With cheap transport running from Scotland to the bright lights of London, a trip south is now an easy option. Here’s our guide to making your experience a little more memorable.
You may think you’ve got a good idea of what London is all about. You’ve already seen it immortalised in various films and plastered throughout the pages of travel books. But to see London from a different perspective requires getting a little more adventurous. It may even involve some of the following: taking off all your clothes, donning roller-skates or making friends with some jolly neighbourhood clowns. Please bear with us …
One of the first summer events on the London calendar, for those of you with a green sensibility and a lax outlook towards clothing, is the World Naked Bike Race (Sat 13 Jun, 3pm, Hyde Park, www.worldnakedbikeride.org/uk/). Thousands of people take part in this light-hearted protest against car culture by riding naked through the streets of London. As you can imagine it’s also quite a popular spectator sport, with the human eye drawn to bare bottoms like a magnet.
In a similar vein, in that it is about encouraging pollutant-free forms of travel, is the weekly Friday Night Skate group (www.lfns.co.uk). The group meets at 8pm in a specified location and roller-skates through central London. There is also a regular Sunday Stroll skating group that meets at 2pm. It’s still relatively underground and for information on locations you must log onto their website and access a detailed map of meeting zones. It’s all very Fight Club.
But maybe you’d rather join in a mass celebration? London is, after all, renowned for is its colourful party atmosphere and cosmopolitan nature. It is also home to many different cultures and unique individuals and the Notting Hill Carnival (30-31 Aug, www.nottinghillcarnival.biz) is a huge celebration of this mish-mash of folk. Originally a local affair for West London's homesick Caribbean community, it has evolved into Europe's biggest and best street party.
Meanwhile, Paradise Gardens (20-21 Jun, Victoria Park Gardens, www.paradisegardens.org.uk) is another lively event worth checking out. This free festival weekend will transform Victoria Park gardens into a giant stage for street art performers and live music. And it is now renowned for the wacky ‘No Fit State Circus’ which travels to London each summer to perform at the event. The place becomes over run with clowns; just make sure you don’t fall for the ‘pull my finger’ joke.
To top it all off you have the legendary Pride London Parade (Sat 4 Jul, Baker Street, 1pm, www.pridelondon.org), which winds down Oxford Street and Regent Street, through Piccadilly and up to Trafalgar Square - it’s like the most fabulous tour of London money can’t buy. This year the theme is ‘Fables, Myths and Legends’, so make way for The Midgie who shall be riding into town on a pink unicorn.
You can travel to London by train, bus or plane and many budget options are available. National Express East Coast (www.nationalexpress.com), CrossCountry (www.crosscountrytrains.co.uk) and Virgin Trains (www.virgintrains.co.uk) are the main cross-border rail links, with Megabus (www.megabus.co./uk/) providing cheap bus routes. For air links search out popular carriers like EasyJet (www.easyjet.com), ScotAirways (www.scotairways.com) and Flybe (www.flybe.com).