As London summers go, this one has gotten off to a great start. Sunshine? Check. A festival season spread across every summer month for the first time since 2019? You bet. Pride celebrating its first full parade since the pandemic? Correct. And, we’ve thrown ourselves in London’s usual, splendid array of activities, from summer pop-ups, rooftop bars, new restaurants, the whole shebang. August looks to carry on that very trend with the biggest even comeback of the year topping our list, a bank holiday weekend to look forward to, and a swathe of new openings across the capital. Let’s get started, shall we?
Time to test out those vocal chords, everybody: 🎵 And if I only could, I’d make a deal with God, and I’d get Him to swap our places 🎵. Yes, we’re all still gripped by Stranger Things fever after season four, and soon you’ll be able to put yourself in that place. The place that will grip your hand and lead you into 1980s Hawkins, where traces of the upside down lurk in every corner. An all-encompassing Stranger Things experience opens up this month in London, and you can book your spot here.
Cards on the table: the August bank holiday is the best weekend of the year, and that’s largely thanks to Notting Hill Carnival. Only, for the last two years, the landmark event on the streets of west London – usually welcoming a two million-strong crowd – remained quiet due to the pandemic.
So, this year, you’d better be ready to party like it’s 2019… or any year before that up until 1966, when the celebration of Caribbean culture first took place. Meander through the streets and follow a colourful mas band, cut some shapes at a dance stage, or just soak in the atmosphere with a delicious plate of scran (from one of the 300 trading stalls), before shuffling through London’s finest free event.
Everyone should simply attend the carnival and explore it in all it’s glory for starters, but here’s a few extra highlights you should be checking out:
💃 Colours Carnival: Did you know you can buy a package and be IN Europe’s biggest street parade, instead of just watching from the sidelines? Amongst others, Colours Carnival is one of the mas bands (floats) in Notting Hill Carnival and on the Sunday, they host ‘j’ouvert’ or ‘dutty mas’, and you dance behind the truck, getting covered in paint; on the Monday, it is ‘pretty mas’, and you dance behind the truck in a gorgeous costume. You need to buy a package beforehand (you can pick one up here), which include your branded t-shirt (Sunday) or costume (Monday), food, unlimited refreshments, a wristband, commemorative drinks cup, goodie bag, access to the toilet trucks, security, on-float live performances, and more. Check out the full list of mas bands here.
🎶 One of the many sound systems: Look, you can spend all day walking around, but sometimes it’s best to hole up in one space for the day and have a boogie. Choose a sound system, one of the mobile units blaring music, and cut some shapes to all the eclectic beats on show throughout the weekend. Check out this guide to all the different sound systems.
🥁 Steelbands: You’ll be seeing a lot of these over the bank weekend, just as you could at the very first Notting Hill Carnival in 1966 and in 1951 when the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra performed to the Southbank. Fast forward to August 2022, and there’s a stream of Steelbands performing at the carnival, and you can check out the full list here.
Notting Hill Carnival takes place for the first time since 2019 on August 28 and August 29. The Sunday is Family Day, and the Monday is the Adult’s Parade. Both days will observe a 72-second silence at 3pm to pay respects to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. Find more information about Notting Hill Carnival here.
Doors to the brand new Gustav Klimt immersive exhibition are finally open, so grab your tickets and prepare to get beamed over to Vienna in the 1900s. You’ll clap eyes with some stunning 360-degree VR replicas – think The Kiss, The Tree Of Life, Judith And The Head of Holofernes, and many more – making this experience a sure-fire hit this summer. Read more about it here.
July was stacked with sunny days, and since it’s summer, we can hope August delivers more of the same (although not quite 40°C, please – at that point we are not recommending beaches, we are recommending somewhere cool and shady), giving us ample chances to head out to the beach. This may be a roundup of things to do in the capital city, but even the most dyed in the wool Londoner would struggle to admit they don’t daydream about trips to the beach over the summer months. We’re counting it, okay? Good.
If you can’t get away this summer, then everyone’s favourite spot to gaze over the London skyline has you covered. A party until the early hours transports you to the clubs of Ibiza with that view thrown into the mix. A live orchestra will soundtrack your night, and there’s plenty of party packages (yes, even ones involving champagne) to see you leave with everlasting memories of the night.
