London invites UK visitors to rediscover their capital city with launch of biggest-ever domestic tourism campaign
10 May 2021
- London reopens its doors to UK visitors with launch of Let’s Do London – a £6m campaign and programme of seasonal events to reinvigorate Central London
- UK capital set to roar back to life with new art installations, cultural events, exhibitions, pop up performances, sport and theatre shows
- World famous attractions, museums and galleries, venues, artists and chefs join the Mayor of London to get behind campaign encouraging the safe return of domestic tourists to UK capital
Visitors from across the UK are being encouraged to rediscover everything they love about London, with the launch of the city’s biggest ever domestic tourism campaign – called ‘Let’s Do London.’ Launched today by the Mayor of London, Visit London, Transport for London and backed by industry, the multimillion-pound campaign and events programme will bring together the capital’s world-leading hospitality, culture, nightlife and retail venues to promote all London has to offer.
The campaign will reinvigorate Central London with a curated programme of seasonal events and cultural activities designed to suit a range of age groups. Over the course of the year, visitors to the UK capital will be able to enjoy new exhibitions, family-friendly experiences, theatre shows, sporting events, festivals and pop-up food and drink sites.
With restrictions on international travel likely to continue over the coming months, the ‘Let’s Do London’ campaign will provide inspirational reasons for Londoners, day-trippers and overnight visitors to return to the capital as COVID restrictions are lifted. Analysis of forecasts by VisitBritain showed that consumer spending in central London by overseas tourists was £7.4 billion lower throughout 2020, while domestic tourists will have spent £3.5 billion less.
The blockbuster events programme will run during all four seasons this year – kicking off with the capital’s famous chefs, foodies and hospitality venues coming together to promote and celebrate London’s world-class food scene later this month.
A raft of new spectacular public art installations will also attract people back into London from this month. David Hockney, one of the UK’s most influential living artists, has redesigned TfL’s iconic roundel ‘Hockney Circus’ in a special artwork as part of a takeover of Piccadilly Circus Underground Station starting today. Turning central London into a huge outdoor art gallery, award winning London designer Yinka Ilori is leading on ‘Asphalt Art’, a series of major new temporary streetscape commissions in central London and the City of London, in partnership with the London Design Festival and Bloomberg Philanthropies' Asphalt Art Initiative. There will also be a transformation of road crossings and street furniture in the West End, with a partnership between Royal Academy artists and the Heart of London Business Alliance Art of London programme. And multi-award-winning artist and designer Es Devlin will plant a living forest at Somerset House for this year’s London Design Biennale.
The summer season will see a programme of family fun, designed to make London a great choice for a staycation. From Alice in Wonderland at the V&A and Fantastic Beasts at the Natural History to the Royal Opera House ‘Unlocked’ taking over the Covent Garden piazza. ‘London Lates’ over the summer months will see extended opening hours across museums, galleries and cultural and grassroots music venues. Shakespeare’s Globe for example will stage 'Midnight Matinees' with performances starting at 11.59pm, and an invitation to get back to the big screen will see outdoor film screenings curated by BAFTA and the British Film Institute.
This summer will also see a celebration of sport in London, with the UK capital hosting eight games in UEFA Euro 2020, including the semi-finals and the final at Wembley. This June will also see the return of The Championships, Wimbledon, and a brand-new cricket competition (The Hundred), followed by the Rugby League World Cup and Virgin Money London Marathon later this year.
The Autumn will welcome back major creative festivals, such as London Fashion Week, Frieze London, the London Design Festival, and the 65th BFI London Film Festival. For Winter and in the lead up to the festive period, magical lighting will brighten central London supporting the critical pre and post-Christmas ‘golden period’ for London’s culture, hospitality and retail businesses.
Theatre-lovers can look forward to a host of new West End productions running throughout the year, such as Back to the Future, Hairspray and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella. From August, families will be able to enjoy the Disney’s smash hit, Frozen the Musical, for the first time on the London theatre stage at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. For those looking for an outdoor theatrical experience, the Regents Park Open Air theatre will open from June with a progamme including Shakespearean classic with Romeo & Juliet and family favourites Anansi the Spider and Dragons & Mythical Beasts.
There will be further exciting announcements across the year to showcase London’s world class nightlife, cultural attractions and hospitality businesses as well as the city’s grassroots venues and how creative freelancers, artists and performers will be at the heart of the programme as it continues to develop.
The Mayor has allocated £6M to directly support the new campaign, in addition to industry contributing over £1m in funding and value-in-kind. The campaign will include a major advertising push supported by London & Partners and TfL, alongside new content on the Visit London website outlining all the campaign has to offer to Londoners and visitors to the capital. It will include a new TfL campaign launching next month, involving TV and poster advertising, that will encourage people to rediscover London by public transport.
