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London canal
Photograph: daniFAB/Pixabay

August events in London

Prepare yourself for a spectacular month with our selection of the best events, exhibitions and things to do in London during August 2020

By Time Out London Things To Do, Alexandra Sims and Angela Hui
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August in London is here! Take advantage of the sunny weather (fingers crossed) by heading out into London’s great outdoors, exploring the city’s parks and embarking on a scenic walk around the capital. Now that London is gradually beginning to reopen, why not book a table at one of London’s recently reopened restaurants or at a rooftop bar to sink a cocktail against a sun-soaked panorama.

Many of the events and things to do that would usually be taking place in August in London have been postponed and cancelled to ensure event-goer safety. But, London’s brilliant and ever-resourceful artists, performers, experts and craftspeople are still bringing the fun to you. Notting Hill Carnival is going digital this year, as is the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. If you’re still more comfortable staying in at the moment, there’s plenty of online theatre to watch and restaurants and bars delivering to your door.

Whatever you do always check with the venue or event first before you visit to double-check what safety measures they have in place and if you have to pre-book in advance. Plus, always keep social distancing in mind. 

Here’s your guide to the best events and things to do, online and off, in August in London 2020. 

RECOMMENDED: The definitive London events calendar

Our August 2020 highlights

1. Major parks in London

Things to do

Parks are the epicentre of our social lives at the moment. The grassy spaces are spread throughout the city, providing a flower-packed place to unwind and soak up some rays. Check out this round-up of the best major parks in London.  

2. London’s prettiest walks

Things to do Walks and tours

While public transport takes a backseat in our lives, why not walk the city’s streets, canal paths, and parks to appreciate the beauty London has to offer. Take in the city’s immense skyline, sights that you never had time to vist before, and secluded green spaces. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, a nature lover or history buff, there’s something for everyone in our round-up of pretty city walks. 

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50 things you didn’t know about Notting Hill Carnival: 38
50 things you didn’t know about Notting Hill Carnival: 38
Photograph: Notting Hill Carnival

3. Notting Hill Carnival

News Events & Festivals

Notting Hill Carnival has been cancelled for the first time ever this year. The bank holiday parade, which is usually Europe’s largest street festival was due to take place in the streets of west London on Sunday August 30 and Monday August 31. But, the organisers have something up their sleeves. Look out for plenty of virtual events from some of your carnival faves to fill the void. Shabba, Rampage Sound and Socaholic are already preparing virtual events. We’ll keep you updated as more are announced. 

 

BBC Proms audience at the Royal Albert Hall
BBC Proms audience at the Royal Albert Hall
Photograph: Chris Christodoulou

4. BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall

News Music

The Proms are still be going ahead this year, albeit in a very different form to the concerts we’ve known before. The organisers of the longest-running classical music concert series in the world, which turns 125 this year, have revealed plans for a new, digitised version of the Proms involving eight weeks of broadcasts across television, radio and online. 

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Lavender fields Kentish Lavender
Lavender fields Kentish Lavender
Kentish Lavender

5. Lavender fields in and around London

Things to do

It may be known for its sleepy scent and soothing properties, but there’s nothing dozy about the explosion of colour – an astonishing crop of mauves and indigos – happening right now in London’s lavender fields.  Lavender season peaks in August. For those wanting to lay their eyes and nose on this year’s epic bloom, here’s a list of the best spots. 

Photograph: The National Gallery
Photograph: The National Gallery
Photograph: The National Gallery

6. London’s biggest art galleries

News Art

Most of London’s galleries are back in action in August. Some of the exhibitions that shuttered suddenly in March have returned and London’s major public galleries are open again with one-way systems and other social distancing measures in place. 

