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The Top 30 London Attractions in 2014


London’s British Museum is  the most popular visitor attraction in the UK, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).  The National Gallery remains the second, the Southbank Centre comes in third.

The list of the top 10 most visited sites contains only one attraction outside London, with the new Library of Birmingham at number 10. Edinburgh Castle and Chester Zoo are the only other non-London attractions in the top 20.

Museums and Galleries across the UK saw an increase of more than 6% on visitor numbers on the previous year, however there is some concern that domestic visitors to some museums and galleries is actually falling.

Many of the top attractions are free, but tend to hold paid exhibitions  to raise revenue. In recent years there has been an enormous growth in attractions developing education programmes to attract and keep the younger generations.

Although London’s Imperial War Museum which saw the most significant increase in visitor numbers across the year, that was mostly due to the fact that large parts of the museum were closed in 2013 to prepare for the museum’s new World War One galleries, which opened in July 2014.

London’s Top 30 according to Association of Leading Visitor Attractions figures:
1 British Museum 6,695,213
2 The National Gallery 6,416,724
3 Southbank Centre 6,255,799
4 Tate Modern 5,785,427
5 Natural History Museum 5,388,295
6 Science Museum 3,356,072
7 V&A South Kensington 3,180,450
8 Tower of London 3,075,950
9 Somerset House 2,463,201
10 National Portrait Gallery 2,062,502
11 St Paul’s Cathedral 1,782,741
12 Old Royal Naval College 1,749,708
13 British Library 1,627,599
14 National Maritime Museum 1,516,258
15 Kew 1,368,565
16 Tate Britain 1,357,878
17 ZSL London Zoo 1,318,621
18 Houses of Parliament 1,253,326
19 Westminster Abbey 1,190,737
20 Museum of London 1,167,070
21 Imperial War Museum London 914,774
22 Royal Academy of Arts 824,793
23 Royal Observatory Greenwich 785,963
24 Tower Bridge Exhibition 649,361
25 Churchill War Rooms 472,746
26 V&A Museum of Childhood 471,000
27 Kensington Palace 401,353
28 Shakespeare’s Globe 357,886
29 HMS Belfast 346,331
30 Cutty Sark 265,202

Source: Association of Leading Visitor Attractions

It is worth remembering that although ALVA’s 57 members are the UK’s most popular  attractions, there are a number of Attractions that are not members and therefore not included.

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Record-breaking number of London Visitors in 2013


Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that a record number of visitors visited London in 2013.

The data  showed London had 16.8 million visitors in 2013, an increase of 1.3 million from 2012. This was the highest recorded number of overseas visitors since records began in 1961.

It also showed that the proportion of Overseas visitors visiting London had increased over the last ten years.

londontourismtotalvisitorsandtheirspending2013info_tcm77-362518 - Copy

Two-thirds of visitors from North America and other countries outside of Europe visited London during their visit to the UK in 2013 (65.8% and 67.1% respectively). Just under half (48.6%) of European visitors to the UK visited London in 2013. Half of all overseas visitors visiting London were on holiday. Over the last ten years, the number of overseas visitors visiting London for a holiday has increased from 4.9m in 2003 to 8.5m in 2013 (71.9%). Over the same period business visits have increased by 18.5% and visits to friends and family increased by 34.8%.

The Top 5  (by visitor number) by countries from the data were:

londontourismtotalvisitorsandtheirspending2013info_tcm77-362518 - Copy (2)

Expenditure in the UK by overseas visitors in 2013 had increased by 12.7% since 2012 to £21,012m. Of this overall expenditure, 53.6% was spent in London. The amount spent by overseas visitors in London almost doubled (increased by 91.9%) between 2003 and 2013. Overseas visitors spent £11,256m in London in 2013 compared to £5,867m in 2003. The increase in spending has been largely driven by the increase in holiday visits to London over this period. In 2013, just under a half (47.9%) of spending by overseas visitors in London was by those on holiday.

The Turner Prize Shortlist is Announced – Tate Britain


The Invitation to the first Turner Prize 1984 (Tate)

Tate Britain today announced the four artists who have been shortlisted for the Turner Prize 2014. The artists are Duncan Campbell, Ciara Phillips, James Richards and Tris Vonna-Michell.  

This year marks the 30th year of the Turner Prize, founded in 1984 to promote discussion of new developments in contemporary British art. The competition organisers believe the variety of media used by the four shortlisted artists this year reflects the diversity of work being made in the UK today, from film and video to performance, collaborative working and installation.

The shortlist reflects Artists whose work  manipulates  film footage and online imagery,  the many contrasting approaches on these themes is considered related to the impact of the internet, cinema, TV and mobile technologies on a new generation of artists.

Penelope Curtis, Director of Tate Britain and Chair of the Jury said: “This year’s nominations illustrate the mobility of the contemporary art world, in which works are seen at global biennales and festivals over the course of the year. The four shortlisted artists share a strong international presence and an ability to adapt, restage and reinterpret their own and others’ works, very often working in a collaborative social contexts.”


