Lighting up the night
Winter evenings may be dark, but gardens across the capital are lighting up the night. During ChristmasatKew (to 2 Jan), Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is illuminated by 60,000 lights. Palm House pond will come alive with lasers, while the lawn will shine with ‘singing’ Christmas trees. You’ll be wowed by a scented fire garden, light tunnel and crystals hanging from trees. If you feel chilly, sip mulled wine and snack on roasted chestnuts.
Madame Tussauds PASS PARTNER
The celebrated home of life-sized wax figures depicting famous people from the worlds of entertainment, politics, sport and history, from the Queen to Adele (p. 14). Pose with your favourite legend and visit the terrifying Chamber of Horrors and Scream experiences. Includes a permanent Star Wars exhibition, featuring 11 sets from the film. Joint tickets with the London Aquarium, London Dungeon, Coca-Cola London Eye and Shrek’s Adventure! available. Please check for times. Adult £35; child £29.50. www.madametussauds. com/london. Marylebone Rd, NW1 5LR. T: 0871894 3000. C6. Station: Baker Street.
This beautiful stone column standing in the heart of the City was built in 1677 to commemorate the 1666 Great Fire of London. Climb the 311 steps to its observation gallery. Daily 9.30am-5.30pm. Adult £4; child £2. Joint tickets with the Tower Bridge Exhibition available. www.themonument. org.uk. The Monument, Monument St, EC3R 6BD. T: 020-7626 2717. E10. Station: Monument.
The O2 arena
Star Wars Identities. As you browse 200 original sketches, models and props from the popular film franchise, you’ll be asked questions about your personality to reveal which Star Wars character you most identify with (p. 18). www.theo2.co.uk. Peninsula Square, SE10 0DX. T: 020-8463 2000. Off map. Station: North Greenwich.
Old Royal Naval College
This baroque masterpiece, part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site, is the home of British naval training, with costumed characters and tours. Don’t miss the stunning ceiling in the Painted Hall. Check for guided tours. Daily, please check for opening times. Admission free. www.ornc.org. King William Walk, SE10 9NN. T: 0208269 4799. Off map. Station: Cutty Sark/Greenwich.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Formerly the site of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, this park includes an aquatics centre and the ArcelorMittal Orbit observation tower. Please check for sporting events. Park open 24 hours daily. Admission free. www.queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, E20 2ST. T: 0800-072 2110. Off map. Station: Stratford.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! PASS PARTNER
This curiosity-filled museum with more than 700 artefacts is a hit across the globe. Explore a range of oddities over six floors, from a shrunken head to an albino alligator and the world’s tallest man. Daily 10am-midnight. Adult £27.95; child £20.95. www.ripleyslondon.com. 1 Piccadilly Circus, W1J 0DA. T: 020-3238 0022. E7. Station:
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew PASS PARTNER
Better known as Kew Gardens, this botanical research centre and World Heritage Site contains plants from across the globe, with Victorian tropical greenhouses and a Chinese pagoda. The Xstrata Treetop Walkway offers great views. Throughout 2017 you can also experience The Hive, an enormous aluminium structure modelled on a beehive. You can see and hear buzzing and lights in response to a real beehive. To 2 Jan: Christmas at Kew. A light and laser display illuminates the gardens. Daily 10am- 4.15pm. Adult £9; child £3.50; charges for special exhibitions. www.kew.org. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB. T: 020- 8332 5655. Off map. Station: Kew Gardens.
The Royal Institution of Great Britain
This Grade I-listed Georgian building houses a museum about the institution’s 15 Nobel Prize-winning scientists. Visit its free Faraday Museum and see scientists at work, too. Check for its programme of talks. Mon-Fri 9am- 6pm. Admission free; charges for talks. www.rigb.org. 21 Albemarle St, W1S 4BS. T: 020-7409 2992. E6. Station: Green Park.
The Royal Mews
Built by John Nash in 1825, this beautiful part of Buckingham Palace houses the Queen’s vehicles and horses, including the Diamond Jubilee State Coach. Witness daily life and learn about the mews’ history. Please check for times. Adult £9.30; child £5.50. www.royalcollection.org.uk. Buckingham Palace Rd, SW1W 1QH. T: 0303-123 7302. F6. Station: Victoria.
