QEIICC: Things To See

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Houses of Parliament

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Houses of Parliament
Jewel Tower
Big Ben
Westminster Cathedral
Horse Guards Parade
Household Cavalry Museum
Churchill War Rooms
Trafalgar Square
London Eye
St James's Park
Green Park
Buckingham Palace
Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA)
St John's Smith Square
Central Hall Westminster
National Gallery
National Portrait Gallery
Banqueting House
The Mall
St James's Palace
Sea Life London Aquarium
St James's Church Piccadilly
Tate Britain
St Margaret's Church
The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace
White Cube Mason's Yard
The Cenotaph
 

 

LondonTown.com's guide for things to do and see around the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre - from the historic Houses of Parliament to the genteel Green Park. We also have an area map of the QEII Conference Centre.

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Houses of Parliament

The centre of Parliamentary life including Big Ben and the houses of Commons and Lords.

Parliament Square, St Margaret's Street, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA

Tube: Westminster Station

 
 

Now more commonly known as the Houses of Parliament, the Palace of Westminster began life in 1042 as a royal residence under Edward the Confessor. The major structure to survive various fires, Westminster Hall was built between 1087 and 1100 and is one of the largest medieval halls in Europe with an unsupported hammerbeam roof. During the 14th century the Hall housed the courts of law as well as shops and stalls selling legal equipment - wigs and pens. Following a fire in 1512, Henry VIII abandoned the Palace and it has been home to the two seats of Parliament - the Commons and the Lords - ever since. Yet another disastrous fire in 1834 destroyed everything except Westminster Hall and the Jewel Tower. A competition to redevelop the whole site was won by Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin who came upwith the mock Gothic building that has become such a familiar landmarktoday and includes Big Ben (the bell that chimes on the hour) and the largest clock face in the country. Members of the public can watch debates when Parliament is in session - you don't need tickets in advance but may have to queue. To watch Prime Minister's Question Time (Wed 12noon, when Parliament is sitting) it's advisable to get tickets in advance.

 
 
 

Westminster Abbey

The great medieval abbey where British monarchs are traditionally crowned - and buried.

Dean's Yard, Westminster, London, SW1P 3PA

Tube: Westminster Station , St James's Park Station

 
 

Most famous nowadays as the venue for royal weddings - including the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011 - Westminster Abbey is also both the coronation and burial site of many a past British monarch. Elizabeth I, Mary I, Mary II, Edward the Confessor, Edward I, Edward III, Edward VI, Henry III, Henry V, Henry VII, James I, George II, Richard II, Charles II and William III are all buried in wonderful Westminster Abbey. And there's some speculation over whether the remains of Edward V (murdered by Richard III?) is among the 17 monarchs who rest here - DNA testing has proved inconclusive. That aside, every one of these royal deaths tells a story and where better to relive it than in this world-famous medieval abbey. The setting for almost every coronation since 1066 - 38 to be precise - the abbey has also formed the burial ground for statesmen, scientists, musicians and poets. Approximately, 3,300 people are said to have been buried in the church, including Chaucer, Sir Isaac Newton, Laurence Olivier and Charles Dickens. Stunning Gothic architecture, the fascinating literary history represented by Poets' Corner, the artistic talent that went into the statues, murals, paintings and tombs and the fantastic stained glass combine to make Westminster Abbey the most enduringly stunning of London's churches and a treasure trove of royal history.

 
 
 

Jewel Tower

14th century Jewel Tower that is often overlooked by the tourists in the area.

Abingdon Street, Westminster, London, SW1P 3JY

Tube: Westminster Station

 
 

Across the road from the imposing Houses of Parliament, this simple, three-storey, 14th century tower often gets overlooked on the tourist trail. One of only two buildings forming part of the Palace of Westminster to survive the fire of 1834, the Jewel Tower boasts a stunning, untouched 14th century ribbed vault that more than warrants the trip across the road from the main Westminster parliament buildings. Built in 1365, the tower - also known as the King's Privy Wardrobe - was used by King Edward III to store his treasures and wardrobe. Remains of the original moat and medieval quay designed to secure the building can still be seen today. Items on display now include the Speaker's robes from the collection of the Houses of Parliament and an interactive touch-screen computer providing a virtual reality tour of the history of both Houses of Parliament.

 
 
 

Big Ben

Westminster's clock tower has stolen the name initially reserved for its Great Bell.

Parliament Square, St Margaret Street, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA

Tube: Westminster Station

 
 

Sir Charles Barry sought advice from Benjamin Lewis Vuillamy - clockmaker to the Queen - and Augustus Pugin when it came to designing the Clock Tower that is affectionately known as Big Ben today. The mock Gothic Clock Tower building attached to the Houses of Parliament has become a familiar and much loved landmark, its great bell chiming on the hour (and every quarter of an hour too) keeping time with Greenwich meantime. The name Big Ben was initially given to the Great Bell which was created at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and first struck in 1859. The most likely explanation of the name it that it comes from Sir Benjamin Hall, First Commissioner for Works from 1855-1858 whose name is inscribed on the bell. Now the moniker is the accepted name for the whole of the Clock Tower - albeit begrudgingly by some. Weighing in at 13.7 tonnes, at the time of its casting Big Ben was the largest bell in the British Isles and the clock face the second largest in the country (after the Liver Building in Liverpool). UK residents can arrange a free tour of Big Ben through their local MP but space is extremely limited and you'll need to book three to six months in advance. Overseas visitors cannot currently visit the tower.

