Top events in London for the next 3 months

IT’S YOUR LONDON NEWSLETTER FOR AUTUMN/WINTER 2015
Here’s your autumn to winter 2015 newsletter giving you a taster of the exciting events coming up in the next 3 months in our capital. If you want to hear more about anything listed, or any other things you may have heard about, do send me an email (sue@itsyourlondon.co.uk) and I’ll get right back to you.
Have a look at Sue’s blog on the website (www.itsyourlondon.co.uk) to read about what I’ve been up to lately – a peek into life in London. I’m also on Twitter at @itsyourlondon so do join my 3750 followers for all the latest news!
Hope you enjoy your newsletter, let me know what you think.
Best wishes,
Sue Hillman
SPECIAL EVENTS
OCTOBER  This is a big month for film and art with major evens for both creative industries. The 59th London Film Festival is a showcase for Hollywood stars and blockbuster films and yet still finds space for first-time directors and documentaries.  Frieze Art Fair brings the art world to London and takes up residence in Regents Park and there is a whole range of other shows offering some pieces at more affordable prices.
NOVEMBER The week of the 5th sees firework displays all over town as we mark Guy Fawkes Night when a group tried, but failed luckily, to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.  It’s a great month for jazz fans when the London Jazz Festival brings top names to London’s famous night spots like Ronnie Scott. As winter is chilling the temperatures, you’ll see ice rinks opening all over town at great venues such as the Tower of London and the Natural History Museum.
DECEMBER The build-up to Christmas is in full flow with all the famous lights decorating the streets of London with their best festive look. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park offers a fun fair and Christmas market offering something for all the family. Look out for the famous, tall Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, an annual present from the people of Norway in memory of Britain’s help during the 2ndWorld War where carols are sung each evening – a magical sound to put you in a festive mood.
THEATRE
October   DH Lawrence’s Husbands and Sons comes to the National starting Anne Marie Duff. The Young Vic bring us their take on ‘Measure for Measure’ starring Romola Garai and there’s more Shakespeare with a Comedy of Errors at the National. We have a show at the Lyric Theatre celebrating One Direction’s success with music from ‘all 4’ of their albums! More music but this time it’s Close to you: Bacharach Reimagined at the Criterion where his songs are brought to us in a blend of nostalgia and innovation.  Michael Flatley is back, as the choreographer now, with those speedy Irish dance moves in Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games at the Playhouse.
November Dawn French’s 30 Million Minutes can be seen at the Vaudeville, which is the length of her life, so far. The Trafalgar Studios hosts Pinter’s The Homecoming with John Simm, Gary Kemp and Keith Allen.  The big show in town is the Kenneth Branagh season at the Garrick where we will be treated to the chance to see him starring with the wonderful Judi Dench in The Winter’s Tale.
December Tickets have been going quickly for A Christmas Carol at the Noel Coward theatre starring Jim Broadbent as Scrooge.  The Donmar Warehouse brings us Les Liaisons Dangereuses starring Dominic West so that’ll be worth a ticket! Goodnight Mister Tom is on at the Duke of York starring David Troughton. A musical based on Alice in Wonderland, called just Wonderland comes to us at the National from Damon Albarn so we know Christmas is coming but to slow that festive cheer down a play called Hangman transfers to the Wyndham about Britain’s last hangman when the death sentence is abolished, starring David Morrissey.  But standby – the pantomimes are coming soon!
ART GALLERIES
October This is a busy month for art lovers with Frieze being the main show on in a number of huge tents in Regents Park alongside Frieze Masters for a more traditional approach.  Several other galleries join in and Berkeley Square hosts the Pavilion of Art and Design Fair in another large tent (or marquee I should say as it sounds posher!). The Other Art Fair at the Old Truman Brewery offers a more affordable level of work. Frank Auerbach has a show at the Tate Britain and Goya: The Portraits opens at the National Gallery.  The Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern unveils their new piece by Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas.
November The Queen’s Gallery has Dutch Artists in the Age of Vermeer and also John Rowlandson’s comic art entitled High Spirits. Alexander Calder’s Performing Sculpture opens at the Tate Modern and Tate Britain brings us Artist and Empire looking at art associated with the British Empire from the 16thcentury onwards.
December Time to catch your breath and see some of the great shows continuing while the pace of openings slows down. Ai Wei Wei at the Royal Academy has been creating a lot of discussions, as has The World goes Pop at the Tate Modern.
SHOPPING, FASHION, MARKETS
October London Chocolate Week has events all over town from a chocoholic show at Olympia to themed cocktails at the best bars. Real Food Markets continue even though the summer has gone, each weekend at the South Bank and the Slow food market at the Rosewood Hotel every Sunday. Don’t forget London’s regular markets: Portobello on Saturdays, Spitalfields biggest on Sundays and Camden all the time!