The Royal Observatory
The home of Greenwich Mean Time and London’s only planetarium. Learn about time in the Peter Harrison Galleries and watch planetarium shows throughout the day. The Sky Tonight. Daily planetarium show that explores the Moon, constellations, planets and deep space objects. Observatory and Meridian Line daily 10am-5pm. Adult £9.50; child £5. www.rmg.co.uk. Blackheath Avenue, SE10 8XJ. T: 020- 8858 4422. Off map. Station: Greenwich/Maze Hill/Cutty Sark.
Sea Life London Aquarium PASS PARTNER
One of Europe’s largest aquariums, which hosts about one million visitors each year, is home to 500 species of global marine life. Walk through tank tunnels, including a scary glass walkway above 16 sharks. There are experiences available including snorkelling with sharks (from £80 including admission). Please check for times. Adult £24.50; child £18.10. Joint tickets with Coca-Cola London Eye, London Dungeon, Madame Tussauds and Shrek’s Adventure! available. www.sealife.co.uk/london. County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, SE1 7PB. T: 0871-663 1678.
F8. Station: Westminster/ Waterloo.
Shrek’s Adventure! PASS PARTNER
Step into the kingdom of Far Far Away and ride the magical 4D ‘DreamWorks Tours’ bus. The experience includes live actor fairytale-themed shows where you can meet the characters from the much-loved films, including Donkey as your mischievous tour guide. Joint tickets with Coca-Cola London Eye, London Dungeon, Madame Tussauds and Sea Life London Aquarium available. Please check for times. Adult £27; child £21.85. www.shreksadventure.com. Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, SE1 7PB. T: 0871-221 2837. F8. Station: Waterloo.
St James’s Palace
This is one of London’s oldest palaces – it was built in the 14th century and has been home to royalty for three centuries. Palace and house closed to the public. www.royal.gov.uk. Marlborough Rd, SW1A 1BS. E7. Station: St James’s Park.
St Katharine Docks
This central London marina dates back to the 11th century and is tucked away by the Tower of London. The vibrant waterside destination is lined with regular markets, shops and galleries such as Artopia and The Alexander Miles Gallery as well as restaurants including CAU, Tom’s Kitchen, Bravas Tapas and White Mulberries. www.skdocks. co.uk. 50 St Katharine’s Way, E1W 1LA. T: 020-7264 5287. Off map. Station: Tower Hill.
Landmark Palladian church with tours, a brass-rubbing centre and live classical music (some free). Holy Communion is given daily and classical music is performed weekly by candlelight. The Café in the Crypt is a great spot for affordable home-cooked food in an atmospheric location with brick-vaulted ceilings and historic tombstones. There are Jazz Nights most Weds. Please check for opening times. Admission free; brass rubbing from £4.50. www.stmartin-in-the-fields.org. Trafalgar Square, WC2N 4JJ. T: 020-7766 1100.
E8. Station: Charing Cross.
St Paul’s Cathedral PASS PARTNER
Sir Christopher Wren’s 300-year-old baroque cathedral has stunning mosaics. Climb up the dome to the Whispering Gallery and a further 271 steps to the Golden Gallery for a classic London panorama. Then head down to the crypt, with its monuments to Wren and Lord Nelson. While you are there, watch Oculus: An Eye into St Paul’s, a 270-degree film experience, for an excellent overview. There are also programmes of walks, talks and tours, special sermons and debates to mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, which are taking place until April. Free tours. Mon-Sat 8.30am- 4.30pm. Adult £18; child £8. www.stpauls.co.uk. St Paul’s Churchyard, EC4M 8AD. T: 020-7246 8350. D9/10. Station: St Paul’s.
18 Stafford Terrace
This house gives an insight into the personal lives of Punch cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne, his wife Marion, their two children and their live-in servants, who lived here from 1875. A highlight is a costumed actor-led tour, on which you’ll meet Mrs Sambourne or her parlour maid Mrs Reffell for a dramatic account based on old diaries. Wed, Sat-Sun 11am-12.15pm & 2pm-5.30pm. Adult from £ 7; child from £5. www.rbkc.gov.uk. 18 Stafford Terrace, W8 7BH. T: 020-7602 3316. Off map. Station: High Street Kensington.
