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    What's on in London this February 2018 near Kensington

    February means romance for Valentine's Day, eating pancakes for Shrove Tuesday and there's a school holiday week too. We've got recommendations for celebrations, exotic flowers, ceremony and much more to enjoy in London this month.

    CHINESE NEW YEAR

    There are more new year's celebrations this month as it's Chinese New Year. The Year of the Dog starts on Friday 16 February and the London celebrations are on Sunday 18 February.

    You can join in the biggest event in the Chinese calendar by following the lively parade from 10am  along Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue. The celebrations culminate in Trafalgar Square where you can enjoy an afternoon of free entertainment from midday, plus delicious food in Chinatown.

    KEW GARDENS ORCHIDS FESTIVAL

    For four weeks from 10 February, Kew Gardens has its 23rd annual Orchids Festival.

    For the first time the annual floral extravaganza has been inspired by Thailand's vibrant colours, culture and magnificent plant life. Thailand is home to 1,100 species of orchids and many can be seen in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

    Visitors get to walk through a tunnel covered in orchids with three arches of hanging orchid bouquets and handcrafted floating Thai umbrellas leading to the exquisite Bang Pa-In inspired orchid palace.

    There are evening 'Kew After Hours' events so you can see the orchids without the crowds. The atmosphere is enhanced with Thai dance performances, massage and spa treatments, Thai cuisine on offer plus cocktails and insect-tasting.

    CIRQUE DU SOLEIL

    Cirque du Soleil is back at the iconic Royal Albert Hall from 7 January to 11 February with OVO.

    The circus story is about the natural world under our feet. There's a colourful carnival of crazy crickets, amazing ants and flexible fleas. Crawling with fun, OVO is a non-stop riot of energy and movement featuring many of Cirque du Soleil’s mind-blowing signature acts including a stunning 14m high flying trapeze act – the biggest of its kind.

    There are family packages available that include circus-themed boxes and face painters, as well as a pre-show reception and interval refreshments.

    QUEEN'S TOWER

    Near to the Royal Albert Hall is Imperial College and while the campus is for students we can all see the Queen's Tower.

    This 287 feet (87.5 metre) tall tower, clad in Portland stone and topped by a copper covered dome, is all that remains of the Imperial Institute which was built to mark Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887.

    The Imperial Institute was established by Royal Charter for the purpose of carrying out research into the resources and raw materials of the Empire. It was opened in 1893 but was not a great success.

    The tower is all that is left of the original building and is now in the custody of Imperial College. They still arrange for the peal of ten bells to be rung for special occasions. On 6 February they will ring between 1pm and 2pm to mark the Queen's Accession Day (1952). There is also a royal gun salute in Green Park.

    BUCKINGHAM PALACE

    Keeping the royal theme going, you can enjoy an exclusive guided tour at Buckingham Palace this month. On Friday 2, Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 February you can tour the State Rooms in the company of an expert guide. There are restricted numbers and it's truly exclusive as the Palace is not usually open to the public at this time of year.

    The tour ends with a glass of champagne, a copy of the official souvenir guide and 20% discount in the shop.

    And one more royal suggestion as The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace reopens this month, on 1 February, after it's 2-month winter closure. You can see the stables and vehicles used by the Royal Family.

    WARNER BROS STUDIO TOUR

    For Harry Potter fans, the Warner Bros Studio Tour has a special feature on the Art Department from 9 to 19 February.

    Discover the craftsmanship and artistry that went into every detail of the wizarding world all the way from technical drawings, white card models and concept art to prop-making.

    Many of the original members of the Art Department will be here showcasing a range of filmmaking techniques. Don't miss the live wand-making demonstrations by the team who created thousands of wands during the ten years of filming.

    There's also a special opportunity this month to dine in the Great Hall for a Valentine's Dinner. On 9 and 10 February couples can book for a romantic dinner in a magical location. After the meal, guests get an 'after-hours' look around the Studio Tour.

    OCEAN LINERS: SPEED & STYLE

    Opening on 3 February, the V&A has the first ever exhibition to explore the design and cultural impact of the ocean liner on an international scale. Re-imagining the golden age of ocean travel, Ocean Liners: Speed & Style spans the mid-19th century to the late 20th century to explore all aspects of these mighty vessels, from the groundbreaking engineering, architecture and interiors to the fashion and lifestyle aboard.

    There are paintings, sculpture, ship models, wall panels, furniture, fashion, textiles, photographs, posters and film on display. Highlights include a precious Cartier tiara recovered from the sinking Lusitania in 1915, as well as a panel fragment from the Titanic’s first class lounge where the ship broke in half, returning to the UK for the first time since its doomed maiden voyage in 1912.

    The exhibition throws light on the famous passengers that travelled aboard from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to Marlene Dietrich and Elizabeth Taylor, and showcases groundbreaking works by Modernist artists, designers and architects, from Le Corbusier to Albert Gleizes, Charles Demuth and Eileen Gray, all inspired by ocean liners as symbols of progress and modernity.

    The show also explores how the ocean liner has been appropriated into pop-culture, literature and films, from Ronald Neame's dystopian The Poseidon Adventure (1972) to James Cameron's Titanic (1997), and how nostalgia for the great 'floating palaces' of the past can still be felt today. 

    This month is also the last chance to see Opera: Passion, Power and Politics at the V&A which ends on 25 February, and Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion which closes on 18 February.

    If you are planning a trip in London this February, check-out Fraser Suites Queens Gate special offers and promotions! We are located in the heart of Kensington and surrounded by tourist attractions. 

     

    Laura Porter writes AboutLondonLaura.com and contributes to many other publications while maintaining an impressive afternoon tea addiction. You can find Laura on Twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.

     

    Required image credits: Chinese New Year: © Jon Mo / LCCA  |  Kew Orchid Festival: © RBG Kew  | Ocean Liners:  Wooden wall panel from the Beauvais deluxe suite on the Äle-de-France, Marc Simon, France, 1927, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts.