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 April
Spring has finally sprung in April, with fair weather replacing the cold snaps of winter. A perfect time to visit the superb parks in the city, and get into the season’s new exhibitions and shows. Plus, with the St George’s Day Feast and the London Marathon, the outdoor festivals are starting early.
Don’t miss your last chance to see the mesmerising Wildlife Photographer of the Year which ends its run on 10 April. Now in its 51st year, head down to The Natural History Museum to see 2015’s best photography featuring nature and our animal brethren.
Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones at the Saatchi Gallery starts this week, running from 5 April until September. This exciting and immersive exhibition takes visitors through 50 years of brilliant music, unseen artefacts and the Stones’ impressive impact on Rock ‘n Roll culture.
One of the biggest names in stadium rock return for a week-long run in the capital. Muse at the O2 Arena takes place 11 to 15 April and promises to be one of their best shows to date. ‘The Drones World Tour’ sees them playing a 360-degree extravaganza – all from the middle of the arena.
Funny Girl – showing at the Savoy Theatre throughout April – has everlasting appeal, and this version starring Sheridan Smith is no exception. Based on the story of Fanny Brice, a legendary Broadway star and comedian, Smith received critical acclaim for her portrayal – a must-see.
Another beautiful exhibition finishes at the British Library this month. The many re-imaginings of Alice in Wonderland have made Lewis Carrol’s classic a favourite for 150 years. Follow the white rabbit on a journey through the various interpretations of Alice, the Red Queen and the Mad Hatter until 17 April.
Glenn Close stars in Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s version of Hollywood black tragi-comedy Sunset Boulevard at the London Coliseum throughout April. A disastrous tale of romance and stardom gone sour, this is a superb show with an unforgettable cast and brilliant score.
St George’s Day Feast at Trafalgar Square is a feast of both food and fun. St George’s Day is 23 April but the date of the feast is yet to be confirmed. Head down to London’s most famous square to sample delicious food stalls and children’s games – a fun day for the family.
The Virgin Money London Marathon takes place 24 April and travels through many different areas of London. Head there early to get a good spot – like the finishing line along The Mall opposite Buckingham Palace. Or head to Greenwich or the Isle of Dogs for a quieter view of the runners.
Find out what's on in London this May
The days become longer and brighter in May, bringing sunshine and smiles to the streets of London. From circus antics on the Southbank and open-air theatre, to the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show. And don’t forget to find yourself a place to watch the FA Cup final, one of the biggest events in the football calendar.
We’re all familiar with the tale of Frankenstein, about the tormented ‘monster’ rejected by his creator, Victor Frankenstein. Now Mary Shelley’s Gothic masterpiece has been translated into a breathtaking ballet by esteemed young choreographer Liam Scarlett, debuting at the Royal Opera House from by 4 to 27 May.
Then roll up, roll up to London Wonderground at the Southbank Centre from 5 May to 25 September. The amazing Canadian circus troupe, Barbu, will headline this feast of cabaret, comedy and family entertainment fun.
It’s that time of year, when museums around the country throw open their doors to the public after hours. Enjoy a glass of wine in the magnificent Banqueting Hall of London’s Whitehall Palace, when it joins the venues participating in Museums At Night, from 11 to 14 May.
Then Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre begins its superb run of al fresco productions with Running Wild, from 13 to 12 June. Michael Morpugo’s heart wrenching tale of love, loss and loyalty has been powerfully adapted featuring puppetry from the talent behind the acclaimed War Horse.
Gaze in wonder at an array of ancient Egyptian treasures, when the British Museum reveals its ‘Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds’ exhibition on 19 May. Hundreds of incredible artefacts from two Egyptian cities buried under the Med for a millennium, will be displayed in this fascinating exhibition.
2015 saw Arsenal smash Aston Villa in a 4-0 defeat. But who will be this year’s victors, when the Emirates FA Cup Final returns to Wembley Stadium on 21 May? Don’t dismay if you miss out on tickets, as you can catch the thrilling action on big-screen TVs at pubs across the city.
