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Things to do in June
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London events in June

June in London is here. Make it the greatest month of your year yet with our guide to the best art exhibitions, plays and general shindigs taking place around the city in June 2022.

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June in London 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 ‘school’s out!’ feeling, until you remember that you left school years ago, and ‘summer holidays’ don’t really exist for adults. Shame. 

It might not be quite the same as a big long summer holiday, but this year June is special because we’ll be getting a whopper of bank holiday weekend to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Whether you’re a fan of Her Maj or a die-hard republican, there are plenty of ways to fill up the four whole days of freedom, from nabbing a spot at the Jubilee Parade down The Mall, joining one of the many bunting-festooned parties across the city or hiding away from all Union Jacks entirely in a (hopefully) sun-soaked roof garden or at Southbank Centre’s celebration of punk. 

June is also the start of summer in London, which means the capital’s beer gardens are at their prime, the city parks are at their prettiest, the open-air theatre season gets into full swing and eating alfresco is on the cards at some of London’s best restaurants. Plus, expect to see long queues in south west London as tennis fans line up to bag a place at the epic Wimbledon championships

June in London also means its time for London Sundance Film Festival, the Roundhouse’s poetry festival The Last Word and Open Square Gardens. So mark them all off in your calendar and prepare to have a ball fit for a queen.  

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Get tickets to a hotly-tipped new show

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Covent Garden

Perhaps surprisingly, there hasn’t been a major London revival of Tennessee Williams’s ‘The Glass Menagerie’ since John Tiffany’s dreamy 2017 take, although that’s largely because the pandemic robbed us of Ivo van Hove’s Isabelle Huppert-starring version, which was due to come to the Barbican in 2020 and certainly isn’t any time soon, if ever.

But 2022 should give us an exciting looking new edition, as Jeremy Herrin directs the magnificent Amy Adams – six Oscar nominee, and six times robbed – as she makes her London stage debut in the role of Amanda Wingate, the monstrous southern matriarch – based on Williams’s own mother – whose suffocating love leaves her children Laura and Tom deeply emotionally scarred.

The 1944 classic – Williams’ first and arguably best hit – is famously a ‘memory play’, taking place not in the present, but in Tom’s recollection. Usually a single older actor plays both the Tom looking back on events and the Tom who enacts the events, but in Herrin’s new version the roles will be divided, with Paul Hilton playing the older Tom and Tom Glynn-Carney the younger. Newcomer Lizzie Annie – who has cerebral palsy – will play Laura, while Victor Alli will play The Gentleman Caller.

  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Seven Dials

Prolific American playwright Theresa Rebeck has had her biggest successes across the pond – indeed, many of her Broadway hits have never even made it over to the UK. But here’s a rare world premiere in the West End for one of her works, albeit one that’s anchored by two heavyweight American actors: David Harbour and Bill Pullman star in ‘Mad House’, a dark comedy about a group of siblings who converge on their dying father’s rural Pennsylvania home, with one eye on divvying up his inheritance. Harbour will play Michael, one of the siblings; Pullman will play Daniel, the dying father. Rebeck’s regular collaborator Moritz von Stuelpnagel directs.

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  • Theatre
  • Shakespeare
  • South Bank

Although all Globe outdoor shows are equal, some are clearly more equal than others, and it’s hard not to see this production of ‘King Lear’ starring the great Kathryn Hunter in the title role as anything other than the flagship play in the 2022 season. Hunter is one of the strangest, most striking stage actors of her times, and her relative cult status has been threatened by her acclaimed turn as all three of the Weird Sisters in Joel Coen’s Denzel Washington-starring ‘Macbeth’. Her craggy wildness feels well-suited to Shakespeare’s elemental tragedy of old age, and underscoring the fact it’s a special production, she’ll be joined by Globe boss Michelle Terry, who makes her traditional showing of the season as an actor to co-star in the dual roles of the Fool and Cordelia. Veteran Anglo-Polish director Helena Kaut-Howson helms matters, with design from Pawel Dobrzycki.

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  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Leicester Square

‘The Seagull’ flies again! The Jamie Lloyd Company’s 2020 production of Chekhov’s masterpiece marked the West End debut of Emilia Clarke: and it started previews before being shuttered by the pandemic on the week it was due to open.

Now it’s it’s back, with a largely unchanged company headed by Clarke, who’ll be trading in dragon riding for the role of vain young actress Nina in Chekhov’s great play in a version by Anya Reiss (presumably the same one that played at Southwark Playhouse in 2012, starring a young Lily James). She’ll be joined by an excellent returning cast of Tom Rhys Harries (Trigorin), Daniel Monks (Konstantin), Indira Varma (Arkadina), and Sophie Wu (Masha), with other roles TBC. As ever, Lloyd directs and Soutra Gilmour designs. 