November Christmas markets are popping up all over town from the South Bank to Kew Gardens and the huge Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is full of chalet style stalls. The Spirit of Christmas Fair at Olympia is packed full of present ideas, and some for yourself of course!
December The Christmas lights will all be on now and London’s shopping street look at their festive twinkly best. Don’t miss Regent Street, Oxford Street, South Molton Street, Covent Garden, Carnaby Street and the beautifully decorated shop windows including John Lewis, Liberty’s, Selfridges, Harrods and Bond Street’s top-end shops.
MUSEUMS AND EXHIBITIONS
October The Victoria and Albert Museum has the Fabric of India exhibition which will be a beautiful riot of colour with handmade fabrics dating from the 3rd century to the present day. The Museum of London looks at the grittier side of life with their Museum of Crime Uncovered a strange collection of criminal evidence and tales that date back to 1875 but has not before been open to the public. Museums at Night is an annual treat which several London museums joining in with and throwing open their doors for after-hours fun and games. Check out the Days of the Dead listed in November as they span these 2 months
November The British Museum is celebrating the Day of the Dead, a major event in Mexico when deceased relatives are remembered and honoured through festivities. Expect artworks and late evenings with music and food. The National Maritime Museum is marking Samuel Pepys with an exhibition looking at the period from 1649 to 1688, a period of momentous change in British history, so we can get to know the man, his interest and his gossiping! The show is called Plague, Fire and Revolution which gives you some idea of the topics explored.  The V&A opens Bejewelled Treasures, part of their India season.  The Geffryre Museum gets festive with 400 Years of Christmas Past.
December There are rarely any new openings in December as there is so much else to do so perhaps use the time to catch the great shows that are still on. Perhaps The Celts at the British Museum and the Geffrye’s seasonal special.   A candlelit lit evening tour of Sir John Soane’s museum is magical at this time of year and you can catch this on the first Tuesday of each month.
FOODIE THINGS
October The group behind the Ivy bring us Sexy Fish in Berkeley Square with upmarket seafood although we are not yet sure what is ‘sexy’ about it.  Carrying on the theme of strange naming is Les Couilles du Chien (yes it is!) a new bar with food from the Arbutus gang so let’s hope it lives up to its name in the non-literal sense…  More odd names with a new pan Asian bar and small plates called Beyond London yet it’s in Kensington. The opening I’m most excited about is Les 110 de Taillevent in Cavendish Square when its very famous Parisian parent opens this spin-off.  Coming a close second is 45 Jermyn Street in Fortnum and Masons which aims to bring back glamour!  Last but by no means least in this bumper month is the Chocolate Show in the vast halls of Olympia.
November/December The Ivy continue their rollout of smaller venues with the Café Marylebone Lane. It’s been a long wait for the German Gymnasium in Kings Cross which is slated for late autumn so any time now…   M Restaurants will open in Victoria as the major renovations and upheaval there begin to settle down, they will be offering high-end grills and raw dishes.  Corbin and King continue to grow, adding Bellanger in Islington to their group, with a neighbourhood feel and Alsace cooking.  If you need to escape from the eating fest that is the build-up to Christmas, try Grain and Green in Fitzrovia offering healthy salads from the Detox Kitchen.
PARKS AND GARDENS, ROYAL PALACES
October The Royal Horticultural Society has a good looking event –  The Shades of Autumn Show giving inspirational planting ideas and advice on choosing autumn plants.  Regent’s Park host the enormous marquees of Frieze Art Fair and Frieze Masters so expect lots of very fashionable arty looking folk in the park. The Tower of London is marking the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt with a special exhibition in the White Tower where the Duke of Orleans was imprisoned after his capture in the battle.
November  A new event from the Royal Horticultural Society this month is The London Frost Fair looking at over winter planting and workshops, and of course, as we are in the build-up to Christmas there will be a reindeer family to enjoy.  Kew Gardens go big at Christmas with their Illuminations Trail, a one-mile sparkling path around the gardens including dancing illuminated fountains.
December Hyde Park hosts the huge Winter Wonderland event which has stalls selling food and gifts, a seasonal fun fair and even its own ice rink and Ferris wheel.  The ice rinks will be open at Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London.  The annual Peter Pan swimming will take place on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, an annual event for the very hardy since 1864! The Royal Palaces all have festive events and fairs and don’t miss the BBC Good Food Festival Christmas Fayre at Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace will be showing us how Queen Victoria celebrated Christmas.
SPORT
October The Rugby World Cup games will be played across England and in Cardiff to battle for this honour, sadly without the hosts. The final will be on 31st October at Twickenham. Hopefully, there will be more joy for England fans in the last of home qualifier for Euro 2016 against Estonia. Equally competitive are the International Ballroom Dancing Championships at the Royal Albert Hall. There will be 3 NFL games played at Wembley this year with associated fan zones in the centre of London.
 
