What do you get when you bring a thousand of the world’s leading artists together in Regent’s Park? Well, apart from the potential for a lot of money to be made (and spent) you get a unique art festival experience, also known as Frieze London. In its tenth year now, Frieze London is considered the contemporary art event of the year – but don’t let this prestigious and potentially pretentious title put you off. Here’s our guide to how you can enjoy Frieze in London.
About London Frieze
Frieze London is an offshoot of the magazine frieze, which was established in 1991. It has become a leading voice on contemporary art and culture with eye-popping covers and eye-opening articles and features. Two of the founders of frieze, Mathew Slotover and Amanda Sharp, launched the first Frieze Art Fair in 2003 and during the festival’s three day run over £20 million worth of sales were conducted in Regent’s Park. A decade later, Frieze London will welcome 152 galleries from all over the world occupying space in the sprawling square metres of a specially commissioned marquee, designed to showcase some of the most interesting, fascinating and downright weird offerings of modern art.
According to Bloomberg, this year saw about $2 billion worth of art on display during the festival. Frieze London also put a spotlight on new and emerging artists with the non-profit Frieze foundation supported Emdash Award 2013 aiming to acknowledge work by unknown creatives from outside the UK. (It’s well worth watching these videos with children explaining the award – and how they’d spend the prize money!)
Over the years it has gained considerable media attention and the most talked about artists have used the event to launch their works including Tracy Emin who released her book Strangeland there in 2005. The event has already gathered a bit of talk thanks to Gagosian Gallery confirming they will be displaying five new pieces by Jeff Koons. Koons is famous for his over-sized interpretations of seemingly “ordinary” objects, like super-sized balloon animals – which was recently “imitated” at Frieze New York by another controversial figure in modern art, Paul McCarthy.
But let’s not get bogged down with contemporary art controversies – of which there are many that us normal people couldn’t care less about anyway – let’s focus on what’s in it for you.
What’s on at Frieze London
While the event sounds and may appear fairly exclusive – and yes, there is a ticket price; £32 for adults, £20 for 13-18 year olds and £23 for students – once you are safely inside the unique and temporary space, the festival is designed to cater as much for the 80% of visitors who are spectators as it is for the big spenders. It’s important to remember, firstly, that contemporary art isn’t just paintings; it’s sculpture, audio, visual, digital and often interactive. So don’t dismiss it as a 2D affair – seek out the unusual.
Secondly, in addition to strolling around the many galleries, you can attend a wide range of talks, lectures and workshops led by experts in the field talking about modern art trends and industry. There were also five specially commissioned films showing as part of Frieze Film, and Frieze Music saw an impressive line up of live music led by American composer Meredith Monk.
A short stumble away from the regal greenery of Regent’s Park there was Frieze Masters, the event’s sister festival which was back for its second year. Its aim is the opposite to Frieze London, as it is a home for a fine collection of work by the “Masters”. With over 2000 items from the ancient world to the 20th century you need a separate ticket to visit Frieze Masters at Gloucester Green, or alternatively you can buy a combination ticket.
And if you want to preview what was on show at Frieze London 2013 – or you want to imagine you have the budget to buy something – you can search by value, gallery or origin and preview what’s going to be on display on this website.
Top Tips for Going to Frieze London
* Wear comfortable shoes so you can explore the vast area Frieze London covers in comfort.
* Don’t be put off by the price tags and pretentiousness – Frieze is very active through both the Frieze Foundation and Tate Modern at trying to make modern art more accessible.
* Watch out for celebrities – it’s become a haven for A-list spotting!
* Bring your spending money – no, not for the artwork but for the art bookshop there – a treasure trove of coffee table tomes.
* Go for dinner in Camden afterwards. While many will head south from Regent’s Park to find something to eat, if you walk through or around the park to Camden you’ll find a range of restaurants catering to all budgets and tastes in one of London’s most loved areas.
Have you ever been to Frieze London or another art festival? What are your tips for getting the most out of it?
Featured image by Edvvc
The 4th most visited city in Europe. And with a plethora of things to see – including one of the best beaches in the world – museums, cathedrals and World Heritage Sites, a trip to Barcelona can certainly leave anyone blinded by the light of a million and one things to explore and discover. “But wait” we thought to ourselves, “isn’t the best way to learn about a place to talk to the locals?” Why yes it is we thought back bi-polarly. Fortunately, as HouseTrip has over 4,500 quality properties within the city limits of this melting pot, we were spoiled for choice when looking for a street-smart local who could show us the ropes.
