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Unmissable London events this summer

Careful not to scorch your calendar, now – summer in London is looking hot

By Time Out London Things To Do |

C'mon now. We all know there’s nothing better than a hot, sunny summer in London. There’s no need to start panic-booking holidays abroad - all the really good stuff is right here. Jump into the Hampstead ponds or an outdoor swimming pool. Get yourself onto a London rooftop for some drinks in the sun. Or make a beeline for the Walthamstow Wetlands or one of London’s hidden parks if you want to spend the long, hot days away from the crowds. 

Summer in London means feeling the heat of the Brutalist concrete on the South Bank, it means great art exhibitions, lazy days spent in beer gardens and most importantly: it means the soca sounds and mas bands at Notting Hill Carnival.

Whether you’re after the latest new theatre shows, the best gigs, restaurant openings or other great things to do in London, our summer round-up will keep your social life hotter than an August morning on the Bakerloo Line. Here are 33 sizzling summer events in 2019 you won’t want to miss.

RECOMMENDED: Plan a brilliant weekend in London  

Adam Scott
News, Art

The Colour Palace at Dulwich Picture Gallery

If see-sawing weather reports are getting you down, rest assured there’s a guaranteed dose of sunshine in Dulwich thanks to The Colour Palace.  The temporary building is an annual project called Dulwich Pavilion – an initiative inviting emerging architects to create an outdoor space in the gallery’s grounds. This year’s structure is the work of architects Pricegore and artist Yinka Ilori, and it’s inspired by the patterns and colours of Lagos, Nigeria’s fabric markets. It’s a bold, bright and brilliant affair - and the fun continues inside, where you’ll find everything from supper clubs to neon life-drawing. Lucy Lovell

Serpentine Pavilion 2019, Design Render, Interior View, © Junya Ishigami + Associates

Serpentine Pavilion

icon-location-pin Serpentine Gallery, Hyde Park

This summer's Serpentine Pavilion is the work of Junya Ishigami, a Japanese architect whose designs reflect the beauty of the natural world. A large roof made from interlocking slates houses a dark, cave-like space perfect for ducking into when you feel in need of peace and quiet. Deep breath in.... Rosemary Waugh

Andrew Scott, Sea Wall
© Kevin Cummins
Theatre, Comedy

‘Present Laughter’

Noël Coward’s classic comedy is being reimagined at the Old Vic, with Andrew Scott – aka Fleabag’s hot vicar – taking the leading role. Almost a decade after featuring in the grand old theatre’s production of ‘Design for Living’, a now rather more famous Scott anchors this major revival in the shape of self-obsessed Garry Essendine. Matthew Warchus’s production is a modern reflection on fame, desire and loneliness - all framed by the show’s impeccable wit. Lucy Lovell

Photo: Courtesy of Pixar
Film, Animation

‘Toy Story 4’

Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the gang are back for their fourth outing. This time round there’ll be some new toys to fall in love with and old characters making a return. Look out for Keanu Reeves-voiced Canadian stuntman toy Duke Caboom and Tony Hale cast as Forky – a homemade spork-turned-toy that suffers an existential crisis. Join the toys on another whirlwind road trip adventure and catch one of the biggest blockbuster films this summer. Angela Hui. Out on Jun 21. 

Time Out says
© Lateef Okunnu

Circolo Popolare

Sometimes more is more and that’s certainly the case with new opening Circolo Popolare. Brought to you by Big Mama, the same team behind East London’s gloriously OTT Italian trattoria Gloria. The new restaurant will be much like its sister site, a heavily planted Italian paradise bringing a slice of Sicilian sunshine to the heart of London. Food wise: we’re talking metre-long pizzas loaded with San Marzano tomato and creamy burrata from Puglia, Sfoglia Norma (a giant silk handkerchief, pasta alla Norma-style) and show-stopping Sicilian grills like calamari e lemoni and pork skewers al arrabiata. Oh and don’t worry that gigantic insta-famous lemon meringue pie is on this menu too. Angela HuiRathbone Square, Fitzrovia. Opening June 28.

© Cindy Sherman. Image courtesy of National Portrait Gallery.

