What’s on in London this Summer


By Eloise Barker

Photography by IakovKalinin / Getty Images

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April 2017

Wonderful London ventures outside in the warm summer months and takes advantage of its stunning outdoor spaces. Whether you’re looking for lazy park days, leafy outdoor theatres, balmy courtyard cinemas, or a spot of sport, London’s summer season should hit the spot.

Royal Ascot

The horses, the hats, the silks, the champagne. Royal Ascot is a great chance to ogle high society (recognisable by their royal enclosure tickets) and even spot the Queen toasting the fast-paced fun of horse racing on the flats. Place a few bets, have a few drinks and see if you can spot the most ridiculous hat. Pick an enclosure, or watch it all with a picnic from the heath opposite the stands. A truly British day out.

When? 20 – 24 June

Where? Ascot Racecourse

Nearest tubes: Waterloo – for onward travel via National Rail

Where to stay: Park Plaza Westminster Bridge

“The Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys, Kinky Boots, Matilda, Les Miserables and Wicked performed all-singing all dancing renditions of their best bits – al fresco.”

Serpentine Pavilion

On a hot, lazy day in London there’s no better remedy for lethargy than its many green spaces. Hyde Park, central London’s largest, even houses its own galleries – the Haywood and Serpentine are both pioneering modern art venues. Every year they commission a temporary pavilion to stand in the park. Zaha Hadid and Ai Weiwei have created beautifully barmy buildings and this year’s offering is designed by Burkino Faso’s Diébédo Francis Kéré. Strolling around and enjoying their strange designs is one of the great perks of Hyde Park.

When? 23 June – 8 October

Where? Hyde Park

Nearest tubes: Knightsbridge

Where to stay: The Queen’s Gate Hotel

  • Serpentine Pavilion 2017, Designed by Francis Kéré, Design Render, Interior ©Kéré Architecture

    Inspired by nature

    The first African architect to design the Serpentine Pavilion, Francis Kéré’s design resembles a tree that can be used as a meeting point.

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  • Dartmouth (Olivier Peslier) wins The Hardwicke Stakes Royal Ascot 18 Jun 2016 – Photo credit: Steven Cargill / Racingfotos.com

    Did you know?

    Jumpsuits have only recently been added onto the dress code for women at the very strict Royal Enclosure at Ascot. Men are still stuck wearing suits.

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  • West End Live. Photo credit: Pamela Raith

    Crowd aloud

    Sing along to your favourite songs as West End casts perform their best bits.

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West End Live

If you can’t pick just one West End show, watch 31 live on stage over a glorious June weekend in Trafalgar Square. Last year, huge casts from The Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys, Kinky Boots, Matilda, Les Miserables and Wicked performed all-singing, all-dancing renditions of their best bits – al fresco. Then there’s food, face painting and a whole lot of audience participation from a 500,000 strong crowd. Jazz hands, everybody.

When? 24 – 25 June

Where? Trafalgar Square

Nearest tubes: Charing Cross

Where to stay: Amba Hotel Charing Cross

The Championships, Wimbledon

So much more than a tennis competition, Wimbledon is an institution. Queue up for day seats and soak up the jolly atmosphere even before you get to the courts. Strawberries on Henman Hill, watching the big screen, champagne in the posh bar, or sitting very still during an important point court side are all quintessential experiences. Put on your best straw hat and your sunglasses and enjoy Wimbledon village’s own celebrations, from tennis ball inspired floral displays to rooftop bars screening the big games.

When? 3 – 16 July

Where? Wimbledon

Nearest tubes: Wimbledon

Where to stay: K+K Hotel George

  • Two Spectators at The Championships 2014. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Day 5 -27/06/2014. Photo credit: AELTC / Chris Raphael

    Anyone for tennis?

    This 140-year-old tournament attracts the world’s best players.

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  • Aldwych Rooms at One Aldwych

    Staying in

    If you don’t go to the Film4 Summer Screen, then why not enjoy ‘Film and Fizz’ at the 30-seat cinema, when you stay at One Aldwych?

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  • Jesus Christ, Superstar at the Regent Park Open Air Theatre. Photo credit: David Jensen

    Drama in the park

    The popular Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Jesus Christ, Superstar, returns to the open air theatre for another year. You can also catch two productions of the works of Charles Dickens.

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Charles Dickens at Regent’s Park Open air theatre

This charming theatre, right in the centre of a park, is decked out with fairy lights and the stage is lined with a backdrop of trees – a truly open air experience. This year, there will be two productions based on the novels of Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities and Oliver Twist. The latter is perfect for families with kids over the age of six. Cheer on poor Oliver as he navigates the rough side of the streets of London – by the end of the first half, you’ll be asking for more.

When? 7 July – 5 August

Where? Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Nearest tubes: Baker Street

Where to stay: Melia White House

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Mesmerising actress Sienna Miller stars as the restless Maggie in Tennessee Williams’ favourite play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The sweltering setting of Big Daddy and his family’s Mississippi home come to London and Layer Cake actress Sienna Miller is hotly anticipated to steal all her scenes. Benedict Andrews, who cast Gillian Anderson in his 2014 version of A Streetcar Named Desire, directs.

When? 13 July – 7 October

Where? Apollo Theatre

Nearest tubes: Leicester Square

Where to stay: Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street

  • Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House. Photo credit: James Bryant

    Outdoor cinema

    Grab a thermos, a friend and picnic in the courtyard of Somerset House in front of a classic film.

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  • Michael Morpurgo (Caravan) Date: 2016 Credit line: Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

    Did you know?

    The bestselling author thought the National Theatre were mad to try and make his book War Horse into a play with life-sized puppets. But six Tony awards and 3,000 London performances later…

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  • The Royal Albert Hall. Photo credit: fazon1 / Getty Images

    Be a Prommer

    Queue in the day to see the Proms for just £6 per performance. Stand in the Arena (where the acoustics are best, anyway).

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Michael Morpurgo at the V&A Museum of Childhood

The Butterfly Lion, War Horse, Kensuke’s Kingdom, beloved children’s author Michael Morpurgo has delighted a worldwide audience with his books – many of which feature very special animals. The V&A’s delightful Museum of Childhood plays host to his stories in this special exhibition, perfect for story lovers, animal lovers and budding writers. See his manuscripts and illustrations, and meet Joey, the life-sized horse puppet that was the star of the National Theatre’s adaptation of War Horse.

When? 22 July – 25 February 2018

Where? V&A Museum of Childhood

Nearest tubes: Bethnal Green

Where to stay: Holiday Inn Express London – Stratford

BBC Proms

The eight weeks of Proms have been occurring in London since 1895 and get bigger every year. These are informal, democratic performances with something for everyone. Maybe you want to sink your ears into a difficult piece of Wagner, hum along to the infectious film score soundtracks or go to something like last year’s Dr Who themed night. The last night, Proms in the Park, packs out Hyde Park with a big, riotous and surprisingly patriotic event – and a lot of bombastic music from Elgar.

When? 14 July – 19 September

Where? Royal Albert Hall

Nearest tubes: South Kensington

Where to stay: The Kensington Hotel

Film 4 Summer Screen

It’s not just an outdoor cinema. Actually, Film 4’s Summer Screen hosts UK premieres and red carpet moments – last year Pedro Almodóvar introduced his new film, Julieta in the courtyard, as people got comfy in front of the projected screen. But there’s plenty of more relaxed moments, too. Take a picnic and blankets, snuggle up and enjoy showings of old favourites – last year the line-up went from Trainspotting to Ten Things I Hate About You.

When? Two weeks in August

Where? Somerset House

Nearest tubes: Temple

Where to stay: One Aldwych