 
 
 

St Margaret's Church

Parish church of the House of Commons where Churchill was married.

St Margaret's Church, , Westminster, London, SW1P 3JX

Tube: Westminster Station , St James's Park Station

 
 

Standing between Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, St Margaret's Church is commonly called "the parish church of the House of Commons". A fine 16th century building with notable medieval and modern stained glass, St Margaret's is also the burial place of the explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, who was executed in 1618 for treason, and the poet John Milton. The likes of Samuel Pepys, Sir Winston Churchill and Harold Macmillan were all married in St Margaret's Church, which forms a World Heritage Site together with the Palalce of Westminster and Westminster Abbey.

 
 
 
 

Westminster Cathedral

London's only example of neo-Byzantine architecture and principal Roman Catholic Church

42 Francis Street, Westminster, London, SW1P 1QW

Tube: Victoria Station

 
 

Not to be confused with Westminster Abbey, the nearby Westminster Cathedral in Victoria is London's only example of neo-Byzantine architecture, described by the poet John Betjeman as a "masterpiece" of craftsmanship and the last great building to be made of brick. The only church in England to have had visits from two Popes and the Queen, Westminster Cathedral is London's principal Roman Catholic Church and was opened in 1903 although John Francis Bentley's astonishing basilican structure remains incomplete today. The cathedral boasts a magnificent campanile that emerges 274 feet into the sky, and was made famous by a vertiginous scene in Hitchcock's 'The Foreign Correspondent'. While 12.5 million burnished terracotta coloured bricks adorn the exterior, parts of the interior remain poignantly bare - a potent reminder of the lack of funding which plagued the start of construction in 1895. Plain walls and simple candlelight form a stark contrast to astonishing array of colourful mosaics and marbles (129 types from 25 countries on five continents), as well as Eric Gill's nave detailing the fourteen Stations of the Cross. Unlike Westminster Abbey, the Cathedral is free for anyone to enter. For 5 guests can walk or take the lift up the campanile for some spectacular views of the capital. While being as good a free museum as London has to offer, the Cathedral is perhaps best known for its distinguished choral tradition. It's the only Catholic cathedral in the whole world where both vespers and mass are sung every day. The boys' choir is one of the best in the world and hundreds of people gather to listen to free Renaissance concerts each day.

 
 
 

Horse Guards Parade

Courtyard in the heart of Whitehall where mounted military ceremonies take place.

Whitehall, Westminster, London, SW1A 2AX

Tube: Charing Cross Station , Embankment Underground Station, Westminster Station

 
 

Horse Guards Parade is the setting for various military ceremonies throughout the year including the Trooping the Colour which marks the Queen's official birthday. At the heart of Whitehall, it was the traditional entrance to the Royal Palaces and is still guarded by mounted sentries from the Queen's Household Cavalry. Changing the Guard takes place here every morning - 11am Monday to Saturday and 10am on Sundays - and lasts 30 minutes. It is at this time that twelve mounted troops in traditional costume arrive from their Hyde Park Barracks. At the Guard Changing ceremony, the Old Guard forms up on the north side of the Horse Guards Parade enclosure and the New Guard on the south side. During the London 2012 Olympics Games Horse Guards Parade was the striking - and popular - venue for the Olympic beach volleyball competition.

 
 

Events at Horse Guards Parade

The Major General's Review On Soon

Saturday 26th May 2018 | £5

 
The Major General's Review Horse Guards Parade 2018-05-262018-05-26 Where:
Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall London, SW1A 2AX
Category: Other Attractions

The Major General's Review which takes place at Horse Guards Parade two weeks before the Trooping of the Colour, held to mark The Queen's official birthday. It's the first of two rehearsal reviews carried out ...more

The Colonel's Review On Soon

Saturday 2nd June 2018 | £10

 
The Colonel's Review Horse Guards Parade 2018-06-022018-06-02 Where:
Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall London, SW1A 2AX
Category: Other Attractions

The Colonel's Review which takes place at Horse Guards Parade on Saturday 8th June is the second of two rehersal reviews carried out in the weeks before the Trooping of the Colour, held to mark ...more

Trooping the Colour On Soon Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

Saturday 9th June 2018 | £35, Free to watch from the Mall

 
Trooping the Colour Horse Guards Parade 2018-06-092018-06-09 Where:
Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall London, SW1A 2AX
Category: Other Attractions

A vibrant display of ceremony and military history, Trooping the Colour, also known as The Queen's Birthday Parade, marks the second of the Queen's two birthdays (this is the official one, her actual birthday is ...more

All events at Horse Guards Parade
 
 
 

Household Cavalry Museum

Watch troopers working with their horses in the original 18th century stables.

Horse Guards, Whitehall, Westminster, London, SW1A 2AX

Tube: Charing Cross Station , Embankment Underground Station, Westminster Station

 
 

Visitors to the Household Cavalry Museum can watch troopers working with their horses in the original 18th century stables (via a glazed screen) and hear accounts of their demanding training. At different times of the day there's always something to see - whether it's the horses being fed and watered or having their hooves oiled and checked. Once a day, you can see them in action at the Changing of the Queen's Life Guard which takes place on Horse Guards Parade at 11am, in addition to the daily inspection at 4pm. Within the museum children can make believe they're part of the cavalry with the dressing up area where they can try on helmets, combat jackets and other military uniforms. There are also children's trails and a fun touch-screen horse quiz. The museum has an outstanding collection of treasures from ceremonial uniforms, Royal Standards and gallantry awards to musical instruments, horse furniture and jewelled boxes by Faberge. These have been amassed over the centuries and each exhibit has its own compelling story to tell, brought to life using a mix of graphics, audio visual and interactive displays.

