Bank holiday in London

Make the most of the August three-day weekend break in the capital

The August bank holiday falls on Mon Aug 31 2015 and us Londoners are treated to a whole three days off work. If laying in bed with a boxset is your initial plan, scrap it – there's too much going on to stay indoors.

CHECK THIS OUT: The best events in London this August

Our bank holiday highlights

Things to do

Notting Hill Carnival

Since Notting Hill Carnival debuted in 1964, the event has undoubtedly grown and morphed, attracting ever more revellers with its spectacle of floats featuring calypso, mas and pan bands as well as a series of soundsystems for alfresco dancing. You can be sure of dense crowds and a vibrant celebration of music, movement and masquerade together with Caribbean food stalls serving up jerk chicken and fried plantain. The more family-friendly Sunday is the best day to take children to the Carnival, with the main parade on Monday normally winding a path from Great Western Road, along Chepstow Road and Westbourne Grove to Ladbroke Grove. It's worth noting that Ladbroke Grove station is usually closed on both days, with other stations in the area permitting exit only – check www.tfl.gov.uk/journeyplanner nearer the time. For all the latest updates see our guide to Notting Hill Carnival.

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Things to do

Mind Sports Olympiad

There are, it seems, myriad ways of proving your prowess – and winning gold, silver or bronze medals – that don’t involve getting sweaty. This annual festival of the mind will feature sedentary tournaments in more than 60 board games. Classics such as chess, draughts, Scrabble and Monopoly all feature alongside more recent hits such as Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne. Card games, an amateur poker world championship, a general knowledge quiz, and even a Tetris tournament are also on the schedule. Register in advance for your chosen tournaments at the Mind Sports Olympiad event page to get on board. Budding competitors should make the most of the daily free learn-to-play events during which Olympiad staff will introduce visitors to any of the games starring in this year's MSO.

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Art

Travel Photographer of the Year

An exhibition featuring images from the 2014 Travel Photographer of the Year awards, including a showcase of work by the overall winner, the British photographer Philip Lee Harvey; and a display of the amateur and professional photographers from over 100 countries who competed.

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Things to do

Memories of Her Majesty

Queen Elizabeth II has had 23 wax portraits done at Madame Tussauds over the past 87 years. This summer the attraction will reveal photography and archive materials from her sittings and dresses worn by The Queen's previous figures. A beautiful recreation of the coronation crown will also be on display, as will the Diamond Jubilee wax figure of Her Majesty, which is dressed in a silver lace dress adorned with 53,000 Svarowski elements. The display is included in the general admission price.

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Things to do

Sky-High Tea

An afternoon tea from Fortnum & Mason already ranks pretty high when it comes to searching out a great scone in London, but they're striving for new heights with this summer experience taking place at The Shard. 40 picnics will be available each day for guests to enjoy 800ft above the city on the 72nd level of the building which boasts an open-air deck. Feast on sandwiches, scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, tea fancies and tea or coffee from a heavenly hamper. Make it an extra sweet escape by adding a bottle of Fortnum & Mason champagne to the mix (£135 for two people). Booking essential.

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Things to do

York & Albany’s Beach Hut

The courtyard at York & Albany will get a seaside-style makeover this summer, with sand, deckchairs and even a beach hut. Order up beach-themed booze such as seaweed martinis, Pimm's ice lollies and rum slushies, or tuck into some mini fish and chips, pickled seafood or something more substantial from the barbecue menu. Sweet treats on offer include raspberry custard doughnuts, sticks of rock and a DIY ice cream machine.

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Theatre

More London Free Festival

Now in its thirteenth year, the More London Free Festival is again bringing an impressive line-up of events and performances to the concrete amphitheatre below the Mayor's leaning glass blob of an office on the South Bank.  Running June 3 to September 24, the season begins with a mix of live music and fringe theatre performance (June 3-June 26), including a take on 'Pride and Prejudice' from the redoubtable Pantaloons. From June 29-July 26 an LED screen will show full coverage of Wimbledon and other sporting fixtures. Then Gods and Monsters Theatre present slimmed down Greek tragedies 'Hecuba and the Trojan Women' and kids' show 'Captain Showoff!' by way of theatre (August 5-30). The final focus is film, and from September 2-24 there's a schedule of free screenings, from recent hits ('Still Alice') to cult classics ('Ghostbusters'). In addition there will be a pop-up restaurant named London Riviera that's set to offer 'five months of delicious food and drink inspired by French Riviera chic and Miami glamour' from 8am to 10pm daily. All events are free and no booking is required, but we recommend you arrive early and bring a cushion. For full event details visit www.morelondon.com

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Things to do

Urban Ninja

Inspired by the cult Japanese TV show 'Ninja Warrior' (ITV is currently showing the UK version), the Urban Ninja obstacle course sounds seriously hairy. With obstacles including the 'Insane Pipe Scrambler', the 'Monkey Press' and 'Core Crunch' it's not for the faint-hearted. The organisers reckon only 1 percent of competitors will actually finish and, frankly, although organiser Rob Maule promises 'no mud and no electric shocks, cold water or nasty surprises', to anyone who thinks taking the stairs constitutes a gruelling workout, it looks more like self-inflicted torture than a fun day out. Still, it takes all sorts and Londoners love a challenge. You've probably noticed the outdoor gyms that are starting to appear in lots of London's parks, but the really hot new trend is these pop-up obstacle courses. Urban Ninja combines 15 of 2015's top street-fitness trends and focuses on upper-body and core strength, combined with short sharp bursts of activities to test leg power. There are two levels – Tame (easy) and Insane (hard) – so it's more accessible than it sounds at first: somewhere between 30 percent and half of entrants should be able to nail the Tame stage. You only get 30 minutes of race time for each part but there's up to an hour of structured practice first, with trained stewards on hand to offer tips if you're struggling. The first London date is on Tooting Common in May. And there'll be plenty of opportunity to improve, with six more dates scheduled in the coming mo

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Things to do

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Kids

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Bank holiday eating in London

Restaurants

London's best breakfasts

Kick start your bank holiday properly

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Afternoon teas in London

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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

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London's best cocktail bar

Our pick of London's mixes

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