With Notting Hill Carnival rolling into town, August bank holiday weekend in London is guaranteed to be a riot of colour. But there are plenty of other delights on offer too…
Lead image: The Monster at Alexandra Palace
The incomparable Notting Hill Carnival kicks off with the UK National Panorama Steelband Competition on Saturday 24 August, taking place at Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park from 6pm-10pm (tickets are £10 for adults and £3 for kids). It’s an early start on Sunday, with J’Ouvert – the ‘opening of the day’ – where revellers converge on the streets to dance and get messy with colourful paints (head for Sainsbury’s on Ladbroke Grove from 6am). Then it’s the children’s parade with family friendly floats, as well as live music and street food in Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park and Powis Square. Traditionally, there are three stages: The Horniman’s Stage, which on Sunday is taken over by Red Bull; the Powis Square Stage, based opposite the Tabernacle; and the Meanwhile Garden Stage, which concentrates on children’s entertainment. Generally, line-ups for the stages are not announced in advance of Carnival weekend, but in 2018 there were performances from Major Lazer and Giggs. The Grand Finale Parade takes place on Bank Holiday Monday, starting at 9am on Great Western Road, heading along Chepstow Road, Westbourne Grove and then Ladbroke Grove. Download the Notting Hill Carnival app here.
2 The Monster, Alexandra Palace
Following two sell out years, The Monster – the world’s biggest inflatable obstacle course – is headed back to Alexandra Palace this August bank holiday weekend with an even bigger line-up of new activities and games. The 300 metre-long bouncy castle has some 40 obstacles, including the 18-metre Mega Slide, the terrifying House of Hell and the new Exterminator. The Monster will also host Europe’s biggest live NERF experience during the special Family Days (27-28 August), where teams of 4-6 people can take part in a battle with the latest NERF blasters in themed zones with interactive challenges, trick shots and special effects, as well as the chance to play with the latest NERF Footballs, Vortex Howlers and Sports Nerfoop. Adults £25, children £20 (aged 7-15). Groups of six or more (adults or children) get a 20% discount. Family Days 27-28 August.
Alexandra Palace Way N22 7AY; themonsterUK.com
3 Victorian Vauxhall at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens
Saturday 24 August
Relive the glory days of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens with a free, Victorian-style family day out featuring circus performers, music hall bands, stilt walkers costumed in scented silk flowers, a vintage carousel and a Victorian inflatable balloon. Tightrope walkers, strong men, Victorian ice creams served from a vintage trike and plenty of free games, including snakes and ladders – taking place across two areas in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens – will keep the whole family entertained on August Bank Holiday weekend.
Vauxhall Gardens SE11; facebook.com/events
4 Pop Up Cinema, various locations
We do love a pop-up cinema, and London never fails to provide come summer. This bank holiday weekend, Rooftop Film Club is screening My Brest Friend’s Wedding at Roof East and Late Night at the Bussey Building in Peckham on 24 August at 8pm, and 10 Things I Hate about You on 25 August at the Bussey Building at 8pm. Pop Up Screens is showing Wall-E at Guildhall in the City of London on 24 August at 8.30pm. The Luna Cinema is showing Mary Poppins Returns at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre on 25 August at 8pm. Backyard Cinema brings its L.A. Nights summer season in Camden to a close on 24 August with screenings of Greece (sing-along) at 12.30pm, Mean Girls at 4.30pm and a The Greatest Showman (sing-along) at 8.30pm.
5 The LDN 195’ Menu by OpenTable and Carousel, Marylebone
OpenTable, the online restaurant reservations provider, and Carousel, Marylebone’s chic dining venue, are hosting a three-day pop-up to champion some of London’s most underrepresented cuisines. With more than 55% of diners recently revealing they would like to see some of the less familiar cuisines receive greater recognition, OpenTable has teamed up with Carousel to bring London’s diners underrepresented cuisines including Romanian, Goan, Slovenian, Polynesian, Armenian and Ukrainian. The pop up will bring them to life in dishes such as Ukrainian Barbecued Khorovats, Goan Fish Curry and Armenian Flatbreads. Thirty guests per evening will be able to make a reservation at Carousel for the sharing-style menu, including six dishes, a welcome cocktail, half a bottle of wine and a digestif for £50pp. Sittings at 7pm.
