London Attractions, Activities and Things
Other Great London Attractions
Founded by American actor and director Sam
Wanamaker, Shakespeare’s Globe comprises three elements that together
contribute to the overall aim of exploration of Shakespeare’s work and the
playhouse for which he wrote.
The Globe Theatre has a professional theatre company that includes
international artists and puts on a summer season of plays. Globe
Education works with students of all ages to explore Shakespeare’s scripts
in relation to the stage. The third element, Shakespeare’s Globe
Exhibition, is the most extensive exhibition in the world devoted to
Shakespeare and his contemporaries in performance. Together, the three
activities attract more than 750,000 people each year to the world-class
facility sited on the south bank of the River Thames, opposite St Paul’s
A visit to Shakespeare’s Globe Exhibition includes a fascinating guided
tour of the Globe Theatre, with tours running every 15-30 minutes. No
individual bookings are needed although groups should book in advance at
reduced rates for fifteen or more. During matinee performances, tours are
of the nearby site of Bankside’s first theatre, the Rose, rather than the
The exhibition features many interactive displays and live demonstrations,
while live events include performances by musicians, sword-fighting
demonstrations and costume dressings. Various public events and activities
are also staged.
Visitors can purchase merchandise at the Globe shop and obtain
refreshments at the Bar/Brasserie. The unique venue is also available for
Exhibition opening hours: From 23 April to 5 October, Daily 9.00-12.30 and
13.00-17.00, Sunday 9.00-11.30 and 12.00-17.00
Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, SE1 9DT
Phone: 020 7902 1400 Fax: 020 7902 1401
Email: email@example.com Web:
Built in 1951 as part of the Festival of
Britain, the Southbank Centre became an independent arts organisation in
1988. It is located on the Thames riverside, next to the London Eye, and
is at the centre of an arts quarter that stretches from the Royal National
Theatre and National Film Theatre to Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe.
The Southbank Centre offers a wide-ranging programme that includes
classical and world music, rock and pop, jazz, dance, literature and the
visual arts, and attracts the most diverse audience of any UK venue. In
fact, the centre comprises a number of venues that offer varying events,
with many being available for hire with capacities ranging from 30 up to
The Royal Festival Hall is at the heart of the Southbank Centre and is one
of the world’s leading performance venues. In addition to the auditorium,
the building includes the Clore Ballroom, the Southbank Centre shop,
several places to eat and drink, and the Saison Poetry Library. The latter
houses the Arts Council poetry collection, the most comprehensive and
accessible collection of modern poetry in Britain.
The Queen Elizabeth Hall hosts chamber orchestras, quartets, choirs, dance
performances and opera. It also contains two smaller venues — the Purcell
Room that provides an intimate concert hall venue and the Front Room that
is situated in the foyer. The Hayward is one of London’s most important
spaces for displaying contemporary art.
Visitors can view work inside and outside the centre’s iconic buildings,
shop, eat, drink and enjoy the river and skyline. Various events are
staged each month.
Opening hours vary depending on venue and performances but generally from
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX
Phone: 0871 663 2501
Completed in 1894, Tower Bridge was
designed to allow vehicle and pedestrian access across the Thames
downstream of London Bridge without disrupting river traffic. The
hydraulically operated bridge, which lifts around 1000 times each year to
allow ships to pass through, was originally steam powered but is now
driven by oil and electricity.
A full visit to the Tower Bridge Exhibition takes around 1 hour 30 minutes
and is unaccompanied, although an introductory talk can be booked and
guides are on hand to provide assistance. The history of the bridge is
shown, with interactive displays in the towers and high-level walkways.
The latter, 42 metres above the river, offer fantastic views and have
special viewing windows for photographs. The historical Victorian Engine
Rooms house the original engines and the tour ends in the bridge’s gift
A pre-bookable behind-the-scenes tour is led by a technical guide and
additionally goes to the bridge control rooms and the immense bascule
chambers below the riverbed. A private evening tour, which must be
pre-booked no more than two weeks in advance, provides exclusive access
for a single group with a minimum of ten members. All the bridge’s main
areas are covered and an exhibition guide gives detailed information about
Specialist talks are provided for tourism and marketing students while
various events and activities are held throughout the year. The high-level
walkways and engine rooms are available for private use after normal
closure while the Bridge Master’s Dining Room and North Tower Lounge are
also available for hire during the day.
