Remembering London 2012 with the Open East Arts Festival

An aerial shot of London's Olympic ParkThis month the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be open to the public to hold the Open East Arts Festival, celebrating one year since the Olympic Games and East London Culture.

This festival is the perfect day out – from the 27-28th July individuals have a special opportunity to see where the Olympic Games were held, whilst simultaneously enjoying a day in the park overflowing with food, music, theatre, sport and family fun.

There is a variety of live music and performances to discover from acts such as The Waterboys, Seun Kuti, some soul Caribbean and many other fantastic live performances. Enjoy some of the food from the real food festival, including a communal feast on one of the bridges over the River Lea or just simply relax and have a picnic along the quintessential river bank. In the mean time young ones can enjoy the mini circus from the house of fairytales, storytelling, art and craft workshops, puppet shows and a whole host of activities to keep them smiling.

Ticket prices range from £6.00 to £9.50, and under 5s can go for free. To check for availability of tickets please click here. The festival is set to last 2 days, runs from 1:30pm to 10pm and includes a spectacular finale at 9:30pm. Also keep a look out for upcoming events in the park, namely the London Anniversary Games and the Wireless festival.

And after a fun-packed day in the park why not wind down and enjoy a meal at our restaurant? Offering a wide variety of delicious British dishes, it is the perfect way to end a somewhat perfect day.

Image courtesy of EG Focus

It’s the Queen’s 60th year: celebrate at the Coronation Festival

A black and white photo of a young Queen Elizabeth IINext month you can celebrate the Queen’s 60th year on the throne in an extraordinary way at the Coronation Festival at Buckingham Palace.

On four exciting days, the gardens at Buckingham Palace will be taken over by the Royal Warrant Holders Association, who are hosting the event. The exclusive event will see over 200 companies, who provide for the Royal family, exhibit their services. The commemoration is open to the public who can buy tickets for the daytime or evening event.

The daytime event gives attendees the chance to have a royal experience. Explore the gardens and sample the goods the exhibitors have to offer while admiring the products. If you’re attending the celebration then The Mirrored House, the catwalk show and Mosimann’s Garden restaurant are necessary visits.

The evening festivities celebrate music and dance from the past 60 years. Acts providing entertainment include Katherine Jenkins, Katie Melua, Russell Watson and The Feeling. Performances from the English National Ballet and the National Youth Orchestra will showcase even more of Britain’s home grown talent.

Taking place on Thursday 11th July until Sunday 14th July, the festival is not to be missed.

The Queen’s Coronation is a special occasion, so why not celebrate in style and continue the luxurious Royal experience? Here at DUKES you can enjoy a truly enviable setting whether you’re in the bar, the restaurant or your suite.

Boston Ballet to return to London’s Coliseum after long 30 years

Male and female ballet dancers of the Boston BalletLondon is welcoming back the Boston Ballet from the 3rd to 7th July for the first time in 30 years. The dance company, coming all the way from America, will present two mesmerising programs at the historic Coliseum.

Program A contains innovative dance work which will highlight the company’s various range of abilities. Arrangements include Vaslay Nijinsky’s Afternoon of a Faun, George Balanchine’s Serendade and Symphony in Three Movements as well as a piece called Plan to B by their own choreographer, Jorma Elo.

Program B will bring to light the company’s contemporary skills through three diverse pieces. The program features Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia, William Forsythe’s The Second Detail and Jiri Kylian’s Bella Figura.

Polyphonia, a complex piece, allows the dancers to showcase their raw talent in a stripped down, pure piece of ballet. The Second Detail is a strong piece full of energy, which never fails to overcome an audience. Boston Ballet is the first American company to perform Bella Figura, which is said to be an emotional masterpiece that leaves viewers with a long lasting impression.  All three pieces are cutting edge pieces of work – definitely worth a watch.

Ticket prices range from £10 to £75 and are available here.  Located in Covent Garden, the shows take place at 7.30pm each evening with an extra showing on Saturday 7th at 2.30pm.

Fancy dining in style beforehand? Come along to our restaurant and experience some of our fine cuisine. Perfect!

Image courtesy of KCBalletMedia

London’s West End LIVE is returning!

Setting up for West End LIVE in Trafalgar Square, LondonCalling all theatre lovers! This year’s West End LIVE is getting ready to showcase performances from top west end musicals in Trafalgar Square from the 22nd to 23rd June 2013.

Presented by Westminster City Council and the Society of London Theatre in association with MasterCard, last year’s West End LIVE drew the attention of more than half a million people around the country, and this year’s event is set to be even bigger and better. There will be a wide range of different performances from existing to new productions, as well as live bands for visitors to enjoy. For a full list please visit the website.

As well as theatre performances, the public can also participate in a number of interactive activities and exhibits from many of London’s popular museums and attractions. Kids can get involved in Dora The Explorer live, and Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo, where they can experience these magnificent pre-historic creatures come to life on stage.