Meet Anna, one of HouseTrip’s Impeccable Hosts. She has kindly offered to share her local expertise with us and help you find some of the best things to see and do in the Catalan capital…
- What are some of the things you love to do in Barcelona in your free time?
credit: Atelier Teee
I love to go out for meals, and finding and trying out new restaurants has become somewhat of an obsession for me since I started living in Barcelona! I also love to go hiking in the lovely Catalan countryside surrounding the city. It’s not something you would really do on a short trip to Barcelona, but for anyone living here a bit longer, joining a local hiking group and getting out into the countryside on the weekend is really a great way to meet other like-minded people and explore places you would never find on your own!
credit: Stephan Geyer
I also love to ride my bike around the city – Barcelona is quite flat and has in recent years become very bike-friendly with many dedicated bike lanes being constructed that are set apart from the traffic. Barcelona is actually quite small – it’s not a large city like Madrid as many people imagine, and you can get almost anywhere by bike quite quickly. And the great weather makes it a bike-rider’s paradise!
- Where is the best place in the centre of Barcelona to escape the tourists and find some quiet time?
Montjuïc is the hill at the side of the old town right beside my apartment in the neighbourhood of Poble Sec. It’s full of small parks which have surprisingly few people in them. There are a few reasons for this. First, the hill is not that easy to get to unless you are specifically looking to go there – it’s off to one side and not directly connected to the old town. Secondly, it involves a bit of climbing, which can put many people off (although there is a funicular and a cable car to take you up if you want), and thirdly it can be difficult to find your way around it unless you have a map (it is not just one big park, but a collection of smaller parks interspersed with roads and buildings, including many buildings built for the 1992 Olympics). Those who have made the effort, and come well-equipped with a map, will be rewarded with peaceful, almost empty parks with breathtaking views of the city and ocean.
At the very top, from June to September there is also a little secret reward for the intrepid climber – an open-air cafe called La Caseta del Migdia that allows you to sit under the trees and enjoy a fantastic ocean view while eating a barbecue of Catalan sausages and salad and sipping a cold beer.
- Where would be a great place in Barcelona to take the kids?
One thing that I think all kids would enjoy is the Tibidabo amusement park in the hills behind Barcelona. It was built in 1889 and retains its old-world charm - don’t expect a modern mega amusement park – but it’s a lot of fun and the Ferris-wheel in front of an amazing view of all of Barcelona will leave you with some great photos and memories. For the adults there is also a beautiful old church there - the Temple de Sagrat Cor - built in 1806, so you can combine fun with a bit of history!
(you can actually see Tibidabo and the amusement park from the terrace of my other apartment, which has views over the whole city and the hills beyond!)
Another thing that’s fun for parents and kids alike is the “Magic Fountain” near Plaza España. At certain times in the evenings several days a week the fountain lights up with a spectacular light show set to music against the backdrop of Montjuic.
- What is Barcelona’s best kept secret?
credit: jueves enmedio
At the risk of sounding biased, I’d have to say it’s my neighbourhood – Poble Sec! The old centre of Barcelona can be extremely packed with crowds and tourists, especially in the summer months, but they rarely make it past the large street – Avinguda de Paralell – that separates Poble Sec and Montjuic from the Raval neighbourhood of the old town, even though Poble Sec is only a 15 minute walk from Barcelona’s main street, Las Ramblas! Those that do make it across the “great divide” will find a quiet, largely residential neighbourhood, built at the turn of the previous century, with tree-lined streets and beautiful old buildings nestled at the foot of the Montjuic hill. At the heart of the neighbourhood lies the cobbled pedestrian street, Calle Blai. Although there’s not much going on there during the day, Calle Blai springs to life after around 8pm when the terraces of its many bars and restaurants fill with locals meeting friends for a chat while enjoying a beer and the cheap local fare. The neighbourhood is generally quite a bit cheaper than the other areas in central Barcelona, both in terms of rent and restaurants, and therefore attracts an eclectic group of “starving” young artists and dreadlocked photographers as well as some of the last remaining Catalan old-timers that have largely been forced out of the rest of the old town by the astronomical rise in rent prices of recent years. Some of my favourite restaurants on or near the Calle Blai are Quimet & Quimet, La Tieta, Carmesi and Blai Tonight.
