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September 2nd 2014

Join Us For A Free Covent Garden Walking Tour

Join Us For A Free Covent Garden Walking Tour

Covent Garden London

 

There are few places in London that attract both Londoners and visitors in equal measure. Covent Garden is one of them! Depending on the time of day you visit, you’ll see business lunches taking place, tourists snapping photos next to street performers and friends grabbing a drink at one of Covent Garden’s many pubs and bars. It’s an eclectic, buzzing area of London that is rarely quiet and always has something going on!

Things to do in Covent Garden

The area known as Covent Garden is located in London’s West End and is made up of smaller parts including the market piazza, the Opera Quarter (home to the Royal Opera House), St Martin’s Courtyard, Seven Dials and Neal’s Yard.

covent garden1Popular with both Londoners and visitors, Covent Garden has something for everyone! Shops, restaurants, bars, pubs, theatres, museums, entertainers…the list goes on. There used to be a fruit and vegetable market in Covent Garden but over the years it transformed into the trendy city hotspot of today.

You’ll see the “Apple Market” sign (left) during a visit to the many market stalls in Covent Garden. They now sell clothes, antiques and other gifts but the sign is a reminder of the fruit and veg market that once had a home here!

It’s a great place to pick up some unique souvenirs and grab some delicious treats from the street vendors and pop-up food stalls. You’ll also find big brand stores here – there’s the Apple Covent Garden store, where you can pick up all your favourite Apple technology products (this Apple shop unsurprisingly isn’t related to the old fruit market!).  The Covent Garden Apple store is one of the largest Apple stores in the world!

 

Some highlights of Covent Garden’s 19th century piazza can be seen in the video below!

 

Free Covent Garden Walking Tour with Golden Tours

You’ve read about Covent Garden, now experience it! Golden Tours are offering a free 90 minute walking tour of Covent Garden, taking participants on one of the most exciting London walks available. This London walking tour is not just confined to Covent Garden piazza; the expert guide will take visitors to West End highlights such as London theatres, the Royal Opera House, historic hotels and much more.

The only way to fully experience Covent Garden and the area around it is by embarking on a London walking tour. Exploring Covent Garden on foot means you won’t miss anything and, trust us, there’s a lot to see! You can weave through narrow alleyways and cobbled streets with ease, soaking up the sights, sounds and smells of this vibrant London sightseeing location.

The free Covent Garden walking tour takes place every Saturday at 10.30 AM, departing from Duncannon Street near St Martin-in-the-Fields church. See the Golden Tours Facebook page for more information and to sign up.

 
August 26th 2014

Meet The Beefeaters At The Tower Of London

Meet The Beefeaters At The Tower Of London

Beefeater at Tower of London

Photo by bobgjohnson on Flickr

 

Who are the Beefeaters?

The Yeomen Warders are the face of the Tower of London and their red-tinged uniforms cause quite a commotion when striding through the grounds of the Tower. Tourists love snapping a photo next to these city ambassadors, but Yeomen Warders have more to do besides looking pretty.

Tower of London

Tower of London

The Yeomen Warders (or ‘Beefeaters’) were historically responsible for looking after the Crown Jewels and the prisoners of the Tower, but today their role as ceremonial guard is a little more pleasant. If you’re wondering why they are affectionately called Beefeaters, take a look at the theories behind the nickname.

The Tower of London is a top place to do some London sightseeing and meeting a Beefeater makes the experience all the more worthwhile! You’ll get a better understanding of the 1,000 year old London attraction too.

 

The first female Beefeater

The first female Yeoman Warder began her stint at the Tower of London in 2007 – breaking over 500 years of male-only Beefeater history! Moira Cameron passed all the tests and is now the only woman Beefeater in a group of 37! Though women have never been officially excluded from being a Yeoman Warder, applicants need 22 years continuous service. This has been made easier to achieve in recent years as maternity leave is now included as part of their service.

Other women have applied for the job, but Moira is the only successful lady so far! Take a look at this video about Moira’s life at the Tower of London.

 

Do you think the life of a Beefeater is for you? Make sure you’re eligible with this Beefeater check list!

Prospective Yeoman Warders must:

  • Have at least 22 years of service in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.
  • Have been awarded the ‘Long Service and Good Conduct’ medal.
  • Be passionate about history and enthusiastic about talking to visitors about the Tower.
  • Have a good memory. Beefeaters learn a 50 minute tour to give to visitors and it includes lots of Tower of London facts!
  • Love London. Beefeaters live inside the Tower of London with their families – can you imagine ordering a pizza there?

Need to pay a visit to the Tower of London first before you make up your mind? Tower of London tickets can be purchased individually or packaged with other popular London attractions. If a Beefeater career doesn’t appeal to you, the Tower of London also has lots of other amazing things to experience – see the Crown Jewels, White Tower and learn about old functions of the fortress- it was once a Royal Mint, palace and zoo!

