This immortal line is from a pantomime version of the well-known fairy tale, Dick Whittington and his Cat. Dick did indeed turn back to London town, only to find fame and fortune as Lord Mayor of London.
Today the Lord Mayor of London’s annual election is in its way no less theatrical. A display of traditional English pageantry, complete with fur-clad capes, gold chains of office, mace and sword-bearing Esquires and attendant City Livery company members will gather this year on 1st October at the City’s Guildhall to elect the next Lord Mayor. Elected by the Court of Alderman, representing the City’s twenty-five wards, the new Lord Mayor will look forward to a year’s term of office where he can expect to meet over 10,000 people, to travel abroad for over 90 days and to make over 800 speeches. His official residence is the Mansion House, an imposing 18th century Palladian style building in the City’s very heart, opposite the Bank of England and at the junction of original Roman roads criss-crossing London.
A title steeped in history, the first Lord Mayor took office in 1189 marking London’s emergence as an important trading centre. The role today still reflects London’s global status, as the Lord Mayor’s “job” (unpaid and apolitical) is primarily to be an international ambassador for all UK-based financial institutions and professional services. The role is separate from but complementary to that of the Mayor of (Greater) London, Boris Johnson.
But if the election was a colourful pageant, just wait to hear about the celebration for the Lord Mayor’s inauguration. The Lord Mayor’s Show is certainly an event to be in London for! This year the world’s largest parade of its kind will take place on Saturday 10th November. Featuring around 6,000 participants from businesses, schools, Livery companies and charities, with over 60 floats, 20 marching bands and carriages, the procession will be like the pages of a fantastically illustrated history book. Commencing at 11 am with a flypast, the procession will wend its way around the Square Mile from the Mansion House. En route, the new Lord Mayor will pause at St Paul’s Cathedral to be blessed before proceeding to the Royal Courts of Justice to swear an Oath of Allegiance before the Lord Chief Justice and the Master of the Rolls. The procession itself ends at 2.30 pm but the day finally concludes with a magnificent water-borne firework display.
The Procession is free to watch with the best vantage points likely to be around Queen Victoria Street and Fleet Street. But get there early because the crowds gather quickly to see this annual spectacle. The City is en fête for the entire day with free City guided walks, opportunities to visit the Guildhall museum, St Paul’s Cathedral or the absorbing Museum of London.
This is English pageantry at its best, so book your Loving Apartment NOW for a late Autumn trip to London to see the Show and perhaps do some early Christmas shopping. Go on – spoil yourselves!
Unless you’re one of the select few (now financially strapped) individuals, that requested tickets for almost every event going at the London 2012 Olympics, and was successful, it is highly likely your schedule will allow you some free time to enjoy the alternative attractions that London has to offer. If you’re short of time during your visit, then it will certainly be a wise decision to base yourself in a convenient area of the capital, where you will be within easy reach of the Olympic events, while also benefiting from great access to some of London’s most-loved landmarks, nightlife, and famous parks. Here are the top 5 places to consider when searching for your London accommodation, and the reasons why.
1. Canary Wharf – Canary Wharf may be the largest financial business district in the capital, but it also has a great deal to offer for those in search of entertainment or sport. Located just across the River Thames from the North Greenwich Arena, Canary Wharf is the ideal location for spectators for the Olympic events of Artistic Gymnastics, Trampoline, Basketball, and Wheelchair Basketball. A one stop journey on the Underground, you can travel from Canary Wharf to North Greenwich in just 3 minutes. The Olympic Park is also easily accessible, taking just a further 10 minutes on the Jubilee Line. In between performances of pirouettes and slam dunks, you can experience the delights of the Museum of London, located within Canary Wharf, or take a stroll around Greenwich Park, which is set to host the Equestrian events during the Olympics.
2. Bermondsey – Nestled along the South Bank of the Thames, Bermondsey offers not only great transport links to the various Olympic venues, but also fantastic views, and endless attractions to visit. Tower Bridge - one of London’s most iconic structures - is just a short walk away, and if you’re looking to enjoy the city’s infamous nightlife, then you will not be disappointed by Bermondsey’s selection of stylish bars and restaurants. Staying in Bermondsey, you can hop on the Jubilee line to the Olympic Park, which takes approx. 15 minutes.
3. Farringdon – Located north of the City of London, Farringdon is extremely well connected to the rest of the capital, along a variety of Underground lines and rail services. Farringdon’s transport links make it a desirable location for holidaymakers, as it is just a short journey from the likes of Covent Garden, Leicester Square, and Embankment. Recently redeveloped, Farringdon has an endearing combination of traditional buildings and modern bars and restaurants, offering a buzzing social atmosphere, day and night. Travelling to the Olympic Park from Farringdon takes about 20 minutes on the Underground, changing at Liverpool Street straight up to Stratford.
4. Camden – Known for its market culture, Camden is a unique area in London where you will find everything you would expect from a city market, and much more. Camden is known for its individuality, attracting residents and visitors looking to express their alternative culture, whether it be through music, fashion, or art. Camden is an exciting area of London, and while home to many attractions itself, it is also easily accessible to and from the Olympic Park. There are many possible routes, and perhaps one of the easiest is to take the Underground to Bank, and change to head towards Stratford.
