Twenty-one days out in London
Play Bingo with a difference
Like an answering call to the strains of Eddie Cochran’s C’mon Everybody filling the room, an excitable shriek sounds from a back table. The first of the night’s winners rushes forward to claim her prize: moustache-shaped cookie cutters, though it hardly matters. ‘This night is about good, clean fun,’ says Jess Indeedy, the glamorous American in sequins and towering heels who hosts the event with her husband, DJ Helix. Under the fragmented light of a disco ball, players with eyes down and ears up drink Bingotini cocktails, ready to play a series of rounds where instead of numbers they cross off songs, themed by genre – like film music – or decade. ‘It’s all about the music, but we keep it accessible,’ says Jess. ‘I don’t want anyone to feel like they aren’t knowledgeable or cool enough to take part.’ Musical Bingo with Jess Indeedy (£7) takes place at various London venues, including Drink, Shop & Do.
Roll up, roll up for a circus on the South Bank
This spring, for the second year running, Jubilee Gardens will be transformed into a Coney Island-style carnival. The centrepiece of the Priceless London Wonderground festival is the spectacular Spiegeltent – a big top-style venue lined with mirrors, where circus and cabaret acts take to the stage nightly. The atmosphere is decadent and vaguely hedonistic – audience members crowd around shady booth tables clutching bottles of wine, as the performers emerge and disappear from the spotlight. This year’s programme has yet to be announced, but in 2012 avant-garde Australian circus performers Cantina were the headline act. Surrounding the tent is all the fun of the fair – from bars and food stalls to rides and freakish sideshows (6 May–29 September; tickets from £10).
Sail through central London on a Thames barge
Hydrogen’s red ochre sail flutters as she bobs along the River Thames. When she reaches Tower Bridge its bascules lift, allowing the ship to pass. Perfectly adapted to the estuary’s shallow waters, in the 19th century these flat-bottomed sail barges were commonplace cargo vessels on the river – now, only a few survive. Topsail Charters has lovingly converted its fleet of five into comfortable pleasure cruisers for daytrips. After setting sail from London Bridge’s City Pier, passengers on their River Thames Cruise are kept well-refreshed – with coffee, a hot lunch and afternoon tea. Making its way past St Katharine Docks, Canary Wharf and the Thames Barrier, Hydrogen returns to dock just as twilight begins to descend on the river’s ever-evolving banks (tickets £60).
Spend a silent night in a Georgian time-warp
The door to 18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, is a portal to Georgian London. Stepping inside, it’s the smell of the place that begins your journey back in time – an intoxicating mix of cinnamon and citrus, wood smoke and candle wax. Each authentically period, candlelit room is a piece in a mysterious historical puzzle – in the kitchen there are hot coals in the grate and a seeded loaf abandoned mid-slice, upstairs a bedroom’s four-poster bed has been left in disarray. These vignettes – the creation of artist Dennis Severs, who died in 1999 – give the impression that a family have just left the building. In this way, every visitor is a new chapter in the story (evening visit £14).