Category Archives: London Events

Be thrown into a rhapsody with Warren Mailley-Smith

If you are a fan of your classical music, then you are not going to want to miss out on this fantastic evening. Warren Mailley-Smith will be showcasing his talents at St Martin-in-the-fields, and it is set to be a must-see show.

British concert pianist Mailley-Smith will be playing pieces by the likes of Chopin, Beethoven, Liszt and Gershwin's iconic Rhapsody in Blue. This man has been described by Musical Opinion as 'the embodiment of the modern Romantic Concert pianist' and with his performances not being so common, you might as well catch him while you can. In the past, this performer has played for the British Royal Family, while also giving solo recitals at Wigmore and Carnegie Halls.

Audiences can expect to be taken on a journey of different emotions, as they experience poetry displays, Debussy's Clair de Lune and Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody no 2, all of which will be culminating into the always-popular Rhapsody in Blue. Mailley-Smith will be combining classical and jazz influences to truly drive rhythms in a way that will take your breath away.

All of this will also be occurring in the Sr Martin-in-the-fields church, with its fantastic acoustics and haunting ambiance. Located in Trafalgar Square, this historic venue even has a restaurant in its crypt if you are looking for a bite to eat before or after the show.

Warren Mailley-Smith will be performing on January 27th, with the show starting at 7.15pm sharp. Tickets are available at £16 but note that under-16s must be accompanied with an adult. If you are staying at the Montcalm hotels, get the tube from Marble Arch to either Charing Cross or Leicester Square.

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Spoil your mother rotten on Mother’s Day in London

March 15th will once again mark that one day in the year when we show all of our mothers how much we appreciate them – so why not take yours on a day she will never forget in the capital city.

After a lazy lie-in take your mum out for lunch at one of the many fantastic restaurants that the city has to offer. Whether it is a traditional pub or a Michelin-starred eatery, you will be able to find the place that your mum will appreciate the most – do note however that it is a busy day for restaurants so you will need to book a table in advance.

Across the afternoon, you have the options of relaxing in a London spa, filling yourselves up more with afternoon tea at The Ritz, or merely enjoying all the iconic attractions that London has to offer, such as Westminster Abbey, the London Eye and the Shard.

As the sun begins to set, head over to the world-famous West End, where you will be able to catch a show. Do you want to tap your toes with Billy Elliot? Laugh so much you could cry at The Book of Mormon? Or see what everyone's raving on about with Wicked? Remember that not all productions will have Sunday shows, and weekend tickets are often in hot demand, so do your research and purchase your seats well in advance.

Other places to consider include the floral Kew Gardens that will be in full bloom at this time of year, Oxford Street for some indulgent shopping, or the charming cobblestone alleyways of Covent Garden. All of these places are easily accessible from the spacious and affordable Montcalm hotels.

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Thought-provoking drama comes to the Theatre Royal Haymarket

If you are looking for some intense and thought-provoking drama in London, then a new show at the Theatre Royal Haymarket may be right up your street.

Taken at Midnight tells the tale of renowned lawyer Hans Litten who, in 1931 Berlin, has to represent people who are in opposition of the expanding Nazi party. He takes on a case in which a thuggish group are charged with murder, but he has to call no other than Herr Hitler as a lead witness. Coming face to face with the future dictator, the lawyer has to use his wit and intellect to keep the pressure on, something that may come back to haunt him when Hitler eventually rises to power.

It is then left to Litten's brave mother who has to save her son against one of the most horrific and powerful regimes in history. Litten's mother is played by Penelope Wilton, famed for her roles in Downton Abbey and recently in The Exotic Marigold Hotel. And with the production directed by critically-acclaimed director Jonathan Church, you would be mad to miss this.

Taken at Midnight will be playing until March 14th and tickets start from £15. If this doesn't really sound like your cup of tea, there are much 'lighter' shows playing in London, including hit-musical Billy Elliot, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown featuring Tamsin Greig, and feel-good show Wicked. Either way, you will want to book yourself into a London hotel so that you don't need to worry about getting back home after a show's late finish. Or you may really want to let your hair down and party until the wee hours of the morning in one of the West End's many fantastic bars and restaurants.

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Religious London: places of worship you need to visit

Places of worship are often an interesting insight into a region's fascinating history but also the belief systems of local communities. Therefore, there is often nothing more telling about an area than visiting the local church, cathedral, temple or mosque – and trust us when we say that London sure has its fair share of them. Regardless of whether you are religious or not, here are some of the best that you cannot afford to miss.

