Get set for a taste of both the historic and the modern with flights and vacations in London. Take a history lesson while you tour the Tower of London, or get the lay of the land with a ride on the London Eye. With so much to see and do, there’s plenty for everyone in London.
Home to well known landmarks, designer shopping, and a vibrant arts and theatre community, it’s no wonder so many choose to spend their vacations in London. And with flights from British Airways, you’ll arrive in England in style. With daily flights to London from 20 US cities, it is never out of reach.
London’s festival scene is as eclectic and diverse as the British capital itself, with something for all tastes. This summer Lovebox is the festival with the big names. Head over to Victoria Park on the 15 and 16 July to see Major Lazer, LCD Soundsystem and Jungle do their thing. Alternatively, for the more dance-inclined, South West Four at Clapham Common will provide all the beats you could want. The Chemical Brothers, Rudimental and Dizzee Rascal vie for your attention, among many more over the bank holiday weekend – 27 and 28 August.
Find out what's on in London this September
Autumn may be here, but don’t go into hibernation just yet… London still has plenty of amazing al fresco offerings to inspire you. From festivals on the banks of the Thames to flower shows and the BBC Proms in the Park – the spirit of summer lives on in September.
Cinephiles won’t want to miss the UK’s largest independent film competition, Portobello Film Festival from 1 to 16 September. This progressive festival provides a platform for new independent film-making talent, showcasing work across a series of categories. What’s more, it’s free… At Westbourne Studios in Notting Hill.
Also throughout September – Totally Thames celebrates London’s iconic river with a month of water-themed fun. Last year’s festival attracted over two million visitors, with its full programme of waterfront arts festivals, walks, talks, boat cruises, water sports and more.
Marvel at myriad displays of floral finery when the London Flower Show unites gardening experts and enthusiasts from around the world, from 8 to 11 September. Stroll around stunning show gardens, admire installations and enjoy live entertainment, all within the stately grounds of Osterley Park in West London.
Then it’s Union Jacks at the ready for musical spectacular Proms in the Park on Saturday 10 September. Pack a picnic and settle down to enjoy this wonderful open-air concert in the lush surrounds of Hyde Park. Featuring a special performance by the cast of magnificent West End musical Matilda.
There will be monkey business a-plenty, when the Great Gorilla Run sees TV’s Bill Oddie and hundreds of other gorilla costume-clad runners pounding the streets of London on Saturday 17 September. Cheer on the participants as they dash past iconic city landmarks in what promises to be an unforgettable spectacle.
Celebrating the capital’s position at the forefront of global design, The London Design Festival will see hundreds of jaw-dropping installations arrive in the city from 17 to 25 September. The transformation of Trafalgar Square into a crazy golf course is among the exciting plans for this year’s festival.
Dates for the diary of any fashionista are 22 to 25 September – when London Fashion Weekend takes over the catwalks of the capital. Hurry to grab your tickets if you don’t want to miss out on those coveted fashion show seats, talks from leading designers and designer-shopping bargains.
Or for a taste of quintessential London – make your way to Guildhall on Sunday 25 September for the Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival. This time-honoured event sees the city’s Pearly royalty don their finest button-clad garments and put on traditional entertainment, before parading to St Mary-le-Bow Church.
Find out what's on in London this October
In October, the summer has truly wound down and the days are getting shorter, but the change in season brings new exhibitions, shows and concerts to welcome the autumn months. From classical music and high-brow art to skiing and yoga, October is an exciting month in London.
October begins with Italian crossover tenor, Andrea Bocelli coming to London’s O2 Arena on his Cinema tour. On 1 October, be stunned by his beautiful and captivating voice – love songs and classic cinema soundtracks make up the playlist for this unmissable night. With support from Nicole Scherzinger (on the back of her West End debut in CATS), this promises to be an amazing show.
Between 3 and 9 October, make sure you get involved in London Cocktail Week at the famous Spitalfield’s Market in the east end. Over 250 bars have set up camp in the market, offering signature cocktails for a mere £5 (with an armband), alongside delicious street food and some great bands.
