SUMMER in the City

Top ten things to do in London this summer by Chloe Hodge

1. Festivals:
Summer is undoubtedly festival season, and in central London the Mayor’s Thames Festival can’t be beaten. Extended from its usual 3-day programme, this year the Southbank with be buzzing with events for an entire ten days starting on the 14th September. Another new addition to London’s festival calendar is the Queen’s Coronation Festival. From 11-14 July, Buckingham Palace gardens will be open to the public with over 200 companies hosting stalls to satisfy your fine dining and shopping needs.

2. Hit a market and pack a picnic:
For a drink in the evening, Borough Market can’t be beaten, but if you’re looking to grab yourself some local produce to nibble on in a stunning location you have several more options. To avoid warm sandwiches, visit Alexandra Palace Farmers’ Market on a Sunday and fill up your hamper with delectable delights to enjoy in the palace gardens – or even Greenwich Park. Alternatively, visit Hampstead Heath – great for families with its zoo, tennis courts and 320 hectares of green.

Royal Coronation Festival 2013 Buckingham Palace
3. Views of London:
Head skyward in a kaleidoscopic lift up to the 72nd floor of the tallest building in Western Europe: The Shard. This viewing experience is free of queuing, crowds or time restrictions so you’re free to enjoy the 40-mile view at ease. If you’d rather enjoy the sights whilst sipping a cocktail, there are several rooftop bars and restaurants to try: Southbank’s OXO Tower has sweeping views of the Thames as well as a bar and restaurant. Kensington Roof Gardens – London’s oldest roof garden – boasts botany ranging from English woodland to exotic Spanish species and features both Japanese moon bridges and Moroccan arches.

4. Take a dip:
When it comes to Lidos in London, Tooting Bec freshwater pool is the smartest. Not only the largest swimming pool in the UK, it’s also a popular film location due to its colourful bunting and décor. If the sun is shining but a cool breeze is nipping at your knees, London Fields hosts the only heated Lido in London, and Oasis Sports Centre’s rooftop pool in Covent Garden is a little-known inner-city gem, sheltered enough to catch some rays in peace.

5. Dancing out of doors:
If taking to the streets for Notting Hill Carnival isn’t for you, but a green setting is, then Hyde Park’s British Summer Time should do the trick. Between 5-14 July you can choose from six musical evenings or smaller daytime events. If you’re feeling particularly flush, then this year’s Proms in the Park celebrates the birthday of British composer Benjamin Britten with five hours of classical and contemporary music – just make sure you pack a hefty picnic! For a more metropolitan setting, Summer Series sees the Somerset House courtyard lit up neon with artists from Alex Clare to Jesse Ware playing from 11-21 July.

Somerset House Summer Series
6. Alfresco performance:
The Scoop beside City Hall appears to be merely a set of grey steps throughout the winter months, but from June-September, this 800-seat amphitheatre is alive with free music, dance, comedy and theatre events. For a more picturesque venue visit Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, while The Globe offers a wholly historic experience. Greenwich Comedy Festival is perfect for an evening laugh with friends under the big top. If, however, the weather’s not quite up to an outdoor event and the kids climbing all over you, why not try Kids Week in the West End: children go half price in Theatreland for the whole of August. Take a peek behind the curtain and enjoy a whole range of dramatic activities!

7. Pub gardens:
By far South London’s top spot to enjoy a glass of wine on a warm evening is The Magic Garden in Battersea – a mish-mash of ornate furniture, shabby sofas, Moroccan lamps and cushions all contained within a cosy bamboo gazebo lit with twinkly fairy lights; it’s got it all really. For an amazing barbeque whilst you watch the boats go by, head to The Ship in Wandsworth – or for an even more nautical experience try floating pub The Tattershall Castle, Embankment. If you’re in need of a suntrap, then Clapham’s The Avalon is just the ticket, and if the warm weather stays right into the evening then visit Grand Union in Brixton, whose garden glows blue with Chinese lanterns after dark.

8. Get out on the river:
For the ultimate ‘staycation’, visit Little Venice; stroll, cycle or even jump aboard a barge to explore the canals of this quiet corner of Maida Vale. Although it’s not quite the real thing, this area’s fantastic array of waterside cafes and bars are certain to ease you into holiday mode. If you’re looking for a day out of town, Thames River Boats can pick you up and whisk you off to the greenery and glasshouses of Kew Gardens, or even on to the spectacular grounds of Hampton Court Palace.

9. Catch a movie:
A visit to the cinema need not be restricted to chilly winter evenings, if you’re missing your film fix then head to Somerset House for Film4Summer based in the stunning Edmond J. Safra Fountain Courtyard. Their selection of films beats most other venues, but if you fancy a flute of champagne on the lawn then Kensington Palace has an outdoor screen, whilst Folly for a Flyover in Hackney Wick is best for hipsters, with East London’s famed Bagels and Mr Whippy on offer as well as a range of art films from the Barbican’s summer programme.

10. Back to nature:
London may have an array of fantastic parks, but sometimes the gardenless city dweller really does need to get back to basics. For a wholesome day of fruit-picking, just half an hour’s train journey from The City is Parkside Farm, a 50 acre plot with twenty varieties of fruit and veggies to choose from – certain to make you feel well inside and out. Travel a little further afield and discover Cannizaro and Richmond Park; only a few miles south of SE1, the impressive landscaping of 300 year old Cannizaro will satisfy green fingered types, whilst the Red deer, rhododendron gardens and forests of Richmond will have you believing you’re in the midst of the English countryside.

Also from this Edition:

Other Stories
No articles available