London: Feast your eyes (Scrooge approved)

Posted on December 20, 2006


by jnoelbell

One of the fabulous things about London is their commitment to publicly accessible arts. What this means for the average person is that all major museums are free for all (donations suggested). In a city where a cappucino is nearly £3, a single tube ride as much as £4, and a curry takeway a fiver… well, having beauty and wonder available for free is simply priceless. If you’re skint this time of year (and who isn’t?) here are a few seasonal offerings to lift your spirits.

Here are a few artsy ideas, guaranteed to take the bah out of your humbug…

The gorgeous Victoria and Albert Museum has their annual Christmas tree on display. Every year a different designer creates the tree of their fantasies, – past years have featured trees by Matthew Wiliamson, and Alexander McQueen. This year Jasper Conran takes his turn. Afterwards check out the amazing glass gallery and the intricate collection of handcrafted locks and ironwork.

Just across the street, the Natural History Museum is hosting a free Christmas fair – window-shop to your hearts content, browsing the chalets selling everything from hand-cut glassware, ceramics and candles, to delicious Christmas treats and toys. Or head inside to discover massive whales, dinosaurs and gemstones – it’s not just for kids!

Tap into your inner child and cross the river to the Tate Modern Museum, where the big buzz is all about the Carsten Höller exhibit of giant slides, up to 5 stories high! Tickets are free, but require booking. Is it sculpture or playground?  You decide. Wander further up the Riverwalk to The Scoop to enjoy a free open-air medieval nativity play (20-24th Dec.)

If you prefer your culture served more traditionally, head over to the National Portrait Gallery and take in some of the awe-inspiring works of the masters – they’re all here. Or, splash out on the more modern Photographic Portrait Prize 2006 exhibition currently on – at £1 it’s hardly breaking the bank. Just outside the door, visit the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, and listen to carols every evening from 5-9 pm (til the 23rd Dec.)