Light­ing up the night

Where London - - Sightseeing -

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.

The Mon­u­ment

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:

Pic­cadilly Cir­cus.

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.

St Martin-in-the-Fields

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.

Welling­ton Arch

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.

West­min­ster Abbey

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.

Thames­jet

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.

Golden Tours

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.

GoToMid­town Tours

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 Walks

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

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.

Walkit

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.

Wem­b­ley Tours

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.

Blen­heim Palace

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.

Leeds Cas­tle

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.

Stone­henge

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.

Waddesdon Manor

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.

War­wick Cas­tle

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.

Wind­sor Cas­tle

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)

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