Opening hours: Daily 10.00-18.30 from 1 April until 30 September and
9.30-18.00 from 1 October until 31 March
Closed 24-26 December
Tower Bridge Exhibition, Tower Bridge, SE1 2UP
Phone: 020 7403 3761 Fax: 020 7357 7935
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web:
Constructed in the early 1800s, Trafalgar
Square is one of London’s most vibrant open spaces. It has been the centre
of national democracy and protest, and can be booked in advance for
rallies and protests, filming and photography, and promotional events.
Trafalgar Square’s most well known feature is Nelson’s Column, which was
erected to honour Admiral Nelson following his 1805 victory in the Battle
of Trafalgar. The five-metre high granite statue stands on a bronze
platform made from old guns from the Woolwich Arsenal Foundry. Nelson’s
Column is Grade 1 listed and its most recent restoration was completed in
The fountains operate on most days and are surrounded by mermaids,
dolphins and tritons (male figures with tails like fish). The square has
statues of General Sir Charles James Napier, Major General Sir Henry
Havelock and King George IV. The fourth plinth is part of a rotating
programme of modern art with the sculpture changed at intervals.
Trafalgar Square underwent a major transformation in 2003 with the
pedestrianisation of the north side and the building of a central
staircase to form a large terrace. It is surrounded by several historic
buildings and has other features and facilities, including the Café on the
Square, which is available for hire. Heritage Wardens are on duty to help
and advise visitors.
The square hosts a variety of events and activities, including the
traditional carol-singing programme at Christmas. The Christmas tree has
been given by the people of Norway since 1947 in gratitude for Britain’s
support in World War II.
Surge tides coupled with northerly winds
put a quarter of a million people at risk from flooding in the London
area. After a disastrous flood in 1953 killed over 300 people and covered
160,000 acres on Canvey Island in seawater, a number of schemes were put
forward to overcome the problem. The result was the Thames Barrier, which
was finally opened in 1984.
The barrier comprises nine reinforced concrete piers and ten movable gates
that are positioned end-to-end across the river, measuring 520 metres from
bank to bank. When a dangerously high tidal surge threatens, the gates are
raised to seal off the upper part of the Thames from the sea.
New walkways and amenity areas have been formed near the barrier. The
Thames Barrier Information Centre features a working model of the barrier
and a video that shows its construction, operation and how it protects
London from flooding. Displays explain the wildlife and environment of the
River Thames while a café plus picnic and play area are available.
The Thames Barrier Learning Centre is an educational centre for school
groups that also has a range of activities with an environmental theme
during school holidays.
Opening hours: Daily 10.30-16.30 from April until September and
11.00-15.30 from October until March
Closed 25 December and 1 January
Thames Barrier Information and Learning Centre, 1 Unity Way, Woolwich,
Phone: 020 8305 4188 Fax: 020 8855 2146
Nearby is the Thames Barrier Park, with 22 acres of lawns, trees and
hedges, plus a play area, 5-a-side court, picnic area and fountains.
Opening hours: Daily 7.00-16.45 in January through to 21.45 in June
Thames Barrier Park, North Woolwich Road, E16 2HP
Run by the Zoological Society of London, a
charity devoted to the worldwide conservation of animals, Whipsnade Zoo
has over 150 species of wild animals in acres of stunning parkland
surrounded by the Chiltern Hills.
Relatively new attractions include the 5,000 square metre Cheetah Rock
enclosure and the Rhinos of Nepal exhibit. Other attractions include the
Lions of the Serengeti exhibit with its pride of African lions and the
Chimpanasium that provides an extensive indoor gymnasium where the chimps
can swing. In with the Lemurs offers visitors the chance to go onto the
Numerous other species are available in natural surroundings and daily
events are staged at the Discovery Centre, the Children’s Farm and other
locations. A programme of other events is held throughout the year.
Gift tickets are available and valid for twelve months while discounts are
offered to groups. The zoo has numerous refreshments points, including the
Lookout Café, the Café on the Lake and several kiosks.
The Cloisters function suites can accommodate 10 to 600 guests and are
available to hire for various events such as parties, dinner dances and
conferences. Whipsnade Zoo is also licensed for weddings and is a venue
for civil partnerships.
Opening hours: 10.00-19.00 from late Spring until early Autumn and on
Sundays and Bank Holidays; closes 17.00 or 18.00 at other times
Closed 25 December
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, LU6 2LF
Phone: 01582 872171