You don't have to be a sports junkie to enjoy outdoor sports screenings in London during summer. Watching events like the Wimbledon Tennis Championships and major football tournaments at an outdoor screen with crowds of others always provides a great atmosphere. Pull up a deck chair, bring your own bottle and cheer along whatever the weather.
RECOMMENDED: the full guide to outdoor London
Outdoor sports screens in London
Pretend you’re jeering gladiators in combat by watching the competition in a Roman-style amphitheatre. It’ll all be set to the backdrop of another battleground – City Hall. As well as the ballfest, there will be shedloads of free events running by the river (cue mass karaoke sessions and voguing yoga) so you’ll barely have time to numb your cheeks on the concrete.
Venue says: “Hidden alfresco garden and rooftop: drinking/dining in the heart of London, with 850 seats, seven day-beds, four restaurants and two bars.”
It’s not exactly outdoors, but you can still see the sky from this vine-tangled terrace. At the Pergola, you can follow the balls-ups of Wimbledon across its two floors. And you can pretend you’re in a VIP box at Centre Court by booking a ‘day bed’. The best part? You can order a burger from Patty & Bun without the Soho queues.
You asked for miracles, we give you… the BBC. The Beeb’s old London HQ – Television Centre – is playing host to free films, live opera link-ups and Wimbledon screenings for the summer. The first time the UK saw colour TV was when footage of a green Wimbledon court was broadcast from TV Centre: now you can watch King Roger live from that very spot. Not so into the Grand Slam? Swap tennis grunts for Prince’s glass-shattering high notes at a showing of iconic rock musical ‘Purple Rain’. Find out more here.
Okay, this space might not scream ‘get your pants off, it’s a party on the lawn!’ but it does have a pretty good set-up. There’s an oversized TV, a nearby bar and a decent amount of reclining chairs to fight over by the peaceful Paddington Basin. There’s also street food hosted by Epicurean Events planned for Tuesdays and Thursdays. Find out more here.
A big, mean, tennis screen is moving from Lewis Cubitt to the canalside at Granary Square for The Championships. The faux-grass steps at the square usually get pretty squished as post-work crowds gather with plastic flutes and bottles of Waitrose prosecco, but the first 50 arrivals can score a free deckchair. If Murray’s comeback goes a bit wrong (and let’s hope it doesn’t), there are 1,080 choreographed fountain jets right behind to help you cool off.
Why watch Wimbledon in a dingy pub when you could be basking in the sunshine on Skylight’s vast lawn-covered rooftop as the matches begin? You can always head inside to get your tennis fix if the weather takes a turn for the worse. If watching the Federer Express smash a serve leaves you feeling competitive, test your underarm with a bit of pétanque.
Sure, there are loads of oversized outdoor screens in London, but not all of them live beside a licensed bar and good people selling pork tacos. Southwark’s food, booze and event spot Flat Iron will be switching it up with Wimbledon and World Cup games on TVs dotted throughout the market. Couldn’t give a deuce? Just raise a shiraz to Queen Serena from the new wine bar, Tap and Bottle.
Westminster’s rooftop garden is going full-immersion on the Wimbledon front by putting on fitness classes from Frame, Gymbox and Triyoga alongside its usual match screenings as part of Wimbledon Workout Week (until June 30). Or you can sack off the HIIT class for a frozen margarita on
a giant stripy cushion. Find out more here.
Get an alfresco culture fix
Randall & Aubin
This Brewer Street seafood restaurant opened in 1996, and is now something of a Soho institution, and is as good an example as any of the area's gradual move from seedy past to much more seemly present. The site actually dates back to 1908, when it was London's first French butcher's shop. Many of the original design features remain. The focus here is on seafood, with plats de fruits de mer of rock oysters, whole crab, Atlantic shrimps, diver scallops, cockles, whelks, cherry stone clams, Mediterranean prawns and green-lipped mussels alongside bouillabaisse, crab and lemon risotto, spaghettini marinara and char-grilled Cornish squid. Other dishes include French onion soup, bavette steak with pomme frites, a house burger and slow-roast Aubrey Allen pork belly served with mashed potatoes, roast apple sauce and gravy. The wine list leans heavily on the old world, with more than 20 by the glass. Randall & Aubin also have a branch up in Manchester.
Venue says: “A bottle of chilled white wine and a platter groaning with Fruits de Mer - what could be a nicer way to start the week?”