If you’re planning a visit to London this month, here are some of the events you can’t afford to miss…!
Feast of St. George
(22nd April/ Trafalgar Square WC2N 5DN)
Still a bone of contention for many English people, St. George’s Day (the ‘official day’ for England’s patron saint) has never been a public holiday and, despite calls for it to become one, there seem no plans to change that any time soon. However, should you be in London over the third weekend in April you can nonetheless mark the occasion in fine fashion, albeit 24 hours before the day itself. This Trafalgar Square celebration (an ideal venue if you’re taking advantage of London hotel special offers and staying in one of the hotels in Piccadilly Circus) looks set to be as English as the nation’s footballers losing penalty shoot-outs; get set for stalls of traditionally English food, celebrity chefs cooking up a storm, family-themed games and live music performances. It’s thought that St. George becoming a truly popular bastion of Englishness began in the Tudor era thanks to the protagonist’s stirring speech in Shakespeare’s masterpiece Henry V, in which he rallies his troops with: ‘Cry – God for Harry, England and St. George!’.
Virgin Money London Marathon 2017
(23rd April/ various locations)
Trust this blogger, who’s done it himself, there’s few sights quite like watching the London Marathon; cheering on the professional racers out front, but especially the so-called ‘fun runners’ further back, many of whom take on the arduous 26.2-mile slog in the name of raising serious dough for very worthy charities dear to their heart. It doesn’t sound it necessarily, yet so colourful and eccentrically silly and British is this marathon (so many participants run in frankly bizarre fancy dress) that you can have a fine old time as a spectator – you may even get on TV for a seconds, if you’re in the right place at the right time! Since it started way back in 1981, London Marathon runners have raised a staggering £830 million for charity; £59.4 million of which was raised just last year by its 38,000 participants.
(29th April 12noon-6pm/ Trafalgar Square WC2N 5DN)
One of the great things about the strident diversity of London is that several times a year there are great opportunities to experience and discover more about cultures and religions about which you’re generally a novice. A great example is this event that’ll see the Sikh Vaisakhi festival take over Trafalgar Square for a day. Part spring-harvest festival, part specific commemoration of the 1699 formation of the Khalsa panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh, Vaisakhi’s celebrated every April by more than 20 million people worldwide. Should you fancy joining those doing so here in on the 29th April you’ll be able to throw yourself into many an activity (including the likes of turban-tying), checking out kirtan spiritual music among the many live performances and, of course, trying out some delicious traditional Sikh dishes and snacks. Yum!