To ensure London re-opens safely the capital’s venues are doing a huge amount of work to ensure they follow COVID guidance – whether around new queuing systems, staggered arrival times, and a variety of social distancing measures. The Mayor continues to urge Londoners to show caution and follow the rules when out and about, wearing a face covering in shops and other indoor venues, carrying hand sanitiser, and keeping to social distancing. He continues to urge Londoners to take up the vaccine as soon as they are offered it.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Today I am at the iconic Shakespeare's Globe to launch ‘Let’s Do London’ - the biggest domestic tourism campaign London has ever seen to champion our businesses, cultural institutions and attractions that have suffered so much during the pandemic. This is about getting the message out to Londoners and people across the country that our capital stands ready to entertain, inspire and enthral once again.
“Our new campaign is bringing together many of the capital’s leading organisations and venues to offer an unparalleled experience for anyone visiting the capital throughout the year. With restrictions on international travel likely to continue this year, Londoners and visitors from the UK have a unique opportunity to experience all the capital has to offer without the queues. In doing so you’ll be providing vital support for our world-leading venues as they start to re-open and need our help more than ever.”
Allen Simpson, Acting CEO London & Partners which runs Visit London said: “London is ready to welcome back visitors from all across the UK. Whether you are a family planning a day out at a park or theatre show, or someone looking to experience the latest restaurant opening or the one of the many new museum exhibitions, now is the time to rediscover the UKs capital city.
“London will be roaring back into life over the coming months as the city’s tourism, hospitality and retail sectors come together to put on an exciting programme for the year ahead. The Let’s Do London campaign will shine a spotlight on the fantastic range of cultural events, exhibitions, pop up performances, sport and theatre available in our capital city.
CEO of UKHospitality, Kate Nicholls, said: “It is incredibly encouraging that the Mayor has wasted no time after his re-election to make tourism a clear and immediate priority. The Let’s Do London campaign is a shot in the arm to help revive the capital’s ravaged visitor economy. With such limited international travel, the immediate priority is to remind Britons that one of the world’s top tourist destinations is on their doorstep. We look forward to working with the Mayor and his office to revive employment, hospitality and tourism in London.”
Bernard Donoghue, Director Association of Leading Visitor Attractions & Co-Chair, London Tourism Recovery Board, said: "London's visitor economy has been hit hard over the last year and we've all missed our theatres, museums, galleries, performances venues and heritage properties. Without them London has just felt less 'Londony'. But this Summer we can reclaim, rediscover and fall back in love with these special places. They will all be contributing to a Summer and a year like no other when the visitor experience will be phenomenal, the welcome never warmer and the importance of London's attractions, culture and tourism economy never better appreciated. We thank the Mayor, his team and partners for all they have done in working with us to help London recover better. Let's Do London."
Jace Tyrrell, Chief Executive at New West End Company representing Bond Street, Oxford Street, Regent Street and Mayfair said: “With international travel still uncertain and domestic lockdown restrictions lifting further over this month and next, London and UK visitors will be able to enjoy the very best of the capital, without all the overseas tourists, with its truly remarkable retail, leisure, hospitality and cultural offering - a summer like no other. The Let’s Do London campaigns celebrates London as a destination in itself and will help attract our much missed customers to the capital. In the West End alone, we are home to utterly brilliant hotels, galleries, flagship stores, Christmas light displays and art installations; so our big, bold unambiguous ask is come and support the West End as one in ten Londoners jobs depend on it."
Yinka Ilori, artist and designer, said: "Super excited to be part of the Asphalt Art project and really looking forward to creating something magical that brings people from around the world together."
Es Devlin, artist, designer and Artistic Director for London Design Biennale said: “When I was first shown around Somerset House many years ago, I discovered that the Enlightenment principles on which the building was conceived, specifically forbade the introduction of trees into the courtyard. Of course, the first thing we wanted to do when considering this year’s Biennale was to counter this attitude of human dominance over nature, by allowing a forest to overtake the entire courtyard. In literature forests are often places of transformation: the forest of Arden in Shakespeare, the enchanted forests of the Brothers Grimm. The UN Global Goals offer us clear ways to engage and alter our behaviour and it is our hope that an interaction with the Goals in the forest will be transformative."
Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Justine Simons OBE, said: “Culture is in London’s DNA, and the creative industries will be key to kickstarting our economic recovery. Our Let’s Do London campaign highlights the very best of the capital’s cultural offerings. From inspiring outdoor public art installations and the late opening of our world-famous museums, galleries and cultural venues, to the return of major culture festivals, we look forward to safely welcoming people back to enjoy the greatest city in the world.”