November The end of season ATP tennis tournament sees the top 8 players in the world fight for the top place to finish off their season so hopefully, our Andy Murray will be starring at the 02 Arena. Rugby League has a big game at the Olympic Stadium where England take on New Zealand.
December The London International Horse Show makes its annual appearance at Olympia, in fact, its 108th appearance! Big names in the show jumping world gather to compete alongside the Household Cavalry and the Shetland Pony Grand National.  Billed as the world’s greatest darts tournament, you can see the stars of the game at Alexandra Palace. Christmas Day sees the traditional early morning swimming race in the Serpentine Lake, Hyde Park, a race that has been getting people out of bed since 1864.
MUSIC
October Squeeze come to the 02 with Dr John Cooper Clarke, The Editors play at the Apollo Hammersmith and as does Gabriel Iglesias. Bob Dylan is playing his new album, and hopefully some old tracks too, for 5 nights at the Royal Albert Hall.  As part of the build-up to the new Bond film’s release, Mica Paris is on at the Royal Festival Hall bringing us James Bond soundtracks. U2 roll into the 02 and Dappy from NDubz plays at the 02 Islington. 
November The London Jazz Festival sparkles across town taking on several of London’s top venues including of course Ronnie Scott’s. Don’t miss big names like Andy Sheppard, Courtney Pine, Jamie Cullum and Joshua Redman.  Suede take on the Roundhouse and New Order are at the 02 Brixton.  Disco classics from Chic ft Nile Rodgers are at the Olympic Park and Brandon Flowers at the 02 Shepherds Bush. Ya Lo Tengo plays the 02 Shepherds Bush.
December The Prodigy take the Wembley Arena by storm while the Charlatans with Echo & the Bunnymen are at the 02 Brixton.  Lots of retro at this time of year so check out Kim Wilde at the 02 Shepherds Bush and Grandmaster Flash at the Brooklyn Bowl 02. Madonna hits the 02 as do Deep Purple. Dave Davies of the Kinks (the other brother!) plays at the Assembly Rooms Islington. The Bonzo Dog Doo-dah Band is at the 02 in a smaller hall and Simply Red reform to play at the larger 02 hall. More contemporary, The Disclosure take on Alexandra Palace. The Kooks are at the Forum and Trevor Nelson’s Soul Nation is at the Jazz Café.

What’s on in London this summer?

The answer is that there’s so much good stuff that you’ll want to be out and about every day! Here’s my London seasonal newsletter which I send out to subscribers but I wanted to share with you all so you don’t miss out.

IT’S YOUR LONDON NEWSLETTER FOR SUMMER 2015

 SPECIAL EVENTS
  • July The Proms season begins for the 120thyear and there are over 100 varied and magnificent concerts making this the world’s greatest classical music festival, held in the Royal Albert Hall.  Big names and old favourite pieces feature alongside new commissions and lesser-known work and this year there is a focus on the piano with Prokofiev, Beethoven and Mozart featuring. David Attenborough fronts a Life Story Proms and another celebrates 20 years of Radio 1 in Ibiza
  • August. The Notting Hill Carnival is a huge event, the largest street party in Europe. There is a massive parade of music and costumes, sounds stages blasting out everything from reggae to rock and roll, all kinds of great street food, dancing in the streets and tons of fun to be had over the 2 days when millions of people come to Notting Hill for a great time.
  • September The Proms season concludes with the famous Last Night of the Proms which takes place in the Royal Albert Hall but also live streamed into Hyde Park. The Mayor’s Thames Festival, Totally Thames, brings the river alive for the whole month, we are expecting the river to be buzzing again this year and the riverside restaurants will be joining in with special menus and events. 
THEATRE
 