Another “secret” is the centre of the Poblenou neighbourhood which lies behind the Bogatell beach at a 20 minute metro ride from Plaza Catalonia. Even I had not discovered it until recently as it’s well protected from the casual eye by the ugly suburbia of high-rises that guard it on either side. I had previously taken one look at those high rises and run the other way! But recently I had the opportunity to live in the old centre near the Market of Poblenou for 2 months and just fell in love with the neighbourhood. The buildings in the old centre of Poblenou are cute and small – often only 2 or 3 stories high and also from around the turn of the last century. It has quite a beachy, artsy feel about it (the beach is only a 5 minute walk away) and it has some great cafes, shops and restaurants – and a real community vibe with a lot of young families choosing this as the area to bring up their children. If you’re looking for a chilled neighbourhood in which to have a bit of a beach holiday while still being within a short trip of the Barcelona city centre, you can’t beat Poblenou – but make sure you stay in the streets of the old centre (near the market) and not in the modern soul-less developments that surround it!
- Where can I find the best tapas in Barcelona?
credit: Mirari Erdoiza
If you are in the mood for some beers with friends while getting your fingers greasy over a shared plate of tapas, the Barceloneta neighbourhood can’t be beat. This area was traditionally home to the local fishermen and still retains a very village-ey and low-key vibe, despite being, with its location right between the old centre and the beach, what you’d imagine would be peak expensive real estate and trendy restaurants in any other city. The decor in these ‘bodegas’ will definitely be no-frills and neon lights (and if it’s got nice decor, be warned, it’s probably touristy!) , but as long as that’s what you go in expecting you will really enjoy the atmosphere in these places. One of my favourites is El Vaso de Oro on the Calle de Balboa. It’s a tiny place with a long narrow bar, and you will find it full of locals drinking beer and eating the simple, traditional fare while bantering with the friendly waiters and yelling and gesticulating at each other boisterously from one end of the bar to the other. Some others in the same vein that I love in this neighborhood are La Cova Fumada and La Bombeta.
As an alternative to “tapas staples”, you also have huge variations of local fare from region to region. For example, in the Basque country they are famous for their pintxos which are slices of white bread with a variety of toppings and a toothpick in the middle. These are small and usually quite cheap. The pintxos are pre-prepared and laid out on the bar, and you just put the ones you want to eat on a plate and keep the sticks after you have eaten them. The bartender afterwards counts the sticks in order to know what to charge you. While nothing beats eating pintxos in the Basque country itself, if you’re not able to make it there, there are some excellent pintxo places in Barcelona that can give you a taste. One of the best ones is Gasterea in the Gracia neighborhood. In recent years, many Basque pintxo restaurants have also popped up on the Calle Blai in Poble Sec. One of my favourites is a little place called Blai Tonight which only opened about a year ago and has already become the most popular place on the street. Here the pintxos are tasty and only €1 each, but it’s best to go before 8pm as it can get so packed that you can’t get in. The place won’t win any awards for the decor, but, as in many places in Spain, I have found there is little relation between decor and food quality – in fact, in many cases an inverse relation exists!
There is one last thing you have to try while in Spain: vermouth. It’s pretty much a Spanish institution to have un vermut at around 12 or 1pm, as an appetizer for the main meal. Spanish vermouth is red and drunk on its own or with a spritzer of soda water (sifón), with ice and with a slice of lemon. Check out this great write-up by an American on drinking vermouth in Spain:http://catavino.net/vermouth-
- Any food markets that you know about where I can find great ingredients for cooking in the kitchen of a holiday rental?
credit: Julien LaGarde
Although the Boqueria market on Las Ramblas is the most famous and well-known market in Barcelona, I don’t really recommend it – it has gotten too touristy and at times is so packed that you can’t get to the stalls. As a result the service has gone downhill and the prices have gone uphill…
I prefer the Mercado de Sant Antoni, which is a market at the back of the Raval neighbourhood and about a 15 minute walk from my apartment. Unfortunately the beautiful historical old market building is undergoing extensive renovations (due to finish in about 2016), so the stalls have been moved to a temporary building in a street beside the market, but the essentials are still there. I really like the feel of this market – it’s a lot quieter and mostly full of older locals doing their daily shopping. They also have a book market on the street outside the old market on Sunday mornings.