5. City of London – The City of London is the area considered most central to the capital, and is where London’s great expansion originated, with the development of historic buildings such as St. Paul’s Cathedral. The City of London now has an impressive skyline, with iconic towers such as Tower 42, and the Swiss Re Tower, or ‘The Gherkin’, as it is more commonly known. You will be spoilt for choice with places to visit and things to do, and being located in the heart of the business district, you will get a real feel for the busy, thriving atmosphere London is known for. It couldn’t be quicker or easier to travel to the Olympic Park from the City of London, with a variety of Underground stations offering direct routes. Travel from Bank on the Jubilee line, or on the DLR, or from Liverpool Street located nearby.
This year is set to be the hottest spring since records began in 1910, with London temperatures already soaring to 24C. To make the most of the sizzling sunshine, we’ve highlighted 10 outdoor activities and attractions to enjoy, in and around London.
River Thames Cruises – Open-top river cruises are a fabulous way to enjoy the sights of London, with the banks of the River Thames lined with many historic and modern landmarks. Visitors can escape the hustle and bustle, and appreciate such sights as The London Eye, St. Pauls Cathedral, and Tower Bridge, while meandering down the River Thames. There are a selection of cruises to choose from, covering various hot spots along the river, and start from £8.00 for an adult ticket.
Boating in Hyde Park – Whether you’re feeling energetic, or are simply looking to relax and enjoy the tranquillity of Hyde Park, The Serpentine offers a range of boating opportunities. Hire a pedal or row boat to glide along at your leisure or take a trip on the Solarshuttle – the UK’s first solar-powered boat. An hours pedal or row boat rental costs around £10.00 for an adult, and £5.00 for children under 15. The Solarshuttle is available for private hire, carrying up to 40 passengers.
Hampton Court Palace Gardens – The formal palace gardens cover 60 acres of landscaped beauty, boasting impressive flower displays, sculpted trees and magnificent fountains. Also contained within the Hampton Court grounds, is Home Park – 700 acres of wild parkland, where you will see herds of roaming deer and wild birds. The Hampton Court Maze is a popular attraction, covering half a mile of snaking paths and dead-end routes. Admission to the formal gardens costs £5.30 for an adult, with free admission for children under 15. A combination ticket, including entry to the palace, formal gardens and maze, costs £15.95 for an adult and £8.00 for children under 16. Home Park has free entry to the public.
London Zoo – Located in Regent’s Park, London Zoo has many outdoor attractions, best enjoyed on a summer’s day. The world’s oldest zoo, it is home to over 750 species, including Asian lions, Sumatran tigers and giraffes, which can be appreciated in many indoor and outdoor enclosures. The perfect day out for all ages, the zoo offers many educational exhibits, animal encounters, and entertaining shows, including the new Penguin Beach Exhibit. Entry during mid-season costs £19.50 for an adult and £15.60 for children. High season prices are £20.50 for adults and £16.40 for children.
Free Running – You may have seen this new phenomenon featured in adverts and films, and now you can experience the fantastic and exhilarating activity for yourself. Free running sees participants flying over London’s urban terrain, using a combination of climbing, running and jumping skills. Suitable for complete beginners, you will receive training on how to negotiate your way over and under everyday obstacles, such as fences, railings and walls, while creating movements that some consider as artistic. Evening training courses are held throughout London and cost around £10 per person for a 2 hour training session.
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre – The perfect activity to enjoy a beautiful summer’s evening, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is the largest outdoor auditorium, seating 1,240 spectators. From mid-May to early September, a selection of dramatic performances can be enjoyed, along with a variety of comedy acts and live music. To complete the evening, visitors can purchase a hot and cold buffet, barbecue or pre-booked picnic, or choose to take along their own food and drink. Prices vary depending on the choice of performance.
Open Top Bus Tours – Enjoy the sights and sounds of London with an open top bus tour. Without a barrier between you and the elements, you’ll feel a part of London’s lively atmosphere, and can truly appreciate the many landmarks you’ll be presented with, up close and personal. Many tours offer live commentary from theatrical tour guides, who enhance the experience. A 24 hour ticket that enables you to hop-on and hop-off tours at your leisure, costs around £27.00 for an adult and £12.00 for children under 15.
Covent Garden – On a summer’s day, the electric atmosphere of Covent Garden is not to be missed, with visitors flocking to enjoy an outdoor meal and drink in one of the fine restaurants and cafes of the main square. The carnival atmosphere has many free street performances, which can also be appreciated with a pint, from the famous Punch and Judy balcony.
Theme Parks – For thrill-seekers, looking for an adrenaline-pumping day out, London and its surrounding areas offer some of the most extreme theme parks and attractions. Thorpe Park is a firm favourite, and is home to Britain’s fastest roller coaster – Stealth, and is within easy reach from central London. Great for young children, Chessington World of Adventures has many family-friendly rides and attractions. Tickets start from around £39.60 for adults and £28.80 for children when purchased on the door, with great discounts to be had when pre-booking.
London Eye –Although technically an indoor activity, the London Eye is still best appreciated on a clear summer’s day, offering unspoilt and far-reaching views of the London skyline and beyond. Standing 135 metres tall, it is London’s 4th tallest structure, transporting guests in a moving glass capsule, for a truly panoramic view of London. Adult tickets are from £18.60 and children from £9.54, when purchased on the day from the ticket office.