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The Independent Culture

IF THE City of London Festival (20 June to 7 July) is a relatively venerable institution - it started in 1962 - some of its venues are positively ancient. Add to this the fact that the conductor Richard Hickox has brought his love of English music to the role of artistic director, and the result is some of our finest music played in stunning surroundings: Purcell at the Tower of London, Tavener at St Bartholomew-the-Great in Smithfield, Britten at Southwark Cathedral. Full details of the festival are available from the box office, Barbican Centre, Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS (0171 638 8891); IoS readers, however, can win tickets to four very special festival events.

First prize: a tour of the Tower of London for the winner and three guests, supper at the Tower Thistle Hotel, tickets to hear the Choir of the Chapel Royal perform a programme of early English music back at the Tower, and the chance to witness the 700- year-old Ceremony of the Keys.

Second prize: a rare "behind closed doors" tour of the Bank of England for the winner plus three guests, supper in a nearby restaurant, and tickets for the New Helsinki Quartet (above) at Merchant Taylor's Hall.

Third prize: an individually guided tour of St Paul's Cathedral for a party of four, including tea in the Chapter House (not normally open to the public), supper at a nearby restaurant, and tickets for Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble performing Officium (the best-selling CD) in St Paul's itself.

Ten runners-up will each receive a pair of tickets and an interval glass of champagne for the festival's opening concert, the 50th anniversary performance of Britten's Peter Grimes, (featuring Peter Langridge) at the Barbican.

(Prizes must be taken on 22, 28, 21 and 20 June respectively.)

To enter, just answer these three questions:

1 Which is the oldest part of the Tower of London?

2 When was the Bank of England founded?

3 Who is the Dean of St Paul's?

Send answers, with your name, address and a daytime telephone number, on a postcard to: Festival Competition, Arts Desk, IoS, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL by 12 June. The winners will be the first correct entries drawn from the bag. Usual competition rules apply; the editor's decision is final. Tour of the Tower of London by permission of the Tower management.