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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

 
August 12th 2014

Top 3 Wild Days Out In London

Top 3 Wild Days Out In London

London Zoo girl

London may be a bustling metropolis, but it doesn’t mean you can’t walk on the wild side once in a while! Get in touch with the natural world and lose yourself in London with a visit to one of the city’s creature crazy attraction. From the dry plains of Africa to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean or the chilly wilds of Antarctica, you can travel the world with this list of our top three roaring great things to do in London!

ZSL London Zoo, Regent’s Park

London Zoo tigerAlways a hit with young or old, ZSL London Zoo is the place to be if you want to see hundreds of species without paying the price for a round the world plane ticket. The world’s oldest scientific zoo, London Zoo first opened to the public in 1847 and is located in sprawling Regent’s Park. Where else in the capital can you visit the whole world in one day?

Check out gorillas, snakes, hippos, tigers (plus some cute new tiger cubs) and many more animals at this popular zoo. Get your London Zoo tickets and meet some animals that will melt your heart!

 

Natural History Museum, South Kensington

NHM dinosaur skeleton

If extinct specimens sound like your cup of tea, London’s Natural History Museum is a treasure trove of wild historical artefacts. You can come face to face with a T-Rex (bones only!) and see a skeleton of the famous extinct dodo. Other animal-related things to see include fossils, a section dedicated to creepy crawlies and a huge life size model of a blue whale.

You can spend a few hours browsing the beautiful Natural History Museum building and entrance is free! (There may be a charge for some exhibitions)

 

SEA LIFE London Aquarium, South Bank

London AquariumCruise around the world’s rivers, lakes and oceans at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium on London’s South Bank. You can literally walk underwater at this famous aquarium during a stroll through the glass tunnel walkway – the sight of sharks and turtles swimming overhead is almost enough to convince visitors they are scuba diving in the Caribbean!

The London Aquarium boasts three floors of slippery creatures and also features interactive experiences,  giving visitors the opportunity to feed stingrays or hold a crab. Watch out for the claws, though!

The SEA LIFE London Aquarium is a great attraction, come rain or shine, and with the London Dungeon and EDF Energy London Eye located just a few steps away, you could make a day of it and combine a visit to all three!

These brilliant attractions make it possible for people visiting London to see animals, learn about their lives and the history of the natural world year-round. Escape to another country or time and bring out your animal instinct in London!

 

 
August 7th 2014

Sail Away In London During The Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival 2014

Sail Away In London During The Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival 2014

3 Tall ships at Wapping 2013

Celebrate Britain’s glorious maritime history with a very special event in London this September! Up to 50 magnificent tall ships will sail through London for the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival 2014, with a whole host of events taking place on both the River Thames and dry land from 5th to 9th September 2014. A celebration of the historic rigged vessels, the Tall Ships Festival is set to transform a number of London docks into a fabulous display of nautical masterpieces.

Sail the River Thames in style

Tall Ships cruise in London

Tall Ships in London

These beautiful boats will travel from Falmouth, Cornwall, to London via the Isle of Wight for the capital’s largest Tall Ship event in 25 years! Soaring white sails will appear in Greenwich as the tall ships berth along the River Thames in preparation for five days of festivities.

You can see the ships at Greenwich, Royal Arsenal Woolwich, Wood Wharf (Canary Wharf), Enderby Wharf and Victoria Deep Water Dock, with visitors able to board some ships at all sites for free!

 

Fun on the water for the Tall Ships Festival

Cutty Sark in Greenwich

The Cutty Sark

The Tall Ships Festival 2014 gives visitors the opportunity to take a cruise on one of the majestic vessels. Sail down the Thames and back aboard a tall ship or make the experience even better with one of the Tall Ships cruise packages. You can opt for a cruise which includes a buffet dinner followed by fireworks or a cruise which takes part in the Parade of Sail event, which involves all of the ships forming a parade before sailing downstream together.

The Parade of Sail will definitely be a sight to remember, and experiencing it aboard one of the ships will give you an unbeatably unique perspective!

 

For those wanting to stay on dry land, take a look at the fantastic events on offer (many of them are free!) that include fireworks, music, performances and children’s activities. There will also be special activities taking place at famous tea clipper ship The Cutty Sark (above left). There’s something for everyone at the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival 2014, so head down to the river this September and enjoy a cruise that can only be found in London for five short days!