Here’s my seasonal newsletter which goes out to Friends of It’s Your London but I like to share it on my blog as well. Enjoy!
IT’S YOUR LONDON NEWSLETTER FOR SPRING 2017
Here’s your spring 2017 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll get right back to you.
April Over 35,000 runners in the London Marathon take over the streets and the nation’s hearts as they struggle past the sights of London to raise incredible amounts for charity, keeping going long after the elite runners have reached the end of the gruelling race on the Mall. The crowds are huge and it’s great fun to join in to cheer them on to the finish. April also sees St George’s Day, our patron saint in England, who we share with a surprising number of other countries.
May The magnificent Chelsea Flower Show is the greatest flower show in the world and it gets us in the mood for gardening with all that fabulous colour and design. Let’s hope we get some London sunshine too. Don’t miss the very British Canal Cavalcade when scores of brightly decorated canal boats gather in Little Venice for two days of fun.
June Our Queen has 2 birthdays, her real one in April and her official one in June when the royal event called Trooping the Colour marks this day. You can see the royals ride past if you get to The Mall well ahead of the start and don’t forget to take your flag to wave at them. The annual Pride event takes over the centre of London with parades, exuberance and lots of fun.
April At Shakespeare’s London home, the Globe, it’s the Summer of Love so they are kicking off their season with Romeo and Juliet in what they describe as a ‘vibrant and volatile production’! Continuing the theme of love stories, Grease takes to the stage at the New Wimbledon Theatre with its long list of great tunes. Christopher Hampton’s The Philanthropist is showing at the Trafalgar Studios with Simon Callow as the director – written as a response to The Misanthrope which is the source of Don Juan in Soho, so Moliere is having a strong influence on the West End right now. The Braille Legacy at the Charing Cross Theatre explores the life of Louis Braille and his struggle to bring independence to blind people in 19th century France.
May It’s not all about big stars but I am excited to be going to see John Boyega from Star Wars in Woyzeck at the Old Vic theatre to see how he fares on stage – his appearance dates have been pushed forward due to filming schedules…. A new retelling of Salome comes to the National Theatre in an ‘urgent, hypnotic’ production. The Gate Notting Hill, a wonderful small theatre with big ambitions, is staging Assata Taught Me with an extraordinary plotline set in Cuba. Also worth a mention is The Addams Family at the New Wimbledon Theatre and Life of Galileo at the Young Vic.
June The Who’s Tommy comes to the Theatre Royal Stratford East, based on the 1969 epic album, this rock musical is written by Pete Townsend and will feature state of the art audio descriptions, captioning and sign language interpretation. Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill brings the extraordinary story of Billie Holliday’s life to Wyndham’s Theatre starring the award-laden Broadway star Audra McDonald. The heart-warming tales of The Wind in the Willows take to the massive auditorium of the London Palladium in a new musical comedy version with Downton writer Julian Fellowes as one of the creators.
April Marking 50 years since major legislation partially decriminalised male homosexuality in England, the Tate Britain brings us Queer British Art: 1861-1967, exploring how artists expressed themselves over these decades when ‘queer’ life had to be hidden from the public but when the public’s views were also changing. Also at the Tate Britain, the latest Commission in the Duveen Galleries has been unveiled. By Cerith Wyn Evans, it is a 2km long work made of neon lighting that fills this massive space with different shapes in a work called Forms in Space…By Light (and Time).
May One of my favourite artists, Giacometti, gets a 4-month show at the Tate Modern, the first solo retrospective in the UK for 20 years with over 250 pieces, many loaned from the Giacometti museum in Paris. It’s your last chance to see Elton John’s wonderful modernist photography collection at the Tate Modern and the impressive David Hockney retrospective at the Tate Britain. Chris Ofili’s Weaving Magic on display at the National Gallery is a handwoven tapestry looks wonderful, combining mythical and Trinidadian motifs.