Tower Bridge Exhibition
This breathtaking bridge, designed in 1884, is one of London’s most famous landmarks (not to be confused with its less grand neighbour, London Bridge). It has wonderful views; check out the glass floor on the high walkways. Joint tickets with The Monument available. 1 Jan: Bridge Lift at 12.30am. Daily 9.30am-5pm. Adult £9; child £3.90. www.towerbridge.org.uk. Tower Bridge Rd, SE1 2UP. T: 020-7403 3761. E11. Station: Tower Hill.
Tower of London
This landmark includes the Bloody Tower and the Jewel House, home of the Crown Jewels. Enjoy free guided tours by ‘Beefeaters’ ( Yeoman Warders). Book ahead online to attend the Ceremony of the Keys, which dates back to 1340 (tickets are free). Tue-Sat 9am- 4.30pm; Sun-Mon 10am- 4.30pm. Adult £22.50; child £10.50. www.hrp. org.uk/tower-of-london. Tower Hill, EC3N 4AB. T: 0844- 482 7799. E11. Station: Tower Hill.
The Vault This venue used to protect the Queen’s treasures under the old Coutts Bank – and now it’s home to the Gaultier bustier from Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour. See that and other iconic rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia at Hard Rock Cafe’s revamped museum. Daily 11.30am-10.30pm. Admission free. www.hardrock.com. Hard Rock Cafe London, 150 Old Park Lane, W1K 1QZ. T: 020-7514 1700. E6. Station: Hyde Park Corner. The View from The Shard PASS PARTNER Ascend the tallest building in Western Europe in a high-speed ‘kaleidoscopic’ lift. At 1,017ft, on a clear day you can see as far as Windsor – and if you can’t see four major landmarks, you can visit again for free. If you pre-book you can also do yoga on Saturdays (£40). Sun-Wed 10am-7pm; Thur-Sat 10am-10pm. Advance adult £25.95, child £19.95; on the day adult £30.95, child £24.95. www.theviewfromtheshard.com. 32 London Bridge St, SE1 9SG. T: 0844- 499 7111. E10. Station: London Bridge. Warner Bros Studio Tour London PASS PARTNER Explore behind the scenes of the legendary Harry Potter films in The Making of Harry Potter tour. Visitors can witness iconic sets including the Great Hall, Hagrid’s Hut, Diagon Alley and a recreation of Platform 9¾. It gives a great insight into filmmaking.
To 29 Jan: Hogwarts in the Snow. Experience Christmas time at Hogwarts and discover how filmmakers created fire, ice and snow that never melts. Christmas trees will line the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room will be dressed for the season and the Boys’ Dormitory will be decorated with the original props including handmade Christmas cards, some of which were made by the cast members during production. Please check for times. Adult £39; child £31. Booking essential. www.wbstudiotour.co.uk. Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, Hertfordshire, WD25 7LS. T: 0845- 084 0900. Off map. Station: Euston to Watford Junction, then shuttle bus.
Climb up to the viewing galleries of this magnificent arch for panoramic views over the Royal Parks and Houses of Parliament, plus see exhibitions. Joint tickets available with Apsley House. Daily 10am-5pm. Adult £4.70; child £2.80. www.english-heritage.org.uk. Apsley Way, Hyde Park Corner, W1J 7JZ. T: 020-7930 2726. F6. Station: Hyde Park Corner.
Consecrated in 1065, this abbey is the crowning and burial site of most English monarchs. It also houses Poets’ Corner, the burial place of Charles Dickens and other famous writers. Mon-Sat, please check for times. Adult £20; child £9. www.westminster-abbey.org. 20 Dean’s Yard, SW1P 3PA. T: 020-7222 5152. F7. Station: Westminster/St James’s Park.
WWT London Wetland Centre
This 104-acre wildlife reserve has the Water’s Edge Café overlooking lakes, ponds and gardens that are home to more than 100 species of rare and wild birds. Otters are fed daily at 11am and 2pm.
To 28 Jan: Meet Our LEGO Brick Animals. Make your own brick animal sculptures along a trail lined with them. Daily 9.30am- 4.30pm. Adult £11.91; child £6.55. www.wwt.org.uk. Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, SW13 9WT. T: 020- 8409 4400. Off map. Station: Barnes.