 
 
 

Churchill War Rooms

Explore the underground rooms where Churchill's Cabinet met during World War II.

Clive Steps, King Charles Street, Westminster, London, SW1A 2AQ

Tube: Westminster Station , St James's Park Station

 
 

Winston Churchill directed the troops during World War II from a small warren of underground rooms, which are now open to the public. Visitors to the Cabinet War Rooms - now called the Churchill War Rooms - can see the area just as it would have been during the cigar-smoking prime minister's time. Every piece of furniture and fitting was left in situ, down to the maps with coloured pins and the Transatlantic Phone Room, which had a direct hotline to FDR. The adjacent Churchill Museum, which opened in 2005, is a hi-tech showcase of his life. The centerpiece of the museum is an interactive timeline of Churchill's achievements (although be warned, the layout of the exhibits is confusing). The collection includes his personal papers, infamous quotes, photos and even his clothes, and his eccentric habits are not overlooked. One cabinet showcases Churchill's oversized romper suit, which is as wide as it is high, along with letters to his staff demanding champagne at meals, despite the wartime shortages.

 
 
 

Trafalgar Square

Lord Nelson presides over this focal point of the city - one of London's most iconic sights.

Central , Westminster, London, WC2N 5DS

Tube: Charing Cross Station , Leicester Square Station, Embankment Underground Station, Piccadilly Circus Station

 
 

Lord Nelson, Britain's greatest military hero, and the mighty lions that surround him, pay testament to the position of Trafalgar Square at the heart of the capital, the heart of the nation, and, at one time, the heart of an empire that controlled three fifths of the world. Yet, though it is dominated by these imperial symbols, and by the magnificent Victorian edifice of the National Gallery, the square is no relic of a bygone age. Instead of statues of military heroes, the The Fourth Plinth is now used for exciting and controversial modern art, the first of which was Mark Wallinger's Ecce Homo in 1999. Fantastic free outdoor events are held here in summer, highlighting the best of London's multicultural music and dance scene. The square also acts as the traditional end point for protest marches and is a key rallying point for British counter-culture. It is the centre of London's bus network, and an essential stage on many a Night Bus trip home. In all these ways, Trafalgar Square has retained its status as the heart of London, and one of every Londoner's most treasured spots.

 
 

Events at Trafalgar Square

West End LIVE On SoonFree Event Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th June 2018 | Free

 
West End LIVE Trafalgar Square 2018-06-162018-06-17 Where:
Trafalgar Square, Central London London, WC2N 5DS
Category: Other Attractions

Thousands of people gather in Trafalgar Square to enjoy performances from top West End shows for free. A firm favourite for over 10 years, West End Live showcases the best of London's headline theatre shows ...more

Silence In The Square
Free Event

Monday 11th November 2019 - 10am-11.15am | Free

 
Silence In The Square Trafalgar Square 2019-11-112019-11-11 Where:
Trafalgar Square, Central London London, WC2N 5DS
Category: Other Attractions

The Royal British Legion leads a two minute silence for Armistice Day at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month in the square. After the event, the public can place poppy petals in ...

All events at Trafalgar Square
 
 
 
 

London Eye

The world's largest observation wheel offers views as far as 25 miles over the city.

Jubilee Gardens, South Bank, South Bank, London, SE1 7PB

Tube: Embankment Underground Station , Westminster Station, Waterloo Station

 
 

The London Eye elbowed its way onto the capital's tourist scene as one of the statement pieces to mark the turn of the century (see also The Millennium Bridge) and quickly became a definitive part of the London experience. This spectacularly streamlined riverside wheel stands an impressive 135 meters tall and its sleek, modern, totally see-through glass-pods offer an unrivalled 360-degree view of London and beyond. The Houses of Parliament, Canary Wharf, Big Ben, the glorious Thames and Windsor Castle are just a few of the 55-odd attractions that can be admired from the top of the arc. On a clear day the view extends to 25 miles in each direction. It moves at a slow but steady pace, taking 30 minutes to complete its flight. Because of its popularity, there are usually lengthy queues to book tickets and then to board the flight. Save time and book London Eye tickets online in advance. A variety of different ticketing options and packages are available depending on your individual requirements. You can choose to upgrade to a Fast Track ticket, which entitles you to check in just 15 minutes before your flight, or spend the flight in the company of a London guide or a glass of champagne. The flight only lasts 30 minutes and it's bound to be busy but this is still top of the London must-do list.

 
 
 

St James's Park

Stunning 58-acre park offers stunning views, a lake and thriving bird population.

Horse Guards Road, St James's, London, SW1A 2BJ

Tube: Westminster Station , St James's Park Station

 
 

St James's Park, along with Green Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, forms an unbroken line of greenery that stretches over three miles from the Houses of Parliament to Kensington Palace. The park borders St James's Palace and Buckingham Palace, which means that as well as offering lush peacefulness you're also treated to stunning close-ups of some of the capital's most iconic attractions. One of the park's best views can be had from the middle of the Blue Bridge which spans the park's lake. Stand in the middle and take in the graceful arc of the London Eye, which looms over Duck Island. A true retreat, it's hard to believe that St James's was once a swampy watermeadow in centuries past. Now, rolling lawns stretch out around the lake, which is home to ducks, geese and pelicans. In the summer months visitors can catch a concert, loll in deckchairs or dine alfresco with a picnic or on the terrace of the park's restaurant.

