This month, London has a world-beating programme of home and design shows, so get out there with spring in your step.
London Design Week
This is the decorating trade’s major international spring celebration of new design and decoration. Entry is absolutely free and so is transport from Sloane Square and Chelsea to its main venue - the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre.
Here, three glass domes with 83 showrooms display over 400 international brands. Fabrics and wall coverings are the main attraction, but you can also browse trimmings, curtains poles and tracks, furniture and upholstery, lighting, flooring and rugs, bathroom fittings and tiles, and more.
The event runs from 21-26 March, but the first three days are for “interior design professionals” only. However, on 24-26 March everybody is welcome. Meet the celebrity designers who are signing books, and attend classes, lectures and workshops. Free shuttle Renault mini-buses run all day between Sloane Square Hotel and Chelsea Harbour, via Osborne & Little and Designers Guild in King’s Road (who are also taking part).
* Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, Lots Road, SW10; 020 7225 9101;
The Ideal Home Show, supported by Homes & Property
This huge event at Earls Court has been completely revamped for 2010. It’s the largest home show in the world, with over 500 exhibitors, running for 17 days, from 20 March-5 April.
Five stunning show houses include the worldwide launch of a brand new British housing concept: the CUB “plug-in” home, an easy-access “module” that is instant, affordable, stylish and carbon-neutral.
Earls Court has a huge lake, which this year’s show is opening up for the first time in ten years. Pretty bridges and decking lead to a lavish floating café and a 46ft Sunseeker luxury yacht. And another novel idea: the first floating office.
Celebrity TV presenters (above) add expertise and panache. Each represents a different area of the show: Fiona Philips (fashion and beauty), Monty Don (gardens), Linda Barker (interiors), George Clarke (home improvements), and Greg Wallace (food).
The show is packed with home improvements, DIY ideas and crafts, as well as talks in the “how to” theatre, one-to-one sessions with trade and professional experts, and hands-on demonstrations. Buy the latest tools and gadgets and hear the latest on energy-saving, recycling and other green issues. You can also explore the “ideal allotment” for fruit and veg in a confined space and a fantasy garden for Alice in Wonderland.
Fashion and beauty updates include catwalk shows and a beauty bar with free treatments and pampering for every visitor. A big food section has tastings, cooking demos, and the latest equipment. Shop from a glittering array of major home brands, and meet traders from three key London markets, along with individual boutiques and designers not on any high street.
Tickets: weekday tickets (adult) cost £15 on the door (£10 in advance); weekend, £17 (£12); weekday concession, £11 (£9); children under 16 years are free. Late night Thursday, 5-9pm, £5. 50p per ticket sold goes to the soldiers’ charity: details from www.idealhomeshow.co.uk/ideal-homes-for-heroes.
* Earls Court Exhibition Centre, Warwick Road, SW5; 0844 412 4650; www.idealhomeshow.com.
Ron Arad: Restless
Now open at the Barbican is an action-packed retrospective for London’s
leading furniture designer (until 16 May). There is also a packed programme of events, including talks from leading architects, discussions, and workshops.
Tickets cost from £8 each online or £10 on the door.
* Barbican Art Gallery, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2; 020 7638 4141;
* For Barbara Chandler's exclusive interview with Ron Arad, visit www.homesandproperty.co.uk/events.
Get a timely update on all eco issues at this major trade show for architects, developers, builders, and so on - but readers are welcome and entrance is free. If possible, register first online, or by phone on 0844 557 0994. However you can also register on arrival. Learn about sustainable materials, plus the latest energy- and water-saving products, technologies, and services. From 2-4 March.
* Earls Court, Warwick Road, SW5; www.ecobuild.co.uk.
Buy retro-modernist antiques from the last century from the country’s best dealers, plus great selections from individual contemporary designers. Entry is £6 each.
* Dulwich College, SE21; www.modernshows.com.
Contemporary Textiles Fair
A showcase for more than 70 designer makers, with fashion and furnishings
that include wall hangings, hand-knits, handbags, embroidery, jewellery, and more. Tickets cost £4 for adults, concessions, £3, children under 14 years are free. Runs from 13-14 March.
* Landmark Arts centre, Ferry Road, Teddington; 020 8977 7558;
The BADA Antiques and Fine Art Fair
This major fair for 102 members of The British Antique Dealers’ Association is from 17-23 March. Tickets cost £10 each (includes a handbook).
* The Duke of York Square, SW3; 020 7685 5133; www.bada-antiques-fair.co.uk.
Special two-for-one ticket offer for readers: just mention Homes & Property.
What's on at the V&A
Quilt-making got a radical new image when Tracey Emin took it up. Her work is just one of around 65 finely-crafted pieces in Quilts (some over 300 years old), a major new show from 20 March (until 4 July).
Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill opens on 6 March (until 4 July). Walpole was a leading 18th-century English collector, but his treasures were auctioned off by his heir in 1842. This show reassembles around 250 of them, evoking the interiors of Strawberry Hill, Britain’s finest example of Gothic revival architecture.
Decode: Digital Design Sensations continues in the Porter Gallery until 11 April, with an astounding selection of digital and interactive art and design by over 35 international artists, designers and studios.
* The V&A Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7; www.vam.ac.uk/decode.
Country Living Spring Fair
A welcoming spring garden is planted with magnolias in bloom, silver birch, bulbs and flowering shrubs. Browse stalls selling rustic furniture, contemporary ceramics, antique quilts and linens, hand-crafted accessories and vintage collectables. Also find furniture for the garden, plus traditional garden tools, trugs and planters.
Upstairs in the food hall is a delicious array of food and drink, much of it organic, traditionally produced by suppliers from all over the country. Talks and demonstrations are from a team of experts. Learn how to save energy and cash by going “off grid”, hear how to grow veg in a pot, and get tips for an urban abode. From 24-28 March.
Tickets: adults in advance, £11.50 (on the door, £15). Child, 5-16 years, £7 (£8.50); children under five years are free.
* Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, N1; 0844 848 0169; www.countrylivingfair.com.
Stitch & Craft Show
This is the show for needlework and knitting enthusiasts, packed with fresh ideas and inspiration, plus good old-fashioned expertise. Find hundreds of stalls selling the best stitch and craft supplies, plus talks, demonstrations and workshops. From 18-21 March. Tickets on the door cost £10 (adults), £9 (concessions), £4 (children, aged 12-18 years), or cheaper booked online in advance.
* Olympia, Hammersmith Road, W14; www.stitchandcraft.co.uk.
Sanderson: 150 Years of English Decoration
This year, Sanderson celebrates their 150th anniversary. The firm's history over these years is a fascinating record of design and innovation, and a record of changing British taste. This show, opening 19 March, explores the company's extensive archives and presents the newest collection (until 13 June).
Tickets cost £6.50 (adults); concessions, £3.50; children under 12 years are free.
* Fashion & Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey Street, SE1; 020 7407 8664;
This runs from 4-9 March. A lively programme, backed by the mayor, celebrates the eastern areas of London and includes special shows, walks, talks and guided tours, at, for example, the Barbican (“do something different” weekend), the Museum of London, and the Bishopsgate Institute.
* Download the full programme from www.visitlondon.com/events/east.
Royal Academy architecture talks
Hear what leading critics consider London’s “most significant or important building", in a new series of evening talks called Critic’s Choice.
Monday 8 March: Tristram Hunt puts the case for Trafalgar Square.
Monday 22 March: Hans Ulrich Obrist presents the Fun Palace by Cedric.
From 6.30-8pm. Ticket price of £10 (concessions, £5) and include a drink.
* Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1; 020 7300 5839;
Craft London: Emerging New Talent
Meet twelve of London’s bright new breed of designer-makers, including ceramics, gilding, jewellery, textiles, illustration, and passementerie (trimmings). A talk by 35 of the artists based in the studio is on 18 March; £5 each. There are also talks, a studio tour and craft workshops.
* Craft Central, 33-35 St John Square, EC1; 020 7251 0276;
La Dolce Vita
Italy comes to London at this popular show, which has moved to Islington this year. Find the best places to buy property, and explore ideas for Italian food, holidays, fashion, homes and design. The highlight is a beautiful Italian garden, and celebrity chefs in the “teatro de gusto” include Theo Randall and Giovanni Rana. Tickets on the door cost £14 each. From 11-14 March.
* Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, Islington, N1; 0871 231 7153; www.ladolcevitaevent.co.uk.
Best of Britain & Ireland 2010
You can speak the lingo, get a daily newspaper, travel by car and don’t have to worry about the food. So where is the best place for a British holiday? Find out on 19 and 20 March at a showcase for top British and Irish holiday destinations. P.S. But it may well rain...
* Olympia, Hammersmith Road, W14; 020 8943 5000,www.britainandirelandevent.co.uk.
Mother's Day and St Patrick's Day
Don't forget mothering Sunday on 14 March. But it's also St Patrick’s Day. Check out London’s Irish celebrations, including a parade ending with a big party in Trafalgar Square.
* Visit www.london.gov.uk/stpatricksday.
Osterley Park and House at Isleworth
Sunday March 14: "Make Mum’s Day", from 12 noon until 4pm. Children can make gift posies, and mums get free entry - and free cake.
Sunday 21 March: Tree Tales, a guided walk exploring the park’s rare veteran trees; adult, £5; child, £2.50; booking essential on 020 8232 5050.
* Explore more activities at National Trust properties at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events.