FESTIVALS & EVENTS Christmas in Leicester Square
To 8 Jan: This brand-new festival turns a patch of central London into a winter wonderland that includes a traditional Christmas market, Santa’s grotto and a Belgian spiegeltent showing performances by the Olivier Award-winning theatrical acrobatic theatre group La Soirée. Who knew a banana act could be so shoulder-shakingly funny? There are many food and drink stalls dotted around, too. Free admission. La Soirée tickets £15-£ 74.50. www.christmasinleicester square.com. Leicester Square, WC2H 7JY. T: 020-7492 9942. E7. Station: Leicester Square.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
To 2 Jan: One of the UK’s biggest winter festivals is now in its 10th year. As well as a Bavarian market, traditional fairground and big wheel, there are ice sculptures and an enormous outdoor ice rink. There’s also a show tent for a circus, The Nutcracker on Ice and motorbike stunt show. Food stalls include a Bavarian beer garden with covered seating and outdoor bars. Enjoy Bratwurst, plus traditional dishes, mulled wine, hot cider and hot chocolate. In the evening there is entertainment, including an oompah band and DJ. Daily 10am-10pm. Free admission. www.hyde parkwinterwonderland.com. Hyde Park, W2 2UH. T: 0300- 061 2000. E6. Station: Hyde Park Corner.
Winter Festival at Southbank Centre
To 8 Jan: Winter haters, this festival will sway you. Warm up over hot chocolate and mulled wine while browsing handmade crafts in festive chalets under fairylights and listening to carol singers. A big-top tent hosts various shows including the circus Bianco, the musical Million Dollar Quartet and the multi-award winning Slava’s Snowshow. On 1 Jan there is a ceilidh, which takes place in the Clore Ballroom, and is set to the sound of ceilidh tunes from Britain, Ireland and beyond. Free admission. Please check for show times. www.southbankcentre.co.uk. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX. T: 020-7960 4200. E8. Station: Waterloo.
RIVER TRIPS Circular Cruise Westminster PASS PARTNER
Circular Cruise Westminster operates a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing service from Westminster Pier. The Circular Cruise fleet is made up of three vessels: Sapele, Mercuria and Sarah Kathleen. Boats depart every 40 minutes between 11am-3pm for Embankment, Festival, Bankside and St Katharine’s Piers (for Tower of London), returning non-stop to Westminster. Adult single £10, return £14; child single £5, return £ 7. www.circularcruise.london. Westminster Pier, Victoria Embankment, SW1A 2JH. T: 020-7936 2033. F8. Station: Westminster.
City Cruises PASS PARTNER
Daily guided sightseeing tours on the River Thames between Westminster, Waterloo, Tower and Greenwich Piers. River Red Rover is an all-day hop-on, hop-off sightseeing service. Thames Circular Cruise is a 50-minute sightseeing service from Tower Pier or Bankside Pier to Westminster and back. London Showboat cabaret cruise departs from Westminster Pier and includes a four-course meal with live music Fri-Sat. Other cruises also available. Please check for times and prices. www.citycruises.com. Westminster Pier, SW1A 2JH. T: 020-7740 0400. Station: Departure points vary.
London Duck Tours
See some of London’s best-loved sights on land before a thrilling splashdown on the River Thames. It’s ideal if you want an amphibious adventure. Adult £26; child £18. www.londonducktours. co.uk. 55 York Rd, SE1 7NJ. T: 020-7928 3132. F8. Station: Waterloo.
London Eye River Cruise
Live commentary on a 40-minute sightseeing river cruise. Daily 10.45am- 4.45pm. Adult £13.15; child £6.58. Discounted joint tickets with the Coca-Cola London Eye available. www.londoneye.com. London Eye Pier, South Bank, SE1 7PB. T: 0871-781 3000. E8. Station: Waterloo.
MBNA Thames Clippers PASS PARTNER
The fastest and most frequent fleet on the river, with departures from major London piers every 20 minutes. The boats set off from 20 piers across the capital. Oyster cards are valid, too. Top tip: Download its free in:flow app. Using GPS tracking to find out your location, it can provide a real-time audio explanation of the iconic sights you see as you pass them. River Roamer hop on and off adult £14.70; child £7.35. www.thamesclippers.com. Various points along the River Thames. T: 020-7001 2200.
Thames River Services PASS PARTNER
This hop-on, hop-off service with live audio commentary departs from Westminster Pier and St Katharine’s Pier every 30 minutes 10am- 4pm for Greenwich Piers and the Thames Barrier (not 1 Jan). Westminster to Greenwich adult single £12.50, return £16.50; child single £6.25, return £8.25 (35 per cent discount Mon-Fri). www.thames riverservices.london. Westminster Pier, Victoria Embankment, SW1A 2JH. T: 020-7930 4097. F8. Station: Westminster.
