30+ Summery Things To Do In London This Month: August 2021

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30+ Summery Things To Do In London This Month: August 2021
The fun of the fair has relocated to Earls Court. Photo: London Wonderground

We're thrilled to see London coming back to life again. If you're ready to get back out and explore the capital, read on for our pick of events happening in August 2021. Bear in mind that restrictions may still be in place at some venues, and there may be booking requirements or capacity limits. Check directly with the venue or organiser for the most up to date information.

ESCAPE LONDON: Looking to get out of the capital for a day? Take a look at our guide to day trips from London. Whether you're after seaside hotspots, blissful countryside, sprawling castles, quirky museums, a new town to explore, or just somewhere different to take a walk (or swim), we've got more than 150 day trip ideas mapped.

OUTDOOR SWIMMING: Cool off in one of London's many outdoor swimming pools and lidos. Whether you're looking for a refreshing early morning dip, or somewhere to laze away an afternoon, there are lidos all over the capital — and beyond.

Cool off in London's outdoor pools and lidos

THE GRUFFALO: Treat the kids to a performance of Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler's much-loved book, The Gruffalo, live on stage at Alexandra Palace. Join Mouse, Fox, Owl and Snake in the deep dark wood, with plenty of songs thrown in to make it enjoyable for anyone age 3+. 30 July-29 August

BBC PROMS: Flags at the ready, BBC Proms is going ahead at venues including the Royal Albert Hall and Cadogan Hall this year. With genres stretching from music by Mozart to Broadway show tunes, and performances from The BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, there's bound to be something to get your trumpet tootling. In most cases, bargain price Promming tickets for the events go on sale at 9am on the day, ideal for last minute plans. Can't make it, or stuck at home isolating? Many of the performances are shown on TV. 30 July-11 September

Kids' Summer Splash at Royal Victoria Dock

KIDS' SUMMER SPLASH: A lido has been set up in the Royal Victoria Dock, along with sandpits, to give the whole place a proper beach vibe. It's for these Kids' Summer Splash sessions, which are free but require booking. Food and drink options are available. 31 July-22 August

DODGE: Somerset House has gone retro for the summer, with the installation of a dodgems track in the centre of its magnificent courtyard. Other highlights of the Dodge season include bold, colourful installations from artists including Yinka Ilori (responsible for the 2019 Colour Palace at Dulwich Picture Gallery), plus a food pop-up from Jimmy Garcia. No outdoor film screenings at Somerset House this year, but this'll do nicely instead. Until 22 August

See Proud Little Pyramid in Granary Square

PROUD LITTLE PYRAMID: If you find yourself in King's Cross, head to Granary Square to have a seat at the Proud Little Pyramid. It's a colourful artwork by Adam Nathaniel Furman, designed to bring camp, colour and creativity to the area, and made using recycled pieces of the Christmas tree that was on display in the area last winter. Until 31 August

SOUTH FACING FESTIVAL: A month long open air concert series runs this month at the newly reopened Crystal Palace Bowl, with an eclectic line up taking in psychedelic jazz from The Comet is Coming, south London MC Flohio, and the English National Opera. Our ones to watch? Greentea Peng's neo-soul sets on 21 and 22 August, and Afrobeat eight piece Kokoroko's horn and drums jams on 15 August. Throughout August

BALTHAZAR'S LIVE MUSIC: Cherchez vous des vibes? Covent Garden's lavishly French brasserie Balthazar is throwing late night music evenings every Thursday to Saturday in August. Inspired by Parisian jazz bars, reserve a table from 8pm for moules frites, martinis, and live music — French electronica, jazz drums, percussive disco —  you name it, they're dancing through the aisles playing it on a saxophone. Throughout August

Enjoy free live music in Paddington

ROOFTOP FILM CLUB: It wouldn't be summer in London without classic films being screened under the stars. Rooftop Film Club's 2021 season takes place at two venues, the Bussey Building in Peckham and Roof East in Stratford, with classics such as Grease, Fight Club and Thelma & Louise on the programme, along with newer releases such as Cruella, Jungle Cruise and In The Heights. Ideal if you're hungry for some Hollywood magic bur aren't ready to return to the confined space of your local multiplex. Until 5 September

