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Photograph: Time Out
Photograph: Time Out

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 2022

Written by
Alexandra Sims
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August in London is here and there are plenty of reasons to be excited about it. But, the main one? Notting Hill Carnival is back, baby. After two years of cancellations and live streams, soundsystems will once again take over the streets of west London for the bank holiday weekend

When you’re not having a riotous time dancing to tinnitus-inducing dance hall with a pocket full of Red Stripe, there are plenty of other ways to get your fill of live music this month. All Points East, Field Day and Eastern Electrics will all be pitching their tents and blasting music across various parks in London, plus electronic maestro Four Tet will be hosting his very own all-day fest. UK Black Pride is also back this year with its first-ever dedicated DJ tent and an afterparty at Fabric carrying on into the early hours. 

Fill your peepers up with even more culture as big fixtures on the summer arts and theatre scene like Greenwich + Docklands International Festival come back for another year of experimental fun. Or, catch Sadler’s Wells’ much-anticipated production of ‘South Pacific’ and the National Theatre’s ‘All of Us’. 

Before September hits, let’s hope there’s enough sun for a London lido swim, lazy days in the city’s parks, beer-garden pints, outdoor-cinema sessions and all the other alfresco pleasures that summer in London has to offer. 

August is a month for long holidays, a time for winding down, lying around and discovering that mint Cornettos are just as delicious as you remember. But it’s also a time for making memories, so make the most of your days off with the help of this Big List of things to do in August in London 2022.

Plan your whole year with our BIG London events calendar.

Our August 2022 highlights

  • Music

Europe’s biggest street festival hasn’t been able to go ahead IRL for the last two years, so see in Notting Hill Carnival’s triumphant return, as it fills the streets of west London with soundsystems, steel bands, jerk chicken, feathers, Red Stripe and plenty of dancing.

An estimated 2.5 million attendees will make their way to W10 and W11 over the long weekend so it’s a real spectacle with floats, trucks and music.

If you’re after a more chilled NHC experience, bank holiday Sunday is family day, while Monday is the more hard-partying parade. Watch this space for more details about the parade route, sound system map and food stalls. 

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Olympic Park

This inclusive festival is Europe’s longest-held community-led celebration of LGBTQ+ people from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Latin America. 

This years theme is Power’. On the day there’ll be talks, workshops and discussions in the Wellbeing Tent, community stalls, a day-long programme of music, performances and speeches on the main stage including the Beyoncé Experience, DRÉYA MAC and Lady Phyll. Plus, they’ve added a DJ tent for the first time and there’ll be an after-party at Fabric carrying the celebration on into the early hours. 

But, this isn’t just a great party, it’s a day of politics, protest and change. 

 

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  • Music
  • Music

The most famous classical music concert series on the planet. This year it’s celebrating its 150th anniversary with 84 concerts over 57 days with over 3,000 musicians. This year the event will see the return of international orchestras, including Berliner Philharmoniker, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Australian World Orchestra and the newly formed Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra. It will also feature large-scale repertoire not heard at the festival since 2019.

Highlights in August include: The Earth Prom - a stunning audio-visual celebration of the BBC’s world-famous Natural History Unit, from David Attenborough’s pioneering early adventures through to the landmark series of the 21st century (Aug 27); Late Night Brass - British brass band tradition from the Welsh Tredegar Band (Aug 9); a rendition of Holst’s The Planets (Aug 10); a celebration of Aretha Franklin – Queen of Soul (Aug 22); The South African Jazz Songbook - a showcase of the most dynamic sounds in the genre (Aug 28). 

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  • Music
  • Music festivals
  • Bow

All Points East is back next year to take over Victoria Park for six (hopefully sun-kissed) days. The line-up is as eclectic as ever, featuring some seriously hot acts including Greentea Peng and Remi Wolf, as well as long-cemented favourites like Gorillaz, Disclosure, and James Blake. 

Line-up includes: Kraftwerk, Gorillaz, Tame Impala, The National, Disclosure, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, James Blake, Greentea Peng, Joy Orbison, Remi Wolf and more. 