Try this 50-minute adrenaline-fuelled experience – the most extreme ride on the river – and you’ll enjoy sightseeing, speed and awesome aquabatics all in one. Departs from Westminster Pier. WedSun 11am-3pm. Adult from £39; child from £28. www.thamesjet.com. Various departure points. T: 020-7740 0400. Station: Various.
TOURS & GUIDED WALKS Big Bus Tours
Daily sightseeing trips aboard a fleet of open-top double-decker buses. A one-day orientation tour includes three walking tours. Adult £23; child £11. www.bigbustours.com. Various departure points. T: 020-7808 6753. Station: Victoria.
Big Bus Walking Tours
Choose from three guided tours: Royal London at 10.20am, Harry Potter at 1.30pm and Haunting Mysteries at 4.30pm. All take 90 minutes to two hours. £5, or free with a Big Bus Tour. Daily. www.bigbustours.com. Depart from Big Bus stop 10, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN. T: 0207808 6753. Station: Charing Cross.
Billingsgate Roman House & Baths
Beneath the curious cobbled pathways of the Square Mile lies a rich Roman history that’s survived 2,000 years of building, fires and bombings. Lower Thames Street is home to one of Roman London’s most fascinating remains. The Billingsgate Roman Bathhouse, which was discovered in 1848, is now open to the public. Explore this fascinating insight into ancient life in the City on a 45-minute guided tour and discover the remains of the Roman bathhouse that lie hidden beneath offices. £8 adult; £6 child. Please check for times. www.museumoflondon.org.uk. 101 Lower Thames St, EC3R 6DL. E11. Station: Tower Hill.
Capital Taxi Tours
Sit back and relax as a Blue Badge or City of London qualified guide drives you around in a licensed taxi for up to five people. Choose from various London tours by day or night, themed tours, treasure hunts and trips to Oxford, Cambridge and beyond. Prices vary and are per taxi. www.capitaltaxitours.co.uk. Various departure points. T: 020- 8590 3621.
City of London Guides Walks
A variety of themed walks not offered by other companies, focusing on everything from Fleet Street – the home of journalism – to Smithfield Market and City gardens. Adult free-£12.50; child £4-£8. www.cityoflondonguides.com. Various departure points.
Evan Evans PASS PARTNER
The oldest and largest sightseeing company in London has been accompanying visitors on city tours and out-of-town excursions since 1930. Visit everywhere from Warwick Castle and Stratfordupon-Avon to Stonehenge and Bath, as well as all the London sights. Please check for times and prices. www.evanevanstours.com. Various departure points. T: 020-7950 1777.
From day excursions to overnight city breaks, the London experts offer quality tour experiences from London to popular locations such as Bath, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Leeds Castle. The company offers an unrivalled range of tours and services. Please check for times and prices. www.goldentours.com. Departure points vary. T: 020-7630 2039. Station: Victoria.
Golden Tours Open-Top Bus Tours
See the sights on an open-top bus. Live guided (Essential Tour) or multilingual audio commentary (all routes) tours let you hop-on and hop-off. One-day, 24-hour and 48-hour tickets. Please check for prices. www.goldentours.com. Departure points vary. T: 020-7630 2039. Station: Various.
More than 100 themed 45-minute free tours around Bloomsbury and Holborn. Most walks do not require pre-booking. 10am & 1pm walks start at the orange information kiosk outside Holborn Tube station. 11am; 2pm & 5.30pm walks start from the red sculpture in the courtyard of Central St Giles. www.gotomidtown.co.uk. Holborn Tube station, 88-94 Kingsway, WC2B 6AA. T: 020-7078 7077. D7/8. Station: Holborn. 1 Giles High St, WC2H 8AG. T: 020-7078 7077. D8. Station: Holborn.
Jack the Ripper Tours
Blue Badge Guide Richard Jones of London Walking Tours devised these popular two-hour walks, which have been running for more than 30 years, which offer an intriguing look at the infamous Jack the Ripper. Numbers are limited in order to give participants a better experience. Booking essential. Daily 7pm from outside Exit 4 of Aldgate East. £10. www.jack-the-rippertour.com. Aldgate East Underground station. T: 020- 8530 8443. Off map. Station: Aldgate East.