West End LIVE can get very busy and queues are predicted to form long before the event begins, therefore in order to avoid disappointment make sure you arrive early.

DUKES London is the perfect place for you to welcome the summer, amidst the sightseeing and fun of our fabulous city. Ideal for theatre-goers, our restaurant offers an early dinner menu, with full details available here.

Image courtesy of Paul Farmer

BP Big Screens return to London

Trafalgar Square, London in the summerFrom Thursday 13th June to Thursday 18th July BP Big Screens return to various locations across the country, including here in London. Broadcasting live and direct from the Royal Opera House, on various dates across June and July the screens will be broadcasting MacMillan’s Mayerling, Puccini’s La Rondine, and Tosca. These are three of the Opera House’s most emotionally powerful productions.

The big screens provide the perfect way to share world-class opera and ballet with friends and family. In 2012 BP Big Screens celebrated 25 years of live and free outdoor relays from the Royal Opera House.

On Thursday 13thJune on BP Big Screens in Trafalgar Square, Victoria Park and Waltham Forest will be broadcasting MacMillan’s Mayerling. Mayerling is the story of passion and madness based on historical fact set to the dramatic music of Liszt. The Prince of Austria-Hungary, Rudolf, is forced against his will to marry the Princess of Belgium, Stephanie. Rudolf is then drawn into a downward spiral of political intrigue, violence, and ultimately, suicide. It was created by MacMillan, one of the 20th Century’s greatest choreographers, for The Royal Opera Ballet and is a signature work for the company.

The performance begins at 7:30pm on Thursday 13th June and will last around three hours with two intervals throughout. After indulging in one of The Royal Opera House’s world class performances why not wind down in style in one of our exclusive suites? DUKES London has 90 luxurious rooms, including 11 opulent suites and an exclusive Penthouse Suite overlooking the stunning Green Park.

Image courtesy of Diliff

Northern Ballet jetés to London to perform ‘The Great Gatsby’

The Northern Ballet studio in LeedsF Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel ‘The Great Gatsby’ is coming to the stage from the May 14th to 18th. Just days after the UK release of Baz Luhrmann’s cinematic version, Northern Ballet will be performing their adaptation in Sadler’s Wells theatre.

‘The Great Gatsby’ is the gripping story of a young Nick Carraway coming to know his aloof millionaire neighbour with an unforgiving past; Jay Gatsby. As the glittering façade of Gatsby’s life derails, Carraway learns of the scandalous and lonely lives of the ‘new rich’ living the ‘American dream’ of the 1920s.

One of the greatest American novels of the 20th Century, the Northern Ballet is said by Jeffery Taylor of the Sunday Express to have put on a performance that will ensure you “leave the theatre with a warm glow and a smile”. With its unparalleled reputation for telling a story through dance, Northern Ballet is the ideal company to bring this novel to the stage.

The production is being held at Sadler’s Wells theatre; a modern and contemporary dance and music performance space occupying a site with a long tradition of entertaining Londoners. It is a perfect setting for a timeless novel to be performed in the 21st Century.

After enjoying the roaring and glitzy American 20s relax back into the British elegance and charm of our exclusive suites, just a short distance from Sadler’s Wells.

Image courtesy of Dancewear Central

Love horse racing? It’s time to experience Royal Ascot

A horse parade at Royal AscotThe most prestigious horse racing event in London’s sporting calendar, Royal Ascot sets off on the 18th to 22nd June 2013.

Annually attended by Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family, Royal Ascot is renowned for attracting high society, horse racing enthusiasts and thrill seekers.

Founded in 1711, the event is notorious for its heritage and tradition. The world famous, top quality horse race is held over five days in the third week of June and is steeped in pageantry and showcases British culture in its finest form.

Every year fashion steals the show at Royal Ascot and this year’s dress code is said to be stricter than ever. Formal dress is expected for all attendants with the exception of people with silver ring tickets where there is no dress code. The colourful occasion attracts a variety of well-dressed visitors for this special event.

The racehorse ‘Animal Kingdom’ is the favourite to win this year. In previous years Her Majesty the Queen has owned 20 winning horses throughout her visits at Royal Ascot. The highlight of the event is the Gold Cup Run on Thursday 20th June.

In terms of ticket availability there are three levels of tickets for each day: Silver Ring tickets, Grandstand tickets and Royal Enclosure badges.

The racecourse itself is situated in idyllic woodland surrounded by acres of beautiful countryside. Race days usually have a theme to complement the racing, such as a concert or beer festival, and race goers can wine and dine in exclusive restaurants situated around the course.

After a fun-packed day at the races, why not pay us a visit and try an exclusive spa treatment to completely relax and unwind? Go on – treat yourself to a soothing spa experience after the excitement of sun, royalty and racing!