Cindy Sherman

icon-location-pin National Portrait Gallery, Charing Cross Road

If you don’t know what Cindy Sherman looks like, you soon will after visiting this major respective of her career. The American photographer manipulates her own appearance throughout her work, putting herself in all kinds of set-ups and situations that channel cultural references such as B-movie or film-noir actresses and centrefolds. Selfies these ain’t. Charlie Allenby

Olafur Eliasson 'Your uncertain shadow' (2010) © Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson: ‘In Real Life’

icon-location-pin Tate Modern, Bankside

Remember the giant glowing sun that took over the Tate’s Turbine Hall in 2003? That celestial artwork was created by Olafur Eliasson, and he’s back at the Bankside institution with a brand new exhibition. ‘In Real Life’ promises captivating installations - we’re talking rainbows, reflections and shadows - to engage audiences with environmental issues like climate change. Eliasson has been let loose in the kitchen too, and he’s shaking up the Tate Modern’s Terrace Bar menu with new plates inspired by the organic, vegetarian and locally sourced grub served in his Berlin studio. Lucy Lovell

David Shrigley 'Hello There' (2012) Video still. Image courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery © The artist

Dog Show

icon-location-pin Southwark Park Galleries, Bermondsey

Can never have enough four-legged friends in your life? ‘Dog Show’ is the paw-fect art exhibition for you. It’s curated by canines (with their art-world owners) and features pooch-themed work by the likes of David Shrigley, Martin Creed and Joan Jonas. Basically, it’s artwork featuring dogs, chosen by dogs. How’s that for meta? You’d be barking mad to miss it. Charlie Allenby


Arcade Food Theatre

icon-location-pin St Giles

A massive new food hall is opening its doors in central London this July, but it’s way more exciting than your average street-food-stall set-up. The line-up includes a new branch of ace bakery Pophams, a Mexican-inspired restaurant from the team behind Barrafina and a new concept from Flat Iron focusing on creative dishes using sustainably sourced beef from UK producers. There’s also an outdoor terrace and The Loft: a regularly changing kitchen residency that showcases some of the city’s most exciting up-and-coming restaurateurs. Hungry yet? Charlie Allenby 

Walthamstow Marshes blackberries
Ben Rowe
Things to do, Festivals

London National Park City Week

‘Green’ might not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of London, but look closely and you’ll realise the capital really is flourishing. That’s why we’ve been officially granted ‘National Park City’ status in 2019 - and why, during this whirlwind week of green events, we’ll be celebrating all the outdoor allure the city has to offer. There’ll be open gardens and rooftops, wild swimming and outdoor theatre performances, providing a much-needed breath of fresh air during a long, (hopefully) hot summer. Bobby Palmer

Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag at the Big Belly, Underbelly.
© Richard Davenport
Theatre, Drama


icon-location-pin Wyndham's Theatre, Charing Cross Road

You binged both series and wept into your G&T tinnie when it was revealed there wouldn’t be a third series of ‘Fleabag’. Then, you cried even more when you missed out on tickets to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s last ever reprisal of the monologue that spawned the hit TV show. But there is a glimmer of hope. Although tickets sold out quicker than you could say ‘hot priest’, there will be a handful of tickets released on the day of each performance. Make sure you don’t miss out this time for fox sake. Charlie Allenby 

Time Out says
Film, Animation

‘The Lion King’

After ‘Dumbo’ and ‘Aladdin’ landed with the dull thud of Mufasa falling into a herd of wildebeest, Disney is counting on this big-budget ‘Lion King’ remake to be the four-quadrant film of 2019. They’ve got a good shot, with big names like Donald Glover, Beyonce and Chiwetel Ejiofor filling the title roles - and even if the CGI might be a little nightmarish (cough, photo-realistic Pumbaa, cough), it won’t stop you bursting into nostalgic tears when ‘The Circle of Life’ starts. Bobby Palmer. Out on July 19. 

Attractions, Parks and gardens

Swimming lake at Beckenham Place Park

icon-location-pin Beckenham

Move over Hampstead Heath, there’s a new wild swimming spot in town. Beckenham Place Park, Lewisham’s largest green space, is re-filling its lost Georgian lake and transforming it into an urban oasis where you can (legally) strip down to your cossie and enjoy a cooling dip. Part of a £1.9 million project by the Mayor to make London a National Park City, the brand new open water spot will span 285m by 48m and is 3.5m at its deepest point. Officially opening on July 20, it’ll have a shallow sandy area for paddling, a jetty, a brand new cafe nearby for post-swim snacks and offer kayaking and other water sports. We’re ready to take the plunge! Alexandra Sims. Beckenham Place Park, BR3 5BS. Opens Jul 20.