The historic Somerset House hosts some of the best events all year round, and they’ve really outdone themselves again here. This Bright Land, a colourful fairground festival – created by artists Gareth Pugh and Carson McColl and running from August 1 -29 – just feels made for these settings, offering up a magical courtyard with everything from night parties to day activities; vogue balls to self-reflection pop-ups; and street parties to tantalising dishes.
Small Is Beautiful houses one of the largest collections of miniature art across all of Europe, and though these pieces may not be picking up any basketball medals, they hold their own when it comes to precision of craft, which is why people have been racing through the doors since the exhibition opened in April. September 4 marks the end of the road for Small Is Beautiful in this iteration, so you better get down there fast if you haven’t witnessed its mini magnificence yet. Book your spot here.
A beautiful series of pop-ups? During the summer in London? With cocktails? Yeah, just sign me up right now. Cocktails In The City does everything it needs to in the surroundings of a radiant Georgian garden, with a multitude of different drinks labels on hand to give you a true taste of summer.
London has never had a pasta festival, but August 2022 marks the month where the city rectified that mistake. Thanks to the lovely people at Emilia’s Crafted Pasta’s, Canary Wharf will play host to the first-of-a-kind event on August 21 — expect masterclasses on the art of pasta cookery, music, and plenty of the good stuff to eat (duh!) at this sumptuous pasta picnic.
We’re well and truly into festival season and, much like the last month, August has plenty of fabulous lineups; opportunities for the bucket hats, the glittery faces, the sunglasses; and an abundance of parks to throw shapes in. Here’s some of the best events happening throughout the month.
💃 We Are FSTVL (August 6–7) – Electronic music in east London, you say? The Dagenham shubz is back with a stacked bill including Andy C, Armand Van Helden, Bru-C, The Blessed Madonna, and Jamie Jones.
😎 All Points East (August 19-28) – Victoria Park’s Annual festival is returning in it’s full form after a shortened span last year, boasting some very big hitters to serenade us. Think Gorillaz, Tame Impala, The National, Disclosure, and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.
🌳 Field Day (August 20) – Sandwiched in between multiple All Points East dates, Field Day takes over Victoria Park for their 15th anniversary year, with a day of dancing to the likes of The Chemical Brothers, Kraftwerk, Daniel Avery, Peggy Gou and many more.
🎪 Elrow Town (August 20) – Elrow are bringing their trademark colourful atmosphere to Enfield this year, equipped with their confetti cannons, inflatables, and world-class DJs.
🎉 Electric City (August 21) – Chase And Status play their only London show of 2022 at Gunnersbury park this summer, on a lineup that includes Andy C, Wilkinson, Sub Focus, Dimension, and Netsky.
🌞 Yam Carnival (August 27) – Back for its second year, Yam Carnival promises another year to remember at Clapham Common, with Wizkid, Naira Marley, DJ Maphorisa, Black Sherif and Young Stunna joining us for the party.
🔥 Eastern Electrics (August 27) – Seth Troxler, Jaguar, Horse Meat Disco, Debonair and Jasper James (plus many more) are taking over the decks at the Lee Valley Showground for a big’ ol’ boogie over the bank holiday weekend.
🕺 Maiden Voyage (August 28) – From the team behind Camden’s Jazz Café, Maiden Voyage is another bank holiday dose of hip-shaking fun, helped along by the likes of Ross From Friends, Jayda G, D Double E, Shanti Celeste and more.
21. Treat yourself at the Maltesers Dark pop-up (August 3)
A pop-up cake shop from one of the best snacks going? Oh, go on then — it’s summer after all. Try divine recipes from 2021 Bake Off star Crystelle Pereira, with FREE cakes with personalised messages on them being given out. Find it at 47 Old Brompton Road, South Kensington, SW7 3JP on August 3, between 12pm – 5pm.
You may remember the giant, illuminated floating model of earth from previous summers in London; not least because once you’ve clapped eyes on Gaia, it becomes pretty hard to forget. Well, good news: Gaia is back to appear at these spots as part of the Kensington and Chelsea festival, which last summer housed the magnificent Museum Of The Moon installation, hopping around three different spaces in the borough between July 22 – August 14.
