First Thursdays and Slam Fridays

One of the wonderful things about London is the accessibility to art. Be it contemporary or impressionist art, London offers highly regarded artists to emerging artists. While many think of the most popular galleries and museums like the National Gallery, Tate Modern or Saatchi Gallery, there are many less known and prestigious galleries found within London. These galleries come together  and run free events, exhibitions, workshops, talks and private views during special late openings. These late openings have become affectionately referred to as First Thursdays and Slam Fridays. The name of these events refer to the days in which they are hosted. The first Thursday and last Friday of each month features over 170 galleries and museums in East and South London that are open until 9 pm. The galleries’ websites compiles their top 5 exhibitions and even offer  free art walking and bus tours with leading curators and writers.

Whitechapel Gallery has been called London’s East End home for over a century. The gallery has premiered world-class artists from modern masters such as Frida Kahlo and Jackson Pollack to contemporary greats like Sophie Calle and Lucian Freud. Whitechapel has become a touchstone for contemporary art internationally. Whitechapel, along with its partners, has recently taken the lead in offering the public access to its collections with First Thursdays. Current exhibits include Artist’s Film International, which showcases films from around the world and select pieces from the V-A-C collection that displays some of the 20th century’s greatest artists. Past art galleries that have been featured during First Thursdays have included CANAL, Rich Mix and Raven Row.

Similarly, South London Gallery (SLG)  has a long history with Whitechapel opening its doors in Peckham in 1891. Since then, it has garnered an international reputation for its program of contemporary art exhibitions and live art events. Originally thought  of as the “gallery of the people of South London,” SLG now is a charity that receives ongoing support from the Arts Council of England, The Southwark Council, The Big Lottery and Outset Contemporary Art Fund.  SLG  offers Slam Fridays which is the late night opening of galleries in South London and is free to the public. The event also has its own publication and mobile app that optimizes the experience for visitors. Slam Fridays does not require a booking.

Loving Apartments offer a number of apartments close to these events. So the next time your in London and want to venture outside of the normal galleries, make sure to check out the First Thursdays and Slam Fridays.

 

Jonathan Redmond is an Advertising Undergraduate @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a keen interest in Fashion and exploring London Culture.

Europe’s Best Film Festivals

Film festivals have become all the rage across the globe to celebrate the art of cinema and the talents of those working within that field. Believe it or not, there are hundreds of film festivals hosted across the European continent featuring independent films, students films, LGBT films, fantasy and horror films, documentaries and any other sort of genre that you can imagine. Loving Apartments wants to narrow down the search for you and present some of the top European film festivals that take place in major cities we offer accommodation so you’ll have convenient lodging as you enjoy the festival.

London

Photo Credit: spiritquest@Flickr.

Photo Credit: spiritquest@Flickr.

The BFI Film Festival, also referred to as the London Film Festival, is the largest public film festival in both London and the United Kingdom under the supervision of the British Film Institute. The festival originally began in 1953 with the intention of making the festival accessible to the general public, screening films that people would not normally have the opportunity to see in the United Kingdom; it has been living up to that goal ever since and continues to grow each year. While still being a festival geared towards the public, it has also started to be attended by film professionals and movie stars from across the globe. So if you plan on attending the festival, be sure to bring your camera to snap a photo of your favourite movie star. Today’s festival screens around 250 films over 12 days, mostly taking place in cinemas in Leicester Square and South Bank. The festival is opened and closed with galas with premières, workshops, short films and Q&A’s in between. The BFI Festival will take place in mid-October. Official dates have not yet been announced for 2015.

Sitges

Photo Credit: Baggio@Wikipedia.

Photo Credit: Baggio@Wikipedia.

The Sitges‘ annual film festival, officially referred to as the International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia, is the most recognized fantasy film festival in the world. The week dedicated to fantasy and horror films began in 1968 and was the first one of its type, starting an international trend. Thousands of people come together to celebrate the imagination, art and technological advances that fantasy and horror film genre makes with each year. Popular film stars such as Quentin Tarantino, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Paul Verhoeven and many, many more have graced the red carpets of the festival. The 2015 Sitges’ Film Festival will be hosted from 3 October to 12 October , and accommodation is usually booked up months in advance so be sure to book your accommodation with us early to ensure your spot.

