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FESTIVALS, HOLIDAYS AND OTHER ANNUAL EVENTS IN London

There are a number of festivals, holidays and other events celebrated in London each year.
The main ones are listed below.

January 1: New Year's Day (national holiday)

March 17 : St-Patrick's Day (celebrated nationwide)

Although this feast day honours the patron saint of Ireland, in London as in many other cities with strong Irish communities, it is celebrated each year with a huge parade, pipe and brass bands, dancing, street theatre and the colour green everywhere. Groups of Londoners with roots in Ireland's various counties march together, each group with its own identifying banner and dressed in the county's traditional colours.

April 23 : Saint George's Day (celebrated nationwide)

Unlike Saint Patrick's Day in Ireland, the feast day of Saint George rarely gives rise to spontaneous celebration in England, but in recent years several cities have begun organizing annual programmes of events to honour the country's patron saint, who died on this day in 303 A.D. London's main festivities include live bands, family activities and food stalls in Trafalgar Square and a gala concert of patriotic music at Royal Albert Hall.

June 8–August 16 : Summer Exhibition (local event)

The world's oldest open-submission art exhibition, this event has been a highlight of London's cultural calendar since 1768. Every summer, the Royal Academy of Arts showcases the work of little-known and emerging artists alongside pieces by more established figures.

Mid-July–mid-September : BBC Proms (local event)

For several weeks each summer, London's Royal Albert Hall and Cadogan Hall vibrate to the sounds of classical music, with nearly 100 concerts featuring many of the world's greatest artists, composers, orchestras and ensembles.

Late July–late September : Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace (local event)

Each summer, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of Britain's sovereigns, open to the public for eight weeks. A great opportunity to explore one of the few remaining active royal residences in the world and its many treasures: paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Poussin, sculptures by Canova, but also an impressive collection of Sèvres porcelain as well as exquisite French and English furniture.

Weekend before the last Monday in August : Notting Hill Carnival (local event)

Europe's largest street festival, attracting millions of visitors from around the globe, this three-day carnival is held every year on the last weekend of August. Traditional and contemporary Caribbean music fills the air, food stalls offer regional favourites washed down with rum punch, outdoor stages feature performances by top artists, and there is a huge parade on Monday, with revellers in stunningly colourful costumes, traditional steel bands and elaborate floats.

Saturday in early or mid-September : Great River Race (local event)

Hundreds of boats powered by oars or paddles, ranging from standard rowboats to Viking longships and Hawaiian outrigger canoes, take part in this annual 34-kilometre (21-mile) river marathon on the Thames, organized on a handicap basis (with the slowest boats leaving first), from the London Docklands to Ham House, Richmond.

December 25 : Christmas (national holiday)

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CLIMATE AND WEATHER IN London

London has an oceanic climate. Rainfall is fairly consistent throughout the year, with between 11 and 15 rainy days every month, but precipitation is often light or intermittent. Summers are moderately warm and days of extreme heat are rare. Winters are cold but seldom frigid. Snowfall only occasionally results in considerable accumulation, due to the microclimate created by the London metropolitan area and the heat retained by the city's buildings.

Month Min. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Max. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Average Rains (MM) Best Time to Travel
January 2/36 8/46 57/2.2 Not the best period to go
February 2/36 9/48 45/1.8 Not the best period to go
March 3/37 12/54 43/1.7 Not the best period to go
April 5/41 14/57 45/1.8 Not the best period to go
May 8/46 18/64 49/1.9 Not the best period to go
June 11/52 21/70 49/1.9 Good period to go Good period to go
July 13/55 23/73 47/1.9 Good period to go Good period to go
August 13/55 23/73 51/2.0 Good period to go Good period to go
September 10/50 20/68 52/2.0 Good period to go Good period to go
October 7/45 16/61 70/2.8 Not the best period to go
November 4/39 11/52 61/2.4 Not the best period to go
December 2/36 8/46 57/2.2 Not the best period to go
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London Heathrow International Airport

London's Heathrow Airport is located 22 kilometres (14 miles) west of the city centre.

  • Five terminals :
    • Terminal 1
    • Terminal 2
    • Terminal 3
    • Terminal 4 (Air France)
    • Terminal 5

Getting from the airport to London and back
  • By car
    • Accessible via the M4.
    • Three parking options are available at all five terminals:
      • Short Stay, GBP 3.00 for 30 minutes and GBP 6.00 for 1 hour
      • Long Stay, from GBP 25.00
      • Business, from GBP 25.30
    • Several car rental companies have counters on the arrivals level of each terminal.
  • By rail
    • Heathrow Express, the fastest link between the airport and central London, offers non-stop service to/from London Paddington and runs every 15 minutes, with a travel time of 15 minutes. Standard single fare is GBP 26.50 on board or GBP 21.50 if purchased in advance.
  • By bus
    • National Express coaches connect the airport to Victoria coach station with a travel time of 40–80 minutes, with single fares from GBP 6.00.
    • Coach services are offered by The Airline connecting Heathrow with Oxford's central station in about 80 minutes. The one-way adult fare is GBP 23.
  • By rail
    • London Underground's Piccadilly Line connects Heathrow to Piccadilly Circus in under an hour, with very frequent trains (the wait is never longer than 10 minutes). The standard single fare is GBP 5.70 (or as low as GBP 3.00 if purchased with a reloadable Oyster card).
  • By taxi
    • There are taxi ranks outside each terminal. Travel time to central London is about 1 hour and fares range from GBP 40 to GBP 70 depending on the destination.
  • Services : shops, bars and restaurants, Internet access (Wi-Fi) available in the airport.
  • Telephone : : +44 (0)844 335 1801
  • Website : http://www.heathrowairport.com

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GETTING AROUND London

London's public transport system is efficient and convenient but relatively expensive compared with those in other cities.