June The BP Portrait Award opens at the National Portrait Gallery, after scouring the world for the best entries in portrait painting, this 38th competition promises to fulfil its usual high standards. Giovanni da Rimini, A 14th Century Masterpiece Unveiled, at the National Portrait Gallery, showcases a recent purchase of an exquisite piece by this master, alongside a pairing piece loaned from Rome and works from his contemporaries. The Tate Modern features a Turkish artist, Fahrelnissa Zeid, with vibrant, abstract paintings she is a new name to me so I look forward to finding out more!
SHOPPING, FASHION, MARKETS
April Look out for vintage fashion fairs this month as well as checking out Portobello market on a Saturday. Take a nostalgic look at Princess Diana’s dresses in the Kensington Palace show about her fashions from 80’s newbie to 90’s style icon. The Fashion and Textile Museum hosts a show called Gudrun Sjödén: Four Decades of Colour & Design, looking back at the colourful work and unique expression of this Swedish designer.
May Carnaby Street’s Shopping Party promises to be the ‘ultimate shopping experience’ with restaurants and bars joining the array of cool boutiques and live music for their evening of retail therapy. The World of Anna Sui is explored at the Fashion and Textile Museum, a first UK retrospective for this American designer.
June The Spirit of Summer Fair at Olympia exhibition centre has everything you never knew you needed for your home and garden and yourself. The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane hosts the annual Graduate Fashion Week so check out what the latest trends will be and spot some up and coming names from 60 UK universities. The 5th London Fashion Week for Men is held at 180 The Strand with the usual catwalk shows and parties.
MUSEUMS AND EXHIBITIONS
April. There are several exhibitions marking 100 years of the Russian Revolution and one such is at the British Library where Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths explores the seismic shock of this event in the midst of World War 1 and a chance to see for the first time Lenin’s handwritten application for a Reader Pass. The Imperial War Museum has a topical exhibition Syria: A Conflict Explored, looking at the origins and impact of this ongoing conflict. Also worth looking at here is People Power: Fighting for Peace, tracing peace movements from the 1st World War to the present day.
May There is a huge buzz for the Pink Floyd; Their Mortal Remains exhibition opening at the Victoria and Albert Museum and we are expecting something rather special following their exceptional Bowie show. Also at the V&A is Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion, exploring this hugely influential fashion designer. I’m really looking forward to Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave, at the British Museum, looking at the last 30 years’ work of this great artist who lives to be 90. It will be a treat to see the range of his work beyond his one most famous image. The Design Museum brings us California, looking at the global reach of west coast design.
June Celebrating landmark legislation 50 years ago partially decriminalising homosexuality, the British Library has an exhibition called Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty exploring the long journey from Oscar Wilde’s trial to the 1967 law. The Design Museum brings us a burst of colour with Breathing Colour, an installation based exhibition taking us deeper into how colour shapes what we see.
April Lots of talk about the reopening of the Garage music venue but it has a bar too! Clarette, a new wine bar, opens in Marylebone with connections to the Chateau Margaux family so expect a posh wine offering. The Ned, a massive venture from the Soho House group comes to The City with 9 restaurants, a hotel and bars although the April opening date probably more like ‘spring’. Also with a spring opening date is Dokke in St Katherine’s Dock claiming to bring fine dining to the area with exotic and healthy food.
May Duck and Waffle are opening a new venue in St James Market on the ground floor a change from their signature high rise venue overlooking the City. A pop up for the summer arrives on the South Bank from BBQ king Jimmy Garcia, there will be a takeaway bar at river level and a rooftop dining area will have a 6-course tasting menu, both coming under the banner The BBQ Club. Ollie Dabbous is coming to Covent Garden and it’s bound to generate loads of buzz given the awards given to his eponymous first London restaurant. This new venture is called Henrietta as it’s in the hotel of the same name run by the people behind the Experimental Cocktail Club – interesting pairing!
