The Lanterns at Chester Zoo

“If you light a lantern for another, it will also brighten your own way” - Nichiren


Christmas is a great time of the year to introduce some magical traditions into your family’s advent calendar, especially if these involve giving to those less fortunate or helping charities and other good causes.

The Lanterns at Chester Zoo is a lantern-lit fairytale world with ticket proceeds helping to fund the zoo’s fantastic conservation work.


Visitors not only experience an illuminated Christmas journey, they also help to prevent the extinction of endangered species both in the UK and around the rest of the world.


Now in its sixth year, this years event has been created in partnership with Wild Rumpus, the award-winning specialists in creating extraordinary outdoor events. 

Last night I took my family along to the opening night where we were taken on a magical trip through a Christmas sorting office. 


Young visitors are encouraged to take their own letters to post to Santa.


The journey came to life as twilight fell across the zoo. Theatrical performances, dancers and live musicians were hidden around every corner. 


We were given our own lanterns to guide us on a route filled with an Antelope Narnia, a Spectacled Bear Airship, an Insect Orchestra and, my favourite, a Flamingo cocktail lounge.


It’s a lovely way to spend an evening in the build up to Christmas. 


Although suited to younger children, there's something about illuminations at this time of year which perfectly captures the festive spirit, making it a magical evening for all ages. 


The event will take place on the following dates:

  • 24th - 26th November
  • 1st - 3rd December
  • 8th -10th December
  • 15th - 17th December
  • 20th - 23rd December
  • 27th - 30th December

Tickets can be purchased via The Chester Zoo website

Vogue 100: A Century of Style

During my recent trip to London, I visited the Vogue 100: A century of style exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

The exhibition is a showcase of some of the amazing photos that have been commissioned ever since Vogue magazine was founded in 1916, with over 280 prints from the Conde Nast archive sourced from all around the world, including Costa Rica, Singapore, France, America and Canada.

The publication has been at the forefront of fashion photography for the past century and has earned its reputation as 'the fashion bible’. Famous pieces from some of the best photographers in the industry are on display, from Cecil Beaton, Tim Walker, Snowdon to David Bailey and Mario Testino.

The exhibition opened on 11th February following a star studded opening with guests such as Jerry Hall, Christopher Bailey, Yasmin Le Bon, Karlie Kloss and Laura Bailey all in attendance.

I visited shortly thereafter on a busy Sunday. A showreel of Cara Delevingne greets you as you walk in and a huge banner of Alexander McQueen cradling a smoking skull sits pride of place on the far wall.

The exhibition runs backwards in time, a reverse chronological journey from now to 1916, with each room showing a decade. There were copies of famous Vogue covers from every year of the magazine’s 100 year history. 

The first issue of Vogue was published in the middle of World War I. The American issues were not available for import due to paper shortages and restrictions on overseas shipping. The publisher decided to create a special edition for us Brits which was to be produced in London.

In autumn 1916 the first copy was printed for sale. It was on display at the exhibition and is a far cry from the glossy thick editions that we read today. 

Probably my favourite aspect of the exhibition was the portrait photography with iconic images of Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Naomi Campbell, Lady Diana Spencer as well as from the famous Nineties supermodel “movement”. There was a fantastic black and white Sixties feature on my favourite model, Jean Shrimpton.

Images from Corinne Day's infamous fashion shoot with Kate Moss in 1993 were shown featuring a waif like 19-year old Kate. The photographs were controversial at the time and caused outrage when they were published by Vogue, with accusations that they promoted drug use, eating disorders and child pornography. Following the uproar, Kate Moss was banned by her agent from working with Day ever again.

Although the exhibition is primarily for those interested in fashion, its main focus is on historical personalities and the photographers who documented them. In more than 2,000 issues, Vogue has acted as a cultural barometer, putting fashion in the context of the larger world in which we live. So there is something for everyone to enjoy, from film and royalty to the world of politics and sports.

All images courtesy of  Vogue .

All images courtesy of Vogue.