London Chocolate Tours
Go on a tasting tour as you sample delicious truffles and ganaches in Mayfair’s finest chocolatiers on this fascinating two-hour tour led by a former cocoa trader. Along the way you will learn about how chocolate is produced. Booking essential. Sun 12.30pm. £15 for Where London readers (usually £39). Departs from outside The Ritz London by Green Park Underground station. www.tourguides.org.uk. Green Park Tube station. T: 020- 8526 7755. E6. Station: Green Park.
Discover the capital from the unique perspective of a helicopter, with its uninterrupted views. Departing from London’s only heliport, glide above the Thames, taking in iconic landmarks including Tower of London, St Paul’s and The Shard. Choose from the 12-minute Buzz, 18-minute Sights or 30-minute Max tour. The Doors Off experience gives you the opportunity to fly over London with the helicopter doors open (p. 20). Prices start from £150 per seat for a shared tour. www.thelondonhelicopter.com. The POD Building, Bridges Court, SW11 2RE. T: 020-7887 2626. Off map. Station: Clapham Junction.
London Literary Pub Crawl
See where the giants of the London literary world ate, drank and worked. This unique tour is artist-led and arranged by the not-for-profit charity the Maverick Theatre Company. Starting in Fitzrovia and ending in Soho, it includes many pubs and bars associated with the British film industry and contemporary writers. Writers featured in the walks include Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, Brendan Francis Behan and William Shakespeare. Thur 7pm; Sat 1pm & 5pm. Tickets £24. www.londonliterarypubcrawl.com. 12 Fouberts Place, off Carnaby St, W1F 7PA. T: 020- 8090 5082. D7. Station: Oxford Circus.
London’s oldest walking tour company offers more than 300 walks. Favourites include the Jack the Ripper Walk (daily 7.30pm & Sat 3pm from Tower Hill), a Harry Potter tour ( Wed & Sat-Sun 2pm; departure points vary) and a spooky Ghost Walk (daily 7.30pm, departure points vary). Walks take two hours and there’s no need to book. Adult £10; child free when accompanied by an adult. www.londonwalks.com. Departure points vary. T: 020-7624 3978.
Original London Sightseeing Walk
Walks depart daily from the Original London Visitor Centre and include Changing the Guard (departing 10.30am); Rock ‘n’ Roll (1pm) and Jack the Ripper (3.30pm from Tower Hill Station). Walking tours are free with the Original London Sightseeing Tour. www.theoriginaltour.com. 17-19 Cockspur St, SW1Y 5BL. T: 020-8877 1722. E7. Station: Charing Cross.
The Original Tour PASS PARTNER
With more than 60 years’ experience, these live and multilingual open-top guided bus tours take you to the city’s best attractions, allowing you to hop on and off at more than 80 stops. Its original 24-hour tour includes three free walking tours and a Thames River cruise pass. Adult £30; child £15. www.the originaltour.com. 17-19 Cockspur St, Trafalgar Square, SW1Y 5BL. T: 020-8877 1722. E7. Station: Charing Cross.
PlanetPass is an app that allows you to book a private guided tour for up to six people at any time or day. Choose from street art, Jack the Ripper, a Borough Market tour for foodies and more. From £9 per person. www.planetpass.com. Various meeting points. T: 01865-922380. Station: Various.
Royal Albert Hall Tours
Take a one-hour Grand Tour of this Victorian concert hall. Most days throughout the year, call for times. Adult £12.75; child £5.75. www.royalalbert hall.com. Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP. T: 020-7959 0558. F4. Station: South Kensington.
Royal Opera House
This is one of the world’s leading opera venues and is also home to the Royal Ballet company. 3-31 Jan: Backstage Tour. Tour behind the scenes for an insight into the venue’s history, where you may also see a production in rehearsal. Most days 10.30am; 12.30pm & 2.30pm, but please check. Adult £12; child £8.50. www.royaloperahouse.org. Bow St, WC2E 9DD. T: 020-7304 4000. D8. Station: Covent Garden.
See London by Night Tour
Ride around the West End and City in the evening for a different view of the capital. Regular departures from outside The Ritz. Tours last 90 minutes. Daily 7.30pm & 9.20pm. Adult £18; child £10. www.seelondonbynight.com. 150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR. T: 020-7183 4744. E6. Station: Green Park.
