Happy Birthday, Hampton Court Palace!

By Vanessa Teo

Hampton Court Palace is 500 years old this year and to celebrate, the historic building is hosting a wide range of events from now through to the summer. As we welcome the new British historic drama Wolf Hall to our screens, based on the infamous King Henry VIII, we’re falling in love with the palace and its history all over again. When you visit Hampton Court you will be transported back in time through the palace’s biggest and best programme yet as you’re immersed into life at court during the fascinating 17th and 18th centuries. When you arrive you’ll meet some of the most famous characters who lived at the palace from one of King Henry VIII’s wives, Anne Boleyn, Oliver Cromwell and the famous guest and playwright, William Shakespeare who performed Kings Men in 1603 to his Royal Highness. In a nutshell, Hampton Court Palace is one of the most iconic palaces just outside London. It’s a magnificent historic building decadent with dark wood, tapestries, a vineyard and the oldest hedgerow in the world dating back to 1690. It’s been home to Henry VIII, Charles I and William III so its rooms whisper tall tales, court secrets and scandals. Hampton Court is also famous for its beautiful gardens and parkland, which stretches over 750 hectares and whose formal gardens cover over 60 alone! When the weather is nice you can take a stroll around the estate and even take a picnic; and don't forget to visit the first tennis courts where Henry VIII played his competitors into the ground. If you’re in London over the summer months, Hampton Court Palace is hosting two festivals; one on the 11th-12th July to celebrate King Henry VIII’s Tudor Palace – complete with a feast cooked in the Tudor Kitchens; and the other on the 8th-9th August to celebrate Queen Anne’s Baroque weekend including music, opera and entertainment. This weekend though there’s something really special to celebrate alongside Hampton Court’s 500 years as we honour Mother’s Day, on Sunday 15th March. A spectacular flower display, Florimania, will take over William III Apartments showcasing a range of flowers inspired by the five centuries of the palace’s history. If you want to get hands-on, visitors (and their mums!) can take part in flower arranging demonstrations in the Stone Room, too. Mother’s Day, on Sunday 15th March. A spectacular flower display, Florimania, will take over William III Apartments showcasing a range of flowers inspired by the five centuries of the palace’s history. If you want to get hands-on, visitors (and their mums!) can take part in flower arranging demonstrations in the Stone Room, too. Don't forget your London Pass means you can join in on the Hampton Court Palace tours at no extra cost. So discover the ins and outs of life at court, the secrets and scandals of King Henry VIII and find out what really went on behind closed doors all those centuries ago...

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Emerge Festival 2019: All You Need to Know

