Things to Do
November in London sees Christmas lights beginning to twinkle, cosy scarves and jumpers re-emerging from the wardrobe and the capital’s skies lit by spectacular fireworks displays for Britain’s Bonfire Night.
Bonfires are lit and there are fireworks displays all over London (and the UK) to commemorate the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up James I and his Parliament on 1605. The plot’s most famous conspirator, Guy Fawkes, (“The Guy”) is burned as an effigy. Although the official anniversary is on the 5th, bonfires and firework displays start up to 2 weeks before and go on for a week after the actual date. More details and history. In central London one of the biggest event is the bonfire and fireworks in Battersea Park. It’s an all ticket event – available here.
The Regent Street Motor Show. Two days earlier, on November 3, the Regent Street Motor Show returns to the capital, for the largest free motor show in the UK. Head down to Regent Street between 10.30am and 4.00pm as hundreds of vehicles, showcasing 125 years of motoring history, go on display in the famous shopping street – free of normal traffic for the day. Be wowed by a huge collection of impressive cars, motorbikes and classic automobiles dating from pre 1905 to the present day and beyond. Find out about the latest low-emission technologies, and enjoy exciting music and dance performances during the show.
The Lord Mayor’s Show. Saturday November 10. The Lord Mayor’s Show has floated, rolled, trotted, marched and occasionally fought its way through 798 years of London history, surviving the black death and the blitz to arrive in the 21st century as one of the world’s best-loved pageants. Over the centuries the Mayor’s journey became one of London’s favourite rituals. It moved from river barges to horseback and then into the magnificent State Coach, and around it grew a splendidly rowdy and joyful mediaeval festival known as the Lord Mayor’s Show.
The London Jazz Festival, November 16 – 25, is the capital’s biggest pan-city music festival, taking place annually in November. Widely acknowledged for delivering world-class artists and emerging stars, the festival continues to take jazz to a massive audience. Presenting 2,500 artists across 60 venues, more than 250 shows take place in London’s best concert halls and arts centres, including the Southbank Centre, Royal Albert Hall, Barbican Centre, Ronnie Scott’s and more.
London Christmas Lights, November 6 – January 6 2019. You know that Christmas really is on its way when Oxford Street is transformed by glittering lights and enchanted shoppers. This year, a competition was launched for new design ideas from designers and architects from all over the world to ensure that the 2018 display is the most spectacular to date. With 40 million visitors expected to come and see the vibrant display, we can’t wait to see how they look.
London’s October Food and Drink Festivals
The summer holidays are over, the kids are back at school, the torrent of London tourists has diminished to a gentle flow and Londoners are preparing to enjoy the beauty of the autumn colours and festivals of food and drink.
For London aficionados, September and October is the time to visit especially if they enjoy cocktails, good food and fine wine.
1-7 October, London Cocktail Week. A £10 London Cocktail Week pass entitles you to £6 festival cocktails in 300 of London’s best bars, first look access to pop-ups and parties and free unlimited entry to The Cocktail Village. More details.
1-31 October, London Restaurant Festival. Now in its tenth year the London Restaurant Festival celebrates London’s extraordinarily diverse range of restaurants. The unique programme of 60 events includes Restaurant-Hopping Tours, Gourmet Odysseys, Chef-Hosted events, Eat Art and Ultimate Gastronomic Weekends. More details.
And if you want to experience some really famous London restaurants you can learn about them here.
Some London Walks
Sight-seeing tour buses are a familiar feature of all large cities and are a good way to quickly view the major landmarks and get orientated. But to really explore a city you need to be on foot.
This post is about London walks, guided or self-guided.
The company offering the largest selection is London Walks. Every day they have a wide variety of morning, afternoon and evening walking tours. No booking or pre-payment is needed, you just turn up and meet the guide just outside the exit of the designated Underground Station (Tube Stop) at the time stated. It’s £10 for an adult (£8 for over 65s) and children under 15 accompanied by a parent go free. Walks last for about 2 hours.