 

  • Theatre
  • Shakespeare
  • South Bank

The Globe’s artistic director Sean Holmes and the in-house ensemble of actors are like kids in a sweet shop with this amusing, visually inventive, and above all fun take on Shakespeare’s final play. It begins with Rachel Hannah Clarke’s Ariel archly hosing down the front rows of the audience – that’s your tempest for the night – and keeps up the pace from there. As a crowd-pleaser, it’s inventive, compassionate and really just a pure joy.

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  • Art
  • South Kensington

The V&A’s ambitious new exhibition is a triumphant attempt to complete the near-impossible task of capturing an entire continent through its fashion. Incorporating textiles, design and still and moving images, ‘Africa Fashion’ takes visitors on a compelling journey from the 1960s to the present day in a bid to reshape existing geographies and narratives of style.

It feels like a glorious celebration. You leave this beautiful show with its vision for the future, an Afrotopia, where ‘Fashion is a space for imagination, for hope, for pain, for aspiration. African fashion creatives use their work to actualise a more equitable and sustainable future in which we all thrive.’ Satisfyingly, this exhibition is cut from the same cloth.

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Clerkenwell

Chichester Festival Theatre’s revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s all-time classic 1949 musical opened to rapturous reviews last year, and will now spend the summer in London as part of a UK tour. Directed by Jonathan Church, Julian Ovenden and Gina Beck star as on-off lovers Emile de Becque and Ensign Nellie Forbush in this tale of romance and racial prejudice on a Polynesian island at the height of World War II. There’s a cast of 30, a full orchestra and all the classic songs you could wish for, notably ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ and ‘I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair’.

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  • Theatre
  • London

Edinburgh isn’t the only place with a bursting, brilliant fringe, and indeed as the Scottish capital’s iconic event becomes ever more expensive, the once scrappy outsider Camden Fringe looks ever more like a serious contender. It’s smaller than its Celtic counterpart, but still boasts hundreds of events all over Camden, taking in everything from stand-up sets and experimental theatre to kids’ shows, dance, and even magic. 

Grab tickets to Field Day’s dance-centric line-up
  • Music
  • Music festivals
  • Victoria Park

One of London’s hippest music festivals returns to Victoria Park – its original home – for the first time since 2017. This year’s event is a bumper one-dayer with a dance-centric line-up led by The Chemical Brothers, Kraftwerk 3D and Peggy Gou. With the likes of Heléna Star, Kareem Ali, Logic100, Tourist, Eliza Rose, Floating Points and Daniel Avery also on the bill, Field Day will turn Vicky Park into a non-stop rave from noon until the 11pm curfew.

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  • Theatre
  • Shakespeare
  • South Bank

The Globe’s artistic director Sean Holmes and the in-house ensemble of actors are like kids in a sweet shop with this amusing, visually inventive, and above all fun take on Shakespeare’s final play. It begins with Rachel Hannah Clarke’s Ariel archly hosing down the front rows of the audience – that’s your tempest for the night – and keeps up the pace from there. As a crowd pleaser, it’s inventive, compassionate and really just a pure joy.

  • Art
  • Bermondsey

English painter Lydia Blakeley’s new show is full of images of empty beaches, tranquil pools, oysters by the sea, deck chairs and lapping waves. They’re fantasies of idyllic holidays. But there’s something off about their sun-drenched atmosphere. The works are inspired by a 1995 Microsoft advertising campaign that asked 'where do you want to go today?’. But Blakeley doesn’t buy into the dream holiday as promised by your internet browser. These are brilliant paintings, with an amazing concept tying them together, and they will absolutely crush your dream of the perfect holiday.

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  • Art
  • Whitechapel

Disease, poverty, injustice, death and loneliness. It’s been a brutal few years around the world, and the evidence is written across the walls of the Whitechapel Gallery. The London Open is their big triennial open submission show, with thousands of artists’ work whittled down to 45 sculptors, painters and filmmakers, all making art that manages to reflect the stomach-turning tumult we’ve been living through. And it’s amazing. You leave feeling like society might be at its sickest, but art couldn't be healthier. That’s the thing about living mid-apocalypse: at least the art's good.