Shakespeare’s Globe (Tours)
This reconstruction of Shakespeare’s original Elizabethan Globe Theatre has one of the city’s only thatched roofs, while the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is a candle-lit performance space. Globe exhibition daily 9am-5pm. Globe tours Mon 9.30am-5pm; Tue-Sat 9.30am-12.30pm; Sun 9.30am-11.30am. Exhibition and Globe tour adult £15; child £8. www.shakespearesglobe.com. 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, SE1 9DT. T: 020-7902 1400. E10. Station: Blackfriars.
Innovative site aiming to get people out on foot. Enter your starting point and destination (including street, place or postcode), and the site will work out a route map, distance, time, the amount of calories burned and carbon saving. Themed walks are suggested, too, including ones on nature, history, architecture and charity. www.walkit.com.
Go behind the scenes at this famous football stadium and concert venue. The 75-minute tour takes you inside the dressing rooms and through the players’ tunnel. Have your photo taken with a replica of the FA Cup. Daily from 10am. Adult £20; child £12. www.wembleystadium.com/wembleytours. Wembley Stadium, HA9 0WS. T: 0800-169 9933. Off map. Station: Wembley Park.
Westways Carriage Horses
Get collected from your hotel and experience the sights from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage. Tours last two and a half hours in either a four or sixseater carriage with an adjustable hood depending on the weather. £475 per carriage. www.westways carriagehorses.co.uk. T: 020- 8572 3155.
OUT OF TOWN Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology
Britain’s first public museum dates back to 1683, when the politician Elias Ashmole left his collection of antiquities and natural curiosities to the University of Oxford. See archaeological artefacts, pre-Raphaelite paintings, Egyptian mummies and Oliver Cromwell’s death mask. Free admission; charges for special events. 27 Jan: Lingua Mania Live Friday. Decipher hieroglyphs on objects from the collections, join behind-the-scenes curator talks about the connections between languages and art, and enjoy live performances of music and dance. You can also chat to academics and take part in creative workshops. Tue-Sun 10am-5pm. www.ashmolean.org. Beaumont St, Oxford, OX1 2PH. T: 01865-278000. Off map. Station: Paddington to Oxford.
See three centuries of treasures in magnificent state rooms at this baroque palace which is also the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. The palace is set across 2,100 acres of glorious ‘Capability’ Brown parkland and formal gardens.
To 2 Jan: Christmas at Blenheim. See the formal gardens illuminated at night.
From 9 Jan: Conservation and Restoration Tours. Go behind the scenes of the palace’s ‘deep clean’. Palace daily 10.30am- 4.30pm; formal gardens daily 10am- 4.30pm. Palace, park and gardens adult £24.90; child £13.90; park and gardens adult £14.90; child £6.90. www.blenheim palace.com. Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1PP. T: 01993- 810530. Off map. Paddington to Oxford, then bus S3.
Hampton Court Palace
Once home to King Henry VIII, this Tudor palace and maze is set in 60 acres of parkland.
To 8 Jan: Outdoor Ice Rink. Glide around the ice rink with the palace as a backdrop. Palace, maze and formal gardens daily 10am4.30pm. Adult £19; child £9.50. www.hrp.org.uk. Hampton Court, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU. T: 0844- 482 7777. Off map. Station: Waterloo to Hampton Court.
Fairytale 900-year-old castle. The castle has been the private property of six of England’s medieval queens and was a palace used by Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Lose yourself in the yew maze, and see 100 species of birds.
To 2 Jan: Winter Trail. Bring the whole family on a special Beatrix Potter-themed trail across the castle estate. On the way you can collect clues and enter a prize draw. Castle daily 10.30am- 4pm; grounds and gardens daily 10am-5pm. Adult £24.50; child £16.50. www.leeds-castle.com. Maidstone, Kent, ME17 1PL. T: 01622-765400. Off map. Station: Victoria to Bearsted.