Berlin

Berlin has a long-standing reputation of being a cultural hub attracting artist and admirers with its diversity cultural scene. Berlin has proved to be one an influential city in the film industry with the Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival, each February. The 2015 festival will be held from 5 February to 15 February. The festival usually sells around 300,000 tickets sold with 20,000 professional visitor from 124 countries. Films of any genre, length and format are welcomed and will certainly find an award category to compete in. Not only does the festival feature all new films, but they also screen restorations of old classics as well. So if your feeling nostalgic, you are in luck. The Berlinale in a source of both entertainment and inspiration for the film industry with panel discussions, film programmes, workshops and joint projects. It has become a great collaboration between film professionals, actors, actresses and fans.

Photo Credit: bigamex@Flickr.

Photo Credit: bigamex@Flickr.

Paris

Photo Credit: SparkABC@Flickr.

Photo Credit: SparkABC@Flickr.

In case you are more interested in non-fiction films and documentaries, the International Documentary Film Festival in Paris is the place for you. This Parisian film festival, also called Cinéma du Réel, has been screening ethnographic and sociological films since 1979 at the Centre Pompidou. Each year this film festival increases awareness and creates on open dialogue concerning human rights, political issues and current events. Cinéma du Réel spends ten days broadening horizons and educating while still entertaining with over 200 films from 32 countries, which can be a difficult feat. The film festival is operated on a smaller scale than most in Europe, but it has just as much influence on the film industry and perhaps even more influence on the daily lives of the public. The next festival will be hosted from March 19 to March 29 in 2015.

>Dana Wolthuizen is studying English and non-profit business at Central College with a passion for travel writing.

Loving Apartments’ Luxury Collection

Loving Apartments knows how to do luxury – rooftop terraces, grand views, stylish furniture, spas and sophistication. Because when you’re on holiday, you deserve the best.

Many of our incredible locations have stunning luxury collections ranging from chic modernity to classically posh.  I could keep telling you how remarkable these apartments are . . . or I could just show you. The photos speak for themselves.

Paris

Georges I        Georges IV

Geroges V        Georges II

The Georges V luxury apartment in Paris is fit for royalty with its crystal chandeliers, French Savonnerie carpets, antique furniture and white marble fireplace.

 

Loft I       Loft II

Loft III       Loft IV

The Montorgueil Luxe Loft is spacious, light and sleek. Even though the Parisian loft is modern, it has a fascinating history as a renovated printing housed used by the Resistance for printing publications in the 1870’s.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam I       Amsterdam II

 Amsterdam III    Amsterdam IV

The Leidseplein Royal Penthouse is urban chic with high gabled ceilings with exposed beams, parquet floors and elegant decor. The luxurious accommodation also includes a deck jacuzzi with a remarkable view of the Leidseplein.

London

 London I

 London II   London IV

This attractive apartment gives a marvellous view of the London skyline and the iconic Tower Bridge. You won’t be able to top the accommodation’s central city location.

Zermatt

Zermatt I    Zermatt II

Zermatt III   Zermat V

This trendy apartment is open and luminous, providing you a breathtaking view of the landscape. The high ceilings, mod furnishings and glass walls are the very definition of luxury.

 

Zermatt II     Zermatt III

Zermatt I

This spectacular chalet is all about leisure and relaxation with its sauna and cosy corners to enjoy the striking Swiss back drop.

Barcelona

Barcelona I     Barcelona II

Barcelona III     Barcelona IV

This classically luxurious apartment has ornate trimmings, elegant draperies and handsome wood floors. Complete opulence and Barcelona at its finest.

High Rolling: Popular Theme Parks in Europe

There’s nothing like the adrenaline rush from a roller coaster. Thrill seekers from all over the globe are always on the lookout for the next bigger and faster roller coaster. To satisfy all adrenaline junkies, we’ve compiled a list of some of Europe’s most famous theme parks full of sensational rides.

