From Cocktails in the City to London Design Festival and Wimbledon BookFest to Comedy On The Terrace at Ally Pally, there are plenty of brilliant ways to enjoy a socially distanced late summer in London
Lead image: Cocktails in the City
1 Cocktails in the City, Bloomsbury
Cocktails in the City returns to the capital for a two-day alfresco cocktail garden party this September. The event will bring together 30 of the city’s most innovative bars for an unforgettable weekend of eclectic cocktails, in the sunny open-air surroundings of Bedford Square Gardens in Bloomsbury. A wide range of cocktails will be on offer, from a delicious Italicus cocktail sorbet courtesy of The Coral Room to trendsetting new drinks, sustainable serves and the latest in low and no-alcohol drinks and champagne cocktails. Experiences include live music from Nightjar and The Piano Works supported by Hennessy, spirited tasting sessions hosted by The Mixing Class and cocktail making sessions hosted by TT Liquor. Tickets cost £15 including a welcome cocktail, live music, mainstage demonstrations. Additional cocktails will be priced at £7.50 and all profits will go to The Drinks Trust to support hospitality workers affected by lockdown.
Bedford Square, Bloomsbury WC1B 3ES; cocktailsinthecity.com
2 London Design Festival, various locations
The London Design Festival returns to venues across the city with a mixture of online and IRL events. As the various Design Districts fathom what they can and can’t achieve, the programme will be a little last-minute this year, but one thing we are looking forward to is the 2020 Landmark Project – The Hothouse by London-based architecture practice Studio Weave. The large-scale installation, located at International Quarter London (IQL) in Stratford, will provide a controlled habitat for cultivating plants that would not ordinarily grow in the UK’s climate. Garden Designer Tom Massey has developed a concept for the planting scheme of exotic plants from all over the world, creating an edible jungle of guava, gourd, chia seed, avocado, pomegranate, quinoa, mango, lemon, sugarcane and pineapple. Alarmingly, scientists predict that if the current rate of climate change continues to accelerate, all of these crops could potentially be grown outside in the UK by 2050.
3 Wimbledon BookFest, Wimbledon Common
Wimbledon BookFest, London’s leading community-based literary festival, will hold The Last Days of Summer LIVE Weekend Festival on 12-14 September. Taking place in a bespoke open marquee on Wimbledon Common, the event will feature former Olympic Table Tennis player and author of Black Box Thinking and Rebel Ideas, Matthew Syed, comedian, writer and mental health advocate Ruby Wax, journalist and podcaster Pandora Sykes, broadcaster Jeremy Vine, comedian Andy Hamilton, and bestselling novelists David Nicholls and Jessie Burton. New voices include NHS palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke and Black Lives Matter activist Patrick Hutchinson. You can also test your general knowledge in Encyclopedia Britannica’s fun family quiz for all ages.
4 Rooftop Comedy Experience at Roof East, Stratford & Bussey Rooftop Bar, Peckham
Award-winning production outfit Plosive has been bringing comedy to the rooftop in Peckham for the last few weekends, and is now headed for Stratford. On 13, 15, 16 & 17 September, Roof East will host four nights of socially-distanced stand-up featuring Netflix star Simon Amstell (13th & 17th), Off Menu podcast co-host Ed Gamble (15th), comedian and author Sara Pascoe (17th), Mock the Week regular Milton Jones (16th), Viceland star Jamali Maddix, Feel Good creator Mae Martin (15th), Taskmaster champion Lou Sanders (16th) and more. Tickets from £12. The fun also continues over in Peckham, with Alan Partridge and Taskmaster star Tim Key alongside Live at the Apollo’s Ivo Graham on Sunday 13th at 8pm to bring guests the best comedy alongside panoramic views, pizza and classic cocktails, beer, wine and soft drinks (tickets from £30 for two, advance bookings only).
Roof East, Floors 7 & 8, Stratford Multi-Storey Car Park E15 1XE; roofeast.com
133 Rye Lane, Peckham SE15 4ST; busseyrooftopbar.com
5 Comedy On The Terrace: Nina Conti & friends, Alexandra Palace
The last in the series of Comedy On The Terrace at one of London’s most iconic venues – Alexandra Palace – takes places this weekend. On Sunday, ventriloquist extraordinaire Nina Conti, whose laugh-out-loud routines have led to sell-out international tours and propelled her onto our TVs, will perform a quick-fire set of brand new material, alongside the best of her current repertoire, as will fellow comics Sean McLoughlin, Maisie Adam and Fin Taylor (MC). To make a real night of it, there will also be street food and a large bar serving everything from indie craft beers and wine to cocktails, all of which can be ordered and paid for via an app. 6pm-10pm. Advanced booking is required (tables are available for 2-6 people). Tickets are £15pp.
