It’s April 2021. The month where the capital starts to reopen properly. You can visit pub gardens and restaurant terraces from April 12. As the weather warms up, you can head up to the city’s rooftop bars, and spend long afternoons in London’s fabulous parks. Easter is imminent, so get planning your long weekend (more of the above, probably). Okay, not everything is quite back to normal. The Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race isn’t happening in London for the first time since 1944; it’s been moved to the world’s dullest stretch of Fenland waterway, with people told to ‘stay away’. The London Marathon is happening in October. But there’s plenty going on, and April will see more and more announcements of reopenings and cool stuff happening in London. See you out there!
While you’re here, there’s no better time to start planning your diary for May too.
There’s a lot to like about Easter in London – two whole days extra off, gratuitous chocolate consumption and if we're lucky, some springtime sunshine to melt it. Spend the year’s first bank holiday well!
Sick of walking around the same old London parks? Sick of the sight of other Londoners in their ’nice coats’? Yeah, aren’t we all. Luckily, the green heads on Time Out’s team have spilled the beans on the good tree-filled, grass-filled, flower-filled spots around town that the crowds haven't swarmed to yet. By now, you’re probably sick of socialising by going for a ‘big walk’, but at least now, you can go strolling through a garden pergola with FIVE other people.
This isn’t a drill. We can now meet up to six people in the park for a picnic in London. Blankets. Grass. Conversation. Scotch eggs. Clouds. Sudden rainstorms. Geese. Freak lightning. Panic and fire. All those wonderful things you associate with a classic British picnic.
Now, there are a lot of places that do great hampers. Boring! 2021 is the year we have all of our food and drink sent to the park. Here are our top picks for green-space groceries.
Indisputably the poshest of all the delivery platforms, SUPPER London is getting park-ready for spring. This is big. From March 29 you’ll be able to use the app to get restaurant meals delivered directly to various ‘pick up areas’ across London’s green spaces. The main takeaway here is that, yes, you will be able to order a Fortnum & Mason hamper directly to your blanket. Depraved? Certainly. Tempting? Indubitably. Other top restos taking part include Nobu, Coya, Roka, Hakkasan and loads more. Including the Harrod’s Food Hall.
Choose from a load of highfalutin’ restaurants on the Supper App.
Ombra’s Italian feast
Hackney mainstay Ombra is a restaurant with a truly fabulous vibe. We actually chatted to head chef Mitshel Ibrahim not too long ago, about surviving and thriving under lockdown. Happy days: they’re bringing back their picnic delivery menu from April 12. The hamper costs £30 and you can expect Ombra’s signature house focaccia, mortadella, olives, burrata, ’nduja sausage rolls, pasta salad, beers and Amaretti biscuits. Definitely more fun than your usual plastic bag full of loose crisps and looser ham.
Check the Ombra website for details closer to April 12, including the list of local parks they’ll be delivering to.
Pique’s handmade picnics
Very fancy hampers. Very fancy. Hand-picked, handmade, includes cutlery, plates and napkins and all that sweet jazz. The Ultimate Brunch (£50) features blueberry pancakes, ham-and-cheese croissants, frittatas, mini bagels, smoothies and more. The Freedom Picnic (also £50) serves up coronation chicken, caramelised apple sausage rolls, brie, a baked baguette and orzo pasta with fresh pesto. Oh yeah, and you can add booze to your order. Pique can either deliver to a park at a requested time (which, understandably, costs more) or you can be added to their driver’s delivery route. The latter option requires you to wait around at a pre-agreed location, like a spy.
Natural wine from Top Cuvée
Remember in ‘Terminator’ when Kyle Rees grabs Linda and yells: ‘It can’t be reasoned with… it can’t be bargained with… It doesn’t feel pity, remorse or fear and it absolutely will not stop. Ever!’ You could say the same thing about everyone's favourite north London natural wine bois. Top Cuvée will not stop. Ever! They have ploughed away throughout lockdown, defining themselves as survivors. From April 1 they’re bringing back their famous Park Drops from last year. Pros: they’ll bring your booze (and other bits) to whatever patch of grass you call home. Cons: currently it’s only to Clissold Park and Highbury Fields (although more locations will be announced soon).