Amy Lamé, London’s Night Czar, adds: “We hope that Londoners and visitors alike will see Let’s Do London as a beacon of hope, following what has been a dark, uncertain time for so many. From eclectic bars to world-class theatres and a rich tapestry of eateries, London is bursting at the seams with cultural excellence - and this programme will truly showcase that.”
Merlin’s UK Marketing Director & Chair of the London Recovery Board Marketing Directors Group Sara Holt said: “Merlin has been involved with the Mayor’s “Let’s Do London’ campaign from the beginning and is focused on enticing overnight domestic tourists from outside the capital.This campaign is critical to helping attract visitors back to our amazing city. Research has found that for every £1m invested in advertising outside London, 1,200 jobs are secured in London”
Partners who are coming together to support the Let’s Do London’ campaign include: ALVA, BAFTA, BFI, Barbican, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Capital & Counties, City of London Corporation, Central London Alliance, Discover South Kensington, English National Opera, Exhibition Road Cultural Group, Film London, Frieze London, Grosvenor Estates, Heart of London Business Alliance, Heathrow Airport, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Historic Royal Palaces, London Councils, London Design Festival, London First, London Fashion Week, London Symphony Orchestra, London Tourism Cooperative, London Tourism Recovery Board, Marriott International, Merlin Entertainments, Museum of London, National Gallery, National Theatre, Natural History Museum, New West End Company, Park Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Photo London, Port of London Authority, PPHE Hotel Group, Roundhouse, Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Albert Hall, Royal Opera House, Royal Parks, Sadler’s Wells, Science Museum, Shaftesbury, Shakespeare’s Globe, Society of London Theatre, South Bank BID, Southbank Centre, Tate, The Crown Estate, V&A, Visit Greenwich, Westminster Council, Whitbread, UKHospitality, ZSL London Zoo.
More details about some of the exciting events planned in London throughout the year can also be found on the Visit London webpage - www.visitlondon.com/letsdolondon
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Forthcoming seasonal highlights taking place across London as part of the ‘Let’s Do London’ campaign:
Kicking off this month with a focus on promoting London’s global food offer and new world class public art installations transforming some of London’s most well-known locations.
- London Eats: with many of the capital’s famous chefs, foodies and hospitality venues coming together to promote and celebrate London’s diverse food and drink venues in new ways.
- David Hockney, one of the UK’s most influential living artists, has redesigned TfL’s iconic roundel for a very special artwork as part of takeover of Piccadilly Circus Underground Station and Piccadilly Lights with the Circa project, celebrating the arrival of Spring in the run up to his exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts.
- Royal Academy artists Yinka Shonibare CBE (RA), Michael Armitage, Farshid Moussavi OBE (RA), Vanessa Jackson RA and Isaac Julien CBE (RA) will also transform road crossings and street furniture in the west end. In a partnership with the Heart of London Business Alliance Art of London programme.
- Turning central London into a huge outdoor art gallery, award winning London designer, Yinka Ilori will lead major new temporary streetscape commissions in central London Westminster and the City of London, in partnership with the London Design Festival and Bloomberg Philanthropies' Asphalt Art Initiative.
- Multi-award-winning artist and designer Es Devlin is planting a living forest at Somerset House for her Forest of Change project as this year’s artistic director of the London Design Biennale.
- Curated by Film London and produced in partnership with Geotourist, ‘Movie Magic Tour' launched today takes in 12 filming locations across Central London from Batman Begins to Mary Poppins Returns, exploring the stories behind the movie magic captured in the capital.
A season of summer family fun, for young and old. Rediscover London through great outdoor events and at famous tourist destinations, opening up the city or families to explore. Highlights include:
- The summer of 2021 will see a celebration of sport in London, with the UK capital hosting eight games in UEFA Euro 2020, including the semi-finals and the final at Wembley. This June will also see the return of The Championships, Wimbledon (28 Jun – 11 Jul), and a brand-new cricket competition (The Hundred), followed by the Rugby League World Cup (23rd Oct to 27th Nov) and Virgin Money London Marathon on 3rd
- ROH Unlocked will see the Royal Opera House out and about, taking over Covent Garden with performances, participation and installations (10-11 July 2021)
- Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser is an immersive theatrical show for all ages at the V&A will open on 22 May.
- Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature Exhibition at the Natural History Museum reveals how the wonders of the natural world have inspired myths and magical creatures for generations, from 17 May.
- Van Gogh Alive (June 4 – Sept 26). Having dazzled over 7 million visitors in 65 cities worldwide, the world’s most visited immersive, multi-sensory experience is coming to the stunning Kensington Gardens this summer for an exclusive four month run.
- Thomas Becket Exhibition: murder and the making of a saint, British Museum (20 May – 22 August 2021). Discover the murder that shook the Middle Ages in this dramatic exhibition about the life, death and legacy of Thomas Becket.
