Nick Thompson is an Editorial Intern at Time Out. A Norfolk boy, part of him yearns for the flatlands, weird accents and big skies of East Anglia when not soaking up the offerings of the Big Smoke. Follow him at @Nick_ThompsonOG.
London’s best escape rooms
After being locked down for great swathes of 2020 and 2021, you may think that the last thing you want to do is voluntarily imprison yourself, but the great thing about escape games is that you have the power to release yourself if you keep your wits sharpened. So grab a bunch of thrill-seeking, puzzle-solving mates and sign up for one of the many live escape room experiences London has to offer. These range from the traditional locked-room escape mission to a ‘Sherlock’-themed mystery and an all-out recreation of the ’90s TV show ‘The Crystal Maze’. Whichever you choose, your group will have to help each other to solve puzzles within a strict time limit. Our advice? Pick your teammates wisely. Start the fans, please! RECOMMENDED: 101 things to do in London.
The most haunted places in London
London is an objectively scary place. It’s often dark. We don’t make much eye contact with each other. Pints now cost more than six pounds. What’s even scarier is that there are plenty of buildings and places in the city totally crawling with history, gruesome stories and alleged ghost sightings: Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London are among the most well-known, but there are tons more. Prepare thyself for our definitive list of spooky spots in the capital, from haunted inns and pubs to weird stretches of woodland, crumbling cemetery catacombs and London’s exceptionally creepy museums. RECOMMENDED: Our guide to Halloween in London.
Five places to see incredible views of the London skyline
There’s no denying that this city is a looker, even when most of the stuff here is closed up. But while we once got our opportunities to gawp on the city’s skyline via sun-dappled evenings spent drinking slush cocktails at rooftop bars – that’s, er, off the cards at the moment. Freak February blizzards are the closest we’ll come to frozen bevvies for a little while. And we don’t expect to actually enter a bar for some time yet. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a glimpse of London from its most photo-ready angles. Plan your daily walk to feature one of these grassy vantage points and you’re sure to get a chance to use your camera phone’s panoramic setting. Best of all? Unlike the lovely views of the city you can see from bars and tourist attractions, these are all completely free.
London’s best gallery and museum gift shops
How many times have you gone to a museum to catch an exhibition, only to fritter away an hour (and a good few bank notes) at the gift shop instead? Hey, don’t blame yourself, blame the irresistible spread of greeting cards, jewellery and homeware at the V&A shop, or the Design Museum’s devilishly enticing stationery selection. Best of all, you can kid yourself that you’re having a culturally enriching afternoon when really, you’re making a dent in your Christmas shopping. Win-win, eh? From kid-friendly Science Museum silliness to beautiful books at The British Library, no excuse is necessary to visit these superb gallery and museum gift shops. RECOMMENDED: 101 best things to do in London
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Escape Land is a mysterious experience from the off. Step beneath the bustling streets of Oxford Street and you’re transported to a contrastingly mellow environment before attempting one of two rooms, Da Vinci’s Exploration or Professor Oxford’s Experiment. The Da Vinci room is tough: Da Vinci himself went ahead and set the locks and riddles for you so you know it won’t be a breeze. The truth is it isn’t, but it’s incredibly engaging. The other room isn’t much easier. Both rely on riddles and problem-solving, so concentrate and stay in the zone.
London’s skyline is changing - here are seven skyscrapers due to arrive by 2025
Taller, shinier, showier: for better or worse 450 new skyscrapers are due to arrive in London over the next fews years. Here are seven that are set to make an impact on our skyline, from Canary Wharf to Croydon. The supertanker Due 2020, Docklands Sculpted like a vast vertically formatted ship about to set sail on the Thames, Spire will be 771 feet – the height of two Big Bens – when it’s completed in 2020. Dominating Docklands, it will feature a swanky gym, a spa, a cinema, a dining club and a luxury hotel. Sounds titanic (in a non-catastrophic way, hopefully). The hanging gardens of Stratford Due 2018, Olympic Park The David Blaine of buildings is almost complete and ready to mystify visitors to E20. Manhattan Loft Gardens will open in 2018, promising three vertiginous green spaces. Meanwhile, the gravity-defying design makes it look like the top section is floating unsuspended. Not sure where the ‘Manhattan’ bit is. The 8-bit apartments Due 2021, Croydon This jigsaw puzzle of a building is One Lansdowne Road, a new skyscraper that’s planned to start climbing on to Croydon’s skyline next year. Reaching the dizzying height of 775 feet, ‘The Croydon Cuboid’ will be taller than the Cheesegrater, the Gherkin and Heron Tower when it’s done in 2021. Which is pretty good for something that looks like a Windows screensaver from 1999. The drowned world Due 2020, Leamouth Peninsula You know in sci-fi movies when they show big cities after climate change has flooded the E
Buy real gifts for refugees at this pop-up Christmas shop
We’re all for festive merriment and ace gifts wrapped up in paper and tied with a shiny bow. But a lot of us don’t really need some (or all) of the stuff we’ll be getting under the tree this Christmas. If the season of capitalist consumption gets you down, you’re not alone. To ease the guilt of overspending, UK charity Help Refugees and creative collective Glimpse are opening Choose Love, the world’s first shop where you can buy real gifts for refugees. The pop-up in Soho will be a space to learn about the refugee crisis and do something practical to help. Shoppers can select and buy items, leaving the store with nothing but a warm, fuzzy feeling. Watch our video above. Stock in the shop is themed around the three phases of a refugee’s experience – Arrival, Shelter and The Future – and will range from blankets and nappies to socks, soap, sanitary products, school bags and medical equipment, with prices starting at £4.99. All funds raised will support Help Refugees’s vital work across Europe and the Middle East, as they distribute items to those in need. There will also be an online store opening later in the year, but if you pop down in person throughout December you can expect events and surprise celebrity staff. Choose Love is open seven days a week from Nov 24 to Jan 31 2018, at 18 Broadwick St, W1F 8HS. Find out more about Help Refugees here. In other news, did you know there was a Cook for Syria supper club?