 
 

Events at St James's Park

Brompton World Championship Final Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

Saturday 28th July 2018 | £50

 
Brompton World Championship Final St James's Park 2018-07-282018-07-28 Where:
St James's Park, Horse Guards Road London, SW1A 2BJ
Category: Parks and Gardens

The annual Brompton World Championship comes to central London this summer, tying in with the Prudential RideLondon cycling festival. The London event takes the form of a Le Mans style start as 550 smartly-dressed competitors ...more

Prudential RideLondon Free Event Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th July 2018 | Free to watch

 
Prudential RideLondon St James's Park 2018-07-282018-07-29 Where:
St James's Park, Horse Guards Road London, SW1A 2BJ
Category: Parks and Gardens

A celebration of cycling, with more than 100,000 cyclists expected to take part, the annual two-day Prudential RideLondon encompasses several separate events for top level pros, keen cyclists and fund-raising, fun-loving two-wheelers. The festival includes ...more

All events at St James's Park
 
 
 

Green Park

Green Park is one of the four central London parks referred to as 'Royal'.

Piccadilly, St James's, London, W1J 9DZ

Tube: Green Park Station

 
 

Although many of the parks in London are officially owned by the sovereign, it is the four central London parks (one of which is Green Park) that are usually referred to as 'Royal'. Few Londoners realise, as they navigate the concrete streets on their way to work, the extent to which the Royal Parks dominate the centre of London. Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park and St James's Park form an unbroken line of greenery that stretches over three miles, from the Houses of Parliament to Kensington. Attractions close to Green Park include such well heeled establishments as The Ritz and Buckingham Palace, from where it's easy to watch the ceremonial Royal processions on the Mall or the finish of the annual London Marathon. Within the park there are statues, monuments and grassy areas fit for an impromptu football match. There are even deck-chairs laid on in summer. Glorious.

 
 
 

Buckingham Palace

The world's most famous palace is the official residence of the Queen.

Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1A 1AA

Tube: Victoria Station

 
 

England's most famous royal palace, and the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace opens the doors of its State Rooms to the public every summer. Book tickets for the summer opening of Buckingham Palace's State Rooms here. Originally acquired by King George III for his wife Queen Charlotte, Buckingham House was increasingly known as the 'Queen's House' and 14 of George III's children were born there. On his accession to the throne, George IV decided to convert the house into a palace and employed John Nash to help him extend the building. Queen Victoria was the first sovereign to live here (from 1837). The State Rooms are now still used by the Royal Family to receive and entertain guests on State and ceremonial occasions. Visitors can admire some of the more unusual gifts received by the current Queen, including drawings by Salvador Dali, an embroidered silk scarf from Nelson Mandela and a grove of maple trees. Decorated in lavish fashion, the rooms include paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Canaletto, Vermeer and Poussin, sculpture by Canova, exquisite examples of Svres porcelain, and some of the finest English and French furniture in the world. The Ball Supper Room, the setting for a host of sparkling events in the history of the palace, 29-acre gardens and annual exhibitions are all also available to visitors.

 
 

Events at Buckingham Palace

Splendours of the Subcontinent On Soon Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

8th June to 14th October 2018 | £12 (Adult), £10.80 (Over 60), £10 (Student (with valid ID), £6 (Under 17 / Disabled), Free (Under 5), £30 (Family)

 
Splendours of the Subcontinent Buckingham Palace 2018-06-082018-10-14 Where:
Buckingham Palace , Buckingham Palace Road London, SW1A 1AA
Category: Historic Buildings
Prince and Patron Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

21st July to 30th September 2018 | £24 (Adults), £13.50 (Children 5-17), £61.50 (Family 2 adults and 3 under 17s)

 
Prince and Patron Buckingham Palace 2018-07-212018-09-30 Where:
Buckingham Palace , Buckingham Palace Road London, SW1A 1AA
Category: Historic Buildings
Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

21st July to 30th September 2018 | £24 (Adults), £13.50 (Children 5-17), £61.50 (Family 2 adults and 3 under 17s)

 
Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace Buckingham Palace 2018-07-212018-09-30 Where:
Buckingham Palace , Buckingham Palace Road London, SW1A 1AA
Category: Historic Buildings
Buckingham Palace Tickets. Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

Monday 23rd July 2018

 
Buckingham Palace Tickets. Buckingham Palace 2018-07-23 Where:
Buckingham Palace , Buckingham Palace Road London, SW1A 1AA
Category: Historic Buildings

Buckingham Palace, the grand and iconic London residence of Her Majesty the Queen is an absolute must-see on any visit to London. A fully working palace, housing not only The Queen, but serving as the ...more

All events at Buckingham Palace
 
 
 

Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA)

Cutting-edge ICA galleries, housed in an elegant Regency building on the Mall.

