Things To Do This Week In London: 12-18 June 2023

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Things to do this week is sponsored by Opera Holland Park.

All week

Two yonug girls playing on the Urban Playground at London Festival of Architecture - a piece of climbing equipment made from curved blue and brown pieces.
London Festival of Architecture is on all month © Luke O'Donovan

LONDON CLOWN FESTIVAL: Not sure about clowns in a Mini, but this week is a chance to see how many clowns will fit inside Soho Theatre Upstairs, as the London Clown Festival is in town. There's more to it than red noses and oversized shows though — the festival celebrates physical comedy and contemporary clowning, with shows featuring cabaret, narrative storytelling, and "professionally researched nonsense". 12-17 June

ADAM RICHES: "Last night, disaster struck the Beakington Town Hall Christmas Fundraiser. Ten Tortoises were massacred in a tombola-related prank gone wrong..." thus begins the premise of infamously capricious comedian Adam Riches' show The Beakington Town Hall Murders, which descends on Soho Theatre this week. 12-17 June

LAST WORD FESTIVAL: This year's Last Word Festival at Camden Roundhouse wraps up this week. Final events include a celebration of Black British poetry with editor Kayo Chingonyi, Desert Island Dubplates — a take on the radio series which reflects the diaspora of youth culture in Great Britain today, and Nuclear Children, a dark comedy about mental health and submarine accident. Until 18 June

A PINCH OF VAULT: You may have heard: VAULT Festival is running a spin-off festival, A Pinch Of Vault, and this is its final week. Highlights include Cult Classic(k), a character comedy show about the wellness industry, and Next Door, a work-in-progress show about suspicious deaths and city living. Money from the festival goes towards finding VAULT a new home, after it announced that it's being kicked out of its Waterloo venue. Until 18 June

WANDSWORTH ARTS FRINGE: There's heaps going on for the Wandsworth Arts Fringe this week. Choose from a live painting session, a scratch night featuring six performers, an art and architecture walk, a film festival curated by people with learning disabilities, and plenty more. Until 25 June

CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS' MELTDOWN: One of London's most-anticipated music events, Meltdown festival returns to the Southbank Centre, this year curated by French musical powerhouse Christine and the Queens. The lineup is as eclectic as ever, with acts including Django Django, KOKOROKO, Bat For Lashes and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, plus club nights hosted by Pxssy Palace and The Chateau. 9-18 June. (Sponsor)

A peach-hued cocktail in a coupe glass at en empty booth
The Imperial Gimlet is one of 20 new drinks on the menu at Swift Soho

LONDON FESTIVAL OF ARCHITECTURE: Going on throughout the month, London Festival of Architecture is a celebration of the city's buildings and spaces, through events including talks, debates, exhibitions and tours. Highlights this week include an architecture photography walk and talk, a photography workshop at the Royal College of Physicians, a suburban safari through Golders Green, a walk through Brixton focusing on women mural artists, and SO much more, in addition to ongoing installation such as the Urban Playground in Fen Court. Until 30 June

DRINK OF THE WEEK: Swift Soho has launched a fresh (and particularly epic) cocktail menu — Postcards from Swift — featuring 20 new concoctions crafted by the team to conjure up their own fond memories. From the sweetshop-inspired Humbug, to the brassy rye and cassis-laced Broadway, there's something for every spirit drinker here. Londonist attended with an invite. Until 2024

EAT OF THE WEEK: Well, the sun's finally showed its face. Time, then, we reckon for an ice cream. And you deserve better than sticking your arm into the deep freeze of your local corner shop — try one of the delicious ices being peddled by the best purveyors of the frozen treat in London.

UNUSUAL EAT OF THE WEEK: Fancy a bite from an old cabmen's shelter? The one on Chelsea Embankment has just opened as a public cafe, offering a range of hot and cold food and drinks and a Thames-side terrace. Called Café Pier, this is the only one of the 13 surviving shelters serving full meals to the public (the rest are for cabbies only).