Summer holidays can be a truly magical time for the little ones, even without having a long break away from the city. The Peter Rabbit Experience at Blenheim Palace provides an interactive challenge for children to save the main character from becoming rabbit pie, while meeting plenty of other familiar faces on the way (Jemima Puddle-Duck, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Flopsy, the whole gang!). Book your place here.
One experience might make for a lovely, wholesome day, but there’s plenty more of those to tick off in the calendar this summer, so here’s a few more ideas of places to take the kids over the school holidays.
🐟 SEA LIFE London Aquarium – Trips to the aquarium are cool and all now, but you really couldn’t beat that thrill as a kid, making for a perfect London day trip.
🌟 Harry Potter Walking Tour – There’s no real age limit on loving Harry Potter, so though this one’s brilliant for all ages, it’s surely a no brainer during the summer holidays.
🐑 Meet farmyard animals at Hackney City Farm – The little ones can experience a real life version of Old MacDonald Had A Farm, and meet pigs, ducks, geese, goats, sheep and even a resident celebrity donkey called Clover.
🤩 Sing along to a West End Musical – There’s a musical for just about every kids TV and Film character you could think of, so whether they’re beaming to the sound of Hakuna Matata or bellowing along to Defying Gravity, a trip to one of these is certain to be a winner of a day out for the kids.
If music or pasta festivals aren’t your thing, let us point you in the direction of this scrumptious Chinese Food Festival, which runs for three days at the end of August. After you’ve finished off a mouth-watering selection of Chinese and Pan-Asian delights, you can take part in masterclasses including woodblock, lantern-making, and even tea-tasting. Book your place here.
Yep, beer is so good that it has it’s own day. And be gone with anyone that would complain about that! To celebrate, you most definitely should head down to one of these fine establishments to pay your respects to the beer gods, just to keep them happy, you know. Or else they might do something mad and make the average price of a pint really expensive in Lon- never mind. But still, head to the pub on August 5 — it’s a Friday, and even if you don’t like beer, you can celebrate with your tipple of choice.
If decadent burgers are your thing, a one-night-only pop-up by Whyte Rushen is sure to whizz straight to the top of your things to do list for August. Taking over Double Standard, the ground floor at the Standard Hotel, the London chef will serve up double-size editions of his messy smash burgers, and you’ll even get the option to add caviar. When messy meets classy like this, the results are devastatingly scrumptious.
Peckham Levels are hosting a night alongside charity SAIE (Survive, Achieve, Inspire, Elevate) that aims to challenge mental health taboos in African-Caribbean communities, while simultaneously celebrating culture through music, poetry, talks and performances. The event aims to encourage conversation, empower people and tackle stigmas faced when talking about mental health. Read more about it and purchase tickets here.
32-37. Sway along to one of these Candlelight Concerts
Sitting in a room doused in candlelight taking in the dulcet sounds of your favourite music sounds like the dreamiest of evenings, so it’s a good things there’s plenty of them happening in London this month, isn’t it?! Yes, yes it is. Here are some you should have your eye on.
🕯 Candlelight: A Tribute to BTS (August 4)
🕯 Candlelight Open Air: The Royal Museums Greenwich Presents Morricone & More (August 11 & 12)
🕯 Candlelight Open Air: The Royal Museums Greenwich Presents Vivaldi (August 13 & 14)
🕯 Candlelight: Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker & More ft. Ballet (August 20)
🕯 Candlelight: A Tribute to ABBA (August 26)
Following on from the success of Shelter Hall in Brighton, Sessions is arriving to deliver a sweet spot between a restaurant and food hall. At the new venue, a rotating lineup of four chefs will present their dishes for guests at the 114-capacity space, and is a fine option for tasting limited-time-only menus.
We like to tell you about lots of things to do in the centre of our lovely capital, but if you’ve never explored some of the outer zones then you’re seriously missing out. It’s summer, so why not change that right now? Use this handy guide to wander around a few stunning nooks and crannies, then thank us later.
