Now that summer is finally upon us, it’s officially time to get outdoors, and get some sun whilst enjoying London at its most relaxed and inviting. With a range of unique, alfresco events and attractions readily available, it’s a celebratory time in the city and Londoners are known for making the absolute most of the good weather. In fact, with so much going on, you might have to pace yourself, so, to lend a helping hand, we’ve drawn up a list of just some of the highlights coming your way this year…
When the weather’s fine, a trip to a darkened cinema isn’t top of even the most ardent cinephile’s to-do list. However, an outdoor cinema is the perfect way to enjoy the latest releases, socialise with friends and really luxuriate in a warm summer’s evening. And the good news is there’s no shortage of cinema spots that’ll be popping up all over the city throughout June, July and August. These include the Marylebone Summer Film Night, The Luna Cinema in Wimbledon, the Everyman Screen on the Canal at King’s Cross and The Rooftop Film Club in Stratford, to name but a few. Expect old and new films alike, and a relaxed, community vibe.
There’s an assortment of cruises and water tours currently available, and that means taking in some of London’s most renowned landmarks, whilst, of course, enjoying good food, wine and the company of your choice. Or, if you’re in the mood for something a little racier, maybe traversing the Thames in a speedboat is just the kind of adrenaline-fueled excursion you’ve been searching for. Either way, you'll certainly get a different perspective, far from the busy streets of London. For instance, City Cruises serves up an excellent afternoon tea that includes jam, cake, finger sandwiches and views of the Tower of London, Shakespeare’s Globe, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge. Meanwhile, Thames Tigers do similar, only at maximum velocity.
Even dedicated outdoor swimmers are a rare sight in winter, but come summer the bathing ponds at Hampstead Heath become hugely popular, as people indulge in one of the more unique London activities. In fact, swimming here has become so in-vogue of late a ticketing system has been introduced, but the upshot of that is, when you have secured your spot, you're guaranteed the space required to make the most of the cool, sedate waters. With thirty ponds on or adjacent to Hampstead Heath, three of the larger, freshwater pools are designated swimming areas, two single-sex and one mixed. Invigorating and thrilling, the atmosphere is never anything less than jubilant, as visitors make the most of this incredible natural resource.
London’s cultural epicentre, South Bank is, of course, well worth checking out at any time of year, but it’s hard to beat a sunny day spent in this legendary part of town. The list of world-famous institutions worthy of your time included the BFI, Tate Modern and the London Aquarium, but when the sun’s shining you might want to head for the stunning Lambeth Palace Gardens, which is one of the oldest in the country. Or, why not try the Royal Festival Hall’s picnic area? There’s also a range of fabulous rooftop bars, including Tattu, Bustronome and OXO. Meanwhile, who can forget the awe-inspiring views that come courtesy of the London Eye?
This summer Wimbledon runs from Monday 3rd July to Sunday 16th July, and for those not lucky enough to get tickets, matches will be broadcast across the city on a series of huge screens. And make no mistake, when you’re in a deckchair, Pimm’s in hand, enjoying high-res images that have to be seen to be believed, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re courtside. Matches can be seen live and free-of-charge in Canada Square and Cabot Square in Canary Wharf, on a floating pontoon in St. Katherine Docks and also in Mayfair, Chelsea, Paddington and, of course, Wimbledon itself. Relaxed, family-friendly and a lot of fun, this has fast become a grand tradition that only gets better with each passing year.
For a river cruise with a twist, Skuna Boats is a truly original sailing experience, as you and up to nine friends drift calmly past West India Quay and Canary Wharf enjoying drinks and a BBQ. In what’s become a big hit in recent years, this is ideal for families, birthday parties, and weddings and you can even enjoy a hot tub as you float past some of the capital’s most impressive sights. You have the option of bringing your own food and beverages or you can sign up for a package that delivers burgers, bangers and steak of a surprisingly high standard, all accompanied by an extremely well-stocked bar. For an experience that lingers long in the memory, increasing numbers of Londoners are giving it a go, only to discover it’s an absolute blast!