Good news for tourists and Londoners as city dominates for visitor attractions

British Museum - the Uk and London's top visitor attraction

British Museum – the UK and London’s top visitor attraction

Planning a day out, with or without the kids, means being spoilt for choice in London. According to data from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, London has most of the top sites in the UK.

But expect a crowd when you get there.  20 of the 31 visitor attractions in the UK that have more than 1 million visitors are in London and that includes 9 of the top 10.

The data for 2014 shows that the venerable British Museum is top once again with 6.7 million annual visitors. The top 5 are:

  1. British Museum
  2. National Gallery 
  3. Southbank Centre
  4. Tate Modern
  5. Natural History Museum

The figures show that Tate Modern, the art gallery housed in the old Bankside power station on the Thames, has seen particularly strong growth in visitors year on year since 2013.  High profile exhibitions like the Matisse show helped push up visitor numbers by 18%.

All the top five have free entrance, though there are charges for some special exhibitions. Museum and gallery spaces outscore simple sightseeing.  The highest position for London’s landmark buildings is St Paul’s Cathedral in 12th place, but it has seen a drop in visitors of 17% since 2013.

The highest placed attraction outside London is the Library of Birmingham, opened in 2013, in 10th place.  The Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh is at 14.  Chester Zoo, with a little over 1.4 million visitors is the top animal attraction and outscores London Zoo with 1.3 million.

The only site in the rankings attracting more than a million people that is outside a city is Stonehenge in Wiltshire.   Stonehenge added a new visitor centre at the end of 2013 and 1.3 millon people trooped through last year.

The Associate of Leading Visitor Attractions includes museums, galleries, historic places and gardens but its list does not include theme parks such as Thorpe Park and  Chessington, just outside London.  Thorpe Park has annual numbers of around 2 million.  Chessington has around 1.5 million thrill-seekers. The capital’s top paid for tourist attraction remains the London Eye with 3.75 million visitors.

Source data


Sporty Londoners prefer solo exercise

h38% of Londoners are taking part in some form of sporting activity at least once a week.  While solo sports are the favourite way of keeping fit, football is by far the most popular team game with 5% of people over 16 playing each week.

The data on sport in the capital is captured in the Active People survey carried out by Sport England.  They spoke to 160,000 people across England in October last year.  Urbs took a detailed look at the data for people over 16 participating in sport at least once a week.

Sports such as running, swimming, cycling or going to the gym are by far the most popular with 30% of Londoners exercising on their own.  12% are down the gym, making it the favourite solo sporting activity. 6% are swimming,  which is becoming less popular.

Team sports are played by 7% of adults. Football dominates participation in team games and has grown in popularity since 2010. Football also proves more popular in London than the rest of England.

1 on 1 games like tennis and badminton also feature in the survey responses.  These games are enjoyed by 4% of over 16s in the capital.

Sport participation

Londoners emerge from the survey as slightly more active than people across England and with more taking part in sport than in 2010.  But that still leave 62% sitting on the sofa or watching from the sideline rather than taking part.

Source data

Footy fans get a great deal in London – on the tea, at least

© Jasonbatterham | -  Emirates Stadium seating

© Jasonbatterham | – detail view Emirates Stadium seating

The football season’s not over yet, but London fans best start saving for next.  Data analysis by Urbs of information gathered by the BBC from 207 clubs show that fans of London teams in the Premier League will again be paying over the odds compared to the rest of the country.

Urbs compared the prices of season and match day tickets at the 6 London clubs with the 14 others in the Premier League. The average price in London for the cheapest season ticket is 56% higher than the average outside the capital. For the most expensive season ticket its 88% higher.

There’s a similar story for match day tickets.  At London Premier League grounds the prices are 10% more expensive on average for cheaper seats and 53% higher for the top price ones.

Looking at the details, club by club Arsenal top the table for season ticket prices.  The most expensive at the Emirates is £2,013.  It’s a shade cheaper at their north London rivals, Tottenham. West Ham’s most pricey season ticket is less than half that at £940.  The cheapest season ticket in London is at Crystal Palace.  At £420 it is less than the average price for the 14 teams outside London.

Football season tickets

The highest match day entry is also at the Emirates at £97 for the best seat.  The best in the ground is cheaper at Stamford Bridge but the lowest on the day deal if you want to see Chelsea is still £50.  The lowest match day price is at West Ham with £20 for the cheapest but £75 for the most expensive.  That compares to the out of London average prices of £28 and £49.

Football match day tickets

There is one small piece of good news for fans in London.  The tea is cheaper by an average of 4p a cup.  But as our “pie” chart below shows,  there are few bargains to be had when it comes to getting something to eat.

Football pie prices

BBC Price of football calculator

London losing its thirst for binge drinking

Drinking alcohol copyBinge drinking has been synonymous with a big night out in boozy Britain for decades.  But data collected from paramedics who pick up the pieces from the most severe cases suggest that London may be getting over its love of inebriated excess.

London’s relationship with alcohol is part of its history and culture. From Hogarth’s hellish 18th century depiction of Gin Lane to rowdy groups swaying and shouting through the West End on the average Saturday night, drink has been a feature of life in the capital.

The latest figures from the London Ambulance Service show that in the 12 months to January 2015 they dealt with 31,000 incidents of alcohol poisioning caused by binge drinking.  That’s a fall of 7% year on year and continues a slow but steady downward trend of the past 4 years.

In some boroughs the fall is much sharper.  Call outs are down by 25% in Redbridge.  Sutton, Waltham Forest, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Greenwich have all seen falls of 20% or more. The call out figures are down in 26 of the capital’s 33 boroughs.

It’s a different story in Barking and Dagenham where there has been a 15% rise in ambulance call outs for drinking.  Hounslow, Hillingdon, Havering, Richmond and Brent have also seen a rise in the number of incidents.

Dealing with binge drinking is a huge draw on ambulance service resources.  At the same time there has been a sharp rise in emergency calls for heroin and cocaine overdoses.  In the last year there were 700 calls.  But alcohol is still the so-called recreational drug that takes up the bulk of the time of hard-pressed ambulance crews.

Date Source

Note: The figures are based on retrospective reports by paramedics/ambulance staff and 999 call handlers who defined a call out as binge-drinking related.  Incidents involving people over 40 are not captured in this data.