Alexandra Palace, Ally Pally, the People's Palace opened in 1873 to celebrate Queen Victoria's 54th birthday, a centre for all kinds of public entertainments and rival to Crystal Palace. Crystal Palace survives only in name, but despite devastating fires, Ally Pally is still an impressive building, high on a hill in North London, with rolling parkland around it.
In the West and Great halls, a variety of conferences, concerts and other events take place. It might be the snooker; the Masters Tournament is played here in January, with an intimate setting in the West Hall. The World Darts Championship closely precedes it, in December.
The trophy for the Masters Snooker tournament
On a very different day, it might be a UCAS convention in the Great Hall, with 10,000 teenagers and hundreds of universities congregating over three days to discuss futures.
Major artists such as Florence and the Machine play sellout concerts. There are model village congresses, crafting sessions, an antiques and collectors' fair, classic car rallies, a foodies festival, cake decorating and lots more. Ticket information is available through the website, but the tickets themselves might be sold by third parties. Simple things like a shuttle buggy running the length of the building help with potential access issues.
At one end is an ice rink, somewhere for all the family to have fun. Next door is a skate park, a great place for teenagers to entertain themselves. For younger children, there is a soft play area in both the ice rink foyer and the park by the grove.
As you walk down the building you might notice a radio and television mast. In 1936 Ally Pally became the home of the world's first regular public HD television service, operated by the BBC; with its high position you are bound to get good reception, after all. The masts are still in use, even if major services are now hosted elsewhere.
Even if you don't want to do anything in the palace itself, the grounds of Alexandra Park are wonderful. If you're feeling adventurous, there is a Segway Rally; trust yourself to your little vehicle and let your weight guide you around. Alexandra Palace has even turned tree climbing into a formal activity, with hour-long sessions for £18.50 giving you the chance to scale some huge trees, with support equipment and professional guidance. A boating lake (prices from £4.95) gives you the chance to get on the water, possibly even in a comedy-shaped swan-boat. For food enthusiasts, every Sunday sees a farmers' market, with over 30 stalls down by the Muswell Hill entrance. Ally Pally really is a place with something for everyone.
Be warned that the palace is on top of a steep hill. Still, it's worth it for the stunning views of London from the top. Alexandra Palace has its own railway station, and the W3 bus goes right up to the building, so it's very easy to get there by public transport. If you are driving, it is signposted on all major routes, and sits between Muswell HIll and Wood green. There is a reasonable amount of parking available, but this fills up quickly on exhibition days.