all very festive in the capital. If you haven’t been forced into the Christmas spirit already with the sheer volume of red, green and glitter around the capital, it won’t take long before it hits you. There is a host of events on around the capital for both adults and families. Foodies will be particularly well catered for with seasonal markets and shows on. Across town, there’s plenty of festive pop-ups, with many listed below. Of course, there are many open-air ice skating rinks for those with a good sense of balance.

For a guide to London’s New Year’s Eve events, click here.

For a guide to London’s ice rinks, click here.

To find out which bars are serving special Christmas cocktails and Winter Warmers here.

  • 1 December : Dreamworks Animation in Concert

Listen to songs from your favourite Dreamworks animated films performed live by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. From 6pm. Tickets start from £28.32. Wembley SSE Arena, Arena Square, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0AA. Nearest station: Wembley Park or Wembley Stadium. For tickets, visit the Dreamworks SeeTickets website. For more information, visit Metro Girl’s blog post on the concert.

  • 1 – 2 DecemberThe Spirit Show

Fans of gin, vodka and the like will enjoy this boozy festival, featuring masterclasses, tastings, street food, interactive lounge, VIP speakeasy and more. Open Fri 1-9pm, Sat 12-5pm. Tickets from £25 (standard tickets inc unlimited tastings, showguide and 6 bottle jute). Business Design Centre, Islington, N1 0QH. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit The Spirit Show website.

  • 1 – 3 DecemberLondon Illustration Fair

Three-day event celebrating illustration, featuring artist-led stands, talks, workshops, music, DJs, live signings. Entry: £8 advance, Under 12s free. Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bankside, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars or Waterloo . For more information, visit the London Illustration Fair website.

  • 1 – 10 December : London International Animation Festival

Showcase of animation from around the world featuring gala premieres, retrospectives, filmmakers Q&As, workshops, audience voting and screenings. Tickets start from £12 (Barbican standard tickets) to £95 for full pass. At the Barbican, The Horse Hospital, Close-Up Cinema and The Whitechapel Gallery. For more information and tickets, visit the LIAF website.

  • 1 – 17 December : Ferrero Rocher – Behind The Layers

Ferrero Rocher are creating an immersive sensory tasting experience for chocolate fans. Open 1pm-10.30pm (last experience 9.30pm). Tickets: £25 (45 minute experience, includes a glass of Prosecco or non-alcoholic beverage). Westfield London, Shepherd’s Bush, W12 7GF. Nearest station: Shepherd’s Bush, Shepherd’s Bush Market or Wood Lane. For booking, visit BehindTheLayers.co.uk. Read Metro Girl’s blog post to find out more.

  • 1 – 19 December : Art For Love festival

A Christmas extravaganza in the historic surrounds of Devonshire Square, featuring live music, carol singing, ballet, ice skating performances and more. Times vary. Free. Devonshire Square (Western Courtyard), City of London, EC2M. Nearest stations: Liverpool Street or Aldgate. For more information, visit the Devonshire Square website. Read Metro Girl’s blog post on the festival.

  • 1 – 31 December : Greenwich Winter Time

The royal borough of Greenwich are hosting a winter festival, featuring open-air ice skating outside the Old Naval College, festive market, food and drink, entertainment on the mirrored stage and Father Christmas’ launch pad. Entry tickets (morning, afternoon or evening sessions): Adults £15-£18, Children £8. Old Royal Naval College, Park Row, Greenwich, SE10 9LS. Nearest station: Cutty Sark, Greenwich or Maze Hill. For more information, visit the Greenwich Winter Time website.

  • 2 DecemberThe Great Christmas Pudding Race

Watch or take part in the annual Great Christmas Pudding Race in Covent Garden, which sees participants dressing up and raising money for Cancer Research UK. From 11am. Free for spectators. Covent Garden Piazza, WC1. Nearest station: Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information and details on entering, visit the Great Christmas Pudding Race website.

  • 2 DecemberBeautycon

Social media influencers and celebrities will come together to talk beauty, fashion and style. Featuring Olivia Buckland, Jordyn Woods, Patricia Bright, Montana Brown, Grace Victory, Jayde Pierce and many more. 12-6pm. Tickets start from £30. Olympia National, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Beautycon website.

  • 2 – 3 December : Santa and his huskies come to the London Wetland Centre

Special Christmas weekend event at the London Wetland Centre, where families can visit Santa’s Grotto, enjoy a sleigh ride with the huskies or a donkey ride or make decorations in the elves’ workshop. Normal admission prices to LWC apply: Adults £13.49, Children £7.42. Santa visit £8 per child (includes gift). London Wetland Centre, Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, SW13 9WT. Nearest station: Barnes. For more information, visit the WWT London Wetland Centre website.

  • 2 – 10 December : Spitalfields Music Festival

Spitalfields Music return with their winter festival. Acts include Mark Titchner, Sara Mohr-Pietsch, Musical Rumpus, Max Richter and André de Ridder among others. At various venues in the Spitalfields area including Shoreditch Church, Rich Mix and the Huguenot Houses of Spitalfields. For booking, visit the Spitalfields Music website. For this year’s highlights, read Metro Girl’s blog post.

  • 2 – 23 December : Santa’s Grotto @ Museum Of London

Meet Santa in a Victorian Santa’s Grotto. Professional photographer available to capture the moment. £10 per child (includes gift, book in advance). Museum of London, 150 London Wall, City of London, EC2Y 5HN. Nearest station: Barbican or Moorgate. For more information, visit the Museum Of London website.

  • 5 DecemberHome Front – Immersive Time Travel

One-off evening of an immersive time travel experience set in London during World War II. Featuring performances, escape rooms, live music, five bars and more. From 5.15pm-10.30pm. Tickets start from £25. At a secret east London location. For booking, visit DesignMyNight. For more information, read Metro Girl’s blog post.

  • 5 – 8 December : Vauxhall One’s Christmas Music Week

Every night, a different choir will perform in front of Vauxhall One’s Christmas tree. Choirs include West End Musical Choir, Sunday Assembly Choir, House Gospel Choir and Real Voices. 5.30pm-6.30pm. Free to spectate. Vauxhall One (outside Vauxhall station), SW8. Nearest station: Vauxhall. For more information, visit the Vauxhall One website.

  • 5 – 9 DecemberPigs Ear Beer And Cider Festival

Annual beer festival in conjunction with CAMRA, featuring over 230 real ales plus ciders, perries and bottled beers, food stalls and unique festival brews. Opening hours TBC. Entry: £3 (members), £5 (non-members). Round Chapel, Powerscroft Road, Hackney, E5 0PU. Nearest station: Hackney Downs or Hackney Central. For more information, visit the Pig’s Ear website

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