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 Christmas at Bankside

This Christmas at Bankside, one of London’s oldest and interesting neighbourhoods is hosting a series of festive events, performances, food, drink, art and entertainment throughout the season. The world famous and historic – Borough Market, Southwark Cathedral and Shakespeare’s Globe – and newer arrivals like Flat Iron Square, One Night Records and St Felix Place, underline the area’s centuries-old reputation as the place where Londoners go to relax and have fun.

Among the highlights of Christmas 2021

The Ghosts of Bankside Past: festive walking tour

From Dickens to pantomime dames, many things synonymous with Christmas have their roots in Bankside. Join Mr Londoner, aka blue badge tour guide Antony Robbins, and delve into this remarkable neighbourhood’s fascinating and festive past.

Date: Saturday 11 December, 11.30am-1pm. FREE but booking required hereMeet at Rabot London on Bedale Street for a free decadent hot chocolate to keep you warm on your walk.

Borough Market’s Festive Kitchen

On 7, 8 and 9 December, visitors are welcomed to the illuminated historic arches of Borough Market to experience a new, free, three-day pop-up – Borough Market’s Festive Kitchen – with cooking demos by a host of guest chefs. The popular annual ‘An Evening of Cheese’ returns to the Market on 15 December (6-8pm) and the Borough Market Kitchen will open until 9pm every Thursday.

Southwark Cathedral – Angels, Advent and Carols

The Merbecke Choir Advent Concert

Step into the candlelit Cathedral and join the Cathedral Merbecke Choir for an exploration of angels and Christmas. Some of the greatest music has been written in celebration of these mysterious, powerful, wonderful creatures. By bringing angelic works to life, the Cathedral hopes to conjure up some of the light and beauty of the choirs of angels. Date: Saturday 4 December at 7.30pm.

Tickets: From free to £15.00 via https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/angels-the-merbecke-choir-advent-concert-tickets-205341049607

Christmas Concert: A Ceremony of Carols with the Southwark Cathedral Choir

Southwark Cathedral invites you to one of the highlights of the festive season, an evening of traditional Christmas carols performed by the Boys and Gentlemen of the Cathedral choir, as well as Benjamin Britten’s masterpiece, A Ceremony of CarolsDate: Friday 17 December at 7.30pm.

Tickets: £12.50-£15.00 via https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/southwark-cathedral-choir-christmas-concert-a-ceremony-of-carols-tickets-205269064297

Shakespeare’s Globe – The Fir Tree

The Globe Theatre returns to its roots for a magical re-imagining and re-wilding of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Fir Tree, the story of Christmas told from the perspective of the tree. Bring friends, family, partners, neighbours and, with a cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine in hand, gather under the wintry star-lit sky for a fireside dose of story, song, candlelight and hope.

Dates: 20 – 30 December.

Tickets: Seated: £49 – £15; half price seated tickets are available for Under 16s. Standing: £5.


Festive Afternoon Tea at The Swan

Seasonal British produce is at the heart of Swan Restaurant’s menu, with local ingredients and stunning views across the Thames to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Swan’s Festive Afternoon Tea is a celebration of the Christmas season, featuring Mont Blanc shots, snowman chouxs and lemon gingerbread swans adorned with gold crowns. Dates: Until 30 December 2021. More info at https://swanlondon.co.uk

Omeara – Rock the Belles Christmas

A night of Christmas hip-hop, dancehall, R&B and Afrobeat at vital grassroots live music venue Omeara at Flat Iron Square. Date: 18 December from 10.30pm until late.

Tickets: £10 from https://www.omearalondon.com/events/rock-the-belles-christmas

One Night Records: The Christmas Edit

Part gig, part festival, part immersive adventure, One Night Records invites you under the arches of the Low Line railway viaduct and into six mystical worlds of live music, with settings perfectly matching the tunes you hear. Expect the languid luxury of a smoky jazz club under one arch, and rock ‘n’ roll guitar under another. Alongside the theatrical staging and the soulful singing, there will be themed food and drink, fuelling you to sing and dance the night away. Dates: Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7pm. Tickets: £35 from https://www.onenightrecords.com

Bankside Gallery – Mini Picture Show 2021

A new exhibition of contemporary watercolours and original prints by artists from the Royal Watercolour Society and the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. These are affordable works on a small scale that will be perfect for all last-minute Christmas shopping needs!

