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The NFL Comes to Wembley

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The NFL, or National Football League, is the professional league of American Football, of which, a growing portion of their fanbase resides in the UK and since 2007, the NFL International Series has been exclusively held at Wembley Stadium. That first year, the Miami Dolphins hosted the New York Giants and demand for tickets were so high that 40,000 sold out within the first 90 minutes of them being on sale.

Every year since different teams have played and the support has never waned. The NFL are now planning more international games, some at Twickenham Stadium in London and others at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

What’s Planned for 2016?

If you want to catch the excitement of the sport live in 2016 then head to Wembley Stadium this autumn. On 2nd October the Indianapolis Colts play the Jacksonville Jaguars and on the 30th October, the Washington Redskins play the Cincinnati Bengals.  General admission tickets for both games are now sold out, although it’s still possible to attend if you book through one of Wembley Stadium’s hospitality packages.

Why Wembley is The Perfect Venue

Wembley Stadium has been synonymous with sport through the decades. It was built at the end of the First World War and originally known as the Empire Stadium. The building was the centrepiece of a post-war British Empire Exhibition. In the early part of the 21st century it was rebuilt, and it reopened its doors in 2007. The famous twin towers of the original stadium replaced by an iconic arch.

The stadium is now one of the most modern stadiums in the world, with a circumference of 1km and seating for 90,000 people. Even better, none of those seats have obstructed views so you are always guaranteed one of the best seats in the house, wherever you are sitting.

To cater for that many people there are 34 bars, 8 restaurants, and 688 food outlets to choose from. In a standard half-time during football and rugby matches it is estimated that around 40,000 pints of beer are served, so the scale of the operation is incredible.

Getting to Wembley

There is limited parking at Wembley Stadium, as it is designated a public transport destination. If you want to drive ensure you book parking in advance.

Train, tube, and coach access are relatively easy. Wembley is only two stops away from Baker Street on the Metropolitan Line and National Express coaches have dedicated services for events from across the UK.

An alternative, and one which makes a much more special occasion of the day is to charter a helicopter and take in the sights of the capital from above before making your way to one of the NFL Games.

The Future of NFL in the UK                     

NFL games will continue at Wembley Stadium until at least 2020 and the likelihood is they will go on long after that. Enthusiasm for American Football has reached a level where thousands of people are now playing the game themselves and taking part in amateur games here in the UK. Since the NFL first arrived at Wembley in 2007 participation has risen 15 per cent every year and there are now more than 40,000 people over the age of 16 playing regularly.

American Football is exciting, fast paced and very different to sports we are used to watching in the UK. If you haven’t experienced it first-hand try to make it to one of the games at Wembley or even if you don’t make it there in person, catch up on the action on BBC Sport and iPlayer. You might just become a fan.

Highclere Castle: Why you should visit

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Highclere Castle in Berkshire has become famous in recent years as home to the fictitious Earl of Grantham and his family in ‘Downton Abbey’. In reality, though, it is the estate of Lord and Lady Carnarvon but it has just as rich a history as its on-screen counterpart.

The Estate

The site was first mentioned in the Domesday Book and was originally a medieval palace of the Bishop of Winchester. The Carnarvons have lived at Highclere since 1679 but the castle building we see today did not emerge until Sir Charles Barry, the architect of the Houses of Parliament, remodelled it in 1842. The house is set in 1,000 acres of parkland including formal gardens, woodland, and several follies. The parkland was designed by one of the most celebrated landscape gardeners of the 18th century, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. In October of this year, Highclere is opening the grounds for a special exclusive celebration of the 300th anniversary of Capability Brown’s birth.

At the turn of the 21st century, the house was in a state of disrepair with necessary renovations estimated to cost around £12 million. Because of the popularity of Downton Abbey, Highclere has seen a huge upsurge in visitor numbers and Lord and Lady Carnarvon are now in a position where the repairs are being carried out.

Egyptian Connections                        

Highclere Castle was home to the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, a colleague of archaeologist Howard Carter. It was the two men who discovered the Tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. Lord Carnarvon died soon after the discovery and much has been made of the rumour that there was a curse upon those who disturbed the tomb of the Boy King.