Rather more off-the-wall is Bowl of Chalk (Cockney rhyming slang for ‘walk’) run for the last 6 years by Jonnie. Walks are on Saturdays (Central London) and Sundays (East London), they last for about 3 hours and at the end you pay whatever you feel it was worth! Jonnie’s walks have been featured in the national press and on television.
A number of general self-guided London walks can be found at the London walks list of Walk In Britain.
Two organisations focus on walks and gardens/parks. City Garden Walks offer weekly walks such as Gardens of The Inns of Court – a walk through London’s historic legal quarter, exploring the glorious gardens and distinguished buildings, and The City’s Secret Gardens – historic gardens and churchyards nestled amongst old and new City buildings – horticulture and history combined. London Parks and Gardens Trust have a dozen or so self-guided walks with free down-loadable audio or pdf guides.
The Regent’s Canal is a key part of England’s canal network, linking the Grand Union Canal with the Thames. Running from Paddington to Limehouse, it’s some 9 miles long and, as the name suggests, dates from the early 19th century. The first section, from Paddington to Camden, opened 200 years ago, the rest of it opening in 1820.
For a short 2 mile walk along the canal the Little Venice to Camden stretch is ideal.
For a longer, weekend, walk try the 6 miles Regent’s Canal towpath from Camden to Limehouse.
And for a real workout walk or run the entire length of the canal.
After your exertions you might enjoy some quiet time in a hidden gem tucked away beside the Thames. The Chelsea Physic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in London and houses around 5,000 different medicinal, herbal, edible and useful plants. It’s well worth a visit.
London’s Hidden Gems
London is not just about the major sites: Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye etc. etc. there are also many hidden gems. If you experience one or two of these your visit to London will feel much more rewarding and satisfying.
Visit London has put together a very good starter list.
Stay with us and SAVE money.
For all bookings made between Monday 25 June and Monday 16 July for arrival dates before Monday 17 September, we’re offering a discount of $100 (£75). To claim your discount quote the discount code DISC100 when you make your booking.
Royal Wedding Special
The wedding of Prince Harry (very British) and Miss Meghan Markle (very American) will create yet another strong bond between our two great countries. Many visitors to London – especially from the States – will want to experience things and places with a royal connection.
Visit London – the Official Visitor Guide has put together some useful ideas.
Top royal London attractions
Sample the lives of the kings and queens of England with a visit to these top royal London attractions.
Where the royals shop: Royal Warrant holders in London
Get a taste of royal London by shopping at the same places as the Queen, with these London Royal Warrant holders. Royal Warrants are a mark of recognition for those who have supplied goods or services for at least five years to the Households of HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s London
Explore London like Meghan and Harry with a pick of London spots connected to the royal couple.
More royal London
More royal things to do and see.
Stay in London, save money AND be treated like royalty!
At the Coach House, our London B&B, we still have some availability in June and August, and, if you’re interested, we’ll tell you about our experience at a Buckingham Palace garden party and our several encounters with the royals.
London’s Top Ten Attractions
London with all its history and culture is waiting to be revealed, and many of the top ten attractions are FREE.
You can also save £££ by staying in a vacation rental rather than a hotel. Rather than chance an Airbnb, Coach House Rentals still has some summer availability. We’ve been looking after our guests since 2001, you’ll find us in several London guide books: Frommers, Rick Steves, National Geographic, Marco Polo, and we look after you with our full concierge service.
Here’s the list:
10. Madame Tussauds
Rub shoulders with royalty, film stars and sporting legends.
9. National Maritime Museum at Greenwich
Explore Britain’s naval past, visit the Royal Observatory and stand astride the Prime Meridian.
7.Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)
3,000 years of fashion and design.
6. Science museum
Steam trains to Space Rockets.