Dates: 3 December 2021 – 30 January 2022. More at https://www.banksidegallery.com

Flat Iron Square – The Winter Garden

Flat Iron Square swings open its gates and welcomes you to the Winter Garden. The on-site bar, ‘Apres’, will become the ‘Cîroc Chalet’, modelled on the traditional Scandi ski-lodge, complete with warming winter cocktails. On Saturday nights, the chalet welcomes live DJs from 8pm (and a ‘best dressed’ competition). Outside the Chalet, the Winter Garden features an assortment of bars serving an all-new winter drinks menu among pine trees and fairy lights. Dates: Until 23 December. For the latest, visit www.flatironsquare.co.uk

St Felix Place

A little further along Southwark Street is Flat Iron’s sister spot, where things are a bit more chilled, but no less festive. There will be a weekly themed quiz on Tuesdays, candle making workshops on Wednesdays, private booths for hire, DJ John Kennedy’s Saturday Sessions and a host of surprises. Slip into the on-site tap room to sample the quality beers being made before your very eyes.

Dates: Until 23 December. More at www.stfelixplace.co.uk

Opening on Monday 13 December – Everyman Cinema – Borough Yards

Part of Bankside’s highly anticipated Borough Yards development, set within a stretch of the Victorian brick railway arches and warehouses of the Low Line, Everyman Borough Yards will house two cinema screens, amid plush surroundings designed for maximum comfort. Bankside’s newest Christmas arrival will open with a full schedule of the latest films, including Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, complemented by an extensive food and drink menu, full bar, and freshly baked sweet treats, to offer an indulgent cinematic experience. Booking and more information at


Bankside is one of London’s most distinct cultural districts stretching across the River Thames from London Bridge to Blackfriars with the famous Borough Market, Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe at its heart. For centuries Bankside has been on the other side of London’s mainstream. Once sitting outside the walls of the city, as ‘Banksyde’ in the 16th century, it was a natural landing place for outsiders and free thinkers. It became notorious as London’s rowdy pleasure quarter full of theatres, brothels and gambling dens.

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
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London’s Bankside celebrates its colourful past by Flying the Flags

Bankside sits on the south side of the river Thames, stretching from London Bridge to just beyond Blackfriars Bridge. When known as ‘Banksyde’ in the 16th century, the area’s location outside the walls of the City made it a natural landing place for outsiders, dissenters and free thinkers. It became London’s lively pleasure quarter, home to theatres, brothels, gambling dens and taverns.

Although some of the more questionable activities have now thankfully disappeared, Bankside is home to London’s oldest theatres and the world’s most popular art gallery and rich in art, entertainment and culture. Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe and Borough Market are the main attractions on Bankside but there many more located in area’s network of medieval streets.

To celebrate Bankside’s colourful past,  Better Bankside, in collaboration with NB Studio, has challenged over 40 leading artists and designers in Bankside and London to design flags that celebrate the area’s independent spirit. The display of 60 flags is part of London Design Festival (LDF), which celebrates London as the design capital of the world. The flags will fly at Borough Market’s Jubilee Place from 15-23 September 2018, before moving to locations across Bankside.

The new display features work by vibrant artist/designer Morag Myerscough, leading typographer and printmaker Alan Kitching and illustrator Alice Bowsher, as well as Bankside-based Borough Market and a host of local design studios. Following the festival, the flags will be auctioned to raise money for Better Bankside’s three local community partners.

For more information, visit the Better Bankside website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Exhibition – Sixties Photographs at Tower Bridge


The Sixties 28 March – 31 December

Location – Tower Bridge Exhibition, Tower Bridge Road, London, SE1 2UP

Tower Bridge, the most famous bridge in the world, presents ‘The Sixties’ – a stylish new photographic exhibition focusing on the people, places, events and designs that epitomise this revolutionary decade. On display in Tower Bridge’s impressive West Walkway, 42m above the Thames and with stunning views across London, the exhibition features over 60 iconic images, from pop stars to Prime Ministers, fashion designers to Formula One racing drivers and cutting edge architecture to political activists.