12 Carlton House Terrace, The Mall, St James's, London, SW1Y 5AH

Tube: Piccadilly Circus Station , Charing Cross Station

 
 

The Institute of Contemporary Arts boasts three galleries (with exhibitions changing approximately every six weeks), two cinemas, a theatre, restaurant, bookshop, late bar and cafe. The ICA also plays host to series of lectures, events, late night art and music parties. Housed in elegant Regency premises on the Mall, the ICA is a great place to start if you're looking for the very cutting edge of gallery art work. Founded in 1946, the artistic and cultural centre was initially housed in a basement on Oxford Street before moving to its first premises in Soho. With the support of the Arts Council, the ICA moved to its current location at Nash House in 1968. In recent years, the ICA has curated exhibitions featuring the likes of Yoko Ono, Gerhard Richter and Damien Hirst.

 
 
 
 

The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace's in-house gallery hosting regularly changing exhibitions.

Birdcage Walk, London, SW1A 1AA

Tube: Victoria Station

 
 

Once Buckingham Palace's resident chapel, the Queen's Gallery was opened in 1962 and holds regularly changing exhibitions. It allows the general public glimpses of rarely seen works of art from the Royal Collection, one of the finest art collections in the world. Exhibitions often draw on works from the royal residences across the UK including world-famous paintings by the likes of Rembrandt and Canaletto, spectacular porcelain, jewels, works by Faberge, as well as furniture, sculpture, arms and armour, plus historic pieces still used for ceremonial occasions today.

 
 

Events at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace

Splendours of the Subcontinent On Soon Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

8th June to 14th October 2018 | £12 (Adult), £10.80 (Over 60), £10 (Student (with valid ID), £6 (Under 17 / Disabled), Free (Under 5), £30 (Family)

 
Splendours of the Subcontinent The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace 2018-06-082018-10-14 Where:
The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, Birdcage Walk London, SW1A 1AA
Category: Art Galleries
All events at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace
 
 
 

St John's Smith Square

Among the finest Baroque churches in London and a great chamber music venue.

Smith Square, Westminster, London, SW1P 3HA

Tube: St James's Park Station

 
 

Situated in the heart of Westminster, this stunning 18th century church was designed by architect Thomas Archer and completed in 1728. It is considered one of London's finest concert venues, attracting internationally renowned artists and performers. With its four pillared towers, St John's Smith Square is a Baroque masterpiece - although it was badly damaged by firebombing during World War II. The reconstruction was able to open out the interior a little, while retaining the booming acoustic, and it is now a hugely successful classical music venue, focused particularly on chamber and choral music, as well as symphony orchestras and solo instumental recitals. There are also a number of art exhibitions, plus a top notch cafe and restaurant.

 
 
 

Central Hall Westminster

Gandhi, Churchill and the Prince of Wales have all spoken in this historical landmark.

Storey's Gate, Westminster, London, SW1H 9NH

Tube: St James's Park Station , Westminster Station

 
 

Central London's largest conference and events venue has welcomed an array of illustrious speakers through the ages - including Gandhi, Churchill and the Prince of Wales. Built in 1912 and located just across the road from the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, the imposing Central Hall Westminster has 22 function rooms and can sit up to 2,160 delegates in its auditorium. Combining its dual functions as a conference / event venue and a Methodist church, Central Hall is also an impressive historical landmark boasting Europe's largest self-supporting concrete dome ceiling. Visitors can explore the inside of the Edwardian structure for free, with guided tours operating daily from 9.30am to 5pm. There are also monthly concerts performed inside the main hall, which in 1946 held the first General Assembly of the United Nations. While refurbished to meet the needs of a modern functions host, the venue still has a strong period feel to it and has featured in a number of films, including 'Calendar Girls' and 'Jekyll and Hyde'.

 
 

Events at Central Hall Westminster

Katie Melua

Saturday 8th December 2018 - 7pm | £25-£149

 
Katie Melua Central Hall Westminster 2018-12-082018-12-08 Where:
Central Hall Westminster, Storey's Gate London, SW1H 9NH
Category: Historic Buildings

The Georgian-British singer-songwriter and music performs her commercial pop material in collaboration with the Gori Women's Choir.

All events at Central Hall Westminster
 
 
 

White Cube Mason's Yard

Jay Joplin's influential Belgravia gallery shows important contemporary art.

25-26 Mason's Yard, Off Duke Street, St James's, London, SW1Y 6BU

Tube: Piccadilly Circus Station , Green Park Station

 
 

In 2000, Jay Jopling's pioneering White Cube gallery - the spiritual home of the Young British Artists - upped sticks from its original home in St James's for a big new space on Hoxton Square. Jopling (who is, after all, the son of a Conservative MP) must have missed the respectable charms of Belgravia - for he opened this second White Cube gallery back in St James's. Which is not to say that his new gallery is in any way staid or traditional. As one of the most successful British gallerists in recent history he has a happy knack of turning art into monetary success which has earned him a reputation as a svengali figure moulding and manipulating his artists and the market. This is the first freestanding new building in St James's for more than three decades. Built on the site of a former electricity sub-station it is a classic modernist white box, with long slit windows, and a Tate-like glass roof. Inside, its two long gallery spaces carry exhibitions of the very best of contemporary British art.

 
 
 

National Gallery

Trafalgar Square gallery houses a huge range of European art, from 1260 to 1900.