 
August 19th 2014

Open House London 2014: Get An Exclusive Look Inside Famous City Buildings

Open House London 2014: Get An Exclusive Look Inside Famous City Buildings

London City skyline

 

With the UK capital boasting miles and miles of eye-catching architecture, it’s no wonder an event like Open House London is so popular. For one weekend only, everyone is given the opportunity to take a look inside some of London’s most famous buildings not usually open to the public. Ever wondered about the history of The Leadenhall Building (affectionately known as the “Cheesegrater” to Londoners) or what the inside of magnificent Lambeth Palace looks like? Wonder no more, because on 20 and 21 September 2014, you’re invited inside over 800 London buildings to take a peek at some of the capital’s most recognisable buildings – all for free!

London opens its doors to the public this September

From offices to private homes and government buildings (No. 10 is even getting involved, but you’ll have to apply for tickets through a ballot), front doors will be swung open across London. Open House began in London in 1992 and has now spread to a number of cities across the world, aiming to change perceptions and break down barriers. Some of the buildings are available for you to turn up at without notice but others will need booking. With so many amazing places to explore in London, take a look at five fabulous Open House buildings you can step inside this September.

 

Leadenhall Building

Photo by Matt Brown on Flickr

1. The Leadenhall Building

Construction ended on this glossy City skyscraper in 2013, and Open House 2014 will be the first time the public is allowed inside to check out The Cheesegrater. Just turn up on the weekend, no pre booking required, but be aware there may be queues to ascend to the 40th floor. Sure to be the highlight of Open House 2014. Open Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 10am-4pm. 122 Leadenhall Street

 

 

 

10 Downing Street2. 10 Downing Street

Entry to the Prime Minister’s Office on Downing Street is allocated via a ballot, so fill in your details and cross your fingers! Open House gives the public a unique opportunity to explore this private building, the home of Britain’s prime ministers since 1735! Ballot is open until noon on 13 September, so apply soon to be in with a chance. 10 Downing Street

 

 

The Gherkin3. The Gherkin 

You couldn’t mistake The Gherkin for another building in the City; this curved glass building serves as office space and its quirky design is a striking addition to the London skyline. The Gherkin has a glass dome at the top of the building which gives visitors a spectacular 360 degree view of the capital. Saturday 8am-5pm, Sunday 9am-4pm. 30 St Mary Axe

 

 

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park4. Olympic Park

Take a walk through the historic Olympic Park this Open House and see where the £9bn of public investment is being spent in the area. There are several expert-led walks available, educating participants on the construction, design and engineering of the park and how the legacy of the Olympic Games remains in this new neighbourhood. You can also see the ArcelorMittal Orbit, the one of a kind sculpture and observation tower. Olympic Park, East London

 

 

Bank of England5. Bank of England

Smell the money during Open House at the Bank of England. The Bank and its Museum will be open to visitors and museum staff will be conducting 30 minute guided tours of parts of the Bank, letting the public into little known facts as people walk through the Governor’s Office, Court Room and the Committee Room. Open 9.30am – 4pm, just turn up. Bartholomew Lane. 

 

Open House London 2014 is a great opportunity to explore some of the capital’s most photographed and private buildings. Pick your favourite and so some snooping!

 
August 14th 2014

Discover The Secrets Of The River Thames At Totally Thames Festival

Discover The Secrets Of The River Thames At Totally Thames Festival

River Thames sunrise

Photo by Mike Rolls on Flickr

 

London would be a very different city without the River Thames. The lifeblood of the city for thousands of years, the Thames has been a key route for London’s trade and today Thames boat trips are a beautiful and relaxing way to see the capital! From Tower Bridge to the London Eye, many of London’s top attractions are dotted along the world-famous river. The colourful history of the River Thames will be celebrated throughout September with the month-long Totally Thames Festival – a brand new series of events that recognise and honour the river across its 42 London miles. Organised by the Thames Festival Trust, there will be lots of free fun things to do in London and special Thames river cruises to experience.

What’s on during the Totally Thames Festival?

Thames Festival Sunday 9/9/2012

Photo by Barry Lewis

The September calendar is jam-packed with amazing events taking place along, and on, the River Thames! Take a tall ship cruise in Greenwich during 5-9 September as the largest fleet of magnificent tall ships in 25 years comes to London and dominate the river with their billowing sails.

Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman has a special new sculpture planned (it’s a closely guarded secret at the moment!) that will pop up on London’s South Bank for the entire month of the festival. Hofman is famous for his eye-catching designs – the giant yellow rubber duck that travelled the world in 2007 was his own work!

 

Row, row, row your boat!

Great Boat Race competitors

Photo by Paul Hudson on Flickr

No celebration of the River Thames would be complete without a few good-natured races! The Barge Driving Races take place on Sunday 14 September and sees modern-day watermen and lightermen (river workers) skilfully navigating heavy barges down the river.

Competitive rowing event The Great River Race provides some nail-biting entertainment on Saturday 27 September and can be viewed at various points along the River Thames. This fun event attracts over 300 crews from every level – some competitors even don their best fancy dress!

 

The Totally Thames Festival runs from 1 – 30 September 2014. There will also be exhibitions, documentaries, outdoor riverside activities and tours at various locations throughout the month. Check out the calendar for a full list of Totally Thames events