From cocktails to cakes, when the Great British Bake Off team take over ExCel over the weekend of 7to9October. The Cake and Bake Show sees the GBBO crew and past-competitors put on a show, including live bake-offs, which alongside some delicious cakes and delectable baked goods sounds a good way to spend a Saturday.
However, cinema might be more your thing, so head over to the BFI Southbank from 5to 16 October where the 60th annual BFI London Film Festival is taking place. Watch world premieres, see cast members and live in the glamourous world for the week as the stars come out in force.
Starting on the 6 October until February, the unbelievable talent of Pablo Picasso is explored at the National Portrait Gallery. From the realist paintings of his childhood to the ultra-cubist humorous caricatures of his later life, this is a huge collection of Picasso’s Portraits from the most famous artist in the world.
It is the last chance to see the theatrical version of George Orwell’s dystopian nightmare 1984 at the Playhouse Theatre. It finally ends its run on 29 October, after being extended previously. This fantastic take on Orwell’s dark future feels pertinent in our ever more surveillance-filled world, be careful Big Brother is watching.
Following widespread critical acclaim, the hilarious Peter Pan Goes Wrong comes to the Apollo Theatre in its Christmas run. From the 20 October to January, mishaps, cast disputes and flying problems make JM Barrie’s classic a hysterical farce, but be warned this is not a pantomime.
The Om Yoga Show London brings the capital’s finest yogis and yoginis to Alexandra Palace from 21 to 23 October. As it is the biggest yoga exhibition in Europe, and offers free classes, workshops and stalls of all things yoga, you will find thousands of fellow enthusiasts striking a warrior pose or two.
Comic book and cosplay fans unite at the 28th biannual MCM Comic Con London, which takes place at ExCel in London’s Docklands. Over the weekend of the 28to30October, fans can meet their favourite comic writers and artists, plus celebrity film and TV stars. Alongside this, there will be cosplay competitions and masquerades, where simply amazing costumes are recreated to a fine detail.
During the same weekend, The Telegraph Ski and Snowboard Show brings the mountains to Battersea Park. Get ready for the winter chill at London’s biggest and best alpine event, from 27 to 30 October, browse all the new kit, watch some high-octane sport and listen to some great music.
Find out what's on in London this November
Before the city turns festive with pop-up ice-skating rinks and Santa's grottos, the skies light up with firework displays to commemorate Guy Fawkes, and later the Lord Mayor's Show. Remembrance Sunday brings a glorious show of red poppies, to mark those who lost their life in the line of duty.
The skies of London will light up with elaborate firework displays on and around 5 November, as the capital remembers Guy Fawkes and his famous plot. With displays across the city, it’s hard to escape the beautiful sights and familiar sounds of Bonfire Night. Head out to Battersea Park Fireworks for the annual display on 7 November, which will enjoy a ‘Royal Night Out’ theme.
Marking its 120th year, on 6 November around 400, pre-1905 vehicles, will take part in the Bonhams London To Brighton Veteran Car Run. These vintage car enthusiasts will depart from Hyde Park between 7am and 8:30am, ready for their picturesque, 60-mile journey to the south coast. If you’re not up for the early start, waving them off – you can get an up-close-glimpse of 300 old cars on 5 November at The Regent Street Motor Show – when the whole of Regent Street, from Oxford Circus to Piccadilly Circus, is closed to traffic.
The Lord Mayor's Show takes place on 12 November from 11am until 2.30pm. Find a space to spectate along the three and a half miles between Bank and Aldwych, and watch the huge procession of marching bands, floats and acrobats pass by. Or gather at 5pm for the Lord Mayor's Firework display.
Two minutes' silence will be held at 11am, before the laying of the wreaths, to commemorate Remembrance Sunday on 13 November. Follow the Cenotaph Parade as it goes from Whitehall towards Parliament Square, and concludes on Horse Guards Parade.
Get in the festive spirit and celebrate 10 years of London’s magical Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, which opens on 18 November and runs until 2 January 2017. Browse the Bavarian markets for yuletide gifts, warm up with a mulled wine and enjoy a bratwurst in the Grand Hall. Don your skates and glide around the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink. Or book tickets to some of the best attractions including Santa Land and The Magical Ice Kingdom – which is new for 2016.
