Everything You Absolutely Have to Do in London This Summer
Oh, summer. The weather is consistently glorious, there are a million opportunities for hearing live music, and you magically have loads of time to do everything you want. Ok... so only one of those statements is actually true, but we’re sure you can find a convenient excuse to get out of some obligations and enjoy the glory of summer concerts, plus everything else London has going on this season. Go forth and make the most of these precious few months when barbecues, drinks, and general outdoor fun times happen every day.
Spraying yourself in glitter and shaking your thang on the dancefloor is no longer the sole province of the late night crowd. For two days in June, join the ranks of professionals who want to get their heart rate up with something way more fun than a spin class before work. This London-born morning rave has been sweeping the globe with its good time vibes, offering up great DJs, crazy visuals, coffee & smoothie bars, yoga, massages... really everything you need to get your day started right.
Over 170 artists open their studio doors for two weekends, giving you a sneak peek into the creative workplace (and process). Passion mixes with a few drops of insanity to make stunning works of art, crafts, jewelry, and design, top independent London artists.
Head to the zoo when the crowds go home for Sunset Safari
, the new, updated version of Zoo Lates. For the first part of the summer, the zoo’s doors swing open on Friday nights: from 6pm-10pm, you can go and experience animals lit by fairy lights, acoustic music performances, a world street-food market, and on selected evenings, a late late-night comedy show from the likes of Robin Ince, Rufus Hound, and Katy Brand.
JK Rowling’s boy wizard returns with a stage debut. Taking place after The Deathly Hallows
, this eighth "book" follows a middle-aged Harry Potter, his young son, and the whole gang. Head to the Palace Theatre for this production, which has a complicated schedule
-- basically, the show is comprised of two parts, which you can either binge on the same day or watch in two evenings back-to-back. Naturally, the initial run sold out of advanced tickets in seconds, but fresh tickets will be released every Friday the week ahead... plus this show is expected to be extended. While June 7th is the date this show opens, it should go on indefinitely.
Loaded with craft beer, artisan wines, food stalls, tastings, and talks, this Kensal Rise micro food fest is bringing together some of the best food and drink available. Raising funds for the Open Air classroom project at ARK Franklin Primary, which educates through creative approaches, like giving kids a chance to learn about disciplines like gardening, beekeeping, and weather science. Come check out Austen’s BBQ, Bluebird, Caravan, Granger & Co, Hoppers, and more, plus two stages of live entertainment and a huge raffle.
Also known as the Queen’s Birthday Parade, this annual event brings out the all the official calvary for inspection by Her Maj. Watch all the troops strut their stuff while the Queen rolls stately with the Royal Horse Guard up to Buckingham Palace, where the bandstand will be packed with onlookers, who will be treated with watching 1,400 officers and 400 musicians from The Massed Bands of the Household Division preen and prance their best.
This epic expansion is finally being unveiled after this casual £260M project has kept hands full for years. The new 11-floor addition will focus on international art and women, and will have a dedicated area for live art -- a global first -- while maintaining the space’s signature light and airiness. You’ll also have plenty of space to rest your museum-weary feet (and brain), and just chill out at their new bar, restaurant, and 10th floor viewing level.
Move over Glasto, Hyde Park is seriously upping its gig game. Kicking off their summer concert series with Massive Attack, they’re bringing the heat with performances from Florence & the Machine, Kendrick Lamar, Take That, Stevie Wonder, and more.
While most of us think of Soho as a restaurant hotspot, people do, you know, actually live here. Returning for its sixth year to raise money for one of London’s smallest primary schools, this two-day, hot-ticket charity fair is loaded with some of the best bites from the area with nearly 50 restaurants participating including Bone Daddies, Pizza Pilgrims, Ducksoup, Blacklock, and more.
While most festivals are relegated to the outer limits of the city, this outdoor concert series in smack bang in the middle. Housed in the soaring courtyard of Somerset House, watch top artists like Everything Everything and James Morrison plus new emerging acts like Benjamin Clementine and Hiatus Kaiyote under the stars... without getting your feet muddy or worrying about the state of the portaloos.
This three-day festival up in Finsbury Park is one of North London’s pride and joys -- until everyone tries to make a speedy exit simultaneously, of course. Catch headliners like Calvin Harris, Chase & Status, and Kygo, plus up-and-comers like Krept & Konan, Petite Meller, and Frisco.
Be sure to do your stretches: this year’s Lovebox is pretty dancetastic, featuring LCD Soundsystem and Major Lazer, along with the likes of Diplo, Katy B, Chet Faker, and Jungle. Not content to wreck you during the normal festival hours, they also have their After Dark series at venues like Village Underground and The Laundry, with DJ sets from Hannah Wants, Goldie, Justin Martin, and more.
Just in case you hadn’t had enough fun times in Victoria Park this weekend, delve deep into your soul and return for one more day... this time for a slightly more artsy experience. Back for its second year, expect plenty of flower power, bubbles, and new wave art exhibits along with experimental rockers Sigur Rós and Caribou headline... and are sure to keep you from easing too quickly back into reality.
Return to the Olympic Stadium to witness some of the world’s best athletes blow your mind yet again. With the IAAF Diamond League plus the IPC Grand Prix Final bringing their A-game, keep your eyes peeled for world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, and some of the top Olympic stars in their final contests before the next big games in Rio.
Returning for another edition of collected boozing, Cocktails in the City has once again gathered some of the city’s best bars under one roof to the detriment of your liver. Grab cocktails from bars like Cocktail Trading Co, OXO Tower, 68 & Boston, The Alchemist, and others, plus international drinkeries like Amsterdam’s Door 74 and Paris’s Little Red Door. Not content with just booze, they’re also bringing you crazy golf, a silent disco, masterclasses, and more.
If you’re the guy who always asks the DJ for house, this is going to be so your jam. Warming you up for Carnival, get ready for a day of dancehall, disco, dub, soul, garage, and most importantly, house. This is the second year this party’s gone down, and this time, it’s going to feature artists like Soul II Soul, Kenny Dope, Crystal Waters, Mr. Vegas, Roy Ayers, and many more.
Back for its fourth year, this multi-venue festival is the premier east London creative collection of art, music, markets, and street food, featuring underground up-and-coming artists like Mykki Blanco, Young Fathers, and Gengahr.
This is really the official summer closing party and all-out insane street party, not to mention, you know, the world’s largest Carnival party outside of Rio. The two-day extravaganza takes over Notting Hill and shuts it down with a parade, more food stalls then you can count, a bunch of stages for get your groove on, and so, so, so much booze.
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Haley Forest is a food & drinks writer who wants a personal helicopter as an escape strategy for all festivals. That or a dematerialization transporter to beam her in and out. Follow her on all things social at @HCForest.