It’s summer in London. Or as summery as it gets in this part of the world. But even if the sun isn’t shining, the city is in bloom, the days are long, and there’s a sense of optimism in the air. This is one of my favorite times of year to be in London, not least because there’s so much going on. If you’re in London this summer, here’s a guide to the best of the capital.
Summer in London
There’s no shortage of things to do in London in summer, from parks and gardens to events and festivals. The city’s streets and terraces fill with people all season, and everyone’s mood is lifted by the lighter evenings and warmer temperatures. Whether you’re in the mood for al fesco dining or open-air theater, there’s something for you in the Big Smoke right now.
The London Summer Season
Speaking of the season, I would be remiss if I didn’t start my post with a mention of the “Season”. The summer season isn’t just a period of time in London, it’s also a series of annual events that define the capital’s social calendar.
From the Chelsea Flower Show to Wimbledon, there’s a lot going on each year. Royal Ascot, the Henley Royal Regatta, and Polo in the Park are just a few of the events where one can see and be seen, and they all come with lots of hats and fascinators.
London Parks and Gardens
But those events don’t take place every day, and there’s a lot to be enjoyed in London outside of the social season. London’s parks and gardens are some of my favorite places to spend sunny days, and there’s no shortage of good ones to choose from.
I’ve written about the city’s best parks and loveliest summer gardens, and I’ve also done a post on the secret gardens in London. Whichever you choose, many have deck chairs for lounging and roses for smelling.
For something a bit more adventurous, there’s swimming in the ponds in Hampstead Heath. Just make sure to go on a hot day and try not to think about the fact that you can’t see the bottom.
London Summer Events and Festivals
But London’s parks aren’t just for soaking up the sun this summer. There are also a lot of events going on. Culture fans can take in the annual opera in Holland Park and open-air theater in Regent’s Park, and there’s an abundance of other events and festivals that take place in the parks during the summer in London.
Taste of London is a big outdoor food festival in Regent’s Park and British Summer Time offers a series of concerts in Hyde Park. Add to that music festivals throughout the city, and there’s something for every day, taste, and personality.
There’s a lot going on indoors, too. The concerts for the Proms at Royal Albert Hall and the summer opening of Buckingham Palace are just two of the highlights, and there are always exhibitions at London’s museums and galleries.
Back outside, one of my favorite things to do in London is walk. Summer is a great time of year for it, especially when the sky is clear. I’ve written 5 London walks, a self-guided literary walk, and detailed self-guided walks of Notting Hill, Kensington, and Hampstead that are all great for the season.
London’s Best Outdoor Spaces
London’s bars and pubs have a lot going on in the summer, too. I’ve covered the best riverside pubs in London and the loveliest pubs with beer gardens, but there are also some great rooftop bars in London.
The Brunel Museum’s roof garden cocktail bar in Rotherhithe, the Bussey Building’s rooftop bar and outdoor cinema in Peckham, and the Queen Elizabeth Hall’s Roof Garden bar on the South Bank are all winners. In fact, the entire South Bank comes alive in the summer months.
London’s markets are also great places to be in the summer, not least when the weather is dry and warm. When it’s crowded at Borough Market, I like heading to Maltby Street Market and some of the other smaller markets in London, but it’s impossible to go wrong no matter which one I choose.
And choice is one of the best things about summer in London. There’s so much on that it’s hard to decide what to do (and that’s to say nothing of all the great summer day trips from London). Which is why after 10 summers in London I’m still looking forward to trying new things this season.
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