Summer holidays in London mean sunny afternoon walks and long evenings watching the sunset from a hilltop. Festivals light up the South Bank, and cricket matches mark a quintessentially English summer day. Book a London hotel for a summer break to enjoy the vibrant capital in its warmest season.
Be a “groundling” (cheap standing tickets) at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre or grab a seat at Regent’s Park Theatre for some alfresco drama. Productions can range from a contemporary twist on the Bard’s classics to much-loved musicals. Bring layers, as evenings can turn cool.
The cultural hub on the river Thames’s South Bank comes alive for your London summer break. Look out for music and dance during the Thames Festival, and boisterous juggling and dance acts on the National Theatre’s lawns. Cafés and restaurants dotting the river have outdoor tables to gaze at the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye while enjoying a pre-performance snack. Try beachcombing on the Bankside’s gravelly ‘beach’ for oyster shells or even 16th-century clay pipes.
A summer’s day is tailor made for that typical English game of cricket. Pack a picnic and get into the spirit of your London summer holiday with tickets to a match to see Middlesex at Lord’s or Surrey at the Oval cricket ground, or look out for smaller cricket grounds with informal matches. June sees the world-famous Wimbledon tennis tournament, a jewel of grass-court excellence, where fans can queue up on the day for a ticket. And there’s no need to worry about rain on Centre Court – a roof was installed in 2009.
Be dazzled by London’s summer blooms. At the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, lawns and glasshouses are ablaze with orchids, blue poppies and hydrangea. At Royal Horticultural Society’s summer shows, buy plants to take home and get expert gardening advice. Manicured lawns mark Regent’s Park, and at the Geffrye Museum’s gardens, honeysuckle and roses give a summer scent.
Kit yourself out in fun summer gear like edgy T-shirts and shades from Portobello and Camden markets. By late August you might catch the summer sales among the high-street fashions along Oxford Street. When the sun shines, Covent Garden’s cobbled market comes alive with street acts and buskers.
Refresh yourself on a sunny afternoon in a pub garden with a glass of fruity Pimm’s, a real English summery drink. A riverside pub is even more tranquil – try The Dove Inn in Hammersmith. Local strawberries get the summery taste buds going; sample this fruity delight with double cream and English tea in quaint cafés.
London loves its long summer evenings – it could still be light at 9pm. Choose a vantage point to watch the lingering sunset. From the top of Primrose Hill on the northern edge of Regent’s Park you can savour 360º views of London with landmarks on the horizon like the London Eye. Join kite-flyers at the top of Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath and pick out St Paul’s Cathedral, or just enjoy the sunny courtyard of Somerset House.
During your holiday in London, special summer openings give you a rare glimpse into historic Britain. Marvel at the Queen’s opulent banqueting hall and walls of great paintings at Buckingham Palace. During the MPs’ summer break tour the Houses of Parliament to gaze at the Gothic revival masterpiece with hammerbeam oak ceiling. The Summer Exhibition sees new and established artists at the Royal Academy of Arts.
Leave your hotel to stroll London’s waterways. Along the Thames Path, dazzling white swans owned by the Queen crowd the river at Windsor. Stroll along the tranquil Regent’s Canal, snaking through the heart of the city, where houseboats dot the waterfront at Little Venice. The Capital Ring’s bucolic beauty encircles London, threading together hidden-away open spaces and parks, alongside little-known waterways like the River Lee.