Events & Festivals

From free events in London to planning your week nights and weekends, find the best events in London

Things to do

This week's hottest events

Your social life sorted for the next seven days

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Things to do

Summer's best free festivals

No wristband? No problem! Here’s a load of gigs and days out that won’t cost you a penny

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Things to do

Free events in London

We've compiled the best free stuff in London for those of you who want to explore the capital for nothing

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Things to do

18 must-do things in London this summer

Suncream at the ready: summer in the capital is set to be a scorcher

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Art

Unmissable art this week

Time Out's art critics select the best exhibitions in town. London, you're all art

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Upcoming Time Out events

Heartbreak Hotel at The Jetty

It's time to check into London's most intriguing establishment that's now accepting bookings. Step inside the Heartbreak Hotel, a utopia for lost souls and broken hearts, when it opens on June 2 and be swept away on the journey of a lifetime.Tickets from £11.75

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Time Out Loves... Rooftop Film Club

It's no secret that Time Out loves films but it is a little hush hush that Time Out Loves love. To announce their devotion to the genre to the world, our film editors have picked their four favourite romantic films to be shown at Rooftop Film Club.Tickets just £14

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A 90-minute Triple Threat workout with Time Out - run, ride and reshape with 1Rebel

Sweat-hungry Londoners, get ready for the ultimate workout at London's sleekest new training boutique, 1Rebel St Mary Axe, taking place on Saturdays in June and July.Tickets just £20

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'The Mentalists' plus an exclusive Q&A

See the show on July 23 and hear from Stephen Merchant and Steffan Rhodri after the show! Plus you'll get a poster to keep as a souvenir.

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See all upcoming Time Out events

Unmissable festivals in London

Things to do

Bastille Festival

Weekend plans lacking a certain je ne sais quoi? This celebration in and around Borough Market of all things Français for the country's national day will feature all sorts of activities, foods, games and performances from across the channel. Play some boules or petanque, chop up watermelon using a guillotine and enjoy plenty of bread, cheese and wine at the many tasting sessions. The party will round off with the open-air Bal Populaire (6-10pm), so your evening will be filled with dancing and Gallic merriment.

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Archikids Festival

Let your kids run riot in the Square Mile at a festival that hopes to turn five-to-eleven-year olds into 'architectives'. Some of the City's most iconic buildings are opening to families for workshops and activities that will help children explore aspects of design and construction. Highlights include sessions at the Gherkin, a new festival hub at 6 Bevis Marks, scooter competitions and DIY events.

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RHS London Harvest Festival Show

Some of the UK's finest nurseries, growers and independent producers will cart their harvest produce to the Royal Horticultural Society this October for their annual celebration of autumnal fruit and vegetables. Visitors can admire, taste and buy the freshly picked, dug and plucked ingredients, or those who grow their own can enter the RHS Fruit and Vegetable Competition to win cups and cash prizes. The first prize for heaviest pumpkin last year was £1000, which would just about make up for the fact that the winner must have eaten pumpkin with every meal for months afterwards. The RHS Harvest Festival Late will accompany the event.

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See what's on at...

British Museum

One of the world's oldest museums, the British Museum is vast and its collections, only a fraction of which can be on public display at any one time, comprise millions of objects. First-time visitors generally head for the mummies, the Rosetta Stone, Lindow Man, the Lewis Chessmen and the Sutton Hoo ship burial. Indeed, the Sutton Hoo finds provide the centrepiece for the new Sir Paul and Lady Jill Ruddock Gallery (Room 41), designed to display the museum's exceptional early medieval collection. Covering finds from across Europe from AD 300 to 1100, the Ruddock Gallery shows off not only the Anglo-Saxons' iconic Sutton Hoo masked helmet, but also late Roman mosaics and such extraordinary objects as the fourth-century Lycurgus Cup, made to change colour in different lights, and the Kells Crozier, a holy yew wood staff decorated and adapted many times from the ninth century onwards.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Museums

