Category Archives: London Events

Happy birthday Prince George

Today is Prince George’s 2nd birthday and how cute he is, almost the spitting image of his daddy Prince William. I was lucky enough to be in London on the day before and on the day of his birth.

happy birthday prince george 22.07.15
Prince George and the Royal family see at Trooping the Colour 13.06.2015

As we say happy birthday Prince George of Cambridge, I’ve taken a look back in history to the day before and the day he was born.

On the 21st July I visited St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington on the off-chance that the Duchess of Cambridge; Kate, would go into labour and magically appear at the hospital….but it was not to be. However, I did have some fun papping the paparazzi camped outside the Lindo Wing door.  They were of course totally unimpressed LOL.

happy birthday prince george
21.07.2013 the day before …..the papparrazzi at St Mary’s Paddington

While I was there I met one of the most loyal of Royal subjects; Terry Hutt, and got to chat to him for a while.

2013.07.22 a royal baby is born happy birthday prince george
me and one of the most loyal Royalists; Terry Hutt

He had been camped out at the hospital for days and apparently his wife brings him meals at whichever event or venue he is at and he goes home periodically to have a shower…especially when it’s a long wait, as was the case with our wee Prince George.

2013.07.22 a royal baby is born happy birthday prince george
camped at at the Lindo wing of St Mary’s Paddington

The next day, 22nd July, I left home bright and early and secured my spot at the palace gates. The world’s media were thick on the ground and had been there for ages by that stage…Katie kept them waiting. If you watched the news reports you could tell that they were really struggling to find something new to say….well they didn’t after all have long to wait.

2013.07.22 a royal baby is born happy birthday prince george
the world’s media descend

The world’s media were set up at Buckingham Palace

2013.07.22 a royal baby is born happy birthday prince george
the world’s media camped out at the palace

The day started off quietly enough but by midday it was mayhem, with large crowds of people at the gates of Buckingham Palace.

2013.07.22 a royal baby is born happy birthday prince george
has the baby arrived???

I spent the day there, my spot at the gates carefully guarded.

Two of the day’s highlights were when a Royal Mail van drove by prompting hilarious comments of how it was that Royal Mail had delivered the baby,

2013.07.22 a royal baby is born happy birthday prince george
The Royal Mail delivers the baby!!

a helicopter landed at the nearby Barracks causing a huge roar of excitement from the crowd

2013.07.22 a royal baby is born happy birthday prince george
a helicopter lands at the barracks

…I think they did that to tease us and then finally after news had reached us via social media, the Palace staff appeared with the announcement…..it’s a boy!! Welcome little prince.  <Prince George was born at 4.24pm on 22nd July 2013 at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London.>

I was squashed so tight against the railings I could barely breath never mind take decent photos, so my images are all blurred LOL But what fun it was & my gosh how thrilling. One of the reporters happened to be behind me and he got me to lead a cheer of welcome to the new royal baby.

2013.07.22 a royal baby is born happy birthday prince george
The Royal Proclamation…..it’s a boy!!

I stayed on for a short while after the announcement which came at just on 8pm and as soon as I had my photos I squeezed my way out through the tightly packed crowd, my spot taken immediately,

a real struggle to get out, I took a deep breath and set out to photograph the London landmarks, lit up in blue to welcome the little prince.

And finally, at the end of a long day, Tower Bridge in blue and a full moon to welcome the baby boy!

2013.07.22 a royal baby is born happy birthday prince george
and finally at the end of along day, my last stop was Tower Bridge, lit up in blue to welcome the new prince…

Today Prince George turns two and how cute he is, a real ‘bruiser’ as his daddy Prince William calls him, and my word he is almost the spitting image of his father, and cute as a button.  Of course he is now an elder brother, what with the arrival of his sister Princess Charlotte on 2 May 2015.

happy birthday prince george
this image was made available by Kensington Palace on Saturday, June 6, 2015 taken by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge at Anmer Hall and remains the copyright of the Duchess

So as we wish the little prince, a true Londoner, a very happy 2nd birthday, we pray he may have many many decades more.

Happy Birthday Prince George.

