17 November 2000

THREENEWSITES OF INTEREST FOR A LONDON VISIT

So, youre coming to London for Smithfield. Theres plenty

to see and do at Earls Court – but its a good opportunity

to visit some of the capitals other attractions, too.

Tim Relf provides a whistle-stop tour of three of the

most high-profile possibilities

THE DOME:

"One amazing day. One year only," claims the Millennium Experiences promotional blurb.

But it nearly wasnt even a year. Dogged by controversy -some of which has reached the upper echelons of government -the Dome looked at one point as if might close early.

It won a stay of execution but, if youre an infrequent visitor to London, this could be your last chance to visit. Dont lose any sleep if you miss the opportunity.

It costs £20 for an adult ticket so, to get your moneys worth, you really need to spend a whole day there. It features nearly 20 attractions -including such zones as Work, Learning and Faith -which, according to the promoters create a "rich and varied experience" for visitors.

One of the highlights is an aerial show which tells a dramatic love story in three acts using flying performers, dancers and amazing visual effects. Much of the rest, however, is unmemorable.

Kids will like it more than the Tate, but if you havent the time to visit all three attractions, skip this one.

THE LONDON EYE:

A must. At 135m high, this is the fourth tallest structure in London and the largest observational wheel ever built. And what a view it gives, too. On a clear day you can see for more than 25 miles in each direction. That view takes in some of the worlds most famous sights, including St Pauls, the Palace of Westminster and Windsor Castle.

If you dont like heights, beware – the Eye is nearly three times as high as Tower Bridge. Its continuous slow revolution (it moves at a quarter of the average walking speed) means, however, its far less disconcerting than a plane ride.

British Airways, which built the structure, says the wheel represents "the turning of the century" and is a "universally-recognised symbol of regeneration and time".

But forget the symbolism. Just enjoy the ride. Youll be put in one of the 32 passenger capsules and your flight – one complete revolution of the wheel – will take about 35 minutes. Its a marvel of engineering, offering a unique view of London.

And yes, sick bags are provided.

TATE MODERN:

Tricky one, this. If the first thing you think about when you see a pile of rusty metal is your sense of proportion and the fragility of life then, yes, this could be for you.

If, however, it just makes you think about Health and Safety and gives you the urge to get the welder out then, well, the Tate Modern might be best avoided.

Britains newest national museum of modern art opened in May in the former Bankside power station, the conversion of which cost £134m.

The power stations former turbine hall now marks a breathtaking entrance to the gallery, which includes major works by Dali, Picasso, Matisse and Warhol.

Its free to get in, theres enough to look at to keep you busy for half a day and one of its cafés boasts great views across London including of the now-closed "Wobbly Bridge".

Many of the exhibits are abstract and challenging. For some, youll certainly have to put on your surrealism hat. (Or should that be your surrealism fish?) A glass of water here, for example, might not be just of water -it might be an oak tree. Bricks might not just be bricks – they might be a meditation on an integrated society. And so on.

But if you get time, its well worth paying Tate Modern a visit – if only because its so different from so many other galleries. &#42

THE DOME

How much: Adults £20.

Child (5-15) £16.50.

Senior citizens £18.

Concessions/family tickets available.

When: Open every day 09:00 to 20:00.

How to get there: The Dome is a no-car zone with parking restrictions for two miles around. Nearest underground station North Greenwich (Jubilee line).

Contact: 0870-606 2000 for tickets (advance bookings recommended).

LONDON EYE

How much: Adults £8.50; children (under 16) £5 and senior citizens £6.50.

When: Winter opening hours are 10:00 to 18:00.

How to get there: Nearest underground station is Westminster. Nearest train station is Waterloo.

Contact: Book tickets in advance on 0870-500 0600. Group bookings can be made on 0870-400 3005.

TATE MODERN

How much: Free

When: Sunday – Thursday 10:00 to 18:00

Friday and Saturday 10:00am to 22:00

How to get there: Nearest underground stations Southwark (Jubilee Line) and Blackfriars (District & Circle Lines). Nearest train station Blackfriars or London Bridge

Contact: 020 7887 8008 (recorded information)

Louise Bourgeois Maman.

Photo: Marcus Leith