LONDON, ENGLAND — Last week, VISITLONDON.COM, the official Visitor Guide to the capital, together with VisitBritain and the GREAT Britain campaign, launched an international search to find London’s Official Guest of Honour, who will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience London as never before. The capital city and its most famous residents and locations are rolling out the red carpet and have together created a city break made up of amazing magic moments.
The winning guest will be invited to London in February 2015 and will have the unique honour of opening Tower Bridge, the most famous bridge in the world, seeing a West End musical with international singing star Jessie J and visiting the Science Museum with renowned physicist Professor Stephen Hawking.
Downton Abbey’s butler Carson – actor Jim Carter – will provide the winner with afternoon tea at Lord’s Cricket Ground; and the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP, will take the Guest of Honour behind the scenes of the Houses of Parliament. The Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton will personally cook a meal for the Official Guest of Honour at one of the capital’s best restaurants and both the world-famous singer and conductor, Plácido Domingo and British ballerina and Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell, will take the winner to one of their favourite theatres in the world, the Royal Opera House. As part of the experience the Guest of Honour will fire the guns from HMS Belfast, walk the red carpet at a film premiere in Central London, and meet the English tennis star Tim Henman for a VIP tour of the All England Tennis Club, which hosts The Wimbledon Championships.
To apply to be London’s Official Guest of Honour, entrants must go to Visitlondon.com, submit a short film or image and in 70 words describe their perfect day in London. The closing date is 9th December 2014 and participants must be aged 18 and over. For all terms and conditions see the visitlondon.com website.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: “London is ready to welcome our Guest of Honour in style. This is an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in the greatest city in the world, in the greatest possible way and I know the winner will take home something special, something unique, something that they will never forget. So post a film, enter the competition and give yourself a chance to win an experience like no other on earth.”
Music star Jessie J adds: “My career began on the legendary stage of Aldwych Theatre with my first professional performance so I’m absolutely thrilled to give London’s Official Guest of Honour a personal tour of this iconic venue. London is packed full of extraordinary arts, music and culture. There’s no better place to experience the phenomenal lure of the stage than at the West End production of BEAUTIFUL – The Carole King Musical. This fantastic new show tells the story of one of music’s true icons, superstar Carole King, and I can’t wait to see her inspirational songs come to life on the London stage.”
Plácido Domingo, the world-famous opera singer and conductor, said: “I first performed at the Royal Opera House in London in 1971 as Cavaradossi in Tosca and I am delighted to be able to show the Guest of Honour around one of my favourite Opera houses in the world and a special place for me. London is a city I keep returning to and it is one of the world’s great cultural capitals with its theatres, musicians and of course magnificent audiences.”
Jim Carter, the actor whose credits include playing the butler Mr Carson in the international television hit Downton Abbey, said: “London is an inspiring city with world-class heritage, built upon thousands of years of history. I look forward to help showcasing some of our culture to the world by accompanying the winner of this wonderful competition on a visit to Lord’s, highlighting some of our sporting history and showing them the spiritual home of cricket – a quintessential piece of London’s past, present and future.”
Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon John Bercow MP, said: “The Palace of Westminster is an iconic building recognised throughout the world as both the centre of UK democracy and a major attraction to visitors both from within the UK and abroad. 2015 marks a special year for Parliament as we will be recognising our democratic heritage with a year-long programme commemorating 750 years since the Simon de Montfort Parliament and 800 years since the sealing of the Magna Carta. I look forward to welcoming London’s Guest of Honour during this time and sharing with him or her the history and heritage of Parliament.”
Tim Henman, the former world No.4 professional tennis player and four-times Wimbledon semi-finalist, said: “Wimbledon is one of the world’s great sporting venues. As someone who has enjoyed some wonderful times in this incredible arena, it will be a privilege to help the Guest of Honour experience its unique atmosphere and history.”
Global restaurateur and Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton said: “I’m delighted to be cooking for London’s Guest of Honour at my flagship London restaurant. Pollen Street Social holds a special place in my heart as it was the first restaurant we opened. I’m very proud to be a Londoner and to be representing London’s culinary scene on a global stage – I hope the winner will have a great time with us.”
Internationally famed prima ballerina and Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell CBE said: “Having spent much of my life in London, training and dancing with The Royal Ballet, it’s my favourite city in the world for culture. It is my great pleasure to give a personal tour of the Royal Opera House to London’s Guest of Honour. The Royal Opera House is a theatre that is so close to my heart, where I have spent many thousands of hours rehearsing and performing.”
Sally Balcombe, Chief Executive at VisitBritain added: “The Guest of Honour will enjoy experiences which simply cannot be bought, getting insider’s access to the most vibrant, stylish and exciting destination in the world. International visitors are coming to Britain in record numbers – an increase of 6% so far in 2014 – and VisitBritain want to ensure we continue to be top of people’s wish lists. So to make sure you have a chance of winning, and making unforgettable memories, get your entries posted right away!” The Guest of Honour will be announced in January next year and will be invited to visit the capital in early February 2015 with an accompanying guest. They will stay in a luxury suite, the official Guest of Honour residence, at Radisson Blu Edwardian, Mercer Street. London’s Official Guest of Honour will be hosted throughout the break by London & Partners.