  • July   Another great season at Shakespeare’s Globe, called Justice and Mercy, sees Richard ll and, rather more unexpectedly, Richard III in Mandarin!  As the school holidays are upon us there’s a show for family audiences at the Garrick Theatre as Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain Part 3, puts the fun back into history. A new musical, American Idiot, opens at the Lyric with music by Green Day from their Grammy award-winning album called, of course, American Idiot. If you are looking for more serious fare, a Caryl Churchill play will do the trick so catch A Number at the Young Vic.  Be amazed by tricksters, magicians and mind readers in Impossible at the Noel Coward Theatre.
  • August Two more new shows for the schools holidays: Aliens Love Underpants – from the popular book – at the Dominion:  and, Michael Morpurgo’s  I Believe in Unicorns. The Donmar Warehouse hosts great plays and Abi Morgan’s Splendour looks worth a ticket. The Barbican’s run of the sell out Hamlet starts, starring the wonderful Benedict Cumberbatch.  The National Theatre’s Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker which was winning awards back in 1988.
  • September One of the big openings this month is Photograph 51 starring Nicole Kidman looking at the work of a much overlooked female scientist in the race to unlock DNA. Kinky Boots has been heavily trailed as it has music and lyrics by Cindi Lauper.  Moving into the West End after a break, Farinelli and the King stars Mark Rylance which is enough to persuade any theatre lover to buy a ticket!  Often seen on TV and film but less so on stage is Jane Eyre, opening at the National. 
 ART GALLERIES
  • July A must see for fans of Hollywood glamour, Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon is on at the National Portrait Gallery. The National Gallery branches out with Soundscapes, new musical works in response to paintings from the collection.  The Cartoon Museum has a show called Alice in Cartoonland – 150 Years of Alice will show how she has been depicted over time.
  • August  Not many openings this month so don’t miss the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition closing this month – the world’s greatest open entry art show! Also, Sonia Delaunay at the Tate Modern closes this month so do catch her wonderful colourful pieces in a show which I really enjoyed.
  • September The Royal Academy hosts an Ai Wei Wei exhibition showcasing two decades of his work which is curated in collaboration with him but he is working from his studio in China as leaving the country against the rules – although there may be some loosening of this control of his movements so keep an eye on this. The Tate Modern hosts The World Goes Pop, taking a worldview of pop art beyond western consumer culture.
SHOPPING, FASHION & MARKETS
  • July Don’t miss the bargains in London’s famous July sales where everyone from the High Street to Harrods slash their prices. Spitalfields Market has regular events including an Independent Label Market in July.
  • August Summer is the best time to visit London’s numerous street markets: Portobello, Columbia Road, Camden, Greenwich and many more. Any day of the week one of these great markets will be just the place to while away the summer and grab some unique purchases.
  • September  London Fashion Week is a chance to get ahead of the fashion curve with catwalk shows and splash out on some new clothes too, with collections looking ahead to spring/summer 2016. This year it moves to the Saatchi Gallery on the Kings Road so expect a whole new vibe compared with Somerset House.

MUSEUMS & EXHIBITIONS

  • July  The Billingsgate Roman House and Baths are open for a rare viewing.  Also open for a rare visit is the Bank of England for a tour – you can see the museum anytime but the bank itself is unsurprisingly most often closed to us!
  • August  The Dickens museum branches out this month with a gin tasting session in the original Victorian kitchen and a bookbinding workshop – hopefully in the other order…  The mind-blowing Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition closes at the Natural History Museum this month so don’t miss it.  Also due to close so don’t miss the blockbusting Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A for its extraordinary staging and out of this world clothes.
  • September The Science Museum will be hosting a great sounding exhibition called Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age, an in-depth look at the Russian space programme with many items never seen outside Russia before.  The British Museum brings us a show exploring our Celtic ancestors called Celts: Art and Identity. It’s the first major exhibition to explore the influence of the Celts stretching back 2500 years and still current today. The V&A has a new Indian exhibition called the Fabric of India, a highlight of their India season.

