London is a great city with a long and interesting history, being home to some amazing cultural activities:
- Find out more about the on a guided walking tour, run by a range of companies
- There are a range of parks and gardens in London, providing a beautiful, quiet rest from the busy city – and the perfect place for a picnic.
- The Tower of London provides an insight to 1000 years of London’s history
Art & Museums
London is home to over 200 museums, twice as many as New York. Many of these are located close to CATS college in Bloomsbury and the surrounding areas.
Many of the best London museums and galleries are free to visit; here are some of the best:
- The British Museum – one of the largest and most comprehensive museums in the world, with collections numbering 7 million objects, “illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginning to the present.” The British Museum is so vast that it is impossible to tour in its entirety in just one day.
- The National Gallery – is Britain’s main national gallery, containing 2300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900 with an encyclopaedic scope – covering all major artistic movements “from Giotto to Cézanne.” Similarly the National Portrait Gallery contains 10,000 portraits of important British citizens.
- The British Library – One of the largest libraries in the world, containing one copy of every book published in the United Kingdom, totally over 150 million items, including examples dating back to 300BC. Each year the library installs. It is an essential port of call for any student in London.
- The Victoria and Albert Museum – is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a vast collection of 4.5 million objects in 12.5 acres of gallery space, within an elegant and sprawling building whose architecture is as varied and interesting as its contents.
- The Science Museum – formed by a member of the Royal Society of Arts in 1857, the museum now contains over 300,000 items covering the history of science in Britain, including Stephenson’s Rocket, the first jet engine and an IMAX 3D cinema
- The Natural History Museum – contains over 70 million items within five collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology and zoology, including original specimens collected by Darwin.
- Housed in the former Bankside Power Station, the Tate Modern is Britain’s national museum of international modern art. Each year, more than 5 million visitors visit the vast gallery to view some of the most famous (and bizarre) artworks in the world.
- The South Bank Centre is a vast complex of artistic buildings, situated opposite the Houses of Parliament. Containing three separate arts venues (the Royal Festival Hall, The Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Hayward Gallery) over a 21 acre campus, the South Bank is Europe’s largest centre for the arts and holds over 1200 events a year, 300 of which are free of charge.
Music, Dance & Theatre
London is famed for its entertainment scene, with everyone from up-and-coming artists to world famous musicians and actors performing every night of the week.
- The O2 Arena near the docklands is London’s largest music venue. Housed in the former Millennium Dome, along with restaurants, cinema complex, museum and more, the O2 plays host to some of the best known performers in the world. Some stars include Coldplay, Britney Spears, Madonna and Kanye West and is easily accessible by bus, car, tube, train or boat.
Wembley Arena is an amazing venue that hosts a range of performances and sport events.
There is a huge range of theatre performances in the city's famous West End, as well as smaller theatres - for a roundup visit Timeout London.
London also has an expansive dance scene, with everything from classical ballet to hip-hop - for a roundup visit Timeout London.
- London is home to some fantastic theatre, orchestras, ballet and opera companies. Popular venues include the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall in the Southbank Centre, The Royal Opera House, The Barbican Centre and the Royal Albert Hall, where the proms take place each summer.
- The South Bank area is the capital’s artistic hub. Many of London’s most important cultural institutions are packed into this small area, making it an essential visit for anyone with an interest in the theatre and the arts. Located in this area is the Royal National Theatre, containing three large theatres. The ‘National’ holds a vast selection of different plays and performances throughout the year, including open air productions during the summer months.
- An exciting alternative is a visit to the Globe Theatre. This authentic recreation of Shakespeare’s original theatre allows visitors to experience one of his plays in an open air setting.