5. London Eye
More visitors than the Taj Mahal or the Great Pyramids – great views up to 25 miles.
4. Tate Modern
Contemporary art on a spectacular scale.
3. National History Museum
Come face to face with animals from the past and present. Watch out for the dinosaurs!
2. National Gallery
Over 2,000 of the world’s finest paintings
1. Top attraction at the number one spot is
The British Museum
Over 2 million years of human history
And if you’re looking for a truly English experience, a chance to meet and get to know some locals and are happy with 3/4 star comfort –The Coach House is the place to stay. It’s pretty booked up in July but still has some availability in June and August. View the short video.
Thanksgiving / pre-Christmas shopping trip to London
Need a break from hurricanes, NFL protests, Trump v Kim, bad news, fake news?
Give your partner a surprise Thanksgiving or pre-Christmas present – a shopping trip to London!
Air fares at the end of November and the first 3 weeks of December are low, save money by staying in one of our rentals and have more to spend on Christmas shopping. These links Shopping in London and Essential London Shopping Guide will help you find the right stores. And no visit to London is complete without a trip to the theatre, go to www.whatsonstage.com to see what’s on and to book your tickets.
Somewhere to Stay
If you’re planning on being in London over the festive periods you’ll need somewhere to stay, and a vacation rental is so much nicer than a hotel. Why?
1. With a vacation rental you get more space.
2. There’s no need to dress up or “put on a face” to go out of your room.
3. It’s cheaper – especially for a party of 3 or more people and for a group.
4. It’s more practical, preparing some of your own meals (Christmas dinner?) or getting take-aways is cheaper than always eating in restaurants. You can buy and sample the local specialities.
5. To summarise – you get to “live like a local”.
Why book with Coach House Rentals?
Our “service with a difference” starts with the booking process: an excellent web site – chsrentals.com, real people to exchange emails with and talk to if necessary to help you decide the best rental for you and a safe and secure booking system – no danger of correspondence being intercepted and money being diverted to the fraudster’s account.
We will arrange a car to meet you at the airport and will be at your rental when you arrive to greet you, hand over the keys, explain how everything works and answer any questions. And during your stay we’ll provide a 24/7 help line to call if you have any problems or have any questions about what to do and how to do it.
Coach House Rentals is a well established company. We’ve been in business since 2001 and although we’re small we have a very high reputation with 35% of our bookings being repeat or recommended by friends. We have a range of properties on our books ranging from simple one bedroom apartments to houses with 4 double bedrooms and 4 bathrooms.
Christmas/New Year Bookings
We’ve already taken a number of bookings for Christmas / New Year. We still have reasonable availability for smaller groups. Book now for Christmas!
London New Year’s Eve Firework Display
Now’s the time to get tickets for the famous London New Year’s Eve firework display. This spectacular event takes place on the River Thames, opposite the Houses of Parliament. It’s one of the most spectacular celebrations of its kind in the world. Set against the capital’s unique skyline, if you are in London over New Year it really is something not to miss.
To get the best view, you need a ticket and they sell out very quickly. No tickets will be available on the night. Click here to get tickets now.
Two famous London Palaces- not to be missed
If you’re in London in August or September don’t miss the chance to see the inside of these famous palaces.
Buckingham Palace, 21 July – 01 October 2017. Annual public opening of State Rooms and Gardens at Buckingham Palace, The Queen’s official residence in London. If you are in London at this time, a chance to see these magnificent rooms and the palace gardens is not to be missed. Find out how people are welcomed to Buckingham Palace and what goes on behind-the-scenes to create the magic and magnificence of a State Visit – from the dresses designed, to the ingredients and porcelain chosen for a State Banquet.
There are 3 options available:
1. The State Rooms, Buckingham Palace. This includes the exhibition Royal Gifts, which tells the story of The Queen’s reign through a wide-ranging display of official gifts presented during the past 65 years.
