From the new immersive Alice in Wonderland experience at the V&A to curiosity shops, cocktails and afternoon tea, writer and editor Dawn Gibson-Fawcett checks out five ways to have your own Mad Hatter-style adventure in London…
Lead image: Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser, an installation shot (© Victoria and Albert Museum, London)
1 Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser at the V&A, Kensington
Now until 31 December
After more than a year of living through screens, an immersive and fantastical journey down the rabbit hole sounds like just the tonic. The V&A’s first exhibition to incorporate virtual reality, Curiouser and Curiouser invites you to explore five Alice-themed worlds of sensory delights telling the story of how the children’s classic has been interpreted in film, performance, fashion, art, music and photography by leading creatives from Walt Disney to Salvador Dali, The Beatles to Vivienne Westwood. Experience a mind-bending game of VR croquet, encounter a giant caterpillar, see Lewis Carroll’s original handwritten manuscript and marvel at a fearsomely intimidating Red Queen. Curated by Kate Bailey and designed by the award-winning Tom Piper (best known for his Tower of London poppies installation and stage designs for the Royal Shakespeare Company), the theatrical exhibition concludes with a through the looking glass digital art installation. Tickets £20.
Cromwell Road, South Kensington SW7 2RL; vam.ac.uk
2 Hatter’s Afternoon Tea with V&A Curator Kate Bailey, Egerton House Hotel, Kensington
Get behind-the-scenes insights into the making of the new V&A exhibition at this exclusive event hosted by curator Kate Bailey. Be entertained by some fascinating stories while sipping champagne and indulging in some gloriously tempting treats, including the home-made Queen of Hearts raspberry jam tart with almond crumble and the Pearl of Oysters white chocolate Lanson champagne truffle. Priced at £100pp, including a glass of champagne, afternoon tea, curator talk, Alice cocktail and tickets to the exhibition. If you can’t make 8 July, the Egerton’s Alice-themed afternoon tea can be booked for an alternative date. The Hatter’s Tea Party is £52pp or £68pp with champagne. A Children’s White Rabbit Afternoon Tea for under 12s is £25 per child and includes a delightful Drink Me mocktail as well as a three-flavour ice-cream sandwiches and rich chocolate orange brownies.
17-19 Egerton Terrace, Kensington SW3 2BX; egertonhousehotel.com
3 Alice Through the Looking Glass in Cecil Court, nr Covent Garden
A few hops from Leicester Square, look for the sign of the smiling cat to indicate you have arrived at one of London’s most intriguing independent stores. Alice Through the Looking Glass is a delightful homage to anything and everything to do with Alice, from artwork to first edition books, rare illustrations, stationary, clothing and unique objects created in collaboration with British artists – in essence, a gem of a find for gifts and enviable items for your home. Co-founder Jake Fior was inspired when he discovered Sir John Tenniel’s original hand painted Alice chessboard a decade ago, and has since built up a private collection of fascinating objects and illustrations, which are not for sale but can be viewed by appointment and free of charge (you can also view them online here). Fior has written a re-imagination of Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking Glass which explores the darker side of Alice’s world and includes previously unseen original images.
14 Cecil Court, near Covent Garden WC2N 4HE; alicelooking.co.uk
4 Looking Glass Cocktail Club, Shoreditch
Step through the looking glass to a secret room to find yourself in an adult wonderland at the top of Hackney Road, where every inventive cocktail seems to be whispering ‘drink me’. You too may be imagining yourself under a giant mushroom chatting nonsensically with The Blue Caterpillar after a glass or two of the fantastical Managua Dreams, a fusion of Nicaraguan Flor de Caña 12-year-old rum, coconut, curry tepache and Frangelico, or perhaps some of the La Maison Fontaine Chocolate Absinthe. Celebrating 10 years in the Shoreditch club scene, the Looking Glass is dedicated to showcasing ‘the weird, the wonderful and the wicked’ through regular events that combine live music and performance art.
49 Hackney Road, Shoreditch E2 7NX; lookingglasslondon.co.uk
5 Alice’s Queen of Hearts Afternoon Tea, Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites & Residences, Westminster
A short stroll from Buckingham Palace, enjoy a scrumptious selection of cakes and pastries inspired by the book’s characters and events, including Off With Their Heads (the Queen of Hearts recreated as a banana moelleux with a raspberry crémeux dress), No White Roses (a Victorian red velvet cupcake topped with ‘half painted’ roses) and Running Late (a strawberry ‘pocket watch’ macaron). Accompanying finger sandwiches include On Duty (a Coronation chicken sandwich on carrot bread) and Pick a Card (smoked salmon with horseradish crème fraîche on rye bread). Priced at £45pp, including a glass of prosecco on weekdays. There are three sittings daily, at 12.30pm, 2.30pm and 4.30pm.
51 Buckingham Gate, Westminster SW1E 6AF; tajhotels.com
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