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Chinese New Year in London

Chinese New Year, based on the lunar and solar calendars, is celebrated with huge festivals amongst Chinese communities in London and around the world. Happy New Year ‘Kung Hei Fat Choi’

chinese new year london 2015
Chinese New Year at Trafalgar Square

The actual date of Chinese New Year varies, but generally falls between late January and mid February.
The Chinese calendar is represented by one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.

chinese new year london
Year of the Sheep 2015

London celebrated the Chinese New Year, Year of the Goat/Sheep, on Sunday 22nd February 2015. See official website for full events schedule. http://www.chinatownlondon.org/
The celebrations, with Chinese arts and entertainment from international and home-grown artists, plus food, firecrackers and fireworks, transforms the West End; Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Shaftesbury Avenue and London’s Chinatown, as visitors welcome in the New Year; 2015 is represented by the Sheep.

chinese new year london 2015
Year of the Sheep 2015 – Chinese New Year

Highlights include:
– Festivities generally begin at 10am with the fantastic New Year’s parade around the West-end. Passing through Chinatown, Shaftsbury Avenue, Charing Cross Road and Rupert Street the parade will reach its final destination of Trafalgar Square at 12pm


– An official opening ceremony takes place in Trafalgar Square from 12pm with speeches from special guests

chinese new year london 2015
Dotting Eye ceremony

– Once officially opened, the real celebrations kick off; Dragon dancing (not to be missed – ensure you get there early to secure a good spot), music and performances on the Trafalgar Square stage from 12pm-6pm


– A second stage on Shaftesbury Avenue hosts performances from a range of local community groups and schools, also from 12pm – 6pm
– Meanwhile Chinatown plays host to a parade by Lion dancers as well as a range of stalls selling traditional produce throughout the day.

chinese new year london 2015
China Town before the festivities begin

Chinese New Year dates are determined by the luni-solar Chinese calendar, which means the date changes every year. This year; 2015 Chinese New Year fell on 19 February, with festivities and celebrations on Sunday 22nd February 2015.
For further information please check their website:
http://www.chinatownlondon.org/
Please be aware that pickpockets and criminals operate in large crowds at these events, please keep your personal belogings safe.
Nearest tube stations: Charing Cross – TfL & National Rail; Leicester Square – TfL Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/

The Goat/Sheep comes 8th in the Chinese zodiac. The 12 zodiac animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.

According to Chinese astrology, each year (starting from Chinese New Year) is associated with an animal sign, occurring in a 12-year cycle. For example 2015 is a year of the Goat/Sheep.

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State Opening of Parliament 2015

state opening of parliament 2014
The Queen arrives at Palace of Westminster for the State Opening of Parliament in 2014

The U.K. General Elections took place on 7th May 2015 and the State Opening of Parliament 2015 is due to follow on Wednesday 27th May 2015.

This is a fabulous event full of pomp and ceremony, with the Queen and Prince Philip riding by in one of their State Coaches, the State Crown rides in it’s own coach, there are Royal Bands, the Household Cavalry and much else besides and attracts huge crowds that line The Mall, Whitehall and Parliament Square.

 

What happens during State Opening: State Opening is the main ceremonial event of the parliamentary calendar, beginning with the Queen’s procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster, escorted by the Household Cavalry watched by a significant television and online audience.

state opening of parliament
Mounted Police

Once the Queen arrives she disappears from sight and all the traditions that surround the State Opening and delivery of the Queen’s speech take place behind closed doors, albeit with televised footage of certain aspects of the many ceremonies.

state opening of parliament
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh leave Parliament

The traditions surrounding the State Opening and the delivery of a speech by the monarch, can be traced back as far as the 16th century with the current ceremony dating from the opening of the rebuilt Palace of Westminster in 1852 subsequent to the fire of 1834.

The procession of the Monarch from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster is free to watch, it’s amazing to see and of course you should plan to get there early 😉 as always, it’s very very popular and the streets are soon lined with thousands of spectators. Best places to stand would be along The Mall, Whitehall and the south side of Parliament Square.

state opening of parliament
The Mace travels in it’s own coach

Just so you know, if you want to stand n Parliament Square you really must get there early as they close it off once a certain number of people are there. You can gain entry via the traffic lights on the corner next to Westminster Abbey…the west side of the square. For more information about the route click here