Fortunately, these theme parks are located in or near cities that Loving Apartments offers accommodation, so check out our apartments to relax in after your fun-filled day at the theme park.

1. Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris is perhaps the most popular theme park in Europe with millions of visitors each year. This theme park is perfect for the entire family from your little ones to your teenagers. The magic of Disneyland Paris is spread between two parks – Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. The two parks have everything from your adrenaline pumping rides like Space Mountain and the Rock ‘n Roll Roller Coaster, to magical characters, to sensational live performances. There are also plenty of restaurants, bars and shops filled with Disney souvenirs. Don’t forget about the daily parade in which you’ll see all your favourite Disney faces.

Photo Credit: CetusCetus@Flickr.

Photo Credit: CetusCetus@Flickr.

2. Port Aventura

Photo Credit: Anton Perez@Flickr.

Photo Credit: Anton Perez@Flickr.

Port Aventura, located near Barcelona, is the most visited theme park in Spain. The park creates six different worlds for their visitors to explore – Mediterrania, Polynesia, China, Mexico, Far West and Sesamo Aventura. In each world, you’ll experience diverse cultures, fantastic shows, music, dancing, delicious food and of course, exciting rides. Some of the most noteworthy rides in Port Aventura include the Dragon Khan a high-speed roller coaster, Stampida a wooden coaster, Hurakan Condor the highest drop in Europe and the Shambhala the tallest roller coaster in Europe. These record breaking rides are absolutely electrifying.

3. Thorpe Park

Located outside of London, Thorpe Park is especially appealing to young adults and teenagers with their countless roller coasters and thrill rides such as Colossus, Detonator, Slammer and the Vortex. However, it also offers plenty of family friendly rides to for their younger visitors. Some of these rides include Logger’s Leap the UK’s tallest flumed ride, Rumba Rapids, Quantum a magic carpet ride and many others. In case you have some in your party that aren’t interested in rides, there are plenty of arcade games, shops and restaurants to stay busy.

Photo Credit: havenholidays@Flickr.

Photo Credit: havenholidays@Flickr.

4. Parque Warner

Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson@Flickr.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson@Flickr.

Parque Warner, just 25 km southeast of Madrid, brings the glamour of Hollywood to Spain. The film themed park sponsored by Time Warner gives visitors a peek behind the special effects in films and performs live shows after some of your favourite Warner Bros films like Batman and Scooby-Doo. You’ll get plenty of action through their popular roller coasters like Superman: The Attraction of Steel, the Road Runner Coaster and Stunt Fall. Young children and adults can see beloved cartoon characters such as Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny and Tweety.

5. Efteling

Efetling is the largest theme park in the Netherlands and is located about an hour and a half outside of Amsterdam. It also is one of the oldest theme parks in the world. Opened in 1952, the park has grown from a playground and a Fairy Tale Forest to a massive fairy tale themed adventure park. All of its attractions are based upon the legends, fables, folklore and fairy tales that we hear as children, but adults will enjoy the park just as much as the children. You’ll find roller coasters, water rides and shows featuring Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin, Tom Thumb and Rapunzel. In Efteling, you’ll feel as though you just jumped into the pages of your most cherished bed-time tales.

Photo Credit: bertknot@Flickr.

Photo Credit: bertknot@Flickr.

> Dana Wolthuizen is studying English and non-profit business at Central College with a passion for travel writing.

Europe from Above

As a college student studying abroad, I’m always on the look out for free opportunities, and one fell right into my lap during London’s Architectural Open House Weekend which took place from 19th September to 21st September. Approximately 800 buildings were opened to the public in order to show off their architectural wonders. The famous Gherkin was at the top of the list and was a “must see” for me. A friend and I woke up at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning to stand in line to get to the tip of the Gherkin. The view of the city was breath taking, and it inspired me to write about some of the greatest views that you can find from above in European cities.