Trafalgar Square, Westminster, London, WC2N 5DN

Tube: Charing Cross Station , Leicester Square Station, Embankment Underground Station, Piccadilly Circus Station, Covent Garden Station

 
 

The National Gallery dominates London's Trafalgar Square with its neo-classical columns and portico designed by William Wilkins adjoining the square on its east side where it has been pedestrianised. Some of the finest examples of European art, ranging from 1260 to 1900, are included among the 2,300 paintings filling its halls and rooms. Holbein's 'The Ambassadors', 'The Hay Wain' by Constable, and Jan Van Eyck's 'Arnolfini Marriage' are just some of the major attractions. Works on display also include those of Botticelli, Monet, Constable, Van Gogh and Rembrandt. This really is the place to come for top quality artwork spanning a wide spectrum of styles and periods. From the Early Renaissance to the Post-Impressionists, every significant stage in the development of painting is represented in its collection, often by masterpieces. Originally established by Parliament in 1824, the collection belongs to the British public and every effort is made to ensure the art is accessible. Every month they hold a range of free lunchtime talks, and on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays they offer the chance to gain even deeper insight with talks in the Gallery and the theatre.

 
 

Events at National Gallery

Tacita Dean: Still Life OngoingFree Event Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

15th March to 28th May 2018 | Free

 
Tacita Dean: Still Life National Gallery 2018-03-152018-05-28 Where:
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square London, WC2N 5DN
Category: Art Galleries
The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Monet & Architecture Ongoing Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

9th April to 29th July 2018 | Admission charge

 
The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Monet & Architecture National Gallery 2018-04-092018-07-29 Where:
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square London, WC2N 5DN
Category: Art Galleries
Ed Ruscha: Course of Empire On Soon Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

11th June to 7th October 2018

 
Ed Ruscha: Course of Empire National Gallery 2018-06-112018-10-07 Where:
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square London, WC2N 5DN
Category: Art Galleries
Thomas Cole's Journey On Soon Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

11th June to 7th October 2018

 
Thomas Cole's Journey National Gallery 2018-06-112018-10-07 Where:
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square London, WC2N 5DN
Category: Art Galleries
Mantegna and Bellini Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

1st October 2018 to 27th January 2019 | Admission charge tbc

 
Mantegna and Bellini National Gallery 2018-10-012019-01-27 Where:
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square London, WC2N 5DN
Category: Art Galleries
All events at National Gallery
 
 
 
 

National Portrait Gallery

Significant figures from the late 15th century to the present day.

St Martin's Place, London, WC2H 0HE

Tube: Leicester Square Station , Charing Cross Station, Piccadilly Circus Station, Embankment Underground Station, Covent Garden Station

 
 

The National Portrait Gallery houses portraits of significant figures from the late 15th century to the present day. This isn't the place to come for serious works of exceptional artistic merit - the overriding aim of the National Portrait Gallery is to reflect the status of the sitter, not the artist - but where else in London could you hope to find The Beatles, Henry VIII, Sir Richard Branson and JK Rowling all hanging out together? The appeal of this gallery (opened in 1856) rests simply in its comprehensive commemoration of British history from the late 15th century to the present day through the medium of portraiture. The sense of progression and the feeling of familiarity with many subjects are what make the gallery so appealing. Having said that, critically acclaimed self-portraits by William Hogarth, Sir Joshua Reynolds and other notable British artists are also displayed alongside the 10,000 portraits of everyone from statesmen to showbiz stars and media barons. The collection represents Britain and is arranged thematically, starting with the Tudors and ending with present day politicians and pop stars. Look out for the only surviving portrait of Shakespeare taken from life in The Ondaajte Wing, the Hans Holbein cartoon of Henry VIII, the anamorphic portrait of Edward VI, and the sculpture of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in medieval costume. Photographs, caricatures, drawings and sculpture are included in the collection which also boasts 250,000 archived images. The National Portrait Gallery also hosts the annual Portrait Prize competition alongside ever-changing collections of contemporary work.

 
 

Events at National Portrait Gallery

BP Portrait Award 2018 On SoonFree Event Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

14th June to 23rd September 2018 | Free

 
BP Portrait Award 2018 National Portrait Gallery 2018-06-142018-09-23 Where:
National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place London, WC2H 0HE
Category: Art Galleries
Michael Jackson: On the Wall Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

28th June to 21st October 2018 | £15.50-£20

 
Michael Jackson: On the Wall National Portrait Gallery 2018-06-282018-10-21 Where:
National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place London, WC2H 0HE
Category: Art Galleries
Gainsborough's Family Album Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

22nd November 2018 to 3rd February 2019 | With donation: £14.50-£16 | Without donation: £12.50-£14

 
Gainsborough's Family Album National Portrait Gallery 2018-11-222019-02-03 Where:
National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place London, WC2H 0HE
Category: Art Galleries
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Banqueting House

The only surviving section of Whitehall Palace and modern-day host to royal and social events.

Whitehall, Westminster, London, SW1A 2ER

Tube: Westminster Station , Charing Cross Station, Embankment Underground Station

 
 

In its heyday Banqueting House (the only surviving section of Whitehall Palace) was the largest royal palace in Europe and continues to host many royal and social occasions. The palace originally started life in the 14th century as one of the Archbishop of York's homes. A devastating fire in the early 1600s led to the edifice being rebuilt by Inigo Jones. Due to its isolated position, the Banqueting House survived a second subsequent fire, which razed the rest of the palace to the ground and it eventually became a royal chapel. From Henry VIII to James I, the building echoes with royal connections, the most sinister of which has to be hosting the execution of Charles I during the English Civil War. Charles II marked his restoration to the throne here 20 years later. The building is as architecturally significant as it is historically celebrated, introducing as it did a delicate Italianate Renaissance style unmatched in Jacobean society. It was the first building in England to use crown glass in its windows, while the fabulous Ruben's ceiling painting, commissioned by Charles I, is the only Rubens scheme painted by him to remain in its original position.