71 Blandford Street, Marylebone W1U 8AB; carousel-london.com
Saturday 24 August
East London’s Three Mills Island, the picturesque canal-side destination between Bow and Stratford, will host a brand new festival, One Day at the Disco, on 24 August. The event, headlined by 2ManyDJs and Todd Terje playing back to back, will transforming the island into a giant dance floor celebrating some of the best disco and house music of our time, complete with great street food and sunny cocktails. Derrick Carter Does Disco, Inner City, Detroit Swindle, Mister Saturday Night, CC:Disco!, Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy and Chaka Khan’t are also on the line-up.
Three Mills Island E3 3DU; onedayatthedisco.co.uk
7 Wimbledon Park Food Festival
The Wimbledon Park Food Festival is back for a sixth year during August bank holiday weekend, with some 50 specialist stallholders tempting you with their artisan wares. You’ll also find some great chefs in the Festival Kitchen hosting tastings, talks and demos, as well as plenty for the kids to enjoy, including a pop-up petting farm and face painting. There will be plenty of beer, ale, cider, gin and prosecco to sample, and the event ends even later this year – 7pm on Saturday and 8pm on Sunday – with a live DJ keeping the festival atmosphere going. Tickets are £6 for adults, £3 for kids and £15 for families.
Wimbledon Park (near the tennis and beach volleyball courts) SW19 7HX; fantasticbritishfoodfestivals.com
8 The Lost Love Speakeasy, London Bridge
Until Sunday 25 August
We have been waxing lyrical to anyone who’ll listen about this one, and for good reason – it’s brilliant! The final show is on 25 August, but tickets for that night have sold out, so get your hands on tickets for the 24th before they’re all gone! The experience combines hot jazz, dancing, a compelling story, fantastic food courtesy of Temper Restaurants Head Chef Neil Rankin, and really great cocktails. Taking place in a hidden speakeasy near London Bridge, the experience stars Stella and her house band, The Lost Love Rhythm Kings, who will take you back to the Roaring Twenties to rub shoulders with the damned of New York. Tickets from £15.99 to £149.99.
9 Hackney Downs Dog Day at The Star by Hackney Downs
Saturday 24 August
The Star by Hackney Downs is dedicating a whole day to our beloved canine companions this bank holiday weekend! BBC presenter Anna Webb will be hosting the event, sharing her top dog tips, and commentating on the famous Dog Parade. There will also be dog treats, a doggy pool, prizes from Pets Pyjamas, a raffle with all money raised going to the All Dogs Matter charity, and El Bandarra will be giving away free drinks to dog owners (first come, first served). Click here to include your dog in the parade (categories include Golden Oldie, Best Newcomer and Best Fancy Dress). Alternatively, you can register on the day between 11am-11.45am at the Star by Hackney Downs. 12pm-3pm.
35 Queensdown Road, Hackney E5 8NN; starbyhackneydowns.co.uk
10 Certain Blacks Ensemble Festival, Royal Victoria Docks
Saturday 24 August
Certain Blacks presents Ensemble Festival – a festival of jazz, rock, live arts and circus championing the creative voice of our diverse society – this bank holiday weekend. The event will feature performances from legendary vocalist Cleveland Watkiss MBE and vibraphone master Orphy Robinson OBE (founding members of the Jazz Warriors), as well as renowned jazz trumpeter Byron Wallen (nominated for three MOBO awards). Other performers on the day include Saint Leonard, hot off the back of their appearance at Latitude Festival, as well as circus performers Out of Order, who will delight the crowds with aerial work and contemporary dance, roller skating performer Symoné and artist Madaleine Trigg, who will create a piece of live art. 12pm-8pm.
Crystal Green, Royal Victoria Docks; royaldocks.london
11 Phoenix Arts Club Cabaret Award Winners 2019 at Underbelly Festival, South Bank
Saturday 24 August
The UK’s hottest up and coming talent, as seen on the Phoenix Arts Club’s Cabaret Awards, take to Underbelly’s for one night only in celebration of all things weird and wonderful. They’ll be joined by some of the world’s most respected cabaret artistes for a night of singing sensations, burlesque, variety, comedy and even a hint of Weimar. Acts include Quick Change Magicians Soul Illusion, a modern quick-change act ready to challenge your perception of magic; Vintage Parisian Powerhouse Belle de Beauvoir, a classic burlesque siren with a contemporary twist; and Notes from Underground, a genre-defying musical collaboration between violinist Yoon-ji Kim and percussionist Julian Humphries fusing contemporary classical with borderline jazz and new world over hip hop breaks and Afro-Brazilian rhythms. Tickets from £17. 7.15pm.
