Things To Do This Week In London: 8-14 July 2024

Things to do this week is sponsored by The Courtauld.

All week

People on a dance floor in a very colourful room
The Beautiful Octopus Club takes over Wellcome Collection on Friday night

CLOWN FESTIVAL: London Clown Festival pitches up at Soho Theatre for six days of shows, beginning with an opening cabaret on Monday night featuring some of the festival's acts. Nancy Trotter Landry of Giffords Circus, and clown and comedian Piotr Sikora are among the participants. 8-13 July

ED BYRNE: The brilliant Ed Byrne returns to Soho Theatre with his smash hit show, Tragedy Plus Time, which takes the most tragic event of his life — the death of his younger brother — and mines it for laughs. 8-13 July

WIMBLEDON: Tennis tournament Wimbledon is in its second (and final) week. Heading down there to watch? Get clued up on how and when to queue for Wimbledon tickets — and be warned that Wimbledon Station isn't actually the closest stop to get there. Can't make it in person? Plenty of places around London show the action live on big screens — many of them free. You can even tuck into a tennis-themed afternoon tea while you watch at the Ham Yard Hotel. Until 14 July

EUROS: At time of publication, England's hopes of making it through to the semi-final/final of the Euros rest on the result of Saturday's game against Switzerland. Whichever way that goes, if you're planning to watch the final week of the tournament, you can do so at one of these places screening the Euros, or one of London's best pubs and bars for watching football. Until 14 July

BST HYDE PARK: Stevie Nicks, Kylie and Stray Kids headline this weekend's show at BST Hyde Park festival. Before that, enjoy the final week of BST Open House, a free programme of entertainment including live music, Wimbledon screenings, outdoor cinema and children's theatre, open to everyone. Until 14 July

An old desk with quills and candles
What might be our only ever Desk of the Week can be seen at Dr Johnson's House, off Fleet Street.

ART ACADEMY SUMMER SCHOOL: Art Academy's Summer School starts this week, offering 4-5 day courses on subjects including painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking. Whether you're a complete beginner looking to get started in a new discipline, or a more experienced artist wanting to hone your skills in advanced masterclasses, sign up now to learn from specialists this summer. (sponsor)

KEW THE MUSIC: A stage and large screen is set up in Kew Gardens for live music by the likes of Mika, Ronan Keating, Passenger and Beverley Knight. New for this year is an evening in conversation with Monty Don, on the opening night (Monday). Take your own picnic chair or blanket, pack a picnic or buy food and drink on site — and enjoy live music in a relaxed and (hopefully) sunny setting. 8-14 July

FORTITUDE: Hear healthcare workers' experiences of the Covid 19 pandemic in Fortitude at the Royal College of Physicians, a free exhibition which closes next week. The often-challenging stories were sourced from workers from over 20 medical specialities and professions. FREE, until 18 July

YOU BELONG HERE: Southbank Centre's You Belong Here season continues this week, with appearances from historian and broadcaster David Olusoga (11 July), author Kelechi Okafor and a remarkable panel of women (13 July), and author of Empireland: How Modern Britain is Shaped by its Imperial Past, Sathnam Sanghera (14 July). Until 8 September

EAT OF THE WEEK: Lasdun, the restaurant in the National Theatre from the folks behind The Marksman Public House, has opened a new summer terrace with a sunny menu to match, featuring buns filled with Dorset crab, and a Lasdun Summer Cup made with Sipsmith London Cup, strawberries, cucumber and mint.

DESK OF THE WEEK: The desk on which Samuel Johnson penned the Dictionary of the English Language 1755 (or at least, he MIGHT have done) returns to his former home at Gough Square, as the centrepiece of the new Desks, Drudgery and the Dictionary: Samuel Johnson's Garret Lexicography exhibition, which you can visit at no extra cost with the usual entry fee to Dr Johnson's House.

