Summer in London brings an altogether cheerier mood to the city, over a stretch of months spent whiling away sunny days at the park and drinking with friends on balmy evenings. The (hopefully) warmer weather sees puffer jackets swapped for bucket hats, hot chocolate for cold cans, and nights under the duvet for afternoons on picnic blankets.
For students, it also means a well-earned break from months of studying. You’ll probably have some reading to do, as well as a list of preparatory tasks to complete ahead of the new academic year, but it’s important that you find the time to relax and enjoy yourself.
What to do in London this Summer?
Outdoor cinemas are becoming increasingly popular in London, with big screens popping up in parks and rooftops all over the city. The thrill of an al fresco film-watching experience is proving to be an exciting attraction for residents and tourists alike; it’s now possible to find outdoor cinema showings for every genre and style imaginable – some of which are also hosted at some very unique locations. Floating cinema, anyone?
It’s recommended that you book in advance for most sites, as you can also check whether food, drink, and extra blankets are supplied. And if the thought of sitting uncomfortably on a picnic blanket for two hours doesn’t appeal, there are several places that offer comfy deckchairs and sofas, too.
Our outdoor cinema top picks: Rooftop Film Club, Adventure Cinema, Barbican
Love Pub + Grub
After a sell-out event in 2021, Love Pub + Grub is once again returning to its Wapping location for a summer of food, drink, and fun. Think of it as a garden party with a bigger guest list, an opportunity to get together with friends old and new for an afternoon of eating and drinking. There’s a range of street food and extensive drinks menus, as well as DJs, games, and photobooths galore. Organisers have even considered the unpredictable UK weather, with seating and entertainment on offer both inside and out, including on a VIP rooftop terrace.
Tickets start from £10 and there are discounted group packages available too, but book quickly as dates are selling out fast.
British day out
In order to get to know your new home a little better, there are a few things that should definitely be on your London bucket list. Luckily, many of these also constitute a great way to spend a summer’s day out.
A trip to the British Museum is not only free but highly educational, with rooms full of historical artefacts and information.
When you’re hungry from a morning of learning, treat yourself to afternoon tea at one of London’s many tearooms. Feast on finger sandwiches, pots of tea, and scones with lashings of jam and cream. It doesn’t get much more British than that!
Finally, end the day with an evening ride on the London Eye. The world-renowned landmark offers magnificent views across the city, which become even more magical bathed in the warm glow of dusk.
Midsummer Jazz in the Park
This is a lovely way to spend an afternoon, whether you’re a seasoned jazz fan or simply a lover of outdoor musical entertainment. On Sunday 26th June, head over to Greenwich Park in south-east London (not far from the UWS London campus) and you will be greeted by the vivid harmonies of the South London Jazz Orchestra. Take snacks and a picnic blanket for an extra special experience.
Tickets are just £5 when booked in advance and under 16s go free, so it’s a great place to take your family if they come to visit you this summer.
Enjoy a Rooftop Bar
Londoners are big lovers of a rooftop bar. Winter or summer you’ll find these open-air hotspots packed full of happy revellers enjoying a cocktail or two; with a world-famous cityscape to see, how could you not? It’s not the most budget-friendly way to spend an evening, but will certainly make for an extravagant setting to celebrate a special occasion (such as the end of term!). Our favourite rooftop bars for the summer: Big Chill King’s Cross, Bussey Rooftop Bar, and Queen of Hoxton.
Attend the Pride Parade
Although always a memorable occasion, this year’s parade is set to be an extra special one as it marks 50 years since the very first UK Pride. It’s just one day in a long history – and future – of celebrating love and diversity, as well as in the continued fight for justice and freedom, but it’s a momentous event for all involved. It’s set to attract well over 1 million people (the 2019 parade welcomed over 1.5 million marchers), starting in Hyde Park and making its way through central London before settling in Whitehall Place. It’s due to start at midday on 2nd July, so be sure to stake out a good spot that morning.
Sky Garden Yoga
Arguably the most scenic place for yoga in the entire city, it’s well worth attending at least one-morning session at the Sky Garden. Against the backdrop of tropical vegetation and a magnificent city vista, you can stretch out all your worries with an hour of Vinyasa Flow – a yoga style suitable for all abilities. Afterwards, emerging relaxed and lightened, take a walk around the paradisal Sky Garden and finish with a well-earned coffee and pastry at the bar.
London is famed as a city for its huge choice of green spaces in which to escape from the bustling urban jungle. The park can be somewhere you go alone with just a book and your thoughts to unwind, or it can be the perfect meeting place for friends, anecdotes, and the entirety of a supermarket deli section. Excluding this potential expense, and that of a Mr Whippy ice cream, meandering around a park is a completely free activity and therefore perfect for a student summer. Head to Hyde or Green Park for some guaranteed social excitement right in the centre, or head further out to explore the likes of Kyoto Garden in Holland Park or the historic dinosaurs of Crystal Palace Park.
South Facing Festival
If you fancy extending your time in South London, there are a number of festivals this year either returning to the London music scene or taking the stage for the very first time. One of these returners is South Facing Festival, held in the Crystal Palace Bowl between July 29 and August 14. This year’s performers include Jungle, Becky Hill, and Bombay Bicycle Club – all suppliers of excellent summer anthems. Again, these are likely to be sell-out events, so book your tickets early.
Relax at a Lido
Once home to 169 of these outdoor, open-air swimming pools, London’s lido numbers have dramatically dwindled over the past few decades. Fortunately, there are still a few dotted around the greater city, where you can enjoy the perfect hot day cooling off in the water. Some even offer additional amenities, such as exercise classes, sun loungers, and trendy lunch spots. Brockwell Park is probably the most popular lido, largely thanks to its Olympic-length pool and dedicated hydrotherapy zone. Tooting Bec is another attractive choice, as the largest freshwater pool in England.
Open air theatre
Fingers crossed for a summer of glorious weather, as here is yet another refreshing outdoor activity. Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is an award-winning site for all things thespian; Shakespeare, comedy, and musicals included. This year, until September 24, you can catch productions of Legally Blonde, 101 Dalmations and Antigone – something for everyone!
Huge variety of art installations, pop-up exhibitions, and cultural showcases. This summer’s proud to play host to the exhibition In the Black Fantastic, a beautiful curation of painting, photography and sculpture from artists both well-established and emerging. Described as a ‘zone of creative and cultural liberation’, the powerful social commentary and creativity behind this exhibition is sure to be very well received.
There’s no shortage of comedy clubs in London, with performances popping up all the time from comic legends and rising stars alike. For selfish reasons, it’s one of the best ways to spend a night in the city (who doesn’t want to spend their evening in fits of laughter?), while also supporting local talent and community hubs.
For free performances every day of the week, try Angel Comedy shows at the Camden Head. It’s a cosy, inclusive atmosphere led by comedians old and new, and boasts some impressive veteran names in its performance history books.
No longer a sport reserved for the retired, golf has been miniaturised and injected with an infusion of chaos and fun. All across London, you can find crazy goal spots built-in exciting designs and in some incredibly unique locations. Swingers, for example, is a course set up in a former WWII bunker under the Gherkin, while Puttshack Back offers a tech-themed arena that automatically tracks your performance. The brightly coloured, sci-fi-style course is also home to exceptional food and drink service.
Have a great summer in London!
There’s so much to choose from when it comes to filling your summer with London events and activities, you’ll never be lost for something to do. Whether you’re spending the summer navigating the streets solo or with friends or family, the city offers something for every weather and mood. Every season in London is special, but in the warmer months, it really comes alive!