1. The Gherkin

Of course, I had to make the Gherkin number one on the list. After all, it was the great inspiration for this blog in the first place. The Gherkin, a domed glass skyscraper, stands in the borough of the City of London at 30 St. Mary Axe right next to the Leaden Hall. Normally, a visitor won’t be able to make his or her way to the top for free except on the Architectural Open House Weekend in London. However, guests can visit the plaza of the Gherkin, and there are restaurants within the skyscraper that offer a remarkable view to enjoy while dining. If anything, the skyscraper makes for a beautiful photograph as one of London’s most iconic buildings.

View of London and Leaden Hall from the top of the Gherkin. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen.

View of London and Leaden Hall from the top of the Gherkin. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen.

2. The Fernsehturm

The Fernsehturm, also known as the Berlin TV Tower, is the tallest and one of the most prominent structures in Germany at 368 meters high. The tower dominates the Berlin skyline and gives a vast view of the city and surrounding areas. Adults can venture up to the top of the tower for €13  and children between the ages of 4 and 16 for  €8.50. The tower also offers a restaurant and a bar in the sphere of the tower, so you can enjoy the gorgeous Berlin skyline for an entire evening.

Photo Credit: Avda@Wikipedia.

Photo Credit: Avda@Wikipedia.

3. St. Stephen’s Basilica Rooftop

St. Stephen’s is Budapest‘s largest church topped with a massive dome. The rooftop of the the church offers a stunning, panoramic view of the Budapest that would be very difficult to find anywhere else. You’ll have to pay a small charge to climb up to the roof and there are a number of stairs involved, but the view will be worth the effort.

Photo Credit: Adam Kliczek@Wikipedia.

Photo Credit: Adam Kliczek@Wikipedia.

4. The Piazzale Michelangelo

The Piazzale Michelangelo is known as the best place to get remarkable views of Florence. The famous site is located at the top of a hill by the Arno River. You can either take public transportation to the top or make the trek yourself. Once there, you’ll see Florence sprawling before you, including an incredible view of the Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiore. The Piazzale has a replica of Michelangelo’s David statue, food stalls, souvenir vendors and space for parking, so there is plenty beside the view to keep you busy.

Photo Credit: ElmHoo@Wikipedia.

Photo Credit: ElmHoo@Wikipedia.

 5. Circulo de Bellas Artes Rooftop

Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid is a Protection Centre for Fine Arts and serves as a venue for conferences and art classes. It was originally founded by a group of artists in 1888. Since then, famous artists such as Picasso and Ramón José Simón Valle Peña have attended classes there. Today, there are four floors of art exhibits featuring paintings, drawing, sculptures and photography. However, one of the main draws of the building is its rooftop view. The rooftop also referred to as the “Tartan Roof” gives a 360 degree panoramic view of Madrid’s skyline with the mountains in the distance. You’ll get an especially good view of Madrid’s Metropolis Building, Plaza de le Cibeles and the City Hall.

Photo Credit: felipe_gabaldon@Flickr.

Photo Credit: felipe_gabaldon@Flickr.

6. Tour Montparnasse

Sure, everyone knows that the Eiffel Tower gives a great view of Paris from above. But what about a place in which you can get a view that includes the Eiffel Tower in the skyline? The Tour Montparnasse, an office skyscraper, provides that unique skyline scene. The skyscraper’s view rivals the Eiffel Tower’s, and you won’t have to wait hours in line to see it. The tower itself isn’t pretty; but when viewing the city from its top, you won’t have to worry about it ruining the skyline, right? You’ll be able to take as many photos and enjoy the beauty of Parisian monuments, gardens and streets from the 56th floor.

Photo Credit: y.caradec@Flickr.

Photo Credit: y.caradec@Flickr.

7. Janiculum Hill

Janiculum Hill, located in western Rome, provides one of the most awe inspiring views of the ancient city. If you climb up to the hill’s terrace, a broad view of Rome’s countless domes, monuments and churches will be waiting for you. After you’ve properly admired Rome from above, take the chance to  visit the San Pietro Montorio church and the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola, a baroque fountain built by Pope Paul V, on the hill as well.

Photo Credit: Dark Rome Tours & Walks@Flickr.

Photo Credit: Dark Rome Tours & Walks@Flickr.

 

Dana Wolthuizen is studying English and non-profit business at Central College with a passion for travel writing.