 
 
 

The Mall

World famous stretch of road running from Buckingham Palace to Admiralty Arch.

Westminster, St James's, London, SW1Y 5AH

Tube: St James's Park Station

 
 

Running from Buckingham Palace to Admiralty Arch and Trafalgar Square, The Mall is a long red tarmac road which splits St James's Park on the south side from St James's Palace and Green Park on the north. Closed to traffic on Sundays and public holidays, the tree-lined Mall offers one of London's most memorable views of the Queen's official residence. It is often decked out in Union Jack flags and is used in processions and marches - such as royal weddings and funerals. The annual London Marathon finishes on the western Buckingham Palace end of The Mall, while its eastern end backs on to the Horse Guards Parade, where the ceremony of Trooping the Colour occurs.

 
 

Events at The Mall

RideLondon FreeCycle Free Event Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

Saturday 28th July 2018 | Free

 
RideLondon FreeCycle The Mall 2018-07-282018-07-28 Where:
The Mall, Westminster London, SW1Y 5AH
Category: Sights

Britain's biggest bike festival, Prudential RideLondon, gets under way with the RideLondon FreeCycle, a family friendly event in which around 70,000 riders typically take part. A celebration of cycling, the event gives cyclists of all ...more

Prudential RideLondon Classic Free Event Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

Sunday 29th July 2018 | Free to watch

 
Prudential RideLondon Classic The Mall 2018-07-292018-07-29 Where:
The Mall, Westminster London, SW1Y 5AH
Category: Sights

See the world's best cyclists battle it out at the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic on the last Sunday of July. Britain's biggest one-day bike race will see 150 of the world's top pro cyclists take on ...more

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St James's Palace

One of the oldest palaces in London and the former residence of the sovereign.

3 St James's Palace, St James's, London, SW1A 1NP

Tube: Green Park Station

 
 

St James's Palace on Pall Mall is one of the oldest palaces in London and the official residence of the sovereign yet the royals haven't lived here since Victorian times. The palace had "long since ceased to be used by royalty for any but ceremonial purposes," Charles Dickens's wrote in 1879. Built between 1531 and 1536, Henry VIII commissioned the palace as a hunting lodge, close his main official residence of Whitehall Palace as well as the Royal Deer Park. Built on the site of the former St James's hospital for lepers - the saint after which both the Palace and nearby St James's Park are named - little remains of the Tudor original except for parts of the Chapel Royal and a fine 16th century gatehouse (thought to be to a design by the king's painter, Hans Holbein the Younger). There are two Chapels Royal in the Palace complex: the Chapel Royal itself and the 1620s Inigo Jones designed Queen's Chapel, both are active places of worship and open to the public for select services. The Palace itself is not accessible to the public.

 
 
 

London Dungeon

The spooky way of learning all about the bloodthirsty horrors of London.

Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, Bankside, London, SE1 7PB

Tube: Waterloo Station , Westminster Station

 
 

The London Dungeon closed its doors on its old Tooley Street home on 31st January 2013 (while London Bridge station is being redeveloped) and the new London Dungeon opened in the spooky underground vaults of County Hall on 1st March. New features include an up close and personal encounter with Guy Fawkes and the murderous monarch, Henry VIII, played by a high-tech 3D version of the booming-voiced actor Brian Blessed. Sweeney Todd, Guy Fawkes and Jack the Ripper are just some of the other notorious characters from 1,000 years of London's history brought to life by a cast of 20 live actors. Book tickets to visit the London Dungeon at its new home on the South Bank. Popular features of the original dungeons return including the repulsive animatronics and waxworks, appropriately gruesome sound effects, and some (very much alive) costumed staff who stand in the displays and jump out at unsuspecting parties of tourists. In addition, there are theme park style rides so you won't be surprised to learn that kids absolutely love it. It is also an excellent way of fostering your children's interest in history, though the downside is that they may force you to buy some truly repellent items from the gift shop. Tremendously torturous.

 
 
 
 

Sea Life London Aquarium

London's largest aquarium holds over 300 different species of fish.

County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, South Bank, London, SE1 7PB

Tube: Waterloo Station , Westminster Station

 
 

The Sea Life London Aquarium features hundreds of varieties of fish and sea life from around the world. Here you'll come face-to-face with sharks and watch divers feeding gigantic conger eels. Seahorses, rays, starfish and piranhas are also on show and the interactive displays include a supervised touch pool, while petting the friendly rays is positively de rigeur. You can see the fish being fed during diving displays on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 12noon and 12.30pm in the main Atlantic Tank (check in advance as this is subject to change and during holiday periods dives may occur more frequently). The aquarium itself is situated in County Hall right on the Thames, with an interactive entertainment centre next door. It's a pretty tranquil spot (as long as you can avoid colliding with school groups) and a favourite form of escape for Londoners. It is also a cool place to go on a date - Patrick Marber made it the venue for a rendez-vous in his play 'Closer'. Tickets for the London Aquarium are on sale now. Group tours can be organised: for clownfish and sensory tours there is a maximum of 10 individuals and for shark sessions there is a maximum of 20 people. For all other tours, your group should be between 10 and 30 people. Get in the swim of things and make some fishy friends.