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Sunil Gupta
Sunil Gupta
Sunil Gupta 'Untitled 22' from the series 'Christopher Street' (1976) Image courtesy of the artist and Hales Gallery. © Sunil Gupta. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2019

7. ‘Masculinities: Liberation Through Photography’

4 out of 5 stars
Art Barbican Centre, Barbican

This long, sprawling show doesn’t celebrate what it means to be a man, it undermines it, subverts it and totally reshapes it. Think boys don’t cry? Well, Bas Jan Ader films himself openly weeping in one of the show’s standout works. Think the army is the greatest expression of heterosexuality there is? Well, Adi Nes stages scenes of soldiers in intimate, charged, erotic situations. It’s full of moments where ideas and ideals of masculinity are flipped and reversed.

Dana Schutz ‘Imagine You and Me’, 2018
Dana Schutz ‘Imagine You and Me’, 2018
Dana Schutz ‘Imagine You and Me’, 2018. © Dana Schutz. Courtesy the artist, Petzel Gallery, NY and Thomas Dane Gallery

8. ‘Radical Figures: Painting in the New Millenium’

3 out of 5 stars
Art Contemporary art Whitechapel Gallery, Whitechapel

There’s some incredible stuff on display in this show which proves painting is a genre that’s been blossoming in the darkness. It’s a show full of good contemporary art, and who can complain about that? 

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Barbican Conservatory
Barbican Conservatory
Photograph: Max Colson

9. Barbican Conservatory

News City Life

Concealed inside all the Barbican Centre’s concrete, the Conservatory is a room overrun with 1,500 species of tropical plants and trees, exotic fish, tiny turtles and three indoor ponds. Pre-lockdown, the Conservatory was only open to the public on Saturdays, Sundays between noon and 5pm and bank holidays.  For the first time, the Conservatory is now open to the public on weekdays. 

Cao Fei 'Nova' (2019) Video. Image courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Creative Space

10. Cao Fei: ‘Blueprints’

4 out of 5 stars
Art Serpentine Gallery, Hyde Park

This large-scale solo exhibition by multimedia artist and filmmaker Cao Fei lets you step into a recreation of their Beijing studio. Stay for a stop-motion dystopia filled with giant rampaging turtles

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Aubrey Beardsley 'The Kiss of Judas' (1893) Image courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum

11. Aubrey Beardsley

4 out of 5 stars
Art Tate Modern, Bankside

Aubrey Beardsley’s slinky black-and-white drawings are filled with sex and death. They also titillated and thrilled, and their existence beautifully disrupts what we think we know about the Victorians. This gorgeous retrospective covers pretty much everything Beardsley did, from early medievalist and mythological subjects through to illustrations for The Yellow Book (a quarterly arts publication) and explicit pictures of Ancient Greeks getting frisky. It’s audacious, bold, sexy and knowingly funny. 

Paul Gauguin 'Portrait of a Young Woman, Vaïte (Jeanne) Goupil' (1896) © Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen. Photo: Anders Sune Berg

12. ‘Gauguin and the Impressionists’

Art Royal Academy of Arts, Mayfair

Denmark's Ordrupgaard Collection is the result of an art-loving nineteenth-century couple who were not afraid to splash the cash on a bit of French Impressionism, even before others got the memo describing its genius. The highlights of their collection, which runs from the pre-impressionism of Gustav Courbet all the way through to the post-impressionisn of Paul Gauguin are on show at the Royal Academy. 

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Andy Warhol 'Marilyn Diptych' (1962) Tate © 2019 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc / Artists Right Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London

13. Andy Warhol

3 out of 5 stars
Art Tate Modern, Bankside

Sometimes, when you stand in front of a painting, it’s like being in the presence of a celebrity. This show is full of those celebrities. Stacks of soup cans, piles of boxes of Brillo pads, dozens of Marilyns, repeated Elvises. You already know these works by Andy Warhol: you can’t not, they’re inescapable. This show is half mega-hits from art history, half intimate, personal, confidential look at his life. Warhol becomes not just some art myth, but something way more relatable: a human.

Titian 'Rape of Europa' (1562) © Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.