Osterley Park and House
Explore this beautiful country home decorated as it would have been in the 1780s. This impressive neo-classical mansion was built in the 1570s by Sir Thomas Gresham and transformed by Robert Adam in the 1760s. While you are there, make sure you stroll in its formal gardens, which have been transformed during a six-year project, or stop for a snack in the stable tearoom. 21 Jan: Osterley Night Run. A 2km or 7km fun run. Please check for times. House and gardens adult £10.40, child £5.20; gardens only adult £6.20; child £3.10. www.nationaltrust.org.uk. Jersey Rd, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 4RB. T: 020- 8232 5050. Off map. Station: Osterley/Isleworth.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Queen’s residence in Scotland. The Historic Apartments at the Palace of Holyroodhouse were also once the home of the ill-fated Mary, Queen of Scots. Please check for times. Adult £12; child £ 7.20. www.royalcollection.org.uk. Canongate, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH8 8DX. T: 0303-123 7306. Off map. Station: Edinburgh Waverley, then a 15-minute walk.
The world’s most famous stone circle and a World Heritage Site, Stonehenge is more than 5,000 years old. With obscure Neolithic origins, it is perfectly aligned with the rising sun at the solstice. Daily 9.30am-5pm. Adult £15.50; child £9.30. www.english-heritage.org.uk. Amesbury, Wiltshire, SP4 7DE. T: 0870-333 1181. Off map. Station: Waterloo to Salisbury, then bus or taxi.
Renaissance-style chateau built in the late 19th century. Magnificent house and wine cellars.
To 2 Jan: Dazzle@Waddeson. See the manor’s ornate façade illuminated every 15 minutes in a light and sound show.
To 2 Jan: Fields of Light: Bruce Munro. An installation of 9,000 illuminated glow-in-thedark ‘flowers’. Please check for times. Grounds adult £10; child £5. House and grounds adult £20; child £10. www.waddesdonmanor.org. Near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP18 0JH. T: 01296- 653226. Off map. Station: Marylebone to Aylesbury.
Built by William the Conqueror in 1068, this castle is now a family-friendly experience with landscaped gardens designed by ‘Capability’ Brown. Don’t miss Merlin: The Dragon Tower and displays of medieval weaponry, as well as regular falconry displays. The dungeon, with actors, is a highlight. Kids will enjoy the Horrible Histories Maze, where they can face fun challenges, invade a Viking ship, survive the trenches, uncover evil plots and escape the maze before things go wrong. Please check for times. Castle adult £19.20, child £16.80; castle & dungeon adult £22.80, child £19.20. www.warwick-castle.com. Warwick, Warwickshire, CV34 6AH. T: 0871-265 2000. Off map. Station: Warwick.
Watts Gallery Artists’ Village
An Arts and Crafts gem in the Surrey Hills, with stunning Victorian paintings and sculptures. Visit the Tea Shop for a cream tea, the Pottery Building to browse art for sale, then wander to the nearby Grade I-listed Watts Chapel to take in the beautiful woodlands and grounds. 14 Jan: Colourful Clay Jewellery. Get creative with polymer clay. 30 Jan: Life Drawing. Tue-Sun 11am-5pm. Adult £9.50 ( Tue £4.75); child free. Down Lane, Compton, Surrey, GU3 1DQ. T: 01483- 810235. Off map. Station: Waterloo to Guildford, then bus or taxi.
This is the Queen’s weekend home and the world’s oldest inhabited castle. Includes State Apartments furnished with great artworks by Rembrandt, Rubens and Canaletto. Changing the Guard alternate days 11am except Sun. To 8 Jan: Fashioning a Reign. Browse through items from the Queen’s wardrobe, which chart her style over the past 90 years, with pieces by British designers and specialist milliners. Charges for special events. Daily 9.45am- 4.15pm – check for partial closures. To 8 Jan adult £20; child £11.70. From 9 Jan please check. www.royalcollection.org.uk. Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1NJ. T: 0303-123 7304. Off map. Station: Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Central or Windsor & Eton Riverside.
Woburn Abbey and Gardens
Set in a 3,000-acre deer park, this historic house has been home to the earls and dukes of Bedford for nearly 400 years and is currently occupied by the 15th duke and his family. Tour the house to find out more about its family history, art and antiques, then stroll around its Repton-inspired gardens. The abbey is closed until 10 April; gardens and tea rooms Fri-Sun 10am- 4pm. Gardens and deer park adult £ 7.25; child £4.50; charges for special events. www.woburnabbey.co.uk. Woburn, Bedfordshire, MK17 9WA. T: 01525-290333. Off map Station: St Pancras to Flitwick.
The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe (p. 25)