The Eurostar, the high-speed train that connects London to the European continent in under three hours, is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2014.
But that’s not the only reason to visit the British capital this year. This spring and summer, London is abuzz with cultural activity and attractions ranging from art exhibits to festivals and flower shows. Here is our selection.
“Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy” in the UK at the British Library
This exhibit, the UK’s largest ever dedicated to comics, is intended for mature audiences (visitors under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult).
Through the iconic characters of historical and contemporary artists, the exhibit retraces England’s rich and varied comic book tradition, covering themes such as violence, drugs and sexuality.
Rare prints, previously unseen sketches and other artefacts illustrate the history of the subversive and iconoclastic world of comics.
Dates: May 2 – August 19 – www.bl.uk
“Wedding Dresses 1775-2014” at the Victoria & Albert Museum
This exhibit follows the evolution of the wedding gown over three centuries, exploring the influence of iconic designers such as Charles Frederick Worth, Norman Hartnell, Charles James, Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano.
Visitors will admire the dresses worn by various duchesses of the British crown, including the satin and silk gown worn by Margaret, Duchess of Argyll at her wedding in 1933. Dita Von Teese and Gwen Stefani also lent their bridal attire to the museum for the exhibit.
Dates: May 3, 2014 – March 15, 2015 – www.vam.ac.uk
MoonWalk London 2014
This nocturnal walking marathon is sure to attract plenty of attention, as the walkers, who are all women, set out for the trek at the stroke of midnight in their bras and eccentric, colorful, often glittery outfits.
Pink is of course the color of choice, as this festive event is intended to raise funds and awareness in the fight against breast cancer.
Date: May 10 – www.walkthewalk.org
BP British Art Displays: “Walk Through British Art” at the Tate Britain
Through an impressive selection of iconic works by major artists, the Tate is inviting visitors to stroll through 500 years of art in the UK.
Works by Bacon, Constable, Hirst, Hockney, Hogarth, Gainsborough, Lowry, Millais, Spencer, Stubbs and Whiteread, among others, are presented in 20 entirely renovated exhibit rooms.
Dates: May 14 – December 31 – www.tate.org.uk
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Each year, the famous London park is transformed into a theater under the open sky. Outdoor performances of great English plays, including a new adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” the Open Air Theatre is staging a number of American classics this season, including Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” and Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Dates: May 15 – September 13 – openairtheatre.com
“Treasures from the Royal Archive” at Windsor Castle
For the first time at Windsor Castle, the public will be able to view certain documents conserved by the royal family since 1914.
Visitors can read selections from the monarchs’ correspondence and personal journals, including a letter written by Prince Albert to the future Queen Victoria while they were engaged to be married.
However, only those who read German will be able to decipher the contents, as the letter was written in the Saxon-born sovereign’s native tongue.
Dates: May 17, 2014 – January 25, 2015 – www.royalcollection.org.uk
London Record Fair at Brick Lane
Record collectors from all over the UK and Europe will head to this three-day fair to browse through extensive selections of vinyls. In addition to providing a marketplace for vinyls, record players and music memorabilia of all kinds, the fair has a unique atmosphere that invites music lovers to share their passion.
Dates: May 30 – June 1 – londonrecordfair.co.uk
Zoo Lates at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL)
Each Friday night in June and July, London’s zoo closes to those under 18 and invites a more mature public to experience a new side of the attraction.
Visitors can watch improv comedy shows by the aquarium and a cabaret review in the amphitheater while enjoying street food in a festive carnival-like atmosphere.
Dates: June 6 – July 25 – www.zsl.org
“British Folk Art: The House that Jack Built” at the Tate Britain
London’s prestigious museum is presenting its very first exhibit of folk art from the UK. Around 100 works, many of them anonymous, were brought together for the occasion. Paintings, sculptures, textiles and other objects all serve to promote the recognition of a type of art that was long overlooked.
Dates: June 10 – September 7 – www.tate.org.uk
RHS Flower Show at Hampton Court Palace
This annual event is known as the world’s largest flower show. In addition to admiring the floral exhibits and no less than 50 gardens on display, visitors can attend gardening workshops and demonstrations.
Dates: July 8 – 13 – www.rhs.org.uk