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9 must-see events in London this summer for all budgets

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Fashion Africa exhibition at Victoria and Albert Museum in London
The Victoria and Albert Museum has opened its first African fashion exhibition, displaying content from several countries

London comes alive once the weather starts to pick up, and with the sun shining and evenings getting longer, there’s a whole summer ahead to enjoy all the city has to offer. From thought-provoking exhibitions to street parties, here are 9 of the top cultural events not to miss this season.

Queer history at the UK’s first LGBTQ+ museum

Queer Britain, the UK’s only permanent LGBTQ+ history museum will be reopening on July 20th. The free museum in Granary Square includes four gallery spaces and will host its first exhibition We Are Queer Britain, from July 20, marking 50 years since London’s earliest Pride march. Cost: £0

 

Delight in a daytime light show

Festive light installations are an annual Instagram favorite, but now you can experience sparkling trails in the summer with Canary Wharf’s free festival of art. Summer Lights features 17 outdoor installations rendered in colorful transparent glass, reflective metal, and other materials that play with natural light. Cost: £0

 

Get inspired by London ballroom culture

From August 1, the courtyard of Somerset House will play host to The Bright Land, a festival created by artists Gareth Pugh and Carson McColl. A 35m observation wheel will offer stunning views over the Thames. At the same time, weekends will see a selection of curated street parties, including weekly open-air vogue balls showcasing the best dance, fashion, and music of the city’s ballroom scene. Cost: from £5.00-£22.50

 

Explore the creativity of African fashion

The Victoria and Albert Museum has opened its first African fashion exhibition, displaying designs, photographs, and films from 25 of the continent’s 54 countries. The exhibit is divided into two sections, with the first chronicling historical outfits and images from the late 1950s onwards, while the second spotlights the new generation of designers and fashion photographers working in Africa today. Cost: £16.00

 

Welcome Dippy home

Having concluded his four-year nationwide tour, the Natural History Museum’s famous Diplodocus cast is back in London. Visitors can admire the 26m skeleton replica, along with reflections on the changing state of nature and biodiversity from Dippy’s UK tour, for free until the year’s end. Cost: £0

 

Take a herbology lesson in Professor Sprout’s greenhouse 

An interactive display allows visitors to pull out a potted mandrake and admire exotic plants, the Professor Sprout’s greenhouse is based on a scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, you will recognise the Venomous Tentacula hanging from the ceiling as you walk through the greenhouse. The attraction is a permanent addition to the Studio Tour and has opened as part of a brand-new feature. Cost: from £49.90

 

Experience Europe’s biggest street party

Following a two-year hiatus, Notting Hill Carnival returns to the capital over the August bank holiday weekend. The festival celebrates the rich history of Caribbean culture in the UK and will see a vibrant parade of floats, trucks and glittering costumed performers making their way through west London — with delicious food stalls and earth-shaking sound systems along the route. Cost: £0

 

Take a moment to reflect in a sleek pavilion

Each summer, the Serpentine Gallery commissions an internationally known architect to design its pavilion in Hyde Park, with free entry from June to October. This year, the Serpentine selected its first non-architect, Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates, who has created an imposing, cylindrical 10m structure called the Black Chapel, inspired by traditional kilns found in England’s Stoke-on-Trent and the western US. Cost: £0

 

Watch a golden age musical at the Barbican

Cole Porter and PG Wodehouse’s golden age musical Anything Goes will be returning to the Barbican this summer from 15th July 2022.

The production has a peculiar history. Producer Vinton Freedley, who was living on a boat in order to avoid his creditors, came up with the idea of setting a musical on board an ocean liner. He hired writers PG Wodehouse and Guy Bolton to create Anything Goes – although their work was later revised by director Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse – and selected Ethel Merman to star.

The show debuted on Broadway in 1934 and ran for 420 performances, making it the fourth-longest-running musical of the decade – even in the midst of the Great Depression. Cost: from £35.00

 

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Lifestyle

10 Thrift Stores in London to Shop on a Budget

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10 Thrift Stores in London to Shop on a Budget
Octavia was founded by Victorian philanthropist and social reformer Octavia Hill, who began her work with the poor of London in the 1860s

Thrifting in London offers a fantastic way to shop stylishly on a budget while supporting sustainable fashion. Here are 10 must-visit thrift stores in London, each providing a unique shopping experience.

TRAID

TRAID offers a wide range of second-hand clothing, with proceeds supporting global development projects. The store is well-organized, making it easy to find stylish, affordable items. TRAID’s commitment to sustainability and ethical fashion makes it a popular choice among conscious shoppers.

Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
To find your nearest Traid: http://traid.org.uk/shop-at-traid/

Beyond Retro

Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus
Beyond Retro is a haven for vintage lovers, offering a vast collection of retro clothing and accessories. The store is known for its eclectic mix and affordable prices, making it a favorite among fashion enthusiasts and bargain hunters alike.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm; Sunday, 12pm to 6pm.
For more information: beyondretro.com

There are even Fara thrift shops dedicated to kids

FARA Charity Shop

Nearest Tube: Notting Hill Gate
with 40 shops and 30 years in charity retailing, FARA Charity Shops support children in Romania, offering a wide selection of clothing, books, and homewares. It’s a great place to find unique, budget-friendly items while supporting a good cause. If you go a bit outside London, there are even  Fara shops dedicated to kids.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information: faracharity.org

Oxfam Boutique

Nearest Tube: High Street Kensington
Oxfam Boutique offers a curated selection of high-quality second-hand clothing and accessories. Proceeds support global poverty reduction efforts, making it a great place to shop with a purpose.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information: oxfam.org.uk

Crisis

Nearest Tube: Stratford
Crisis supports homeless people in the UK, offering a range of second-hand clothing, books, and homewares. It’s a great place to find affordable, stylish items while supporting a good cause.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information: crisis.org.uk

Cancer Research UK

Nearest Tube: Gloucester Road
Cancer Research UK shops offer a wide selection of second-hand clothing and accessories, with proceeds funding cancer research. The stores are well-stocked and reasonably priced, making them a popular choice for budget-conscious shoppers.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information: cancerresearchuk.org

Sue Ryder

Nearest Tube: King’s Cross St. Pancras
Sue Ryder charity shops offer a range of second-hand clothing, books, and homewares. Proceeds support palliative, neurological, and bereavement support services, making your shopping trip meaningful.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information: sueryder.org

Barnardo’s

Nearest Tube: Shepherd’s Bush
Barnardo’s charity shops offer a variety of second-hand clothing and accessories, with proceeds supporting vulnerable children and young people. The stores are well-stocked and affordably priced, making them a great option for thrifters.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information: barnardos.org.uk

Octavia Foundation

Nearest Tube: South Kensington
Octavia Foundation charity shops offer high-quality second-hand clothing and homewares, supporting local community projects. The stores are known for their stylish selections and affordable prices. Octavia was founded by Octavia Hill, the Victorian philanthropist and social reformer, whose ideas formed the basis of the profession of housing management. Octavia began her work with the poor of London in the 1860s; she was a pioneer of social housing, a founder of the National Trust and the first clean air campaigner for London.


Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 5pm.
For more information: octaviafoundation.org.uk

Shopping at these thrift stores in London not only helps you save money but also supports various charitable causes and promotes sustainable fashion.

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Four great reasons to get married at home

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Four great reasons to get married at home
Hosting weddings at home frees up 60% of the budget for other expenses | Photo: Álvaro CvG

Your wedding venue sets the scene for one of the most special days of your life. If you want to get married in a place that both you and your partner love, choosing to tie the knot at home may be the perfect fit.

There are a multitude of reasons you might want to get married on your own property. Not only does it make for a cosy, sentimental celebration, but it can also be significantly easier to plan a micro wedding. And that’s not all – coming up, we share three reasons it’s a great idea to get married at home.

A low-key, romantic atmosphere

Your home will be one of the places that’s most meaningful to you and your partner. It’s likely where you spend the most of your time together, making it the perfect setting for an intimate, romantic celebration.

Here, you’re surrounded by all your personal items, like family photos, memorabilia and other special trinkets  – that’s the vast majority of your wedding decor taken care of. Plus, celebrating at home means you won’t have to worry about finding a place to stay on your wedding night, and many of your guests will live in close enough proximity to get home after your celebration too. Without all those practical elements of the day to worry about, both you and your guests are likely to feel less stressed, which will only add to the low-key, relaxed atmosphere.

A sustainable celebration

On average, 14.5 tons of carbon emissions are created by the average wedding celebration. There are many elements that make a wedding unsustainable – chief offenders include imported flowers, single-use decor items and food waste.

Getting married at home will most often mean a smaller guestlist, and that means less of these items will be needed to make for a great celebration. With fewer mouths to feed, you’ll be cutting down on food waste. Plus, there’s less space to decorate than there would be in a large wedding venue, meaning you’ll only need minimal decor items, if any at all.

