Category Archives: Entertainment

The Notting Hill Carnival

Dance, music and masquerade. This is what London will witness during the bank holiday weekend at the Notting Hill Carnival.IMG_3624

The Notting Hill Carnival is taking place on 25th and 26th August in London. The annual festival was started in 1964 by the Afro-Caribbean communities to celebrate their own cultures and tradition. This year will be the 49th carnival.

Largest street festival in Europe.

The Notting Hill Carnival is the second largest carnival in the world after the Rio de Janeiro carnival. The carnival is a true chance to witness the diversity of London with its vibrancy and zest.

The parade

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The parade is the carnival procession that begins at 9 am on Sunday and Monday. Sunday is carnival’s children’s day with a shorter parade and chances to win prizes. The main parade is on Monday. The carnival after-parties will begin once the parade has finished and the floats leave the area.

The Afro-Caribbean specialities

Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken

There are several stalls serving traditional Caribbean food and drink like the jerk chicken or pork with rice and peas, curried goat, fried plantain, Jamaican patties, Red Stripe lager, coconut water, rum punch.

There will be traditional and contemporary sounds in the air right from Reggae, Steel Pan, Calypso and R&B to Soca, House, Funk and many more.

Useful tips

  • Leave you car at home. Many tube stations will either be closed or have time restrictions. The best modes of transport are your legs.
  • The area will be crowded. Thieves will make hay while the sun shines so keep valuables at home.
  • The streets and footpath will be overflowing with people so do not carry heavy luggage and buggies.
  • Due to overcrowding, mobile phone networks can get jammed.
  • Carry cash, as food stalls don’t accept cards. Getting to a cash point in the crowd can be a pain and some cash points do run out of money.
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Who said pillow fights were only for kids?

We have had pillow fights as kids with our siblings and with friends at sleepovers. This time it was with complete strangers from 1500 to 1530 at Trafalgar Square in London.

The International Pillow Fight Day is celebrated on 2nd April all over the world. The pillow fight is part of the urban playgroup movement – a playful part of the larger public space movement.

The International Pillow Fight Day was started in 2008 by University of Toronto students Kevin Bracken and Lori Kufner.

The International Pillow Fight 2011 was held in 130 locations over the world including Adelaide in Australia, Toronto in Canada, Zurich in Switzerland, Seoul in South Korea, Paris in France and others.

The Rules

  • Fight only with soft pillow. Hard objects are not allowed
  • No feathers as they leave a mess
  • Remove your glasses and then jump in
  • Start when the whistle blows at 1500 and not before that
  • Swing lightly
  • Don’t swing at anyone without a pillow or holding a camera
  • Wear pyjamas and night clothes (no ugly-naked-guys)
  • Don’t take permission to hold the event. Public assembly is a human right.
  • Clean up after the pillow fight

Fund raising

The International Pillow Fight Day 2011 raised money through the sale of memorabilia towards the Japan Tsunami Appeal by the British Red Cross Foundation.

Memorabilia included the ‘whack and keep’ souvenir pillows for £5, t-shirts for £10.50 and tickets for the after party.

The fight

Trafalgar Square was full of people in their nightgowns, jumpsuits, overalls, onesies, fluffy slippers, bathrobes, long john’s and pyjamas.

The whistle blew at 1500 and people of all ages started swinging their pillows. As they were fighting, many pillows exploded and there were innumerable feathers flying all over the place. I was totally trashed and full of feathers but my pillow was intact.

At the end of the fight, many were exhausted and laid down at Trafalgar Square with their heads on their pillows.

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Create your own art

Electronic music and art group Disinformation exhibited its art show “The Origin of Painting” at Usurp Gallery.

Joe Banks, a research fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts at University of Westminster created the exhibition. This exhibition was first displayed at the Hayward Gallery in 2000.

The interactive sound and light installation allows visitors to create their own life-size shadows or draw with a light pen directly onto a wall to produce graffiti, abstracts and portraits.

The light pens are provided by the gallery where the exhibition has been installed.

The Wall

The installation uses blackout fabric and green paint. The fabric and paint are available easily in the market and are quite cheap. Therefore, Joe did not have to invest much money in the exhibition.

Facing the wall are photographic lights that help to create the visitors image. Each photographic light discharges 30,000 volts shock.

Impact

The Origin of Painting is the creation of the artist Joe Banks. However, this interactive installation enthuses and involves the visitor into achieving new heights of creativity.

The Origin of Painting is about how people relate to seeing themselves separated from their own shadows.

In this exhibition, Joe Banks is not the only artist. Even visitors become artists. Not only are the visitors as able to participate in creating images with the light pen but also create their own shadows in different poses.

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Beatlemania Vs. Road Safety

The Beatles fans have been flocking to the Abbey Road zebra crossing in an attempt to recreate the iconic album cover of the Beatles 1969 album titled “Abbey Road”

On the 8th of August, 1969, four famous men – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr of The Beatles walked across a zebra crossing on Abbey Road in London to shoot the cover of their penultimate album titled Abbey Road. Since then, Beatles fans from all over the world flock to Abbey Road to walk across the zebra crossing just like the Beatles did. Ever since the Beatles immortalised the pedestrian crossing in front of EMI studios on the cover of the 1969 album, over one hundred and fifty thousand (150,000) people make a pilgrimage to this famous Beatles site in London each year. This number was estimated in 2005 by EMI studios now renamed as Abbey Road studios.