Belvedere Road Coach Park (near Jubilee Gardens), South Bank SE1 8XX; underbellyfestival.com
12 Fulham Beach Club’s Ibiza White Party, Fulham
Sunday 25 August
It’ll be a total white out at Fulham Beach Club’s Ibiza White Party this bank holiday weekend. London’s only Thameside beach club will be hosting guest DJs from Ibiza for this wear-only-white party, alongside glitter artists, saxophonists, masseurs, street food including pizza and chicken wings and, of course, cocktails! Get your hands on Rumtails like Black & Gold (Bacardi Negra with Blood Orange Long Tail mixer), sharing cocktails including the Fulham Beach Bowl, and Pornstar Martini Slushies. 12pm-12am.
Wandsworth Bridge Road SW6 2TY; neverlandlondon.com
13 Swing Dance Sunday at Cahoots, Soho
Sunday 25 August
Cahoots, a 1940s-themed speakeasy in Kingly Court, hosts live swing entertainment, complete with polka dots and old classics, on Sunday evenings. From 5pm-7pm, there are dance lessons hosted by the incredible Swing Dance UK. From 7pm, the scoundrels will be opening the doors to to everyone with a DJ set from Auntie Maureen, swing dancers, and the chance to have your own victory rolls done, then, from 8.30pm, the Hotsie Totsies from across the pond will perform classic songs. £20 for dance lessons and after party, table bookings £25pp minimum spend. From 7pm onwards its £10 entry on the door. 5pm-2am
13 Kingly Street, Carnaby W1B 5PG; cahoots-london.com
14 Kansas Smitty’s House Band at Fentimans Secret Spritz Garden, Farringdon
Sunday 25 August
In the middle of bustling Farringdon, hidden behind ivy covered walls and unknown to passers-by, lies the Fentimans Secret Spritz Garden. This bank holiday weekend, the hideaway, which is filled with fragrant herbs, aromatic plants and summer spritzes, will play host to the Kansas Smitty’s House Band from 7pm. For those looking to get a little more hands on, ethical fragrance brand Lovorika will be running a natural perfumery class on Saturday 24 August where you will learn to create a bespoke natural face spritz.
15 Smithfield Street Party: A Beastly Adventure, Smithfield Market
Sunday 25 August
Culture Mile presents Smithfield Street Party: A Beastly Adventure this August bank holiday. Animals top the bill at this free street party, where you can learn how to dance like a bee, watch extraordinary aerialists fly through the sky and learn how to care for the animals that live alongside us. Highlights include the Grand Avenue, the Soaring Smithfield Canopy where an exciting line up of aerialists swing from the rafters creating a dazzling spectacle in the Victorian iron structures of the Central markets; the Rotunda Garden, a magical Beastly Den where you can create mythical creatures and learn to dance like a bee; the Long Lane, a Watering Hole full of refreshments, world foods and local delicacies; and the Wild Rotunda Plains, where you can go wild, build a den or run through the urban world as never seen before on London’s Biggest Play Street.
Smithfield Market, off Charterhouse Street EC1A 9PQ; culturemile.london
16 Ben Pearce Presents Discotechnique with Pillowtalk Dj Set at Night Tales, Hackney
Friday 23 August
The terrace at Night Tales is free to enter, if you’re just looking for cocktails and a catch up, but if you want to go large on bank holiday Friday, then this late night exploration of disco, soul, funk and slow jams with platinum-selling deep house producer Ben Pearce is for you. Discotechnique is the latest venture for Ben and friends to take things down a disco route, with inclusive music and positive energy all night. From 6pm. Also, on Sunday 25 August, Chicago royalty Roy Davis Jr is taking his signature soul-infused style to Night Tales. Tickets £11. From 3pm. Tickets for both 18+ events are £11 and photo ID is required.
14 Bohemia Place, Mare Street, Hackney E8 1DU; nighttales.co.uk
17 Dragged On Board London Bus Tour, central London
Saturday 24 August
Feisty, fun and fabulous, Dragged On Board is like no other bus tour in London. Learn all about London’s diverse LGBTQ+ history while taking a wild ride through the capital on board the Pride Bus complete with a live drag show. You’re invited to bring your own booze and sing along to pop divas like Celine Dion and Britney Spears on this witty and wonderful tour. The bonkers, boozy Dragged On Board bus tour lasts 90 minutes and is for over 18s only. Departures at 3.30pm and 6pm from Charles II Street, next to Her Majesty’s Theatre, and 8pm from Westminster Embankment opposite the London Eye (bus stop K). Tickets £25.
