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Notting Hill Carnival
Photograph: David Tett

10 brilliant ways to celebrate the August bank holiday in London

There’s plenty to do over the August bank holiday weekend...

Alex Sims
Written by
Alex Sims
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The British Summer always feels like it’s passed by in flash when it gets to this time of year. So, better make the most of the last – and longest – weekend in August (Saturday August 2to Monday August 26 2024). And we think the year definitely saves the best bank holiday till last, mainly thanks to the fact that it means Notting Hill Carnival is back. August in London wouldn’t be the same without Europe’s biggest street party. So make sure you look at our guides to the soundsystems, timings and fringe events, so you’re fully prepped for the party. 

The long weekend also brings some of London’s finest music festivals. All Points East and Boiler Room will be popping up again for the weekend with stella line-ups featuring some huge acts. Or, venture south for Greenwich + Docklands International Festival, south London’s annual celebration of outdoor theatre, which will fill the streets with spectacular installations and community shows. 

This is the last gasp of the summer, so it’s time to make plans. You’ve gained this extra day off, after all, make it count. 

RECOMMENDED: Our full guide to the bank holiday in London.

Things to do on August bank holiday weekend in London

  • Music

Summer in London wouldn't be summer in London without Notting Hill Carnival. Taking place on August bank holiday weekend each year since 1966, it’s grown into Europe’s largest street festival, attracting more than two and half million people annually. With parades, masquerade, floats, dancing, steel bands and soundsystems, as well as the outstanding Caribbean food stalls, Carnival is a feast for the senses. 

  • Music
  • Music festivals
  • Victoria Park

Over the last six years, All Points East has garnered a reputation for building some of the most exciting and interesting festival line-ups in the UK. Its headliners are often indie or dance-focused big-hitters, while its undercards are packed with cult heroes and rising stars you can say you saw first. If your music preferences lie in the Venn diagram of indie and electronic then this is the festival for you. Over this year’s bank holiday weekend look out for line-ups including indie sleaze party-starters LCD Soundsystem and a double-hitter of the Ben Gibbard-fronted The Postal Service and Death Cab For Cutie. August 24 will see the return of All Points East’s collaboration with Field Day, topped by French electro maestros Justice.

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  • Theatre
  • Theatre & Performance

You can always rely on the annual free Greenwich + Docklands International Festival to have plenty of spectacle on its line-up. This year’s 17-day programme will focus on both activism and climate change with the big 2024 showstopper likely to be Australian physical theatre company Legs on the Wall’s ‘THAW’ (Aug 24-25), an epic eight hour aerial performance staged on a two-and-a-half-tonne block of ice suspended high in the air by a crane. Need something to entertain the kids? Look out for ‘Pram People’ (Aug 25-26), a show for little ones (and their parents) by Australian company which involves an interactive performance around a weird and wonderful series of prams.

 

  • Things to do
  • Aldwych

You’ve watched ‘Paris is Burning’, now see the moves for real. Head down to Somerset House to see its grand Georgian Courtyard filled with dressed-to-kill shapeshifters at this huge open-air vogueing competition. Watch international ballroom talent walk the runway and compete for trophies in this alfresco extravaganza of dance, fashion and music. Stand back – the vogue battles are about to begin.  

 

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  • Music
  • Music festivals
  • London

Music streaming platform Boiler Room are returning with their biggest party yet. The 2024 festival will feature full-stage takeovers from the likes of Club Heartbroken and Teletech, while the line-up is stacked with names that’ll make you go ooh. Look out for Giggs, Skream & Benga, Mr Scruff, Optimo, Marlon Hoffstadt on the line-up and there’s still a secret stage announcement to come, too. 

  • Music
  • Music festivals
  • Bermondsey

The great and good of the city’s queer nightlife scene are once again coming together for this massive day-to-night festival celebrating LGBTQ+ clubbing culture in London and beyond. Now in Southwark Park for its biggest and best edition on the Sunday of the August Bank Holiday, acts incluing Adonis, Big Dyke Energy, Little Gay Brother, Love Child, MARICAS, NYC Downlow, Pxssy Palace, Queer House Party, Riposte and unfold are just a handful of the 25+ clubnights and collectives involved this time around. 

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  • Things to do
  • Concerts
  • Battersea

Over the August bank holiday, Battersea Park will become a stage for the very best classical, West End, and jazz, with a sideshow of fantastic food stands. The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra will take to the stage for Prom in the Park on Saturday, and Sunday will be filled with tunes from Chicago, Rent, Six, The Greatest Showman and Grease performed by Jenna Lee James (‘We Will Rock You’) and Ricardo Afonso (‘The Voice UK’ series 2). Finally, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra will provide the tunes on Bank Holiday Monday. 

  • Things to do
  • Leicester Square

Looking for a way to fill up those extra hours over the August Bank Holiday weekend? Use all that sweet time off to embark on one of the Prince Charles Cinema’s famous film marathons. This time around it’s Peter Jackson’s epic film franchise of JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth adventures. Not only does this marathon feature all three of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films played back-to-back, it begins with all three ‘Hobbit’ films – that’s a whopping 1260 minutes of otherwordly adventure. The screenings starts at 8pm on Sunday and finishes at 5:15pm on MondayThink you can hack it? 

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  • Things to do
  • 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 alternative for the London-based. Returning for its eighteenth edition, it’s smaller than Edinburgh by a long shot, but still boasts hundreds of events all over Camden, taking in everything from the expected stand-up sets and experimental theatre to kids’ shows, dance, and even magic. Runs tend to be for a night or two rather than the entire month, and prices are bargain basement by London standards, usually less than a tenner. 

  • Things to do
  • Food and drink events
  • Hampton

If a trip to Hampton Court has been on your to-do list, why not time your visit to coincide with this foodie extravaganza? Over the August Bank Holiday weekend entrance tickets to Henry VIII’s former gaff give you access to more than 150 speciality food stalls, so you can feast like like a Tudor king in the palace's gorgeous green spaces. There are also pop-up bars, kids’ activities, and an array of local musicians taking to the bandstand to soundtrack your culinary adventure. 

Make the most of the three-day weekend

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