I write a seasonal newsletter with tips about what’s on in London which I send directly to subscribers but my blog readers can enjoy it too. If you want to subscribe, go to my website and let me know. Check out your favourite section: theatre, museums, shopping and fashion, art galleries, foodie stuff, royal palaces and parks, sport or music, it’s all here!
So here you are, my pick of what’s on in London over the summer:
July Wimbledon tennis tournament has moved a week later so falls into July now. It’s a big deal in London and we will all hold our breath for Andy Murray! The Proms season begins for the 123rd time and there are over 90 varied and magnificent concerts over 8 weeks making this the world’s greatest classical music festival. Held in the Royal Albert Hall, big names and favourite old pieces feature alongside new commissions and lesser-known works. There is a jazz theme this year with tributes to Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie, an Oklahoma prom, a prom celebrating Indian independence and so much more.
August. The Notting Hill Carnival is a huge event, the largest street party in Europe. There is a massive parade of music and costumes, sounds stages blasting out everything from reggae to rock and roll, all kinds of great street food, dancing in the streets and tons of fun to be had over the 2 days when millions of people come to Notting Hill for a great time.
September The Mayor’s Thames Festival, Totally Thames, brings the river alive for the whole month, we are expecting the river to be buzzing again this year and the riverside restaurants will be joining in with special menus and events. London Fashion Week takes over the fashion and shopping world across London and the Weekend is open to the public.
July The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Queen Anne transfers from Stratford (upon Avon) to the Theatre Royal Haymarket, starring Romola Garai, it explores the life of one of our little-known monarchs. A Tale of Two Cities comes to the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park, a new play based on the well-loved Dickens novel. At the Globe for July is Much Ado About Nothing is set in Mexico in 1910! Lots of buzz for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opening at the Apollo Theatre starring Sienna Miller and Jack O’Connell, although I’m sure the film version with Paul Newman will always be my favourite.
August Evita hits the West End for a short run at the Phoenix Theatre, 65 years after La Peron died and I’m sure it will be as popular as ever. A return to the London stage for the rather famous Stockard Channing in Apologia at the Trafalgar Studios. As it’s the school holidays there is a slot for Horrible Histories – More Best of Barmy Britain at the Garrick. One of Britain’s most famous and loved actors Ben Wishaw stars in Against at the Almeida. For the open air theatre lovers, August brings Jesus Christ Superstar, the musical to Regents Park.
September Acclaimed as one of the 20th century’s greatest plays, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot opens at the Arts Theatre. A pop-up theatre next to Marble Arch will be the venue for Five Guys Named Moe, it is specifically designed to evoke a 1940s New Orleans jazz bar, complete with a 1940s cocktail bar for pre and post-theatre drinks! A new play among all the revivals opens at the Noel Coward Theatre, Labour of Love, a political drama starring the always wonderful Sarah Lancashire and Martin Freeman.
July The National Portrait Gallery has an exhibition exploring the creative encounter between sitting and painter of portraits with work by the great masters of the Renaissance and Baroque periods called The Encounter: Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt. The Tate Britain has Simon Barclay’s The Hero Wears Clay Shoes, a multimedia exhibition looking at British society and popular culture. Somerset House hosts the World Illustration Awards 2017, showcasing established and emerging talent. Leighton House will host Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s work in a show called At Home in Antiquity, exploring his fascination with domestic life in the ancient past. The Tate Modern brings us a good looking show Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, exploring figures that changed the face of art in America.
August Not many openings this month so don’t miss the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition closing this month – the world’s greatest open entry art show! Summer Screen Prints at Somerset House pairs limited edition screen prints with the films being shown in the courtyard. Matisse in His Studio at the Royal Academy offers a glimpse into his personal collection of paintings, sculpture and drawings from around the world.
