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90 knock-out things to do in London this July

By Stephanie Hartman

Welcome to July! A month packed with fun in the form of music festivals in London parks, snazzy new art exhibitions, the return of Secret Cinema and a beach at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. There are also Fourth of July parties to be had, three days of Japanese culture to explore at Olympia and Bastille Day to celebrate. Bon!


July 2: Feminist Library Summer Benefit Join Southwark's Feminist Library for an afternoon of immersive arts to raise funds for their new premises.

July 9: Shuffle Festival Last year's brilliant festival spanned nine days of events in the sprawling Tower Hamlets Cemetery. This time around, the team are shuffling up the format and offering a 24-hour programme bursting with films, talks, walks, performances, music and food.

July 9: Hackney Summer Fete Celebrate east London life at this fete held across nine conjoined sites in the parish grounds of St. John at Hackney Church.

July 10: Bastille Festival This annual party in and around Borough Market brings together all things Français, so you can expect to tuck into red, white and blue macarons, dance to Parisian folk music, play pétanque and plenty more.

July 10: Clean Cult Eight British natural beauty brands will be showcasing their wares, plus there will be a complimentary nail bar, mini-makeovers, massages and superfood cocktails.

July 15-17: Hyper Japan Olympia lights up with an array of Japanese brands again this summer for Hyper Japan's return to London.

July 16: The Chap Olympiad Organised by The Chap Magazine and Bourne and Hollingsworth (who specialise in period bars and events), the eccentric festival sees participants in stylish outfits compete in events that require minimum physical exertion.

July 16-17: Lambeth Country Show This long-running fair has been bringing countryside pursuits to Brockwell Park for 42 years and will once again feature the vegetable sculpture competition, live music on two stages, sheep shearing, flamenco dance performances and more. 

July 18-September 30: The Game’s Afoot This new immersive show invites visitors to play detective by making their way through a series of clues written, hidden and played out by actors.

July 22-August 7: Power Up Worried your kids will spend their summer holiday confined to their bedrooms playing video games non-stop? Why not take them to the Science Museum and have them play video games there instead!

July 23: Alexandra Palace Summer Festival After its successful launch last year, the Palace's summer festival returns with DJ Yoda and a 100m waterslide. The day-long festival also offers a silent disco in the woods, family raving, and an outdoor screening of 'E.T'.

July 23-24: Archikids Festival Some of the City's most iconic buildings are opening to families once again in 2016 for workshops and activities that will help children explore aspects of design and construction.

July 23-September 4: Beach East Life's a beach once again at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with over 2,200 square metres of sand deposited at the site for endless sandcastle competitions and balmy evening walks.

July 29-August 29: River Stage The National Theatre's River Stage returns to the South Bank for a month of live music, dance, performance, workshops and family fun.




July 1-3: Eat Asia Night Market This night market brings eats from all over Asia to The Bussey Building for its second year, so get ready to munch your way through everything from Taiwanese bao to Singaporean laksa.

July 2: The Glam Clam Ever-fabulous pop-up restaurant The Glam Clam present this boat party themed around Ab Fab for one night only.

July 2-3: Soho Food Feast Now in its sixth year, this fundraiser for Soho Parish Primary School is a much more food-focused affair than your regular school fete.

July 3: American Beer Fest Celebrate Independence Day at this boozy party in Shoreditch featuring live music, DJs, an all-American barbecue, a bucking bronco and plenty more.

July 3: Development Sunday Sessions at Le Bab Help shape Le Bab's menu and benefit from a cheeky 50 percent off your bill at these development sessions taking place at the Kingly Court kebab kitchen.

July 4: Fourth of July Celebrations at Balthazar Balthazar are going all-out this Independence Day, with a special set menu that includes burgers, fries, mac and cheese, apple pie and even Budweiser.

July 4-10: Keeping up with the Jones Enter a world of flawless parties and pristine homewares at the Clerkenwell abode of Mrs Jones at this bizarre and imaginative immersive event.

