The summer is well underway and one of the most popular domestic destinations with visitors from Durham is London.
The capital, with its gleaming spires and spectacular events, attracts several hundreds of thousands of visitors from the North East every year. From trips to see stage shows in the heart of West End Theatre-land and major film premieres with celebrities doing the “Red Carpet Rhumba” to events ranging from the Trooping The Colour and other national occasions, London offers something for everyone.
But, away from the glitz and glamour of the West End and the City of London, there’s so much more to enjoy. For instance, there are tours of “Whitechapel and Old London” (Favouring the more macabre side of London and its infamous residents such as “Jack the Ripper”), walks through more scenic parts of London and, of course, the obligatory tours of locations ranging from Greenwich Observatory to Parliament and Westminster.
Durham and, for that matter, other areas of the region have close ties to London where entertainment is concerned. In recent years, the North East has had some of the most prestigious theatrical production tours and has even seen the odd film premiere with the obligatory red carpet event.
However, returning to London and the reasons why so many people from this region visit the Capital reveals that, as well as entertainment and spectacular days out, this region has many links with traditional and annual events.
One such event is the Trooping the Colour where the number of military personnel who participate who are from the North East is extremely high.
In fact, the world famous Coldstream Guards recruit heavily from this region. And have traditionally done so since their inception into the army.
London is also the magnet for parades and political protests. And every one of these is now included in the events calendar for the Capital.
In fact, so important have these parades and protests become that, on the same day as the 2014 Trooping the Colour , less than a mile away there were no fewer than five protests and parades taking place. With a number of them having their parade routes coming as close to the Mall as Trafalgar Square.
Then there are the additional, and sometimes unexpected events, that visitors can find themselves involved in. One such event this year was the annual Great London Nude Bike Race. An event where the public play a major part along the route and where the unsuspecting visitor to London can find themselves suddenly uprooted in Piccadilly and suddenly dropped in Trafalgar Square as they are taken along with the event.
The streets of the West End are also filled with a myriad of street performers and 2014 saw many unique examples of these talented artistes. One such visual performer was the “Floating Yoda” who, it appears, can float in mid-air.
Events aside for a moment, the other main reason for many to visit London are the sights in the City, the West End, along the Thames and in places like Islington and Camden.
As well as the likes of the major sights such as the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, Soho, Leicester Square and Oxford Street, there are also some other interesting and historic areas just a stone’s throw away from the above.
One such place is Islington. Once the preferred location to live with celebrities and other entertainment professionals, mainly due to its exclusiveness and relative proximity to the West End and the theatres where many of them could be found in performance. It also boasted the locations used in the original “Professionals” TV series, and Packington Square and the local school was used in the film “The Wall” as well as the famous music video for the same.
Then there is the world famous Camden Passage Antiques Market. Home to one of the best antiques markets in the country as well as the former home to one of the oldest toy shops in London-Beck’s of Islington. Unfortunately, like everywhere else in central London, progress has meant the loss of so much and Beck’s disappeared a few years ago. However, the Passage is still thriving and worth a visit.
So, there are many reasons that London has become the favourite domestic tourism destination with visitors from the region and, with the train and coach services that are now available, it has become all that more accessible.