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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1/18

LOL at the 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 July every year, the Udderbelly (until Sun Jul 19) offers 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.

Head to: The Horne Section, The Brendon Burns Show and Frisky & Mannish.

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By: Ben Williams
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2/18

Fatten up on street food

There's nothing more on-trend right now than eating your dinner from a paper plate in a disused car park or derelict office block. 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 FeastModel Market, or Urban Food Fest.

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3/18

Enter a secret garden

This June, 200 gardens not ordinarily open to the public will unlock their gates for one weekend only. Spanning 27 boroughs, Open Garden Squares Weekend showcases gardens in all sorts of spaces – from traditional squares to roof terraces and allotments, as well as gardens belonging to historic buildings, shops and cafés. Twenty-three of the gardens in the mix this year are OGSW virgins, including the churchyard of Grade I-listed medieval church St Olave and the All Saints Vicarage Garden, which was once part of Fulham Palace. Most gardens are open to walk-ins but some may only be accessed when booked onto a free tour – snap up your place on those when booking your weekend ticket.

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Various Until Sun Jun 14
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4/18

Get high

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

Head to: Dalston Roof ParkQueen of Hoxton or South Place Hotel.

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By: Time Out London Eating & Drinking
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5/18

Wave at Her Maj

Although Trooping the Colour is also known as the Queen's Birthday Parade, this prime piece of pageantry doesn't take place on Her Maj’s actual birthday (that's on April 21) but on her official birthday. Carried out on Horse Guards by fully operational troops, Trooping the Colour is a military tradition that dates back to the early eighteenth century. For many years the Queen strutted her stuff on horseback but these days she travels by carriage. After the parade, the royals head back to Buckingham Palace for balcony photo op and there’s usually a fly-past at 1pm to wind things up. You can watch along the Mall or from the edge of St James’s Park for free. But you need to arrive well before events begin at 10am to be far enough forward to get a good view.

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Horse Guards Parade Until Sat Jun 13 Free
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© Adrian Dennis
6/18

Make some noise for Murray

End up empty-handed after the Wimbledon ballot? Not flush enough to bag a debenture box? Well you don't have to be in the grounds to enjoy all the action and atmosphere of this year's Wimbledon Tennis Championships (Mon Jun 29–Sun Jul 12) – you can catch all of this summer's tennis on one of London's many outdoor big screens. 

Head to: Great British Summer screenings at Cardinal Place, One New Change and New Street Square.

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By: Elizabeth Darke
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7/18

Laze in the park

One of the best things about London's many green bits is that they're free to enjoy. Swap your smidge 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 HeathRegent's Park or Victoria Park.

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Kristi Evan Photography
8/18

Party 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.  Stepping things up from last year, each party at this year's FP will be themed around a different exotic location or 'postcard', with food and drink inspired by the setting as well as custom projections to really bring things to life. Be warned, Counter Café's capacity isn't huge (which keeps things nice and intimate), so get your tickets quickly if you want to get tropical.

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Counter Café Friday August 7 2015 - Saturday October 3 2015
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9/18

London Dragon Boat Festival

Forget drag racing, this summer is all about dragon racing. Well, err, they're not actually real dragons. But, once you're caught up in the thrill of the competition, this water-based contest does have a certain magic. 2015 is the London Dragon Boat Festival's twentieth year going, so you can expect the celebrations to be even bigger and bolder than usual. Keeping the crowds entertained between races will be martial arts displays, live music and traditional Chinese lion dancing, while a food festival will be serving up the delicious flavours of South East Asia. 

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London Regatta Centre 28 Jun 2015 Free
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10/18

Large it at Lovebox

Listen up, party people: drop what you’re doing and dust off your party gear. Lovebox is back for another year. This July, one of the capital’s biggest weekenders brings more tasty live music, DJs, dancing and general frolics than you can twerk your moneymaker at. Topping this year's line-up is California's finest reefer-smoking rapper, Snoop Dogg. Also on the bill are Hackney's own Rudimental, Hot Chip, Jessie Ware, Little Dragon and Mark Ronson, to name just a handful.

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Victoria Park Friday July 17 2015 - Saturday July 18 2015
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11/18

Chillax at Citadel Festival

From the people behind Lovebox and Wilderness comes Citadel – a new one-day, arts-driven event aiming to be a lot more culturally nourishing than most conventional festivals. Though it’s not strictly a music-led festival, indie pop masters Bombay Bicycle Club and folky chart topper Mr Ben Howard are already set to headline, while Nick Mulvey and Leon Bridges will play on a second stage. Away from the music, there’ll be cerebral distractions provided by Sunday Papers Live, who bring the experience of reading the sprawling Sunday broadsheets to life via talks from guest speakers, plus London’s hippest street foodies will be serving up tasty treats to chomp as you chill.

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Victoria Park Sunday July 19 2015
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The Rye © Scott Wishart
12/18

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, never will you have felt so at home in someone else's garden.

Head to: Crooked BilletThe CastleThe Windsor Castle and The Albion.

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By: Time Out London Eating & Drinking
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13/18

Saddle up

Whether you're a pro pedaler or biking beginner, limber up for RideLondon, which 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.

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Various Venues Saturday August 1 2015 - Sunday August 2 2015 Free
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14/18

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, Peckham and Shoreditch, as well as at Somerset House and in Trafalgar Square.

Head to: Rooftop Film ClubThe Floating Cinema and Nomad.

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15/18

Explore the Wilderness

The ever-magical August getaway returns for its fifth year in Oxfordshire this summer, and with a top-notch music line-up too. Quirky pop goddess Björk headlines a bill that also includes Ben Howard, Nick Mulvey, awesome Afrotronic crew Ibibio Sound Machine, veteran funk ambassador George Clinton and many more. But Wilderness isn't just about great sounds: from outdoor theatre to talks and debates, horse riding to yurt-building, a lakeside spa and even long table banquets with leading chefs, this is much more than a music festival.

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Cornbury Park Thursday August 6 2015 - Sunday August 9 2015
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© David Tett
16/18

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 (Sun Aug 23–Mon Aug 24) 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.

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By: Elizabeth Darke
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17/18

Endure 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 blood orange, sour cherry ripple, and amaretto and apricot – all of which you'll find served in the capital – to realise that gourmet gelato is too good to waste on children.

Head to: ScoopWilliam Curely or Gelupo.

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By: Time Out London Eating & Drinking
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Sonia Delaunay, 'Propeller (Air Pavilion)', 1937. © Pracusa 2014083. Photo: Emma Krantz
18/18

Escape the rain

We'd like to think that a trip to one of London's top galleries would be air-conditioned respite from the city's blazing sunshine and sweltering temperatures, but it's more likely that our much-loved cultural institutions will be safe houses from London's summer downpours. Shelter from the inevitable showers and wander around amazing shows at the likes of Tate Modern, Tate Britain and the National Gallery this season.

Head to: Sonia Delaunay, The World Goes Pop and Zabludowicz Collection: 20 Years.

 

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Find more things to do in London

Find more outdoor fun in London

Outdoor London

Whether you want to catch an open-air film or a show at an outdoor theatre, take a swim in one of London’s outdoor pools or just get good and squiffy on a rooftop bar, it’s all in our guide to London’s great outdoors

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By: David C

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