Alexandra Palace Way N22 7AY; alexandrapalace.com
Until 24 October
Alongside London’s many drive-in cinemas, there’s the West End Musical Drive-In, a socially distanced musical theatre party from the producers of West End Musical Brunch. Taking place at The Drive In at Troubadour Meridian Water, the entirely contact-free concert experience delivers you live performances from the biggest West End superstars. The performances, featuring songs from a host of different musicals, will be projected from the stage onto a massive screen with sound provided straight to your car radio. Tickets from £65 (based on one car with two attendees). Running every Saturday until 24 October. This one sells out fast and keeps adding new dates, so keep an eye on the website!
Hawley Road, Enfield N18 3QU; westendmusicaldrivein.co.uk
7 Slices of Time at NOW Gallery, Greenwich Peninsula
Until 27 September
As part of its on-going Design Commission, NOW Gallery selected Emmanuelle Moureaux – who has been seducing audiences with her colourful works from Paris to Tokyo – to present a large-scale installation in the UK for the first time. Inspired by the gallery’s location on the Greenwich Peninsula, near to Prime Meridian, Moureaux has composed of layers of numbers in 100 shades of colours and white to express the flow of time. Each layer of numbers reflects the now, the past and the future, and the exhibition will be a round representation of a moment, a slice of time – the earth floating in the gallery space. Originally due to run until 17 April but halted in its tracks by the coronavirus lockdown, the installation’s colourful exploration of time has never been more appropriate.
The Gateway Pavilions, Peninsula Square SE10 0SQ; nowgallery.co.uk
8 Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Until 27 September
A late starter this year thanks to coronavirus, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre fired up from 14 August with an alfresco production of Jesus Christ Superstar, the 70′s rock opera from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. For the first time ever at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, the live performance will also be relayed ‘live’ to up to 5,000 additional ticket holders via a giant screen on the lawn (all tickets will be £20 and unreserved). Live performance tickets range from £25-£65. You can also enjoy MOREoutdoor comedy on Monday nights with Russell Brand on 14 Sept and Kerry Godliman, Judi Love and Russell Kane on 21 Sept.
Inner Circle, Regent’s Park NW1 4NU; openairtheatre.com
9 Ian Cumberland: Presence in Absence at JD Malat Gallery, Mayfair
7 September-5 October
Presence in Absence is a new a solo exhibition by Irish artist Ian Cumberland at JD Malat Gallery in Mayfair. Best known for his hyperrealist portraits of isolated subjects in detailed interiors, Cumberland explores themes of mass media culture, surveillance, the notion of the human ‘self’ and how we are manipulated to believe in lifestyles and material goods. Presence in Absence consists of installations that utilise portraits as part of a multi-part tableau, establishing a dialogue between objects. Cumberland’s works involve an assemblage of theatrical objects, adding abnormal touches and unsettling atmospheres within mundane interiors, giving rise to an acute degree of realism. The subjects are caught in moments of escape from their psychological containment, similar to one experienced by people during the pandemic. Open Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm.
30 Davies Street, Mayfair W1K 4NB; jdmalat.com
The inaugural London Mural Festival launches this more with more than 150 global artists heading to London to paint some 40 large scale walls, alongside a plethora of smaller activations – keep an eye on Instagram for the latest projects as they come to life. As well as using London as a vast canvas to celebrate creative communities across the world, there will be a 100-artist hoarding jam taking place at International Quarter London (IQL) in Stratford, closing the festival on 3 & 4 October. The festival will showcase art from local, national and international talent, including Camille Walala, Gary Stranger, Lucy McLauchlan, Mad C, Marija Tiurina, Otto Schade, Suiko and Zabou. Wembley Park will unveil its LMF commission as part of its new site-wide public art trail, which launches this autumn, and do head to Aberfeldy Street in Poplar to check out what has become one of the most colourful streets in London.
