Summer in London is made even more special by seasonal activities and venues. We certainly love our festivals! And of course it boasts a huge amount of green space, where almost 40 percent of the capital is made up of parks and open spaces, making it one of the greenest cities in the world.
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is a regular fixture in our summer entertainment programme, running from mid May until mid September. It has a varied selection of performances, usually with a couple of Shakespeare plays, plus well-known musicals. A highlight this season is "Jesus Christ Superstar" (to 23 Sep).
You can also watch theatre under the stars at Shakespeare’s Globe – a careful reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre, which staged William Shakespeare’s plays. If you want to embrace the outdoors, choose standing tickets, which offer the closest view of the stage and cost just £5 (buy tickets on the day).
From July, there are also live performances in Battersea Arts Centre’s red-brick open-air courtyard. There are free shows several evenings a week in The Scoop, an alfresco amphitheatre on the River Thames near Tower Bridge, with cinema screenings, plays and bands. For something more high brow, the annual Opera Holland Park festival runs throughout June and July. The semi-outdoor staging ensures opera-goers can have a picnic on the lawns in the verdant park before the performance.
Our Royal Parks are famous—everything from summer boating on the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park to strolling around the immaculate laid-out flower beds in Regent's Park. In Holland Park, visit the beautiful Kyoto Garden—the hidden Japanese garden is filled with stone lanterns, waterfalls and roaming peacocks. Further west, Richmond Park is famous for its many deer.
Love it or hate it, 20 Fenchurch Street—better known as the Walkie-Talkie building—has the capital’s highest public garden space. Sky Garden includes lush vegetation, an open-air terrace and 360-degree views of the city. It’s free to visit, but you have to book in advance.
Wining and Dining
The Barbican Centre is well known for theatre, music and art, but it is also home to the second-biggest conservatory in London. Its 23,000-square-foot tropical sanctuary contains exotic fish and more than 1,500 plants, while on Sundays it transforms into a unique setting for afternoon tea.
The Summerhouse, a canalside venue near Little Venice, serves catch of the day alongside New England clam chowder, seared scallops and rock oysters. Grab a table by the water on the covered terrace, which is heated so you can stay out late. You could also try its nearby sister restaurant, The Waterway, which has a large wooden deck and garden with parasols, blankets and heaters (yes, London evenings can be chilly!).
London’s bar scene has plenty of alfresco options. You can’t go wrong with Rumpus Rooms, a slick rooftop bar that reopened in April following a renovation. On the 12th floor of Mondrian London at Sea Containers hotel, it overlooks the River Thames. The Aviary, a rooftop bar and restaurant at the new Montcalm Hotel is a fantastic spot for a sundowner or lunch, with views over the busy area around Liverpool Street.