Tickets included in admission prices to Tower Bridge: £8 adults, £3.40 children 5-15, under 5s free.

 Click here for more information www.towerbridge.org

Butler’s Wharf – Restaurants, Shops and Cafe’s


Butler’s Wharf

Location – 36E Shad Thames, London SE1 2YE

Butler’s Wharf is a complex of apartments, café, restaurants and shops on the south bank of the Thames near Tower Bridge. Originally built as a series of warehouses and wharves in the late 19th century, during the 20th century they fell into disuse until the site was transformed into luxury apartments with a series of restaurants on the riverfront.


Terence Conran owns some of the restaurants and was responsible for the building of the Design Museum which is part of the complex.


Behind the riverfront apartment is Shad Thames, a street with a longer history than Butler’s Wharf being  named on the John Rocque’s 1747 map of London. It still maintains a historical atmosphere with its cobbled streets and high level walkways that cross over the street. Not surprisingly the area is popular with filmmakers and featured in the Elephant Man, the French Lieutenant’s Woman, Highlander and Bridget Jones Diary.


If Shad Thames looks like it is straight out of a Dickens novel if you walk to the end of the street to St Saviours Dock , just over the bridge you will find the site of Jacobs Island, the notorious hideout of the evil Bill Sikes.


This is an area generally missed by visitors which means the restaurants, bars and café cater for the local population. If you visiting Tower Bridge or walking up the south side this is an ideal spot to sit on the riverfront for a good quality meal or drink and watch the world go by.

Restaurants include Le Pont de la Tour, the Butler’s Wharf Chop House, Cantina del Ponte, Bengal Clipper, Captain Tony’s Pizza & Pasta Emporium. The Design Museum also houses the Blue Print Café.

For practical advice for your visit to London and Special offers go to visitinglondonguide.com

City Hall


City Hall

Location – Greater London Authority City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London, SE1 2AA

City Hall is the headquarters of the Greater London Authority (GLA) which consists of the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. It is located on the south bank of the Thames near Tower Bridge. It opened in 2002 and was designed by the world-famous architect Norman Foster.


The striking helical walkway inside City Hall

The Greater London Authority is the latest reincarnation of a London Authority replacing the Greater London Council and the London County Council which had been based at County Hall further along the South Bank near the London Eye.

Costing around £43 million to build, the building has divided opinion and has been called a variety of names since it has open.

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Although a base for a small army of administrative staff and used for the various assembly meetings, the building is open to visitors who can visit the various exhibitions or to use café.

However be aware visitors to City Hall must pass through security at the entrance to the building. This includes going through a metal detector and having all bags scanned.

You can visit parts of City Hall on Mondays to Thursdays from 8.30am to 6pm and on Fridays from 8.30am to 5.30pm.

For practical advice for your visit to London and Special offers go to visitinglondonguide.com

Review : Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Exhibition and Tour


Shakespeare’s  Globe Theatre

Location – 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London, SE1 9DT

Shakespeare’s Globe is situated on the South Bank of the Thames in Southwark. It is a modern reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse  that was originally built-in 1599, destroyed by fire in 1613, rebuilt in 1614, and then finally demolished in 1644.

The modern Globe is situated around 700 ft from the site of the original theatre and was designed to recreate as near as possible the experience of watching a play in the time of Shakespeare. The modern Globe was created due to the initiative of American actor and director Sam Wanamaker and  is based on the original Globe of 1599, although there are no plans of the theatre, considerable academic research went into the design to make it as accurate as possible to the original.

The tour guides tend to be very knowledgeable and some are actors in their own right and entering the theatre offers a unique experience, walking  through the wooden doors you are transported into the days of Shakespeare.


To the modern theatre goer, the facilities are a bit of a shock with the theatre open to the elements and the most rudimentary seating. There is no microphones or speakers, all music is played live and the audience can be seen by the actors as the plays are performed in daylight or lit by internal lighting.

One major difference between Shakespearian and Modern Theatre is that in the original Globe, the audience were not passive but part of the action. There tended to give feedback to the action, if the audience did not like the action they were not shy to let the actors know.