July 7-8: Gin Mare Med Rooftops A rooftop in Knightsbridge becomes a Mediterranean retreat. The exclusive city soirée will feature a Mediterranean menu by Mark Hix, new and unique cocktails, and music by Pacha resident DJ Jacob.

July 10: Lads Who Lunch The brains behind these Sunday supper clubs belong to three males with a penchant for really good grub. Having trained at various London establishments, the trio have now teamed up to offer the capital a dose of brunch with punch.

July 13-17: Damncheeky's Roving Wine Bar and Snackery Eat, drink and be merry at the Damncheeky pop-up winery and snack bar. Gorge yourself on cheesey treats and wash it all down with a selection from one (or two, or three…) of the many family-owned, artisanal wineries who will be plying their wares.

July 16: Into the Vine How about some torched mackerel with puffed brown rice, cucumber pickle and gooseberry chutney with that glass of chardonnay? That's just one of the enticing food and wine pairings on offer at this mini-festival of oenophile indulgence.

July 19-24: Birra Moretti Gran Tour Vendors for the 2016 edition of this Italian street food market include Forza Win, Pizza Pilgrims, Pasta E Basta and Tongue N Cheek.

July 23: Carnaby Street Eat Food Festival Dishoom, Cahoots, Jinjuu, The Detox Kitchen, Pizza Pilgrims, Dirty Bones and Señor Ceviche will be taking to the streets in an afternoon-long celebration of the street's gustatory delights.

Restaurant openings:

July 1: Foley's Following a six-week residency at Market Yard, the ex-sous chef at The Palomar finds a permanent home.

July 1: Rök Smokehouse and Bar Second restaurant following the success of the Rok Smokehouse in Curtain Road.

July 4: MeatUp A Wandsworth BBQ grill spot with a prosecco list sourced from Bibendum, a selection of craft beers from Meantime Brewery and classic cocktails.

July 4: Texas Joe's Slow Smoked Meats A grill restaurant serving traditional BBQ meats done the Texan way, plus a separate honky-tonk bar complete with jukebox, whisky, and tequila.

July 4: Berber & Q Shawarma Bar The Hackney grill house opens a shawarma bar on Exmouth Market. 

July 5: Balans Soho Society Covent Garden Open until midnight every day, this Balans outpost offers a seasonally-changing café menu with local produce from The Ginger Pig and H. Foreman & Sons.

July 6: Bao Fitzrovia A second, larger restaurant from the popular original. Expect a similar offering supplemented by further sharing dishes, cocktails and champagne.

July 11: Belpassi Bros Twin brothers Livio and Lorenzo Belpassi are set to open a permanent version of their much-loved meatball truck, serving their classic beef and pork meatballs.

July 15: Butifarra Named after the popular Peruvian street snack (a bread roll with slow-cooked meat and salsa), Butifarra will serve authentic sandwiches and ceviche alongside 'Cevushi', a ceviche-sushi hybrid.

July 18: Squirrel Charlie Gilkes and Duncan Stirling (the brains behind Mr Fogg's and Bunga Bunga) team up with their wives to launch a new healthy hangout.

July 28: Casita Andina A new Soho restaurant from Martin Morales of Ceviche and Andina.

July 28: Galvin at Athenaeum The Galvin brothers open a new restaurant at the newly refurbished Athenaeum hotel.

© Andy Hollingworth Archive


July 1: Wifi-Wars Smartphones at the ready, people. Log in and play along at this smart comedy game show.

July 1-8: Bill Bailey: Limboland In limbo over whether to see Bill Bailey? Make the right decision.

July 2: Live At The Chapel with David O'Doherty Top drawer whimsy and keyboard jams from D O'D. Plus cracking support from Pajama Men and more.

July 2-3: ARGComFest – An Actually Rather Good Comedy Festival Two days. One venue. A shit-ton of Edinburgh Fringe previews.

