21 great things to do in London this summer

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


Fatten up at a food festival

There's nothing more on-trend right now than eating your dinner from a paper plate in a disused car park. Sure it doesn't sound like the most glamourous of fashions, but soaking up some post-work sun whilst tucking into some of the capital's tastiest street food to the soundtrack of live music ain't a bad way to spend a summer's evening.

Head to:
Street Feast, Model Market, Urban Food Fest or Red Market

See more pop-ups in London this summer


See a film under the stars

London's array of alfresco film screenings is bigger than ever. Big-screen movie showings, with line-ups covering everything from well-loved comedies to cult classics, have popped up for the season in areas including Camden, Fulham, Richmond, Peckham, Shoreditch, Dalston and Vauxhall.

Head to:
Rooftop Film Club, The Luna Cinema and Backyard Cinema

See more outdoor movie screenings in London


Cheer on your country

End up empty-handed after the Wimbledon ballot? Not flush enough to rustle up that flight to Rio? You don't have to be in a stadium to enjoy all the action and all the atmosphere – catch all of this summer's sporting events, including the World Cup, Wimbledon, Tour de France and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, either in your local pub or on one of London's many outdoor big screens.

Head to:
Regent's Place, Exchange Square or Lyric Square

Find more outdoor big screens in London


Bottoms up in a beer garden

Let's be honest, there's no better way to spend a sunny afternoon than by getting mildly sunburnt and massively squiffy in one of the city's best pub gardens. With beer literally on tap, gourmet barbecues on the go and the odd cushioned lounger to laze on, you'll never have felt so at home in someone else's garden.

Head to: Crooked Billet, The Castle, The Windsor Castle and The Albion

Check out more of London's best beer gardens


Discover digital artwork

The Barbican's summer exhibition is an immersive exploration of how digital technology has transformed the arts. Digital Revolution brings together the works of filmmakers, artists, architects, designers, musicians and game developers. Highlights of the show include exhibits by Oscar-winning VFX Supervisor Paul Franklin and his team at Double Negative, who worked on Christopher Nolan’s ground-breaking film 'Inception', and a showcase of visual effects used on the 2013 blockbuster 'Gravity'.

Read more about Digital Revoluton at the Barbican


Get sand in your shoes

NW1 isn't usually on our list of coastal getaways but, thanks to the ever-creative team at the Roundhouse, Camden Beach offers holiday-hungry Londoners 900 square metres of pseudo-shoreline (which consists of 150 tonnes of sand) to revel in over the summer months. Installed on the venue's terrace, the free beach comes complete with deck chairs, beach huts and, as if you needed telling, a fully stocked bar.

Read more about Camden Beach


Hoof some herbal 'remedies'

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew has some enticing plans for the summer. Not only can visitors can go au naturel (from the ankles down) through a barefoot walking trail and wander around a gigantic human-shaped horticultural display, but for those who are more about tasting nature than touching it, a gin and tonic garden will be mixing up tipples and teaching those still coherent about the forgotten medicinal properties of cocktails. For reals.

Read more about Plantasia at Kew Garden

Sip mixes from more of London's cocktail-makers


Paint the town red (and blue and green)

Pelting one another with brightly colourled powder paint has become a popular pastime in the capital over the past few years. The roots of this technicolor trend lie in the Hindu festival of Holi – an annual celebration held on the first day of spring. Taking place in the height of summer, London's events are often far removed from the religious aspects of Holi, but the same air of convivial fun and abandon are at their heart.

Head to:
Holi One or Festival of Colours

See all Holi parties in London this summer


Have a laugh at Udderbelly

If you've never ventured into the belly of the fat, purple cow that sits on the South Bank all summer long then it's about time you did. Popping up from April through until September every year, the Udderbelly offers up a moo-sive selection of outlandish cabaret, top-notch comedy and madcap musical entertainment. The posh food stalls, Pimm's shed and the big ol' on-site bar can be enjoyed without a show ticket so there's absolutely no excuse not to pay a visit.

See what's on at the Udderbelly this summer


Laze in the park

One of the best things about London's many green bits is that they're free to enjoy. Swap your square of garden patio for acres (a whopping 358 of them if you venture up to Hampstead Heath) of luscious grass on which you can picnic, sunbathe, snooze or host London's biggest game of rounders.

Head to:
Hampstead Heath, Regent's Park, Hyde Park or Victoria Park

Discover London's biggest and best parks


Party with the mas parade

Soca floats, sequinned dancers, steel bands, jerk chicken and dangerously good DJ appearances all mean that Europe's biggest street party is Europe's BEST street party. A two-day celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture and traditions taking place over the August bank holiday weekend, Notting Hill Carnival is a must-do for both party animals and fun-seeking families. If it's not in there already, pencil Carnival into your diary now.