ABSINTHE EXHIBITION: The Viktor Wynd Museum in Hackney opens London's first absinthe exhibition, curated by Allison Crawbuck, Director of The Last Tuesday Society & co-founder of Devil’s Botany Distillery. Learn about the spirit’s magical and medicinal origins, including London’s untold connections to its notorious past, and view beautiful 19th century absinthe spoons, glassware and other art nouveau-inspired paraphernalia. FREE, 8 July-15 September

Monday 8 July

11 performers lined up on stage facing the audience
Famous faces perform snippets of Shakespeare's work (image from a previous event)

BRISKET MONDAYS: Smith's Bar & Grill in Paddington has started doing Beef Brisket Mondays — which involves a sharing platter of brisket served with mac-n-cheese, corn, pickles and sweet potato fries, for £40. There's also 50% off premium wines on Mondays. 12pm-11pm

JOSS STONE: Singer-songwriter Joss Stone headlines a show at the Royal Albert Hall, performing hits from across her career. Though she's performed at the venue before, it's the first time she's headlined her own show there. 7.30pm

FAST FRINGE: Get a preview of 28 different comedy and variety acts before they head to the Edinburgh Fringe, in the frenetic Fast Fringe show at Leicester Square Theatre. Across two and a half hours, Milo Edwards, Sooz Kempner, Louise Atkinson, Nina Gilligan, Ali Woods, Erika Ehler and Gearoid Farrelly are among the acts taking to the stage. 7.30pm

SHAKESPEARE LIVE: A star-studded cast including Damian Lewis, Toheeb Jimoh, Stephen Mangan, Tracy Ann Oberman, Tony Robinson, Samantha Spiro, Samuel West, Olivia Williams and Susan Wokoma join forces at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre performing speeches and scenes from Shakespeare's work. The event celebrates Shakespeare For Every Day of the Year by Allie Esiri, published to mark 400 years of Shakespeare’s First Folio and over 90 years of Shakespeare performances at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. 7.45pm

HAPPY MONDAYS COMEDY: Andrew Maxwell and Peter Rethinasamy team up to offer previews of their Edinburgh Fringe shows at tonight's Happy Mondays Comedy at the Amersham Arms in New Cross. Sion James hosts. 8pm

Tuesday 9 July

9 ShakeItUp cast members involved in a brawl
ShakeItUp comes to The Other Palace

SHAKEITUP: Bard-based bedlam is promised at ShakeItUp, the improvised Shakespeare show coming to The Other Palace Theatre, in which the cast use audience suggestions to create a new Shakespeare play live on stage, with music and songs thrown in. 9-13 July

FUERZA BRUTA: Argentinian aerial and dance performance troupe Fuerza Bruta give the European premiere of their new show, Aven, at Camden Roundhouse. Expect playful water effects and immersive elements alongside the impressive movements. 9 July-1 September

DOGGETT'S COAT AND BADGE: Yes, it's the name of a pub, but the Doggett's Coat & Badge is also an annual boat race taking place on the Thames between London Bridge and Chelsea. It's been going for over 300 years, with up to six young watermen participating each time — here's the course, so you can pick a viewing point. FREE, from 12pm

IRVINE WELSH: Author Irvine Welsh is at Waterstones Piccadilly, discussing his new novel Resolution with author and screenwriter John Niven. The latest in Welsh's CRIME series, the book follows former detective Ray Lennox as he tries to start a new life. 6.30pm

LATINX POETS: Writer Amanda Vilanova hosts poets in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Quechua, for an evening exploring acts of translation between cultures and across media to bring the living poetry of Latin America to the British Library. 7pm


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The Courtauld’s first ever photography exhibition: post-Blitz Bermondsey and Teddy Girls at Battersea Funfair

A Girl Jiving in Southam Street(Eileen Sheekey), London, 1957. Vintage gelatin silver print 36.5 x 25.2cm. Courtesy Victoria &Albert Museum.

Self-taught British photographer Roger Mayne spent much of the 1950s and early 1960s documenting the lives of young people in London and beyond. A vast range of these evocative black and white images are on display right now, at The Courtauld Gallery’s inaugural photography exhibition.