DAY TRIP OF THE WEEK: Craving some greenery, a bit of fresh air, and a top-notch tea room? Allow us to point you in the direction of Great Comp Garden, a "rummagey around little place" on a 7-acre plot surrounding a 17th-century manor house. It's full of colourful flowers, woodland walks and charming follies between the towns of Sevenoaks and Maidstone in Kent. Find other day trip and weekend break ideas in our Beyond London section.

Monday 12 June

Things to do this week in London: a group of friends posing for a selfie in front of a tiger mural at Zoo Nights at London Zoo
London Zoo stays open late for adults only on Friday evening (C) London Zoo

LINE DANCING: Anyone aged 50+ is invited to join a social line dancing session every Monday at Poplar Union. The steps and styles are taught, so no experience is necessary, and the session also includes time for tea and biscuits. 1pm-3pm

WOMEN IN TECH: Only a quarter of the STEM workforce in the UK are women — but why is that? Computer scientist Anne-Marie Imafidon is at the Royal Institution to discuss the challenges and opportunities for women in tech. 7pm-8.30pm

WINDMILLS AND WATERMILLS: Footprints of London guide Rob Smith offers a virtual tour of London's windmills and watermills, which were used to supply the capital with food in the past. Find out which ones still exist today and have been restored, and find out where others used to be — some of which live on in local street names and the like. 8pm-9pm

THE LOL WORD: Queer women, trans and non-binary comedy collective The LOL Word is back at Soho Theatre for a mixed bill show, with special guests TBC. Age 16+. 9.15pm

MONDAYS IN LONDON: Looking for other things to do today or any other Monday in London? Take a look at our guide to things to do in London on a Monday, spanning comedy, live music, walking tours and more, proving that there's plenty to keep you entertained at the start of the week in the capital.

Tuesday 13 June

Things to do this week in London: artworks on the walls at the Royal Academy during a previous Summer Exhibition
A previous Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Photo: © Royal Academy of Arts, London / David Parry

ROYAL ACADEMY SUMMER EXHIBITION: A highlight of the London art calendar every year, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition brings together established and rising artists to display their work. Prints, painting, film, photography, architectural works and sculpture all feature, and the theme this year is Only Connect, from the famous quote in Howards End by E.M. Forster. 13 June-20 August

FUTURE OF GEOGRAPHY: Bestselling author and international diplomacy expert Tim Marshall is at the Royal Institution to discuss the future of geography — in space. As Russia, China and the United States make more significant discoveries and progress in space, find out how they will affect global political landscape in the next 50 years, and ultimately shape human history. Watch in person or online. 7pm-8.30pm

TOP GUN: MAVERICK: Head to Canada Square Park in Canary Wharf for a free screening of Top Gun: Maverick at the open-air cinema. Take your own picnic blanket and snacks, and arrive in plenty of time to bag yourself a good spot to watch Tom Cruise reviving his role as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell. Find other outdoor cinemas in London this summer. FREE, 7pm

CHRISTINA HART: Swiss Popster Christina Hart is at The Waiting Room in Stoke Newington tonight, playing her catchy, anthemic brand of guitar pop with songs like Too Young to Die and Never Be Her. 7pm

STAND UP COMEDY: You can watch not one but two WIP stand up shows at 2Northdown tonight: Stuart Goldsmith tackles climate change in his show Spoilers, and one man TilTok sketch sensation Christopher Hall follows. 7pm-8pm and 8.45pm-9.45pm

Sponsor message

Be enchanted by this open-air fairy tale opera — for 35% less!

Holland Park is famously home to London’s tamest peacocks. But did you know that right now you can also find The Sandman, The Dew Fairy, and The Ginger Bread Witch amid its exquisite formal gardens and wilded woodlands? These are some of the colourful characters you’ll encounter at Hansel and Gretel, part of Opera Holland Park’s summer season.

