London in Focus: The latest openings

Royal Opera House. Photograph by Luke Hayes

Royal Opera House. Photograph by Luke Hayes

We continue our focus on London by revealing a handful of the latest openings.

Body Worlds opens on 6th October at the London Pavilion in Piccadilly Circus. Providing an interactive, educational and fun insight into the human body, this is central London’s biggest permanent museum experience and tourist attraction to open in over a decade.

The 200 exhibits explore in detail the reproductive, nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, locomotive and metabolic systems, offering insights into the human body and how it works. The most unique exhibits are real human bodies, donated to be preserved by plastination – a process invented by Body Worlds’ creator Dr Gunther von Hagens.

Located in a former 19th century Music Hall, one of the missions of the creators is to make visitors more health-conscious and to help them resolve to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Dr Angelina Whalley with Gunther von Hagens at Body Worlds

Dr Angelina Whalley with Gunther von Hagens at Body Worlds

The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden is home to The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. This iconic building has re-opened after two year’s work to ‘Open Up’ and transform visitors’ experiences (there were no changes made to the main stage and the performance schedule operated as normal throughout).

The improvements include a new café, improved bars and refurbished restaurants – relaxing spaces to enjoy drinks or light bites whether or not you’re coming to a show but groups do need to book in advance.

There’s a range of tours for groups – a ‘Backstage Tour’ gives an overview of the backstage areas, including costume or lighting workshops, and the possibility of seeing rehearsals taking place in the dance studios. Another option is the ‘Legends and Landmarks Tour’, providing insights into the history of the Royal Opera House and your group will learn stories about the people and the performances that have taken place in and around Covent Garden.

There is also an Auditorium only visit – the ‘Velvet Gilt and Glamour Tour’. The tours are in addition to fascinating displays of theatrical memorabilia, costumes, playbills, models and posters from the Opera House Collections. Groups can pre-book refreshments at special rates.

Coal Drops Yard, a new shopping area with independent retail outlets, cafes, bars and restaurants, will open at Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross at the end of October.

Set by the canal and amongst Victorian brick viaducts formerly used to receive and sort coal brought by train from the north of England, this new shopping district promises to be an atmospheric place to shop and relax.

There’s also an elevated walkway, accessed from Bagley’s Walk, following the curve of the canal that gives a bird’s eye view of the historic Yard and activity below.

St Pancras Station has been celebrating the 150th anniversary of its opening and if you are in London between 1st and 21st October you can join in a Beer Festival marking the station’s link to the brewing industry. The early trains brought beer from Burton on Trent and this changed the habits of London’s drinkers!

New exhibition at The Wallace Collection

New exhibition at The Wallace Collection

Horniman Museum’s South Hall has reopened following a major redevelopment made possible by a £3.3m National Lottery grant. The new World Gallery at the Forest Green site has four interlinked spaces where 3,000 artefacts from around the world focus on what it means to be a human, and brings together the latest acquisitions as well as exhibits that have not been seen for over 30 years.

The Studio will open in late October, and the first exhibition, The Lore of the Land, will explore relationships with the natural world. The Horniman Museum and Gardens are free to enter, some events are chargeable – a variety of tours are available.

Wallace Collection is celebrating 200 years since the birth of museum founder, Sir Richard Wallace, and a new exhibition space at the collection’s home at Hartford House in Marylebone has opened.

The first exhibition, running until 6th January 2019, explores the man, his life and his contribution to the nation’s cultural heritage.

Admission to the collection of art, sculpture, furniture, arms, armour and porcelain is free but private guided tours can be booked at £10 per person.

The site of the Fatberg in Whitechapel

The site of the Fatberg in Whitechapel

The Fatberg was a 250 metre long mass of wet wipes, nappies, fat and oil which blocked an underground sewer in Whitechapel and was removed over 13 weeks.

The 130 tonne fatberg inspired an exhibition at the Museum of London where a chunk has been on display and is part of the permanent collection. To commemorate its removal, Thames Water has installed a special manhole cover outside the new Whitechapel Crossrail Station in Whitechapel Road.

A Fatberg Musical is also being scripted!

Mamma Mia! The Party, an immersive theatrical and dining experience will open at a specially adapted venue within the O2 in spring 2019.

Based on an idea already open in Stockholm, Sweden, the area within the O2 is being transformed into Nikos’ Taverna and diners will feel they are in the heart of a Greek Island.

The story of Nikos and his family will play out in front of guests as they enjoy Mediterranean food, drink and even dance to ABBA songs.

Our ‘London in Focus’ Series