18 Festibowl, Finsbury Square
Festibowl – the summer pop-up that has given the quintessentially British sport of lawn bowls an inner city spin – returns to it home turf of Finsbury Square for the bank holiday weekend. Get involved in the silliest, most theatrical game of bowls you’ve ever played while indulging in street food and drinks. People of all ages can play as the rules are simple and the bowls are easy enough to roll down the green, but Festibowl is so much more than a game when the hilarious MC, Mr Benjamin Owls Esq, gets on the mic, narrating each group’s Great British Bowl Off. You’ll also find cocktails to keep the energy up and street food by the likes of Mama’s Jerk, Popdogs, The Bowler Meatballs and Baggio Burger.
Finsbury Square Bowling Green, Finsbury Square EC2A 1RR; festibowl.co.uk
19 Anxiety Workshop with Max Strom, triyoga Camden
Some six million people suffer with anxiety in the UK, so spending your bank holiday learning how to cope with it would be time well spent. TEDx regular and world renowned anxiety expert Max Strom is hosting a weekend workshop at triyoga in Camden. His workshop will show you how to use movement and breathing patterns to cope with stress and anxiety. Take the entire weekend workshop for £170 (20% off the full price when you book for you and a friend), or pick the workshops that work best for you at £45 each: Crisis is the axis for transformation (23 August, 7pm-9pm); Some doors open only from the inside (24 August, 10.30am-12.30pm); Communication, connection & boundaries (24 August, 2pm-4pm); and Strength, grace & healing (25 August, 10.30am-12.30pm).
57 Jamestown Road, Camden NW1 7DB; triyoga.co.uk/workshop
20 Victorian Carnival at Mr Fogg’s House of Botanicals, Fitzrovia
Saturday 24 August
Mr Fogg’s House of Botanicals in Fitzrovia is transforming into a summery Victorian Carnival this bank holiday weekend. Enjoy eclectic tropical-style beats and a set by DJ Auntie Maureen as she spins summertime tunes on Saturday from 6.01pm. Sip on special cocktails such as the rum-based Carnival Highball and choose from a range of sharing platters to feast on. Early birds might even get their hands on complimentary doughnuts… A Victorian Carnival food and drink menu will be available from Friday 23 August. 12.01pm-10.01pm.
48 Newman Street, Fitzrovia W1T 1QQ; mr-foggs.com
21 Bank Holiday Weekend at Flat Iron Square & Omeara
Head for Flat Iron Square and Omeara this Bank Holiday for a healthy mix of street food, Pimm’s and late-night parties. Keep it casual with a trip to the Pimm’s Garden, complete with stripy deckchairs, a photo-ready flower wall and free garden games including giant Jenga and mini-tennis (free entry). On Saturday night at Omeara it’s Little Gay Brother’s Bank Holiday Special, taking over two rooms and a roof terrace with outrageous performances, high-energy dance shows and the best international queer music talent (10pm-5am, tickets £25.30). On Sunday 25 August, the Buena Vista Cuban Carnival takes over Omeara for an authentic Cuban carnival presented by Sambroso Sambroso where you can learn Rumba or Cuban Salsa followed by a Buena Vista tribute band and DJs (7pm-4am, tickets £10).
Flat Iron Square, 64 Union Street SE1 1SG; flatironsquare.co.uk
6 O’Meara Street SE1 1TE; omearalondon.com
22 Teens Go Free to Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds: The Immersive Experience
19 August-1 September
Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds: The Immersive Experience is a spectacular hi-tech re-imagining of this cult classic. Cutting-edge ‘layered reality’ company dotdotdot has worked with prolific composer Jeff Wayne to re-imagine his Musical Work into a multi-sensory experience of immersive theatre, virtual reality, augmented reality holograms and other impressive tech. You’ll be thrust you right into the centre of the of HG Wells’ Victorian England and the Martian invasion of 1898, where you’ll be able to smell the grass and feel the ground shake as the first cylinder lands. Even better – teens aged 12-15 go free between 19 August and 1 September when accompanied by a paying adult (max two free teens per full paying adult). Running until 13 November with tickets from £49.50.
