Think the UK's capital city is just about Big Ben and tea with the Queen? If you haven't seen these sights, it's time for another visit…
Sky-high cocktail bars, Thames-crossing cable cars and record-breaking tunnel slides – discover what else is new in London.
London’s landmarks are well-known around the world, yet the skyline of Britain's most popular city is changing all the time. One Blackfriars and the Scalpel are just the latest additions of strangely-shaped glass monoliths with unusual names now punctuating the horizon. And changes are happening everywhere, with this list being just a smattering of new things and places for you to see and enjoy…
1. The ArcelorMittal Orbit
The 114-metre-high twisting red observation tower in Stratford, designed by Sir Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond, was one of the most recognisable images of the 2012 London Olympics, but rather than just standing around not doing anything since, the ArcelorMittal Orbit was fitted with a slide that opened in 2016. At 178 metres, the twisting tunnel slide is the longest in the world and combines an adrenaline rush with some cool views of the tower and East London as you hurtle along.
A viewing platform also offers views of some 20 panoramic miles of the metropolis, with the skyscrapers of the City and Canary Wharf in the distance.
2. Boxpark at Shoreditch
Having transformed from a gritty area of East London into one of the city's trendiest spots, Shoreditch is a great place to enjoy some world-class food, drink and shopping. Among the sophisticated bars and polished restaurants, Boxpark Shoreditch is one of four of London's quirkier takes on the consumer experience. Old shipping containers act as tiny spaces for shops and takeaway food and coffee shops for you to peruse and enjoy, adding to Shoreditch's charms. You’ll also find Boxparks in Croydon and Wembley.
3. The Postal Museum
Taking on a new home and a new name in 2017, the Postal Museum is so much more than just a few old letters. Most notable is the underground Mail Rail exhibit that takes you below the surface to show how letters were rapidly delivered around London in years past. There are also showcases on letters found in shipwrecks and a great play space for the future postmen and postwomen.
4. Body Worlds
An internationally famous traveling curiosity since 1995, Body Worlds now has a permanent home in Piccadilly Circus with 200 displays of actual human body parts. Though it sounds a bit macabre on the surface, the incredibly preserved exhibits show us how are complex bodies work. It's proven to be a hit by not only revealing how we breathe and move but also how our lifestyles and diets can affect where we can't see, so if you feel like you need to kickstart your healthy living plans in 2019 this should prove to be fascinatingly influential.
5. Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. at Excel
They have dominated the cinema and now Marvel's Avengers have also taken over part of London's Excel in this incredible exhibit that's a must for all fans. You'll be taken on a trip into Iron Man's engineering bay, Bruce Banner's lab and Thor's observatory, with amazing props and costumes from all your favourite films. If you want to see if you have what it takes to join the Avengers the exhibit is on until 31 March.
6. The Design Museum
The Design Museum moved home in 2017 to the former Commonwealth Institute next to Holland Park, with the awe-inspiring architecture of the building itself befitting the contents. The permanent exhibition is as nostalgic as it is visionary, with everything from typewriters to 3D printers tracing the history and psychology of design, from the domestic to the scientific, with a current exhibition on the changing face of design at home looking like CS Lewis has run riot in Ikea.
7. Migration Museum
Open on Lambeth High Street since 2017, this charming little museum tells the story of people coming to and leaving the British Isles over the centuries. As well as regular workshops and even cookery classes, the permanent exhibits of the Migration Museum reveal amazing stories of migrants through film and artefacts, set against the backdrop of the major moments that have helped shape Britain during recent history.
8. Battersea Power Station
One of the country's most iconic industrial landmarks, Battersea Power Station has laid dormant on the Thames for years, but it's now at the heart of a much-needed makeover. Not only are new flats, shops and restaurants being built and opening all the time with energy supplied by the station itself, there are events taking place daily as well as opportunities to indulge in the world-class cuisine currently on offer in this ever-changing area.
9. What’s new at LEGOLAND
The ever-popular Windsor theme park is always building (with LEGO, naturally) new attractions, with 2018 seeing the addition of the amazing digital aquarium, the Reef, where you can make your own virtual underwater creatures, as well as venture around a host of American monuments in Miniland USA. In spring 2019 a new Haunted House Monster Party will be bringing spooks and thrills to LEGOLAND.
10. Up at the O2
The ‘Up at the O2’ walk offers a chance to hike over the girders of the structure known in the early noughties as the Millennium Dome. In addition to the standard climb you can also enjoy sunset and twilight experiences, or add champagne for a special celebration.
11. Emirates Air Line cable car ride
The 34 cable cars travel along the 1,100-metre span over the Thames from North Greenwich to Royal Docks. As it slowly climbs up to 90m, the views are spectacular; gaze down the river to the Thames Barrier, and in the other direction at the O2, to Canary Wharf and over to the City.
From here, you can get a better look at those new, strangely shaped buildings – the Walkie Talkie, the Shard, the Cheesegrater and the structure that started this weird naming convention, the Gherkin.
12. The Sky Garden
This three-storey landscaped garden is in an atrium at the top of the Walkie Talkie Building. With a cocktail bar and restaurants also at the summit, surrounded by exotic foliage, the Sky Garden offers views in every direction – the classic curves of Tower Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral stand out like beacons of old London, surrounded by the regular lines and rectangles of the new.
13. Handel and Hendrix in London
Just off Oxford Street, the Handel House museum has been discreetly enticing visitors for several years. Since last year, however, a new dimension to it pitches the history of the 18th-century composer against a later resident of the neighbouring house: Jimi Hendrix.
The Handel part of the museum showcases art, etchings and musical instruments related to Handel’s life, with creaking floorboards and period furniture.
Meanwhile, the upstairs room – strictly speaking next door – is where Hendrix lived between 1968 and 1969. His bedroom has been painstakingly recreated using photos of the day and help from his former girlfriend (and cohabitee) Kathy Etchingham.
In the other rooms, the story of his short-lived but legendary music career is explained through photos, music and newspaper clippings. It’s a fascinating juxtaposition of two of music’s most important historical figures, separated by 200 years and a wall.
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