September The Tate Britain hosts a comprehensive exhibition of work by Rachel Whiteread celebrating 25 years of her acclaimed sculptures, tracking her career and highlights alongside new never before seen pieces. Jasper Johns comes to the Royal Academy in a show Something Resembling Truth, a comprehensive survey of his 60-year-old career full of innovation and experimentation that continues to this day. Don’t miss one of my favourites, Grayson Perry at the Serpentine Gallery with his wonderful pots and tapestries. London Design takes place all over London offering insights into new trends, new designers and a chance to see beautiful items in a range of different media.
SHOPPING, FASHION & MARKETS.
July Don’t miss the bargains in London’s famous July sales where everyone from the High Street to Harrods slashes their prices. Spitalfields Market has regular events including an Independent Label Market in July.
August Summer is the best time to visit London’s numerous street markets: Portobello, Columbia Road, Camden, Greenwich and many more. Any day of the week one of these great markets will be just the place to while away the summer and grab some unique purchases.
September London Fashion Week is a chance to get ahead of the fashion curve with catwalk shows and splash out on some new clothes too, with collections looking ahead to spring/summer 2018. This year it takes place in a few venues across London
MUSEUMS AND EXHIBITIONS
July The Museum of Childhood, part of the V&A, celebrates the work of much-loved children’s author Michael Morpurgo, with draft manuscripts, photographs and correspondence shine light on how the characters he created. There will also be a chance to see one of the life-sized horse puppets from the west end stage show War Horse. The Guildhall Art Gallery hosts Trauma: A Gladiator Returns to the Amphitheatre, where a discovered skull prompts a look at the life of gladiators in Londinium and alongside this, the Museum of London is staging Gladiator Games in August.
August The Gladiator Games, a one hour show from the Museum of London, takes us back to the gladiator battles of Roman days so expect shouting and sword fighting taking place above the site of London’s amphitheatre. The Museum of London is busy with events outside of their museum site, as they open the Billingsgate Roman House and Baths. They used to be open just once or twice a year but now it is possible to visit throughout the summer to see these remains underneath a City building.
September This the last month to catch the impressive Pink Floyd Their Mortal Remains at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a multi-sensory show. Also at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a new exhibition opens Passion, Power and Politics: The History of Opera, exploring the history of opera from late Renaissance Italy through to the present day. It promises to be an immersive experience, telling the story through 7 premieres in 7 European cities – I’m intrigued! The Scythians: Warriors of Ancient Siberia opens at the British Museum, bringing us the story of the mostly forgotten formidable group of warriors from 2,500 years ago.
July Alan Yau’s Ichi Buns does burgers, buns and ramen in Wardour Street. Tom Simmons’ Tower Bridge brings a touch of Welsh heritage to his all-day restaurant, from a former Masterchef runner-up. Something to tempt the palate is Ikoyi bringing West African cuisine with a fine dining approach to the St James’ Market site. Jean Georges arrives at the Connaught, from his 3 Michelin star restaurant in New York. I can’t wait for the new opening in Notting Hill, my neighbourhood, as we look forward to Core by Clare Smith, former chef patron at Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road, launching out on her own for the first time and likely to the biggest opening for many months.
August. The BBC Good Food Festival returns to Hampton Court with top chefs doing demos, stalls, tastings and demonstrations all in the beautiful grounds of the Palace. Old favourite of theatregoers, Joe Allen is moving just down the road to allow for a hotel development. They say it will be just the same but I will have to be convinced that the basement tucked away somewhat New York speakeasy feel will be recreated, let’s hope so. Encant and Bravas are my favourite tapas bars so I am pleased to see that the man behind them, Victor Garvey, is opening a new venture, Rambla, on Dean Street.
September Top end Mexican comes to the Intercontinental as Ella Canta opens run by Martha Ortiz from Mexico City. Petersham Nurseries opens in Covent Garden, branching out (sorry!) from their original site where I enjoyed an excellent lunch recently. The restaurant will be accompanied by a lifestyle home and garden shop, a deli, wine cellar and florist. The Japan Centre on Shaftesbury Avenue is expanding with a flagship store and a huge 100 seater food court inspired by the basement food courts of Tokyo. There will also be a food hall with all the Japanese goods you could possibly want.