The ceremony that goes on behind doors is a fascinating glimpse into the historical traditions of the UK that you can read more about at http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/occasions/stateopening/

state opening of parliament
look carefully and you can just see the Queen

After the speech the Queen then returns to Buckingham Palace via the same route along which she arrived, so if you have the time and patience, then you will get to see The Queen and all the dignitaries, the Household Cavalry, the bands, the Crown etc all over again as they return to their respective homes.

state opening of parliament
The Queen’s Life Guard

It’s a brilliant event, I’ve been twice now and if the weather is good then it’s just wonderful. Do bear in mind that the weather in London is very changeable. Take a brolly and rain gear as it does sometimes suddenly rain.

state opening of parliament
Drummers

Nearest tube stations: Westminster & St James’s Park or from across the river; Waterloo Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

While you are there, after the event why not pop in and visit the Supreme Court (free) on the north side of Parliament Square

You can also see Westminster Abbey £, St Margaret’s Church (free), and the Jewel Tower £ (after the ceremonies).

You’re also in walking distance of St James’s Park, Horse Guards Parade and the Churchill War Rooms £ and Banqueting House £

On Birdcage walk is the ever so delightful The Guards Museum http://www.theguardsmuseum.com/ there is a fee for this but it’s a wonderful little museum and ever so worth it.

On Horse Guards Parade is The Household Cavalry Museum http://www.householdcavalrymuseum.co.uk/

Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

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BNY Mellon Boat Race 2015

Nearly 200 years ago during Easter vacation in 1829, two young men decided to set up a boating challenge; ‘that the University of Cambridge hereby challenge the University of Oxford to row a match at or near London, each in an eight-oared boat during the ensuing Easter vacation.

bny mellon boat race 2014
spectators begin to arrive

The ‘Boat Race'; now known as the BNY Mellon Boat Race takes place by tradition on a weekend close to Easter; an annual contest between Oxford and Cambridge Universities.  Raced along the Thames Tideway between Putney & Mortlake, the two rowing crews pit their strength and skills against each other in a boat race that is amongst the oldest sporting events in the world; the Oxford/Cambridge challenge was first raced on 10 June 1829 in Henley on Thames, the 2nd race in 1836 in London.

In 2014 a clash of oars put one of the Cambridge rowers half into the water for 5 lengths and handed Oxford an 11-length victory.

bny mellon boat race 2014
Oxford win the race 2014
bny mellon boat race 2014
Cambridge reach the finish line 2014

Best viewing would be anywhere along the river between Putney & Mortlake. For the finish, the best viewing is to be had at Mortlake near Chiswick Bridge and along Duke’s Meadow and on the Chiswick Bridge.

bny mellon boat race 2014
not a space to be had on the bridge just before the main race #WhichBlueRU

There are a number of food vendors on the site so you won’t go hungry as well as which The Ship pub is open for business

bny mellon boat race 2014
food vendors
bny mellon boat race 2014
The Ship Pub at Mortlake – the fartherest white building ;)

Fast forward to 2015 and with just days to go to what has become the Annual Boat Race watched by thousands in London and millions around the world on TV, sporting history will be made on Saturday 11th April when the BNY Mellon Boat Race is joined for the first time by The Newton Women’s Boat Race.

The Newton Women’s Boat Race, established in 1927 will for the first time race the same course and Sir Steve Redgrave, one of Britain’s greatest ever Olympians with present the trophies to the victors!. Be there or miss out! Saturday 11th April 2015 4.50pm for The Newton Women’s Boat Race & 5.50pm for the BNY Mellon Boat Race #WhichBlueRU

The race has not been without some excitement; in 2012 some bloke jumped into the river causing mayhem with the race being restarted at the half-way point.

bny mellon boat race 2014
The support boats follow close behind

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Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

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The Passion of Jesus, Trafalgar Square, London

The Passion of Jesus; Trafalgar Square London

the passion of jesus trafalgar square london
Jesus and his disciples

For the last four years the Wintershall Players have performed The Passion of Jesus in Trafalgar Square, a realistic, emotive play that left me feeling elated, shaken and amazed. The first time I became aware of the play was in 2011 and in 2012 I decided to attend the play myself. I managed to squeeze myself into a tiny spot on the steps leading towards the National Gallery but felt I was rather too far away from the area where most of the play was delivered. But that said, it was extraordinary! I am not at all religious and yet I found this play to be so beautifully delivered that I was left feeling bemused and …shaken I think would be the word. I loved it. It was enlightening and shocking and I wondered at the time of how it is we humans react to something that is unknown and frightening. I was so enchanted that I decided to go again in 2014 (I was working in 2013) and it was just as amazing, shocking and wonderful as the first time.