Fashion Night Out: The Best Way to Shop is with Champagne

 

Vogue Fashion Night Out was started in 2009 as a means to encourage consumers to shop  and support the fashion industry during the economic downturn. Co-sponsored by Vogue and Council of Fashion Designers of America, Fashion Night Out (FNO) has become a celebration of fashion and style. The event takes place on various nights within September all over the world in cities like New York, Paris, Berlin and Londonfno. In it’s sixth year, London FNO includes many iconic fashion boutiques, department stores, flagships and high-street chains that make London such a brilliant fashion capital.                                                       

Last night, I had the considerable pleasure of partaking in Fashion Night Out. If you have never been to a Fashion Night Out, like myself, you have got a lot to look forward too. This year, there were over 70 participating stores that offered free champagne and special deals to  visitors. Each store had a specific competition event that encouraged pIMG_3137[1]eople to make  purchases and discover new designers. Fashion Night Out coordinators placed Vogue editors, models and fashion bloggers in certain stores throughout the night. The Vogue editors hosted fashion talks about the industry and where trends are headed in the next season. I went to see Katie Phalen at Topshop; after her talk, she chose her favorite Topshop looks. Needless to say, those selections sold out within minutes. Models were on hand to showcase new collections while chatting with us common folk.

 

 

I began my night by taking the tube to Bond Street, and wondering down Oxford Street. The first stop of the evening was to Zara. The Spanish based retailer greeted its guest with  male models wearing  Zara clothing, serving drinks and disbursing maps for Fashion Night Out. I was soon informed that the store- as along with others- had Fashion Night Out one day sales for attendees. Trust me, you have not lived until you have shopped while being served Prosecco by models. As the night progresses, queues start to get a bit lengthy, so my suggestion is to go early and skip the long wait time. The event went from 6 pm to 11 pm, and as I made my way to Regent Street, my shoulder and arms got tired from all of the goodies I received from each store. Some of the gifts raffled ranged from free samples of Marc Jacobs cologne, a gift card at Aldo, to skin supplies from Clinique.4985085880_b92646bfe9_o

 

Loving Apartments offers some wonderful apartments located near this event located in Covent Garden, West End and around Oxford Street. I would have loved to stopped by my apartment on Oxford street rather than suffering on the tube. If there isn’t a Fashion Night Out close to where you live, plan your trip to London and stay with Loving Apartments.

Stop to Smell the Roses: Fabulous Flower Markets

There’s nothing quite like a Sunday morning. No hurries. No obligations. Just a day to enjoy yourself before the busy week rolls around again. You’ve got the entire day in front of you. Take a moment to do some reading and brew yourself some coffee. Then why not take a stroll to the flower market to amble through the vendors and pick up some color for your day.

A Sunday morning like this is within your reach with Loving Apartments. Loving Apartments offers comfortable accommodation for you to take a holiday in many locations throughout Europe. Fortunately, some of those locations are home to vibrant flower markets.

Columbia Road Market in London

The Columbia Road Flower Market in London is open on Sundays from 8 am until around 3 pm. During these hours, the street overflows with blooms, greenery and sweet aromas. However, the aromas are not only from the flowers, but also from the fresh pastries and coffee from the bakeries and cafés that surround the burst of floral. Antique shops, art galleries and vintage clothing stores are also snuggled in along the market, adding a sense of quirkiness to the road.

Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Bloemenmarkt in Amsterdam

The Bloemenmarkt in Amsterdam can boast that it is the only floating flower market in the world. The floating market is found on Singel between Muntplein and Koningsplein in Amsterdam’s southern canal belt. The flower shops are housed in a row of floating barges – an ode to the days in which flowers were delivered to Amsterdam from the countryside by boats. Tulips are the specialty of the market, which should come as no surprise. However, the market has so much more than just tulips. They have almost every fresh flower imaginable and also houseplants, seeds and all the gardening necessities.

Photo Credit: Massimo Catarinella @ Wikipedia.

Photo Credit: Massimo Catarinella @ Wikipedia.