56 Leadenhall Street EC3A 2BJ; dotdot.london/TWOTW
23 Summer Garden Party on the Coaling Jetty, Battersea Power Station
Until 1 September
Battersea Power Station is celebrating the opening of its historical Coaling Jetty with a Summer Garden Party on the river. Inspired by Battersea’s agricultural past, the garden is a wildflower haven perfect for just chilling. Alternatively, you can get stuck into the month-long line-up of live music, food and drink, wellness, workshops and family fun. There’s a rotating programme of pop up food and drink from Vagabond, Battersea Brewery, Cinnamon Kitchen and more every Thurs & Fri 4pm-8pm, Sat 12pm-8pm and Sun 12pm-6pm. You’ll also find DJ sets every Fri from 5pm-8pm, live acoustic sounds from Busk in London every Sat & Sun from 11am-5pm, Jazz on The Jetty every Thurs from 6pm-8pm and Sharky & George Garden Games & Crafts every Sat from 11am until 24 August. Wellness warriors can enjoy Pilates PT Method & Dynamic Pilates every Sat at 9am & 10am, OyoGo Yoga every Sun at 9am & 10am, and free massages from Urban every Sat & Sun from 12pm-5pm until 25 August.
24 Bank Holiday Weekend at Model Market, Lewisham
Model Market in Lewisham is celebrating the bank holiday weekend with a three-day party featuring free rum punches, the return of the Wheel of Fortune and a six-strong selection of local DJs throwing down tunes until late. The first 100 people through the door each day will bag themselves a free rum punch, the Wheel of Fortune on the Can Hatch bar will be offering up prizes ranging from craft beer to a £50 bar tab, and there’ll be killer specials from steak masters Growlers and taco newcomers Dos Mas. Open from 5pm-1am on Friday, 2pm-1am on Saturday and 2pm-10pm on Sunday. Entry is £3 after 5pm and free all day Sunday. Street Feast fans in east London should head for Dinerama’s all-day party on Sunday, running from 1pm-11pm with Phonica Records DJs playing from start to finish (free entry).
196 Lewisham High Street SE13 6LS; streetfeast.com
25 The Mansion Party – Carnival Edition at Belair House, Dulwich
Friday 23 August
Trekking to Notting Hill for Carnival is a bit of a mission, so why not opt for something a little closer to home, like The Mansion Party – Carnival Edition at Belair House? Don your finest gear and enjoy a three-course Caribbean dinner, served at 7.30pm, before the party really begins at 9pm. The beautiful period mansion will host live music in four rooms across two floors, with RnB, Dancehall, Soca, Afrobeats and Garage in Room 1 to Rare Groove & Slow Jams in Room 2, 80s Soul & 90s RnB in Room 3 and Lovers Rock & Reggae vocals in Room 4. Doors open at 7pm. Dinner and dancing £45; dancing only (from 9pm) £15. To book see eventbrite.co.uk or call 020 123 1262 / 07944 023 493.
Belair House, 5 Gallery Road SE21 7AB; belairhouse.co.uk
26 Green Rooms Market at Peckham Springs
Sunday 25 August
Green Rooms Market returns to Peckham Springs this August bank holiday weekend for a day of plant shopping, workshops, live music, food and drinks. Discover houseplants, garden plants, pots, terrariums, cacti, macramé, and artworks from London’s finest botanical businesses at this family and dog friendly event. You can also join in interactive workshops and pick up some plant care tips. Free entry. 11am-5pm.
22a Blenheim Grove, Peckham SE15 4QN. greenroomsmarket.com
27 Searcys at The Gherkin’s Sky High Botanical Glasshouse, the City
Until 1 September
Searcys at The Gherkin has transformed the entire Iris bar on level 40 into a luscious botanical glasshouse in partnership with Perrier-Jouët Champagne this summer. Enjoy champagne pairings by Perrier-Jouët, a botanical gin cocktail menu, a seasonal menu celebrating the best of British produce, exclusive private dining experiences and live entertainment – all while enjoying panoramic views and glorious sunsets from one of London’s most iconic skyscrapers. Perrier-Jouët vintages and Champagne Masterclass tasting flights (from £40pp) are available all summer, Iris Bar mixologists have designed a menu of botanical gin-based cocktails, and Searcys’ Shaun Rowlands is showcasing the flavour and versatility of British seasonal produce with a summer menu featuring the likes of Colchester rock oysters and dressed Portland crab.
30 St Mary Axe EC3A 8EP; searcysatthegherkin.co.uk