Featured image by marcp_dmoz
5 top World Heritage Sites in France? Where do we begin? Even UNESCO’s shown signs of fatigue over the country’s pretty much endless parade of historic, significant, ancient, important, unique and just plain stunning. How else would you explain a site listed as just ’56 Belfries’? Or ‘The Loire Valley’ – all of it, the whole lot? Or what about ‘The Banks of the Seine’? Yes indeed, it seems that France has more than its fair share of nice stuff to classify. Such a lot in fact, it’s apparently not always possible to separate it, and you just get great big chunks of lumped together loveliness in between the charming, breathtaking and astonishing places that didn’t quite make the cut.
Banks of the Seine - © vonderauvisuals
So, in the spirit of égalité, we’re going North to South for our top five. It’s not a definitive guide but it contains a few all-time favourites, gives you some coast and mountains, covers France from pre-history to round about the time the revolutionaries got a bit tetchy over the lack of food and abundance of gold leaf, mirrors and relentless topiary. There were one or two candidates on UNESCO’s ‘Tentative List’ we’d like to have thrown in, but couldn’t: the Camargue? Tentative? Really? Nothing tentative about flamingoes as far as we’re concerned! And we’ve steered clear of cathedrals because, when you’ve seen one soaring buttress etc.
Winter approaches and since we’ve a fondness for North West France in the colder months of the year, let’s start with Mont Saint Michel.
Mont Saint-Michel © susanna giaccai
To be clear, Mont Saint Michel is definitely an island. It’s reached by a causeway (oh, the romance), surrounded by sea, sand and salt meadows (oh, even more romance) and it’s in Normandy, but just on the border of Brittany. The island’s Abbey is 11th century in origin and has the crypts to prove it, later modifications and additions are responsible for the iconic fairy-tale appearance and it’s all as beautifully preserved as you would expect. Mont Saint Michel is effectively a spiritual hierarchy with God on top (The Abbey) and the cottages of farmers and fisherfolk at the base (outside the walls). In between, the grand halls and stores descend, clinging to the island’s shape so organically that from a distance it’s hard to tell what’s natural and what’s not. The bay surrounding Mont Saint Michel is also a World Heritage Site but please don’t be tempted to walk across the sands to the island, pilgrims didn’t call it ‘St. Michael in peril from the sea’ for nothing. With only 44 permanent residents, Mont Saint Michel today has more sheep than people and the area’s famous for unique and delicious agneau de pré salé (salt meadow lamb). To protect the island and its fragile surroundings from the impact of over 3 million visitors a year, Mont Saint Michel is traffic free and the nearest parking is 2 km away on the mainland – you can walk across the causeway or catch a shuttle. And if you like your drama heightened, vivid late afternoon sunsets and mist-tinged frosty mornings, winter is the most peaceful and (in our opinion) loveliest time to see Mont Saint Michel.
Pious restraint and austere northern beauty not your thing? Then allow us to lead you 55km to the south of Paris and the riotous romp through eight centuries of French Royal excess that is Le Château de Fontainebleau.
Le Château de Fontainebleau © FredArt
The oldest and one of the largest French Royal Palaces, Fontainebleau has 1500 rooms, 130 hectares of parkland and so much gold and tapestry and draping and allegory and ornament that it’s quite probably a verb in Dubai: To Fontainebleau – overwhelm every inch of available space with eye watering vulgarity. But Le Château de Fontainebleau’s interior is the original and you have to look at it without pre-conception – hard to do when faced with 25 acres of frolicking nymphs, but worth it, we promise. And if all that open-minded appreciation of such richness brings out The Very Hungry Caterpillar in you, Fontainebleau’s legendary parkland is hectare after hectare of very nice green leaves and lots of other delightful natural antidotes to cherubs and Chinoserie. Surprisingly the parkland isn’t a World Heritage Site, but it is possibly some of the most magnificent in France and this is not a country short on great landscaping.
Skipping over the 300 or more châteaux that collectively earn The Loire Valley its World Heritage status, we’re instead irresistibly drawn to the Lascaux Caves in South West France.