Emerge Festival 2019 is an exciting new multi-venue music and arts festival, in the form of 40 different ‘Lates’ in leading museums and art galleries. One ticket gets you into the lot. Single night tickets are available too. Here’s all you need to know, including... What it's all about Who’s playing How tickets work What is Emerge Festival? It’s a new festival comprised of over 40 museum ‘lates’ across two evenings. In their words, it’s “Night at the Museum meets Glastonbury.” They’re challenging conceptions of who museums and galleries are for, with a specially curated lineup of new UK talent. It’s a showcase of exciting, fresh UK musicians, artists, poets and performers in some of the capital’s most esteemed and historic cultural spaces. Don’t miss it. What is a museum ‘late’? It’s when museums dedicated to the arts and sciences stay open after-hours, putting on gigs, performances, workshops, DJ sets and more. Emerge Festival sees 40 different lates take place across two evenings...and you only need one ticket to see the lot. Well, you probably won’t be able to make it to the lot. But it’s definitely worth planning to go to a few different venues. The Night Tube’s on, so no excuses. [caption id="attachment_3827" align="alignnone" width="4000"] emergefestival.co.uk[/caption] When is it? It’s taking place across two evenings: Friday 27th and Saturday 28th September 2019. Things kick off in each venue around 5pm, and some places stay open until the wee small hours. What's on? Check out the Emerge Festival website for the full lineup. Give me some highlights... Well, sure. Emerge Festival have put together some handy suggested itineraries to suit a range of tastes. Take a look at their plans for a Soulful Night Out in the South, an Epic Friday Night Out in Central and their guide to some of the most wonderfully weird performances taking place across the weekend, which includes something called the Immersive Chocolate Cabaret Quest. You’re going to have to read up about that for yourselves. No amount of me explaining could do it justice. You got a top ten? 1. Getting things started in South London is Ady Suleiman, headlining with Poppy Ajudha in support at the Horniman Bandstand on Friday. 2. Jungle didn’t sound like anyone when they came out, blending influences from across the planet to make slick modern soul with real class and energy. Check out the duo’s impeccable, eclectic music taste as they perform a DJ set at the Natural History Museum on Saturday night. 3. Wellington Arch is getting transformed into a pop-up terrace gin bar on Friday night, with RnB singer-songwriter Morgan Munroe performing. 4. There’s a flipping Silent Disco happening on Tower Bridge’s glass walkway on Saturday night. Dancing on a glass floor with the Thames rolling by underneath you? You don’t know it’s on your Bucket List until it is. 5. If you’re looking for stars in ascendancy, head to IN FUTURE, a night curated by the big-and-getting-bigger Flohio and Livity feat. A2 and Green Tea Peng at Banqueting House on Friday night. 6. There’s tons on at The Design Museum on Saturday night, including jazz-adjacent electronica outfit Ishmael Ensemble; a DJ set from Brackles; The Masala Monologues and Mr Gee's WorkinOnIt. 7. Talks, workshops and pop-up exhibitions to there’s no shame in female sexuality at the Vagina Museum Special at the Jewish Museum. Head down there on Saturday. 8. Get down to Grand Junction on Saturday to catch R'n'B star Kate Stewart and 2019 Young People’s Laureate for London Theresa Lola, as well as Molly Burman and The International Lovers. 9. Nunnery Gallery is putting on a big night of music on Saturday. Head there to see ravers Benin City, the enigmatic Mina Rose and rapper/poet John Akinde. 10. Body positivity and mental health awareness are the focus of the Body & Mind Party taking place at Dulwich Picture Gallery on Friday night. There’ll be mindfulness workshops, a body positive life drawing class and a Q & A with Bryony Gordon, author of ‘You Got This’. [caption id="attachment_3828" align="alignnone" width="3840"] emergefestival.co.uk[/caption] Where is it taking place? Barbican Centre, Natural History Museum, Design Museum, Handel and Hendrix, The Chocolate Museum...loads of places. Check out the map below to see who’s open. There are also some handy suggested circuits on there too. How much is it? You can either buy single night or weekend tickets. Single night tickets are available for £25, while weekend tickets are £40. There are concessions available though, for 18-30s, people claiming benefits and NHS workers. These come in at £15 for single night tickets and £30 for the weekend. Get on the Emerge Festival website for tickets. How do the tickets work? Once you've got them, print them off or bring them on your phone. At the first venue you go to, you trade your ticket for a wristband. When you leave to go to the next place, keep your wristband on, because you'll need it to get in to each venue. Anything else I should know? Just a quick word on the good place it’s coming from. Conceived by arts charity Culture24, the festival is all about opening up the city’s cultural spaces to audiences who might not have engaged with them before, particularly young people. Despite London being packed full of museums and galleries, many don’t regularly visit or engage with cultural institutions, feeling that they aren’t ‘for them’. Through showcasing the best in emerging UK music and art in such spaces, they’re looking to change the way people see museums and galleries, showing them to be modern, progressive and relevant. So take a circuit around the arts and science spaces close to you, or introduce yourself to a whole new neighbourhood of museums and galleries. The weekend ticket gets you into the lot, the single evening tickets get you into everything that night. And, like we said before, the Night Tube will be on. If you need further evidence of the Emerge Festival’s credentials...It’s a meat-free festival, it’s been accredited as a Big Issue Festival for Good, and they don’t have single use plastic straws. Gender neutral toilets will also be available. So yeah, a festival for good as well as good times. [caption id="attachment_3832" align="alignnone" width="1294"] emergefestival.co.uk[/caption]
Matthew Pearson