FOODIE THINGS

  • July One opening that’s had all the punsters out and about is Egg Break from the Soho House team which comes to Notting Hill – yes it’s egg-celent as everything is egg based.  On the single ingredient theme is Crab Tavern opening in Broadgate Circle, the City’s new foodie destination. A further single ingredient opening is Balls and Company in Soho, promoting the humble meatball and the not so humble version made from wagyu beef. Arriving from the USA, the first European opening of the very popular Chicago sandwich shop, Pot Belly comes to Westfield Stratford.
  • August Masterchef winner Tim Anderson opens in Nanban in Brixton offering ramen and izakaya. The much-awaited arrival of the multi Michelin starred Spanish chef David Munoz street-inspired food from Madrid to Mayfair in StreetXo.  The inexhaustible Jason Atherton turns his hand to Japanese food at Sosharu in the east of the City.  The BBC Good Food Festival returns to Hampton Court.
  • September  I can’t wait for Les 100 de Taillevent from the people behind the very famous Parisian restaurant Taillevent.  Coin Market in Exmouth Market will be a retro diner with 70s styling and even serving Chicken Kiev. A new rooftop bar will always be popular so Galadari atop the Crowne Plaza near St Paul’s offering Japanese cuisine should be worth a visit.

PARKS & GARDENS, ROYAL PALACES

  • The famous Flower Show takes over the grounds of Hampton Court for a wonderful day out in a more relaxed atmosphere than the Chelsea equivalent.
  • Buckingham Palace starts its summer opening when the Queen goes on her holidays and lets us look around her London home. Clarence House is also open – the London home of Prince Charles and Camilla. The BBC Good Food Festival comes to Hampton Court’s grounds to tempt you with all kinds of goodies.
  • The Last Night of the Proms is streamed live into Hyde Park so thousands can wave flags and sing their hearts out. Buckingham Palace is still open to visitors but closes at the end of the month as the Queen returns to London.

SPORT

  • July Wimbledon has moved on a week this year so July now has the second week of this great tournament and the hopes of the nations rest on Andy Murray. The Ashes cricket between England and Australia come to London for the 2nd test at Lords, the home of cricket.
  • August. Ride London is a massive cycling event for the public and elite competitors.  The 5th and final Ashes test match will be played at the Oval, let’s hope there is still something to play for….. The warm-up matches for the Rugby World Cup will be taking place with England playing France at Twickenham.  County cricket will be in full flow at all the London grounds.
  • September Qualifiers for football’s European Championships see England take on Switzerland at Wembley. However, the big game in town is the Rugby World Cup with matches at Twickenham, Wembley and the Olympic Stadium. This is a massive event and takes places all across England with some matches in Scotland and Wales as well.

MUSIC 

  • July  The festival season is in full flow with Wireless Weekend in Finsbury Park with David Guetta and Nicki Minaj. Calling on Clapham Common headlines with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Kew The Music has one of the best settings for Paloma Faith, UB40, The Specials and of course Jools Holland. Somerset House rivals Kew for setting and brings us a wide range of styles including George Ezra, Jessie J and James Bay. Lovebox in Victoria Park headlines with Snoop Dogg and Rudimental. With Hot Chip and Jessie Ware. Let’s not forget the nightly Proms season which kicks off in July and stretches through to September.
  • August  The festival South West Four on Clapham Common brings us the biggest names in electronic music. Reggae star Jimmy Cliff at the 02 gets us revved up for the Notting Hill Carnival – 2 days of very loud music to get us all up and dancing in the streets. Look out for Gaz’s Rocking Crew and the nearby dub reggae truck which are my favourites or get your ears blown off on All Saints Road!
  • September  The festivals are still with us as On Blackheath returns with Elbow, Manic Street Preachers, Madness, Laura Mvula and Kelis.  The wonderful Proms come to an end with a simulcast in Hyde Park where the Jacksons are the warm-up band. The Proms are not all classical and before they end Jarvis Cocker has an evening.  It’s retro time around London with concerts by Crosby, Stills and Nash, Art Garfunkel (on his own!), Level 42 and Dave Gilmour (without the rest of Pink Floyd). To balance this One Direction have 6  nights at the 02!.
*All listings correct to the best of my knowledge but exact details should be checked with each venue.

What’s on in London January – March 2015?