Due to its popularity, the crossing was given Grade II Listed Building status by the English heritage in December 2010. The pedestrian crossing has a speed limit of 30 miles per hour and has witnessed 22 deaths since the year 2000. This has attracted the attention to the councillors of the City of Westminster who are planning to relocate the crossing over fears that the number of people posing for photographs in the middle of the road is causing accidents and holding up traffic.

Beatle Mania

“You cannot come to London and not do Abbey Road,” says Hannah Achen from Germany. “I think this road should have no traffic. We love The Beatles and Abbey Road is the greatest album,” adds Wendy Afonso from Poland.

I stood at the zebra crossing on Abbey Road and observed fans as they attempt to recreate the cover of The Beatles album Abbey Road. They were causing chaos.

Sam Williams from Tennessee, USA came to London with three friends and enacted the Beatles album cover. He said, “We are from Tennessee, United States. We actually just got into London today. We came here because the Beatles were here and yes I did enact Paul McCartney.” “We came to Abbey Road because its famous and we wanted to be here and have a look what it was like and of course take a picture,” adds Maria Brown.

Frank Nowak, a photographer who takes pictures of the Beatles fans on Abbey Road. “I come here almost everyday and I ask tourists if they want to take private pictures. I try to stand in the middle of the road and take pictures when there is less traffic,” says Frank.

The crazy things fans do.

“The craziest thing a fan has done so far that I have taken a picture of is a wedding scene, the Royal Family and a naked man,” says Frank, a photographer at Abbey Road.

Richard Porter is the owner of the Beatles Coffee Shop and a Beatles expert who does the Beatles walking tours. “Some fans forget about the cars and they see people standing in the middle of the road taking a picture, which is not a good idea,” said Richard. “The first time I did the tour, I had these guys from East Germany. The place they wanted to see the most was Abbey Road and when they saw the crossing, they were overcome and burst into tears. I have seen people going down their hand and kneeled and kissing the crossing in the middle of the road,” he added.

The live webcam

The Beatles recorded almost all of their albums and singles at Abbey Road studios between the years 1962 and 1970. In August 2010, Abbey Road studios installed a high definition camera that streams live footage of the Abbey Road zebra crossing on its website. The footage shows the dangerous lengths Beatles fans go to just to imitate the 1969 album cover and get the perfect picture just like the one clicked by photographer Iain Macmillan.

“Watching images from the camera is fun. It shows people on the crossing and it gets people to the Abbey Road Studios website as well. People over the world watch the webcam,” says Richard Porter, owner of the Beatles Coffee Shop and a Beatles expert.

Safety hazards

Arthur Smith, a Beatles fan said, “I just came with my friends. I think there are definitely hazards but it seems pretty safe. I would be pretty annoyed if I were a motorist. I felt really awkward walking across and tried to keep it to a minimum of two crossings down and back.”

Some residents and motorists have expressed their concerns about fans creating a ruckus in the area. “I’ve been driving up and down the Abbey Road since 18 months now. It is annoying. All the fans do is pose on the crossing. There is somebody who is going to get knocked down one of these days,” says Damien, a Taxi driver.

However, Reg thinks otherwise. “I think it’s quite nice but sometimes when the traffic is bad it can become a bit of a pain. Everyone wants to get a photo. Sometimes we just push our way through the people who are waiting to cross. It is distinguishing who is waiting to cross the road and who is waiting to get a photo on the crossing.”

Resident’s ire

“I have been living here for 23 years in this block on the left. We find it’s a great problem for as they tend to damage our property,” says Martin Brown, a resident.

“This is a zebra crossing and it is by law that motorists have to stop. Many tourists and fans ask us if we know where Paul McCartney lives and what his address is. But we say we don’t know,” says Nicola Johnson.

I find it is quite bad for the driver because it is dangerous. I think if they just step on the pavement and take some photographs it’s OK but not keep crossing and wait in the middle of the road. It’s very dangerous,” says Kiki Ling.

Graffiti

It is a tradition for Beatles fans to pay homage to the band by writing on the walls of Abbey Road studios where the Beatles and many other famous artists have recorded their albums. The wall containing the fan graffiti is painted regularly.

“The graffiti on the walls of the studio is ugly and spoiling the area,” says Martin Brown.

The Legacy

The Beatles no longer exist but 41 years after the release of the album, their legacy still lives on. This pedestrian crossing looks just like any ordinary crossing but remains as popular as ever with fans continuing to risk their lives to capture the ideal photograph.

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Harry Potter whizzes into Warner Bros. profit pocket

November 19, 2010 was a red-letter day for all Harry Potter fans around the world. The first part of the final book of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows released worldwide on that day. The second part will be released in July this year.

