Autumn Events in London
After one of the hottest summers since records began, the capital's museums, galleries and events organisers must be breathing a sigh of relief as the sky clouds over, and Londoners head back to their usual indoor pursuits.
London's art galleries are bulging with brilliant new shows, huge lifestyle exhibitions fill all the big spaces the city, and we haven't even had space to touch on the literally thousands of music, clubbing, comedy, opera and dance events popping up all over the place.
14th September 2006 - 7th January 2007
There was nobody quite like Leonardo da Vinci. We remember him best as an artist - hardly surprising since he created the single-most reproduced painting in the world - but he was also an engineer, a scientist, a draughtsman and a philosopher. His art was informed by a brilliant enquiring mind, which saw the human form as God's most perfect creation, and found a mathematical purity in the most glorious complexities of the natural world.
This exhibition is based around the compelling world of Leonardo's notebooks, where the patterns of storms and swirling water are revealed on one page, the geometry of the human body on the next, and, in the corner, a little doodle shows a prototype design for a lethal armoured tank.
Everything is drawn with that same apparently casual, but immaculately observed style that is familiar from his painting. The most efficient machines, and the goriest biological diagrams take on a subtle beauty, a sign of the artist's vision of God residing in all the works of man and nature.
This is an unconventional exhibition, which offers an intimate vision of one of Europe's most brilliant thinkers.
10th to 19th November 2006
Latin American films and stars are finally getting the attention they deserve, with movies like 'The Motorcycle Diaries' playing the multiplexes, and Gael Garcia Bernal becoming one of Hollywood's hottest properties. This revival began at events like this sparky little film festival, which highlights the very best of the movies that have been playing in South America's cinemas this year.
The festival will follow the same format as last year's successful event, with around 50 features made in Latin America or by Latin American directors, a host of short films, and a documentary strand.
The passionate drama, steamy romance and favela violence that we expect from this part of the world are all present. Alongside these are films that go against the cliches, including sweeping historical epics, angry explorations of politics, and slapstick comedies.
There's a great selection of movies offering something for everybody, as well as talks, panel discussions, music and club-nights. The festival takes place at Curzon Soho (details below) and Curzon Mayfair.
12th - 15th October 2006
At the beginning of this decade, autumn was all about the Turner Prize, but that controversial annual event has been eclipsed in the last four years by a show that has rapidly grown into one of the biggest occasions in the contemporary art world.
The fourth Frieze Art Fair is a little smaller than last year's mammoth event, but there will still be 140 galleries from all over the world exhibiting work by around 2000 contemporary artists in a single temporary structure in Regent's Park. Wild stunts from performance artists will add to the chaotic atmosphere and there will be music from metal pioneers Sunn 0))), Liars and a host of others. If you don't want to pay, you can still soak up the buzz in the free sculpture park located outside the main show.
Around £33 million worth of work was sold last year, but it is those of us whose budgets don't stretch quite so far who should get the most pleasure out of this event. There's always something incredible lurking round the next corner - I for one will never forget seeing an Austrian performance artist peeing into his own mouth at the 2003 fair - and there's an amazing jumble of the comical, the beautiful and the shocking.
The incredible wealth of art on display, packed into this tiny space, is a unique and mind-blowing thing to experience. The sheer number of visitors (47,000 last year) offers final proof that London is now the beating heart of international art.
The Frieze Art Fair - Information | Hotels near Regents Park
23rd September 2006 - 1st January 2007
Standing at the entrance to the Burlington House courtyard, Rodin's monumental sculpture 'The Gates of Hell' makes its first appearance in this country. It's an astonishing piece of work, based on Dante's 'Inferno'. The looming black gates are covered by a plethora of figures, whose tormented bodies and writhing passion make explicit the links between earthly pleasure and damnation. Details of this work, reproduced on a larger scale, were to become 'The Kiss', the classic image of unstoppable sexual desire, and 'The Thinker'.
The structures Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) found in turbulent, pock-marked surfaces, the way his figures seem to twist out of the living rock, the obsession with movement and the disregard for formal, classical poses, left him unpopular with some critics, but many recognised that his unique talent was opening up a new world of possibility for three-dimensional art. Unusually for an avant garde artist of this period, he was popular in England before he found fame in France, and this exhibition explores his links with the country where he found his first patrons.
The 300 pieces in this collection include portraits, erotic sketches and drafts, as well as 'The Thinker', 'The Kiss', 'The Burghers of Calais', 'Balzac' and dozens of other sculptures that heralded the beginning of the modern age.