See our guide to Notting Hill Carnival 2014


Get high

No, we're not promoting the use of illegal substances – we're talking rooftops here. Not that the city doesn't look lovely on ground level, it's just that this season the capital's top DJs and party-starters are hosting big shindigs atop many of our much-loved nightlife venues. That's right – this summer, you can soak up some sweet sounds and spectacular city views at the same time.

Head to:
Dalston Roof Park, Queen of Hoxton or South Place Hotel

See the latest rooftop parties in London


Bring on the brainfreeze

Don't believe anyone who says that ice cream's just for kids. It's not. And if you needed any more proof, you only have to wrap your tongue around mouthwatering flavours such as lemon curd, sour cherry ripple and sea-salted caramel – all of which you'll find served in the capital – to realise that gourmet gelato is too good to waste on children.

Head to: Scoop, William Curely or Gelupo

Get the scoop on London's best ice cream parlours


Go large at Lovebox

Listen up, party people: drop what you’re doing and dust off your neon rave shades. Lovebox is back. This July, one of the capital’s biggest weekenders returns and it brings more tasty live music, DJs, dancing and general frolics than you can shake your moneymaker at. Topping this year's line-up will be Hounslow’s finest export, MIA, along with legendary NYC rapper Nas. Also on the bill are beats and bass duo Chase & Status, A$AP Rocky, Bonobo, Katy B, Sub Focus, Mount Kimbie, Annie Mac and Joey Bada$$, to name just a handful.

Check out the full Lovebox line-up


See what's on at The Scoop

Twelve years in and the More London Free Festival once again brings a seriously impressive line-up of events and performances to the concrete amphitheatre that sits below the Mayor's glass blob of an office on the South Bank. This summer's events at The Scoop include free theatre, comedy and opera, art and photography installations, big screen Wimbledon tennis coverage, live lunchtime music performances and free film screenings of 'Life of Pi', 'The Goonies' and 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' among other classics.

Read more about More London Free Festival at The Scoop


Saddle up

Whether you're a pro pedaler or biking beginner, limber up for a season of cycling in the capital. Perfect for a leisurely spin, August's RideLondon festival sees the city's cars, buses and motorbikes banished for a day while cyclists of all ages and ability are given free roam of the roads. As part of the same weekend, over 20,000 well-seasoned cyclists embark on a 100-mile route from Queen Elizabeth Park into the rolling hills of Surrey and then back again, finishing up on The Mall. If you're more of a spectator than a competitor, cheer on this year's Tour de France competitors as they complete their Cambridge/London leg on Monday July 7, or catch all of the race coverage at one of London's many free screenings.

Read more about RideLondon


Sail off into the sunset

Ahoy there, party people! Ibizia and Croatia aren't the only ones throwing bangin' boat parties this summer – London's got some raucous river-based shindigs planned too. The likes of Buttoned Down Disco, Beatfreakz and Diversion are all hosting nautical but nice nights along the Thames this season, so get on board and get ship-faced.

Head to:
Beatfreakz August Bank Holiday Daytime Boat Party or Twisted Audio Boat Party with Danny Howells

See more boat parties in the capital


Shelter from the rain

We'd like to think that a trip to one of London's top galleries would be calm, air-conditioned respite from the city's blazing sunshine and sweltering temperatures, but it's more likely our much-loved cultural institutions will become hail-proof safe houses from London's summer downpours. Our picks of this season's exhibition offerings are the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition, a selection of over 1,200 diverse works ranging from unnerving mannequins and potty-mouthed neon; and Tate Britain's British Folk Art, which features over 100 fascinating paintings, sculptures and objects including Toby jugs, ships' figureheads and thatched sculptures.

Find more great exhibitions in the capital


Cut some shapes canalside

On the first Friday of every month (until September) east Londoners can feast on fine street food and ice cold beverages at Flamingo Pier, a pontoon boat moored by Hackney Wick's canalside Counter Café. Once dinner's digested, pier punters can get on down to the sounds of both resident and guest DJs on the decks. Don't forget to sample the signature cocktail, the Drowned Flamingo – Hackney's answer to a Sex On The Beach.

Read more about Flamingo Pier



Get your Prom on

Move over, Glastonbury: one of the world's biggest music festivals takes place right here in London. With a programme of over 70 events, every year the Proms see the globe's greatest orchestras and classical musicians take to the stage in the capital across three months. Advanced booking is recommended for the biggest concerts, but the beauty of the Proms is that thousands of standing tickets, often priced at as little as a fiver, are available on the day.

See our guide to this year's Proms


Wander into the Wilderness

It’s the biggest boutique love-in of the year, and this summer Wilderness festival is set to deliver more ukulele-twanging, sustainably-sourced sausage-scoffing fun than ever before. If you can tear yourself away from the horse riding, the lake-side spa, the gourmet feasts and the Globe-curated theatre shows, the likes of Burt Bacharach, London Grammar and Metronomy will be providing some top-notch live music.

Check out our guide to Wilderness 2014

Looking for more music festivals this summer?

See our guide to outdoor London