Open House London is back, in fact, it started last weekend and has some opening this weekend. Completely different to the last few years, because, well, what isn’t, we thought we’d give you a heads up how you can make the most of Open House London this year. Some of it you can even do from your sofa!
1. Download the app
Their Android and Apple app does leave some to be desired but is the best way of planning your time, finding what needs booking and what is accessible. The Open House London app has a good filter in order to be able to map the buildings that you can see too. Also keep a look on the website for some of the bigger Open House London events that are happening the rest of this week and the weekend coming, their events page should help with this.
2. Keep safe
This year more than ever it is important to keep in mind safety. It has been advised that you allow more time for visiting as places will have strict numbers on capacity. Additionally, you will be expected to wear a mask in venues and possibly in the queues now too. Make sure you’re washing your hands and keeping your distance from others too. It will make for a much nicer, and safer, experience for everyone.
As mentioned below, another way to keep safe is to take part in some of the online sessions that are going on this year. Like never before the itinerary is full of lots of online tours (some require booking) and it’s well worth planning these into your weekend (or week) too. If you’re still keen to go out an explore, can we also recommend walking between sites. It means you can also pop into other buildings that are not part of Open House London but are seemingly open to the public conveniently on the same day. It happens a lot, trust us.
3. Avoid queues
There will always be some buildings that have super-long queues, even more so this year. One way to avoid this is to go to the places you think not many will go to. Or, even better, do it online. Because of the pandemic this year, lots of Open House London has moved online. From tours around buildings, to themed talks and other exciting and interactive things. It is well worth the look. the app tells you about them and the website gives more details too. Our highlights from the looks of things this weekend are an online tour around theatreland, an online tour of London’s colonial history and an online experience of the story of schools.
4. Pick your area
For those of you that love the tube, this might not be the best advice. BUT, it is important to think about what you want to see and how much you want to see each day. If you can, pick buildings and events in close proximity to each other (the app will help with this too). This means that you can walk between buildings and it doesn’t matter if there’s queues as you don’t have to rush anywhere. It also means if it’s raining you don’t get too wet too! We also found that picking an area meant that we weren’t disappointed if we couldn’t get to other places – as we filled our day with close by buildings. It was also a great way to decide what buildings to go to, by focussing on it geographically, also meaning we went to buildings we may not have normally thought about visiting.
5. Check opening times
As most of these points show, planning for Open House London is imperative. One thing we realised is that lots of buildings have weird opening times. Some shut early, have closed breaks in the day or open late. This is also the case with the online events – most are timed rather than tune in when you want. The app and online are helpful with opening times, so avoid missing out! Plan around them, change your order and get exploring!
6. Plan, plan, plan, but also get distracted
If you are going out and not staying to to this year’s Open House London online, then it’s more important than ever that you plan your day. Allow for it to take more time than you’d expected though, as it is very easy to get distracted. Both walking between sites – how we ended up on this lovely lady’s boat (yes, it was part of Open House London)…
Things also take longer when you’ve planned your beautiful route. Especially when, when you get there they announce that they’re going to bring out some more items for you to look at and the man in the fancy clothes is going to tell you more about the place. This happened last year on many occasions. In the Lord Mayor’s office and legal houses, courts and boats. It’s the best but also, the worst if you love a plan. Embrace it.
7. Do it with friends
Of course, follow the rules, no more than 6 of you, but we can’t explain how much more fun it was exploring our city of residence with mates. It meant we all expanded our horizons too in making sure that we all wanted to see things, so we ended up on boats, in parliamentary buildings and in people’s homes! If you’re on your own too, don’t fret, there’s lots of volunteers to chat to and sometimes it’s nice to be let in before people in bigger groups when it’s one in one out too.
8. Get excited for next year
Of course, this year is complicated for everyone, and we can but hope that next year will bring more change. If this is the case, you can bet we will be back at Open House London with a vengeance! In the mean time, keep your eyes out for safe, exciting things that we’re going to bring you to be able to do soon.
9. Pack an umbrella
OK, sure this one is not a necessity, but if the British weather is anything, it’s unpredictable. Take an umbrella – you don’t want to get caught moving between buildings in the rain; have the rain spoil your day or be stuck in a queue without one!