London is one of the great cities in the world to visit regardless of what year it is, and 2016 is set to be a special year for two great British icons. First of all, it marks the Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebrations.Queen Elizabeth II turns the ripe old age of 90 this year, and, if the fanfare around her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 was anything to go by, there are certain to be extravagant celebrations in London to mark the occasion. Celebrations of this kind actually mark the Queen’s ‘official birthday’ – the nearest Saturday to the date of her coronation – on Saturday 11th June, rather than her actual birthday on the 21st April.
The ceremony which marks this event is called Trooping the Colour, a military procession which takes place in Horse Guards Parade, next to St. James’s Park. The official website for the celebrations suggests the military theme will run through events, with the day set to be “a celebration of The Queen’s life, her love of horses, her dedication to the Commonwealth and international affairs and her deep involvement with the Navy, Army and Air Force.” Video projection, LED effects and theatrical light displays will combine with actors, horses, bands and dancers to tell the story of the Queen’s incredible life. 25,000 tickets are on sale now, and are certain tobe highly sought after.
There’s also Shakespeare’s 400th Anniversary Celebrations.The Queen isn’t the only English icon marking an anniversary this year, with 2016 marking 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare400 is a consortium of leading cultural, creative and educational institutions which are coming together to mark this special date with an interlinked series of performances, exhibitions and events. Of course, part of this is a lot of performances of Shakespeare’s works. ‘King & Country: Shakespeare’s Great Cycle of Kings’ will see performances of Richard II, Henry IV Parts I & II and Henry V as a complete four-play cycle at the Barbican Theatre, running until late January. There are also many screenings of Royal Shakespeare Company productions in cinemas around the city, and performances with a twist like Berlioz’s Romeo & Juliet, also at the Barbican, a dramatic symphony by the great composer based on Shakespeare’s classical tragedy.
The Barbican Centre is easily accessible from Park Grand Hotel near Hyde Park London, one of the most romantic hotels in London; tickets to this performance would be the perfect cherry on top of a romantic getaway. Those less theatrically inclined who are interested in Shakespeare as a man of letters may want to check out ‘By Me William Shakespeare: A Life in Writing’, which exhibits documents relating to the Bard’s life, including his will, at the Inigo Rooms in Somerset House. Evidence of Shakespeare’s enduring legacy can be found at ‘Inspired by Shakespeare: New Horizons’ at the Royal Festival Hall, which showcases music form GCSE student composers which they have written inspired by Sibelius’ The Tempest. Part of the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s New Horizons Education & Community programme, this illustrates the influence of the great playwright throughout the ages.