1 Day in London

1 Day in London. An itinerary that... Is varied Is designed to be doable Includes to big sights Includes eating options And some evening entertainment 1 Day in London. 24 hours. What’s the first thing you do? Get a 1 Day London Pass. Why? Because it gets you into a bunch of the leading London attractions without paying for admission, letting you skip the pesky queues too. You’ve only got one day, remember? You don’t have time for queues. Also, it gives you great discounts on West End Theatre tickets, which will be coming in handy later on today. We’ve put together an itinerary for your 1 day in London that shows you plenty of the city, but is doable in just the one day. For some, it may be a little taxing on the legs. So consider getting the London Pass + Travel option. This gives you unlimited use of the London transport system across the duration of your London Pass. As a great big alternative to what I’m about to suggest, you can get on (and off) a hop-on and hop-off London bus tour. With your London Pass, you can choose between two different tour operators to find the one that’s right for you. Both of them have tours which cover much the same area as the itinerary below, and stops close to the main attractions. So if you feel like getting chauffeured around town on a double-decker bus, with a lively tour guide filling you in on what you see, a hop-on hop-off bus tour could be the option for you. The below itinerary is for those who primarily want to see London on foot. To pound the pavement. With a little water ride somewhere in the middle. I’ll say no more. Let’s get into it. Here’s 1 day in London... London Victoria We’re starting off at London Victoria, as it’s ideally located for our exploration of the City of Westminster. Take a stroll down Victoria Street, grabbing some breakfast-to-go from anywhere that takes your fancy. You’ll see Westminster Cathedral on your right, which is free to enter. But its architecture as seen from the outside is perhaps its most remarkable aspect. Westminster Abbey As you reach the foot of Victoria Street, the western twin towers of Westminster Abbey come into view, with the London Eye then Big Ben in the background. The abbey, coronation church of the British monarchy since the 11th century, has a fascinating history to go with its striking Gothic appearance. Described as Britain’s Valhalla for the amount of famous folk buried here (Queen Elizabeth I, Charles Darwin, the famous Poets’ Corner where many key British literary figures’ graves are found), it’s an important place to visit during your 1 day in London. Its history, and the histories of those laid to rest here, reveal much of the country’s history from the Middle Ages through to the present day. Have a quick coffee and a slice of cake from the superb Cellarium Cafe located within the abbey complex. Thames River Boat Cruise Next, we’re walking down to Westminster Pier to catch a Thames River Boat Cruise. As you walk past Parliament Square on your way to the pier, take in sights of Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster, one of the primary centres of power within UK politics as the home of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Palace and Big Ben are both iconic London sights. And there are a whole lot more of them to come today. Starting with the River Thames. London’s storied water feature reveals itself as you turn towards Westminster Pier. Hop aboard the City Cruises boat for a sightseeing, guided boat ride down the Thames. Your London pass allows you to hop-on and hop-off the cruise as often as you like during the pass’s duration. You can do so at any of the four piers: Westminster, London Eye, Tower and Greenwich. Today, we’re heading down to Tower Pier. You’ll gain new perspectives on the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben from the water. And you’ll see and hear about St Paul’s Cathedral, Shakespeare’s Globe, Tate Modern, Tower Bridge, The Shard and the Tower of London as you make your way to Tower Pier. Tower of London The historic palace, prison and fortress sitting on the northern bank of the River Thames, the Tower of London is a highlight of any