The cherry blossom is blooming, and the days are getting longer. So here are the 6 best things to do in the City of London this spring.
Queen’s Birthday Celebrations
The Queen will be 96 on April 21, 2022, but her official birthday is in June and this year coincides with a huge celebration of her Platinum Jubilee.
Preparations are in full swing for one of the biggest draws of this June celebration. Do walk over to the Tower of London to see how the Superbloom project is coming along in the moat. It takes place 1 June-18 September. It is to be a huge wildflower meadow in the moat (which will be entered via a slide), and the Tower is looking for volunteers to assist. One role is for engagement with people in the moat and the other is for welcoming visitors. Brush down those gardening gloves and sign up!
The City is blessed with many green spaces and whatever the season it is always a pleasure to spend time in Postman’s Park either enjoying the planting or looking at the Watts memorial to ‘Heroic Self-Sacrifice’.
March marks that time in the horticultural calendar when we move from late winter into early spring and Postman’s Park has plenty to cheer you up if you are in the area. This year the viburnum is looking good, however, the most spectacular display is from the red and pink camelia bushes.
Viburnum can either be an evergreen or deciduous shrub or small tree. Native throughout the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere and occasionally found in tropical mountain regions of South America and Southeast Asia. Apparently, it has been used as an analgesic, however, we do not recommend experimenting as plants are often miss-identified and there are many which are toxic.
The camellia originates from the Far East in areas such as the eastern Himalayas, China, Japan and Malaysia. In fact, the black tea so beloved by Brits comes from a tea bush which is a type of camelia. Its young leaves are dried, fermented and end up in both Yorkshire Gold and the finest Fortnum and Mason teabags.
The Guildhall Art Gallery
This April sees the reopening of one of the City’s very special cultural places: the Guildhall Art Gallery (closed for maintenance work since late December). Situated in Guildhall Yard, it’s home to the City of London’s fabulous art collection which comprises 4,500 works dating from 1670 to the present. Some 250 are on display at any one time, many of which document the city’s extraordinary history. Most notable though is the fascinating collection of 19th century paintings including important works from the Pre Raphaelite movement, all of which provide an absorbing insight into Victorian life and times.
Look out too for a special exhibition opening in April – Inspire – which draws on the gallery’s permanent collection to explore the many ways in which artists from the 17th- 19th century have taken their inspiration from the literary arts: poetry, plays, literature and music.
Head on down to the basement and you’ll find an added bonus on display – the remains of London’s Roman Amphitheatre. Built during the second century AD, it was once the venue for gladiatorial combats, wild animal fights and public executions. Although lost for centuries, it was rediscovered in the late 1980s during the construction of the current gallery building.
The Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman Amphitheatre reopens on 8th April. Entrance is free and there are free tours on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 12.15 and 13.15.
Inspire runs from April 8th -September 11th.
A spot of photography
The City is packed with photographic opportunities and the light in Spring is often really great for taking photos, as it is more vibrant than in Winter and avoids the harshness and contrast of summer light. So why not grab your camera or your phone and head to the City and build yourself a little portfolio.
Choose a sunny day and go and look for images in the earlier part of the morning or late afternoon so you can take advantage of the ‘Blue’ or ‘Golden’ hours when the sun is lower in the sky and the light is more saturated with colour. It really doesn’t matter what kind of kit you’ve got; having a creative eye is the most important thing. Here are a few ideas:
- The City has some superb little gardens and pockets of planting with loads of colour. Find some tulips and try experimenting with filling the frame with colour by getting in close.
- If you’re planning a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral, go when the sun is in the west, and you might get to see the amazing shaft of sunlight making the golden statue of St Paul glow in the gently darkening surroundings. Remember that entrance charges apply, but you can get an annual pass and come back time after time. Also, why not climb up to the Golden Gallery for some stunning views across London?
- Go and stand on one of the City’s Bridges and look West to get a lush Spring sunset.
- Walk East into the ‘Insurance Quarter’ and look for some of the amazing reflections you can get on those shiny buildings.
London: Portrait of a City:
Exhibition at the London Metropolitan Archives
You can also see how professional artists view London as a visual history of London is on offer at a free exhibition at the London Metropolitan Archives – a sometimes overlooked resource. The City of London Corporation (the local government for the City) owns and manages the LMA and you have until 6th April to catch London: Portrait of a City, a fascinating exhibition showcasing some of the ways artists since the eleventh century have responded to the capital, inspired by the ‘buildings, traditions and its people’.
Media used range from engravings to tramways posters to film and include the 17th century panorama by Wencelaus Hollar (more than 2 metres long and giving a detailed depiction of the capital from nearly 400 years ago).
The LMA is open Mon-Thur 10-4 and is situated on 40 Northampton Road EC1R 0HB.
Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch
Lastly, you may be feeling a little peckish after all these activities so why not sign up for The Lord Mayor’s Platinum Jubilee Big Curry Lunch. It is an annual charitable event, first held in 2008, which raises money to support the Veterans of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and so far, has raised over £2.3 million pounds.
It is a ticketed event, but anyone can buy a ticket which are priced at £100. The lunch is held in the Great Hall of the Guildhall, and it is buffet with eat as much curry as you like. There is no designated seating so you can mingle, although you do have to select your time slot of which there are three to choose.
The event is well attended by liverymen, so if you hang around the Guildhall Yard on the 7th of April 2022 between 12:00-3:00 you never know who you might see people wearing some of the Regalia of the Liverymen of the City.
But if this is not for you there are many lovely eateries in the city – check our City Spotlight reviews – and fingers crossed that some of those lunch time food stalls that appeared in the Guildhall Yard in the past years will be back later in the spring and summer.