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London events in June

Plan an eventful June in London with our guide to the best art exhibitions, plays and general shindigs taking place around the city in June 2021

Written by
Katie McCabe
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June is one of those months that’s filled with a sense of excitement, but is also somehow layered with a tinge of anxiety. It’s that ‘end of the A-Levels’ feeling, until you remember that you left school years ago, and ‘summer holidays’ don’t really exist for adults. But in 2021, June does feel a bit like entering summer holidays as we once knew them.

The reopening of the city makes the return of things that once felt so familiar to us feel like spontaneous holiday discoveries. Eating indoors in a restaurant, sitting in a cinema as the lights go down, spending the best part of a day at a Tate Modern exhibition – they all have this new sheen. And we’re here to help you make the most of it. 

Check out our guide to the best art exhibitions, plays and generally great things to do this June 2021 in London. We’ll catch you out there.

RECOMMENDED: The definitive London events calendar.

June 2021 event highlights

  • Film
  • Film

The collective joy of watching something on a cinema screen has been gone far, far too long. Happily, the un-lockdown process means that London’s cinemas can begin reopening on May 17. And they are. With a vengeance. And there’s a lot of great programming going on too: Look out for Barbican’s annual Chronic Youth fest, showcasing emerging filmmakers from around the world, and The Castle is welcoming back its film clubs, CineReal and No Bollocks. Find out when your local cinema will be reopening here

  • Things to do
  • City Life

Nature reserve Walthamstow Wetlands has teamed up with the William Morris Gallery to produce a year-long exhibition about Finnish artist and Moomins creator Tove Jansson. Titled ‘The Woman Who Fell in Love with an Island’, the show will draw parallels between the nature of the Wetlands and the island of Klovharun in the Gulf of Finland, which Jansson visited every summer for almost 30 years, along with her partner Tuulikki Pietilä. The exhibit will take place inside the Wetlands’ restored engine house, but it will also spill out into nature with an outdoor art trail. 

When is it? Jun 18-Sep 23. Where is it? Walthamstow Wetlands. Book your tickets here

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  • Art

The deeply conceptual and elusive American artist Matthew Barney is returning to the UK with a big, splashy exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. ‘Redoubt’ will feature etchings and large sculptures cast from fallen trees, but the centrepiece is Barney’s mystical art feature film, which follows a fictional wolf hunter through the snowy landscape of Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. 

When is it? Until Jul 25. Where is it? Hayward Gallery. Book your ticket here

  • Art
  • Art

Es Devlin has created the centrepiece of the biennale by planting a temporary forest of 400 trees in Somerset House’s courtyard. But there’s loads more good stuff to explore indoors, from Marco Perry’s thumping sound installation to a giant, soothing metronome that spurts wafts of perfume from Servaire & Co and Alter-Projects. Go and check it out.

When is it? Until Jun 27. Where is it? Somerset House. £22.50. Book your ticket here 

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  • Restaurants

Eating out in June means you can also eat in, as in indoors, without your coat, should you choose to. The problem is, everyone in London already knows this, so tables are going to get booked up well in advance. Trying to decide where to go for that long-awaited didn’t-cook-it-yourself dinner? Have a look at our 100 best restaurants list, where you’ll find places that, yes, have great food, but more importantly will also guarantee you a good time.

Still want to keep things alfresco? Find great outdoor resto options here. 

Find a new spot for open water swimming
  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • Manor House

The West Reservoir in Stoke Newington is not nearly as well known as other designated open-water swimming spots like Hampstead Ponds, which makes it all the more special. Sessions here are only open to experienced open-water swimmers, but courses are offered for beginners as the temperature increases. The reservoir covers 23-acres, with a clear view of the built-up London skyline, which makes it feel like you are taking a giant, freezing bath right in the middle of the city. 