Roger Mayne: Youth positions its subject as crucially important in the emergence of documentary photography as an art form in Britain in the years following the second world war. From Children in a Bombed Building, Bermondsey, London (1954) to A Girl Jiving in Southam Street (Eileen Sheekey), London (1957) – one of his most famous photographs, taken in a north Kensington slum – they offer a poignant glimpse into daily urban life during the postwar period.

Over 60 vintage photographs are on display, including later ones of Mayne’s own children at home in Dorset, some of which have never been exhibited before. What’s more, tickets include admission to The Courtauld’s permanent collection (its first-rate selection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings are particularly worth a look), alongside a temporary display showcasing the works of Vanessa Bell and a Henry Moore exhibition. Get yours today.


Wednesday 10 July

People taking part in an outdoors cocktail-making session
Cocktails in the City takes place Thursday-Saturday

MYTHIC TIME: Sir John Soane's Museum opens a new exhibition, Mythic Time / Tens of Thousands of Rememberings, a collaboration between artist Lina Iris Viktor and the museum. Sculpture, painting, photography and gilding all feature, looking at connections across time and cultures, from ancient Egypt to medieval illumination and indigenous Australian art. 10 July-19 January

WIMBLEDON: The Prince Charles Cinema offers a timely screening of 2004 rom com film Wimbledon, starring Paul Bettany as a struggling tennis player and Kirsten Dunst as an up-and-coming star of the sport. 6.10pm

FOLK UNPLUGGED: For the final Folk Unplugged show of the season, Canadian folk-roots collective The Fugitives perform at Conway Hall, alongside rising star Annie Dressner. Expect to hear songs from their new album, No Help Coming, which focuses on the climate emergency. 7pm-9.30pm

MARY BEARD: Historian and classicist Mary Beard makes an appearance at Barbican, chatting to interviewer Sathnam Sanghera about both well-known and lesser-known emperors who ruled the Roman empire. She touches on themes of autocracy, corruption, and conspiracy, and separates myths from fact. 7.30pm

TREASURE ISLAND: Local theatre company Shadow Road put on a production of Treasure Island at OSO Arts Centre in Barnes. See Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic adventure book brought to life in a 50-minute show. 7.30pm

WEDNESDAYS IN LONDON: Guided tours, lunchtime concerts, salsa classes... just some of the regular events taking place in London most Wednesdays of the year. Take a look if you're in the market for something to fill a couple of hours today, or bookmark it for a future Wednesday when you might find yourself at a loose end.

Thursday 11 July

A view looking down into the courtyard at Somerset House at dusk, with crowds of people watching a show on an illuminated stage
Summer Series at Somerset House begins tonight. © Somerset House

COCKTAILS IN THE CITY: Boozy festival Cocktails in the City takes place over three weekends this summer, bringing together some of the most popular bars in London to serve up their concoctions in the private garden of Bedford Square, with live entertainment thrown in. The first edition begins today, with a games theme. 11-13 July

SUMMER SERIES: R&B rising star Pip Millett takes to the stage for the first show in this year's Somerset House Summer Series. Over the coming days, several musicians perform in the courtyard at Somerset House, including Corinne Bailey Rae, The Amazons and Cory Henry. 11-21 July

BUCKINGHAM PALACE: Take the opportunity to go inside Buckingham Palace at the annual summer opening of the State Rooms, which begins today. The Throne Room, Ballroom Grand Staircase and Palace Gardens are among the areas open to the public for just a few weeks — we've been inside a few times, and it is spectacular. 11 July-29 September

PORTRAIT AWARD: Whittled down from 1,647 entries from 62 countries, the shortlisted artworks for the Herbert Smith Freehills Portrait Award go on display in a free exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery — the winner will be announced on 9 July. FREE, 11 July-27 October

