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The NFL at Wembley 2013: Minnesota Vikings vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

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As part of the American football event of the year in the UK, two of the biggest teams playing in the NFL bring their squads to London for a showcase game at Britain’s biggest and most famous football stadium at London’s Wembley Park.

wembley nfl international series

Wembley will be transformed and packed to capacity for the NFL International Series

As Minneapolis’ home team the Minnesota Vikings take on Pennsylvania superstars the Pittsburgh Steelers in a titanic battle as part of the NFL International Series. Since 2007, some of the most famous teams from the League have crossed the Atlantic to thrill crowds at the home of British soccer and bring expatriate Americans and enthusiastic Brits together to watch the USA’s national sport on European soil.

Skol, Vikings!

The Vikings come to the game at Wembley off the back of a strong performance in the 2012 season, where some pundits were touting the team as the most underrated in the NFL. Although they’ve not seen the kind of success that takes teams all the way to the Superbowl, they have made steady progress in the rankings and put in some impressive averages over the course of the past few years.

The team arrives in London after a schedule of four pre-season games against rivals across the States, with the last being against the Tennessee Titans at the Mall of America Field at the end of August.

Black and Yellow

A few years out from their last Superbowl appearance and three years away from their last championship win, the Steelers are coming to the new season hungry for wins. With stats that put the Vikings to shame, they are likely to enter the contest as clear favourites to come away with a win under their belts in front of a rapturous capacity crowd.

the steelars in fine form

The Steelers in fine form

The team arrive in London after a thorough pre-season work-out. With a game against the Giants in early August, they will have been thoroughly tested before bringing their game over the Atlantic.

Wembley atmosphere

In the five years that the International Series has been running, the NFL games have seen capacity crowds at Wembley getting behind the teams and enjoying the good ol’ fashioned American atmosphere. Converting the stadium from a soccer pitch to a football field brings a totally different feel to the place, and for the duration of the four periods of play it’s like a little piece of the USA in the heart of London.

In the bleachers

As a limited edition special event, tickets for the game are in high demand and sell out incredibly quickly. The basic tickets for the game have all gone already and only returns are available as they come in. For the full-on hospitality experience, packages are still on offer in Wembley’s Diamond and Sapphire Hospitality areas, giving fans the chance to fully immerse themselves in the experience as a VIP guest. Hospitality package guests can expect to enjoy top-notch food and drink, an excellent view of the game and a real experience to remember.

Attendees at the game can expect a real dose of all-American sports fanaticism as fans dress up in their Helga Helmets and black-and-yellow jerseys to watch their teams take each other on in this one-off game in London.

Conclusion

The International Series has proven to be a real draw for expat NFL fanatics and British sports fans intrigued by the spectacle of a full-on American Football game on London soil. With the Vikings and the Steelers pitted against one another in the UK’s biggest stadium, fans are bound to get a great show and raise the roof.

Image Credits: Wikipedia and Wikipedia

Raindance Film Festival, St James’s, London, September 2013

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Boasting its heritage in the creation of film-makers in London, the Raindance Festival comes of age this year at its 21st anniversary event in September 2013. As one of over half a dozen festivals curated across Europe and the USA, the Raindance London Festival runs from 25th September until the 8th October and brings some of the finest independent film to the city.

An ideal opportunity to see new films, hear the voices of the film-makers and meet people involved in the industry, the festival has a wide appeal for those both within and outside film-making.

Festival profile

Noted by Variety magazine as one of the world’s top 50 film festivals, Raindance is able to claim the accolade of being Europe’s top independent film festival. Hosting some of the world’s most well-known film makers, including Tarantino, Ken Loach and Armando Iannucci, over the 20 years of the festival to date it has built a reputation for bringing innovation to independent film.

tarantino raindance

Tarantino is just one of the big names to grace the screens at Raindance

As well as the big hitters, Raindance also brings together the less well-known names in the world of film-making to gain exposure and learn from one another. The festival aims to support, nurture and promote independent films and in order to do that it encourages new independent film-makers to put forward their contributions to the festival.

