This short break guide about London, England will help you to make the most of your trip. Lists of what’s on in London and recommended hotels will save you time when planning your city break.

About London, England

London is the largest and most populated urban site in England and the United Kingdom, holding nearly 8 million people in Greater London, which does not even begin to cover the additional 6 million in the suburban areas surrounding the city. Greater London retains the same boundaries that were set for it when it was founded during ancient Roman times. Since then, the city has seen its citizens through much development such as the English Renaissance, Industrial Revolution and Gothic Revival periods. These magnificent eras have landed London among other great cities of the world as a financial and cultural hub, with its influences spreading far and wide among politics, religion, education, entertainment, fashion and media.

London also boasts many fantastic attractions. Its Heathrow Airport transports more passengers than any other airport in the world. It also brags of its three World Heritage Sites: the Palace of Westminster, Tower of London and the historic Greenwich area. London is also immersed deeply in the fashion, music, theater and literary scenes, as greats like Shakespeare, The Beatles, Sex Pistols, The Clash and Vivienne Westwood respectively all hail from its cobble stoned streets.

What is on in London in 2008

Our mini-guide to what’s on in London lists the top events in 2008 in a handy London Calendar format. If you take your short break in London, England when these events are taking place, add them to your list of things to do in London.

January

Twelfth Night Celebration – A free festival, dedicated to literature and theater, features untamed rhyme backed up by untamed actions through music, storytelling, dance and other pagan activities. The Twelfth Night Celebration is held at no better place than Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.

February

Cirque du Soleil – Each February the exotic Cirque du Soleil troupe converges on London to present all with their newest shows at Royal Albert Hall. The magic and mystery of the most unique circus on earth runs for nearly a full month annually between January and February and costs anywhere from 15-58EUR. Hours vary depending on the day.

March

Twentieth Century Fashion Auction - Christie’s South Kensington presents a wide variety of 20th century fashion designs at the annual March auction. Vintage pieces from designers like Hermes, Balmain, Pucci and Ossie Clark come from all decades of the century and feature many vintage as well as couture pieces. These types of events are what regard London as one of the most eclectic fashion capitols of the world. The auction begins at 2:00pm during the first week of March.

April

London Burlesque Festival - Try something new and hit the London Burlesque Festival. Thrown by patron Chaz Royal, this promises to be a titillating time with sultry songs, stripteases and burlesque pageants at several venues around the city including Madame Jojo’s, Soho Revue Bar, and Bush Hall. The Burlesque Fest runs the first week each April and prices vary according to event and venue.

May

Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award- From May through October each year, the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife magazine present the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award. This Award is reserved for those photogs that have gone through hell and high water to capture some of most fantastic and fascinating wildlife photos of the year. The winners and runners up are exhibited at the museum. The displays hours run from Monday – Saturday 10:00am – 5:50pm and Sunday from 11:00am – 5:50pm. The cost to the museum is free and the exhibit is 7EUR for adults, 3EUR for children and concessions and 12EUR for a family pack.

June

Graduate Fashion Week – Annually, the graduates of fashion schools around Britain flock to Graduate Fashion Week to show the world what they got. Stella McCartney, Antonio Berard and Julien MacDonald all kick started their skyrocketing careers here. Runway shows are set up at Battersea Park Arena from Sunday – Tuesday 11:00am – 7:30am and Wednesday 11:00am – 6:30pm. Costs are 5 – 25EUR.

July

Sprite Urban Games - Every June and July Clapham Common fills with the likes of skateboarders, BMX bikers, breakdancers, top DJ’s and enthusiasts for the Urban Games, the highest level of international and British skating and BMXing. Combine these daredevils with DJ’s, dancers, open bars, food and shopping and you’ve got one of the biggest summer parties in London! The Games hours and costs are: Friday 2:00am – 8:00pm, 10EUR; Saturday and Sunday 10:00am – 8:00pm, 30EUR; concessions 20EUR.

August

Carnaval del Pueblo - Europe’s biggest celebration of Latin culture amasses in London’s Burgess Park each August. The Carnaval features processions, exotic floats, music, dancers and elaborate costume. Mix the spicy Latin cultures of Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela with London’s cheeky attitude and you’ve got one sizzling salsa fest. The cost for all of this Latin flavor? Free! Hours vary to event.

September

Regent Street Festival - For one small period of time each year, London’s entire Regent Street shuts down for the Regent Street Festival. The fest abounds with music and theater on every street corner and venue on Regent. Even eateries join in the fun, offering festive special menus, discounts and demonstrations for the day. The festival and its events run from 12:00pm – 8:00pm and are free, aside from what you buy of course.

October

RHS London Autumn Show – The annual Royal Horticultural Halls (RHS) annual London Autumn Show, which is held at the Society’s own halls, features all of the fruit, vegetables, plants, flowers and botanical art and photography a plant lover could ever hope for. Specialists discuss techniques and expend free advice while showing many diverse and unique plants that they have grown over the years. The show runs each October on Tuesday from 11:00am – 7:00pm and Wednesday from 10:00am – 5:00pm.

November

Fireworks Displays – London is known for its ability to draw upwards of a million to its dazzling fireworks displays and November’s displays are plentiful to say the least! A free show goes off at Blackheath at 7:30pm. The display at Alexandra Palace is free but comes with suggested donations of 2EUR for future firework displays and hours of 4:30 – 11:00pm for festivities including a Kiddie Palace and Beer Festival. The fireworks show starts at 7:30pm. And last but far from least is the Battersea Park Fireworks Display, which draws crowds of half a million every year. The cost for this magnificent and famed display is 5EUR and 1EUR for 10 and unders. The gates of the park open at 6:00pm for a bonfire, with the display beginning at 8:00pm.

December

Pig’s Ear Beer & Cider Festival - Each December the Pig’s Ear Beer & Cider Festival kicks off. Oddly enough it is a music free event so that participants can concentrate solely on the beer drinking at hand at the Ocean in Hackney. Over 100 beers, pale ales, traditional ales, porters, ciders and perries are yours for the tasting, thanks to the Campaign for Real Ale Association. The hours are Tuesday – Thursday from 12:00pm – 10:30pm, Friday 11:00am – 11:00pm and Saturday 11:00am – 10:00pm. The cost is 3EUR.

Recommended London Hotels

Hotel review website TripAdvisor allows travelers to thoroughly assess London hotels that they have visited. The unbiased evaluations really help to find the best hotels and avoid the worst. The top 10 London hotels recommended by review are:

1. The Soho Hotel
2. Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel
3. Parkcity
4. Hotel 41
5. Apex City of London Hotel
6. London Bridge Hotel
7. The Sumner Hotel
8. Luna & Simone Hotel
9. Milestone Hotel
10. Renaissance Chancery Court London