Issy Croker
Restaurants, Middle Eastern


icon-location-pin Covent Garden

After testing the waters in Brick Lane with a pop-up last year, husband and wife team Mohammad Paknejad and Marwa Alkhalaf are finally ready to unveil their new baby. Together with ex-Palomar chef Jeremy Borrow, they’ll be serving regional Iranian food inspired by the country’s different ethnic groups, from Gilakis and Mazanis in the north to Arabs in the south. The menu goes beyond the kabab. You’ll find dishes like tahdig, joosh pareh (beef dumplings in a chickpea and sour cherry broth) and other stews. In a nutshell, this shiny new restaurant is set to be a corker. Angela Hui. Opening late July. 

Tree, Young Vic, Idris Elba
Theatre, Drama


icon-location-pin Young Vic, Southwark

Idris Elba is the big draw in this production, even if he doesn’t actually star in ‘Tree’. Seamlessly blending music, dance, and drama, the highly anticipated new show was co-created with Kwame Kwei-Armah - award-winning playwright and artistic director at the Young Vic. The pair’s collaborative work promises an epic journey to the heart of South Africa, following Kaelo (played by Alfred Enoch) as he visits his parent’s homeland. Expect a soundtrack inspired by Elba’s 2014 album ‘Mi Mandela’, and for the audience to be placed at the heart of the action. Lucy Lovell

Andrew Cooper
Film, Comedy

‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’

Quentin Tarantino’s fun alt-history of ‘60s Hollywood boasts an ensemble cast which reads like an A-list Hollywood who’s who: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Bruce Lee. And while the latter might only pop up in a fictitious cameo, that’s just symptomatic of a film hopped up on fifty years of Tinseltown nostalgia. That means you can look forward to a smouldering turn from Damian Lewis as Steve McQueen, and Damon Herriman showing up suitably beady-eyed and creepy as cult leader-turned-murderer Charles Manson. Bobby Palmer. Opens August 15. 

Time Out says
Restaurants, American


icon-location-pin Portobello Road

If the name has the propensity to shock you, you’re probably not a regular on the LA dining scene. After all, gourmet breakfast bap join Eggslut has proved nothing short of a cultural phenomenon in California, which is why it’s such a big deal they’re opening their first European branch in London this summer. They specialise in – you guessed it –eggs. So expect oozing yolks, fluffy buns and, if all goes to plan, a pretty sizeable queue. Bobby Palmer. Opening August 7. 

Venue says The first Eggslut in the UK is now OPEN - come try our amazing Bacon, Egg & Cheese aka "BEC-ky"

Summer by the River
Diana Jarvis
Things to do, Event spaces

Massaoke at Summer by the River

icon-location-pin London Bridge City, Tower Bridge

Too embarrassed to give karaoke a go on your own in case you’ll show up all your friends (or burst everyone’s eardrums)? Massaoke might be for you. The mass-participation event sees a live band perform classic karaoke-friendly anthems while big screens project the songs’ lyrics for all of the audience to sing along with. Watch out for the divas trying to harmonise – you know who you are. 


Film4 Summer Screen

Somerset House’s annual open-air film festival returns for another year, and the flicks on offer are as good as ever. From the box office smash hits of ‘Black Panther’ and ‘The Matrix’ to the cult coming-of-age comedy ‘Clueless’, there is something for everyone (yes, even you, Nicolas Cage fan!) Bag yourself a ticket, dig out the picnic blanket and cross your fingers and toes that it doesn’t rain. Charlie Allenby


Notting Hill Carnival

icon-location-pin Notting Hill, Notting Hill

There’s a reason this alfresco bash has been going on for over half a century - London’s biggest street party really is that good. And while Notting Hill Carnival’s one million annual visitors may mean it’s a tad busier than when it first started in 1966, it hasn’t lost any of its original purpose. That is, to celebrate the city’s vibrant West Indian diaspora across three jam-packed days of soca street parties, steel pan music, colourful carnival costumes and mouth-watering Caribbean food. Bobby Palmer

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