PARKS & GARDENS, ROYAL PALACES
July The famous Flower Show takes over the grounds of Hampton Court for a wonderful weekend in a more relaxed atmosphere than the Chelsea equivalent and it’s much easier to get tickets too. Buckingham Palace starts its summer opening when the Queen goes on her holidays and she lets us look around her London home and be amazed by the huge room, amazing decorations, fabulous furniture and great paintings. Hyde Park is home to great music, including the major league festival British Summer Time, as is Kew Gardens.
August Clarence House, the official residence of Charles, the Prince of Wales and Camilla is also open to the public, but just for August as he has shorter holidays than the Queen! The BBC Good Food Festival comes to Hampton Court’s grounds to tempt you with all kinds of goodies and top chefs from Michel Roux to John Torode and Jose Pizarro to name just a few.
September The Last Night of the Proms is streamed live into Hyde Park so thousands can wave flags and sing their hearts out. Buckingham Palace is open to visitors for another month as the Queen is still on her holidays! Kew The Movies takes advantage of the late summer weather with a series of outdoor screenings of the fun films Ghostbuster and Grease sing-a-long.
July Wimbledon has moved on a week this year so July now has the second week of this great tournament and the hopes of the nations rest on Andy Murray. In the cricket, England plays one of the test series against South Africa at Lords and there is plenty of county cricket matches at the Oval and Lords. The annual Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium brings big names as usual but the biggest draw will be Usain Bolt in what might be one of his last races. Ride London is a massive cycling event, through London and out to Box Hill, for the public and elite competitors. The world ParaAthletics championships will take place at the Olympic Stadium.
August County cricket will be in full flow at all the London grounds. More athletics at the Olympic Stadium, with the World Championships. The Rugby League Challenge Cup Final will be entertaining the crowds at Wembley and in football, the Premiership starts in August, which always feels too early as it is the season for summer sports.
September The West Indies are in town for the 3rd match of the test series at Lords and you can also catch one-day matches, county matches and 20:20 cricket too as the season draws to a close. The American NFL rolls into town with the Baltimore Ravens taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars. The World Cup qualifiers have England taking on Slovakia at Wembley in their last home game so let’s hope it’s all sewn up by now!
July The festival season is in full flow with British Summer Time – full of the big names such Tom Petty, The Killers, Justin Bieber, Kings of Leon, Green Day and Phil Collins with Blondie and those are just the headliners! Kew The Music in the world-famous botanical gardens has one of the best settings with a change of performers this year featuring Mary J Blige, Razorlight, All Saints and James. Somerset House rivals Kew for setting and brings us a wide range of styles including Norah Jones, Damien Marley, Goldfrapp, and Songhoy Blues. Lovebox in Victoria Park brings us a huge programme including Jess Glynne, Frank Ocean Jamiexx. Let’s not forget the nightly Proms season which kicks off in July and stretches through to September.
August The festival South West Four on Clapham Common brings us the biggest names in dance music including Deadma5, Sigma and Hannah Wants. Prepare yourself for the Notting Hill Carnival – 2 days of very loud music to get us all up and dancing in the streets. Look out for Gaz’s Rocking Crew and the nearby dub reggae truck which are my favourites or get your ears blown off on All Saints Road! House of Common on Clapham Common looks fun with classic ska from Madness along with the Skatalites, David Rodigan and De La Soul.
September The wonderful Proms come to an end with a simulcast in Hyde Park called Proms in the Park with the line-up of artists performing ahead of the classical spectacular. SW4, also taking on Clapham Common, features Tinie Tempah, Deadmau5, Pendulum and Knife Party. On Blackheath brings us Travis, The Libertines, De La Soul, Fun Loving Criminals and Metronomy along with great poetry from the likes of Kate Tempest and tons of food stalls, pop up restaurants and craft beers. And that will be the end of the festival season for another year!
*All listings correct to the best of my knowledge but exact details should be checked with each venue.