London - Top 10 things to do

By Jessica Maggi

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Black Friday: The Royal Albert Hall Experience

Everyone who places an order between Black Friday and Cyber Monday* will have the chance to win a tour and a lavish champagne afternoon tea for two at The Royal Albert Hall. Take advantage of our lowest sale price yet. One of London's most beloved and iconic buildings, The Royal Albert Hall has hosted some of the world's most famous musicians, sports stars and politicians since it opened in 1871. Now, you have the chance to experience this incredible venue in our giveaway. The Tour Did you know that the Royal Albert Hall once flooded the auditorium with 56,000 litres of water for an opera concert? This storied venue's legend precedes it, with everyone from Beyoncé, Cirque du Soleil and Winston Churchill seeking the spotlight at the Hall. Find out more about what makes the venue a global icon with a one-hour tour, led by an expert guide. Once your tour has finished, you'll make your way toward the venue's Verdi restaurant where afternoon tea will take place. The Tea Experience a themed afternoon tea, featuring classic finger sandwiches, a selection of blended teas, freshly baked scones and musically-inspired cakes: a nod to the Royal Albert Hall's legendary performances. You'll also enjoy a champagne upgrade to put some fizz in your day. This stunning tea experience will last 1.5 hours, so sit back, relax and revel in the atmosphere. *Terms and conditions apply. Orders between 00.01 Wednesday 27th November and 23.59 Monday 2nd December will be entered into the draw.
Suz Pathmanathan

Explore London’s Music Scene: Past & Present

London music has evolved from Chas & Dave to the Sex Pistols to Congo Natty and back again. The capital city has been played by artists like The Who and the location of Jimi Hendrix’s last performance. The London sound is a reflection of its history, its diversity, and the creativity that comes with living in one of the most vibrant cities in the world. A Musical Map of London London has some of the most legendary music venues in the world even though many have been lost to progress and development. When the Marquee Club closed down, a part of The Who, Jimi Hendrix, and Pink Floyd’s legacy went with it. The Hammersmith Palais is no longer an epic entertainment venue but the title of a song by the Clash. Regardless the city is still thriving musically, with a community of like-minded music lovers attending shows in small pubs, pop-up venues, and stadiums with a capacity of 80,000. Whether you’re a head-banger, alternative rocker, mod, punk, indie, or anything in between, London has a venue to cover all tastes. Take a look at what London music history holds: Dominion Theatre, Tottenham Court Road This theatre was built over the former Horse Shoe Brewery, the site of the 1814 London Beer Flood. The Dominion opened in 1929 and became well known for hosting musical shows. It wasn’t until 6th February 1957 that the hall saw its first proper rock and roll concert. Bill Haley and the Comets opened their British tour here where they were met my thousands of (atypically!) screaming British fans. The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road This Grade II* listed building has become one of the most famous music venues in London. This former railway shed saw The Doors play their only UK gig here in 1968 and by the early 1970s, DJ Jeff Dexter was a regular Sunday night feature. His shows helped launch the likes of David Bowie, Black Sabbath, Elton John, and The Rolling Stones to fame Punk arrived in 1976 and the Round House finished out the 70s with concerts from The Ramones, Patti Smith and The Strangers, Blondie, Elvis Costello, The Police, and so many more. After years of dereliction, the Roundhouse has risen from the ashes to become one of the capital’s best venues again. The Electric Ballroom, Camden High Street One of this venue’s claims to fame is it’s the location where Sid Sod Off – the last ever UK performance from Sid Vicious. Sid and his girlfriend Nancy wanted to move to New York and used the profits from this gig to do it. In 1979 Joy Division performed twice – around the same time U2 and Adam and the Ants were playing. In 2007, former Beatle Paul McCartney played a surprise gig for an exclusive audience. Dublin Castle, 94 Parkway Camden The famous late Camden resident Amy Winehouse was a regular at this lively pub. It’s an institution of the indie music scene and launched the music career of Madness. 100 Club, 100 Oxford Street This venue has seen change after change, but the spot has been music since 1941. The 100 Club’s roots are jazz and you’ll still find them playing it, but since the 1960s they’ve been throwing rock music into the mix. In fact, the name of the club came from its larger-than-life rock nights where The Kinks and the Animals played. In the late 70s they brought punk music into the venue with shows by The Sex Pistols and Siouxie; in the 1980s, the Rolling Stones took breaks from their huge stadium concerts for intimate shows. The increase in rents threatened the existence of the club in 2010 but a fundraising campaign helped its doors stay open to today. Eventim Apollo, Queen Caroline Street If you wanted to see some of the best gigs through London’s rock and roll heyday, you went to this Grade II* listed building in Hammersmith. Originally called the Hammersmith Apollo, it was renamed Hammersmith Odeon in 1962. It is known as the Eventim Apollo through sponsorship. The Beatles played their second Christmas show here in 1964 – it ran for 3 weeks and sold out its 100,000 tickets. The show involved music, comedy sketches, and special guests which made for a uniquely British holiday experience. Affectionately known as Hammy-O, this venue was just for live music. Live albums Alchemy by Dire Straits and appropriately titled No Sleep to Hammersmith by Motorhead were also recorded here. Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore This historic venue dates back to the 1800s and was named after Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert. From the 1960s it has been used regularly to pop and rock concerts, which is when Cream performed their last show and Bob Dylan upset some of his folk purist fans by playing an electric guitar – the horror! The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and the Beach Boys are just a few of the legendary names to have graved the stage of what is the grandest venue in London. Ronnie Scott’s, Frith Street Primarily a jazz club, Ronnie Scott’s club in Soho is also a hotspot for rock music. The Who deafened an audience of journalists when the band launched their album Tommy here in 1969. It’s also the location of a sad farewell as Jimi Hendrix gave his last live performance here in September 1970. Up on a Roof, 3 Savile Row Savile Row may be known for Georgian townhomes and upscale bespoke tailors but this Mayfair street housed the Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd group of companies. On 30 January 1969, the roof of Apple headquarters marked the group’s final performance and one of the all-time greatest moments in popular culture. The Beatles got up onto their roof and had a set list of five songs. Their neighbours were no pleased with the surprise performance and called the police. When they arrived they stayed to watch the show. The performance was stopped after 42 minutes but the footage lives on. The building is now a branch of Abercrombie Kids. London Landmarks Abbey Road Most of the Beatles records were made at EMI Studios in St John’s Wood in North London. They named their last recorded album after the road where the studios were situated: Abbey Road. The photograph on the front cover was taken on the zebra crossing right by the studios. Ever since that album release, millions of people have made their way up to St John’s Wood in order to replicate the famous photo – at the expense of their safety and traffic flow. Abbey Road Studios have estimated 300,000 people come every year, making it one of the top 20 most visited tourist attractions in London. Ziggy Stardust Another one of the most imitated album covers is David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust which was photographed outside 23 Heddon Street, near Regent Street. Here is where visitors come to stand by the phone booth where David Bowie once stood. The Clash The photograph on the cover The Clash’s eponymous first album was taken on the steps right outside the Stables Market in Camden Town. This is where they had their rehearsal rooms. Animals Pink Floyd’s album cover for Animals shows Battersea Power Station with a large inflatable pig tied to its recognisable chimneys. During the photo shoot the pig came loose and drifted skywards. It caused a lot of confusion amongst pilots flying in and out of Heathrow airport! Subterranean Homesick Blues Bob Dylan shot the video for this song at the back of the Savoy Hotel where he was staying during his 1965 UK tour. Two Virgins 34 Montagu Square in Marylebone has an exciting rock and roll history. Ringo Starr and his new wife Maureen moved into this apartment in 1965. Later, Paul McCartney recorded demos of Eleanor Rigby with a portable recording studio. Jimi Hendrix lived at this address with his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham and manager Chas Chandler. The trio were replaced by John Lennon and Yoko Ono and became the location of their famous naked photo that graced the cover of their Two Virgins album. Dedicated Followers of Fashion There has always been a connection between music and fashion, and London has many places where the art forms collide. The King’s Road in Chelsea has been associated with fashion and music since the 1960s when Mary Quant opened her first shop here. Later on the wonderfully named Granny Takes a Trip opened at 488 King’s Road. The street became known for being the place where The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix shopped, meanwhile internationally renowned fashion designer Vivienne Westwood owns a shop called World’s End at No. 430. The shop has had many names over the years and when it was co-owned by Malcom McLaren, one of the minds behind the Sex Pistols, it was called Sex. The members who would later form the band were regular patrons at the store. Another street associated with music and fashion is Carnaby Street in Soho. It became popular with the Mod crowd in the 60s. The area was no stranger to The Who and The Small Faces who bought clothes there regularly. Carnaby Street was mentioned in The Kinks’ song Dedicated Follower of Fashion: “Everywhere the Carnabetian army marches on, Each one a dedicated follower of fashion”.
Vanessa Teo