Vogue100 runs until 22nd May 2016. Tickets are £19.00 and can be purchased via www.npg.org.uk

If you’re unable to visit, there is a stunning book to accompany the exhibition:

You might also enjoy watching this Vogue video:

National Portrait Gallery

St Martin's Place London WC2H 0HE

020 7306 0055

Cocktail Saturdays was a guest of The National Portrait Gallery.

London Fashion Weekend

Last week saw the return of London Fashion Weekend to the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea. Hot on the heels of London Fashion Week, the exclusive event was a four day spectacle, allowing us mere mortals access to the world of fashion. 

Thanks to the growing influence of the Internet and social media, the industry has opened itself up to allow the public the opportunity to have an authentic fashion-insider experience. Ticket-holders can attend catwalk shows, talks from fashion experts as well as shop from designer collections. There were over 150 brands selling items at insider prices. There was also the opportunity to experience beauty treatments from both Maybelline and Toni & Guy.

Tickets were available in Bronze (£20), Silver (£40), Gold (£60), Luxe (£130) and Luxe Premium (£145), each offering different experiences. We bought Silver tickets which allowed us front row access to a Designer Catwalk show. Each day a different designer gave an exclusive preview of their SS16 collection. When we visited on Saturday, Temperley London featured. 

The clothes were beautiful, all bohemian and feminine with heavy embroidery. Some of the models wore handmade sandals and wide-brimmed Panama hats which gave a Havana feel to the collection.

My favourite looks were a Black and Ivory Lettie Tuva waistcoat and trousers and a £10,000 showstopper, a long mirror ball ruffle dress.

The gorgeous George Lamb presented the show, we met him afterwards and he was utterly charming. After the catwalk event we went to a talk with model and presenter, Daisy Lowe. 

The Talks on offer during the four day event were fantastic. Charlotte Dellal, the designer behind Charlotte Olympia, spoke about her brand. Fashion designer and stylist William Baker spoke about music and fashion. Sunday’s talk was by respected photographer, Rankin, famed for snapping everyone from the Queen to Kate Moss. 

We listened to Daisy discussing growing up in the modelling industry. She gave a frank and honest insight into the campaigns she has featured in and the prominent photographers she has worked with. It was a great talk and she was really lovely when we met her afterwards. During her talk she hinted that she has some exciting projects in the pipeline. When we spoke I asked her if she would consider launching her own range of vintage clothing like her mum, Pearl Lowe. Although she didn’t confirm or deny she looked quite coy so keep an eye out…

The event ran from 25th – 28th February but it is due to return to the Saatchi Gallery again in September 2016. You can sign up at www.londonfashionweekend.co.uk/newsletter to be notified of when tickets go on sale.

If you do attend in September, make sure that you take the opportunity to dress up in your most stylish attire, most of the visitors at the event looked like they had just stepped off the catwalk!

In the meantime, here's a glimpse of what to expect...

Luminous Landscapes: Spring Festival of Light

Last night I went along with my family to the launch of the Spring Festival of Light. 

Held at the Festival Gardens near Otterspool, next to the River Mersey, the show has been created by the Liverpool Lantern Company. This is the first time the festival has been held in the waterfront gardens, with previous events hosted at Sefton Park.

It was a magical evening which was underpinned by a serious message about the environment. Visitors see the world turned upside down. Humans change place with insects to give a new perspective on the natural world.

The aim is to raise awareness about environmental issues, such as landfill and recycling, in the hope that visitors will be incentivised to "reduce, reuse and recycle."

The whole show comes to life in the darkness with illuminated puppets, performers and light installations everywhere you look.

A secret woodland and waterway route transport you to a glowing wonderland. Everywhere you walk there is something waiting to be explored, giant insects, illuminated creatures and other astonishing sights. There was so much to see.

There are lantern-making workshops for visitors to make their own lanterns to carry during the show to light their path. 

The event is to be held across three days from 18th - 20th February and is open from 5.30pm till 9pm each night. Unfortunately the 9,000 allocated tickets have already sold out but the Lantern Company are hoping to return to Sefton Park in October for the annual Halloween event. 

If you have the opportunity to go you really should. Adults and children alike will be amazed by it. An utterly brilliant and unique event for Liverpool to host! 

The Lantern Company