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Bank holiday in London

Make the most of the bank holiday weekend break in the capital, we definitely will be

The Easter bank holiday weekend in London falls on Fri Mar 25–Mon Mar 28 2016 and we're all treated to a whole four days off work. If laying in bed with a boxset is your initial plan, scrap it – there's too much going on in the capital to miss out on. London's packed with museums full of wonders, galleries full of art exhibitions and loads of space for some cracking outdoor activities too. We've got your bank holiday plans sorted. 

Our bank holiday weekend highlights

Things to do

The Boat Race

The 2016 Boat Race will take place on Sunday March 27 and for another year it's Boat Races – the men's race (which will start at 4.10pm) will be joined on the Tideway by the women's race, starting an hour earlier at 3.10pm. The traditional rowing race between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge began in 1829 for chaps and 1927 for ladies, and it now attracts around 250,000 spectators to south-west London every year. The four-and-a-quarter mile course runs along the Thames from Putney Bridge to Mortlake and takes around 16 to 18 minutes (Cambridge holds the course record of 16 minutes 19 seconds, set in 1998). The key tube stations for spectators to use are Putney Bridge, Hammersmith and Kew Gardens, or use Putney, Barnes Bridge, Mortlake or Chiswick rail stations. See our guide to everything you need to know about the Boat Race. Find pubs and bars along the route here.

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Art

Guerrilla Girls

The feminist activist group looks at the Whitechapel Gallery’s history of exhibiting female artists including Sophie Calle, Nan Goldin, Sarah Lucas and Bridget Riley for this Archive display. Founded in 1985 by an anonymous group of artists to expose the inequality of the male dominated art world, culture in general and politics, the Guerrilla Girls will don their gorilla masks and scan their critical eye over this east London institution. Will we like what they find? 

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Theatre

The Tempest

How fitting: 'The Tempest', Shakespeare's farewell to the stage, where he gets the magician Prospero to break his staff and give up magic, will be current Shakespeare's Globe boss Dominic Dromgoole's final directing job as the man in charge. 'The Tempest' itself is a total delight, telling of a shipwrecked boat which throws its contents on to a special island filled with fairies and spirits.

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Things to do

Hawker House

Following last year's fun-packed Winter in Dalston, Street Feast's indoor night market Hawker House is moving to a warehouse in Canada Water for two levels of street food, bars and their now-famous whisky roulette. New for this year is Neil Rankin's Meat Hook, a three-metre whole-animal grill that'll cook up Argentine-style meats to be served with shoestring fries and chimichurri. There'll be 13 street food vendors to choose from – look out for Mother Clucker, B.O.B.'s Lobster, Smokestak and Yum Bun in particular – and six bars serving everything from ice cold cans of craft beer to classic cocktails created by proper bartenders. And, of course, the Whisky Bar, where your whisky roulette fate can be determined.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Wolf Alice

The awesome foursome from north London pump out lashings of reverb-heavy indie-grunge-pop, which has earned them critical acclaim, a Mercury Prize nomination and adoring fans up and down the country. These homecoming shows should be a fitting showcase for their superb debut album ‘My Love Is Cool’.

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Art

Botticelli Reimagined

Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), Florentine painter of exquisite mythological scenes (including that sad-eyed Venus being born from a sea shell), as well as graceful pictures of the Madonna and Child and countless flattering portraits of his Medici paymasters, was immensely popular in his lifetime. He’s also rare among early renaissance artists in that his work continues to achieve pop-cultural fame into the twenty-first century – via Dolce & Gabbana, Gaga and many others. Bringing together the biggest haul of Botticellis we’ve seen in London for decades, the V&A’s spring 2016 blockbuster is a chance to marvel at the strange, otherworldly beauty of the master, while looking at his influence, not just on art, but on film, photography, fashion and design. Included are works by René Magritte, Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman. 

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Things to do

Drawing on Childhood

What links Peter Pan, Tom Jones, Superman, Jane Eyre and the Boy Who Lived? They are, as this poignant little exhibition so deftly illustrates, all foundlings and orphans. Which makes them particularly at home in the soothing Bloomsbury building constructed on the site of Thomas Coram’s Foundling Hospital. Coram’s Foundling Hospital was both the UK’s first children’s charity and its first public art gallery: impressively, when the art bit got started, Gin Lane printmaker William Hogarth curated the art and George Frideric Handel handled the entertainment. This small but perfectly formed exhibition of illustrations from children’s books doesn’t have exactly the same celebrity oomph. But it does boast an original commission from Posy Simmons. And the classic woodcuts and watercolours of the orphaned or otherwise abandoned (‘Rapunzel’; ‘Snow White’; ‘James and the Giant Peach’ – you’ll never pick up a children’s book again without wincing at the horror of it all) are delicate and moving. It’s probably a wee bit niche if you don’t already have a nostalgia-tinted view of ‘Tom Jones’, or Arthur Rackham’s ‘Cinderella’. But it’s a good excuse to pay your dues, £8.25 for museum entry, to one of London’s most special charitable institutions. And a lovely lunch-hour trip down memory lane for literature lovers. 

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Art

Performing for the Camera

Selfie culture isn’t the subject of this spring 2016 Tate Modern blockbuster but, considering self-identity and self-expression in photography, it certainly strikes a chord with our times. Beginning by looking at photography’s crucial role in a capturing ephemeral performance art for posterity – by artists such as Yves Klein and Yayoi Kusama – the show goes on to consider how the photographic image has moved centrestage to become a means of acting out roles, posing and performing in its own right. Expect to see innovative approaches to portraiture in the work of trailblazers such as Lee Friedlander, Hannah Wilke, Samuel Fosso and Cindy Sherman.

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Easter bank holiday events 2016

Things to do

Top ten Easter bank holiday events

Eating yourself into a chocolate coma is not the way to go – get out this Easter

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Kids

The top 10 Easter activities for kids

Keep the kids sweet without the help of chocolate eggs this Easter

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Bank holiday eating in London

Restaurants

London's best breakfasts

Kick start your bank holiday properly

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Restaurants

London's best Sunday lunches

Let the experts doing the cooking

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Restaurants

Afternoon teas in London

Make room for this British institution

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Restaurants

London's best cheap eats

Here are your wallet-friendly options

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FInd more great food options in London

Bank holiday drinking in London

Bars and pubs

London's best pubs

Fancy a pint? Of course you do

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Bars and pubs

The best pubs with games

Drinking while you're winning

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Bars and pubs

London's best wine bars

Sip London's best vinos

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Bars and pubs

London's best cocktail bar

Our pick of London's mixes

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See more great drinking options in London

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