At Highclere, there is an Egyptian Exhibition which houses a collection of the antiquities collected by the 5th Earl and reproductions of many of the items found in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Visiting Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle is open between July and September for tours of the house and gardens and there are also various special events held throughout the year, such as a vintage tea party and Christmas fair.

You can travel to Highclere by train, alighting at Newbury and then getting a taxi to the house. By car, you can approach by the M4 and the A34 and then follow the brown tourist signs which will bring you to the correct entrance. If you want to experience the magnificence of Highclere by air why not charter a helicopter and see the full extent of the parkland from above?

Private Functions

Highclere Castle also offers private functions and the beautiful setting makes it the perfect backdrop for an engagement, wedding or anniversary celebration. Smaller parties of 30 people right up to 140 guests can be catered for and the bride can even descend from the first floor Gallery, down the sweeping Oak Staircase into the heart of the castle the Saloon, where civil marriage ceremonies are licensed to be held.

If you don’t want to visit the Castle when it is open to the public, private tours can also be arranged when you can take in the house, parkland, and even the Egyptian exhibition, too.

Continuing Appeal

Downton Abbey has now completed its run but the popularity of Highclere Castle shows no signs of abating. People travel from around the world to visit the castle and it seems likely that they will continue to do so. Part of the appeal of Highclere is that it has so much to offer in its own right. It took a television series to bring it to the public’s attention but it will be the allure of the house and grounds that will keep them coming back for more in years to come.

London Fashion Week

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London Fashion Week is a highlight of the industry’s calendar and takes place twice a year, in February and September, heralding the season’s new arrivals. It is one of the top four fashion showcases worldwide, alongside: Milan, New York, and Paris and some even consider London the fashion capital of the world. There is certainly plenty of innovation at London Fashion Week both on the catwalk and in the digital technology which is used to showcase the collections.

History of the Event

London Fashion Week first took place in 1984 and it is organised by the British Fashion Council. In September 2016 the principal sponsor is Sunglass Hut and no doubt many of their designs will appear on the catwalk during the week. London Fashion Week itself is a trade event but on the Saturday and Sunday which follows, known as London Fashion Weekend and held at the same venue, it’s open to the public.

The press, buyers, and celebrities flock to the shows and it is estimated that orders received because of it, reach anything up to £100 million. This year the event started on Thursday 15th September and ran through until the following Tuesday. In previous years it has been held against the backdrop of Somerset House and The Natural History Museum, however, in 2016 the main venue was the Brewer Street Car Park in Soho. This might seem like quite an unorthodox location choice but it is central to main retail centres such as Bond Street and Oxford Street.

Get Involved Next Year

London Fashion Week is usually an invite-only event however many designers are now encouraging the public to get more involved. Some will give away tickets to their catwalk shows and last season the shows were transmitted on large screens across the UK so that people could watch live.

However, these opportunities are limited so if you want to attend then head to the London Fashion Weekend. If fashion is your passion, you won’t be disappointed with the talks taking place. Accessories designer Sophia Webster and the creative director of Agent Provocateur, Sarah Shotton both made an appearance in 2016. For those wanting to start a career in fashion, there are panel events where the main topic of discussion will be ways to enter the industry. It’s also possible to save money over this public weekend if you are in the market for ready-to-wear pieces, as one hundred and fifty brands will have their ranges on display at discounted prices.

The majority of London Fashion Week’s shows are usually covered by mainstream media and you can see many of them on TV or read about them in magazines and newspapers. However, social media has made it even easier to feel as though you are there, with live streaming taking place and many of the designs making it on to Instagram and the websites of fashion bloggers.

Heading to the Venues

If you are intending to head to London Fashion Week, you could arrive by train, car or taxi, however, to make it a unique event why not arrive by helicopter. If you book a chartered flight you can take in the sights of the capital before landing and not have to worry about a glass or two of champagne during the day.

Whether you are a committed follower of fashion or whether you just enjoy the spectacle of the amazing shows put on by many of the world’s leading designers, London Fashion Week has a great deal to offer. As we move into the new season, make sure you don’t miss out on any of the highlights coming up from Topshop Unique through to Temperley London.

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