Is the Cutty Sark just for tourists?
We look at London’s most popular landmarks and decide if they’re worth the cost and the crowds. This time, we climb aboard the famous clipper ship of Greenwich They say Discover what life was like on board the Cutty Sark, the world’s only surviving tea clipper and the fastest ship of her time – now an award-winning visitor attraction in Greenwich. We say Explore a breathtaking Rule Britannia-era ship wedged inexplicably into and above the ground in Greenwich. The set-up Make your way from the lower hold through various levels to the main deck, taking in all sorts of historical tidbits and bric-à-brac, before gazing up at the copper-lined hull from beneath the ship. It’s all made possible by an extremely ambitious renovation and brought to life by attentive, deeply knowledgeable staff. What’s the sweetest spot? It has to be by the wheel on the main deck, with the whole ship stretching out before you. Seeing the twenty-first-century modernity of Docklands across the Thames through the majestic masts and rigging really is something. Did you learn anything? In the ship’s tea-trading heyday, the Cutty Sark would ship 10,000 tea chests from China to the UK, taking about ten months. Is it worth the money? Pretty much. Adults pay £13.50 for a mosey around or can buy a combined admission to the Cutty Sark and the Royal Observatory for £18.50. Staff are on hand, ready to regale you with stories of the old girl; and at off-peak times they seem to have the time to escort you round as mu
Swap the gym for these London exercise classes that really are changing lives
There are some truly redemptive sporting stories unfolding right now in London, with fitness communities giving something back in innovative ways. Here are some of the best ones that have caught our eye: Power of Boxing These guys offer something a bit different to the upmarket boxing gyms popping up at the moment. All the classes are run by ex-professional and amateur boxers with over 100 competitive fights under their belts, or reformed offenders who have learned boxing the hard way. The Fitzroy Lodge in Lambeth is one of the oldest boxing gyms in London, and, with soldiers from the special forces, ex-pros and elite athletes going at it right beside you, that’s a vote of legitimacy if ever there was one. They’ve got a second site at Carney’s Community in Battersea, which aims to reduce offending, reoffending and anti-social behaviour by empowering young people and improving community cohesion through the ‘power of boxing’. Find out more and book classes here. The Hard Yard The Hard Yard If boxing’s not quite for you, but you still want a heavy workout, consider The Hard Yard. They champion simple workouts in urban gritty settings with no equipment, and add a splash of hip hop. Gangster calisthenics under railway arches? It’s much better than that. You’ll be trained by ex-cons who learned their trade and sculpted their physiques in the limited confines of a cell, without equipment. Their methods focus on positive and permanent life choices, the power of your own body wei
Everything you need to know about Covent Garden’s Christmas lights switch-on
Covent Garden, one of London’s most famous shopping destinations, will have its Christmas lights turned on this week. With it comes more entertainment and festive vibes than you can shake a peppermint candy cane at. When are we talking? Covent Garden’s Christmas lights are getting switched on at 5.30pm on Tuesday November 14. Why is it so special? There will be 40 mistletoe chandeliers adorned with almost 700 glistening berries and 320 metres of garlands, featuring roughly 100,000 pea lights, in the historic market building. Outside, you can gawp at the city’s largest hand-picked Christmas tree and a delightful reindeer statue. What else is happening? Beyond the magical lights? A lot. The celebrations begin with toe-tapping performances from the acclaimed hit West End musical ‘42nd Street’. Loads of shops in the area will be holding events, tutorials, giveaways and discounts, from half-price hot chocolate at Hotel Chocolat to complimentary cocktails and massages at Molton Brown. Find out more here. Who’s turning the lights on? Pudsey the bear, that’s who. This is the first Christmas Covent Garden will be teaming up with BBC’s Children in Need. Want to get in the Christmas spirit early? Check out some of the London venues where the festivities have already begun. Planning ahead? Here’s our guide to celebrating Christmas in London.
