The force is strong at The O2 arena! At a new exhibition, you can find out which StarWars character you are, from Darth Vader to an Ewok.
You don’t have to go to a galaxy far, far away to experience Star Wars, says Kevin Taylor as he visits Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition at The O2 arena. May the force be with you!
The inter-galactic phenomenon of the StarWars franchise has spanned eight films over four decades, amassing billions of dollars in revenue. The genius of creator George Lucas’ pseudo-scientific approach to even the most intricate of subplots has been painstakingly fused into each set, prop, stage and costume of each film. As production technology has improved over the years, so too has the sensual feast with which each blockbuster serves its adoring fans. So it’s no wonder that the StarWars’ following traverses generations and cultures. Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition at The O2 showcases the 200-strong treasure trove of costumes, props and models alongside educational videos that place each set, theme or plot in context.
A series of spacecraft is suspended in a display tunnel, creating the illusion of an epic, mid-flight space battle. Life-size versions of favourites like Chewbacca, Yoda, R2-D2 and Jabba the Hutt gaze back at you while several costumes, props and special effects chronicle the evolution of the films. But the costume and set displays are only one part of the exhibition. X3 Productions and LucasFilm Ltd have created a second, more personal dimension, beginning with an education in the lives of father-son, herovillain duo, Luke and Anakin Skywalker.
Ten components that shape their characters – species, genes, parents, culture, mentors, friends, events, occupation, personality and values – set the scene for a journey of self-discovery, as you’re faced with the ultimate introspective question: ‘ What forces shape you?’
Armed with a data-collecting wristband, you’ll start building your own StarWars character through the exploration and understanding of these 10 characteristics.
The final challenge comes from the heavybreathing, biomechanical villain Darth Vader. While you stand in a gallery among several of his evil peers who are staring ominously towards you, you will hear a request from the epitome of evil – will you join him on the dark side? May the force be with you... For full listing, turn to p. 22
Keats House, or Wentworth Place as it was originally known, was built in 1814. This 19th-century home belonged to the Romantic poet John Keats. See his original manuscripts, paintings, books, letters and household items, plus the engagement ring he gave to his sweetheart Fanny Brawne. Wed-Sun 11am-5pm. Adult £6.50; child free. www.cityof london.gov.uk/keatshousehampstead. Keats Grove, NW3 2RR. T: 020-7332 3868. Off map. Station: Hampstead.
This beautiful royal residence sits in Kensington Gardens and was Princess Diana’s last home.
To 3 Jan: Fashion Rules Restyled. See iconic outfits worn by Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales. Explore how they reflected trends and negotiated dressing fashionably within the rules of a royal wardrobe. 14 Jan: Panto and Performance. This talk gives you an insight into the world of Victorian pantomime, music hall, theatre and performance. Find out more about cross-dressing actors and backstage shenanigans in an era that brought entertainment to the masses. Daily 10am- 4pm. Adult £15; child free. www.hrp.org.uk. Kensington Gardens, W8 4PX. T: 0844- 482 7777. Off map. Station: High Street Kensington/Queensway.
On the edge of Hampstead Heath, Kenwood House and its landscaped gardens is a hidden gem. Admire Robert Adam’s interiors and an art collection made up of Rembrandt, Vermeer and Gainsborough. 6, 13, 22 & 27 Jan: Curator’s Tour of Kenwood. 29 Jan: Kenwood Stories. Volunteers talk visitors through the house’s art collections. Free admission. Daily 10am- 4pm. www.englishheritage.org.uk/kenwood. Hampstead Lane, NW3 7JR. T: 020-8348 1286. Off map. Station: Hampstead.
Parents take a back seat here as children take charge. KidZania has two storeys of everything a child could want including TV and animation studios, a chocolate factory, pit lane and aviation academy – there’s even a tattoo shop! If you want to take part in the fun, the venue also hosts occasional adult nights. Daily from 10am, call for closing times. Adult £18; child £31-£33.50. www.london.kidzania.com. Westfield London Shopping Centre, Ariel Way, W12 7GA. T: 0330-131 3333. Off map. Station: Shepherd’s Bush.
The London Bridge Experience & Tombs
An exciting history lesson on the past of the 1,700-year-old London Bridge site. Special effects and actors bring this spine-tingling scary attraction to life. Tickets also include the London Tombs, under the bridge, which are in a former plague pit. Mon-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat-Sun 9.30am6pm. Adult £26.95; child £21.45. www.the londonbridgeexperience.com. 2- 4 Tooley St, SE1 2SY. T: 020-7403 6333. E10. Station: London Bridge.
The London Dungeon PASS PARTNER
This uniquely thrilling attraction will whisk you back to the capital’s most perilous past. See, hear, feel and (ahem) smell the chillingly amusing characters of the ‘bad old days’ as they come to life before you. Not for small children or the faint-hearted! Joint tickets with Sea Life London Aquarium, London Aquarium, Coca-Cola London Eye, Madame Tussauds and Shrek’s Adventure! available. Check for times and prices. www.the dungeons.com. County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, SE1 7PB. T: 0871- 423 2240. F8. Station: Waterloo/Embankment.
Coca-Cola London Eye PASS PARTNER
This London icon is one of the world’s largest observation wheels. Interactive screens in each pod give an insight into landmarks on view (p. 19). Make the trip extra special by adding on an experience: choose from Champagne, Hotel Chocolat tasting or wine tasting. You can also book a guided tour, which will bring the city alive with live commentary. Joint tickets with the London Aquarium, London Dungeon, Madame Tussauds and Shrek’s Adventure! available. Daily 10am8.30pm. Adult £24.95; child £19.95. www.london eye.com. County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, SE1 7PB. T: 0871-781 3000. F8. Station: Waterloo.
ZSL London Zoo PASS PARTNER
Immerse yourself in the animal kingdom at the world’s oldest scientific zoo, which has more than 750 species. As well as an aquarium, penguin beach and endangered Sumatran tigers, you can see the new Land of the Lions exhibition – which features Asiatic lions in surroundings designed to resemble an Indian national park. The zoo also offers daily Meet the Animals experiences – your chance to get up close to some of the most popular animals, including giraffes, penguins and meerkats. Last year the zoo launched the Gir Lion Lodge, which gives you an exciting opportunity to stay overnight in the zoo. Daily 10am- 4pm. Adult £21.50; child £17.25. www.zsl.org. London Zoo, Regent’s Park, NW1 4RY. T: 020-7722 3333. C6. Station: Camden Town.