London Destination Guide
A vibrant hub of cutting-edge arts, culture and cuisine that consistently blazes an international trail, London pulses with a thrilling itinerary of prime entertainment. Discover the English capital’s wealth of theatre, ballet, opera and art alongside its sporting highlights with our round-up of the most unmissable activities.
The Renaissance Nude
Western painters rediscovered the human form during the 15th and 16th centuries. New ideas transformed renderings of Adam and Eve and the crucifixion, while inventive undercurrents steered the shape of nudes cast to canvas or marble. The Renaissance Nude explores this momentous era, showcasing works by heavyweights such as Titian, Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Dürer and Cranach.
Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD
+44 020 7300 8000
Image © National Galleries of Scotland
The highlight of this eclectic tribute to classical music is its focus on up-and-coming talent, presenting an array of inspired contemporary productions. Join Carl Craig and Chineke! Orchestra for an intriguing dialogue between electronic and chamber music or an adventurous Bach reimagination. There’s plenty for traditionalists, too, with accessible lunchtime recitals throughout Love Classical’s programme.
Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP
+44 020 7589 8212
Image © Pail Sanders
All My Sons
American playwright Arthur Miller has seen something of a revival recently, with a punchy line-up of his works playing out across London’s stages. All My Sons is an excellent example—a sharp, emotionally-charged script nervously skirts the dark secrets of war at the play’s shadowy core. The cast is spectacularly well-appointed, with Sally Field and Bill Pullman taking the leads.
The Old Vic, The Cut, London, SE1 8NB
+44 0844 871 7628
Image © iStock_Matt_Gibson
A dramatic, blood-soaked plot about passion and the devil, Faust is Gounod’s most celebrated—and gripping—opera. The antihero, Faust, is a doomed academic who sells his soul to the sinister Méphistophélès in return for love, with devastating consequences. Scottish director David McVicar’s production is beautifully wrought with generous Parisian set designs and evocative period costumes.
Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, Wc2E 9DD
+44 020 7304 4000
Image © Catherine Ashmore
Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light
It was his bright, frothy seascapes replete with carefree bathers and pretty garden views brushed with iridescence that lent Spanish Impressionist Sorolla y Bastida his nickname, the ‘master of light’. The National Portrait Gallery aims the spotlight on 60 of the artist’s exquisite canvases, many having been shipped in from private overseas collections.
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
+44 0800 912 6958
Image © Museo Sorolla Madrid
Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams
Iconic haute couture, evocative pencil sketches and signature perfume bottles are the stars of Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams. The inimitable French designer had a passion for all things English—the historic traditions, grand architecture, over-arching politeness, and even its food. This show pays tribute to Dior’s relationship with Britain as well as his enduring stamp on the fashion world.
V&A, Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge, London, SW7 2RL
+44 0207 942 2271
Image © Popperfoto Getty Images
Sea Star: Sean Scully
Sean Scully’s arresting canvases comprise bold blocks of colour that appear to bear little resemblance to the works of 19th-century master JMW Turner. Nonetheless, the contemporary British artist draws on his forebear’s masterpieces to produce the epic paintings on display in Sea Star: Sean Scully. Thought-provoking and poetic, it gauges a beautifully subtle dialogue between the two painters.
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DN
+44 020 7747 2885
Image © Liliane Tomasko
Van Gogh and Britain
Residing in England as a young man, Vincent Van Gogh was inspired by novelists such as Dickens and Eliot and its forward-thinking artists such as Constable and Millais. Van Gogh and Britain shows works from these two famous painters together with rarely loaned others by Van Gogh—including Sunflowers from London’s National Gallery and Shoes, Starry Night on the Rhône and L’Arlésienne from further afield.
Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG
+44 020 7887 8888
Image © Tate
Jewel-coloured minidresses, snub-nosed platforms, wildly outré prints and, of course, those iconic hip-skimming pinafores: Mary Quant’s designs staged a ground-breaking couture revolution on catwalks and high streets across Britain for two dazzling decades. This nostalgic retrospective exhibits some of the legendary fashion designer’s most memorable contributions.
V&A, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2LR
+44 0207 942 2000
Image © Roger Jackson, Central Press, Getty Images
London Craft Week
For those with a preference for individually crafted, homespun treasures, London Craft Week is a city-wide showcase of the capital’s most talented creators. From ceramics and jewellery to fashion and home décor, London’s artisans commandeer galleries and pop-up shops from Greenwich to Mayfair, showcasing their wares to inspire and sell.
Various locations across London
Image © ZETTELER Sugarhouse Studios
The international Photo London exhibition returns to Somerset House this May, bringing together the world’s leading photographers, curators, exhibitors and dealers for an exciting celebration of photography. It’s a chance discover the works of new, emerging artists as well as rare vintage gems and one-off pieces from seasoned masters. In association with the event, 45 Park Lane will be exhibiting the works of contemporary artist Nicholas Kontaxis for his impressive international debut.
Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
+44 (0)20 7759 1169
Image © Graham Carlow
Food: Bigger than the Plate
With the threat of GM looming large and veganism as the current dietary trend of choice, food has never been so contentious. Picking up on the debate is the Victoria and Albert Museum, whose Food: Bigger than the Plate explores the politics of what’s in our pots and poses questions about how the food industry can be made more sustainable.
