This month, London is a whirlwind of summer parties, festivals and centuries-old traditions of afternoon teas and grouse feasts. Here is our pick of the hotspots:
The Social History of English Afternoon Tea at 116 Pall Mall – August 14, from 1.30pm
Afternoon Tea Week (August 8-14) is the perfect excuse to partake in Britain’s most delicious tradition. This year, 116 Pall Mall adds a cerebral touch to its offer on the last day of the celebrations by hosting a conference, The social history of English afternoon tea by writer Gillian Walnes Perry. Perry’s historic odyssey in our love of cucumber sandwiches and sliced cake bites, which dates back to the 1800s, is followed by a sweet and savory afternoon tea, plus an optional glass of Searcys Cuvée Brut to raise a glass on occasion. £35 per person and £49 per person with a glass of champagne. 116pallmall.com
This Bright Land at Somerset House – until August 29, 12pm-10.30pm
Step into the courtyard of the Thameside landmark, transformed by Somerset House Studios artists Gareth Pugh and Carson McColl into a colour-themed ‘wonderland’ – the backdrop for performances and open-to-all film screenings, day and night, music, dancing (including outdoor Vogue Balls), lectures, workshops and attractions – centered around a 35m observation wheel (£5 per person).
On Sundays, expect the lively atmosphere of a street party. Admission is free but some events charge a fee, ranging from £5 to £22.50. somersethouse.org.uk
Ibiza Summer Party at Sky Garden – August 19, 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Soak up the vibe of White Isle at this dizzying gathering, where the Ibiza Live Orchestra spins Balearic beats (curated by ALR Music) and DJs spin dance anthems until the wee hours. Sip a complimentary welcome cocktail to get the party started, or reserve a table (for up to six people) and treat yourself to two bottles of Moët & Chandon Champagne and two cheese and charcuterie sharing boards as part of the experience. Tickets from £55 for entry and £600 including entry for tables of six. skygarden.london
Greenwich+Docklands International Festival – August 26 to September 11
Head east for 17 days of free theatre, art, dance and circus. Events are scattered across the region, from the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich to the Royal Arsenal Riverside and outdoor public spaces in Canary Wharf and Royal Docks. Free highlights include Spark (August 26-27), artist Daan Roosegaarde’s skyline spectacle featuring thousands of biodegradable lights, inspired by the natural phenomenon of fireflies, that will twinkle over Greenwich; and the rainbow-coloured outdoor installation by German artist Stephanie Lüning Foam Island: Version XVIII (September 3-4) to the Greenwich Peninsula. festival.org
The gastronomic destinations of the Glorious Twelfth – from August 12
August 12 marks the start of the grouse hunting season – the kickoff for many foodie destinations to feature game in their offerings. For new twists on the British grouse, head to Aquavit London, where chef Jonas Karlsson serves up a limited-edition Nordic-inspired version of the bird with liquorice juice (from £49); while Cinnamon Club’s Vivek Singh conjured a spicy clove smoked grouse brisket with chickpea bread, hot sweet pumpkin and game keema, served with black lentils (£38).
For a French take on the classic, La Poule au Pot will serve grouse with celeriac mash, red cabbage and game sauce (£38.50). Restaurateur trio ‘The Gladwin Brothers’ have planned celebrations at their Notting Hill outpost The Shed and at new Wimbledon venue The Black Lamb from August 16 with a ‘Grouse in the House’ roast accompanied by a bread sauce and seasonal accompaniments. From August 17, Boisdale of Belgravia and Canary Wharf will serve the dish in the traditional way with bread sauce, game chips, croutons and gravy (£35).
Notting Hill Carnival – August 27-29
Billed as the ‘bounceback edition’, one of the world’s biggest free-for-all celebrations of Mas, Soca and Calypso returns to west London in 2022 for the first time since 2019. Download the app for a GPS-tracked map showing all floats and their locations on the August Bank Holiday, as well as maps detailing food vendors, restrooms and transport links. nhcarnival.org
Al Fresco Summer Series at the Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane – until August 25
Make the most of the city’s outdoor drinking and dining watering holes before the inevitable exodus indoors in the fall. The Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane has curated a lineup of treats for summer revelers: listen to live music every Thursday until August 25 on its outdoor terrace surrounded by greenery, where a Champagne tasting experience combines Dom Pérignon (£63 a glass/£348 a bottle for the 2012 Vintage) with sweet or savory canapés (think tender chicken tempura with red pepper coulis and citrus gel; or pistachio and strawberry cube and Valrhona white chocolate). On Fridays, a glass of Cloudy Bay or Whispering Angel is served with two free oysters – and a bottle with half a dozen oysters. fourseasons.com
Summer at the Serpentine in Hyde Park – August
Head to Hyde Park for a cultural dose. This year’s free live event lineup includes the London Oratory Choir performing music from the Latin tradition, including Gregorian chants, at the Serpentine Pavilion at 3pm on August 13. The event, held at the Black Chapel in Theaster Gates, is also an opportunity to discover the artist’s circular sanctuary, conceived as a place of refuge and contemplation. Other exhibits include the Serpentine North Gallery’s back to earth, an artistic reflection on the climate crisis (until September 18); and Alienarium 5 at Serpentine South Gallery – Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s take on extraterrestrial encounters staged through performative and visual fiction (until September 4). serpentinegalleries.org
Klimt: The Immersive Experience London at Brick Lane – weekdays, 10am-8pm; weekends & public holidays, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
From the grit and graffiti of Brick Lane, stroll in a reverie of the kaleidoscopic works of art by Gustav Klimt. Along the way, learn about the Austrian symbolist painter’s explorations of the female form, his explosive use of color and gold, silver and platinum leaf, embedded in the masterpiece The kiss. The immersive experience (60-75 minutes in total) includes a virtual reality component, which guides visitors on a ten-minute journey through A day in the life of the artist. From £19.90 for adults and £11.50 for children. klimtexpo.com
King’s Cross Summer Sounds Music Festival at Coal Drops Yard – August 10 to 21
Coal Drops Yard is the place to be this month for a free music festival of classical, folk, jazz and experimental music. Highlights include the outdoor show future cargo by Frauke Requardt and David Rosenberg, a large-scale sci-fi dance performance, where the audience wears headphones to audibly connect with the unfolding action (presented on 10, 11, 12, 13, 18 , August 19 and 20, from 9 p.m. to 9:50 p.m.); and the Flamenco extravaganza Paco Peña and Friends (August 10, 6:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.). kingscross.com