Welcome to A Year in London, an exhaustive guide to 365 days in the most exciting, inspiring, beguiling, engaging city in the world! London is a vast, sprawling collage of a city that's like no other, with so much to thrill, fascinate, divert and intrigue you. What began as a Roman trading port 2,000 years ago has swallowed up a thousand villages, hamlets and settlements, and now covers an area of more than 600 square miles with a population of over 8 million. London wasn't planned as a grand design but evolved piecemeal over many centuries to become what it is today: a chaotic and haphazard ever-changing metropolis with a wealth of attractions, both ancient and modern. London is a world leader in many fields, including architecture, art, business, design, fashion, film, gastronomy, music, publishing, shopping, sport, theatre, television and much more. It's also (officially) the world's most cosmopolitan and racially diverse city, which adds immeasurably to its cultural and culinary wealth (in London you can literally eat your way around the world).
Its social scene is a lot like the city itself - vibrant, diverse and in a constant state of flux - blending traditional and cutting-edge, world-class and run-of-the-mill, brilliant and bizarre, grimy and glorious. Above all, London is a cool city that doesn't take itself too seriously. London is also the world's leading tourist destination - attracting over 30 million visitors a year - with more world-class attractions than any other city: fascinating museums and galleries; beautiful parks and gardens; majestic palaces and grand houses; superb restaurants and bars; innovative theatre, cinema and comedy; pioneering music and dance; and much more. While A Year in London doesn't neglect the star attractions, it also takes you off the beaten track to many lesser-known but no less worthy places - the 'secret' hidden corners beloved by long-time Londoners. Whether your idea of a good time is a stroll around an art gallery or a frenzied dance at a hip nightspot, an evening at the theatre or a night in a pub downing pints of real ale, you'll find it in London.
Whether you're nine or 90, a drinker or a thinker, gay or straight, night owl or early bird - you'll never lack things to do in this charismatic capital. From refined to hair-raising, laid-back to frantic, arty to artless, we've included activities that will add a bit of spice to anyone's life. The variety and number of London's leisure opportunities is boundless - conservative estimates put it at over 1,500 events every week - and A Year in London can only provide a snapshot of the possibilities. Nevertheless, we've tried to include something for everyone - singles and couples, families and kids, the young and young at heart, and everyone in between. There are two suggestions for every day of the year - contrasting or complementary - adding up to around 750 activities, so there's no shortage of inspiration. As the great man of letters Samuel Johnson famously said, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford", a sentiment that's even more relevant today than when Johnson voiced it in 1777. In London there's always something new, unexpected or unexplored to capture your imagination and fire your enthusiasm.
So when you're seeking something to prise you off the sofa on a Sunday afternoon or a diversion to keep the kids amused, entertaining an out-of-town friend or trying to impress a special date, you're bound to find something interesting to do in London. All you need is a sense of adventure, an open mind - and this book!