Everything you need to know about the Carnaby Christmas Carnival
On Thursday (Nov 9) the grooviest road in town is getting a bit of a tune-up. The famously fashionable Carnaby Street will celebrate the festive season by switching on their brand new, themed decorations and lights. When is it kicking off? The party starts at 5pm and carries on until 9pm, but the lights will be turned on at 6pm. They will remain switched on until January 5, by which time you’ll probably be done with all (bright and festive) lights for another year. What else is happening? Iconic genre-spanning DJ and Notting Hill Carnival extraordinaire Norman Jay MBE will be providing the soundtrack, and a vast number of shops will be giving customers 20 percent off. You just need to register in advance for a ticket at Carnaby.co.uk. Participating shops include: Monki, Puma, Brandy Melville, Pepe Jeans London, Skinnydip, Sweaty Betty, Office, The Kooples and Vans; beauty brands include Benefit, Illamasqua, Pixi and Urban Decay, and restaurants including Le Bab, Dirty Bones, Pizza Pilgrims and the newly opened Breddos Tacos will all be involved. Why go to this one when there are lights turning on all over London? Carnaby Street’s lights are quite possibly the most inventive in all of London. There will be street entertainment laid on, and what’s more you’ll get to enjoy a rum cocktail from the Carnaby pop-up bar free of charge with your ticket. Get in. Plus, beyond just the discounts, some shops will be handing out goodies and freebies to mark the lights turning on. Who’s
You can hug giant fluffy balls in Paddington right now
Can’t stand the unstoppable march of winter and the cold, dark days that come with it? Never fear, giant fluffy glowing balls are here. A new temporary art installation, named Pluck & Hug, has appeared in Paddington Central. The winter pop-up aims to give Londoners a bit of a boost and help us all feel positive as the days get shorter. Pluck & Hug is made up of oversized furry lights, which passers-by can grab hold of and bear hug. They shine brighter the tighter you squeeze them, so we say go for it. The glowing orbs have appeared courtesy of British Land. They are in Paddington Central, next to Smith’s Bar & Grill until November 10. Stop by for some warm fuzzy feels while you can. Winter isn’t all bad. Remember there’s always the onslaught of Christmassy loveliness in London to keep you cheerful. Oh, and check out all these amazing Christmas light displays in London.
Southbank is getting a Christmas tree that feeds off your festive memories
This Christmas, the Southbank will be getting a shiny new Christmas tree. But it’s not your average spruce. This is one powered by your positive festive memories. The ‘memory-powered’ seven-metre tall fir will shine brighter and brighter the more people share their Christmas memories on social media. All you’ve got to do to get those festive lights twinkling is channel happy thoughts and then publicly post them on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #LightUpXmas. The ever-so-slightly sci-fi creation is popping up courtesy of Marie Curie, as a reminder of all the hard work their nurses do at this time of year (and all year round) to support people with terminal illnesses and their families. The clever conifer is a world first, and will sit in the shadow of the London Eye from December 4-17. Londoners will be able to share their holiday memories, watch the tree glow and make contactless donations to Marie Curie by the Eye, or get involved on social media from afar. Feeling festive? Why don't you check out our Christmas page for all things festive in London, including the city's best Christmas lights, ace ice rinks and cosy wintery pop-ups.
