When the sun is out the fun is out in London. The city has a lot going on normally, but things really kick up a notch once summer temperatures rise. The summer months tend to be the time when you’ll see the most festivals and outdoor events going on in London including a number of plays, markets, and concerts. This is also the time of year when many historical buildings open their doors to the tourists that flood the city every year, so you have the opportunity to see buildings you couldn’t otherwise, including some of the royal residences. Whatever you’re in the mood to do in London this summer, we’ve found our top ten to help you make up your mind.
Pride in London
This month-long celebration of London’s LGBTQ community kicks off June 9th and runs until July 7th. In the lead up to the Pride Parade that closes the festival on 7/7, there are plenty of events going on from self-defense classes, drag performances, talent shows, lectures, and more. You don’t have to be LGBTQ to attend any of the festival events or watch the parade, so you can learn more about this wonderful community or show your support as an ally.
Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair
Certainly one of London’s most eccentric art events, the ACBF sees the city’s artists selling their works out of the boots (that’s trunk for Americans) of Vauxhall cars. The pieces sold are generally made just for the event, so you can guarantee you’re not going to find them anywhere else. Past fairs have seen sellers including Sir Peter Blake, Holly Morgan, and Marcus Harvey. This year’s ACBF will take place on September 16th, making it a perfect way to close out the summer season.
Beach at Brent Cross/Camden Beach/
When you’re stuck in the middle of the city, you may not be able to go to the beach. To fix that, several spots in London bring the beach to you. Brent Cross Shopping Centre plays home to the biggest urban beach in the city filled with sand, water, rides, and street food. Roundhouse sets up its own Camden Beach with deckchairs and music so you can lay out and get your tan on while your kids play.
Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final at Wembley
The biggest event of the Rugby League’s season comes to Wembley Stadium on August 25th as the league’s two best teams will square off for rugby supremacy. Hull FC took on the Wigan Warriors last season and were victorious, but it’s unknown at this point who will end up taking home the cup. No matter who plays, it’s worth going to if you love sport and there will be plenty of events going on before the final kicks off.
Southbank Centre Meltdown Festival
Southbank Centre is one of the city’s best performance venues, seeing everything from classical music to spoken word and literature festivals throughout the year. Come June 15-24, the Meltdown Festival kicks off, featuring a celebration of popular and unique music that fills our modern lives with color and life. This year’s curator for the festival is Robert Smith, the lead singer and lead guitarist of the alternative rock legends The Cure.
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships
The most well-known and watched tennis championship in the world kicks off on July 2 and goes until July 15 as the best of the best bring their rackets to these glorious grounds. They also bring with them thousands of cheering fans both at Wimbledon Stadium and throughout the city. If you can’t get tickets to get in, you can believe that plenty of pubs around London will have the Championships on television. Players consider it one of the more challenging contests in the Grand Slam thanks to the grass courts, and so covet the Wimbledon crown above all others.
Notting Hill Carnival
London’s largest celebration of its Caribbean citizens and culture takes place in Notting Hill from August 26 to August 27. The streets of this London district will be filled with colors, music, and food for two days. Sunday is typically “family day,” with a more toned-down celebration and activities for the kids. The big event is the Carnival Parade on Monday, which is usually a bank holiday. Be sure to check the website for events going on throughout both days.
Perhaps the biggest concert series in London during the summer, the BBC puts on the Proms every year as part of the musical and cultural education the Royal Albert Hall was built to promote. More than just concerts, the BBC puts on a number of events outside of the RAH during the Proms season from talks on the influence of music to workshops for aspiring performers. Concerts this year include everything from young prodigies to a celebration of BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop.
Trooping the Colour
The official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II takes place in June every year, and the Household Cavalry marks the occasion with the Trooping of the Colour. This display of military precision involves 1400 parading soldiers, 200 horses, and over 400 musicians moving from Buckingham Palace down the Mall to the Horse Guard’s Parade. Members of the Royal Family also join in the parade either on horseback or in carriages, so you’re bound to catch a view of everyone from the Queen herself to newly married couple Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Buckingham Palace Summer Tours
During the summer, Queen Elizabeth goes on holiday like most Britons, and while she is away, Buckingham Palace opens to the public for one of the few times of the year. Beginning July 21, visitors can take a tour of this palace that’s been home to monarchs since Queen Victoria and see the gorgeous State Rooms while getting a glimpse into how a modern working palace functions. Buckingham Palace is only available to tour until the end of September, so there’s a small window if you’re planning your trip.