My London Living blog will be taking its annual winter break as I go to Africa so here’s my London newsletter which features a choice of listings for the next 3 months of happenings in London, to keep you all busy. It normally just goes out to subscribers but I thought I’d share it on my blog this year. 

 SPECIAL EVENTS
·         January 2015  A big tradition of the festive season is the January sales with massive bargains at all stores from the small to the very grand, from a local shop to Harrods. Watch out for Burns Night on 25th when you’ll find Scottish traditions breaking out all over London so why not try some haggis this year!
·         February Love is in the air with the arrival of Valentine’s Day so watch out for special lovvie events.  Ready yourselves for Pancake Day races around London, one of the best being at the Guildhall in the City where the livery companies race and toss pancakes while wearing their very special traditional costumes! February also brings us the Chinese New Year, a big event in London, as we welcome the year of the Goat. 
·         March St Patrick’s Day is big all round the world and London is no exception as the Guinness flows and we have a huge parade and dancing and bands so get out that green outfit and join in the fun in Trafalgar Square.

THEATRE 

  • January 2015 James McEvoy takes the lead role in The Ruling Class at the Trafalgar Studios. A new Tom Stoppard play, the first for 9 years, called The Hard Problem opens at the National Theatre. My Night with Reg opens at the Apollo theatre with Julian Ovenden from Downton Abbey.
  • February Beautiful – the Carole King Musical opens at the Aldwych theatre so it’s bound to have great songs.   There is an unusual semi opera but anything starring Mark Rylance is worth booking – Farinelli and the King at the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse.  The highly praised Arthur Miller View from the Bridge transfers to the West End starring Mark Strong.  Ralph Fiennes stars in Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman at the National Theatre.
  • March Juliette Binoche stars in Antigone at the Barbican.  For a very short run, the Coliseum has Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson in the English National Opera’s staging of Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber. Family drama comes to the National with Rules for Living starring comedians Stephen Mangan and Miles Jupp.
 ART GALLERIES
  • January 2015 There’s a block buster at the Royal Academy – Rubens and His Legacy: Van Dyck to Cezanne so expect work from a whole range of big names as well as his own. The London Art Fair, the largest in the UK is a great chance to see a whole range of work across many media from the early 20th century to the present day at the Business Design Centre.
  • February The National Portrait Gallery is staging Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends. At the Photographers’ Gallery, an exhibition of over 200 press photos on the theme of Human Rights and Human Wrongs document key world events from 1945 to the 1990s. The Hayward Gallery has a topical show ahead of the election called History is Now: Seven Artists take on Britain.
  • March A good looking show opens at the National Gallery this month, Inventing Impressionism, a touring show looking at the period 1865-1905. Richard Diebenkorn’s paintings have a rare showing at the Royal Academy. Christina Mackie is taking over the Duveen Galleries at the Tate Britain with her complex tableaux which seem to defy categorisation! 
SHOPPING & MARKETS
  • January 2015 January is the big time for sales and massive bargains to be picked up all around town. Keep an eye open for Alexander Wang’s first London shop sometime ‘early 2015’
  • February It’s London Fashion Week so Somerset House will be swarming with amazingly well dressed and strangely dressed people and there are many other venues across London too.  Feels odd that they will be showing autumn/winter 2015 already!
  • March It’s a great time of year to be visiting London’s many outdoor markets, from Portobello for antiques and knick knacks, food and fashion, to Borough for food, to Columbia Road for flowers and Spitalfields/Brick Lane for anything you might want.