Calling all wine buffs… There’s no better time for you to visit the capital than 23 to 29 May, when London Wine Week celebrates the city’s thriving wine scene. From tastings and talks to tours of local wineries – indulge your passion at events across London.
The world-renowned RHS Chelsea Flower Show returns to the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea from 24 to 28 May, for another spectacular showcase of floral finery. Highlights of this iconic event will include an acoustic garden inspired by famous percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, and a breathtaking Remembrance tribute garden of poppies.
Find out what's on in London this June
June brings the early summer sun, so expect outdoor sports, music festivals and some delicious food events. You’ll also find new exhibitions, including the grand opening of the new section of Tate Modern. And don’t forget to bring your dancing shoes to the London's best Pride event at the end of the month.
Head to Hurlingham Park on 3 to 5 June to see some of the best polo players in the world at the annual Polo in the Park.The rules have been simplified for new spectators not versed in the intricacies of the original game, so grab a glass of Pimm’s and enjoy the show as six teams compete for the cup.
Game of Thrones fans can see actor Kit Harrington sink his teeth into something a bit more high-brow at the Duke of York Theatre. This is your last chance to see Christopher Marlowe’s story of a man’s descent into madness at the loss of his soul, Dr Faustus,as the play ends on 25 June.
There are two festivals starting this week, first up is the brilliant Meltdown, this year curated by Guy Garvey of Elbow fame, taking place at the Southbank Centre between 10 and 19June. Using his extensive black book of fellow musicians and friends, Garvey has created a great line up including Femi Kuti and I Am Kloot, among many others.
On 11 and 12 June the wonderful Field Day Festival returns to Victoria Park in East London. A stunning line-up awaits, with PJ Harvey and James Blake headlining, and many other eclectic bands and artists performing over the weekend. This is sure to sell out, as it is one of London’s best summer parties.
Gourmets of London unite at Taste of London for five days of signature dishes from some of the capital’s finest restaurants. Explore new ideas of the culinary world, watch live cooking shows guaranteed to set your mouths watering and sample the delights of the world’s best chefs. Head to Regents Park between 15 and 19 June to learn some new recipes.
Tate Modern has a new building, and with it new spaces for art and a new ethos. The beautifully-designed New Tate Modern opens to the public on 17 June, just behind the original power station site. Allowing visitors to see contemporary art, interactive and experimental projects from further afield – Russia, Latin America and the Middle East.
The Pride in London Festival starts on 10 June, but the big celebrations are not until the end of the month on 25 and 26 June. Head to Trafalgar Square on 25 June for the Pride Parade, or Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens for the party on the 26 June. Expect a fabulous time, full of wild costumes and smiling faces all round.
And again at Southbank, it is your last chance to see the wondrous The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl before it ends on the 3 July. Embark on this magical journey through Roald Dahl’s life and work, reliving childhood moments of fanciful fiction and inspirational ideas.
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. King's Cross St Pancras is one of London’s most newly regenerated areas and it’s now 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 4* Cumberland, offering a perfect base for the avid shopper – the 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.
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 great for history and the arts. Kensington is surrounded by stunning Georgian and Edwardian architecture. Visit the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum while you’re here. Earl’s Court is a lively area offering a true taste of London lifestyle, with plenty of pubs to frequent. 4* K+K Hotel George provides a quiet retreat, where you can experience great service and a lovely garden to relax in.
Our finest luxury hotels luxury hotels and London’s Michelin starred restaurants gravitate towards the most exclusive addresses in London. Enjoy award-winning afternoon tea, browse the designer shops on Bond Street and admire the affluent houses in Berkley Square. 5* Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel is an iconic resident on Park Lane, providing the biggest of all hotel rooms in London.
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 Chelsea is famous for the Kings Road, with its fashionable roots from the 60s. 4* Rembrandt is a firm favourite in this area – perfectly located adjacent to the V&A and Natural History Museum.
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.
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 5* Hilton London Bankside for its fantastic location on the ‘design trail’.
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. Cross the Millennium Bridge and visit the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe, or stroll over to sample the gourmet food stalls at Borough Market. 5* Grange Hotel St Paul’s offers incredible views and designer shopping at One New Change offers a nice distraction too.
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.