This time around I managed to get myself a spot on the corridor leading to the steps and whilst it was rather an uncomfortable postion (my bottom doesn’t like cold concrete LOL) it was an amazing vantage point.

the passion of jesus trafalgar square london
John the Baptist

The play expands right from the area behind Old Nelson and up the steps in front of the Gallery. I felt like I was right in the thick of it. The players walked within inches of me and with them so close the emotions conveyed felt a lot stronger.

the passion of jesus trafalgar square london
a Roman Centurion arrives to pass judgement

The sheer joy when Jesus arrives on the donkey is palpable and even though they are actors playing a part, the emotion they inject into their characters leaves you feeling like you have suddenly been transported back 2,000 years to Israel and right into the life of Jesus. Having the Roman soldiers marching by was quite scary

the passion of jesus trafalgar square london
Roman soldiers

and watching as Jesus, whipped torn and bleeding struggling to carry the cross within inches of me was so incredibly emotional that even today as I write it’s brought tears to my eyes…it’s truly an extraordinary scene….so much so that a gentleman from the audience was so overcome that he jumped up and tried to carry the cross himself.

the passion of jesus trafalgar square london
Jesus carrying the cross
the passion of jesus trafalgar square london
bloodied and torn

As each scene is played out, you can feel the tension of the crowd rising their emotions getting higher and higher – the scenes of the thieves and Jesus being lifted onto the crosses is mesmerising and totally shocking….I was in tears as were many others in the audience. When Jesus is lowered to the ground and taken into the cave people were openly crying in the audience…it was incredibly moving and emotional. And then suddenly like a wraith in cloths of white, surrounded by an unearthly radiance, Jesus returns to shouts of joy and celebration….extraordinary and breathtaking……it truly is a play of highly charged passion.

the passion of jesus trafalgar square london
an ethereal Jesus returns

I can highly recommend this play if you haven’t yet been. As I mentioned earlier I’m not in any way religious, but this well-known, centuries old story played out so beautifully right in front of your eyes, is something out of the ordinary; the characters played by people who are clearly very involved in the story.

the passion of jesus trafalgar square london
ladies heading to market

This is a wonderful addition to the annual events in London calendar and I hope that it continues for many years to come and although I will miss it again this year, I am most certainly planning on going again in 2016.

The Wintershall Players will once again perform the adapted version of the ‘Passion of Jesus’ at Trafalgar Square on Good Friday 3rd April 2015.
This is a FREE event and attracts upwards of 20,000 people. If you would like to attend I suggest you get there early.
There are two performances: 12noon and at 3:15pm
The venue is open-air and the weather in April can be variable….the first year I went it was cold and wet. Last year started out sunny with blues skies, albeit chilly, but that soon changed to grey cloudy skies and cold!! #whatsnew? LOL
Wear appropriate clothing and do take along something like a cushion to sit on (no chairs allowed). Many people had blankets and spread themselves out, but space is of a premium so they had to pack things up to squeeze more attendees in before the play started.
Parental guidance is recommeded for young children, the performances are very very realistic especially the crucifixion.

Big screens are used so wherever you are you can see and hear the acting.

the passion of jesus
The Passion of Jesus – Trafalgar Square London
3 April 2015 – nb these are scenes from the 2014 play

British Sign Language interpreters will be available for both London performances.

Address: Trafalgar Square, London
Performance times: 12Noon and 3:15pm
Nearest tube stations: Charing Cross, Leicester Square and Embankment
Nearest rail station: Charing Cross and Waterloo with a tube ride.
Plan your journey: http://www.tfl.gov.uk

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For more information about this and other plays visit their website

and if you missed it in the last 5 years, click here for the recording in Trafalgar Square from 2014
“For the first time in 2010 the Wintershall Players performed an adapted version of the Passion to thousands on Good Friday at Trafalgar Square, London. The performance has attracted increased crowds from 2011 through to 2014 and The Wintershall Charitable Trust are pleased to be able to perform the Passion of Jesus in Trafalgar Square for you on Good Friday again in 2015.