Started by chef Jacob Kenedy back in 2010, gelato parlour Gelupo is famous for quality, fresh ingredients and next-level produce. Seriously: wouldya look at that. Beautiful. There’s also a colomba flavour, which is apparently similar to a panettone, and a ricotta sour cherry number too. Priced at £11 for a half-litre, Gelupo’s luscious gelato will soon be available for park delivery via Deliveroo.
Neil Krug is a US photographer and art director. He’s probably best known for his work on album covers for Tame Impala, Lana Del Rey, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and more. His work is a colourful, slightly psychedelic take on fashion photography, like Tim Webster had wandered into the desert, taken some peyote and had a little lie-down. Now Krug is letting us grey, rain-swept Londoners all get a glimpse of life on a much brighter astral plane, as his images take over billboards across London and the UK.
The project is part of Your Space or Mine, an initiative from street-advertising specialist Buildhollywood that gives visual artists a platform to have their work shown on hoardings on everyday city streets. Their outdoor spaces have seen artworks by Fiona Banner, Jeremy Deller, The White Pube and countless others.
Neil Krug is displaying artworks from his series ‘Phantom: Stage One’, based on some dreams he had back in 2016 in which ‘a woman followed a ghost into the desert’. So, very much not a Caledonian Road vibe.
In practice, Krug’s ‘Phantom’ images consist of extremely well-dressed, extremely beautiful model types pictured among rocky outcrops and lit by sudden jets of bright orange flame, plus a big purple mountain. They’re not exactly spring-like, but they certainly beat the hell out of some massive shouty ad for a new Vodaphone bundle.
Leave the tents and wellies at home... every summer, the cream of the music world comes to our home town, meaning a huge load of world-class festivals only a tube ride away. And while last year everything was cancelled because of You Know What, this year more and more events are starting to announce their return.
Attending might involve getting tested for Covid on the door, but that’s a price we’ll be very happy to pay for a party in the sun.
Buy your tickets today and forget about going to a weekender somewhere, because after a long day of sun and debauchery there’s nothing better than a warm shower and your own bed. (Especially when you’re as out of practice as we all are now.)
While it’s great that we can go to beer gardens again this month, part of us is now used to getting lovely local booze delivered, so we continue to be really grateful for the fact that you can still drink some of the best stuff going by ordering directly from London’s best breweries. Not only that, but you’re supporting some of the hardest hit small independent businesses right now. With pub doors now having been closed for so long, UK beer sales were down by 10 percent last year. Here’s our list of London beer makers who are now delivering directly to front doors. Cheers!
To underline this arch-capitalist, expansionist ethos the boys have in fact opened their new branch in the actual City of London. Inside the husk of a former branch of Subway, on Bevis Marks, to be precise.
Chin Chin, Soho’s cutting-edge ice-cream scientists, want you to skip spring flowers and swap ’em out for an Instagram flower filter instead. While eating dessert.
That’s right, Chin Chin’s latest wheeze is a (checks notes) Augmented Reality Sundae. It’s fully vegan, featuring a rabbit made of milk jelly, perched on a coconut-and-rose ice cream, all plonked on a bed of edible chocolate-and-matcha clay. The non-food bit: once you’ve procured one of these bad boys, whip out your phone, slap on the special filter and behold! Computer-generated flowers sprout from the plate like magic. As the poet Jay Kay almost once said: this dessert... it’s virtual insanity!
Put on your most technical trousers, spray yourself with insect repellent and take a perilous trip to Granary Square in King’s Cross to check out a new outdoor show of brilliant travel photography by London-based photographer Christopher Wilton-Steer. He travelled 40,000km overland by car, bus, train, ferry, horse and camel from London to Beijing, along the path of the Silk Road: the legendary trade route from China and India to the West. It took him four months and he crossed 16 countries. His record of the trip is now an exhibition, ‘The Silk Road: A Living History’.
The outdoor exhibition in King’s Cross’s Granary Square features photos of Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, India, China and more. Additional content is promised in the form of videos, music and more, accessed via QR codes.
