Who doesn't, in some spot-lit, leather-clad, SingStar-addicted corner of their soul, want to be a rock star?

I'm almost certain I would have been one, but for one teensy, insignificant detail - the total absence of musical talent. It's a fact I am brutally reminded of as I sling the strap of a Gibson electric guitar over my shoulder to "lay down" the opening notes of Smoke on the Water (it is, after all, illegal for novice guitar players to play anything else). Small children all around me who appear to be expertly wailing on complicated solos, Hendrix-style, roll their eyes at the sad old dear, and press their hands to their ears in horror.

"Ha! That's nothing," I think, "wait 'til you hear me sing ..."

Sometime later I emerge with rock-star dreams - if not dignity - intact. Welcome to the British Music Experience - part would-be rock-star dream factory, part amusement park, part hugely informative museum.

As well as the guitar lessons, the BME's Gibson interactive studio also lets you record vocal tracks, bash out a drum solo, play keyboards or do whatever it is you do with a bass guitar.

Once you're done there head to the dance video booth where you can learn - or relive - popular dance styles through the decades and video yourself shaking your booty.

And while the interactive museum experiences will keep kids - yes, of all ages - entertained for hours, the wider exhibition around them is really the heart and soul of this place.

The circular exhibition space is split into several rooms, each covering a broad era of popular music from 1945 to today. It's a mind-bogglingly comprehensive history from huge interactive timelines of each musical era, and explorations of different music styles, to memorabilia, lyric sheets, fashions and album artwork. You can hear exclusive, intimate interviews with key industry players. The stars, roadies, managers and journalists tell their stories first-hand about musical flashpoints, whether it's the rise of the Beatles, the birth of punk, or the arrival of boy bands ... it's all here. There are also of course famous instruments and outfits belonging to icons such as David Bowie or Freddie Mercury. Or for something a little more recent for Arctic Monkeys fans, how about Jamie Cook's Fender Telecaster?

You could spend days in this place and come out, if not more musical, at least more musically knowledgeable.

So far, so fascinating. But when you leave the BME (to the ridiculously thrilling screams of a concert crowd), hang on to your ticket. As well as getting you through the doors, your smart ticket comes with a barcode and access number. These two little details mean your musical dreams can be relived once you've finished your visit. Everything you see and do is saved to the BME website so, from your own living room, you can still impress your friends with your vast talent and expansive musical interests.

It all makes you feel like you've contributed your own little footnote to musical history. See - I knew I was meant to be a music legend.

If you go
* Allow yourself the better part of a day at the British Music Experience, particularly if you're with the kids, or you have any interest in musical history. You'll be absorbed for hours.

The BME is located inside the O2 Arena (formerly known as the Millennium Dome) at Greenwich, and is easily accessible on the Jubilee Tube line. The O2 is also home to movie theatres, shops and many restaurants. Entry: adult, 15; children over 5, 12 (under 5 free); or family (two adults, two children, 40).

* For more information on events and activities in London, see visitlondon.com.

Try this too

Music fans heading to London before January 24 should also head to the National Portrait Gallery, near Trafalgar Square, for Beatles to Bowie: The 60s Exposed. The exhibition runs chronologically from 1960 to 1969 including more than 150 iconic photographs of key musicians who helped created "swinging London". It's a fantastic visual history of a key period in pop culture. Entry 12 ($28).

Getting there

Cathay Pacific has daily flights to London from Auckland, via Hong Kong. Fares start at $2479 including taxes and fuel surcharges, on sale until February 28. For information or bookings visit cathaypacific.co.nz.

Kerri Jackson travelled to the UK with Visit Britain and Cathay Pacific.