Christianity

Naturally, your first port of call will be St Paul's Cathedral. This majestic structure is one of London's most iconic sights, and many often forget that it's actually a functioning cathedral. With its mammoth central dome that reaches a height of 108 metres and its two bell towers on either side, this really is a sight to behold. Built in the 17th century by Sir Christopher Wren to replace a previous cathedral destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, St Paul's even survived the London Blitz and still stands proudly in magnificent fashion.

And this is just the beginning. When you go inside, you will see ornately carved choir stalls, ornamental wrought iron gates and the star attraction: the high altar. Head up the stairs to get to the base of the huge dome, also known as the Whispering Gallery as a whisper can be made against the wall at any point in the circumference and is audible to a listener with an ear against any wall. Continue on up to the Golden Gallery, which offers stunning panoramic views of London.

Another popular attraction is Westminster Abbey, located west of the Houses of Parliament. Dating back to the 11th century, the abbey has been the place of coronation for all, bar two, English monarchs since 1066. With its various chapels, tombs of royals and Poet's Corner to explore, you can easily spend a whole afternoon here.

Be sure to also stop off at All Hallows by the Tower, which is actually the oldest church in the city. Founded in 675 AD, the church overlooks the Tower of London and it is completely free to enter. Highlights to look out for include the Roman relics in the crypt, the Crusader altar and the pulpit from a Wren church.

Islam

The major focal point for all Muslims in the capital is London Central Mosque, also known as the Islamic Cultural Centre. The site was designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd in 1978 and its main draw is the stunning golden dome it harbours.

Head inside and you can enjoy the main hall, which can hold over 5,000 worshippers, the vast carpets, chandeliers and the inside of the dome being decorated with broken shapes in Islamic tradition.

Other mosques you should consider visiting include Fazl Mosque, the first mosque in London having been built in 1924, East London Mosque, which was the first of its kind in Europe to broadcast the Adhan, and Brick Lane Mosque. The last, in particular, is surrounded by a large Muslim community and you will be able to truly immerse yourself in 'modern Britain'.

Hinduism

Situated in the borough of Brent, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir truly is a spectacle. Also known as Neasden Temple, the site is often dubbed as the first authentic Hindu temple in the UK and was actually the first Hindu stone temple in Europe. The complex has the main Hindu mandir carved out of Italian Carrara marble, an exhibition that offers more information about Hinduism, a cultural centre and even a bookshop and gym.

There is also the Sree Ganapathy Temple in Wimbledon, which was opened in 1981 and still hosts regular religious services, weddings and death ceremonies. Interestingly, there is also a holistic approach taken here, with philosophy talks and yoga classes regularly being held.

Buddhism

Standing as the first Buddhist temple to be built in the city, Wat Buddhapadipa is designed in true Thai style and is used for various monastic ceremonies. At first glance you may wonder what the fuss is all about, with its small cottage and monk's house, but then the four-acre site actually features a lake, orchard, flower garden and small grove, making this an ideal place for a relaxing afternoon stroll. Note that while the grounds are open all week, the temple only is on weekends.

Learning further about faith

If you are not close to a specific religion, and you just want to learn about the various faith systems that have existed in British history, various museums across the city cater to this. Over at the Victoria and Albert Museum, there are examples of extremely early Buddhist artefacts, such as Greek-influenced depictions of Buddha and pillars made 2,000 years ago to surround the place of Buddha's enlightenment. In the British Museum, meanwhile, you can look at medieval Christian art as philosophers tried to make sense of the Crucifixion, or check out ancient Islamic artefacts from the likes of Persia and Babylon.

For more information and resources on Britain's relationship with religion, head to the British Library, or go even more local and check out one of the many community stations dotted across the boroughs.

Either way, you don't need to be religious to appreciate the stunning architectural styles of London, communities' commitment to faith and an insight into what role religion has played into shaping up the Britain we know today.

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The Apple store at Regent Street: Best place for technology lovers

Regent Steet in Mayfair, London, is among the most popular shopping streets with locals and tourists alike. It can offer you and your entire family with an enjoyable shopping experience. It is home to stores such as the UK Apple … Continue reading

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National Portrait Gallery to pay homage to Audrey Hepburn

She was one of the world’s most famous actresses and humanitarians whose images can often be found printed upon various goods in many high street shops. However, in 2015 we will have the opportunity to see Audrey Hepburn in a different and unique light thanks to a new exhibition which is opening.

From July 2nd until October 18th 2015, fans of the Funny Face and Breakfast at Tiffany’s star are very much advised to pay a visit to Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon at the National Portrait Gallery. It will celebrate the Belgium-born British actress’ coveted film career, which saw her receive the Best Actress in a Leading Role Academy Award for her performance in the charming Roman Holiday.

As well as her iconic career, the exhibition will feature some photographs from her personal life, which include her early days as a chorus girl working in London’s West End alongside her humanitarian work that Ms Hepburn was very much celebrated for towards the end of her life.