Chow down and boogie at the Black-Owned Hackney Night Market
  • Things to do
  • Food and drink events
  • Hackney

London’s best Black-owned street food purveyors, artisan traders and many more of the best Black-owned businesses in the capital will be selling everything from meaty barbequed treats and plant-based burgers to sustainably-made clothing and skincare in a former tram shed. Grab a glass of rum punch and shop the night away.

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  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • South Bank

Francesca Martinez has made a name for herself as an actor, a comedian,and an outspoken campaigner on disabled rights; she has cerebral palsy, and delivered a powerful speech against government cuts on BBC’s ‘Question Time’. Now she’s adding another string to her bow by writing her debut play ‘All of Us’. She’ll star in it as a woman whose life is on the brink of being dismantled by austerity politics. The play was due to open in March 2020 and was deep into rehearsals when its run was cancelled – so it’s great that it’s finally happening.

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  • Things to do
  • London

You’ve heard of Venice. You know São Paulo. Now get to know London’s very own arty biennial. This year’s theme is ‘In the House of my Love’ looking at the many meanings of homemaking. Taking place in a cluster of locations, there’ll be 12 artists’ projects to explore over the summer. Look out for Katarzyna Perlak’s traditional Polish paper chandeliers hanging in St Matthew’s Church in Willesden and a former fish and chip shop in Kilburn transformed into a Jamaican takeaway diving into dancehall’s golden era in northwest London. 

  • Art
  • South Bank

Things are about to get seriously fantastical as the Hayward Gallery takes a deep dive into the work of Black artists who mash together folklore, myth, science fiction and spiritual traditions. Expect immersive film installations, scupltures, paintings and photos by artists include Ellen Gallagher, Hew Locke, Chris Ofili and Kara Walker, all using fantasy to twist historical ideas into powerful, politically charged new shapes. 

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  • Theatre
  • Outdoor theatres
  • South Bank

After two years off due to the pandemic, the National Theatre’s River Stage mini-festival returns to the South Bank. After takeovers from the great and good of Lonon’s creative scene, the National Theatre itself takes charge this weekend to close the festival with a bang. Look out for alfresco theatre, dance, workshops and film screenings.  

  • Art
  • Art

Every year, the Serpentine Pavilion shows up to herald the start of summer, and it’s back again for 2022, designed this time by American artist Theaster Gates. But, this isn’t the pavilion of classic idyllic English summers. This is a serious, stark, austere business. 

The ‘Black Chapel’, is an imposing, cylindrical building. The inspiration at the heart of the work is the Rothko Chapel, a prayer space in Texas, with art by abstract expressionist master Mark Rothko. Gates’s building follows a similarly meditative template, creating a space for quiet contemplation, like being inside a giant vase, but in a very very relaxed way.

It might all be serious and contemplative, but it won’t be quiet. Over the course of the summer, the pavilion will host a series of concerts – including performances by jazz drummer Moses Boyd and the London Oratory Choir, who will be doing some Gregorian chanting, apparently – as well as tea ceremonies and clay workshops.

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  • Art
  • Soho

If you think videogames are just for sweaty nerds with Quaver-dust-encrusted keyboards, then The Photographers’ Gallery might just smash your preconceptions into a million pixels. Its new show explores the artistic potential of videogames, and there’s a lot more to it than how they made Pacman such a nice shade of yellow. From Cory Arcangel’s minimalist video works reimagining ‘Super Mario Bros’ to Danielle Udogaranya’s Sims avatars with underrepresented skin tones it’s funny, incredibly meta and very good.

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Regent’s Park

The second of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s ‘big summer musicals’ this year is a much-delayed, all-singing adaptation of Dodie Smith’s iconic kids’ novel – best known, of course, for the Disney cartoon film – which is, astonishingly, the theatre’s first-ever original musical commission. The presence of the excellent Toby Olié as puppetry designer and director gives a fair clue as to how the hordes of hounds will manifest themselves. The always excellent Kate Fleetwood leads the cast as top baddie Cruella de Vil.