V&A, Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL
+44 (0)20 7942 2000
Image © Michael Zee, Symmetry Breakfast
The FA Cup Final
One of the most attended football events in the world, with an audience of cheering fans approaching 90,000, the FA Cup Final alights upon Wembley Stadium to cheer the winner of 2019’s coveted cup. Last year’s match saw Chelsea score the winning goal against Manchester United – so who will be this year’s reigning champion?
Wembley Stadium, London HA9 0WS
+44 (0)8449 808 001
Image © iStock peepo
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Springtime in London sees the city erupt in full bloom, with store fronts, clubs and restaurants across the capital decorating their facades with roses and peonies to honour the opening of RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Head into the show to admire state-of-the-art garden designs, a rainbow of beautiful blooms and plenty of opportunity to meet the experts.
London Gate, Royal Hospital Road, Royal Hospital Chelsea, London, SW3 4SR
+44 (0)20 3176 5800
Image © RHS Luke MacGregor
2019 Cricket World Cup
London is awash with sporting anticipation this summer as England—the founding nation of cricket—and Wales host this year’s Cricket World Cup. Two thrilling months of bats and bowls culminate in the final match at the capital’s esteemed Lord’s. Head to the batting ground for taste of the live action, or join thousands of cricket enthusiasts to watch it on the big screen in pubs across the city.
Image © iStock s white
Victoria 200 at Kensington Palace
May 24, 2019 marks the second centenary of Queen Victoria’s birth at Kensington Palace. To honour the occasion, the rooms in which the young monarch grew up with her mother are reassembled to look as they did when she inhabited them. Elsewhere, a new display exploring Victoria’s life after she became Queen is unveiled at the palace’s Pigott Gallery.
Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, London, W8 4PX
+44 (0)20 3166 6000
Image © Historic Royal Palaces
London Festival of Architecture
The English capital’s ever-evolving skyline and historic landmarks are celebrated in the month-long London Festival of Architecture. A hub of innovative contemporary constructions nudging up against centuries-old façades, the city provides the perfect backdrop for a public programme of events and workshops, all exploring this year’s theme of ‘boundaries’.
+44 (0)20 7299 1280
Image © Callum Evans_Jonas Lencer
Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition
A highlight of London’s cultural calendar, the Summer Exhibition rolls out a multitextured array of art in all its mediums. From film and photography to sculptures, paintings and illustrations, works by established artists (think Grayson Perry and Tracey Emin) are hung alongside pieces from fresh new talent, with most exhibits for sale.
Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD
+44 (0)20 7300 8090
Image © David Parry
One of the most coveted tickets in town, Masterpiece London is an art, antique and design fair that’s piled dizzyingly high with aesthetic finery. Art lovers and seasoned collectors are invited to browse more than 160 international exhibitors, showcasing everything from one-off furniture and paintings by big-name artists to vintage statement jewellery.
The South Grounds, Royal Hospital Chelsea, Chelsea, London, SW3 4LW
+44 (0)20 7499 7470
Image © Ben Fisher
Félix Vallotton was a master painter and printmaker who captured the transformation of Paris and its inhabitants at the turn of the 20th century, with wry observations of both political and domestic life. Showing 80 paintings and prints, this is the first large exhibition of Vallotton’s work in Britain.
Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD
+44 (0)20 7300 8000
Image © Kunsthaus Zürich, Gottfried Keller Foundation, Federal Office of Culture, Berne, 1965
A stalwart of the London summer season, Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world. Watch the biggest names in tennis step up to the grass courts for the chance to cement their place in history, with a glass of Pimm’s in one hand and some fresh strawberries and cream in the other.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Church Road, London, SW19 5AE
+44 020 8023 5265
Image © iStock microgen
The world’s greatest classical music festival brings to London its usual dazzling array of international talent. From big-name performers to the extraordinary rising stars of the Young Musician prom, the Proms culminate in the patriotic, flag-waving Last Night that celebrates all things British.
Royal Albert Hall and various locations around London
Image © Chris Christodoulou
Il Segreto di Susanna / Iolanta (The Secret of Susanna / Iolanta)
Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s production of Il Segreto di Susanna partners as a double bill with Tchaikovsky’s final opera, Iolanta as the final production of Opera Holland Park’s 2019 season. Bring a picnic to enjoy during the interval and soak up the warm summer evenings.
Opera Holland Park Theatre, Ilchester Place, London, W8 6LU
+44 (0)20 3846 6222
Image © Ewelina Koszykowska for Opera Holland Park
Buckingham Palace Summer Opening
Buckingham Palace, the official residence of Her Majesty the Queen, is only open to visitors for 10 weeks over the summer. Explore the 19 State Rooms, including the majestic Throne Room, take in some of the Royal Collection’s most eye-catching treasures, from Sèvres porcelain to paintings by Canaletto, and take a leisurely stroll through the gardens.
Buckingham Palace, Westminster, London, SW1A 1AA
+44 03031 237 300
Image © Royal Collection Trust Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018