- David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020, Royal Academy (23 May – 26 September 2021). The Royal Academy of Arts will present David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020 comprising a new body of work created by David Hockney RA during a period of intense activity at his home in Normandy, charting the unfolding and progression of spring.
- The EY Exhibition: The Making of Rodin, Tate Modern (18 May – 21 November 2021). Discover how Auguste Rodin broke the rules of classical sculpture to create new images of the human body for the modern age. This landmark exhibition includes rarely-seen plaster and clay sculptures which reveal Rodin’s ways of thinking and making.
- A number of London theatres will be welcoming back audiences from 17 May with social distancing, and more to reopen from 21 June. From new plays to long-running favourites, there is a huge variety of musical theatre, plays, dance and opera returning to the stage later in the year.
- Kids Week returns and will showcase the best of the West End as theatre roars back to life
- Enjoy theatre and comedy under the stars at London's Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s 2021 programme has been announced, and begins in June. See a Shakespearean classic with Romeo & Juliet, Rodgers and Hammerstein's iconic musical Carousel, and family favourites Anansi the Spider and Dragons & Mythical Beasts
- London’s leading festival of free outdoor theatre and performing arts, Greenwich + Docklands International Festival, returns on 27 August until 11 September 2021
- Breakin’ Convention, the world's biggest festival of hip hop dance, is back at Sadler’s Wells for its 18th year (3 - 4 July 2021)
- Roman Weekend Takeover at the British Museum in August where families will be able to enjoy a Roman Encampment on the front lawns, meet the Emperor Nero himself and visit the special exhibition Nero: the man behind the myth.
- You can even learn to be a knight at the Tower of London’s ‘Knight School: The Show’ (29 May to 6 June 2021)
- Play Streets - London Play, the capital’s leading charity for children’s play, will be opening up central London for families and putting play back on the capital’s streets
- A large-scale free activity for families at Tate Modern throughout the school summer holidays
- Southbank Centre welcomes audiences back with their Summer Reunion programme – 15 consecutive weekends of free outdoor activity from 21 May including music, poetry and visual art as well as indoor performances of ballet, literature, contemporary and classical music starting with the Chineke! Orchestra on 28 May in the Royal Festival Hall.
- Inside Out Festival in Westminster sees pop-ups, installations taking over the streets
- Mayfair Sculpture Trail - galleries from across this renowned art district present sculptures beyond their walls, with visitors being able to enjoy artworks showcased across Bond Street, Berkeley Square and within Grosvenor Square (2 - 27 June 2021)
- London Festival of Hope - Organised by the London Tourism Cooperative the year-long London Festival of Hope is a true celebration of life with an art and photography contest, competitions for all the family including an amateur ‘bake-off’, community activations, giant inflatables taking over London’s skyline and a series of outdoor live music concerts that will reimagine the performance space.
- The Royal Albert Hall’s 150th anniversary celebrations will properly begin on 29 May, as audiences return to the venue for socially-distanced events. A typically eclectic programme for the first week includes family concerts, the Royal Choral Society singing Handel’s Messiah – an annual tradition since 1876 – and events spotlighting country music and ballet. Subject to the next stage of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown going ahead as planned, the Hall will then re-open to the public with full capacity from 6 July.
- Over the summer months museums, galleries and cultural venues will open late. New collaborations will celebrate London’s film and music, working with London’s grassroot venues, LGBTQ+ venues and night clubs.
- An invitation to get back to the big screen will see outdoor film screenings curated by BAFTA and the London Film Festival.
- 'Midnight Matinees' at Shakespeare’s Globe with performances starting at 11.59pm and Lates nights at London Zoo are just a few of the great things in store.
- Art Night will happen across central London in June and July.
- The Proms will be back at the Royal Albert Hall (30th July – 11 September)
- BMW Classics, a free outdoor concert in central London, by the world renowned London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.
London’s Autumn season will see the crown jewels of London’s creativity return.
- London Fashion Week will burst back onto the catwalks.
- The 19th London Design Festival will take place across the city from 18-26 September 2021.
- Frieze London returns to Regent’s Park with the best of international contemporary art by emerging and established artists, alongside a dynamic programme of newly commissioned artworks, films and talks – (13–17 October, 2021)
- Photo London brings the finest international photograph to Somerset House between 9–12 September 2021
- 65th BFI London Film Festival runs from 6 to 17 October 2021 with a selection of the best in world cinema, showing audiences a wide array of films, representing a variety of languages, genres and filmmaking styles
- Finally, in the lead up to the festive period, magical lighting will brighten central London supporting the critical pre and post Christmas ‘golden period’ for London’s culture, hospitality and retail businesses.
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