July 6: Sally Phillips and Lily Bevan: Talking to Strangers Lily Bevan and 'Smack the Pony' star Sally Phillip bring their acclaimed series of comic monologues back to London.

July 11: Comedy In The Dark Exactly what it says on the tin, this. Comedians including Nish Kumar, Adam Kay and Joey Page perform in total darkness.

July 13-24: Just for Laughs Legendary comedy festival comes to London – edgy Aussie Jim Jefferies stars.

July 14-29: Jake Yapp: One in a Million Comedian Jake Yapp is perhaps best known for his cameos on 'Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe', where his motormouthed, sardonic 90-second summaries of shows like 'Take Me Out' and 'This Morning' are a regular highlight.

July 16: Reggie Watts Vocal wizard returns for a night of unmissable improvised music and comedy.

July 18-23: Jen Kirkman: I Know What I’m Doing & Other Lies I Tell Myself Dry-witted US stand-up mines her colourful past for laughs. 


July 1-August 6: Unreachable Matt Smith stars in a new play from arch-surrealist Anthony Neilson.

July 1-September 17: Into The Woods Sondheim's fairytale musical is revived by an intrepid troupe of Off-Broadway performers.

July 5-9: Queens of Syria Euripides's 'The Trojan Women' performed by a cast of Syrian refugees.

July 5-30: Fury Award-winning playwright Phoebe Eclair-Powell (and daughter of comedian Jenny Eclair) has penned this look at the life of a young single mum living in Peckham.

July 5-31: Cut The Vaults has made a name for itself as the place to get to grips with chilling immersive experiences, and 'CUT' sounds true to experimental form. 

July 7-16: Needles and Opium Riding high off the great press for his recent Edinburgh International Festival hit '887', the legendary French-Canadian theatre-maker Robert Lepage dusts off one of his biggest greatest hits.

July 9-29: Klanghaus: On Air Klanghaus will come to Southbank Centre this July, as part of the 'Festival of Love'.

July 15-August 27: Jesus Christ Superstar Look busy Jesus is coming! After a moderately successful arena revival a couple of years back, the celestial superstar is back for a more low key, but probably higher quality reincarnation.

July 20-30: Pigs and Dogs A very short, very political play from the enigmatic Caryl Churchill.



July 2: British Summer Time: Florence + The Machine Florence Welch headlines a huge Hyde Park date with Kendrick Lamar as main support.

July 4: Bat For Lashes Natasha Khan returns as Bat For Lashes, balancing minimal electronic and orchestral elements with her affecting, otherwordly vocals.

July 5: Blood Orange The artist formerly known as Lightspeed Champion has a new LP called ‘Freetown Sound’, inspired by his parents’ immigrant stories, the Black Lives Matter movement and the hip hop, jazz and ballroom history of his adopted hometown NYC.

July 5-16: Kelis Expect a horn section and a revue-style live band alongside Kelis's own magnetic performance. Dee-licious.

July 8-10: Wireless Calvin Harris, Chase & Status, J Cole, Boy Better Know and many more hit Finsbury Park.

July 9-August 7: The East London Fringe Festival This ambitious newcomer to the London festival scene sprawls across a whole month and half a dozen venues.

July 10: Laura Mvula This extremely talented Brummie soul singer broke out in 2013 with her debut album 'Sing to the Moon', and returns at last with a new album 'The Dreaming Room' that showcases her exquisite arrangements and biting voice.

July 11: Everything Everything Weird synthpop by the Mancunian four-piece, previously nominated for the Mercury Prize.

July 13: Courtney Barnett The Aussie singer-songwriter pairs punchy rock with brilliant witty lyrics.

July 13: Martin Creed The ex-Turner Prize winner (for his on-off light installation) brings his band along to showcase his brand of experimental pop.

July 15-16: Lovebox The party in Victoria Park returns for 2016, with LCD Soundsystem and Major Lazer headlining.