When is it? Open daily. Where is it? West Reservoir Centre, Green Lanes. Book here

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

A lot of Londoners are desperate to experience a bit of live sport again, in the company of screaming strangers (and a few screaming friends) so seats in big-screen-owning bars and pubs are getting booked up fast. If you’re interested in watching the 2020 Euros (confusing that the name is still the same) you might want to have a look into a few of these Time Out-approved places (check with individual venues for availability before you head off, though).

Find out more here

 

  • Art
  • Art

Artist Luke Jerram’s giant sculpture of planet Earth has been floating around on a European tour since 2018. Now it has been brought back to the Old Royal Naval College, at Maritime Greenwich. Did you see it last time? Maybe not, because it entirely sold out before its run was cut short by The Incident. The Painted Hall is already an impressive space. Occasionally referred to as ‘the British Sistine Chapel’, every inch of its walls and ceiling are covered by paintings created in the 1700s by British artist James Thornhill. Plop Jerram’s ‘Gaia’ in there and you've got a mind-bending, perspective-skewing room. 

When is it? Until Jul 1. Where is it? The Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College. Book tickets here

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Ever have one of those winning holiday moments where you’re wandering through some European city, and stumble upon a concert full of locals in some tiny, backstreet venue? That can happen in London too, if you know where to look, so look for The Fidelio Café, which puts on micro classical music sessions at its cosy space in Clerkenwell.

When is it? Regular dates in June. Where is it? Fidelio Café, Clerkenwell. Book tickets here 

Lockdown life has pushed us all through the looking glass this past year. Like Alice, we’ve been living on the wrong side of the mirror, so it feels like a good time for the V&A to launch its delayed exhibition, which explores the way Lewis Carroll’s character has been milked to death by the visual worlds of fashion, illustration, film and photography. They can add this event listing to the pile. 

When is it? Until Dec 31. Where is it? V&A. Book your ticket here

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  • Bars and pubs

Indoor boozing is a thing again, means we’ve started to see a few cancellations from those Londoners who went and booked up all the city’s beer garden spots. It sucks having to plan in advance just for a pint in the pub, but at least it removes the hapless scramble for a seat on sunny days. Forget propping up the bar too: it’s table service all the way, baby. Click through for a round-up of some of our favourite beer gardens that are taking bookings. 

Looking for giant London beer gardens? Find ’em here

Get a table in a rooftop cocktail garden
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Aldgate
  • price 2 of 4

Some days you just want to while away a sunny afternoon in a beer garden making little sculptures out of crisp packets and ordering the same round until closing time. Others call for a fancier affair, like a trip to The Culpeper, a rooftop garden, restaurant and cocktail spot that’s surrounded by the City of London’s skyscrapers. It’s a gorgeous paradox of a place, a tiny farm in the sky, where little vegetables are grown in the shadow of the Gherkin.

When is it? Open daily. Where is it? 40 Commercial St. Book your table here

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

A lot of films use the idea of the ‘city’ as more of a ‘buzzy backdrop’ than ‘lived-in metropolis’ – a character rather than a storyline in its own right. But dig past ‘When Harry Met Sally’, ‘Amélie’, ‘Notting Hill’ et al. – great as they are – and you’ll find a few urban-set films that really nail the uniqueness of our cities. Find some of the very best at the Barbican’s Return to the City season, like Egyptian director Youssef Chahine’s intense social drama ‘Cairo Station’ or Mauritanian filmmaker Sidney Sokhona’s experiment in docufiction, ‘Nationalité immigré’.

When is it? Until Jun 27. Where is it? Barbican. Book your ticket here

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By now, we’ve all seen Auguste Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’, but you might be less familiar with his 1898 sculpture ‘Balzac’, a monument to the French novelist that may or may not depict him fondling his bits beneath his coat. Rodin was influenced by the sculptures of ancient Greece, but as this Tate Modern exhibition seeks to show, the artist was a true modern radical. 

When is it? Until Nov 21. Where is it? Tate Modern. Book your ticket here

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