FREE LIVE MUSIC: Head down to Paddington every Thursday lunchtime this summer to enjoy free open-air live music performances by the canal. Paddington Central and Merchant Square host artists including folk singer Lucy May Walker, London busker John Clapper, and Cuban group Son Guarachando. Bag yourself a free spot in a deckchair and tuck into your lunch as the performances happen in front of you. Until 9 September

You might be lucky enough to bag last minute tickets to Buckingham Palace Gardens. Photo: Buckingham Palace

BUCKINGHAM PALACE GARDENS: Instead of opening the State Rooms to the public, Buckingham Palace is doing things differently this summer, and allowing the public access to its sprawling gardens and grounds instead. Follow a walking route past Her Majesty's herbaceous borders and around the lake, before enjoying a picnic on the lawn. Although advance tickets have sold out, Buckingham Palace recommends keeping an eye on the website for last minute availability. Until 19 September

UNDERBELLY FESTIVAL: It's Underbelly, but not as you know it. The performing arts festival, which usually takes up residence next to the London Eye, has migrated to Cavendish Square near Oxford Street for this year. Expect the usual mix of live drag, comedy, cabaret and family shows, along with outdoor bars and street food. Our top picks from the line-up include circus and physical comedy show Hotel Paradiso, ghostly drag show Séayoncé: Hell Bent, and a live recording of the Nobody Panic podcast. Until 26 September

LONDON WONDERGROUND: Usually a neighbour to Underbelly, London Wonderground too has been ousted from South Bank this year, pitching up at a new Earls Court location instead. Expect an outdoor beach, fairground rides, food and drink stalls and bars, plus a programme of live shows. Comedian Stephen K Amos is among the headliners, and anything by Morgan & West is usually a safe bet if you've got kids to entertain. Until 26 September

Watch films in the shadow of Westminster Abbey with Luna Cinema. Photo: Luna Cinema

LUNA CINEMA: Combine cinema with sightseeing by catching one of Luna Cinema's screenings at impressive outdoor venues including Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace, Dulwich Park and Chiswick House. As the sun sets on London's landmarks, kick back and watch the likes of The Greatest Showman, Rocketman, Dirty Dancing and Notting Hill on the big screen. Until 3 October

THE ART OF BANKSY: We still don't know who Banksy is, but that's not stopping this (unauthorised) exhibition of works by the mysterious street artist. The Art of Banksy consists of works on loan from private collectors, dating between 1997 and 2008, including prints, canvasses and sculptures. And who knows, if the artist themselves decides to pay a surreptitious visit, you could be ogling Banksys next to Banksy without even knowing it. Until 21 November

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser at the V&A

ALICE IN WONDERLAND: After a delay, the V&A's Alice in Wonderland exhibition is now in full swing, taking visitors on a trip down the rabbit hole. See objects that inspired Charles Dodgson (who adopted the pen name Lewis Carroll), take part in a trippy virtual reality experience, and see other cultural works which have been inspired by the stories of Alice. Read our full 5* review of the exhibition. Until 31 December

FANTASTIC BEASTS: Harry Potter fans of all ages can learn about Fantastic Beasts — both mythical and real — at this 5* exhibition. The Natural History Museum has teamed up with the people behind the worlds of Harry Potter and Newt Scamander for a show looking at the science behind the animals. Find out where the myth of fire-breathing dragons originated, and get up close to props from the films. Until January 2022

Take the kids along to Monkey Business at Horniman Museum. Photo: Tabish Khan

SUMMER EXHIBITIONS: In the mood for some culture? Take a look at our pick of the other exhibitions on in London this summer. They include Monkey Business at Horniman Museum (great for families), Tudors to Windsors at National Maritime Museum, and Sneakers Unboxed at Design Museum. Plus, Bags: Inside Out is still ongoing at the V&A, as is Nero at the British Museum.