July 16-17: Walthamstow Garden Party Programmed by the Barbican and Create London in partnership with Waltham Forest Council, the Walthamstow Garden Party is a free two-day festival in E17 that combines a cracking music line-up with plenty of family fun.

July 17: Citadel Festival A one-day festival in east London with arts, culture, street food and music from Sigur Rós.

July 20-23: Pet Shop Boys After a cameo in ‘The Archers’, synthpop’s answer to Gilbert & George tick off another middle-class life goal by playing the Royal Opera House.

Fleetmac Wood Presents Crystal Visions
© Lisa Jelliffe


July 1: Beyond The Wizards Sleeve Influential DJ Erol Alkan and prolific bandmate Richard Norris play a four-hour set to mark the release of their debut electro-psych album 'The Soft Bounce'.

July 1-September 23: Oneman at XOYO South London's Oneman will bring his formidable DJ reputation to a summer residency at XOYO.

July 2: Outlook Festival Launch Party So Fresh and So Clean are bringing a mighty launch party to Hackney Wick before heading to Croatia for Outlook Festival.

July 2-23: Art's House Summer Takeover Grammy-nominated producer Artwork returns to take over Old Street's Magic Roundabout and XOYO for a month of house parties.

July 8: Fleetmac Wood Presents Crystal Visions The Fleetmac Wood crew return for another helping of their inspired, unique tribute concept to the legendary Fleetwood Mac, whose prominence in so many contemporary DJs' record collection is a wonderful thing.

July 10: WONDER-Full LDN Acclaimed hip hop producer DJ Spinna launched the WONDER-Full party series out of love for Stevie Wonder in 1999. That love shows no sign of dimming and the nights continue to pack out with legions of new fans across the world.

July 15: Scared To Dance: Pulp Special It's that time again. Fetch the brown skinny tie, tiny brown corduroy suit jacket and strike an awkward pose.


July 2-October 2: David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and One Still-Life Hockney has continued to be a truly brilliant painter into the twenty-first century – his landscape show at the RA in 2012 was a total blockbuster, and his iPad drawings are great. But these, sadly, are not brilliant paintings.

July 6-October 30: Georgia O'Keeffe Landscape painter, flower painter, feminist artist… Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was all of these and more. She is also one of the most popular and accessible artists on the planet.

July 14-September 4: Ragnar Kjartansson If you missed one of the standout shows of 2015, the Vinyl Factory’s presentation of Ragnar Kjartansson sensational musical installation, ‘The Visitors’, fear not as you’ll be able to experience it at the Barbican’s summer exhibition dedicated to the young Icelandic artist who has brought fun back to art.

July 21-October 23: William Eggleston Portraits William Eggleston, the man widely considered the godfather of colour photography, is a genuine art world legend and as cool as many of the people he's shot over the years.



July 1-31: The Luna Cinema Sneak into a gorgeous London location after hours and watch a movie under the stars.

July 4-7: British Summer Time Open House The British Summer Time festival in Hyde Park is mostly about the music, with two weekends of fist-in-the-air rock gigs. But midweek BST is branching out into movies – with four days of screenings all for free, smack in the middle of Hyde Park.

July 15-24: Secret Cinema: Dirty Dancing Secret Cinema is back with another extravaganza. This time the film isn’t a secret. We already know that they’ll be screening an immersive version of 'Dirty Dancing' from July 15-24.

New releases:

Now showing: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie A funny-as-ever Patsy and endless boozy pratfalls keep the energy levels high in this just-funny-enough reboot of the 1990s comedy TV series.

July 15: Ghostbusters This remake sees Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig leading the troupe, with Chris Hemsworth as their hapless secretary.

July 22: The BFG Steven Spielberg teams up again with Mark Rylance for a magical adaptation of Roald Dahl's adored children's tale.

July 29: Jason Bourne He’s back! But is this fourth Bourne movie just a paycheck for star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass? We pray it ain’t so, because if the script’s good, if the fights are spectacular and if Damon’s heart is really, truly in it, this’ll be the super-spy smackdown of the summer.


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