Thursday 06-05-2021 - 23:07
What is open and when? A student guide to post-covid life in London
Written by Irtiza Majeed (MDX Student & MDXSU’s Student Communities Intern)
I am an international postgraduate research student from Pakistan currently undertaking my PhD in Criminology. When I started my research study in the beginning of the year 2020, I never thought that my academic life will be changed drastically due to the pandemic. The past twelve months or so have been quite challenging, with life changing around the world forever following the Coronavirus lockdown. And while normality may be completely different from what it was before, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel. The UK Government have recently announced a periodic lockdown easing with re-opening of outdoor attractions and amenities. So, whether it is a walk in London's most beautiful parks and garden or a trip to your favourite plact t east and drink, students in London can now take advantage of the some of th grest outdoor attractions being opened recently.
Whilst I have been working on my research indoors under fluorescent lights and in front of computers, all day long throughout the past twelve months, the prolonged indoor stays, and the inability to meet loved ones in the past year or so have highlighted the importance of spending time outside. There are a number of health benefits associated with spending time outside. Research has shown that students spending time in outdoor settings had a significant reduction in the levels of stress and improved short-term memory. Outdoor nature experiences may also help eliminate fatigue, fight depression and anxiety and improve focus and productivity. This is really important considering that students have examinations and strict assignment deadlines to meet in the coming weeks.
It is your choice whether you want to soak up the sunshine during a picnic or just get some fresh air through visiting outdoor attractions and whilst a number of parks have been reopened in London, I am particularly excited to visiting the gorgeous gardens of Kew Gardens. Kew Gardens is now open to the public, although with limited visitor numbers and prebooked entry timeslots. Kew Gardens is located within 10 minutes of walking distance from the Kew Gardens tube station.
Another outdoor activity is joining a Walking Tour. There is nothing like a walking tour in London. They offer a truly unique way to experience a lot of London in a short amount of time. For international students, they offer the opportunity to learn more about the history and culture of London as part of an immersive experience. There is also a walking tour for everyone! You can choose from tours based on movies, history, and food. Walking tours are now opened and my favourite one is ‘Jack The Ripper Walking Tour’. If you dare! Hear the story of the world’s most famous serial killer who roamed London’s streets in the Victorian era. This engaging walking tour starts near Whitechapel tube station and lasts for about 2 hours. Students can get a discounted price at £10.
If you are looking for swanky views of London for free, look no further than the Sky Garden. The Sky Garden viewing gallery on the 43rd floor of the Walkie Talkie offers panoramic views over London from their foliage-filled atrium. With floor-to-ceiling glass windows, this lush urban jungle provides fantastic views of the famous rooftops of London, with an open-air terrace providing views across the Thames. Like most London attractions, it has been closed throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but will reopen on the 17th of May for more wistful wanderings amongst the clouds. And whilst the entrance to the Sky Garden is free, a pastry and coffee is just £5. With attractive views over London, I think it is a bargain. Sky Garden is located within 10 minutes of waking distance from the Monument tube station.
One of my most anticipated outdoor activity this summer is visiting a beer garden. When the weather's fine, a London beer garden is the perfect place to relax with friends over a drink and soak up some sunshine. Lots of pubs in London have outdoor spaces, from family-friendly lawns to shaded courtyards, so plan a trip to one of the best London beer gardens. Many of London's outdoor hospitality venues, including pub gardens, have reopened following the easing of coronavirus restrictions. I recommend visiting ‘The Terrace’ (open now) that offers panoramic views of London at Alexandra Palace, the largest beer garden in London. Tuck into food from five vendors to accompany your drinks and book in for a weekend brunch to make the most of the summer sun in the grounds of this iconic building near Muswell Hill. The Terrace is located within 10 minutes of walking distance from the Wood Green tube station.
Other than visiting London parks and gardens, what I really like doing is shopping. And whilst I have been doing online shopping for the past 12 months, it feels great to know that All COVID-secure shops in London are allowed to reopen, following the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions. So, if you have also missed visiting markets and shopping centres during lockdown, head to your local high street and favourite London shopping locations. My favourite shopping location is the seven streets of Seven Dials which reopens on the 17th of May and is a hub of more than 90 lifestyle-themed stores and 50-plus independent food spots. This neighbourhood connects Covent Garden and Soho and is one of the coolest shopping areas in London. Seven Dials is located within 10 minutes of walking distance from the Covent Garden tube station.
When it comes to outdoor attractions in London, Brixton Village is the place to go for foods from around the world. You will find Europe, India, Asia, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean all represented. There’s cafés and restaurants dishing up all sorts of flavours. And shops that sell everything from charcuterie and cheese to traditional Chinese medicine. A wander down Brixton Village will brighten anyone’s mood and is the perfect place to combat those post-lockdown blues. Home to Brixton’s famous street market, Brixton Village provides vibrant, upbeat, and electric energy, with rows of stalls selling everything from food to clothes, and even live music being played. The rich cultural heritage of the market offers a unique and authentic experience that other places in London simply cannot offer. Brixton Village is located within 15 minutes of walking distance from the Brixton tube station.
Speaking of London outdoor attractions, it will be a mistake not to mention about theatre shows and cinemas. There are many exciting spots to enjoy outside in London, from outdoor cinemas and beer gardens to cool rooftop bars and alfresco restaurants. And with drive-in cinemas, outdoor theatre shows and open-air art exhibitions, London has plenty more outdoor entertainment on offer for you to enjoy. Many outdoor attractions and outside entertainment venues have now reopened following the easing of coronavirus restrictions. One particular theatre show I recommend visiting is the classic plays alfresco at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre which reopens on 17th of May with a Romeo and Juliet this summer season. Students are able to get discounted tickets (around £10) for shows. Shakespeare’s Globe is located within 10 minutes of walking distance from the London Bridge tube station.
The following major London attractions are opening in May 20201 with new social distancing and hygiene rules in place:
Warner Bros Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter is opening from 17th of May. This provides a touch of magic to your winter and step back into the world of witches and wizardry. You will notice a few changes and The Studio Tour will be running at reduced capacity to ensure social distancing.
Windsor Castle reopens its doors on 17th of May 2021. Visitors can explore the State Apartments as well as visit St George’s Chapel where Prince Philip was buried on 17th of April 2021.
London Eye is now opening in May and you can once again enjoy 360-degree panoramic views of the city. You will have to wear a face-covering and must book online.
Madame Tussauds is also opening in May. It is operating at reduced capacity to allow for social distancing. Some experiences and facilities have been adapted or suspended.
Sea Life London Aquarium is now open from May. A firm favourite with kids as you journey into the underwater world. Like most venues in London, it must now be pre-booked online.
London hop-on hop-off bus tours are back in May. Available with a special offer for reopening. When you buy a 24-hour ticket you will get a free extra day plus a River Thames Cruise
Safety Tip: When visiting shops, department stores and markets in London, you can expect to find special safety measures including socially distanced queuing, hand sanitiser stations, one-way systems, and a limit on in-store capacity. It is mandatory to wear a face covering in all public indoor settings, including shops and supermarkets. Just remember to stay safe, be responsible and follow social distancing guidelines when out and about.