Image courtesy of Steve Fareham

Sundance Film and Music Festival returns to London

An external shot of the London O2 ArenaThis year’s Sundance Film and Music Festival is set to take place at The 02, London. The Sundance Festival offers four sensational days of live music and the UK premieres of American independent films, fresh from the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

This year’s film festival boasts, amongst a variety of extraordinary films, Lake Bell’s award-winning “In a World….”, the story of an underachieving vocal coach, who is motivated by her father to pursue her aspirations of becoming a voice-over star, which sets her on a path to change the voice of a generation.

Musically, Sundance London presents a fantastic range of genres, including newcomer Alex Burey, a 17 year old soul singer from Croydon, and Lesley Pike who is known across Northern America and the UK for her engaging and comical live shows of electronic music that hold a hint of a 1980s influence.

Alongside film and music, Sundance London offers a range of special events that are designed to bring a unique experience to festival goers. One such event is the Filmmakers Hub Talk, an exciting opportunity to have a sit down talk with some of the festival’s filmmakers.

The bonus to this amazing experience is that it is affordable: individual screenings cost £14, which includes a booking fee. However, if you’re an avid film enthusiast, you might be more interested in the festival’s packages, such as the sky superscreen pass which is £280.

Just a 25 minute, no fuss train journey to the o2 Arena, DUKES London is a great place to stay while attending this remarkable festival. You can take the opportunity to wind down after the excitements of the day in our famous bar or alternatively you can relax in one of our luxurious suites.

Image courtesy of Hynek Moravec

The London Marathon returns to the capital!

A group of runners in the 2010 London MarathonLater this month, Virgin will once again be sponsoring the world renowned London Marathon. This phenomenal marathon is one of the world’s largest fundraising events, with a record number of 37,227 people finishing the marathon in 2012.

The London Marathon is one of the world’s best sporting experiences, not only for athletes and charity enthusiasts, but also for the spectators.

This occasion unites people from all over the world with the simple notion of charity fundraising and support. The fundraisers are represented by the runners and the support is evident in the masses of spectators, not letting anyone give up and cheering until the last runner crosses the finish line.

Each year, the race grows in size, stature and popularity, whilst never losing the intrigue and excitement that encompassed the first race on 29th March 1981. Using the Thames as a handrail of sorts, the marathon starts in Greenwich Park and ends in The Mall, which means the runners pass by many of London’s familiar sights, such as Tower Bridge, the Docks, The Embankment, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace.

Simply put, this event is a charity marathon – but it is much more than that. This annual event gains popularity each year because people want to do more than just donate money; they want to showcase their support in a number of ways.  Let us not forget that the participants not only run but often do so in fancy dress! This introduces a whole new aspect of fun to one of life’s great challenges. The London Marathon is an interactive and engaging fundraiser, bringing with it an opportunity to unite the community.

A brilliant event, why not treat your family to a great afternoon tea after the run? Whether you’re a participant in the race or simply giving your support, DUKES London provides a tranquil and relaxing place to settle after a hard day on your feet.  Come along for a well-deserved drink in our bar and treat yourself to one of our every-popular martinis!

Image courtesy of Julian Mason

The Chelsea Flower Show returns to London

A display at the Chelsea Flower ShowWhy not come and experience the most iconic flower show in the world this May at London’s Chelsea Royal Hospital?

The brightest new ideas and the latest gardening trends make this show the one everyone wants to see, and this year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Chelsea Flower show with what is said to be an extra special event of magnificent displays and superb show gardens.

For the 2013 centenary show expect to see 15 spectacular Display Gardens, 11 Fresh Gardens demonstrating the best of contemporary garden design and eight Artisan Gardens. In addition, 150 exhibits from nurseries and florists in the Great Pavilion and up to 250 trade stands will all be at the show. This year’s gardening celebrations will be one not to miss.

The day isn’t just all flowers and gardens however – there will also be a ‘100 years in pictures’ presentation of historical photographs, capturing the growth of the Chelsea Flower Show, from a display of just 224 gardeners to the world famous exhibition it has become today. A concert, hosted with Opera Holland Park, will also be held on the Friday evening as part of the centenary celebrations. And don’t forget you can enjoy some sumptuous food and drink throughout the day.

Exhibits to look out for in particular this year include a garden modelled on London’s Olympic Park, ‘The Evolving Garden’ which shows how environmental issues have affected our gardens, and relax among beautiful summerhouses decorated by top UK designers and artists, including Wayne Hemmingway, Cath Kidston and Rob Ryan.

Tickets are selling out quickly but are still available here – – from £28 to £55 per person, with discount for RHS members.

Just 10 minutes down the road, DUKES Hotel London is the perfect place to stay whilst visiting the Chelsea Flower Show. Unwind after a day on your feet in our luxurious suites or treat yourself to a martini in our legendary bar.

Chelsea Flower Show 2013

Image courtesy of Nzfauna