Developments

Over the years of its operation, Raindance has pushed forward a number of developments to support and promote independent film within the movie industry. Giving a cinematic stage to some highly controversial films, the festival has given a voice to film-makers that aren’t afraid to push the boundaries of what is acceptable in films and entertainment. Throughout the years, the festival has expanded from showing What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? From just a few interested attendees to screening over 200 films from over 45 countries around the world.

films raindance bigger awards

Films from Raindance can go on to bigger and better things

Arguably one of the most important developments throughout the life of the festival was achieved in 2012, when it was announced that the winner of the coveted “Short Film of the Festival” prize would become Oscar eligible and go on to be nominated. The 2013 festival is likely to see further developments and yet more increases in attendance at screenings, which will take place across London.

Nurturing talent

As the self-proclaimed voice of indie film, the festival brings some gala screenings of independent films to industry audiences over the course of the two weeks of proceedings. In addition to the screening of some exceptionally fine films, Raindance also puts wannabe film makers and those just starting out in the industry access to some of the movers and shakers in independent film. Throughout the course of the festival, there will be plenty of opportunities to meet and greet with influential writers, directors and technicians to make connections and broaden horizons.

Linked to the Raindance Film School in London, the festival gives the opportunity for attendees at its programmes and courses to feature on the programme at the festival following submission. Anyone from participants in Raindance’s short courses through to the Postgraduate Film Degree programme has the opportunity to put their work forward to be shown alongside some of the greatest independent film-makers in the world today.

Conclusion

Raindance continues to be one of the highlights of the international film festival calendar and gives a showcase to independent movies from around the world. Following several years of incredible growth with booming audiences and many successful talks and seminars, the festival goes into its coming-of-age year in 2013 from a position of great strength and promises better still to come.

Image Credits: Wikipedia and Prayitno

Navigating the Canals of London

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As the beating heart of the Industrial Revolution, London was served by a network of canals that allowed the carriage of materials and finished products around the city and beyond to the rest of the UK and the world beyond.

As a result, London continues to have a large number of canals and waterways snaking around the city that are now primarily used for pleasure rather than industrial purposes. The waterways in London are well-used and give a different perspective on the city than you will get from the busy streets around the canals.

The Grand Union

The best known canal in the UK and the biggest in London, the Grand Union canal comes into the city from the north from its opposite terminus in Birmingham. Although parts of the canal were in existence long before the turn of the 20th century, the former Regents Canal was amalgamated with a number of other canals in the British canal network to form the Grand Union as it stands today.

wenlock basin islington

Wenlock Basin in Islington, part of the Regents Canal

Regents Canal continues to be the best used of the London canals. Running through Camden and Kentish Town, a number of the warehouses and industrial units that were previously served by the canal have now been turned into housing and entertainment areas that draw people in from all over the city. At the time when the canals’ primary use was conveying industrial products from manufacturers to distributors, living by the canal would have been an unpleasant and messy business. Today, however, canal-front properties are very much sought-after and the areas around Camden and Islington have been significantly gentrified in recent years through clean-up and regeneration.

The Grand Surrey Canal

South of the Thames is also well-served with canals through the mainline and branches of the Grand Surrey Canal. The canal fell into disrepair following the move of canal traffic to the railways to transport products to ports in Portsmouth through the 19th century.

swing bridge norway cut

The swing bridge at Norway Cut allows taller vessels to pass

The area around what is now known as the “Surrey Canal Triangle” has recently been granted in the will see the building of over 2,000 new homes along with sporting and leisure facilities in the wake of the 2012 London Olympics. The plans propose changing the areas around Deptford and South Bermondsey beyond recognition and will bring a new lease of life to the canal in its post-industrial life.

The former City Canal

The city canal was a very short and short-lived canal that provided passage across the Isle of Dogs in London’s Docklands. Linking the two reaches of the River Thames, the canal allowed goods to be transported between docks for onward transport out of the city.

The canal, now no longer in operation, forms part of South Dock and no longer allows access across the dock. The former lock gate has been reconstructed in memory of the service that ran through the dock, but where the canal once ran is now plays host to military vessels visiting London as it is the furthest point upstream where they can be turned around for the return voyage.

Conclusion

In addition to the more well-known waterways around London, there are several canals and cuts that are less popular but no less worthy of a visit. The story of London’s industrial heritage is told through the canals that cross-cut the city to take goods from one place to another and are now forming part of the city’s future as redevelopment brings a new lease of life to former industrial areas and provides a place for families and visitors to get away from the heat of the streets.

Image Credits: Wikipedia 1 and 2

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