The Music Venues Trust has been going all out to raise awareness for the nation’s struggling empty venues. For as long as music indoors is banned, these places are going to need a huge amount of support. Helping them fight on throughout March and April: the dance music giant that is Fabric (in partnership with the marginally less sexy but equally huge Arts Council England).
Every Sunday, the uber-nightclub is putting on a livestreamed concert, featuring some brilliant electronic-y names including Oneman, Object Blue, Fabio and Grooverider, Saoirsie and loads more. It’s called London Unlocked and you can check out the whole schedule here. The venues being used as settings are quite special too: the V&A, the London Coliseum, Tower Bridge and, of course, Fabric itself. Woof.
Don’t forget to donate to save some of the music venues most in danger with this crowdfunder.
‘Allez la France’ is a group show of four of Gaul’s most promising young painters – Jin Angdoo, Mathieu Julien, Hams Klemens and Kevin Pinsembert. It was meant to have gone on display at Saatchi Yates’s Cork Street gallery on March 3. So they’ve moved a selection of the works down the road to fancy-pants Burlington Arcade and stuck them in some shopfronts as ‘window viewings’.
‘Allez la France’ version deux is on show until May 15. The irony is that these artists came up in Marseille and Paris, painting on ‘shared walls and hidden tunnels’ and now they’re being exhibited in one of the capital’s most exclusive shopping precincts, where you’re not even allowed to hum, never mind whistle, and are expected to arrive, buy some cufflinks and then leave.
Kevin Pinsembert has a Philip Guston-y vibe to his canvases: sort-of still lives in bold, brutal colours and strokes. Even better is Jin Angdoo, originally from South Korea. Her works are full of super-basic shapes and motifs, like prehistoric street art, and feel totally fresh and accomplished. She says of her art career, ‘If I could do it all over again, I’d be an astronaut or a dog rehabilitator like Cesar Millan.’ So, erm, there. When was the last time that Burlington Arcade hosted an aspiring astronaut/dog rehabilitator? Never! Oh, apart from Princess Anne.
Future ‘window viewing’ pop-ups are planned for Soho. So go and have a gander. Just remember that any expression of delight at these cool cross-Channel artworks should be silent.
Works from ‘Allez la France’ are on display in Burlington Arcade until May 15. More info on the gallery show here.
Who would have thought a year ago that one of the things Londoners would have missed most in the event of a complete social lockdown would have been men in tights hiding behind fake trees pretending not to have noticed that their girlfriend is suddenly a bloke?*
But the ups and downs of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre at Bankside has been a long-running cultural saga of the pandemic in London. It put lots of its archive performances online for free, which were fantastically popular, but it was nonetheless threatened with the spectre of permanent closure, alongside many of the capital’s legendary theatres and performance venues.
So it’s really good news to hear that Shakespeare’s Globe is planning to reopen to visitors on April 13, in line with the current government roadmap out of lockdown. Initially, the theatre is just running guided (and appropriately socially distanced) tours of the building and backstage areas, but the Globe is one of London’s better-suited theatrical spaces for performances, since it has outside standing (‘groundling’) areas, and exposed balcony seating. There’s no word yet on when that might happen, although indoor venues such as theatres are able to reopen with suitable measures in place from May 17 (aka ‘Step 3’). The theatre’s Swan restaurant and bar will reopen on April 12 for outdoor dining and drinking.
For now, why not just wander around The Bard’s hallowed ground, maybe raise a glass of something and give thanks that a vital London cultural icon looks like it has been spared – at least for the time being. As Polonius remarks in Act 2 Scene I of ‘Hamlet’, ‘Shit, that was close!’
*Obviously, any combination of genders may be substituted here.
Guided tours of Shakespeare’s Globe are available Apr 13-Oct 31. Pre-book here.
Sharpen your jousting lance for St George’s Day (Friday April 23 2021). The capital is putting its dragon-slaying skills to the test again and we've rounded up London's best St George’s Day themed festivals, events and activities below. The best part is, many of them are free. How very English.