By rail

London's rapid transit network – Underground (also known as “the Tube”), Overground, TfL Rail and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) – comprises a total of 14 lines. Most of these lines operate from 5 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Monday to Saturday and 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Sunday. The single adult fare for travel in zones 1 and 2 is GBP 2.90 peak and GBP 2.30 off-peak.

Oyster cards and Travelcards

Before leaving for London, you can buy a Visitor Oyster card online and have it delivered to you. You can also buy a standard Oyster card once you arrive in London, but the Visitor version includes special offers and discounts for restaurants, shops and entertainment venues. Either Oyster card enables you to take advantage of pay-as-you-go fares on all rail services, which are capped at GBP 6.40 for zones 1 and 2 (including most major tourist attractions in central London), meaning that you will not be charged more than this amount in a single day regardless of how many times you travel. Oyster cards are therefore less expensive than buying an unlimited Day Travelcard for zones 1 and 2, which costs GBP 12. However, if you are staying in London for a week and plan to use public transport in zones 1 and 2 on a daily basis, an unlimited 7-Day Travelcard (GBP 32.10 for adults) is usually the most cost-effective option. Both Oyster cards and Travelcards are also valid for use on all London bus lines.

By bus

London's old-fashioned, bright red double-decker buses are a tourist attraction in their own right, and can be a much more enjoyable way to discover the city than using the Underground. The adult single pay-as-you-go fare is GBP 1.50 and the daily fare cap is GBP 4.40. Note that certain lines only run during the day, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (approximately). Special night buses (their numbers are preceded by the letter “N”) begin their service before the Underground closes for the day.

By taxis

London metered black taxi cabs are easily recognizable. They all have orange “For Hire” signs on their roofs that light up when the cab is available. They are also very convenient, because they are particularly roomy (fitting up to five people). The minimum fare is GBP 2.40 at all times.

Note : Some taxis accept credit or debit cards, but there is a processing charge of GBP 1.00, or 10 percent of the metered fare, whichever is higher.

By car

Renting a car in London is a very bad idea. Parking garages are exceedingly expensive and the city's congestion charge applies each time you enter certain central areas of the city between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m Monday to Friday. London is clearly doing everything within its power to discourage unnecessary car use by its residents. It makes sense to follow their example!

By boat

A cruise on the Thames is also an excellent way to explore London. Circular Cruise operates sightseeing boats plying the river east from Westminster Pier to St. Katharine's Pier near the Tower of London, before making the return trip in the opposite direction. For adults, one-way tickets cost GBP 9.90, and round-trip tickets cost GBP 13.15. A family fare is also available (GBP 28.50 one way, GBP 36.90 round trip).

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Visitor information

Upon your arrival in London, you can get in touch with local tourism professionals for further information and to help organize your stay.

Official Visitor Guide to London

London & Partners, the official promotional company for London, maintains a website offering practical information and many useful recommendations (accommodation, restaurants, public transport, festivals, cultural events, etc.).

Tourist Information Centres

At various locations throughout the city, London's Tourist Information Centres offer helpful information and recommendations for your stay in London and its surrounding area. Listed below are the main addresses for London's Tourist Information Centres:

  • City of London Information Centre:St. Paul's Churchyard City of London(http://www.visitthecity.co.uk)
  • Greenwich Tourist Information Centre:Pepys House, 2 Cutty Sark Gardens, Greenwich
  • King's Cross St. Pancras Travel Information Centre: LUL Western Ticket Hall, Euston Road
  • Liverpool Street Travel Information Centre: Liverpool Street Underground Station
  • Piccadilly Circus Travel Information Centre: Piccadilly Circus Underground Station

Further information available online for visitors to the United Kingdom

The official website developed and maintained by Visit Britain, the main UK tourist board, provides a wealth of information on London.

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Currency and Exchange Rates

The currency used in the United Kingdom is the pound sterling (£).

1 RUB = 0.01 GBP

1 GBP = 100 RUB

The above exchange rate is given for information because is variable.

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Medical information

Vaccinations

There are no vaccination requirements for visitors to the United Kingdom.

For more information, contact Air France's international vaccination centre:

Water

Tap water is safe to drink in London.

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Administrative formalities

Citizens or nationals of the following countries must carry a visa to enter the United Kingdom: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Burma (Myanmar), Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo-Brazzaville, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, French Guiana, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Holy See (Vatican City), India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macau, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

For further information, visit the website of the United Kingdom’s Government Digital Service: https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa/y

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Essential phrases

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Good to know

00 44
+ phone number without the 0 (calls to London)
-3 : 00
of time difference with
Moscow
Start of daylight saving time: last Sunday in March
End of daylight saving time: last Sunday in October

Banks

Usually open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon
Government offices

Usually open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
230 V / 50 Hz

And what about tipping?
In London as in the rest of the United Kingdom, there are no fixed rules for tipping. At restaurants, a service charge is sometimes included in the bill. Otherwise, it is customary to tip about 15 percent of the bill, unless you are not satisfied with the service. A 10 to 15 percent tip is also expected by taxi drivers.