 

Marché aux Fleurs in Paris

Open daily, the Marché aux Fleurs may be the most fragrant and picturesque market that you’ll find within Paris. It’s an oasis of petals and foliage on the I’île de la Cité along the banks of the River Seine. If you want to experience the market at its finest, you should visit on a Sunday when the bird market is open along with the flower market. Visitors to the bird market can buy birds of all kinds from roosters and chickens to canaries, finches, parrots and other rare species. All the accessories for the birds are offered as well. Bird song is the perfect background to your perusing.

Photo Credit: Jim Linwood @ Wikipedia.

Photo Credit: Jim Linwood @ Wikipedia.

 

Mercat de la Concepció in Barcelona

The Mercat de la Concepció in Barcelona features a 24 hour flower market on the facade on Valencia Street. The market satisfies your needs for flora all day and all night, whether it be for a last minute romantic gift or for a late night hospital visit.  You know that you are nearing the flower area of the market when the enticing scent of the blooms begins to edge out the scents of the food stalls located in other areas of the market.

Photo Credit: Oh-Barcelona.com @ Flickr.

Photo Credit: Oh-Barcelona.com @ Flickr.

 

Campo dei Fiori in Rome

Campo dei Fiori, which translates to “field of flowers,” is the oldest open air market in the center of Rome. The piazza offers a large collection of fresh flowers for you to browse every day along with local produce and artisan creations as well such as pottery, paintings and textiles. It serves as a colourful haven from the modern and fast-paced supermarkets.

Photo Credit: OliverN5@Flickr.

Photo Credit: OliverN5@Flickr.

 

5 Activities that are Unique to London

Sure, there are loads of sights to see in London. But what can you do that doesn’t just require you to look and not touch? The key to having fun in London is to actually experience it. So get out from behind that camera shutter and engage in some hands-on activities that are unique to London, because there is no where else in the world where you can experience them.

1. Hop Aboard a Boat Tour on the Thames

There are several river cruises available to Londoners and visitors alike through sightseeing tours such as City Cruises or London RIB Voyages. Float past the Houses of Parliament, the Globe Theater, the Tower of London and the Royal Palace of Greenwich. You’ll be able to see all the iconic sights from a new perspective while enjoying the commentary and the peaceful water ride. If you’re interested in a more thrilling ride, there are speedboat tours available that will zip you right down the river, leaving all other boats in your wake.

Photo Credit: string_bass_dave@Flickr.

Photo Credit: string_bass_dave@Flickr.

2. Go for a Spin on the London Eye

Buy a ticket to ride in a London Eye capsule and see remarkable London views from above. The Eye was originally built as a part of the 2000 millennium celebrations, and it has been one of London’s top hits since then. You’ll reach the height of 135 metres at the top of the Eye. A full rotation takes approximately 30 minutes, so you’ll have plenty of time to relish the stunning view.

Photo Credit: .Martin.@Flickr.

Photo Credit: .Martin.@Flickr.

3. Embark on a “Jack the Ripper” Walking Tour

Jack the Ripper walking tours are offered every night. You begin the journey by Tower Hill and wander down the streets and alleyways that Jack the Ripper stalked. Prepare yourself for a dramatic guided tour that will give you the chilling history of the Ripper and his victims. Previously, the identity of Jack the Ripper was a mystery, but now DNA evidence has shed light on the Ripper’s identity as a 23 year-old Polish immigrant. It will be interesting to see how this new information will change these nightly tours.

Photo Credit: Ben124.@Flickr.

Photo Credit: Ben124.@Flickr.

4. Afternoon Tea at the Savoy

There’s nothing more British than having afternoon tea, and why not do it in style at the Thames Foyer at The Savoy? You can enjoy a cup of tea, homemade scones and savory cakes and pastries underneath a glass dome as a pianist serenades the room. It all makes for a magical afternoon in which you feel like you’ve just walked into a Downton Abbey episode. Don’t forget to bring your manners and dress smartly.

Photo Credit: Mister-E@Flickr.

Photo Credit: Mister-E@Flickr.

 

5. Hitch a Ride on London’s Ghost Bus

The London Ghost Bus Tour gives you the chance to see the haunted side of London. You’ll jump aboard a classic 1960’s bus and hear about the the murders, torture and execution that took place on London’s streets by the House of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. You’ll be spooked, but also amused by the comedy horror theatre performance given by the guide. After the tour, you’ll never be able to look at the London through the same eyes again.

Photo Credit: lukaszzelezny@Flickr.

Photo Credit: lukaszzelezny@Flickr.

An Unexpected Wonder: The Camden Markets

As an American student from Iowa studying abroad in London, the city life is alluring to me, and I find myself trying to explore a new area of this sprawling city each day. On a Monday morning, a friend and I decided to wander down to the Camden Market. Little did we know at the time, it is more appropriately referred to as the Camden Markets because it is a collection of several markets with their own personality and vibrancy. Established in the 1970’s, the market area has been growing for almost 45 years. It has evolved into a hub of colorful stalls, shops, food stands and restaurants. It has been one of London’s most popular markets where punks, goths, hippies, artists, fashionistas, students and tourists coexist. All areas of the market are open daily from roughly 10 am to 6 pm, but most restaurants, bars, theaters and clubs keep their lights on until at least 11 pm.

Here’s a crash-course on each area of the Camden Markets:

Main Street:

My friend and I made our way down Camden High Street which eventually continues on into Chalk Farm Road, and we thought that we had begun to conquer the entirety of Camden Market. I chuckle at my ignorance. Honestly, we were already thoroughly impressed by the selection offered in the Main Street area with shops and restaurants spilling onto the sidewalks and street. Clothing racks, shoe boxes and sunglass holders surrounded us, and souvenir stands beckoned us to buy a trinket to bring home to Mum and Dad from our adventure across the pond.  After browsing the main drag, we stumbled upon Inverness Street Market. Let our shopping exploits continue.

Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Inverness Street Market:

Inverness Street probably has the longest standing history with the Camden Town area as the best spot to buy fresh fruit and vegetables since the beginning of the 1900’s. However, with the development of the other market areas, souvenir, clothing and footwear stalls have joined and taken over the ranks.  Don’t lose hope though. A few quality produce stands remained tucked in along the shops, still supplying faithful locals and wandering visitors such as myself.

Camden Buck Street Market:

The market continued on into Buck Street satisfying our wide-eyed amazement. Buck Street is a maze of narrow alley ways containing over 200 stalls. Some of the vendors offer their self-designed clothing or jewelry, but this area of the market is the best to find your fun and funky apparel like clever slogan t-shirts and pink neon shades.  

Camden Lock Market and Village:

 Ahhhh, what I consider to be the prized area of the Camden Markets. The Camden Lock Market situated near the Railroad Bridge has been labeled the “creative heart” of the market and even London itself. The Lock Market is the original arts and crafts area that offers any sort of art and trade you can image – music, films, books, poetry, home furnishings, painting, carvings and textiles. What makes it even more special is that customers can meet the artist of their new-found treasures. The Lock Market is also said to be home to a “Global Food Kitchen” full of affordable, international food stands. It was in the midst of the stands that my friend and I discovered the Dutch Pancake vendor, which we absolutely gushed over. As a native of a small Dutch town in Iowa, we were ecstatic to find some food that reminded us of home sweet home. I guarantee that almost everyone who visits will happen upon food that gives them the warm fuzzy comfort of home.  

Camden Market Photo

Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

The Lock Village, right next to the Lock Market, has recently received a face-lift in the last several years. It now has an open layout with approximately 500 independent vendors selling novelty items, catering to visitors looking for an uncommon shopping experience. You’re likely to find peddlers like drum specialists and glass engravers here.

Camden Stable Market:

The last leg of our Camden Market tour. The Stable Market gives a bohemian feel full of retro furniture shops, antiques, alternative club wear and vintage clothing. This area may seem like a chaotic jumble, but it all seems to fit snugly together like a puzzle in which all 700 shops have their rightful place. You can find almost anything here.

Some of the vendors are housed in the old catacombs with bronze sculptures around every corner. They serve as an ode to when the area was used as an industrial stable in which horses used to pull barges along the canal. Also, you can’t leave the Stable Market without sampling some of the famous pan-Asian cuisine.

