10 reasons to love London this August
This month, London is a whirl of summer parties, festivals and time-honoured traditions of afternoon teas and grouse feasts. Here’s our pick of the hotspots:
The Social History of English Afternoon Tea at 116 Pall Mall – 14 August, from 1:30pm
Afternoon Tea Week (from 8 to 14 August) is the perfect excuse to partake in the most delightful of British traditions. This year, 116 Pall Mall is adding a cerebral twist to its offering on the final day of the celebrations by hosting a talk, The Social History of English Afternoon Tea by the writer Gillian Walnes Perry. Perry’s historic odyssey into our love of cucumber sandwiches and cake-slice bites, which dates back to the 1800s, is followed by a sweet and savoury afternoon tea, plus an optional glass of Searcys Cuvée Brut to raise a glass to the occasion. £35 per person and £49 per person with a glass of champagne. 116pallmall.com
This Bright Land at Somerset House – until 29 August, from 12pm to 10.30pm
Step into the courtyard of the Thameside landmark, transformed by Somerset House Studios artists Gareth Pugh and Carson McColl into a colour-themed “wonderland” – the backdrop to open-to-all, day-and-night performances and film screenings, music, dance (including open air Vogue Balls), talks, workshops and attractions – centred around a 35m observation wheel (£5 per person).
On Sundays, expect the buzzy atmosphere of a street party. Entry is free but some events are ticketed, ranging from £5 to £22.50. somersethouse.org.uk
Ibiza Summer Party at Sky Garden – 19 August, from 7pm to 2am
Soak up White Isle vibes at this sky-high gathering, where the Ibiza Live Orchestra provide Balearic beats (curated by ALR Music) and DJs spin dance anthems into the early hours. Sip on a complimentary welcome cocktail to get the party started or book a table (for up to six people) and indulge in two bottles of Moët & Chandon champagne and two sharing boards of cheese and charcuterie as part of the experience. Tickets from £55 for entry and £600 (including entry) for tables of six. skygarden.london
Greenwich+Docklands International Festival – 26 August to 11 September
Head east for 17 days of free theatre, art, dance and circus. Events are scattered throughout the area, from the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich to Royal Arsenal Riverside and the outdoor public spaces of Canary Wharf and the Royal Docks. Free-to-see highlights include Spark (26 to 27 August), artist Daan Roosegaarde’s skyline spectacle of thousands of biodegradable lights, inspired by the natural phenomenon of fireflies, which will glitter over Greenwich; and German artist Stephanie Lüning’s rainbow-hued outdoor installation Island of Foam: Version XVIII (3 to 4 September) at Greenwich Peninsula. festival.org
The Glorious Twelfth dining destinations – from 12 August
12 August marks the start of grouse shooting season – the starting pistol for many fine-dining destinations to showcase game in their offering. For new twists on British grouse, head to Aquavit London, where chef Jonas Karlsson is serving a Nordic-inspired limited-edition version of the bird with a liquorice jus (from £49); while The Cinnamon Club’s Vivek Singh has conjured a spiced-clove smoked grouse breast with chickpea bread, hot-sweet pumpkin and game keema, served with black lentils (£38).
For a French take on the classic, La Poule au Pot will serve grouse with celeriac mash, red cabbage and game sauce (£38.50). Restaurateur trio “The Gladwin Brothers” have planned for celebrations at their Notting Hill outpost The Shed and new Wimbledon site The Black Lamb from 16 August with a “Grouse in the House” roast accompanied by bread sauce and seasonal sides. From 17 August, Boisdale of Belgravia and Canary Wharf will serve the dish in the traditional way with bread sauce, game chips, croutons and gravy (£35).
Notting Hill Carnival – 27 to 29 August
Billed as the “bounceback edition”, one of the world’s biggest free-for-all celebrations of Mas, Soca and Calypso returns to west London in 2022 for the first time since 2019. Download the app for a GPS-tracked map showing all of the floats and their locations on the August bank holiday, as well as maps detailing food vendors, toilets and transport links. nhcarnival.org
Al Fresco Summer Series at Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane – until 25 August
Make the most of the city’s al-fresco drinking and dining waterholes before the inevitable exodus indoors come autumn. The Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane has organised a line-up of treats for summer merrymakers: enjoy live music every Thursday until 25 August at its greenery-wrapped outdoor terrace, where a champagne tasting experience pairs Dom Pérignon (£63 per glass/£348 per bottle for the Vintage 2012) with sweet or savoury canapés (think chicken tender tempura with red-pepper coulis and citrus gel; or pistachio and strawberry cube and Valrhona white chocolate). On Fridays, a glass of Cloudy Bay or Whispering Angel is served with two complimentary oysters – and a bottle with half a dozen oysters. fourseasons.com
Summer at the Serpentine at Hyde Park – August
Head to Hyde Park for a cultural fix. This year’s free, live events line-up includes The Choir of the London Oratory bringing music from the Latin tradition, including Gregorian chants, at the Serpentine Pavilion at 3pm on 13 August. The event, held at Theaster Gates’ Black Chapel, is also an opportunity to experience the artist’s circular sanctuary designed as a place of refuge and contemplation. Other exhibitions include Serpentine North Gallery’s Back to Earth, an artistic reflection on the climate crisis (until 18 September); and Alienarium 5 at Serpentine South Gallery – Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s vision of extra-terrestrial encounters enacted through performative and visual fiction (until 4 September). serpentinegalleries.org
Klimt: The Immersive Experience London at Brick Lane – weekdays, 10am to 8pm; weekends & holidays, 9am to 9pm
From the grit and graffiti of Brick Lane, wander into a reverie of Gustav Klimt’s kaleidoscopic artworks. En-route, discover the Austrian symbolist painter’s explorations of the female form, his explosive use of colour and of gold, silver and platinum leaf, enshrined in the masterpiece The Kiss. The Immersive Experience (which takes 60 to 75 minutes in total) features a virtual reality component, which guides visitors on a ten-minute journey through A Day in the Life of the Artist. From £19.90 for adults and £11.50 for children. klimtexpo.com
King’s Cross Summer Sounds Music Festival at Coal Drops Yard – 10 to 21 August
Coal Drops Yard is the place to be this month for a free music fest of classical, folk, jazz and experimental music. Highlights includes the outdoor show Future Cargo by Frauke Requardt and David Rosenberg, a large scale sci-fi spectacle of dance, where audiences wear headphones to connect audibly with the unfolding action (performed on 10, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20 August, 9pm to 9.50pm); and the Flamenco extravaganza Paco Peña and Friends (10 August, 6.30pm to 8.15pm). kingscross.co.uk