  MUSEUMS & EXHIBITIONS 

  • January 2015 The Wildlife Photographer of the Year is a feast for the eyes at the Natural History Museum and you’ll wonder how they got those shots. The Science Museum has a new exhibition called Churchill’s Scientists which sounds fascinating.
  • February Don’t miss some of the great shows in town such as Grayson Perry: Who are You? at the National Portrait Gallery, looking at British identity. The endless fascination with Sherlock Holmes is explored at the London Museum and the British Museum’s  Ancient Lives, New Discoveries explores another great fascination – mummies and the hidden secrets of 8 of the museum’s collection.
  • March The Natural History Museum’s new exhibition is Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea includes coral collected by Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle expedition.  The Victoria and Albert Museum hosts Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, an overview of his career which is transferring from New York. The British Museum delves into Greek sculpture with Defining Beauty: The Body in Ancient Greek Art showing their own work but with many pieces loaned from museums around the world.  The British Library has a Magna Carta exhibition to mark its 800 years.
 FOODIE THINGS
  • January 2015   Burns Night sees London’s restaurants break out the traditional Scottish dishes so look out for haggis, neeps, tatties with some whiskey to wash it all down. The end of the month seems to be the new date for AlanYau’s Soho opening of Duck & Rice, a Chinese gastropub!  January also sees the return of the pop-up Redemption serving up mocktails and vegan food so coming to the aide of those giving up booze for the month. The Sky Garden is due to open at the top of the Walkie Talkie where the views will be excellent. 
  •  February/March  There are a number of restaurants listed as opening in early 2015 but without exact dates – often the way.  So here are some of them: W36 a sister restaurant to Beach Blanket Babylon heads just north to Golbourne Road; The Chiswick Smokehouse speaks for itself; the Pulia in Borough Market will be an eat-in deli specialising in Italian food from Puglia; Smith and Wollensky open their first New York steakhouse in the UK just off The Strand; Milos, Greek fine dining comes to Regent Street; and, finally the huge 200 seater Percy and Founders opens in Fitzrovia with 3 bars. Or you can catch a Real Food Market along the Southbank any weekend for a healthier start to this year’s spring.

PARKS, GARDENS AND ROYAL PALACES

·         January 2015 The 30th January is the anniversary of the shocking royal event in 1649 when King Charles 1 was beheaded, so this seems like the right time visit the Banqueting House, the site where it happened,  as they hold a service on that day.
·         February The Fashion Rules exhibition continues at Kensington Palace with outfits from the Queen, Princesses Margaret and Diana from the 50s to the 90s. Blow the cobwebs away with a guided walk around royal Richmond Park.
·         March.  March is a fabulous time to wander around London’s large and varied parks – Regents Park, Hyde Park, Richmond Park, Holland Park to name just a few. The flowers will be in bloom and the leaves coming out on the trees and, as London is one of the greenest cities in the world, there is a lot to enjoy. Or visit Hampton Court Palace to watch one of their live Tudor cookery demonstrations.
 SPORT
  • January 2015  Basketball fans can enjoy the NBA Global Games as the New York Knicks take on the Milwaukee Bucks at the 02 Arena. Not for me but the UK Cold Water Swimming Championships take place at Tooting Bec Lido. Masters Snookers is at Alexandra Palace with the best 16 players around and TNA Impact Wrestling at Wembley Arena.
  • February The biggest sporting event in February is Rugby Union’s 6 Nations tournament played across all these nations’ capital cities with key matches at London’s Twickenham Stadium. It’ll be a warm-up for the Rugby World Cup here in the autumn.  Elite Cycling takes places at the former Olympic Velodrome as part of the Revolution event if you want to experience the famous roar and see cycling’s top names.
  • March As the football season races on the Capital One (used to e called League) Cup final will be held at Wembley and England will play Lithuania in a Euro 2106 qualifier. The Head of the River Race takes place on the Thames and is the world’s largest continuous rowing event with 420 boats covering 4.25 miles. 

MUSIC

  • January 2015 Queen featuring Brian May appear at the 02 with Adam Lambert as part of their European tour.  Top jazz-funk man Roy Ayers will be playing at the Jazz Cafe. London based Jessie Ware is at the 02 Academy Brixton. Paolo Nutini wows the 02 and Nils Lofgren is at the Union Chapel. Jessie J takes on the Eventim Apollo Hammersmith
  • February  Catch Elbow at the Eventim  Hammersmith and in the same venue, D’Angelo and Sam Bailey. The Kaiser Chefs come to 02 and Ruby Turner is playing at Ronnie Scotts. The Christians play at the Jazz Cafe for a trip back to the 80s. Katherine Jenkins sings at the Royal Festival Hall and Bonnie Tyler belts it out at the 02.
  • March Catch Sam Smith’s lovely tones at the 02 Academy Brixton. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds come to the 02 Arena featuring their new second album  Chasing Yesterday. The 02 also hosts the Country to Country Festival with Lady Antebellum headlining. Tobacco Dock stages the London Electronic Arts Festival with performances, screenings, interviews and installations.  In complete contrast, Mariza, the queen of Fado comes to the Barbican and I’m looking forward to this one.  Jazz star Dr John is playing his tribute to Louis Armstrong at Ronnie Scotts and Lionel Ritchie appears at the 02.