 

Unfortunately, my friend and I only allotted a few hours for ourselves to visit the Camden Markets – a mistake that we certainly won’t make again. I’m already looking at my calendar for an open weekend to return. Luckily, next time I’ll be a bit more prepared for all the market’s wonders, and I hope this little guide to Camden Markets helps you in your adventure as well.

 

Dana Wolthuizen is studying English and non-profit business at Central College with a passion for travel writing.

London Fashion Weekend

10421542_10152398164916915_4293083880176179199_n10539123_10152398164971915_5795393482765099123_nLondon Fashion Week (LFW) is a trade event for fashion industry professionals who must register or be invited in order to attend. In the span of five days over 170 UK and international emerging and established, ready-to wear and accessory designers will take part in the Designer Showrooms at LFW. They will showcase their work across 58 catwalk shows and 24 presentations.   Held twice each year, in February and September., from 1984, and organised by the British Fashion Council, it is considered to be one of the “Big Four Fashion weeks, along with New York, Paris, and Milan Fashion Week. Since its inception, Mercedes Benz and hairdresser Toni & Guy have joined as major contributors to LFW, being part of what has become a London cultural phenomenon.  London Fashion Week has truly become a part of British culture, London Mayor Boris Johnson has noted “I am delighted to support British fashion, which continues to be at the forefront of innovation. London is developing a reputation as one of the tech capitals of the world, but it is an already a global leader for fashion.”

The most notable and iconic venue of the week is Somerset House. Somerset House will host buyers that will spend an estimate 40 to 100 million pounds on designer collections. Celebrities such as Rihanna, Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham are frequent fixtures upon the front row that live streams 190 countries worldwide. Over 5,000 members of the press, buyers, fashion editors and celebrities flock to venues around London so see the latest creations by British designers.

Coming immediately after LFW, London Fashion Weekend, uses the same exhibition and catwalk venues. essentially being a designer shopping event, where members of the public can shop from designers of LFWcalibre, from the high profile to the emerging. Tickets prices range between £20 to £130. The Bronze ticket (£21.60) allows access to industry talks and a limited edition designer tote bag. However, if you’d prefer a more immersive experience the ‘Luxe’ ticket (£137.80) includes a welcome reception with canapés, catwalk front row seats, access to private lounges and host of other amenities.

More information can be found here: http://vlfw.seetickets.com/Content/vlfw

On visiting London Fashion Weekend you will be surrounded by attendees dressed in their best designer clothing posing for online bloggers and various members of the press, showcasing their personal street-style.

The British Fashion Council has noted that during the February shows, there were over 300,000 mentions of #LFW on twitter and nearly 100,000 images tagged #LFW on Instagram.

5 things you must bring with you to maintain your fabulosity while at  London Fashion Week:10455058_10152398165066915_1591144198211885102_n

  1. Flats or Sneakers: Be it a Christian Louboutin Spiked Stilettos or Ted Baker Leather Oxford Shoe, both men and women will need to give their ankles a rest. Remember beauty is pain, unless you have converse in your bag.
  2. Travel Sized Perfume: As the day progresses and wander from shoe to shoe, it’s always nice to smell your best. My favorite cologne at the moment is Prada’s Luna Rossa Extreme Eau de Toilette.
  3. Mints: You’ll have many conversations about the stunning collections with fellow fashion admirer. Therefore, fresh and minty breath is essential.
  4. Sunglasses: From the lights on the runways to the beaming flashes of the cameras around you, having frames are beneficial; Ray Bans are always a favourite.
  5. Camera: You can use your cell phone, or a fancy SLR – but you are going to want to photograph your experience

Head to the nearest mainline rail stations at Charing Cross and Waterloo. The nearest London Underground station is Temple, on the District and Circle lines.

Loving Apartments currently offers 26 places close to the LFW venues located in Soho, Holborn, and Bloomsbury. click here for more http://lovingapartments.com/United-Kingdom/London/List

Jonathan Redmond is an Advertising Undergraduate @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a keen interest in Fashion and exploring London Culture.