Festival guide london

via Ben Cremin

Making your way to London for the Festival of Genomics? With just a week left to go now is the time to start planning your trip in earnest, and fortunately we have our top tips on navigating our fair city, whether it’s your first visit or your fifty first. We’ve even included some helpful cultural pointers to get you in the true Londoner spirit!


Getting there!

The Festival is taking place in London’s ExCeL. Which like any exhibition centre is enormous, and hard to navigate. Find your way to the East Entrance for all the fun of the Festival – you can get all the details here.

Our top tip: make sure to ride the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) to get to ExCeL. London’s famous driverless trains are a favourite with visitors and locals alike! Hop off at Prince Regent station for the East Entrance, and be sure to bag yourself a seat at the front so that you can pretend to be the driver. Completely worth it.

Actually, on the subject of the DLR…

the tube london

via Flickr/Zen Whisk

Welcome to The Tube

London’s infamous underground railway system is the lifeline of the city; if even one line goes down, chaos ensues. While that tangled mass of coloured lines may be completely incomprehensible to those not brought up on it, there are some handy tools out there to make navigating “the Tube” much easier.

  • The Transport for London website – tfl.gov.uk is a lifeline for many Londoners, a ready source of up to date news on disruptions, and a handy tool for planning your journey. 
  • Citymapper – how did we cope before this incredible transport tool existed? Plotting together overground, underground, and wombling free (sorry, British joke), Citymapper takes a lot of the stress out of navigating the capital. 
  • Finally, if all else fails, we have Uber.

Our top tip: As tempting as it may seem, do not try to make conversation on the Tube. In fact, avoid eye contact if at all possible. A side effect of living stacked on top of each other in a very populous city is that we like to pretend that most of the strangers around us do not exist. Disrupt this illusion at your peril!!

Oh yeah, and don’t forget…


Don’t mention the trains

We’ve been experiencing some turbulent times on the British railways of late, and trust us when we say that you cannot get out of a train-related conversation without a full and complete history of British railway privatisation, the unbridled power of the unions, and nightmare tales of commuter anguish.

real ale london

via Flickr/Tantegert

All hail to the ale!

Real ale is enjoying a surge in popularity in the capital’s pubs at the moment, and nothing is quite so British as a pint of the brown flat stuff. After the Festival our resident ale enthusiast, managing editor Carl Smith, will undoubtedly be leading the charge to the nearest public house for libations all round. Feeling brave? Here are Carl’s top tipple recommendations for beers to watch out for behind the bar:

  • Beavertown, Neck Oil
  • Brew Dog, Punk IPA
  • Oakham, Citra
  • Wychwood, Hobgoblin
  • Sharpes, Doom Bar

Edit from Carl: Before I get flamed on Twitter again, the ale list is based on pints you’ve got a good chance at finding at a large percentage of London Pubs, not necessarily the BEST London ales. Matthew Parker (@bioinfomatt) helpfully provided this lovely list of London breweries: www.craftbeerlondon.com/breweries


The weather in January

We’re sorry. So very very sorry. Unless the weather is great, in which case we resent the insinuation that it rains all the time in London.


Whatever you get up to, be sure to have a wonderful time in London and enjoy the Festival of Genomics!

Not signed up yet? The Festival is free to attend, and you can find out more here

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