In pictures: Frestonia, the Notting Hill squat that formed its own state
A triangular patch of London comprising three adjoining streets once seceded from the UK, or at least tried to. The wantaway territory known as Frestonia was a commune of squatters, radicals, punks, hippies and the disaffected salt of the Earth. The west London enclave gained notoriety nationally and internationally for declaring independence, and over the coming years managed an inordinate amount of communal output before eventually fizzling, acquiescing to local housing authorities. Forty years on, the Frestonian Gallery, which back then served as the ‘People's Hall’, is exhibiting the work of photographer Tony Sleep in ‘Welcome to Frestonia’, celebrating the lifespan and spirit of the republic. The exhibition will be running until November 11. Welcome to Frestonia - St Annes Road W11. Jan 1978 Tony Sleep Frestonia 1st anniversary, Freston Road, London W11. Oct 1978 Tony Sleep Frestonia Minister for Foreign Affairs David Rappaport addresses the people at the pub/benefit, Freston Road, London W11. 5 Nov 1979 Tony Sleep Nancy, Sean & Hound-dog IIIl, Freston Road, London W11. Aug 1979 Tony Sleep Whale construction for Ken Campbell's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy production, at Stoneleigh St London W11. July 1980. Tony Sleep Frestonia 1st birthday celebration, Road London W11. October 1978. Tony Sleep Steven and (unknown child) with sword, alley by the pub, Freston Road, June 197
Are you a massive ‘Brass Eye’ fan? We have some good news for you
Remember ‘Brass Eye’, the show that took a deep-dive into the world of faker-than-fake news and the cake epidemic back in the ‘90s? If so, then you’ll probably know the off-cuts of the cult programme have been made into a film to celebrate 20 years since it aired. Trouble is, the last London showing for ‘Oxide Ghosts: The Brass Eye Tapes’, sold out. The good news? They’ve only gone and added another. After a screening of the archive film at Curzon Soho, director Michael Cumming will be on hand to answer questions about the show, how to make great comedy and answer any questions about Shatner’s Bassoon. Marketed as ‘part documentary, part artwork’, this will be a treasure trove for Chris Morris admirers. Director Michael Cumming’s will give his personal insights into the ups and downs of making a show that often teetered on the edge of what was considered ok in its relatively short run. Morris won’t be involved though he has given the project his blessing. The new date, at Curzon Soho, will run on Sunday, November 19 at 4pm. Sound like you? Then quickly grab your tickets to Oxide Ghosts: The Brass Eye Tapes before it sells out. Just missed it? Ease your Chris Morris-missing sadness with these London events
17 horribly scary Halloween activities in London
Cover your head with a sheet and brace yourself for some genuinely ghoulish and gruesome goings-on. Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year, but that doesn’t mean the celebrations are subdued. Instead, Londoners will be getting their creep on for an entire week. Here are 17 horribly scary things to do in London this Halloween: ‘The Addams Family’ in Concert. Royal Albert Hall. Knightsbridge tube. Thu Oct 26. From £25. Go in your best fancy dress and make sure you’ve got your fingers clicking as Barry Sonnenfeld’s goth comedy ‘The Addams Family’ (1991) gets a screening accompanied by a live orchestra playing Marc Shaiman’s inventive score. ‘Nosferatu’ with Live Score. LSO St Lukes. Old Street. Thu Oct 26. £15. Catch a screening of FW Murnau’s expressionist classic ‘Nosferatu’ (1922) accompanied by a chilling live score by The Cabinet of Living Cinema. Expect a truly cinematic experience, with the contemporary piece performed over the silent film. Rivoli Ballroom’s Halloween Horror Film Marathon. Rivoli Ballroom. Crofton Park rail. Thu Oct 26, Fri Oct 27, Tue Oct 31. From £12. Head down to the ’50s Rivoli Ballroom for screenings of ‘Poltergeist’ (Oct 26), ‘The Exorcist’ (Oct 27) and ‘28 Days Later’ (Oct 31). There’ll be plenty of popcorn, ice cream, hot dogs, plus wine, draft ale, beer and cider. Scare yourself senseless in the beautiful surroundings – one of London’s last remaining dancehalls – at this Halloween horror film marathon. The Death and Debauchery Tour. Various
In pictures: London celebrates Diwali, the festival of lights
Today marks Diwali, the vibrant festival of light which sees millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains join in celebration around the world. The religious day is a significant date in the calendar, with colourful lights, candles, lamps, music and food taking centre stage in the festivities. While Diwali take place all over the city today, the festival of light kicked off this weekend, with Europe’s biggest Diwali party in Trafalgar Square, emceed by London Mayor, Sadiq Khan. Check out some of the colourful celebrations below: Wonderful to join thousands of Londoners & visitors in Trafalgar Square to celebrate the festival of lights #DiwaliLDN #LondonIsOpen 🎆 A post shared by Sadiq Khan (@sadiq) on Oct 15, 2017 at 8:39am PDT Amazing atmosphere here at #DiwaliLDN today. Food, fashion and more. There’s still time to pop down. Come and join us for the big finale. #LondonIsOpen A post shared by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (@mayorofldn) on Oct 15, 2017 at 8:24am PDT 💂🏼♀️LONDON🇬🇧TRAFALGAR SQUARE, LONDON🇬🇧 DIWALI ON THE SQUARE.. MySareeShop@outlook.com @www.mysareeshop.co.uk #mysareeshop #sarees #indianwear #fashion #bridalwear #fashionista #style #sari #instafashion#desistyle #indianbride #indianfashion #ootd #salwarsuits #indianwedding #salwarkameez #anarkali #london #indianfashion #saree #partywear #asianwedding #bollywood #instalike #fashion #mysareeshopinsta #mydiwali #diwalildn