2. The State Rooms and Garden Highlights Tour (really recommended) and
3. Royal Day Out. This ticket gives admission to The State Rooms, Buckingham Palace, The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace and the Royal Mews, but no tour of the garden.
Find out more here.
Palace of Westminster, August/September 2017 (and on most Saturdays throughout the year). Public tours of The Houses of Parliament are available for overseas visitors, who will be able to see the historic building, including the Chambers of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Find out more here.
And if you’re in London in September you’ll be here during Totally Thames, an annual month long season of surprising, diverse and accessible arts and culture with activity taking place on, beneath and along the River Thames.
Where To Stay?
Coach House Rentals has the solution. Unlike other vacation rentals services such as Airbnb, HomeAway etc. where you’re on your own, often at the mercy of the non-resident owner, Coach House Rentals provides a full concierge service from the moment you arrive at the airport to the moment you depart.
Our “service with a difference” starts with the booking process: an excellent web site, real people to exchange emails with and talk to if necessary to help you decide the best rental for you, and a safe and secure booking system – no danger of correspondence being intercepted and money being diverted to a fraudster’s account.
We will arrange a car to meet you at the airport and will be at your rental when you arrive to greet you, hand over the keys, explain how everything works and answer any questions.
And during your stay we provide a 24/7 help line to call if you have any problems or have any questions about what to do and how to do it.
We’ve been in business since 2001 and, although we’re a small company, we have a very high reputation with over 35 % of our bookings being repeat or recommended by friends.
And we do still have some avaiability for both larger and smaller parties in August and September!
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London for Free (part 2)
Unlike the museums and art galleries of most capital cities, in London, among other attractions, they are free!
Well known among these gems are The Science Museum, Tate Britain and Tate Modern, The V&A, The British Library, The Changing of the Guard, and St. James Park.
Here are some lesser known, but just as interesting, free attractions:
National Maritime Museum – Greenwich
Explore the history of life on the sea – the adventures, the battles, the bravery and the discoveries – through the vast collection of art and objects at the world’s largest maritime museum. The National Maritime Museum is situated in beautiful Greenwich Park and is part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. It is walking distance from the Royal Observatory, the Queen’s House, Cutty Sark and the River Thames. The historic building includes 10 galleries, a shop, café, interactive displays and is fully wheelchair accessible.
ROYAL BRITAIN – CHANGING OF THE GUARD
The sentries that look after Buckingham Palace are called The Queen’s Guard and are made up of soldiers from the Household Division’s five regiments of Foot Guards. The guards are dressed in traditional red tunics and bearskin hats. Although undertaking such ceremonial duties, these are regular soldiers in the British Army, who serve normal tours of duty in parts of the world such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the minds of the majority of people, the ceremony of Changing the Guard is associated solely with Buckingham Palace but it actually takes place between three locations – Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Palace and Wellington Barracks.
Also known as Guard Mounting the ceremony takes place outside Buckingham Palace from 10.45am and lasts around 45 minutes, with the actual handover taking place at 11am. The Buckingham Palace Old Guard forms up in the palace’s forecourt from 10.30am and is joined by the St James’s Palace Old Guard at around 10.45am. The New Guard then arrives from Wellington Barracks and takes over the responsibilities of the Old Guard in a formal ceremony accompanied by music. The Old and New Guards ‘Present Arms’ before the Captains of the Guard ceremoniously hand over the Palace keys. This symbolic gesture represents the transfer of responsibility for the security of the Palace’s from the Old to the New Guard who will then be The Queen’s Guard until relieved.
The ceremony is free to watch and currently takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, weather permitting. There is no ceremony on days when large events are held in the city centre. The ceremony schedule should be checked on the Household Division’s website before planning a visit. Being a very popular event, it is also necessary to arrive early to secure a spot with a good view.
To check the schedule go to www.householddivision.org.uk/changing-the-guard-calendar
For your London Vacation Rental go to www.chsrentals.com/london