New Ways To Explore London’s Top Attractions
Climb The O2
The O2 arena is famous as a performance venue, hosting stars such as Madonna and Paul McCartney. But there is also the chance for you to go Up at The O2, where you wear a suit and harness for a 90-minute climb over a 350-metre walkway. Along the way you’ll have a pit stop at a viewing platform 52m above the ground, where you’ll enjoy 360-degree views across London – look out for Canary Wharf, the Emirates Air Line cable car, the River Thames and the ‘Gherkin’. On a clear day, you can see for 15 miles (24km). Book a sunset or twilight visit to see London sparkle. From £28.
Do Yoga Up The Shard
You might have heard of aerial yoga – where you hang in slings suspended from the ceiling – but the yoga class at The Shard takes the concept to new heights. Leo and Mandy from Yogasphere, which specialises in yoga in beautiful locations, lead vinyasa classes for up to 60 participants. The class takes place on the tower’s open-air platform, level 72, or inside on level 69 on colder days. At 1,000ft (305m) high, you’ll be taking part in the world’s highest yoga class. Mats are provided and the price includes viewing time and a goody bag of healthy snacks. £40. View from the Shard
Sleep Among Lions
Regular visitors should book now for ZSL London Zoo’s Land of the Lions experience, which opens in May. A sleepover in Gir Lion Lodge – named after the lion’s native Gir Forest in India – is part of the experience. The price includes two days’ zoo entry, tours, a two-course dinner, chalet accommodation and an English breakfast. From £378 per lodge for two people.
Take An Engineer Tour Of Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge is certainly London’s grandest bridge – it is 65m tall, has a drawbridge and once, in 1952, it had a double-decker bus jump across it as the bridge began to open. In these rare tours, you’ll get the chance to see the inner workings of the landmark. First you’ll watch a film to learn about the bridge’s history and construction before exploring its walkway with its glass floor above the Thames. Technical officer David Duffy guides you around areas that are usually off-limits to the public, such as the bridge control room and cavernous bascule chambers below the river. You’ll also visit the machinery room to see the hydraulics that lift the bridge and admire original features from when construction of the bridge was completed in 1894. £50, includes a guidebook.
Watch The Closing Of The Tower Of London
The Tower of London is home to the Crown Jewels, but very few visitors know that they can see the Ceremony of the Keys – a 35-minute ritual in which the gates are locked. It has taken place every night for 700 years, and sees a Chief Yeoman Warder who is carrying the Queen’s keys lock the outer gate and the Middle and Byward towers. Guards salute the keys as they pass, and a sentry challenges the warder before allowing them to pass. Free, booking essential. hrp.org.uk
Abseil Arcelormittal Orbit (Or Slide Down It!)
Anyone can whizz up this 114.5-metre tower in a lift, but who has the guts to abseil down it? London Planner editor Kohinoor Sahota, for one. If you have the nerve, from the top you’ll see for 20 miles (32km) and have a bird’s-eye view of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Thrill-seekers might also want to try its new tunnel slide, created by Belgian artist Carsten Höller, which is due to open this May. At 178m long and 76m high, it’s the world’s longest and tallest slide. The descent takes 40 seconds at 15mph (24km/ph), which feels faster than it sounds when you’re whizzing down it! Transparent sections mean you can appreciate the view – if you haven’t shut your eyes, that is.
Sleep Aboard Golden Hinde II
Children will love experiencing life as a 16th-century explorer aboard the Golden Hinde II, a reconstruction of the ship in which Sir Francis Drake sailed around the globe in 1577-80. Actors will allocate crew roles and hand out costumes. You’ll then take part in navigational, gunners’ and barber surgeon workshops and a mock battle before bedding down dorm-style on the gun deck. A breakfast of bread, cheese, fruit and hot chocolate is included. £69; mailing list subscribers £42.95.