In rebuilding the Globe, the organisation went to considerable lengths to be ‘authentic’ ,  It is built from materials available in 1600 (oak, lime plaster, and thatch) using construction methods of the period: the oak timbers are joined together with wooden pegs. Costumes are made from the textiles of 1600, such as linen, wool, leather, and silk, based on patterns and garments surviving from the early 17th Century.

Inside the theatre, it is necessary to understand how the Shakespearian Theatre worked. The stage thrusts out into the yard where up to  700 people can stand to watch a performance. These members of the audience often paid just a penny for the cheapest view and  were referred to as ‘groundlings’ or  by more derogatory names such as ‘penny stinks’.
If you had a little more money, you would be seated in the boxes and if you were very privileged in the Gentlemens’ Boxes/Rooms or Lords Rooms.


The stage is covered by the Heavens, the roof painted with stars, moons, and signs of the zodiac. Beneath the stage is Hell, an area from where devils or witches might appear. Above the stage is the Attic where sound effects are created.


After a tour of the theatre itself, visitors can explore the exhibition based under the Globe Theatre that explains in more depth, the life of Shakespeare, the London where he lived, and the theatre for which he wrote. It also provides some insight into the area surrounding the Globe which was once London’s most notorious entertainment district, surrounded by  taverns and bawdy-houses.

Since the theatre opened in 1997,  it has staged  a large number of acclaimed plays and events. Because it is open to the elements, performances are restricted to May through to October.


In 2014 the Theatre opened a new Jacobean Theatre based on one that was located in Blackfrairs. It is known as the Sam Wanamaker Theatre and plays will be performed all year round.


The Shakespeare’s Globe Exhibition and Tour offers a interesting and entertaining  insight in  Elizabethan Theatre. The building of the theatre itself is a major achievement and the tour guides explain in detail how the vision of Sam Wanamaker came into being and has provided a wonderful monument to Shakespeare and English Theatre.

The Shakespeare’s Globe Exhibition and Tour will appeal to a wide range of people and all ages, it is an opportunity to be transported back in time to understand the type of environment in which one of the world’s greatest playwrights learnt his trade. There is no doubt that Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is one of the more unique sights in London.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

The Shakespeare’s Globe has an Exhibition and Tours all the year round:

Exhibition & Tour Opening Hours and Tickets


Daily: 9.00am – 5.30pm

Globe Theatre Tours

Daily : 9.30am – 5.00pm

Tours depart every 30 minutes. First tour at 9.30am, last tour at 5pm.

Tours depart every half an hour between the times shown and the tour itself lasts  for around 40 minutes and you can explore the exhibition at your leisure.


There is no need to pre-book for the Exhibition & Tour. Tickets can be bought on the admissions desk on the day, every day.

Exhibition and Globe Theatre Tour

Adult: £13.50
Senior (60+): £12.00
Student (with valid ID): £11.00
Children (5-15): £8.00
Children (under 5): Free
Family (up to 2 adults & 3 children): £36.00

For more information and tickets please visit the Globe website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website

Great London Pubs – The George Inn – Borough


The George Inn

Location – The George Inn Yard, 77 Borough High Street, Southwark, London, SE1 1NH

The George Inn is one of the most famous pubs on the South side of the River Thames, it is the last surviving galleried London coaching Inn and is currently owned by the National trust.


There has been an Inn on this site from at least 1543, and there are records that show the George was rebuilt in 1677 after the fire that destroyed much of medieval Southwark. At this time there were a large number Inns in the area due to its proximity to London Bridge. One of the most famous the Tabard where Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales pilgrims departed from was also rebuilt at this time but was eventually demolished in the 19th century.


The pub has other literary connections being mentioned in Dicken’s Little Dorrit, this was an area Dickens was very familiar with because his father had been imprisoned in the nearby Marshalsea prison and there is evidence that he  frequented the George on his travels through the neighbourhood.


The building is Grade I listed, and has a host of small rooms and wonderful outside drinking area.


Even if you do not go for a drink, it is well worth visiting and admire the galleries which once would have been vantage points for watching plays and events in the courtyard.

