26 Jun 2015

Big summer events in London

Summer in the city

A round up of the big events and activities going on in London summer 2015, many of them free and all of them worth attending.

There’s always a lot going on in London whatever the time of year, but summer is always special as people relax in the sunshine and enjoy longer days; the sun sets after 9pm.

Community festivals


The annual festival and parade celebrating the UK’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities, takes place 27 June.  It is free to attend and the theme this year is Pride Heroes, so don your best superhero costume and celebrate those who’ve made a difference to the LGBT+ community. The parade starts at 1pm, running from Baker Street to Whitehall, via Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square.

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Notting Hill Carnival

The Notting Hill Carnival is a free,  annual event that takes over the streets of Notting Hill on 31 August, Bank Holiday Monday. All day long Calypso bands tour the area on floats followed by dancers in carnival dress and any remaining space on the streets is taken up by reggae sound systems and stalls selling Caribbean food. The carnival is led by members of the British West Indian community, and attracts around one million people every year. It is one of the largest street festivals in the world and has become a significant event in British culture.

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Wimbledon Tennis Championship , the UK’s biggest sporting event of the summer and the world’s oldest tennis tournament begins 29 June until 12 July 29 June to 12 July.  Novak Djokovic will be defending his title in the men’s singles and while Petra Kvitova defends her title.

The IH London social programme has a number of ground tickets, which allow access to unreserved seating and standing on Courts 3-19,  for 02 July. Contact the IH Social Programme for more details and to book a ticket.

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Premier league football

The new English Premier League season kicks off on Saturday 8 August as Chelsea prepare to defend their championship triumph. With five Premiership teams based in London and host of lower division and women’s clubs in the capital, there is always plenty of football around. Ask at the International House Social Programme desk for availability of tickets to some of top matches this season.

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Ride London

Born out of the success of the Team GB cycle team at the London 2012 Olympic Games, this annual two-day festival of cycling sees  roads close to traffic to allow safe cycling through some of the capital’s most famous and historic streets. A cycle hire scheme and network of cycle super highways make it open to everyone, whether you have your own bike or not. It all takes place on Saturday 01 and Sunday 02 August.

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Theatre, performance and music

More London

Enjoy music, dance and theatre right by the river at the More London Free Festival running 03 June  to 24 September . The season begins with a mix of live music and fringe theatre performance.

Follow the river a few kilometres west and you’ll find the Southbank transformed by several large-scale indoor and outdoor installations, interactive artworks and unique pop-ups to spend time in with your friends.

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Theatre under the stars

Tucked away in the middle of one of London’s loveliest open spaces, the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre delivers magical dramatic performances every summer. This year, you can catch a new production of the Hollywood musical Seven Brides For Seven Brothers there between 16 July to 29 August.

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Calling Festival

This music festival on Clapham Common takes place on Saturday 04 July and is headlined this year by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Ryan Adams And The Shining, The Hives, Echo & The Bunnymen and much hyped young grunge rockers Wolf Alice are also around for the fun.

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Head to Finsbury Park for this year’s Wireless festival, with some of the biggest names in dance music, r&b and hip hop performing  between  03-05 July, including Drake, Nicki Minaj, David Guetta, Labrinth and Jessie J.

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South West Four Weekender

London's outdoor dance event South West Four Weekender returns to Clapham Common, on the Bank Holiday Weekend of Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th August 2015 for its 12th year. Headline acts include Faithless, Fatboy Slim, Eric Prydz, Skillex, Basement Jaxx, Carl Cox and Loco Dice.

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Shoes: Pleasure And Pain - The V&A summer show

The V&A’s summer blockbuster exhibition is all about shoes – and we aren’t talking ballet flats, cosy boots or, erm, Crocs. Pleasure And Pain focuses on the transformative power of extreme footwear, exploring the agony and ecstasy that a shoe might inspire. Over 200 pairs of shoes past and present have been gathered from all around the world, from ancient Egyptian sandals decorated in pure gold leaf to hi-tech shoes created using a 3D printer.

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Barbara Hepworth

Barbara Hepworth’s distinctive work is now on display at Tate Britain’s summer show, reassessing the reputation of this sculptor of famously holey forms.

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Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon

Audrey Hepburn: Portraits Of An Icon is the National Portrait Gallery’s big summer show, charting the Hollywood icon’s picture-perfect career, from West End chorus girl to leading lady.

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History and culture

Hyper Japan

Hyper Japan embraces both authentic, traditional elements of Japanese culture and emerging trends, offering everything from food to fashion plus live music and cosplay. There’s sushi, sake and street food to sample and exponents of anime and manga to check out. 10 July – 12 July.

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Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House

This annual festival of cinema takes place in the magnificent neoclassical outdoor square of Somerset House on the banks of the Thames between 06-19 August.

As the sun sets, enjoy DJs playing music that complement the filmsbeing shown each night. This year’s programme includes Withnail & The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

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Buckingham Palace Summer Opening

Take a tour around Queen Elizabeth II’s official home when Buckingham Palace opens its doors to visitors for the summer. You can visit the magnificent State Rooms, have a stroll around the gardens or admire the art in The Picture Gallery. If you don’t want to pay the fairly large admission fee , wait outside the gates and watch the famous Changing The Guard ceremony for free, at 11.30am daily. Open from 25 July to 27 September.

A visit to the State Rooms costs £18.80 for students – or pretend to be a prince or princess for the day and treat yourself to an exclusive guided tour for £75!

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Regent Street Garden Party

London’s classy shopping street is closed to traffic every Sunday throughout July for the Regent Street Garden Party.

Take a leisurely stroll down the sweeping curve of one of London’s most elegant streets enjoying pop up entertainment, live music and some of the best shopping the city has to offer, including the Apple Store, Liberty’s and world famous toy shop, Hamley’s.

Each weekend will be themed and it’s a rare opportunity to be able to look at the beautiful buildings above the shops without fear of being run over!

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Something different…

Beach party

No one comes to London for sun and sand but that hasn’t put off the people behind the Roundhouse in Camden, who will be creating their very own beach on the terrace of the famous music venue from m Friday July 17 to Sunday August 23.

There will be deckchairs, beach huts, ping pong tables, two pop up restaurant and a bar, as well as piles of soft sand to dip your toes into. Even better – it’s completely free!

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