Ciara Phillips

Duncan campbell

Duncan Campbell


James Richards

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Tris Vonna-Michell

The Turner Prize award is £40,000 with £25,000 going to the winner and £5,000 each for the other shortlisted artists. The Prize, established in 1984, is awarded to a British artist under fifty for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the twelve months preceding 17 April 2014. It is intended to promote public discussion of new developments in contemporary British art and is widely recognised as one of the most important and prestigious awards for the visual arts in Europe.

The Turner Prize 2014 exhibition takes place at Tate Britain from 30 September 2014 to 4 January 2015. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony, broadcast live on Channel 4 on Monday 1 December 2014.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty comes to London in 2015


Alexander McQueen Ready to Wear A/W 1998
Paul Vicente/ AFP/ Alexander McQueen RTW A/W 1998/ Getty Images

The V&A have announced that it will present Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty in London in spring 2015,the original version of Savage Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 2011  became one of the Museum’s top 10 most visited exhibitions.


Bird’s Nest Headdress, made with Swarovski Gemstones
Philip Treacy and Shaun Leane for Alexander McQueen A/W 2006

The V & A exhibition will be the first and largest retrospective of the late designer’s work to be presented in Europe.

Sarah Burton, Creative Director Alexander McQueen, said: “Savage Beauty is a celebration of the most imaginative and talented designer of our time. Lee was a genius and a true visionary who pushed boundaries, challenged and inspired. He believed in creativity and innovation and his talent was limitless.”

Alexander McQueen - Paris Fashion Week Autumn 2006

Alexander McQueen Ready to Wear A/W 2006
Michel Dufour/ Alexander McQueen A/W RTW 2006/ Getty Images

Martin Roth, V&A Director, said: “ Lee Alexander McQueen was brought up in London, studied here and based his globally successful McQueen fashion brand here – by staging the exhibition at the V&A it feels like we are bringing his work home.”

McQueen’s untimely death in 2010 at age 40 was an enormous blow to the British fashion scene, but his London-based fashion house is still very successfully run by designer Sarah Burton.

Alexander McQueen: Paris Fashion Week Ready-to-Wear A/W 09

Alexander McQueen Ready to Wear A/W

Pascal Le Segretain/ Alexander McQueen RTW A/W 2009/ Getty Images

In what is expected to be a very popular event, the V & A are making tickets available from the 25th April.

Tickets to the V&A’s exhibition go on sale at 10:00 on 25 April 2014. To book tickets visit the V & A website here

All you need to know about St George’s Day – Trafalgar Square Celebrations 21st April

st geo prem

Last years celebrations in Trafalgar Square

On the 23rd April, England celebrates its patron saint St George, the story of St George is wrapped up in myth and legend, but many historians argue that St George was born in AD 270 in Turkey and became a Roman Soldier, he later resigned his military post as a protest against the Emperor Diocletian persecution of Christians. Diocletian had him tortured then beheaded on the  23rd of April for staying true to his faith.

There is also a legend of how St George,  a knight from the Crusades  riding his white stallion sees a Princess due to be eaten by a dragon.

St George dismounts and picks up  his sword, protecting himself with the sign of the cross. He fought the dragon on foot and managed to slay the beast and saved the princess. The people of the local town were so impressed they abandoned their pagan beliefs to convert to Christianity.
It was from this incidents that his legend grew, one of the first time he is mentioned in England is by the Venerable Bede in the 8th century.
By the 13th century his reputation had grown for the Council of Oxford to declare April 23rd to be St George’s Day, however he did not became the Patron Saint of England until 1348.
In medieval England, St George’s Day was declared a national feast day and holiday, he was also a favourite of Royalty, in William Shakespeare’s Henry V, the battle cry at Agincourt was  “Follow your spirit, and upon this charge Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'”

When England and Scotland joined in union in the 18th Century, the tradition of St George’s Day declined and ceased to be a national holiday.

In the last few years there has been a movement to rekindle the tradition of St George’s Day to celebrate all things English, it was once a tradition that one wore a red rose on St George’s day and many churches would fly the St Georges flag.
Whilst many people are happy to continue the tradition others point out that St George has very little connection to England and many other countries celebrate  St Georges Day including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia,  and Greece.

One of the supporters of celebrating St George’s Day is Mayor of London Boris Johnson who started the festival in Trafalgar Square.
This years festival takes place on Bank holiday Monday 21 April from noon to 6pm, with a feast of traditional English fare and free fun for everyone!

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There’ll be an English farmers’ market, with around 20 stalls selling treats like hog roast, homemade pies, cakes and freshly squeezed lemonade – all can be enjoyed in a splendid banqueting area seating 250 people between Trafalgar Square’s  fountains.

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In Cooks’ Corner, see live demonstrations from leading London chefs as they cook up English dishes from past and present.

The afternoon’s soundtrack comes courtesy of the Music Medley bandstand with talented young musicians and singers from GIGS, the Mayor’s busking competition.

There’ll be plenty of activities for the kids too with a marquee full of family activities and an outdoor games area where you can try a range of traditional garden games.


Rare Sumatran Tigers at London Zoo


Photo (c)ZSL

The extremely rare three Sumatran tiger cubs at London Zoo underwent a medical to determine their sex and well being at ZSL London Zoo.