Experience Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Bros from 19 November to 29 January 2017. The Harry Potter studio tours get a festive makeover and the Great Hall gets ready for a Seasonal Feast during this unforgettable seasonal experience. Sets will be decorated as they were for festive scenes and behind-the-scenes secrets will be revealed about how filmmakers created fire, snow and ice. Book now to avoid disappointment.
For a magical interpretation of the beautifully-illustrated book by Raymond Brigg’s, book tickets to see The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre from 23 November to 1 January 2017. Suitable for children aged four and over, this much-loved festive tale is told through dance, song and mesmerising lighting effects.
From the 23 November until 2 January 2017Christmas at Kew transforms the already breathtaking botanic gardens into one of the most magical displays in London. Make your way along the one-mile sparkling path, as coloured laser beams dance over water, alongside illuminated fountains and glowing waterside reflections, and aromas of the scented Fire Garden fill the air. Santa and his elves will be in the North Pole village, with vintage rides, Christmas gifts and traditional festive fare.
Catch Georgia-born songstress Katie Melua when she performs with the 23-piece Gori Women's Choir at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 27 November. This one-off gig will see her perform new material, from forthcoming projects, as well as a selection of classic songs from her six album back catalogue – accompanied by the vocal orchestra of the choir.
Or get your theatre fix with two new openings for November. Get tickets to the West End premiere of Dreamgirls, when the Tony Award-winning musical comes to the Savoy Theatre. Or head to the Young Vic where 1930’s throwback Once in a Lifetime has been revived and returns to the stage for a short time only.
London neighbourhood guide
If you’re planning a trip to London, one of the most important considerations you’ll make is where to stay. London is like a city of villages, each providing a different city break experience. Our hotels in London are spread across many of London's neighbourhoods. For entertainment there’s no better place than the West End. Westminster is at the heart of politics and royalty. Or stay around Tower Bridge and soak up quintessential London and the ‘city life’.
Bloomsbury has attracted writers and liberal thinkers for centuries. Streets lined with Victorian architecture and beautiful garden squares contribute to its distinctive village feel. Our bestselling hotel in this area is 3* Royal National – it’s basic but, as a comfortable base in a great location, it is ideal. Alternatively, the 4* Doubletree by Hilton London West End is a stylish contemporary hotel in a beautiful Edwardian block, just off Russell Square. King's Cross St Pancras is one of London’s most newly regenerated areas and an exciting place to be. Here you’ll find The British Museum, The British Library and the much underrated Charles Dickens’ Museum. Fantastic transport links provide easy access around London, and across the UK, with Eurostar serving London's high-speed rail link with Paris, Brussels and continental Europe too.
This central London neighbourhood is a magnet for shopping enthusiasts. Department stores, including Selfridges and Liberty, nestle alongside fantastic high street shops on Oxford Street and Regent Street. While premium designer brands surround Old and New Bond Street. We recommend staying at either the Art Deco 4* Amba Hotel Marble Arch or the majestic 4* Cumberland, both offering a perfect base for the avid shopper – the Cumberland’s reception boasts one of London’s most exciting art galleries too.
At the heart of London’s monarchy and politics, and a favourite for locals and visitors alike, this area is brimming with culture and enviable views of iconic landmarks. Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace are to name but a few. Enjoy the best of London from the 4* The Grosvenor, which is perfectly located next to London Victoria Station, the arrival point for trains from London Gatwick Airport.
Known as the leafy neighbourhoods of London, Paddington is bordered by Hyde Park and fashionable Notting Hill is characterised by its distinctive green squares. A haven for antiques, second hand books and the weekly Portobello Road Market. 4* Hilton London Paddington is a popular choice, adjacent to Paddington train station – providing easy access to Heathrow Airport, and only three blocks from the shopping district along Oxford Street.
