Culture of London

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London is an international centre of culture in terms of arts, music, festivals, museums and much more. The diversity of cultures within London is so great that easy definition is impossible. The city is home to more than 300 nationalities that have over time moulded and shaped the city's culture into what it is today.

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[edit] Classical music/Opera

London has five professional symphony orchestras; the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. There are also several chamber orchestras, some of which specialise in period instrument performances, including the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

The principal orchestral music venues are the Royal Festival Hall, and the Queen Elizabeth Hall, which are both in the South Bank Centre; the Barbican Centre; and the Royal Albert Hall, which hosts the Proms each summer. Chamber music venues include the Purcell Room at the South Bank Centre; the Wigmore Hall and St John's, Smith Square.

The Royal Opera House at Covent Garden is home to the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet companies. The other main opera company is the English National Opera. In the summer opera is performed in a temporary pavilion by Opera Holland Park, and there are occasional performances by visiting opera companies and small freelance professional opera companies. The major venues for contemporary dance productions include the Sadler's Wells Theatre and the Barbican Centre.

[edit] Popular music

London is famous for its rock scene, and was the starting point of such bands as The Clash, Led Zeppelin, The Sex Pistols,The Who, The Libertines, and Pink Floyd. Most major bands' tours will pass through London as well, favourite venues being the Brixton Academy, the Astoria, and the Hammersmith Apollo.

In addition to spawning the bands mentioned above, London, in its capacity as the UK's cultural centre, has served as the base of a number of internationally important acts, including The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, as well as being instrumental in the birth of dance music.

[edit] Festivals

London hosts several festivals, fairs and carnivals throughout the year. The most famous is the Notting Hill Carnival, the world's second largest carnival. The carnival takes place over the August bank holiday weekend, and attracts almost 1 million people. It has a distinctly Afro-Caribbean flavour, and highlights include a competition between London's steelpan bands and a 3 mile street parade with dancing and music.

There are also large parades held on St. George's Day (April 23) and St Patrick's Day (March 17). The Dance Umbrella is held every October, and features a variety of dance companies putting on displays across London. In addition there are many smaller fairs and parades, including the Christmas Without Cruelty Fayre, a fair held annually to promote animal rights.

[edit] Theatre

Image:Apollo Theatre.jpg
Mamet's A Life in the Theatre starring Joshua Jackson at the Apollo Theatre

There are over three dozen major theatres, most concentrated in the West End (see the articles West End theatre and List of London venues). West End theatres are commercial ventures and show musicals, comedy and serious drama. The subsidised or non-commercial theatre includes the National Theatre, which is based at the South Bank; the Royal Shakespeare Company which is based in Stratford, but presents seasons in London; The Globe, a modern reconstruction of the home of Shakespeare's troupe; The Royal Court Theatre which specialises in new drama; the Old Vic; and the Young Vic. London also boasts a vibrant fringe theatre culture including places such as the Battersea Arts Centre, The UCL Bloomsbury, The Place, and Tricycle Theatre.

[edit] Art

The British National collection of Western Art to 1900 is held at The National Gallery. Other major collections of pre-1900 art are The Wallace Collection; the Courtauld Gallery at the Courtauld Institute of Art; and Dulwich Picture Gallery. The national collection of post-1900 art is at Tate Modern and the national collection of British Art is at Tate Britain. The National Portrait Gallery has a major collection dedicated to prominent British people from all periods. The Royal Academy's temporary exhibitions are also important.

In addition to Tate Modern major contemporary art venues include White Cube, the Saatchi Gallery, and The ICA.

[edit] Museums

There are over 240 museums in London. Among the more important are the British Museum (antiquities from all over the world), the Victoria and Albert Museum (applied and decorative arts), the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Imperial War Museum, the National Maritime Museum, and the Museum of London.

[edit] Night-life

Apart from the pubs and clubs, there are many music venues. Among the best known are Shepherds Bush Empire, Brixton Academy, Hammersmith Apollo, Wembley Arena, The Marquee, The UCL Bloomsbury, Albert Hall and the London Astoria. London is home to many clubs such as the Ministry of Sound.

[edit] Other

There are many other culture related attractions in London, including the Avenue of Stars, a walkway similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, with stars commemorating notable individuals or groups.

[edit] Inspiration

The city of London has also served as an inspiration for other cities in the world, most notabaly Mumbai (Bombay), whose infrastructure and transport system is modelled on London . There are streets in Mumbai which bear the same name as streets in London.

Culture of London

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