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!

Where London - - Contents -

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

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.

Kens­ing­ton Palace

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.

Ken­wood

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.

KidZa­nia Lon­don

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.

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