London itinerary. And this 1 day in London itinerary isn’t going to buck that trend. You’ll want to see the Crown Jewels and grab a picture with one of the impressively dressed Beefeaters during your visit, possibly hopping onto one of the tours conducting by the palace guards too. Entry is free with your London Pass, but there may still be a little queuing involved to get into this symbol of British heritage and monarchical history. LUNCHTIME I’m hungry, you’re hungry, we’re all hungry. If you’ve got a London Pass + Travel, then you’ve got the whole city to play with. You can meet us up at the next attraction if you like. But if you’re a committed walker/teacher’s pet, you’ll be sticking with me through the knotted streets of London’s oldest area, the City of London. It’s the financial and business centre of the city these days. And there’s one thing hungry tourists on-the-go and city boys ’n’ girls have in common: they like good quick lunch places. So help yourself to something quick and tasty from one of the many food outlets dotted around the area, and tuck into it while you walk to our first stop of the afternoon. Monument to the Great Fire of London We wanted to get a little bit of height into this 1 day in London itinerary. Built by Sir Christopher Wren to commemorate the Great Fire of London, The Monument (as it is much more commonly known) is a powerful reminder of the resilience of London and Londoners. Its height of 202 ft is the same as the distance it stands from the place on Pudding Lane where the fire started. This area was decimated by the fire of 1666. Take in the view from the top to see all that has risen up in the centuries since. Access to The Monument is free with your London Pass. St Paul’s Cathedral And now we’re on the move to see Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece. St Paul’s possesses one of the finest domes in all of Western architecture. It became a symbol of the UK and London’s sturdiness and togetherness during the Second World War, when it was photographed during The Blitz, unbroken and undimmed through the smoke. The breathtaking nave greets you as you enter. The crypt honours some of the most famous Great Britons, including the cathedral’s architect, Lord Nelson and Florence Nightingale. And don’t tell anyone your biggest secrets in the Whispering Gallery—an architectural quirk means people will be able to hear your whispers from the other side of the dome. Use your London Pass to head inside St Paul’s, free of charge. A Show in the West End We want to round off the day by seeing a show in London’s theatrical core: The West End. So let’s take a stroll down Fleet Street and the Strand to Trafalgar Square. Fleet Street was once home to many of the nation’s leading newspapers. While they’ve moved out now, a number of pubs and other buildings are still famed for their associations with British journalists, writers and publishers. Pop in for a swift pint or five at one of the historic pubs located along this famous literary strip. Oh, and if you’re hungry, tuck into some quintessentially British pub grub while you’re there. Because of how fast things move in the Business We Call Show, I can’t say for sure what musicals and plays are going to be showing in the West End when you visit. But right now on the London Pass Concierge site, we’ve got discounted tickets to The Phantom of the Opera, School of Rock, The Book of Mormon, The Lion King, The Mousetrap and so, so many more. Check the London Concierge site for more details of what showstopper you could be rounding off the day with. And we end at Trafalgar Square. You’ll want to see Trafalgar Square at night before your 1 day in London is over. It’s up to you whether you see it before or after you head to a show. If you didn’t get some pub grub on Fleet Street, Chinatown boasts plenty of fun late night options. Thank you very much for your care and attention during this whistlestop 1 day in London itinerary. It’s not necessary to tip your guide, but there’s an upturned flat cap by my feet if you feel so inclined. Safe onward travels. Want to know which souvenirs to pick up on your holiday in London? Look here.
Matthew Pearson

