Top 10 outdoor activities in London this summer
Staying inside just isn't an option when there's this lot on offer
Thu Jun 5 2014
Yes, British Summer Time has officially begun, and, despite no guaranteed sun, it's time for Londoners to step outside. Whilst the capital's museums still offer some of the world's best exhibitions (and are perfect respite from the inevitable summer rain), London's offering a whole heap of fantastic outdoor activities to take part in.
Fun in the sun: 10 great things to do outdoors
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 include free theatre, comedy and opera, 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', to name just a few being shown. More's summer of free fun kicks off on Wednesday with a four-day street party of Latin and Caribbean food and frolics.
The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew has enticing ideas this summer. Visitors can go au naturel (from the ankles down) to wander the barefoot walking trail: balance on beams, hop across tree trunks, experience the moist, bouncy softness typical of rainforest floors and get muddy in the squelch zone. For those who are more about tasting nature than touching it, the gin and tonics garden will be open, teaching tasters about the forgotten medicinal properties of cocktails (no, really). More sensory experiences will be available at the Palm House, where relaxing sounds will float through the air, and at Rainforest Remedies, visitors can learn how indigenous peoples from around the world have used nature for healing purposes over the years. And this isn't even the half of it – you'll have to head down and see what other weird and wonderful experience are on offer yourselves.
The Rooftop Film Club have perfected the art of outdoor cinema, with comfy director chairs, blankets and wireless headphones (say goodbye to cinema rustle). Movies on offer are a mix of ’80s faves with a dash of retro Hollywood. The roof space opens from 6pm so you can satisfy your stomach with food from the barbecue and drinks from the bar, and the film kicks off around 9pm once the sun has set. Screenings take place on Queen of Hoxton's roof terrace and atop Peckham's Bussey Building this summer.
Organisers are expecting thousands of dogs, dog-owners, and a few celebrities, to take part in this tail waggingly massive dog walk at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Registration is now open for the walk and owners are encouraged to raise sponsorship money, which will go towards Dogs Unite's mission- supporting guide dogs that have changed their owner’s lives. Each participating pup will receive a superhero cape and a goodie bag. As well as hosting London's largest dog walk, Olympic Park will also be full of dog shows and demonstrations, plus there will be opportunities to meet some super guide dogs and their trainers.
Thanks to Open Garden Squares Weekend, every June us Londoners get a flash of the capital's best green bits without the need to scale a fence or cro-bar wrought iron railings. Excitingly, OGSW is back for a 16th year and returns to the capital for 2014 with a programme hotter than last summer's heatwave. OGSW sees London's most luscious, leafy and often locked-down gardens open their gates to the public for one or two days only, with most hosting exclusive grounds tours and one-off workshops. This year Number 10 Down Downing Street and Highbury Square, home of Arsenal Football Club back in 2006, are set to scrap their customary VIP policy and let in the riff-raff for a peek at their perfectly-kept pots, planters and pansy.
The makers of Street Feast are bringing their night-time street food party to an abandoned 1950s covered market in Lewisham, so now the foodies of south east London don't have to cross the river to tuck into grub from the likes of Breddos Tacos, Yum Bun and SmokeStak. Booze comes in all sorts of varieties, most notably alcoholic slushies and shandies served from an old hair salon. Enjoy Friday night dinner from a spot among the outdoor and indoor eating spaces, or head up to the rooftop to catch the evening sun.
Still one of the finest boutique efforts in London, catering for cool kids and party monsters, Lovebox is back for another year. Although it's slimmed down from three to two days as part of a new vision led by the production team behind Secret Garden Party, it should still be one of the highlights of the London summer thanks to a storming, genre-blurring line-up of DJs electronic acts and live bands, which include Nas, MIA, Katy B and Chase & Status, to name just a few.
Whether you're a legitimate tennis fan or just in it for the Pimm's and oh-so-toned players, Wimbledon Tennis Championships are once again upon us and it's time to get excited. If you missed out on tickets in the public ballot, check out our eight-step guide to camping, queueing and buying grounds passes on the day. Or if you're happy to witness all the tournament's action outside SW19, discover where to find the free live screenings across the capital.
NW1 isn't usually on the list of coastal getaways but, thanks to the ever-creative team at the Roundhouse, 'Camden Beach' is returning this summer with 900 square metres of pseudo-shoreline consisting of 150 tonnes of sand. Installed on the venue's terrace, the free Camden Beach comes complete with deck chairs, beach huts and, as if you need telling, a fully stocked bar. You'll also find end-of-the-pier attractions (arcade games, air hockey, ping pong and the like), a blissfully stationary ice-cream van, and pop-up restaurants to complete the atmosphere.
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 to Ladbroke Grove.
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