Tiger keepers Paul Kybett and Teague Stubbington had to first separate mum Melati from the cubs her brood before the vets could begin their medical, and were then in charge of rounding up the cubs – which has the pictures show was not an easy task , as the tiger triplets already have sharp claws and feisty personalities.

Tiger cub 20

Photo (c)ZSL

It was discovered that Melati the mother had given birth to two males and one female, each tiger cub is priceless in the battle to protect this critically-endangered species.

Tiger cub 10

Photo (c)ZSL

Chief vet Nic Masters closely examined each cub before declaring them all fit and healthy.

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Photo (c)ZSL

Vet nurse Jo Korn then had the  task of micro-chipping each cub, recording their sexes and vital statistics on to the chip, which in turn will be added to the studbook records for the worldwide breeding programme

Zookeeper Paul Kybett said: “Our three Sumatran tiger cubs are doing incredibly well and their first health check is a major milestone for them; I’m delighted to say that they all look fantastic.

The ZSL London Zoo’s keepers will be running a competition with Channel 5’s Milkshake programme, with the winner helping to choose names for the three cubs.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park opening to the public – April 5th

olympic park

Relive those memories of London 2012 by exploring the soon to be opened south part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.

From 10am on Saturday 5 April people will be able wander freely around the Park  for the first time since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The south of the Park features:

•   A new tree-lined promenade with 100 trees strung with a unique globe lighting system.
•   Interactive water fountains and an action packed adventure playground.
•   Four themed walking trails explore the key sights of the London 2012 Games, the Park’s biodiversity, family fun on the Park and arts and culture.

The 114.5m tall Arcelor Mittal Orbit, visitors will be  open  with two  viewing platforms at 76 and 80 metres high
Tickets are already on sale – children £7, adults £15, family of four £40 (two adults and two children).

At the base of the Arcelor Mittal Orbit, visitors will be able to relax in The Podium. It boasts a versatile events space, East Twenty Bar & Kitchen and roof top terrace with fabulous views of the iconic venues.

To celebrate the Park opening, there’ll be activity running from 10am to 5pm over the weekend, including music, sports and arts.
For more details visit the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park website here

Kate Bush adds new dates to her London Shows


Kate Bush

Enigmatic singer Kate Bush has announced she is to play a further seven dates in London this year, in addition to the 15 shows that were announced last week.

The extra dates have been added due to the huge demand for tickets for the concerts.

The 22-night run of shows begins at London’s Hammersmith Apollo on 26 August and runs until 1 October.

The announcements of the shows suprised many due to the fact that Kate Bush last toured in 1979 when she was at the height of her fame based on her hits Wuthering Heights,Hounds of Love, Running Up That Hill and Babooshka.

The new show will be titled Before The Dawn and the location of the Hammersmith Apollo is significant due to being the place where her previous tour in 1979 ended.

She has won a number of awards and received a CBE for services to music in 2013.

Tickets for all 22 shows officially go on sale at 09:30 GMT on 28 March

Benedict Cumberbatch to play Hamlet at the Barbican

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock
It was confirmed today that Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch  will be playing the title role of Hamlet at the Barbican in London next year.
The production will run August – October 2015 and be directed by Lyndsey Turner  known for  her work in Posh and Chimerca and produced by Sonia Friedman Productions.
The production of Hamlet will be part of the Celebrating Shakespeare season at the Barbican which will feature many of the Bard’s best known works.
Producer Sonia Friedman said: “I’m thrilled to be producing Hamlet with Lyndsey and Benedict and we are all delighted that the magnificent Barbican has agreed to present the show. Having recently produced Lyndsey’s extraordinary production of Chimerica in the West End, I am delighted to be working with her again and it is so great to be working with one of the most gifted and exciting actors of his generation, Benedict Cumberbatch, in the title role.” 
Although there will be considerable demand for tickets,  they are not on sale yet.
Further information and booking details will be announced in May 2014 via barbican.org.uk.

London Attractions show visitors increase in 2013


Many UK attractions enjoy strong rise in visitor numbers over 2013

A number of attractions have seen a rise in visitors in 2013 according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA).

The figures indicate that many visitors have returned in large numbers to many attractions after the London Olympics of 2012. The warm weather particularly helped the outside attractions such as Kew Gardens and London Zoo.

Many of the free attractions in London showed considerable increases,  British Museum came out on top with 6.7 million people coming through its doors – a 20 per cent increase on 2012.

Other attractions to fare well included the National Gallery (up 14 per cent to 6.03 million) and the Natural History Museum (up 6.7 per cent to 5.35 million), while overall London attractions had a 12 per cent increase in 2013, with English attractions overall up 5 per cent and Scottish attractions also up 5 per cent.

Although the  AVLA  do not cover all attractions, the overall trend seems to be a very good year for most London attractions.

Amongst the biggest increases is the British Museum (up 20% to 6.7 Million), Westminster Abbey (13% to around 2 Million)  and Science Museum (up nearly 11% to 3.3 million).

Figures for a few of the other attractions have to be adjusted because they may have been used for other events in Olympic year.