There will be more than sixty images on show for all to see at the National Portrait Gallery, from some of the classic photographs which we are all familiar with that graced magazine covers, to film stills from the likes of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, to some of the more personal and rarely seen images

Photographers exhibited will include Cecil Beaton, Norman Park, Angus McBean and Richard Avedon, with highlights including an image of Ms Hepburn in her dressing room while starring in Gigi on Broadway, as well as a variety taken by Mark Shaw during the filming of Sabrina in 1953 when he was given exclusive access to the set.

If you are lucky enough to be visiting Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon why not consider staying at the Montcalm London Marble Arch?

 

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Start the New Year in London

New Years Eve is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the year when everyone gets together with their loved ones to countdown to midnight while fireworks fill the night sky.

While most people will have their plans already sorted for December 31st, it seems that New Years Day can often be forgotten about. Perhaps it is because many will be spending most of the morning in bed trying to fight off the tiredness from staying up to the early hours with a few glasses of champagne.

But January 1st marks the start of the new year and what better way is there to start 2015 than with a day spent in London taking in the sights and experiencing what makes our capital one of the greatest cities in the world.

New Year’s Day Parade

Make sure to head towards Piccadilly at midday for the 29th annual London’s New Year’s Day Parade (LNYDP). The parade follows a route through to Piccadilly Circus, Lower Regent Street, Waterloo Place, Pall Mall, Cockspur Street, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and Parliament Street, where it finishes at 15.30GMT.

Even if you don’t want to follow the parade for the full three and a half hours, it is well worth catching some of it as the parade itself has become one of the city’s best loved traditions. Around 10,000 performers from all over the world gather to fill the streets with cheerleading, dancing and music.

Visit a gallery or museum

Believe it or not, most of the art galleries and museums in the capital are open on New Year’s Day and it can be one of the best days to visit them, especially if most people are spending the day relaxing after the night before.

From the National Portrait Gallery, to the Royal Academy of Arts and Tate Britain, spending a day looking through some of the most famous galleries in the world can be the perfect way to start the year.

When it comes to museums, the Churchill War Rooms, Imperial War Museum and the Natural History Museum are just some of those that are open.

To make your New Year's trip to London even better, make sure to stay at one of the Montcalm Luxury Hotels.

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The Railway Children will be arriving in London this month

The Railway Children is one of the greatest stories to have stood the test of time, having been serialised by E Nesbit in The London Magazine in 1905, before being published as a children’s book the following year in 1906.

It tells the story of three children named Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis who move to a house close to a railway station in Yorkshire with their mother after their father is falsely accused of being a spy. Here, they befriend a railway porter and embark on a wonderful journey filled with adventure and discovery.

The stage production of The Railway Children was originally staged by the York Theatre Royal alongside the city’s National Railway Museum in 2008, and it enjoyed immense success during a two year run in the city.

From December 16th, the Olivier Award winning production, which is directed by Damian Cruden, will be arriving into London’s Kings Cross Station to a purpose built theatre to bring the timeless story back to life.

The 1,000-seat venue in one of the world’s most famous stations, will include railway tracks and platforms that have been built especially around a 60 tonne vintage locomotive for this particular production. In fact, it is the same train that was used when the production enjoyed a run in Toronto, Canada and was designed by William Adams, being constructed between 1892-1893.

The Railway Children will see Downton Abbey star Jeremy Swift take on the role of Mr Perks, while Caroline Harker will be reprising her role as the mother. The children will be played by Louise Calf, Jack Hardwick and Serena Manteghi.

Making this production even more special is the fact that £1 from each ticket purchased goes towards supporting the Railway Children Charity which aims to help homeless children throughout the world.

The Railway Children is now booking up until March 1st, with the preview arriving on December 16th.

To make your stay in London even better, why not try one of the Montcalm Luxury Hotels?

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Alice’s Adventures Underground: Jump down the rabbit hole this spring!

Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

Alice: “I don't much care where.”

Cheshire Cat: “Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.”

Lewis Carroll fans visiting London this spring will certainly not be facing the same dilemma Alice was contending with during her time in Wonderland – as they’ll know exactly where they want to go!

Indeed, in a fantastical celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, theatre company Les Enfants Terrible is staging a theatrical experience encompassing storytelling, live music, puppetry, circus and spectacle. 

Attendees at the once-in-a-lifetime Alice’s Adventures Underground are invited down the rabbit hole to face Alice’s iconic choice: EAT ME or DRINK ME. The decision they make will affect the way their show unfolds. 

The experience includes more than 20 individual rooms, a huge tea table that can seat around 60 guests, an original soundtrack and three bars, including a VIP bar for premium ticket holders.