 
 

Events at Sea Life London Aquarium

Rainforest Adventure: SEA LIFE London Ongoing Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

24th March 2018 to 24th March 2019 | From £26 (Adult), £21 (Child 3-15 years)

 
Rainforest Adventure: SEA LIFE London Sea Life London Aquarium 2018-03-242019-03-24 Where:
Sea Life London Aquarium, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road London, SE1 7PB
Category: Attractions for Kids
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St James's Church Piccadilly

Christopher Wren-designed home of the London Festival Orchestra.

197 Piccadilly, St James's, London, W1J 9LL

Tube: Piccadilly Circus Station , Green Park Station

 
 

St James's Church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and opened in 1684. The font, organ case and reredos are by Grinling Gibbons. William Blake was baptised at the church in 1757. Leopold Stokowski was choirmaster from 1902 until 1905 when he left for a similar position in New York and later became internationally known. The music programme at the church is impressive with free lunchtime recitals every Monday, Wednesday and Friday as well as an array of paid evening concerts. The London Festival Orchestra are residents. There's an antiques market on Tuesday and an arts and crafts market from Wednesday to Saturday.

 
 

Events at St James's Church Piccadilly

Piccadilly Chamber Music Series: The Complete Beethoven Piano Trios [5]

Friday 29th June 2018 - 7.30pm-9.15pm | £15-£28

 
Piccadilly Chamber Music Series: The Complete Beethoven Piano Trios [5] St James's Church Piccadilly 2018-06-292018-06-29 Where:
St James's Church Piccadilly, 197 Piccadilly London, W1J 9LL
Category: Historic Buildings
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Tate Britain

The greatest collection of British art from 1500 to the present day.

Millbank, Westminster, London, SW1P 4RG

Tube: Pimlico Station

 
 

Overlooking the River Thames, Tate Britain was originally founded through the philanthropy of the sugar magnate Sir Henry Tate. The Tate legacy now encompasses three other galleries around the UK, including Tate Modern also in London. Dedicated to showcasing Britain's artistic talent, Tate Britain is home to the greatest collection of British art from 1500 to the present day. Since it opened in 1897, the collection has expanded to include works from Blake, Rossetti, Spencer and Stubbs. It also hosts the Turner Prize - the contemporary art world's premier award. Turner's Gallery (another tribute to the artist himself) is a virtual reconstruction of the room in which Turner showed his own paintings.

 
 

Events at Tate Britain

All Too Human
Ongoing

28th February to 27th August 2018 - 10am-6pm | £16.80, OAP £15.80, concs £15, mems/under 12s Free (max four per family adult)

 
All Too Human Tate Britain 2018-02-282018-08-27 Where:
Tate Britain, Millbank London, SW1P 4RG
Category: Art Galleries
All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life Ongoing Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

28th February to 27th August 2018 | £16.80 (Adults), £15.80 (Senior Citizen over 60), £16 (Student / Child aged 12-18), Under 12s no ticket required

 
All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life Tate Britain 2018-02-282018-08-27 Where:
Tate Britain, Millbank London, SW1P 4RG
Category: Art Galleries
Tate Britain Commission: Anthea Hamilton OngoingFree Event Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

22nd March to 7th October 2018 | Free

 
Tate Britain Commission: Anthea Hamilton Tate Britain 2018-03-222018-10-07 Where:
Tate Britain, Millbank London, SW1P 4RG
Category: Art Galleries
Aftermath: Art In The Wake Of World War One On Soon Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

5th June to 16th September 2018 | £16.50 (Adults), Free (Children Under 12)

 
Aftermath: Art In The Wake Of World War One Tate Britain 2018-06-052018-09-16 Where:
Tate Britain, Millbank London, SW1P 4RG
Category: Art Galleries
Turner Prize 2018 Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

25th September 2018 to 6th January 2019 | £12.50 (Adults), Free (under 12s)

 
Turner Prize 2018 Tate Britain 2018-09-252019-01-06 Where:
Tate Britain, Millbank London, SW1P 4RG
Category: Art Galleries
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The Cenotaph

Whitehall war memorial designed by Edward Lutyens.

Whitehall, Westminster, London, SW1A 2BX

Tube: Charing Cross Station , Embankment Underground Station

 
 

Standing solemnly in the middle of Whitehall, visitors could be forgiven for passing the Cenotaph by unnoticed. But every November it becomes the focus of Britain's Remembrance Service (the closest Sunday to 11th November). The service commemorates the British Empire and Commonwealth servicemen who died in the two World Wars. The monarch, representatives of the Church, State, the armed and auxiliary forces, all gather to pay respect to those who lost their lives defending the freedom of others. Hymns are sung, prayers are said, and the two-minute silence is observed. Wreaths of poppies are then laid on the steps of the Cenotaph. The monument was originally built of wood and plaster for the first anniversary of the Armistice in 1919. The memorial you see today was designed by Edward Lutyens, it was created from Portland Stone and was unveiled one year later in 1920. The inscription simply reads "The Glorious Dead".

 
 

Events at Cenotaph

Remembrance Sunday Free Event Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

Sunday 11th November 2018 | Free

 
Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph 2018-11-112018-11-11 Where:
Cenotaph, Whitehall London, SW1A 2BX
Category: Sights

Each year, on the second Sunday of November, members of the Royal Family join current and former members of the services as well as members of state at the Cenotaph for Remembrance Sunday, a time ...more

All events at The Cenotaph
 
 
 
 
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