From now until 24 June, this crowd-pleasing production brings fairy tale magic to Opera Holland Park’s open air auditorium. Based on the Brothers Grimm classic, Engelbert Humperdinck’s 1893 opera is feast of German folk song and sweeping orchestration that all ages can enjoy. So whether you’re on the hunt for family fun or an evening out with a twist, you won’t regret following Hansel and Gretel’s trail of breadcrumbs into the forest.

Know what makes it extra tempting? Right now, our readers can save 35% on tickets*! Just use the code LONDONIST at checkout to take advantage of this sweet deal. Or, and if you’re aged 30 or below and can wait till next week for your opera fix, book for 21 June. This is Under 30s night, with £20 tickets and a free H!P Oat milk chocolate available using the code H!P. But whenever you visit, rest assured that you’ll be well fed and watered, with refreshments by local businesses available to purchase at Opera Holland Park’s well-stocked bars.

*Excluding 16 and 18 June

Wednesday 14 June

Living and Loving on the Spectrum at Conway Hall

TASTE OF LONDON: Foodies will want to head to Regent's Park from today for Taste of London, the huge, food-based festival which brings dozens of London's best-known restaurants together to feed the hungry visitors. It's also a chance to discover up-and-coming London chefs and food businesses, take part in tastings and watch masterclasses. 14-18 June

KENNEL CLUB TOURS: As The Kennel Club celebrates its 150th anniversary, it's offering special public tours of its building in Mayfair. Expert curators lead the tour around the Kennel Club Art Gallery and Library — which Londonist visited previously — and there's the option to book yourself in for a special lunch after the tour. From 10.30am

HARD ROCK BIRTHDAY: London's original Hard Rock Cafe celebrates its 52nd birthday by offering its Country Burger for just 71p for one day only — a nod to the 1971 opening date. The celebrations also include live music, a Harley Davidson drive-by, a cake ceremony, and more. 11.30am-10pm

ON THE SPECTRUM: Conway Hall hosts a panel of people with autism and ADHD – and those that love them – to discuss life and love on the spectrum and what the world could do to accommodate them. Find out what a diagnosis can mean for work, relationships and other aspects of life in a neurotypical world. 6.30pm

PRIDE STORYSLAM: Regular open-mic storytelling event The London Moth StorySLAM is back at Rich Mix in Shoreditch for an evening on the theme of Pride. Get up on stage and tell your tale of owning your talents, embracing your identity or, perhaps, flying too close to the sun — or kick back and watch as others share their stories. 7.15pm

Thursday 15 June

Things to do this week in London: dancers performing in Cinderella at the Royal Albert Hall
Watch Cinderella in-the-round at the Royal Albert Hall

CINDERELLA: The Royal Albert Hall hosts the English National Ballet for the first time since 2019, performing a production of Cinderella in-the-round. Watch 90 dancers and a live orchestra bring the fairytale to life. 15-25 June

DIVAS LONDON: New 'party show' Divas London launches at The Prince of Wales Cabaret Venue in Drury Lane tonight. It's a musical show featuring the music of Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Donna Summer , Diana Ross, Madonna,  Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Tina Turner, Cher, Adele and more, with singing and dancing by West End performers. 15 June-2 July

CITY OF LONDON WOMEN: Camden Wanderings and the City of London Women Project join forces to offer a walking tour celebrating the lives and achievements of the extraordinary women and non-binary people (past and present). Start at UCL's Petrie Museum and wander through Somers Town, King's Cross and Camden. FREE, 11am-1.30pm (repeated Saturday)

TWILIGHT RELAXED OPENING: Forest Hill's Horniman Museum stays open late to offer a Twilight Relaxed Opening, exclusively for neurodivergent families or those requiring a quieter atmosphere in which to enjoy the museum. The under the sea-themed soft play area and current Brick Dinos exhibition will be open to explore. FREE, 6pm-7pm