Your London Cafe Guide

Whether you need a cup to warm them chilled bones, or a pick-me-up on the way to work after a...challenging...weekend, we all have our reasons for jumping on the caffeine train. Without coffee, the amount of duvet days would probably triple. Coffee and London go together like cheese and pickle, because the weekends can be especially challenging here. But you're bored of your usual spot, or sick of getting half-baked coffee from the high street brands. We get it. You want something new, something fresh. Something surprising. Well guess what? Read our London cafe guide to discover the coffee houses in the city. You may not have even heard of them. Old Spike Roastery Peckham Rye [caption id="attachment_3470" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Courtesy of Old Spike Roastery[/caption] This special little place south of The River has tonnes going for it. Not only do they do great coffee that you can buy and take home with you. In some suave branded packaging, no less. They also use their coffee as a vehicle for change, by training and employing homeless people across the business. We're sure you're "woke" enough to know that there is a serious homelessness crisis in this country, which is painfully obvious in London. That's why Old Spike Roastery is so fantastic and unique. In fact, every cup you buy, and every bag you take home, is helping end homelessness in the UK. A coffee that warms you up physically and spiritually? Sign us up. Department of Coffee and Social Affairs Leather Lane, Holborn There might be a few of these around town, but have you heard of them? No. So pipe down...with some piping hot coffee from this uniquely-named coffee house! Ah, words. Aren't they just great? You know what else is great? The coffee here at the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs. They have their own roastery in Brighton, so you know their brew is going to be banging. No blends round here. If you're a connoisseur of caffeine like we are, then you know what that means. It means it's good. Alongside their banging brews, they offer an assortment of cakes and sandwiches too. But what's most interesting about this gem is their social outreach programmes. This includes volunteering opportunities and the creation of humanitarian programmes, among others. Talk about guilt-free coffee. Prufrock Coffee Leather Lane, Holborn Yeah, so another in Leather Lane. Hopefully, you're not already familiar with this area. If you are, we can only imagine how far you're turning your nose up right now. Stop that. Let others enjoy the fruits of your exploration. For the uninitiated, Prufrock operates much like a craft beer spot. They serve a variety of guest roasters from across Europe, along with their go-to, Square Mile Coffee. This is a coffee shop for the true coffee connoisseur. Not only do they choose the finest bean to go in your brew, they also run classes to train budding brewers on how to make a fantastic cup of coffee. Their courses run from beginner to advanced. So if you're just starting your joe journey, or you're a true bean behemoth (sorry), you'll find something to up your game. Ziferblat Old Street Perhaps the most unusual coffee house in London. It looks suspiciously like a shop from the outside. It styles itself as a collaborative creative space on the inside. And it all runs on the clock. By that we mean, you pay per minute once you walk in the door. A Russian cafe chain - and trend - brought over to the West, this means that while everything is complimentary, be it coffee, food, and even the wifi, you effectively 'clock in' when you enter, and pay up when you leave. You could look at it as a social experiment of sorts. They way Ziferblat sees it, you become, in essence, a tenant of the space you take up. And really, everything and anything is game. That includes board games, musical instruments, collaborative art or performance pieces. It's up to you to make it what you want. If it catches on over here, spots like Ziferblat could well explode across East London. Their coffee is banging, too. They wouldn't be on this list if it wasn't, would it? The Sanctuary Cafe Sherriff Road,West Hampstead [caption id="attachment_3472" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Courtesy of The Sanctuary Cafe[/caption] How about you take your cup of joe with a little taste of non-profit justice? Within the confines of The Sherriff Centre, formerly a lovely church, you'll find the Hullabaloo debt advice agency, and sanctuary. The Sanctuary Cafe, to be exact. They've got some of the best coffee in North London, combined with a delightful selection of bites big and small. And they tick all the V boxes too, so veggies, vegans, and gluten-vreers (a stretch but we're going with it) are free to roam and graze as nature intended. They even have a selection of alcoholic beverages, if you want to 'upgrade' your mug. Probably not a great idea, but feel free to grab a beer or wine if you want. Punters get free wi-fi, and children are welcome. If you dare bring your little ones to a cafe. You monster. And hey, if debt is getting you down, you can two-for-one it thanks to the aforementioned advice. What more could you want from your secret coffee location? No more. Them's the best coffee houses in London. Oh, you have heard of some of these before? Well good for you, winner. Go give yourselves a pat on the back. Why don't you tell us where you'd recommend, then? Just down there. In the comments. Or why not work off some of that caffeine-related adrenaline with an exhilarating bike tour?
Dom Bewley

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