DRAGON BOAT RACE: Head over to South Dock in Canary Wharf for an afternoon of dragon boat racing in support of Water Aid. The deadline to enter a team has passed, but anyone's welcome to watch as teams of between 11 and 17 people go head-to-head on the water, with prizes for the best dressed and top fundraising teams, as well as the speediest. FREE, 12pm-6pm

RELICS OF OLD LONDON: London Metropolitan Archives offers an illustrated talk about photos from the Society of Photographic Relics of Old London's collection. Between 1875 and 1899 the society was commissioned to create a record of 120 buildings under the threat of demolition in a rapidly changing city. 12.30pm-1.30pm

CITY BEERFEST: Clock off work early and head to Guildhall Yard for the 10-year anniversary of City Beerfest. Several breweries are serving their beers, plus there's live music and street food, and the whole event raises money for charity. 12.30pm-9pm

WOMEN IN INTELLIGENCE: Historian and biographer Helen Fry is at Stanfords in Battersea Power Station, discussing her new book, Women in Intelligence, which shows how women were central to MI organisations throughout the 20th century. 6.30pm-8pm

Friday 12 July

Kerry Godliman
Kerry Godliman is among the performers at this year's Balham Comedy Festival

WATERLOO FESTIVAL: St John's Church is the central focus of the Waterloo Festival, which begins today with a concert of electronic music by Oren Ambarchi and Félicia Atkinson. Live music, storytelling and a book launch are on the programme in the coming days. 12-15 July

BALHAM COMEDY FESTIVAL: Kerry Godliman, Stephen K. Amos, Robin Morgan, Maisie Adam and Alexandra Haddow are among the comedians on the bill at the Balham Comedy Festival, organised by Banana Cabaret and taking place at The Bedford. 12-20 July

MULTI STORY ORCHESTRA: Verified is the new show by the Multi Story Orchestra, focusing on the dangers of social media and the pressures of living in the digital age. Catch it at Fairfield Halls in Croydon, interspersing spoken word and a new script by upcoming Peckham writer Montel Douglas with songs and music. 7pm

BLOOMSBURY GARDENS: The gardens of the Bloomsbury Group are the focus of a special evening at Lambeth's Garden Museum. Troy Scott Smith of Sissinghurst Castle, Sara Jackson of Monk’s House, and Hannah Gardner, formerly of Garsington Manor discuss the gardens of Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell, Lady Ottoline Morrell, and Vita Sackville-West, to coincide with the museum's current exhibition, Gardening Bohemia: Bloomsbury Women Outdoors. 7pm-8pm

BEAUTIFUL OCTOPUS CLUB: Apparently London's 'most inclusive club night', The Beautiful Octopus Club takes over Wellcome Collection. Run by and for people with learning disabilities and autistic people, the event includes a silent disco, a special appearance from the Heart n Soul Choir, and a chance to explore the current exhibitions. If you can't make it in person, the event will be live-streamed. FREE, 7pm-11pm

CSI COMEDY: CSI: Crime Scene Improvisation is an improv comedy murder mystery show... where not even the cast know who the killer is. The audience creates the crime on the spot, at Wilton's Music Hall in Limehouse. 7.30pm

Saturday 13 July

A festival taking place in the grounds of Alexandra Palace, with views of the London skyline behind the stage
Party with views over London at Kaleidoscope. Image: Lloyd Winters

WHITECROSS STREET PARTY: Though it hosts a lively street food market most week days, Whitecross Street near Barbican really comes alive for the annual Whitecross Street Party this weekend. There's a focus on the radical communities which have called the area home, and the event opens with a parade, followed by short film screenings, panel talks (author Malorie Blackman is scheduled), with live painting and street art, a words stage, live music, family activities, food stalls and more. FREE, 13-14 July

LONDON ARCHAEOLOGY: Southwark Cathedral hosts a day of talks about the archaeology of London, with topics ranging from historic graffiti at the Tower of London to the social history of London houses. 10am-4pm

BRITISH NANNY EXHIBITION: For one day only, the National Nanny Association holds a photo exhibition, featuring snaps showing the evolution of the British nanny through time. Takes place at The Depot in Islington. 10am-4pm