June The popular Petersham Nurseries are coming into town from Richmond and setting up in Covent Garden with 2 restaurants, florist, lifestyle and garden shop, a deli and wine cellar! A Nobu hotel in The City (their first in Europe) will, of course, have full Nobu in-house catering including what is expected to be a massive restaurant. Also at the top end of life, Jean George Vongerichten who famously has a 3 Michelin star restaurant in New York, takes up residence at the Connaught Hotel, continuing the trend for top chefs in top hotels.
PARKS AND GARDENS, ROYAL PALACES
April The London Marathon starts and ends in royal parks – Greenwich and St James’s – so if you are watching the race, enjoy the parks as well. Kensington Palace has a new exhibition of Diana’s dresses called Her Fashion Story which is bound to be popular on the 20th anniversary of her early death. The Painted Hall in Greenwich is undergoing a major renovation and you can see their famous ceiling painting close up on a Ceiling Tour – I’ve done this and it’s wonderful.
May Richmond Park is a wonder and is home to a large herd of deer, in May you can take a guided walk to learn more about it. The Tower of London is holding special evening tours called Pride, Power and Politics: a tour of the Tower’s LGTB+ histories.
June Regent’s Park is home to the annual foodie extravaganza that is Taste London. St James’s Park is where you will find a spot to see the Trooping of the Colour, which celebrates the Queen’s official birthday, and a week before the main event they hold the rehearsal which offers a great chance to catch the pomp and circumstance with a closer view – no royals tho’. Hampton Court hosts its Palace Music Festival hosting acts such as Bryan Ferry, Jools Holland and Van Morrison.
April The 163rd Boat Race (men’s race) opens the month of sport with the men’s and women’s races bringing out the crowds to see Oxford v Cambridge battle the along the Thames. The biggest event in April is the London marathon with over 35,000 runners and thousands more lining the streets throughout the course to cheer on the brave souls who battle on to raise millions for charities. County Cricket is starting its season, the Harlem Globe Trotters are back at Wembley with their fancy skills, and the football season is building up to its climax next month. Boxing at Wembley sees Anthony Joshua take on Wladimir Klitschko in a heavyweight title fight.
May The final matches of the Premiership will see which London club takes the title (hopefully Spurs not Chelsea) and we have the FA Cup at Wembley which rounds off the English season as well as the Football League playoffs to determine who will enter the Premier League. There is plenty of cricket to be seen including a visit from the South African team.
June. June is when we all get mad about tennis as the season starts in London. Queens Club hosts the major warm-up event on grass for men ahead of the main event, Wimbledon, which will be starting next month. Hockey is back at the Olympic Park with England v Netherlands in the women’s game and the hockey World League semi-finals in the men’s game. Horse racing at Ascot is a great social event as well as a sporting moment for the crowds who hop on the train from London. And the cricket continues….
April Some oldies but goodies this month with 10cc at London Palladium where you can also catch Billy Ocean. Rick Astley is at the Royal Albert Hall and Lindisfarne are Under The Bridge. Kasabian takes on the 02 Kentish Town as it Rejjie Snow and Japanese star Kitaro is at the Apollo. If you are looking for some blues which is not always easy to find but Joe Bonamassa plays at the Royal Albert Hall.
May Stormzy plays his grime the 02 Academy Brixton, where you can also see Kate Tempest performing and Mac DeMarco. Iron Maiden roll into the 02 Arena, KT Tunstall has new tunes to play at the Barbican and The Kooks celebrate 10 years at Alexandra Palace. Surprisingly more blues this month as you can find Robert Cray at the Cadogan Hall.
June The London Stadium, also known as the Olympic Stadium, is now free from its football duties to host Robbie Williams, Depeche Mode and Guns n Roses. Phil Collins reminds us he is Not Dead Yet in his tour coming to the Royal Albert Hall! The Maccabees are playing 3 ‘final’ shows at Alexandra Palace but who knows… Definitely still doing the rounds is Take That at the 02 Arena where you can also see Shawn Mendes ahead of his world tour. The festival season is starting with Field Day in Victoria Park with a good range of acts and the massive British Summer Time starts in Hyde Park with Phil Collins, proving just how well he is!
*all details correct at the time of compiling.