Check out a mega exhibition

  • Museums
  • King’s Cross

This fascinating exhibition explores five centuries of British news coverage: from the Great Fire of London to #BlackLivesMatter, via Jack the Ripper, the Profumo Affair and the Grenfell Tower fire. The aim is to ‘challenge and change’ how we think about news by posing probing questions about what – and what doesn’t – get covered, and to what end. It’s definitely one to approach with an open mind.

  • Museums
  • Kensington

ASMR has taken the internet by storm in recent years, with millions of users being newly introduced to the concept of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response: a physical sensation of tingling, euphoria or calmness brought about by sound, touch and movement. Produced in collaboration with ArkDes, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design, and opening in October, this world-first exhibition outlines how people are creating sensory responses using new and existing tools and materials, and explores the emerging field of creativity that has sprung up around the internet phenomenon. Be prepared to feel all tingly, too, as the exhibition lift the world of ASMR out from the screen and into an ‘acoustically tuned physical environment’. We’re not exactly sure what that means but it sounds cool as hell.

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  • Museums
  • South Kensington

From the start, this exhibition makes it clear that menswear is more than just suits. It’s linen shirts with billowing sleeves, it’s spandex binders, it’s jackets embroidered with eggshells and dramatic, corseted gowns. This show explores the European aesthetic traditions and experiments that have defined masculinity, and contested it, from the Renaissance until the present day.

The exhibition is arranged across three rooms, opening with ‘Undressed’. Plasters of classical statues pose on elevated platforms, dominating the display of garments, underwear and photographs. There’s a woven jockstrap from 1947, a transparent Virgil Abloh jacket and Anthony Patrick Manieri’s mesmerising two-minute film of leaping nude bodies, rippling in all of their chubby, hairy elegance. This is probably the closest the exhibition gets to championing body diversity. But then again, fashion itself has a lot to do in that area.

The curation is smart. References to history and contemporary culture are linked effortlessly, for example Albrecht Dürer’s 1534 studies of human proportion are juxtaposed with a deconstructed Action Man doll. The second room, ‘Overdressed’, is a statement of flamboyance, opulence and colour, with incredible embroidered cloaks, intricate Baroque portraits and an Italian restyling of a Chinese dragon court robe. It even has a whole section dedicated to pink, and Harry Styles’s iconic blue velvet Gucci suit.

Where do you, and the hideously uncool clothes that you’re wearing, fit into it all? 

The final section, ‘Redressed’, opens with a heavy focus on British textiles: Fair Isle, tweed, tartan and the Burberry check. There’s a bit on twentieth-century subcultures but, arguably, not enough, considering the influence that streetwear has had on the runways of today. Then, it’s time for the suit: and, hell, there are a lot of them. The most exciting part is the display of how contemporary menswear designers have interpreted the suit as their own: Rick Owens’s cheeky zipped bum flap, Jean Paul Gaultier’s sari-inspired get-up and Haider Ackermann’s glistening sequinned ensemble (as worn by Timothée Chalamet on the red carpet for the ‘Dune’ premiere).

At the very end, you’re confronted with a large scale projection of a Quentin Jones film with a piercing soundtrack. Three final garments are displayed: all gowns, all recently worn by celebrated icons of pop culture. But perhaps what’s just as poignant is the colossal mirror that everything’s reflected in, enveloping you in an image of couture and contorting bodies. Where do you, and the hideously uncool clothes that you’re wearing, fit into it all? 

At a time when male pop stars are wearing dresses on the cover of Vogue and boys are trending on TikTok for wearing skirts, when more and more designers are sharing gender neutral collections and non-binary drag stars are walking fashion weeks, this exhibition a statement of the times. Menswear is as fluid as we want it to be – so much so that the term itself has become eroded, and maybe even irrelevant. 

Eat some banging scran

  • Things to do
  • Chiswick

Presented by Michelin-starred chef and longtime ‘Great British Menu’ judge Tom Kerridge, Pub in the Park is a touring food and music festival that aims to bring a convivial public house atmosphere to the great outdoors with loads of delicious pub grub and equally enticing live performances. 

It calls in at three different London locations across the summer: Wimbledon from 27-29 May, Dulwich from 24-26 June, and Chiswick from 2-4 September.

Top London chefs like Atul Kochhar and Angela Hartnett will be cooking up a storm for the festival alongside a bunch of London foodie favourites including Hoppers, Cue Point and the Princess of Shoreditch. They’re just a few of the 39 restaurants taking part in the nine-stop tour over the summer, with the menu featuring a whopping 150 different dishes altogether, making it the largest travelling food event in the UK this summer. 

And the music side of things looks just as tasty, with the likes of Craig David, Sister Sledge, Soul II Soul Soundsystem, Basement Jaxx and Sophie Ellis-Bextor playing across the London dates of the tour (check out the full line-ups here!)

Watch some theatre, but outdoors!