SUPPER CLUB: NAFAS is a Palestinian-themed supper club, with dishes made using low-carbon British produce. It's the work of chef and author Sami Tamini, who serves up a sharing-style menu at Refettorio Felix at St Cuthbert's Centre in Earls Court. If you can't make tonight, it's repeated in two weeks. 7pm

QUEER JAZZ: Vocalist and songwriter Eliza Oakes, and improv three-piece Faker Villain kick off Woolwich Works' three-part Queer Jazz Series tonight (parts two and three are in July and August). 7pm

Friday 16 June

Things to do this week in London:  a composite images of comedians Adam Buxton, Sindhu Vee, Chloe Petts and Spencer Jones
Live at the Empire with Adam Buxton

RICHMOND ARTS FESTIVAL: A photo festival, a rock and royal themed tour, and a circus-style performance are among the events on the opening day of this year's Richmond Arts & Ideas Festival, which runs for two weeks celebrating all forms of creativity at venues across the area. 16 June-2 July

LONDON'S FEMALE STATUES: Artist Amanda Cotton gives a free talk about statues of women in London, asking why there are more sculptures of animals than there are of women across the capital. She offers a journey through London’s female sculptures and discusses how she’s been empowered to do her bit to change London’s landscape through her continued artistry Takes place at Shoe Lane Library in the City. FREE, 1pm-2pm

WINDRUSH DOCUMENTS: The National Archives offers an online event, telling the story of the Empire Windrush in ten documents. They include the passenger list, showing who arrived in Britain from the Caribbean in June 1948, and Prime Minister Clement Attlee's letter about the migrants. 2pm

ZOO NIGHTS: London Zoo keeps its gates open late for an adults-only after-hours event, Zoo Nights. Visit the animals at a time when the public don't usually get to see them, take part in special tours and games, and get your dinner from the street food market. 6pm-10pm

ADAM BUXTON: Comedian Adam Buxton headlines a Live at the Empire comedy night at Hackney Empire, with support from Sindhu Vee, Spencer Jones and Chloe Petts. 7.30pm

BJORN AGAIN: At time of writing, there are still a few tickets left to catch ABBA tribute show Björn Again performing in the grounds at Hampton Court, part of this year's Hampton Court Palace Festival. It wraps up tomorrow with a headline show by Rick Astley. 9pm

Saturday 17 June

Things to do this week in London:  two people sitting in armchairs on stage in conversation
Desert Island Dubplates is part of the final weekend of The Last Word Festival (details under 'All week', above).

LEE VALLEY ICE CENTRE: After being announced four years ago, the brand new Lee Valley Ice Centre opens today. It's a whopper, with two Olympic-sized ice rinks, a cafe, gym and other facilities. Plus, they're offering skating for £1 on opening day. From 17 June

GREAT EXHIBITION ROAD FESTIVAL: South Kensington institutions including the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Imperial College, Royal Geographical Society and V&A come together for the Great Exhibition Road Festival, a weekend celebrating science and the arts. FREE, 17-18 June

WEST END LIVE: Musical theatre fans should head to Trafalgar Square for West End Live, a free, two-day festival starring the cast of all manner of West End shows. In the past, cast members from the likes of Jersey Boys, The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Tina The Musical have strutted their stuff on the stage. FREE, 17-18 June

WATERPOINT TOUR: A rare chance to take a guided tour of The Waterpoint, which was constructed in 1872 to supply water to the rapidly growing steam railway network at St Pancras, and designed by the office of Sir George Gilbert Scott. The Grade II listed water tower offers views of the gasholder at King's Cross, and the area around St Pancras station. 10am-4pm

BRITISH ACADEMY SUMMER SHOWCASE: The Windrush legacy, the importance of green space in cities, little-known women who shaped the world, the necessity of refugee camps, and aerial archaeology are just some of the topics covered in the wide-reaching and free British Academy Summer Showcase. It offers the public a chance to hear from researchers in the social sciences and humanities, through workshops, talks and panel debates. FREE, 11am-5pm

BITCHIN' BRUNCH: Sharp-witted comedy queens and fierce lip-syncing acts keep you entertained at Savage Garden's Bitchin' Brunch, while you get stuck into prosecco, bellinis or mocktails plus a two-course meal. If any brunch is going to wake you up, it's this one.