Alice fans will also be subject to projections and potions, portraying the disorientating rabbit hole that kicks off Alice’s adventure, a hazy caterpillar lair, the murderous Red Queen, the smug Cheshire cat and – of course – plenty of tea.

Carroll’s protagonist may not have been successful in her bid for wine while attending the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – “we don’t have any and you’re too young”, he admonished her – but guests are encouraged to live it up in the ‘Queen’s Garden’ bar until the small hours. This bar will be located in the Wonderland world, boasting its own cast and installations, including flamingo croquet and a hedge maze. 

In addition to the above, Alice’s Adventures Underground is to host The Wonderland Sessions, which will be put on by a series of companies and speakers. This will comprise a multi-art exploration of the work and performances – all inspired by Carroll’s original book. Works will range from readings and screenings to live music and choreography. 

For those eager to jump down the rabbit hole, Alice’s Adventures Underground will be staged in the historic vaults located underneath Waterloo station from April 9th until May 31st. 

Why not make a full weekend of it and book to stay at one of the top hotels in London?

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Experience the premiere of Titanic Live in London

Titanic is undoubtedly one of the most famous and loved films of all time and the soundtrack to it is very much a part of its success. After all, who can forget Celine Dion’s contribution, ‘My Heart Will Go On’, or the scene in which the orchestra begins playing for the panicked passengers while the doomed ship continues to sink.

In fact, Titanic won 11 Academy Awards including the Best Director, Best Picture and Best Original Song and Dramatic Score.

It is perhaps no surprise then that Titanic Live has been created, with its premiere being held at the Royal Albert Hall in London, featuring a very special guest composer as James Horner will be taking to the famous stage.

As the actual conductor for the film’s soundtrack, Horner will be bringing his score back to life as he conducts the phenomenal Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, Tiffin Boys Choir and Celtic musicians for the audience. All the while, the 1997 film will be projected on to a huge screen in high definition.

Making the occasion even more exciting is the fact that this production, which takes place on April 27th 2015, will be the world premiere of Titanic Live.

Speaking about the event, Horner said: “I am very flattered, and delighted to have been invited to perform the score of Titanic live with orchestra. Usually, putting the music into a film is a highly technical process that the audience never gets a chance to see. By performing the music live with the film, you, the audience, will experience the magic of seeing the live musicians, literally playing the music score as the film runs.”

For those who are planning to attend the musical spectacular, the evening can be made even more special by adding a pre-show hospitality package which includes a two course dinner at the Royal Albert Hall’s Coda restaurant, as well as a glass of champagne on arrival and half a bottle of wine and water per person. Those who opt for this package will also get a Premium Stalls seat so that they can really enjoy Titanic Live with a fantastic view.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay after Titanic Live, the Montcalm London Marble Arch is only a short distance from the Royal Albert Hall.

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Elvis has most certainly not left the building

There is no doubt about it, when it comes to famous artists of the past, Elvis Presley is one of the greats whose legacy will stand the test of time.

With that in mind, London’s O2 arena will be paying homage to The King with the brand new exhibition, Elvis at The O2.

Opening from December 12th until August 31st, the exhibition is a must-see for fans of Elvis and those who are curious or want to educate the younger generation who were never lucky enough to know what life was like when he dominated the music industry.

There will be over 300 artefacts that have been shipped to London from Elvis’ home in the United States, Graceland, some of which have never actually left the home in Memphis, Tennessee before.

Explore Elvis’ rise to fame, from his humble beginnings to his career in the US Army and the phenomenal career he had within the music and film industry, including his Las Vegas years. You will also be able to see just how huge Elvis-mania really was, which is wonderfully channelled alongside the intimate, special sneak peek you get from Graceland where he was best known as a father rather than a celebrity.

Speaking of the exhibition, Elvis’ former wife, Priscilla Presley, said: “While each and every item contains a lifetime of memories, we are more than happy to allow these treasured memories to leave Graceland, if only for a short time, so that his fans and the curious can learn about who he was as an artist, and understand what he was really like at home, by seeing the things that he surrounded himself with.”

Fans of The King will be able to admire Elvis’ ‘TCB’ ring (ie Taking Care of Business), which has a total of 16 karats and a centre solitaire of 11.5 karats, as well as the Red 1960 MG Roadster from the hit movie, Blue Hawaii.

Poignantly, Elvis' personal wallet will be on display, containing a number of photographs of his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, when she was young, as well as his personal keys to his home in Graceland.

Make the most of your Elvis experience in London with a stay after at one of London's Luxury Hotels.

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Catch Bette Midler in London next year

Award winning singer and actress, Bette Midler, will be heading out on to the stage in London next July to offer her wonderful voice to the audience of the o2 arena. Midler is best known for her starring roles in … Continue reading

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