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What's on in London this April 2016 near Kensington

With the hope of more blue skies and warmer weather this is a wonderful month to celebrate our longest reigning monarch as it is Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday on 21 April.

The bulk of the celebrations will be in May and June (the Queen has always had her 'official' birthday later in the year) but there will be gun salutes in Hyde Park and at the Tower of London this month.

SENSATIONAL BUTTERFLIES

Another treat for this time of year is Sensational Butterflies on the East Lawn at the Natural History Museum. Back for the eighth year, the exhibition opened on 24 March and stays until 11 September 2016.

You get to walk through a humid tropical butterfly house and see the caterpillars and the life cycle as they transform into butterflies. There are close-up views of butterfly specimens through a magnifier and even more zoomed in under a microscope. Many of the butterflies can fly freely in the hot house which makes it feel really magical to wander inside.

MARIA MERIAN'S BUTTERFLIES

Keeping to the butterfly theme, Maria Merian's Butterflies is an exhibition at The Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace. It opens on 15 April (and runs until 9 October 2016).

German artist and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian set sail for Suriname, in South America, in 1699 and spent two years studying the animals, plants and insects. Her work was acquired by George III, and now, 300 years later, we can enjoy her meticulous prints and paintings on vellum of the natural world.

UNDRESSED

The V&A has a new exhibition from 16 April (to 5 February 2017). Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear looks at the practicalities of underwear and its role in the fashionable wardrobe whilst highlighting its sensual appeal too.

The exhibition explores dress reformers and designers such as Paul Poiret, who argued for the beauty of the natural body, as well as entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators who have played a critical role in the development of increasingly more effective and comfortable underwear.

You can see 140 garments and accessories for men and women together with fashion plates, photographs and film, advertisements and packaging to introduce changing concepts of the ideal body.

SHAKESPEARE 400 AT THE V&A

As we are celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death this month, why not have a look at one of the Shakespeare 400 events on across London?

The V&A has a special workshop on Friday 22 April with a day-long festival of lectures, poetry, music and on-stage discussions devoted to his final play, The Tempest. The day is led by Shakespeare scholar John Pitcher (St John's College, Oxford), with contributions from the poets Alice Oswald and Alicia Stallings, novelist John Lanchester and the actor Harriet Walter.

AFTER-SCHOOL CLUB FOR GROWN-UPS

The Natural History Museum do wonderful evening events for adults and this looks like it'll be a lot of fun. After-School Club for Grown-Ups is on Friday 8 April and you can enjoy the types of activities usually reserved for younger visitors. Go on a torch-lit museum tour and design a dinosaur t-shirt before heading off on a treasure hunt. But don't worry, this is for adults so there's also a bar and a fab Silent School Disco too.

SUNSET BOULEVARD

Opening on 1 April (and on until 7 May 2016), Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical Sunset Boulevard is at the London Coliseum. Glenn Close is making her West End debut as Norma Desmond, a faded silent movie star.

Sunset Boulevard is a story of romance and obsession, based on Billy Wilder's classic film, with lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton. The full English National Opera orchestra will appear on stage alongside the cast in this semi-staged production.

KENSINGTON PALACE

The Fashion Rules exhibition at Kensington Palace looks at the wardrobes of three royal women: HM The Queen, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales. The exhibition was restyled in February and the focus has moved on to Princess Margaret with her Christian Dior full-skirted 'New Look' glamour of the 1950s. While her older sister had to keep to more formal attire, Princess Margaret had more fashion freedom and loved bold accessories.

KENSINGTON ROOF GARDENS

Do you know about the wonderland on top of a building on High Street Kensington? Kensington Roof Gardens are open to the public to explore for free (when there isn't a private event taking place).

There's a Spanish Garden based on the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, a Tudor Garden with red brick walls and Tudor arches, and an English Woodland area where there are four resident flamingos. Yes, flamingos in London!

If you would like to stay longer to enjoy this unique space, the Babylon restaurant serves contemporary British cuisine and excellent cocktails. If you would like music too there is live jazz on Tuesday evenings.

By choosing to stay at Fraser Suites Queens Gate you will be in the heart of Kensington, and a short walk away from some of these great events happening in April. Check out our Special Offers and we hope to welcome you soon!

Laura Porter writes the About.com London Travel site and AboutLondonLaura.com, plus she contributes to many other publications while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival that of our Queen. You can find Laura on Twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.

Image credits:
Maria Merian's Butterflies, The Queen's Gallery: Branch of West Indian Cherry with Achilles Morpho Butterfly, 1702-03. Royal Collection Trust / (C) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016.
V&A Underwear: Silk satin, lace and whalebone corset, 1890. Credit: Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Kensington Palace, Fashion Rules. Image credit: Historic Royal Palaces.