WAR TO WINDRUSH: The Imperial War Museum hosts an afternoon of talks and performances to mark the 75th anniversary of the Empire Windrush docking in Tilbury. Hear from historians, actors, broadcasters and poets about Caribbean contributions to the second world war, and how the Windrush generation has shaped Britain as a modern multicultural society. 2pm-8pm

BAWDY DRURY LANE: It's your last chance of the year to catch the theatrical walking tour that is Minimum Labyrinth's Drury Lane. It's part guided walk, part street theatre, and "explores the rich cultural history of one of London’s most colourful, creative and dangerous quarters". 2pm-6pm

Sunday 18 June

Things to do this week in London:  a performer singing on stage at the Musical Theatre Rave
The Musical Theatre Rave comes to Heaven in Charing Cross.

FATHER'S DAY: Consider this your reminder to pick up a card, and maybe a box of chocolates or a new book, for your dad on Father's Day.

THEATRELAND WALK: Join a guided tour of the West End's theatre district, with a focus on little-known Black performers and productions which have graced the stage throughout history. Hear about the 'Beyonce of the 1950s', connections to the US Civil Rights Movement, and how racist tropes and stereotypes were overcome. 10am-12pm

SECOND-HAND SUNDAYS: Alongside its regular Sunday market, Horniman Museum introduces Second-Hand Sundays, an occasional event with a focus on repurposing, reusing and recycling. Browse and buy second-hand clothes, games, toys, books, unwanted gifts and more. 10am-3pm

VINTAGE FASHION FAIR: More than 100 dealers from across the UK descend on Kensington Town Hall for the Frock Me Vintage Fashion Fair. Browse and buy rare vintage and antique clothing, jewellery, textiles and more dating from the Victorian period onwards. 11am-5.30pm

SARFRAZ MANSOOR: Author, broadcaster and screenwriter Sarfraz Manzoor is at OSO Arts Centre in Barnes this afternoon, talking about, among other things, his childhood in 1980s Luton as a working-class British Pakistani, and how it was transformed by a certain Mr Bruce Springsteen. 4pm

FRINGE PREVIEWS: Collywobblers Comedy has a double bill of Edinburgh previews, at the Railway in Streatham Common tonight — both Darren Harriott and Abandoman get up on the stage, to try out their new shows before taking them north of the border. 7pm

MUSICAL THEATRE RAVE: A night out for West End fans, the Musical Theatre Rave is exactly that — a party night featuring tunes from the biggest stage musicals, with DJ sets, live performances and lip sync battles. Expect to hear an eclectic mix of tunes from the likes of Hamilton, Mamma Mia!, Grease, Frozen, and plenty more. 9pm

Museum treasure of the week

A union flag beneath a sample of moon rock in a display case

The Great Exhibition Road Festival (see Saturday) is an opportunity to reconnect with South Kensington's three big museums as well as other cultural centres in the area. One treasure that probably won't be going out onto the street is this precious sample of Moon rock from the Natural History Museum. Moon rocks are, of course, rare on Earth, but beneath it is something even rarer: a Union Jack that went to the Moon. Apollo 17, the final Moon mission, took with it flags of the nations, which were then presented back to each country. This one is ours.

Good cause of the week

A family takes a walk in a forest. The father wears a WWF panda tshirt
© filmstudio, WWF-UK

Charity runs and walks come along every week, but here's one that promises to be a lot of fun as well as helping a good cause. The WWF Great Wild Walk takes place on Saturday 24 June, winding its way through Epping Forest. Take part in either a 6 mile or 10 mile walk around the woods to help raise money for forest conservation. Find more information and sign up here.