Just remember that while a wedding at home is the more sustainable option, it can still be harmful to the environment – try to be mindful of your energy consumption and waste throughout the day to ensure an eco-friendly celebration.

A budget-friendly option

Having most of the things you need for your wedding already means that you won’t have to purchase lots of new items, which will reduce the cost of your celebration considerably.

Most couples will need to dedicate around 40% to 60% of their overall wedding budget to their venue – by hosting your wedding at home, that’s plenty of money freed up to spend on other things. For example, the honeymoon you’ve always dreamed of.

There’s more you can do to make your day as affordable as possible. You could ask some of your loved ones to bring chairs, rather than having to rent seating. You could also choose to DIY your decor with items you have lying around the house, or make your own wedding cake – a DIY cake will not only add to the homely atmosphere you’re after, but it’ll also be easy to keep it deliciously fresh.

Freedom to plan your dream wedding

Your wedding day is special, so it’s natural to want to celebrate it somewhere that’s meaningful to the both of you. You should never feel pressured to host a wedding that’s bigger and grander than you’re comfortable with – in fact, there’s something magical about keeping your wedding small and intimate, with only your closest loved ones in attendance.

If you’re unsure, remember that there are no rules when it comes to celebrating your wedding. You can pack your house full of a hundred guests if you want to, or keep it to a select few – just make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into if you do opt to host a bigger wedding at home.

Besides the size of your celebration, you can make your wedding at home as lavish or as low-key and rustic as you wish. It’s your home – so you have total freedom to plan it in keeping with your vision for the perfect day.

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Why Are Dogs at Polling Stations So Popular in the UK?

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A Terrier dog at a polling station in the UK
Some of the UK's 13 million dogs have made it to polling stations for the General Election today

On election day in the UK, it’s not just voters who are making their way to the polling stations—dogs are too! The tradition of bringing dogs to polling stations has become a popular one up and down the country. Not surprisingly the hashtag #DogsAtPollingStations has topped the trends on social media platforms since early morning today, with proud pet owners sharing pictures of their dogs waiting patiently outside the polling stations.

In the UK, there are approximately 13 million dogs, with popular breeds including Labrador Retrievers, French Bulldogs, and Cocker Spaniels. The popularity of bringing dogs to polling stations can be attributed to the British love for dogs, the joy of sharing the voting experience with a beloved pet, and the chance to participate in a charming, community-driven social media phenomenon.

Social Media Consultant Anna Skipwith turned up at her polling station in London with a pack of dogs, while author Rory Cellan-Jones brought his rescued Romanian dog, Sofia, to vote with him this morning.

Can Anyone Bring a Dog While Voting?

Yes, anyone can bring their dog to the polling station while they vote. However, dogs are generally not allowed inside the polling station itself unless they are assistance dogs. Most voters tie their dogs outside the station while they go in to cast their vote.

Tips for Looking After Your Dog at the Polling Station

If you’re planning to bring your dog along when you vote, here are some tips to ensure it’s a pleasant experience for both you and your pet:

  1. Leash and Secure: Always keep your dog on a leash and make sure you can securely tie them up outside the polling station.
  2. Bring Water: Ensure your dog stays hydrated, especially if you anticipate a wait.
  3. Avoid Peak Times: Try to visit the polling station during quieter times to avoid long waits and crowded areas.
  4. Stay Close: Make sure your dog can see you or that you can quickly return to them if needed.
  5. Check the Weather: If it’s a hot day, make sure there’s some shade for your dog, and if it’s raining, bring a towel to dry them off.

Restrictions to Be Aware Of

While dogs are welcome to wait outside polling stations, there are a few restrictions to keep in mind:

  • No Entry Inside: Except for assistance dogs, pets are not allowed inside the polling station.
  • Tied Up Securely: Ensure that your dog is tied up in a way that doesn’t obstruct the entrance or pathways for other voters.
  • Behavior: Make sure your dog is well-behaved and doesn’t pose a threat or nuisance to other voters.

Things to Keep in Mind on July 4th, 2024

With the upcoming general elections on July 4th, 2024, here are a few additional considerations if you plan to bring your dog along:

  • Plan Ahead: Check the specific rules or guidelines for your local polling station.
  • Consideration for Others: Be mindful of other voters, especially those who may have allergies or fears of dogs.
  • Post a Photo: Join the fun and post a photo of your dog at the polling station with the hashtag #DogsAtPollingStations!

Bringing your dog to the polling station can add a fun and memorable aspect to your voting experience. Just ensure you follow these tips and guidelines to make it a positive experience for everyone involved.

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