Lascaux Caves © Adibu456
One of several pre-historic World Heritage Sites in the Dordogne’s Vallée Vézère, Lascaux is famous for its cave paintings which are considered to be the world’s finest and most extensive examples of Paleolithic art. The Lascaux Caves were discovered in 1940, opened to the public in 1948 and finally closed in 1963 because in just 15 years the 17,000 year old art had been almost irreparably damaged by visitors. Today, Lascaux II is an almost exact replica of the caves recreated close to the original. The paintings have been faithfully reproduced and the entire experience is captivating, intelligent and very moving.
When it comes to ‘world’s finest examples’, even the shortest list of French World Heritage Sites has to include the Cité de Carcassonne at the Mediterranean end of the Canal du Midi (another World Heritage Site) in South West France.
The Cité de Carcassonne dominates Carcassonne’s entire skyline with fairy-tale turrets, ramparts and imposing towers, managing to look both mighty and ethereal and well up to holding down a siege or keeping back a Medieval invader or two. The restored Medieval Cité itself is a fairly austere experience going for atmosphere over ornament, but it has a ‘Torture Tower’ if you’re interested in – unexpected – instruments of inquisition. And the commercialised ‘old town’ is more than happy to make up for its fortified counterpart’s minimalism with almost endless opportunities to buy Medieval souvenirs from surly shopkeepers charging exorbitant prices. Trust us, you’ll never regret saying ‘no’ to some curly-toed velvet slippers or a slash-sleeved ankle length robe.
To end on a heritage high note, we had to go for Scandola Nature Reserve on Corsica.
Scandola Nature Reserve © Rox More
Not an island lacking in dramatic landscape, Corsica does rugged and strange as a matter of course and specialises in towns that teeter off cliffs, terrifyingly twisty mountain roads and a fair number of rocky outcrops, sea stacks and grottos. So when we tell you that Scandola beats just about everywhere else on the island for sheer scale and almost unearthly beauty, you know this is one to definitely tick on the World Heritage list. Lying to the west of Corsica, Scandola is primarily a nature reserve and its vast rock pillars, caves and cliffs are home to an astonishing variety of sea birds. The reserve is only accessible by boat so it’s a site less visited which is worth a mention in itself.
Depending on where you stand with Belfries and Cĥateaux, France has 37 or over 300 World Heritage Sites and that’s before you touch the ‘Tentative List’. So even if you aren’t inspired to head out and get yourself some Medieval garb in Carcassonne, cross the causeway to Mont Saint Michel or brave the opulence of Fontainebleau, there are still quite a few alternatives to choose from.
For our next exclusive Google+ Hangout On Air we’ll be joined by Keith Jenkins of the fantastic velvetescape.com. Tune in live to discover Keith’s top tips for where to go to find luxury for less, and how to create those luxury moments in your holiday.
We’ll be going live with Keith at 1pm GMT. As always, the link to watch will appear on this event page 15 minutes before we go live.
Tweet your questions for Keith any time before and during the Hangout to @housetrip using the hashtag #luxuryforless
Featured image by Sarah_Ackerman
Paris is one of our favourite cities. It can be all things to all people: annual family holidays, romantic weekend getaways, luxurious escapes and quick, cheap breaks. And we categorically believe that the best way you can add flavour and quirk to any hightailing to Paris, is by staying in a holiday home.
So with that in mind, here are ten of our more luxurious, characterful homes in Paris available to rent and designed to leave you thinking longingly to yourself… “I wish I owned that”.
1) Slick, modern and clean…
in trendy Marais. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/249927
2) Stylish, charming fusion of traditional and modern…
also in – still trendy – Marais. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/197
3) Light, large and piano-ridden…
beautifully well located in the centre of Paris. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/168112
4) Noble, elegant and stately…
you’ll feel part of the French nobility, pre-revolution of course. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/254377
5) Spacious, luxurious and lofty…
with incredible views of the Eiffel Tower on your balcony. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/257369
6) Splendidly grand…
and only 5 minutes from the Champs Elysées and l’Arc de Triomphe. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/147069
7) Artistic, large and comfy…
and spread over 3 floors. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/175788
8) Sunny, with a terrace and beautifully designed…
in the heart of Montmartre. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/11523
9) Unique, stunning and a fantastic find…
it even has a library. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/67085
10) Eclectic, bright and high-ceilinged former artist’s residence…
Henri Pinta’s old studio. http://www.housetrip.com/en/rentals/229141
But that’s not all. There are so many wonderful places to see in Paris, and incredible apartments, mansions, houses and houseboats to choose from.