Afternoon Tea can be enjoyed all around the city, and many choose to splash out on a full spread of hot drinks, champagne, cake and more at the classiest of venues. On August 8, Afternoon Tea week (yes, it has a whole week dedicated to it) commences, so here’s a few places you can indulge yourselves at to celebrate.
🍸 TeaQuila, the world’s first Tequila-inspired Afternoon Tea, at NYX Hotel Holborn.
🥂 175 Years Of Afternoon Tea at Searcys (multiple London locations, including the Gherkin)
Read about some more of London’s best afternoon tea spots here.
When Jack climbed that treacherous beanstalk, perhaps he was really just on the hunt for something like this. Brunch, lunch, dinner, afternoon tea, or just a few cocktails can be enjoyed on these table and chairs up in the sky, looking over the O2 Arena, and London In The Sky is a must for any thrillseeking foodie out there.
45. Eat midnight spaghetti at this new ‘After Hours’ Italian concept (August 11)
Menabrea Midnight is a series of late night Italian events coming to the UK, and it means that, on August 11, Londoners will be able to stay out and about at Pastaio to enjoy the unbeatable midnight snack: a bowl of spaghetti. You’ll be taught to appreciate the art of enjoying a meal with company for as long as possible, with plenty of beer alongside the simple, but delicious pasta dish. Buon appetito!
46-57. Sing and dance ’til you can’t no more at a London gig
While everyone’s caught up in festival season, it’s easy to forget that there are still a fine selection of live gigs happening across the sea of London venues.
🍌 Bananarama (August 3-4): Lafayette
🔥 Ithaca (August 4): Boston Music Room
🎉 Christina Aguilera (August 5): The O2
🌳 Peggy Gou’s Pleasure Garden (August 7): Finsbury Park
🎵 JME (August 12): KOKO
😎 Four Tet (August 13): Finsbury Park
🎷 Kamasi Washington (August 13): Crystal Palace Bowl
🤩 Fiddlehead (August 15): Camden Underworld
🎸 The Gaslight Anthem (August 18): Wembley Arena
🎶 Bauhaus (August 19): Brixton Academy
🎤 Emma Ruth Rundle (August 22): Clapham Grand
🎇 Megan Thee Stallion (August 24): Brixton Academy
The colubus monkeys have a new home at London Zoo! New images have surfaced of the new monkey valley exhibit, and visitors will be able to check out the 360-degree panoramic views of the troop from August 15. Book your tickets here.
Not that we need an excuse to tuck into a burger, but this is one national day you definitely want to be observing. Most of us have a favourite spot, and it’s an understatement to say London is awash with places to grab a tasty one, but here’s a greasy guide if you’re looking to try somewhere new.
There’s always plenty of brilliant art exhibitions running in London, so go out and absorb it all, people!
🤩 The Obliteration Room by Yayoi Kusama (until August 29): splash colourful dots around to create your own masterpiece at Tate Modern
🌎 Our Time On Earth (Until August 29): Barbican
🎨 Walter Sickert (Until September 18): Tate Britain
✨ In The Black Fantastic (Until September 18): Hayward Gallery
🌟 In The Air (Until October 16): The Welcome Collection
😎 A Year In Art: Australia 1992 (until May 2023): Tate Modern
66. Bound over to the free Greenwich and Docklands International Festival (August 26 – September 11)
18 days of free art in London is too good to turn down. Opening with the first of 25 premieres (12 UK, 13 London) of SPARK, from Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde, a piece inspired by fireflies, the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival will show off some of the finest work from internationally renowned artists, with shared theme of Common Ground.
Just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find the time to huddle indoors to a theatre to catch a performance or two. Here’s some you should check out:
The Seagull (opened June 29): Harold Pinter Theatre
Chess: The Musical (opens August 1): Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Cruise (opens August 13): Apollo Theatre
A Doll’s House, Part 2 (closes August 6): Donmar Warehouse.
71-73. Host your movie night at an outdoor cinema
Nights may be getting slightly shorter, but there’s still ample time to enjoy a trip to an outdoor cinema on a warm evening accompanied by a summer breeze.
74-85. Carry on exploring the great city of London
We wrote about plenty of other places this month, so why not check out a few of them in August?
More things to do inspiration…
Also published on Medium.