V&A

The V&A houses one of the world's greatest collections of decorative arts, in such varied fields as ceramics, sculpture, portrait miniatures and photography. Among the highlights are the British Galleries 1500-1900, which are arranged chronologically to trace the history of British design from the reign of Henry VIII to that of Queen Victoria. The major names of each era are highlighted, from Chippendale to Morris, Adam to Mackintosh, and alongside the displays of furniture, textiles, dress, ceramics, glass, jewellery, prints, paintings and sculpture there are computer interactives, objects to handle, video screens and audio programmes. The Whiteley Silver Galleries house collections of European Silver (1400 to 1800), containing more than 500 outstanding silver and gold objects dating from medieval times to the Napoleonic era. The other major displays are English Silver (pre-1800) and International Silver (1800 to the present). Opened in 2006, the Dorothy and Michael Hintz galleries, which are part of the museum's ten-year refurbishment plan, house sculptures from the V&A's existing collections. Located by the Madejski garden, they allow in natural light to show the mix of contemporary and Victorian architecture used in their construction, including the nineteenth-century monochrome mosaic flooring revealed when the 1960s lino was stripped. The Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art covers a period that begins with the birth of Islam in the seventh century and ends with the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the last century. Much of the work on display is from mosques and can broadly be defined as devotional. The most striking exhibit is the world's oldest dated carpet, the remarkably unfaded Ardabil carpet, made in Iran in 1539. It is viewed through a high tech glass case and light box suspended from the ceiling that is worth going to see itself. The Buddhist Sculpture Gallery displays highlights from the collection, ranging from portable gilded Buddhas to monumental temple sculptures. The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries show highlights from the Gilbert Collection of gold and silverware and micromosaics. The Ceramics Galleries tells the story of world ceramics from the earliest Chinese pottery to contemporary craft, with galleries dedicated to architectural ceramics and twentieth-century collections. The Medieval and Renaissance Galleries present the collections in continuous displays that tell the story of European art and design from the fall of the Roman Empire to the end of the Renaissance.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Museums

Museum of London

The history of London, from prehistoric times to the present is told in the Museum of London through reconstructed interiors and street scenes, alongside displays of original artefacts found during the museum's archaeological digs. Check the website before your visit as a packed programme of temporary exhibitions, talks, walks and children's events is central to the life of the Museum of London.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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The O2

Since The O2 opened in 2007, transforming the endlessly floundering Millennium Dome in Greenwich into a multi-entertainment centre, it's relied on the pulling power of one giant superstar after the next. Barbara Streisand, Prince, Tina Turner and Bon Jovi have all pitched up to wring whopping sums of money out of their equally ageing fans, while guaranteed crowd-pullers such as Kings Of Leon and Kanye West are enlisted to pack the house with those too late on the bandwagon to have caught them in the far more appealing Brixton Academy. Still, The O2's sprawling 20,000 seat arena isn't the only thing to recommend it. The smaller, less attention-grabbing Indigo2 is a good place to catch soulful crooners such as Estelle and Akon, while the centre also houses an 11-screen Vue cinema, the British Music Experience and space for temporary exhibitions such as Dr Gunther von Hagens's 'Body Worlds'. As the North Greenwich Arena, it will play a major role in London 2012 hosting Artistic Gymnastics, Trampoline, Basketball and Wheelchair Basketball. A cable car – a section of which will link The O2 with ExCeL – is on target for a summer 2012 opening.

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  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Museums

Southbank Centre

This riverside titan of arts and entertainment has morphed and expanded in the past few years securing its position as one of the most attractive cultural hotspots in London, helped by its accessible location and proximity to the National Theatre and Tate Modern. The Southbank Centre caters for the widest spectrum of people and interests, peddling visual art, music, literature events and performance in its several venues – the Royal Festival Hall, The Hayward Gallery, Queen Elizabeth Hall (including the Purcell Room) and the Saison Poetry Library. Recently it has become a go-to destination for foodies too. Skylon, a swanky British-themed restaurant within RFH, caters for those with a bit of cash, while a range of spanking new chain restaurants (Wagamama, Strada, Ping Pong) jostle for attention alongside the pie-touting Canteen.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Attractions

British Library

The John Ritblat Gallery houses some of the most famous written and printed items in the world: the Lindisfarne Gospels, Shakespeare’s first Folio, Handel’s Messiah, the Gutenberg Bible, drafts of the Magna Carta and the Beatles’ manuscripts. The Workshop of Words, Sound and Images is a hands-on gallery that traces the story of book production from the earliest written documents through medieval manuscripts and printing to modern industrial processing and the digital revolution. Two CD jukeboxes in the entrance hall enable visitors to listen on headphones to a selection of items from the library’s sound archive, including extracts from Nelson Mandela’s ‘Rivonia’ trial speech in 1964, which led to his imprisonment for 27 years.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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