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  • Art
  • Fitzrovia

A looped four-second video shows 2.8 million gallons of water flowing over Niagara Falls. In the corner, there’s a huge pile of thousands of mint-green polystyrene packing chips. An abandoned loaf of bread as you walk in is preserved in resin, dozens of souvenir T-shirts are packed as flat and small as they’ll go. Benjamin Cohen’s work is full of playful, punny, clashing narratives, empty promises and visual anticlimaxes. There’s a temptation to read it all as a comment on consumerism. But it’s also just about how materials and substances can tell or hide stories.

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Earl’s Court

Just a few months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Finborough has programmed a double-bill of work by Ukrainian playwrights. Most obscure is Neda Nezhdana: her monologue ‘Pussycat in Memory of Darkness’ is the first performance of her work outside her home country, and follows a woman trying to sell her kittens in the wartorn Donbas of 2014. It also includes the English premiere of ‘Take the Rubbish Out, Sasha’, a surreal play from the country’s most famous living playwright Natal’ya Vorozhbit, in which the dead are being recruited to Ukraine’s war effort.

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  • Art
  • Piccadilly

American painter Milton Avery (1885-1965) has left behind a body of work that isn’t just avant-garde or intellectual, it’s clever, innovative, influential and so full of humour and explosive colour that it will make you feel elation as much as mental stimulation. Everything in this show is so gorgeous, so colourful, so beautiful, so fun. Milton Avery will genuinely, actually, properly put a smile on your face.

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

Nothing says summer quite like the towering stalks and glowing yellow petals of the noble sunflower. Get neck-deep in heliotropic heaven at these golden fields full of custard-yellow blooms, which are at their peak from August to September.

  • Film

Positioned among the stunning Brutalist surrounds of the Barbican’s Sculpture Court there’ll be plenty of atmosphere, even beyond the screen, at its summer alfresco cinema experience. Settle down for iconic concert film ‘Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii’, Japanese production ‘Mothra’, Studio Ghibli’s stunning fantasy ‘Princess Mononoke’ and French animator René Laloux’s ‘La Planète Sauvage’. 

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  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • King’s Cross

Twelve days of free music? Sounds pretty sweet to us. King’s Cross’s Coal Drops Yard will be home to an eclectic programme of sound with artists playing everything from folk and jazz to classical and experimental music alongside dancers and performers.  

Look out for performances from world-renowned Flamenco composer and guitarist Paco Peña, trad Welsh folk quartet Tacla, alt-pop duo APRE and the wonderful London Community Gospel Choir. Live concerts every evening from 6.30pm to 8.30pm and from 1pm to 6pm on ‘Family Sundays’. 

  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs
  • Soho

Carnaby Street’s fortnight-long summer festival is back with creative workshops, giveaways, live musical performances and loads of great offers. Look out for a pop-up on Foubert’s Place hosting free craft workshops, shops gifting freebies and great deals at 14 different bars and restaurants on the street including Dishoom, Shoryu, Mamma Pastrama and Kanada-Ya. 

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  • Art
  • Camberwell

The overarching themes of this dark and troubling group show, curated by Gabi Ngcobo, are ‘loss, threats to the environment, spirituality, labour and silenced histories’, so it’s not exactly a massive cheerer-upper. What it does brilliantly, though, is remind you that global environmental concerns, as articulated by activists and politicians, have a real human face and cost, and that even that articulation remains defined by colonialism. Some of these landscapes may be barren, but far from the show being over, their power and creative impetus seem endlessly fertile. 

  • Bars and pubs

Beer gardens are one of the best things about London. There’s no finer way to spend a sunny (or even not-so-sunny) afternoon in the capital, than supping on a couple of cold boys under the city’s azure-ish sky. If you’re looking to sink some pints in the breezy great outdoors, we’ve got you covered with our tried-and-tested list of the city’s best beer gardens.

 

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