  • Theatre
  • Shakespeare
  • South Bank

Much like your average British spring, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is a tale of dark clouds as well as sunshine. But Lucy Bailey’s admirably clear production looks on the bright side of Shakespeare’s play, using a post-war Italian setting to drench its romances in light and warmth.

In Joanna Parker’s playful design, the columns of Shakespeare’s Globe are wrapped with ivy, its boards are coated with cheery astroturf, and there's even an elaborate fountain that underscores the action with the gentle babble of water. It’s the perfect arena for the play’s famous ‘gulling’ scenes, where first Benedick (Ralph Davies) and then Beatrice (Lucy Phelps) is tricked into believing the other is in love with them. An eavesdropping Benedick scales the foliage-covered balcony as his feet barely escape the gardener’s snipping shears, while Beatrice ends up tangled in a badminton net, a sprinkler soaking her skirt. Davies and Phelps are both adept physical comedians, with chemistry that's as strong as their pratfalling skills, but the play’s chaos doesn't end with them. The masked ball becomes a woodland romp where the cast wear surreal wicker animal heads, and dinner on the lawn breaks down into a messy food fight.

After all this silliness, the second act’s sickly lurch into tragedy comes as a shock. Katy Stephens makes a compelling gender-swapped Leonata, delivering an agonisingly painful rejection of her daughter Hero (Nadi Kemp-Sayfi), who's publicly shamed for her supposed infidelity. These scenes are always hard for a twenty-first-century audience to stomach, but here they're made harder by the fact that the play's villain Don John (Olivier Huband) is more affable wheeler-dealer than evil schemer: the darkness doesn't quite land.

Still, who needs darkness when you've got an all-female accordion band? This production is beautifully underscored throughout with live music and whistles of birdsong, and it fills Shakespeare's Globe with joyful life, spilling off the stage as Beatrice plays hide and seek through the assembled crowd of groundlings. It's a memorable start to the summer season, full of music and mayhem in equal measure. 

Get tickets to a big London festie

  • Music
  • Music festivals
  • Hyde Park

It's been an exciting fixture in London's musical calendar since 2013, and it's back next year with a line-up of some of the biggest stars on the planet. Taking place across weekends in June and July, Hyde Park will host an upmarket festival vibe complete with food, drink and a posh VIP area. The 2022 headliners are shaping up nicely already, with Elton John, Eagles, Pearl Jam and Duran Duran. However, perhaps the most anticipated act announced is Adele, who'll be belting out ballads to her home town on two dates. 

BST Hyde Park takes place on Fri 24 June – Sun 10 June 2022. Find out more here. 

See some lovely art

  • Art
  • Trafalgar Square

Rumour has it that one of the greatest quotes in history - 'good artists borrow, great artists steal' was first attributed to none other than twentieth century master Pablo Picasso. It's a believable attribution, because Pablo loved a good bit of artistic theft, as evidenced by this show pitting Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres' 'Madame Moitessier' from 1856 against Pablo 'Woman with a Book' from 1932. It's a small, free show, but a brilliant chance to see artistic inspiration (and burglary) at work. 

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  • 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. 

  • Art
  • Aldwych

Art has always been focused on new creations, on innovating and making something out of nothing. But this new exhibition at Somerset House is all about repair. The artists included – like Aya Haider, Celia Pym, Carl Clerkin and Aono Fumiaki – create work out of items left behind by refugees or in places of natural disasters. In the process, they work becomes about recycling, sure, but also about the emotional potential of caring and repairing. 

Hit up the latest city happenings

  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Tower Hill

See the ancient moat surrounding The Tower of London filled with tens of thousands of wild blooms to create a spectacular, summer-long display: ‘Superbloom’.

Visitors will be able to wander through the installation and experience the rare sight of a country meadow in the very heart of the capital. 20 million seeds have been sown for the installation which will flower at different times across the summer season meaning it will morph, transform and change colour across the months, like a very slow firework display with no jump scares.

  • Things to do
  • Events & Festivals

London is a famously green city – nearly half of its many square miles is parks, heaths and other open space. A lot of that open space, though, consists of private squares and gardens, most of which we never get to see, never mind hang out in.

London Square Open Gardens Weekend is here to address that, prising the keys out of the capital’s secretive gatekeepers to fling open more than a hundred secret green spaces.

The event in June will exclusively reveal some of the city’s least-seen spaces: historical, traditional, contemporary and experimental, across all four corners (and the middle bit) of London. They include formal gated garden squares, rooftop terraces with commanding views of the city skyline, community allotments and wildlife havens.

 

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Wimbledon is one of London’s biggest and most exciting sporting events. The Championships are the oldest in the world and usually attract more than 500,000 spectators every year thanks to its old-school British rules and delightfully tense matches. 

If you missed out on the ballot for tickets, there's still a chance to purchase returns, or you can join one of the famously long, winding queues for day tickets. So, don your whites, prepare for rain and get ready to pop some Pimms. 

 

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