For practical advice for your visit to London and Special offers go to visitinglondonguide.com

The Shard


The Shard

Location – The View from The Shard, Joiner Street, London SE1 3UD


The Shard is the tallest building in London standing at a height of 1,016ft (310m), it is also the tallest building in Western Europe. The 87 storey skyscraper construction began in 2009 and completed in 2012, it is jointly owned by Sellar Property and the State of Qatar. The Shard has been one of the most controversial of the new skyscrapers to appear in London in the last few years, much of the criticism has been that the Shard dwarfs the other generally low level buildings on the South Bank and distorts the skyline.


The Shard was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and is has multi functional uses.

73–87 Floors – Spire

68–72 Floors – The View from the Shard (observatory)

53–65 Floors – Residences

34–52 Floors – Hotel

31–33 Floors – Restaurants (Hutong, Oblix and Aqua Shard)

3–28  Floors – Offices

1–2     Floors – Retail and office reception

Ground Floor – Hotel, restaurant and observatory entrances


The View from The Shard

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The View from the Shard is a privately operated observation deck attraction which opened in 2013, you travel up to the 68, 69 and 72 floors where 800 feet above the streets of London you can on a clear day see for around 40 miles in each direction.

From October 2013 the opening hours will be: Sunday-Wednesday, 10am-7pm; and Thursday-Saturday, 10am-10pm.

Tickets from £24.95 Adults , £18.95 Child.

VLG Tip We recommend you book your tickets in advance. This way, you will avoid queues and also save money. Advance bookings can be made at any time online up to four months in advance, based on availability.

For more information visit the Shard Website here

A Short History of the HMS Belfast

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HMS Belfast

Location –  The Queen’s Walk, London, SE1 2JH

HMS Belfast is a museum ship under the auspices of the Imperial War Museum, the ship is permanently moored in London on the River Thames near to Tower Bridge. Built by Messrs Harland & Wolff of Belfast in 1936,the ship was launched in 1938. At the ships launch the ship was one of the largest and most powerful light cruiser in the Royal Navy, initially used as part of a blockade against Germany in 1939, the ship hit a German mine and was out of service for the next three years.

For the rest of the War HMS Belfast took part in Artic Convoys to the Soviet Union, Battle of North Cape, the Normandy landings and went to the Far East to join the British Pacific Fleet. The ship saw further combat in the Korean War between 1950 – 1952 before undergoing a major refit at the end of the 1950s.

In 1967 the ship was due to be scrapped, to prevent this various agencies began the campaign to preserve her a museum ship. Eventually through the creation of the HMS Belfast Trust, the campaign was successful and the ship was moored as a museum for the first time in London in 1971. It became part of the Imperial War Museum in 1978.

On board is a number of exhibitions about different aspects of the ships career using the oral histories of veterans who served on her.

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Admission Prices

Adults £15.50

Child (under 16) Free

Concessions (Senior, Student, Disabled) £12.40

IWM Friends Free

For more information or book tickets click here

 London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website

Hay’s Galleria – Shops and Restaurants

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Hay’s Galleria

Location – 1 Battle Bridge Ln, London SE1 2HP

Hay’s Galleria is a Grade II listed building in Bankside which is a mixed use complex that includes restaurants, shops, offices and apartments.


From the North side of the river

The Galleria has been developed using the warehouse and associated wharf (Hay’s Wharf) that was created in 1859. The wharf had an enclosed dock which in the 18th century was a major wharf for bringing Tea into London. Damaged by the Great Fire of Southwark in 1861 and by bombing in the Second World War it was often rebuilt, however it was the demise of the London Docks that led to Hay’s Wharf closing in 1970.

In the 1980s the area was developed by the St Martin’s Property Corporation and Hay’s Galleria was created by closing the dock gates, covering the dock and covering the entire space with a glass roof. The centrepiece of the Galleria is a 60ft moving sculpture of a ship called ‘The Navigators’ by David Kemp which was unveiled in 1987.

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The Navigators

One of the early developments on the South Bank in the 1980s, it still attracts many visitors who walk along the South side of the Thames.

For practical advice and special offers for your London visit go to visitinglondonguide.com