One of the most beautiful areas of London and alive with history and the arts, Kensington is surrounded by stunning Georgian and Edwardian architecture. The 4* Rembrandt is a firm favourite in this area – perfectly located adjacent to the Victoria and Albert Museum. You could also visit the Natural History Museum and the brilliant Science Museum while you’re here. For those looking for a luxury stay, try 5* The Ampersand Hotel, a stunning boutique with a superb tea rooms. Just around the corner, Earl’s Court is a lively area offering a true taste of London lifestyle, with plenty of pubs to frequent, including the superb speakeasy Evans and Peel Detective Agency.
Our finest luxury hotels and London’s Michelin starred restaurants gravitate towards the most exclusive addresses in London. Enjoy award-winning afternoon tea, browse designer shops on Bond Street and admire the affluent houses in Berkley Square. The 5* Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel is a quintessential Park Lane hotel, providing the biggest of all hotel rooms in London. Another such residence, 5* The Park Lane, is set within an iconic Art Deco building and was fully refurbished in 2016.
This exclusive royal neighbourhood is a great place to shop for designer or vintage pieces. Knightsbridge is the home of Harrods, the world famous department store and The Royal Albert Hall. You’ll find the grandiose 5* Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park sitting opposite the park, where Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner restaurant offers a history of British gastronomy. Nearby Chelsea is famous for the King’s Road, with its fashionable roots from the 60s, still has a bohemian vibe. Contemporary art enthusiasts should make sure to visit the Saatchi Gallery, just off Sloane Square.
From musicals to dramas, comedies to tragedies, London’s Theatreland provides the best in entertainment. The lively areas of Covent Garden and Leicester Square are bursting with bars, restaurants and talented street performers who vie for your attention. 5* Waldorf Hilton enjoys an enviable location at the top of the Strand, perfect if you want to be right in the heart of the action. Whilst in the area, have a look at the London Transport Museum’s quirky collection of historic trams, buses and trains throughout the decades.
The year-round festival atmosphere on the Southbank makes this one of the most vibrant areas in London. Browse galleries in the South Bank Arts Centre and play your part in the outdoor art installations. Spectate at the skateboard-friendly underpass and enjoy the views from the EDF London Eye – this pedestrian-friendly area along the River Thames is a cultural delight. We recommend the 4* Park Plaza Westminster Bridge for both its location on the river and its unbeatable views of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament across the Thames.
London's Financial District beautifully showcases this city’s historical past. Iconic landmarks, like the Tower of London, the magnificent Tower Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral dominate London’s skyline. You’ll also find some of the city’s best indoor markets in the area, with Old Spitalfield’s Market, Leadenhall Market and Petticoat Lane Market all within walking distance. The brutalist architecture of the Barbican Centre is a sight to see, and is the largest multi-arts venue in Europe – so they’ll be something interesting on too. We recommend staying at the 4* Crowne Plaza London The City St Pauls, a stylish hotel within walking distance of St Paul’s.
Shining like a beacon on the south bank of the Thames, the Shard’s iridescent glow towers above London Bridge and Borough Market’s sizzling gourmet food stalls. Close by, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre wows the crowds followed by the Tate Modern, including its brand new wing showcasing further flung international talent. To see London from above, a trip to the viewing platform of the Shard comes highly recommended, but you will have to book. The 5* Hilton London Bankside offers contemporary style at the heart of this hip area, including the fantastic restaurant at the OXBO Bankside.
Conveniently located within 20 minutes from London City Airport – East London offers a great alternative to central London, especially if you’re looking for a cheap hotel. Stratford is home to the Olympic Park, at the centre of the London 2012 Olympic Games, and Westfield – the largest urban shopping centre in Europe. Canary Wharf and the London Docklands can also rival the West End, with glam bars, restaurants and the O2 Arena putting on the world’s most popular live events. The 4* DoubleTree by Hilton London Docklands Riverside enjoys a unique location, with fabulous views over the Thames and Canary Wharf and excellent facilities including an indoor swimming pool and health club.
London: An insiders guide
London: An insiders guide
Author and resident Saska Graville unearths off-the-radar places to eat, sleep and shop.