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11 Totally Thames, various locations
Totally Thames returns this September, with a slightly adjusted, Covid-secure programme of river-related activities, heritage events and public art installations taking place throughout the month. This weekend’s highlights include Brunel’s London, a boat trip under three Brunel Bridges to the launch ramps of his monster ship on the Isle of Dogs, plus a guided tour through the Thames Tunnel, taking place daily in Sept (Mon-Fri meet at 10.20am at Embankment Tube Station, Sat-Sun meet at 11.10am, tickets £14-£16); A Mudlark’s Feast at Woods’ Quay (Victoria Embankment), an immersive talk and sensory experience of delicious tastes and evocative aromas from the past (Sun 13 Sept, 4pm-6pm, £17.50); and Mayflower & the Ships of Rotherhithe, a gentle walk through a Lost Village to the Mayflower statue (meet at Rotherhithe Station, every Fri & Sat at 6.15pm and Sun at 10.45am from 4-27 Sept, £10-£15).
12 Openaire Float-In Cinema, Paddington Basin
From 2 September
It’s move over drive-in, hello float-in, when a new joint venture between Openaire, Merchant Square and GoBoat comes to town in September. A fleet of 16 eco-boats will provide the seating for up to 128 people at this innovative new alfresco cinema experience on Regent’s Canal. First, you can captain your self-drive vessel around Little Venice, before mooring at Merchant Square to settle in and see the film – just don’t rock the boat. A giant 6-metre by 3-metre hi-res LED video screen will beam blockbuster hits such as Titanic and A Star Is Born across the water, while high quality audio will be provided via sanitised wireless headphones. This weekend you can see Life Of Pi (Fri, 7.15pm), Lion King (Sat, 3.45pm), Knives Out (Sat, 7.15pm), Mamma Mia (Sat, 3.45pm) and The Greatest Showman Sing-A-Long (Sun, 7.15pm). Tickets are £200-£250 for boats accommodating six to eight people, while deck chairs are £15 each. Running Weds-Sun throughout the month.
13 Kara-soaky at Bunga Bunga, Battersea
From 5 September
Bunga Bunga is making a splashing return to its original Battersea home with the launch of London’s liveliest new night on the tiles, ‘Kara-soaky’. Bunga Bunga has reincarnated its karaoke offering to tick the Covid-safety boxes, taking the power shower to the next level with three shower cubicles, each with a spotlight and shower head fitted with a microphone and disposable cover. Plus, the venue has been transformed into an Instagrammable Italian bathroom, bedecked with bathroom props, including loofahs, rubber ducks and even mini bathtub drinking vessels. The tables will be separated by see-through shower curtains and big screens will be spaced throughout the venue to display each kara-soaky performance. The Kara-soaky experience will be accompanied by a two or three-course Italian feasting menu featuring a Bunga Bunga signature metre-long pizza. Available every Friday and Saturday from £27pp (£17pp with EOTHO).
37 Battersea Bridge Road SW11 3BA; bungabunga.com
Until 12 September
Greenwich+Docklands International Festival (GDIF), the festival of outdoor theatre, comes to a close this weekend after a successful socially distanced run. The programme, running across the Royal Borough of Greenwich and east London, features site-responsive theatre, dance and street arts. This weekend’s highlights include 846 Live, an arresting outdoor performance created in response to the murder of George Floyd, featuring a live DJ and sound design (12 September, North Woolwich); Fire Garden at Thames Barrier Park, an atmospheric immersive experience where trees glow and flowers blossom into life with flames (11-12 Sept, 8-10pm); and On Your Doorstep events in Plumstead (various locations, 11&12 Sept, 7.30pm-8.30pm and Well Hall Pleasaunce in Eltham (12 Sept, 2pm-5pm).
15 Summer Showtime on The Coaling Jetty, Battersea
Until 20 September
Summer Showtime at The Coaling Jetty’s is a series of open-air theatre performances and cinema screenings from local companies Archlight Cinema and The Turbine Theatre. The historic Grade II* listed Coaling Jetty has incredible views of the river, making it a great spot for a late-summer evening al fresco. This weekend the cinema is screening Grand Budapest Hotel (Fri, 8pm), Paddington 2 (Sat, 4.30pm) and Life of Brian (Sat, 8pm), while the theatre is offering up Vivenne De Vil with One Look (Fri, 5pm), Black Sails (Sat, 2pm) and The Femmes: Vintage Vocal Harmony (Sun, 2pm). You can also enjoy special pre-theatre menus, picnic boxes and takeaways from local retailers including Megan’s, Vagabond Wines, Fiume and Battersea Brewery. Ticket prices vary.
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