CAMDEN FRINGE: 2021's a good year to skip Edinburgh and go see fringe festivals closer to home. Camden Fringe is one of London's biggest, featuring a slew of sketch, stand-up comedy, musicals and plays, across north London venues. 2-29 August

51st State Festival returns for the first time since 2019

51ST STATE: There will be plenty of sniggering ravers as they ride the Piccadilly line to Cockfosters for the sixth incarnation of music festival 51st State. Expect masses of house music with a dash of garage, a hint of soul and a dollop of disco across seven stages. Trent Park (Cockfosters), 3 August

DRUMMOND STREET PARTY: The Drummond Streatery Summer Street Party promises music from BBC Asian Network presenter AJD, on site Henna artists, and Bollywood dancers from Bollywood Co. There's also a taster menu, with local restaurants offering their star dish for only £5 . Just turn up on Drummond Street, Euston, from 6.30pm-9.30pm. 5 August

The Classic Car Boot Sale roars into King's Cross

CLASSIC CAR BOOT SALE: One of the most photogenic events in London each year, the Classic Car Boot Sale brings vintage vehicles and classic clobber to King's Cross. Shop vintage clothes, homewares, records and more from the back of some seriously eye-catching cars. Music comes courtesy of a vinyl-only DJ on top of a Routemaster bus, and even the street food is served up from some seriously impressive sets of wheels. 7-8 August

STREATLIFE:  Delicious food with stunning views is what we're promised at Alexandra Palace, when StrEATlife returns. The food and craft beer festival pitches up for two weekends, with a range of food stalls, craft beer producers and cocktail connoisseurs serving up the goods in the grounds. Tuck in as you ogle the views over London, with live bands and DJ sets providing the soundtrack. Best of all, entry is free. 7-8 and 21-22 August

Food and booze with views: StrEATlife at Alexandra Palace

AFTERNOON TEA WEEK: Whether you're cream first or jam first, tuck into the good stuff for Afternoon Tea Week. Restaurants all over London are likely to have special menus to celebrate the occasion, or you could sample some of our favourites, including afternoon teas with international flavours, themed afternoon teas, or afternoon teas with excellent views of the capital. 9-15 August

CUBITT SESSIONS MUSIC FESTIVAL: Free, open-air music performances return to King's Cross in the form of The Cubitt Sessions. More than 15 events take place over the course of the festival, ranging from Afro-Latin percussion & brass duet Ladies of the Midnight Blue, to jazz pianist Kate Williams, and interactive family show The Weather Machine. 11-22 August

The beer is back at Tobacco Dock. Photo: London Craft Beer Festival

LONDON CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL: Over 100 breweries are on the line-up for London Craft Beer Festival, a three-day brewing celebration at Tobacco Dock. Focus may be on the drinks, but the music line-up is pretty decent too, with the likes of Craig Charles and Django Django playing DJ sets. 13-14 August

THAMESMEAD FESTIVAL: An explosion of live comedy, music, storytelling and dance comes the banks of Southmere Lake for the Thamesmead Festival. There are installations from local artists, and a 24-metre long artwork celebrating the words of Thamesmead residents, by Bob and Roberta Smith. Street food includes dumplings and jerk chicken. 14 August

Thamesmead Festival

HOT SAUCE FESTIVAL: Think you can handle the heat? Head to Peckham for the Hot Sauce Festival, a two-day celebration of over 40 hot sauce brands. Sample a range of flavours and heat levels, along with street food and craft beers. Live DJs provide the soundtrack. 21-22 August

COMEDY ALL-DAYER: A top-notch group of stand-ups perform previews and works in progress throughout the day at swish venue 21Soho. There's Taskmaster's Phil Wang, Edinburgh winner Bridget Christie, Fern Brady, previewing new show Autistic Bikini Queen — and plenty more. 28 August

YAM CARNIVAL: Looking for some summertime revelry? Yam Carnival, a brand new music festival coming to Clapham Common this August, should do the trick. The celebration of Black culture has big names playing across its three stages, including Davido, Kehlani, Femi Kuti, and Honey Dijon. 28 August

The Hot Sauce Festival returns to Peckham

NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL 2021: "But it's not happening this year", we hear you cry, and you're right — Notting Hill Carnival organisers have ruled it to risky to hold the event on west London's streets this year. But, as with 2020, we are promised safer 'alternative events' to look forward to. Keep an eye on the Notting Hill Carnival website for details closer to the time. 29-30 August

BANK HOLIDAY: The final weekend of August is a bank holiday — the last one before Christmas (sob). Make the most of it with our guide to things to do in London on bank holiday weekend. 30 August

Last Updated 11 August 2021