The Montcalm Blog

London’s best picnic spots

If you're heading to London at any point during the summer then you'll discover loads of great stuff going on all over the city, and while that's certainly no bad thing, you'll probably find that all that action makes you pretty hungry.

Of course, there's never any shortage of great places to eat in the capital, although every now and then it's nice to have a bit of a change and dine al fresco.

That's not to say you shouldn't take the opportunity to sample London's top restaurants when you're in town, but enjoying the odd picnic as well is a fantastic way to soak up the atmosphere of this amazing city while restocking your energy supplies at the same time.

One place that's always popular with picnickers is Greenwich Park, which contains an enormous hill. From the top it's possible to see the entire London skyline, making this a wonderful spot to sit and enjoy your packed lunch, as it means you won't have to take a break from sightseeing while you eat.

What's more, Greenwich Park is surrounded by many of London's top visitor attractions, such as the Royal Maritime Museum, the Cutty Sark and the Royal Observatory – the latter of which actually sits in the park itself, at the top of the hill.

Another excellent spot for a picnic is Hampstead Heath, which is one of London's most serene green spaces. With a mix of open fields and wooded areas, it will make you feel like you're out in the countryside rather than in a big city, although if you climb to the top of Parliament Hill you'll be rewarded with an amazing view of the capital.

There are of course plenty of other excellent places to enjoy a spot of al fresco lunch, with the likes of Hyde Park, Regent's Park and Primrose Hill all being terrific options.

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Lion King extends booking period in London’s West End

One of the most popular musicals of all time has just extended its booking period in the capital, giving even more people the chance to see this truly spectacular production.

Disney's The Lion King has been running at the Lyceum Theatre since October 1999, meaning it is now just a few months away from celebrating its 15th birthday – and there could be many more to come yet.

Based on the iconic movie of the same name, the musical tells the story of Simba, the lion prince, who is banished from his pride after he is blamed for the death of his father, King Mufasa.

Growing up in exile, the young lion befriends a number of interesting characters, such as the comedic duo of Timon the meerkat and Pumba the warthog, before returning to his homeland to avenge his father by defeating his uncle Scar and taking his rightful place as king.

Featuring music from Elton John and Tim Rice, both the film and the stage show of the Lion King have provided some of the most popular and well-known Disney tunes of all time, with songs such as The Circle of Life, Hakuna Matata and I Just Can't Wait to be King among the best of these.

With spectacular costumes, amazing sets and a gripping story, the West End production of the Lion King has left millions of viewers awe-struck during its run at the Lyceum Theatre, so if you haven't seen it yet then you really don't know what you're missing.

Fortunately, there will be plenty of opportunities to catch a performance of the show, which will be sticking around at the famous venue until at least March 29th next year.

The Lyceum Theatre is located on Wellington Street, which is just a stone's throw from key landmarks such as Covent Garden, the Strand and many top London hotels.

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Discounted tickets available for Thorpe Park Summer Nights

If you're looking for a fun and slightly unusual way to spend an evening this summer then taking a trip to one of the UK's leading theme parks after hours could well tick all the right boxes – and anyone who likes the sound of this idea is in luck.

That's because Thorpe Park will be staying open beyond its normal closing hours every Friday and Saturday until the end of August, and is now offering discounted tickets to these so-called Summer Nights events.

However, you'll need to be quick if you want to snap up one of these tickets, as only a limited number will be made available each night, with just a few lucky people being given the chance to access Thorpe Park from 19:00 until 22:00 for just £15.

Those who do manage to get their hands on these reduced price tickets will therefore find the park to be much less crowded than usual, with significantly shorter queues for the top attractions. What's more, anyone who has already bought a day pass to Thorpe Park on these days will be allowed to upgrade to the Summer Nights package for just £5.

This is a great way to enjoy the long summer evenings and really let your hair down at the end of a long week. It's also a fantastic option for parents who are looking to keep their kids entertained throughout the school holidays with exciting trips and activities.

A number of Thorpe Park's top rides will remain operational during these Summer Nights, including the likes of Stealth, The Swarm, Saw – The Ride, King Pig's Wild Dodgems and more. There will also be a temporary beach set up, where guests can enjoy a barbecue or play some volleyball.

Thorpe Park can be reached from Waterloo station in about 45 minutes, and is therefore easily accessible for those staying in London hotels.

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London’s West End outperforms Broadway

The age-old question of which is the better theatre destination out of London and New York appears to have been answered, with the London Theatre Report 2014 confirming that the West End put on a considerably better show than Broadway last year.

For several decades, the two heavyweights of the theatre world have been pitted against one another, with all of the most popular musicals enjoying runs on both sides of the Atlantic, yet this is the first time that an investigation has been carried out into the performance of the London theatre scene.

According to the study, some £403 million was taken at the West End box office last year, with this figure being 20 per cent higher than the amount grossed by theatres on Broadway over the same period.

Yet don't let this fool you into thinking that ticket prices are simply more expensive in the British capital than they are in the Big Apple, as the report also indicated that the number of discounts snapped up by punters in Theatreland is increasing all the time.

Indeed, the average ticket price for a show in central London last year was between £27.76 and £36.05, which is less than the figure for 2012 and also considerably lower than the amount spent by theatregoers in outer London, where the average ticket price was found to be just over £10 higher.

Commenting on the figures, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "London is without doubt the theatre capital of the world. From the bright lights of the West End and our thriving fringe, to the rise of immersive theatre in the unlikeliest of places, the quality, variety and breadth on offer here is unrivalled."

If you're interested in catching a show in the West End, you'll have plenty of options to choose from, with popular musicals such as the Lion King, the Book of Mormon and many others currently playing in the capital. You'll also find lots of fantastic London hotels within walking distance of the West End's top theatres.

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Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the SEA LIFE London Aquarium this summer

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