MUSEUM BIRTHDAY FESTIVAL: It's been a year since the rebranded Young V&A museum opened its doors in Bethnal Green, an anniversary that's being celebrated with a free birthday festival, open to all ages. Activities include workshops led by fashion accessory designer Clara Chu and political cartoonist and puppet animator Zoom Rockman, as well as live performances by locals. FREE, 11am-3.30pm

HATS OFF: Chesham, at the end of the Metropolitan line, today holds its annual Hats Off festival. Expect free entertainment along the High Street – music, stalls and more – with hat-wearing very much encouraged. The theme celebrates Chesham’s historical links to the hat-making industry, and its famous ex-resident Roger Crabbe, who inspired the Mad Hatter character. FREE, noon-6pm

KALEIDOSCOPE FESTIVAL: Soul II Soul, Artful Dodger and comedians Simon Amstell and Sophie Duker are all on the eclectic line-up at Kaleidoscope Festival. The one-day event takes over Alexandra Palace with live music, DJ sets, comedy and spoken word performances, plus magicians, games and workshops for families — all with incredible views over London. 1pm

MONSTER JAM: Usually home to football, the London Stadium has some rather different visitors in the form of Monster Jam, featuring 12,000lb behemoths on wheels taking part in stunts (including backflips!). They're going to ruin that pitch... 3pm

POPES OF CHILLITOWN: Playing tunes from their wonderfully-named new album, Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard, ska/dub/punk outfit Popes of Chillitown are at Camden's Underworld tonight, with a slew of other bands on warm-up duty, including Baldhead and Filthy Militia. Doors 5pm

Sunday 14 July

A couple looking at items for sale at a flea market
Winkle out a bargain at the Giant London Flea

GIANT LONDON FLEA: London's largest indoor flea market is back at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with 100+ traders selling vintage items, home decor, and other pre-loved bits and bobs. Takes place in the multi-storey car park, with food and drink traders nearby. 10am-5pm

FAMILY CYCLING EVENT: Arena Square in Wembley Park hosts a family cycling event, with eccentric-wheeled bikes, KMX Karts, tandems, tricycles, miniature modern penny farthings, children's bikes and other sets of wheels to try out. Most suitable for age 7+, with disability friendly adapted cycles available. 11am-3pm

LONDINIUM: London on the Ground offers a tour of Roman highlights in the Square Mile. Find evidence of a Roman bathhouse, the stream that helped them found the City, the Roman walls, a temple and the site where gladiators fought. 11am

BASTILLE DAY BRUNCH: Celebrate Bastille Day at Pavyllon London restaurant at the Four Seasons on Park Lane. It serves a one-off Bastille Day bottomless brunch, with free-flowing champagne and a Bloody Mary station, as well as live music and children's entertainment. 11.30am-3pm

HARLEM IN MAYFAIR: Black History Walks offers a guided tour around Mayfair, focusing on the hidden African and Caribbean history of the posh area, from the 1920s to the 2020s. Hear about Black-owned businesses, Kenyan, South African and Zimbabwean connections, ancient African goddesses, and plenty more. 1pm-3pm

FAMILY SPORTS DAY: Head down to the gardens at Brixton Windmill for a family-friendly afternoon of sports, games and activities, including football, volleyball, races, games, tai chi and zumba. FREE, 1pm-5pm

FRENCH JAZZ: More Bastille Day bonhomie is going on at the Toulouse Lautrec Jazz Club in Kennington, where French National Academy of Dramatic Arts-trained Leo Benedict Sextet will treat you to a repertoire featuring French Café, Bossa Nova, and revamped modern classics. 5pm-7pm

EURO 2024 FINAL: FOOTBALL'S COMING HOME! Or at least, we flippin' hope it is, as England take on Spain in the Euro 2024 final in Germany tonight. Not booked anywhere yet? See if any of these places with big screens still have space left to watch the match. Altogether now: SWEEEEET Caroline. KO 8pm