True or False: the royal borough of Windsor & Eton

How good is your knowledge of Windsor & Eton? It is home to the historic Windsor Castle, the Queen’s preferred residence, and much loved by the men in the royal family who all attended the prestigious boy’s school, Eton College. Try and answer these tricky questions to test yourself! True or False: Eton has one of the only remaining vertical slotted letter boxes in the UK? True! If you go down half way down Eton High Street you’ll see an original mid-19th-century red ‘pillar box’ which has a vertical letter slot. The prestigious Eton College was originally founded as a charity school? True! A real rags to riches story, Eton College, was originally founded as a charity school in 1440 by King Henry VI to provide free education to 70 poor boys. It is now the prestigious Public School for 1,300 13-18 year old boys who wear an eye-catching uniform of tailcoats and colourful waistcoats. If you didn’t already know, Prince William and Harry both attended Eton College. Inigo Jones built and designed Windsor Guild Hall? False. Windsor Guild Hall was completed in 1687 by Sir Christopher Wren – who also designed St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Here, in the Guild Hall, you can view the many magnificent portraits that have been lent by the Queen for display. It also houses a Museum which has a lot of historical local information and is great for the kids. Windsor is home to the shortest street in England? True! Charlotte Street is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the shortest street in England. The Crooked House has always been called so since being built? False. The real name of the leaning Crooked House is actually Marketcross House. Built in 1634, its structure has fallen over time and now it has become famous for its leaning structure. It has been an Antique shop, florist, butchers and a public house over its 400 years. There is a blue Post Box in Windsor? True! Look out for the old blue Air Mail Post Box which commemorates the first ever air mail from Windsor to Hendon in 1911. The Long Walk is actually only a few meters long? False. The Long Walk (created by Charles II in 1670) measures 2.5 miles and is a straight line from the end of Park Street right down from Windsor Castle. It’s a great one to walk for a spectacular view of the Castle. Shakespeare once lived in Windsor? True, it’s said that William Shakespeare lived in number 7 Church Street whilst he was writing the Merry Wives of Windsor. Coincidentally, this was next door to the house of Charles II’s favourite mistress – where, rumour had it, there was a secret tunnel underground leading into the castle. With the London Pass and Travelcard, you can travel out to Windsor & Eton for free. Travel is included in the price of the package, click here to find out more.
Vanessa Teo

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