18th October 2006 - 2nd November 2006
The 50th London Film Festival is the biggest yet, attracting Hollywood players and indie film-makers from around the globe. As well as blockbuster premieres, gala films and celebrity-studded ceremonies, there is a commendable amount of programme time given over to small independent films, foreign language cinema and documentary work. The festival opens with 'The Last King of Scotland', featuring Forest Whitaker as Uganda's cannibal president Idi Amin.
This year's festival has sections dedicated to British, French, European, World and experimental cinema. Not to mention the shorts, animation and classic archive material. To mark the festival's golden jubilee on 29th October, rather than a single Surprise Screening as in previous years - there will be 50, at 50 venues across the capital, from cinemas and screening rooms to recording studios and prisons.
As Europe’s leading non-competitive film festival builds on the unprecedented success of the last few years, it has ensured its status as a key international event. A-list celebrities, award-winning directors, industry moguls and film fans will fill London’s top cinemas over sixteen action-packed days.
11th November 2006
This parade has passed through London annually for nearly eight centuries. It involves over 6,000 people, bands, over 140 decorated floats, costumed performers and a gilded State Coach that the Lord Mayor travels in.
If you aren't sick of fireworks by this time, this is possibly the most daring and amazing of all the public shows in the capital. River barges are piled high with explosives and set adrift on the Thames with several brave men on board.
The fireworks are let off between Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges, not far from the scene of Guy Fawkes' attempted crime. Wrap up warm and head for the river. The best vantage points tend to be around the Embankment and Gabriel's Wharf. If you are really on the ball get there early and grab the best seats in the house in the public gallery of the Oxo Tower.
On the day the Lord Mayor is required to swear an oath of loyalty to the Queen (in the presence of the Lord Chief Justice) at the end of the parade, which runs from Guildhallto the Royal Courts of Justice.
Fireworks: On the Thames between Waterloo and Blackfriars at 17:00.
1st - 5th November 2006
If you're one of those people who spends the entire week before Christmas frantically elbowing your way through the crowds on Oxford Street, struggling to walk with half a ton of foliage in your arms, or losing fingers to frostbite in a hundred-metre queue for the organic butcher, then The Spirit of Christmas is an essential ticket.
It should certainly be on the hotlist of anyone who faces the challenge of preparing a meal over Christmas. You will find a vast array of options - from the traditional to the exotic - and chefs from London's top restaurants to share their tips. For those 'difficult' members of the family, there will be stalls with all this year's best gifts, including an advance look at those Top 10 children's gifts - the ones that have always sold out just before you arrive at Argos. Even if you're not stuck with a shopping list and you just want to make your crib a little more festive, there will be stalls selling more baubles, tinsel and decorations than you could shake a Christmas tree at.
It's going to be a one-stop-Christmas-shop at Olympiathis year and it's tastefully held (just) close enough to Christmas for you to actually care, but far enough away that you'll have the most relaxed December on record.
8th October 2006
'Pearlies' date back to 1875 when a young orphan, Henry Croft, admiring the pearl button seams on some of the market traders, decided to go one better and cover his entire suit in buttons. With the attention this drew he set about collecting money to help others.
Today, over 40 East End families continue the tradition to raise money for various charities and churches. Each London borough has a King and Queen, as do the City of London and the City of Westminster. It's a strange London tradition, one that has been kept alive by a few dedicated people, who remain figureheads for the capital's working class communities.
The Harvest Festival is their flagship event with all the Kings and Queens decked out in their shiniest and most elaborate outfits.
6th October - 15th October 2006
Make yourself at home at the Earl's Court Exhibition Centre. Filling up both Earl's Court I and II, the gargantuan exhibition includes every essential for making your home the perfect place to be as the nights close in and the weather gets colder, from the best value luxury design to the newest electronic goods.
Once again there's an emphasis on green living, focusing this year on energy saving, with free one-to-one consultations, and all the latest technology. It's well worth a visit if you've recently been terrified by Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth' (or by an enormous electricity bill).
With over 800 exhibitors, there are ideas galore and products to suit all styles and tastes. There are whole sections dedicated to kitchens and carpets, and even a beauty zone, so that when you've finished the exhausting business of remaking your home, you can get into some seriously relaxing self-improvement.
4th - 29th October 2006
The Shaolin warrior monks draw on the rich traditions of Chinese legend and theatre to create a heart-stopping show that highlights their extraordinary physical prowess. Indeed, much of what they do appears frankly impossible as they lift each other using only their fingers, fly through the air and move their bodies faster than the eye can follow.
The show tells the story of the Shaolin's struggle for survival against the treachery of the emperor, using a mixture of dance and martial arts that will be enjoyed by adults and older children alike - although the downside is that any 8 to 15 year-old you bring will immediately insist on you paying for them to learn Kung-Fu.
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