Prior to the release of the film, Harry Potter fans were excited and had been trying high and low to obtain tickets for the worldwide red carpet premier that took place at the Odeon at Leicester Square in London on November 11, 2010

Tickets for the first day first show were also selling fast with advance booking opening three weeks earlier.

Department stores had already started stocking Harry Potter memorabilia like the round-rimmed glasses, witch and wizards robes and hats, broomsticks and Gryffindor neckties which are leaving the shelves quickly. In spite of the all the hype surrounding the Harry Potter series, the film managed to rake in $826m worldwide in less than two months since its release in November 2010.

You can hear the whole package here.

References:

1.     Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows trailor from the Warner Brothers website:

http://harrypotter.warnerbros.co.uk/hp7a/index.html

2.     Harry Potter helps Warner Bros win 2010 box office battle

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/media/8224334/Harry-Potter-helps-Warner-Bros-win-2010-box-office-battle.html

Disclaimer: This post is a part of an assignment

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Winter Wonderland opens at Hyde Park

It is mid-November and the festive season of Christmas has begun in Hyde Park in London.

Twenty acres of Hyde Park has been transformed into a fair and Christmas market called the Winter Wonderland. Entry is free but you have to pay for the games, rides, observation wheel, circus, ice-skating and food.

Winter Wonderland is open from November 19, 2010 to January 4, 2011 from 10 am to 10 pm.

Things to do

Winter Wonderland is an ideal outing for the whole family. The event has something to offer to all age groups. “This place is really good. The lights, decoration and Christmas carols being played has has gotten me into the Christmas spirit more than a month before Christmas,” says Jackie Smith, a visitor.

Families can enjoy shows in a heated big top or a cosy meal in restaurants. Small children can enjoy the carousel or the helter-skelter. Older children can enjoy the rollercoaster called the Euro Coaster, outdoor ice-skating, the giant observation wheel and other rides such as the Black Hole and Power Tower. Young children can visit Santa’s free grotto to meet Santa Claus and receive a gift.

One popular activity for people of all ages is ice-skating called the Lidl Magical Rink. “I want to go ice-skating but I have never done it before and I am just too scared,” says Sam Blake. The ice-skating rink is the largest open-air rink spread over 15,000 square feet created from 405,000 pints of frozen water. There are several ice guides to help those who have never used skates before.

For those who want a glimpse of London, the giant observation wheel is an excellent alternative to London Eye.

Food and Markets

Angel’s Christmas Market is at the entrance of Hyde Park. There are over a hundred stalls featuring arts and crafts, jewellery, wooden toys, decorations and more from around the world.

The German Christmas Market has a range of wooden huts offering continental food and sweets like roasted nuts, gingerbread hearts, crepes and confectionary.

The Bavarian Village is an impressive wooden structure that offers Bavarian Hog Roast, seasoned steaks and hearty German Bratwurst sausages. Accompanied by the German food are Bavarian chilled beer and warming ‘Glühwein‘ (German Mulled Wine).

The English style cafés and bars serve real ales, pies, fish and chips, hot cider and other gourmet.

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No More Harry Potter :(

It seems like yesterday that Harry Potter and his friends started out at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

This is me at Platform 9¾ at King's Cross station in London

J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has been around since 1997 with the release of the first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The series has been a great part of my teenage years.

I was introduced to the series in 2002 when I was 15. By then, the first four books and the first film had already released. I do not usually read fiction but the Harry Potter series was an exception.

After reading a few pages from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, I was impressed by J. K. Rowling’s ingenious creativity and imagination. I was hooked onto the series instantly and went on to the next book in the series. I have been in the same age group of Harry and his friends since the beginning of the series.

By the time, the last book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows released in 2007, I had become a Harry Potter maniac and found myself standing first in the line at the bookstore to get my hands on the first copy before they were sold out. I even made a special trip to London’s King’s Cross station to take a picture at Platform 9¾.

Books vs. Films

I have always complained that the films never matched up to the standards of the book in terms of delivering suspense and excitement. In spite of this, I have made it a point to watch the first day first show of all the Harry Potter films in whichever part of the world I am in. After years of attachment and months of anticipation, I went for the first day first show of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I yesterday at 0900 GMT. I booked a ticket for the movie a month in advance.

The movies have tried to follow the books storyline. However, what the book can say in over a thousand pages, a film cannot portray it in about two hours. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows have been divided into two parts. Part I released worldwide yesterday and Part II releases in July next year.

I feel Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I has for the first time, done justice to the book. The film finally found a way to tell J. K. Rowling’s story to the world.

The end of an era

As I was watching the movie, it dawned on me that the movie was the end of an era. The series has touched millions of hearts, including mine. I have spent almost a decade being a dedicated Harry Potter fan. For me the novels and the films are more than just a story. It is a part of my life. I have witnessed the characters come to life on the big screen. The end of the series, in a way, signals the end of my teenage years.

In July 2011, bidding farewell to Harry Potter will be like saying goodbye to an old friend. From then on there would be no more Harry Potter books to read or Harry Potter films to watch. Harry Potter will always be “the boy who lived”.

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