14. ‘Titian: Love, Desire, Death’

5 out of 5 stars
Art National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

The Renaissance master’s works are reunited in full here for the first time since the 1500s. The seven huge paintings here tell stories from Greek myth – ‘Diana and Actaeon’, ‘Venus and Adonis’, ‘The Rape of Europa’ – with heaving passion and lyrical intensity. Walking into that room and being totally surrounded by those paintings is totally magical. It’s taken 500 years for these pictures to be reunited, but it’s been more than worth the wait.

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Introductions: Early Embodiment from A Countervailing Theory, (2019) © Toyin Ojih Odutola. Image courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

15. Toyin Ojih Odutola: ‘A Countervailing Theory’

Art Barbican Centre, Barbican

Drawing, for Toyin Ojih Odutola, is a form of storytelling. These new works, exhibited around the 90-metre sweep of the Barbican Curve, form part of an epic series relaying an imagined ancient myth. The artist uses pencil, pastel, ballpoint pen and charcoal to create the mega-sized portraits that are as delicate as they are beautiful. 

padella
padella
Photograph: Padella

16. The best restaurants

News Eating

Dining out in London might look quite different, but if you’re anything like us lot at Time Out, you’re absolutely buzzing for your next meal out. Whether it’s returning to an old, local favourite to show your support in tough times or finally checking out one of central London’s hot new openings from before All This, the good news is you can now book a table at a select number of awesome restaurants. 

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The 100 best bars and pubs in London - City Barge, Chiswick
The 100 best bars and pubs in London - City Barge, Chiswick
Photograph: City Barge

17. Our favourite London pubs

News Drinking

We’re all allowed back down the pub again. From our list of the best pubs in London, a number have announced they are now taking bookings for drink-ins. Check with each individual establishment and your own cherished local before you head along to find out what the deal is.

Bussey Rooftop Bar, Peckham
Bussey Rooftop Bar, Peckham
Photograph: Bussey Rooftop Bar

18. London’s best rooftop bars

Bars and pubs

Londoners love a rooftop bar. They’re the best places to escape the claustrophobic heat of the city and they provide a brilliant skyline backdrop for drinking – especially at sundown. And now, we love them even more. Outdoor spaces have been deemed the safest for socialising as London unlocks this summer. Here are the sky-high bars taking bookings this summer.

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Johan Persson
Johan Persson
Photograph: Johan Persson

19. Theatre shows to stream online

Theatre Drama

Theatres and theatre companies the world over are opening up their digital archives: right now you can probably see more theatre shows – plus dance and opera – from your living room than you could watch in a year by going out and about in London. From paid-for streaming platforms to YouTube streams to one-offs on other platforms, there’s a huge amount of stuff to see. Here’s what’s available. 

Live streaming
Live streaming
Photograph: Shutterstock

20. London events you can stream online

Things to do

London has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, with big institutions and independent venues closing and events being postponed and cancelled to ensure event-goer safety. But, London’s brilliant and ever-resourceful artists, performers, experts and craftspeople are now bringing the fun to you. We’ve picked the very best events that will be streaming into your homes over the coming days.

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Best London restaurants for home delivery
Best London restaurants for home delivery
Time Out/Shutterstock

21. Top London restaurants doing home delivery

Restaurants

Not quite ready to eat out just yet? Don’t worry, so many of London’s greatest restaurants are still doing home delivery. From Italian to Chinese, here’s our pick, if you fancy eating in style without stepping a foot outside. Just remember that details change all the time, so always check with the venues’ websites before you set your heart on a certain meal. 

Nightjar bottled cocktails
Nightjar bottled cocktails
Photograph: Nightjar

22. London bars delivering cocktails to your door

Bars and pubs

London’s bars have found a new way to keep the drinks a-flowing, lots of London’s best bars are now doing free delivery around the city, bringing tins or bottles of cocktails (and the party) to yours. So you can still get your Negroni, Martini or Old Fashioned fix while staying safe at home. Here’s who’s doing what and how to place an order.

Find out what's happening in September
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