Summertime… and the living is easy – especially if you’re enjoying a trip to London and making the most of all the bright, bold, colourful, vibrant and visceral delights the UK capital offers up throughout (but especially at this time of the) year. Speaking of which, if you’ve made your base somewhere in the Kensington area (like, say, San Domenico hotel London) where should you definitely make for in the vicinity during your visit…?
(Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore SW7 2AP and various venues/ 13th July-18th September)
An annual cornucopia of summer concerts that span the classical (and, to a lesser extent, jazz, stage musical and soundtrack) landscape, the BBC’s Proms has been going strong for as long as anyone can remember in the UK; so much so its iconic ‘Last Night’, which features an explosion of patriotic themes and Union Jack-swirling pride, is a national institution. However, the season of performances that precede it shouldn’t at all be dismissed as just a build-up to a big climax, being themselves brilliant, often televised showcases for leading musicians, soloists and singers drawn from the very best throughout the world.
And they’re concerts that are much loved and much attended too, especially as they’re priced at affordable rates to ensure the performance programme is as unrestrictive and inclusive as possible. Highlights for this summer include an evening celebrating Leonard Bernstein’s centenary with music from his seminal musical West Side Story (11th August), a night commemorating the centenary of Debussy’s death, along side pieces by Ravel (15th August) and Late Night Proms that are set to feature ‘world music’ giants like Buena Vista Social Club and Youssou N’dour.
(National Theatre Square, Upper Ground SE1 9PX / 13th July-12th August)
A month-long weekend-based festival that takes place right in front of the legendary performance venue that’s the National Theatre along the South Bank tourist-trap promenade, it showcases open-air theatre, live music (including top DJs), family workshops, great street food stalls and club nights; so an eclectic blend of things going on, for sure. Perfect for families during the day and most evenings, it sees a different arts company occupying its stage space each weekend of its duration, thereby offering the congregated crowds and curious passers-by the opportunity to discover new performers as they check out what’s going on, slump in a deck chair and soak up the summer’s rays or join in a fun workshop. This year the line-up includes events curated by East London drag hub The Glory (13th-15th July), regional theatre powerhouse HOME Manchester (20th-22nd July), classical music innovators Nonclassical (3rd-5th August) and the National Theatre itself (10th-12th August).
Fulham Beach Club
(Neverland London, 364 Wandsworth Bridge Road SW6 2TY)
Fancy experiencing some beach holiday vibes right in the heart of London this summer? Then head to Neverland London for their Fulham Beach Club. Tucked away right on the north bank of the River Thames (so ideal for not-at-all-far-away hotels near Kings Road Chelsea London), this multifaceted venue with a ‘real’ beach is ideal if you fancy leaving behind all the hustle-bustle of the metropolis to the chill-out grooves of an on-site DJ, sip away on a cocktail or two, feast on a bottomless brunch or twist yourself into a yoga position or two on the ‘beach’. Other activities include cocktail masterclasses and, yes, sand sculpting. Now that’s what you call a winning formula for a Big Smoke summer.