Are you short on inspiration for how to spend the August bank holiday weekend in London? You’ll want to make the most of it, as this long weekend is the final one until Christmas. With predictions of an Indian summer in the UK, plus so many thrilling events to fill your time, we think it’s going to be far from a washout!
We’ve done the hard work for you and picked out eight of the most exciting things to do. Take your pick from live bands, festivals, brunch parties, stellar theatre productions and more.
Notting Hill Carnival
The biggest street party in Europe, which started in 1966, is still going strong and this year takes place on 27th and 28th August. The festivities are spread across Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park, with this year’s organisers determined to carry on as normal following calls from the council to relocate the event in the wake of the Grenfell Tower Fire. As a result, the 2017 celebration of this wonderfully multicultural community is likely to be more significant and defiant than ever. Sunday is Children’s Day and promotes a family atmosphere, with the Children’s Parade and family workshops. On Monday, The Grand Finale features 60 bands, all in showstopping costumes. A more colourful carnival experience you’ll be hard pushed to find!
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Secrets and lies threaten to ruin relationships against the sweltering backdrop of midsummer New Orleans, as the 1955 Tennessee Williams classic gets the A-list Brit treatment in the West End. Hollywood stars Sienna Miller (Magpie) and Jack O’Connell (Brick) carry the action in typically headline-grabbing casting for the Young Vic. Australia’s Benedict Andrews directs, following the success of his other much-hyped Williams revival A Streetcar Named Desire, which starred Gillian Anderson and Ben Foster. There are showings every day except Sunday over the bank holiday weekend, with tickets priced between £10 and £67. The sexually-charged play doesn’t hold much back, with full-frontal nudity from Jack O’Connell sure to cause a stir (we’ll let you decide whether that’s a bad thing).
Looking for unique things to do in London this weekend? Then check out our latest blog, which tells you all about the hottest things happening this weekend in England’s capital!
Hip Hop Brunch
Brush up your rap skills and get ready to spit some rhymes… this award-winning event features bottomless cocktails from noon-1pm, followed by a three-course menu of classic soul food and hip hop-themed karaoke from 3-5pm! Not only that, there’s temporary tattoo art on offer too – the perfect way to add some extra steeze to your look. The event takes place both Saturday and Sunday of the bank holiday weekend, with a special Carnival edition on 27th. The exact venue will be announced the Tuesday before, and with previous locations including bars in Hackney, Notting Hill and Soho, it’s anyone’s guess where it will pop up next. Pre-booking is essential, with tickets starting at £40. There are 100 available so you’ll be in good company as you bust those moves to some sick beats.
Hed Kandi Bank Holiday Special
Hed Kandi bring the ultimate tropical house party to McQueen for the biggest day of the long weekend. Expect swanky surroundings, dazzling dancers and iconic tunes as you enjoy an epic ten hours of merriment. The line-up is headlined by resident DJs Eibhlin and Renato Porto, with plenty more where they came from, plus live musicians on saxophone, drums and vocals. Tickets start at £10, with the option of joining a boat party from 7-11pm before the main revelry gets underway, sailing down the Thames with two decks of club classics and funky house. You’ll then dock close to the venue to continue the antics and enjoy a luxury clubbing experience with an array of cocktails, VIP lounges and the most glamorous of dancefloors.
Head down to South Bank for a whole weekend of entertainment from the Underbelly Festival. Comprising a union of two already hugely popular arts events in the form of Udderbelly Festival and London Wunderground, this super-sized festival has been underway since April and features a variety of open-air productions. Take your pick from a veritable feast of theatre, live music and comedy, while enjoying international street food and al fresco drinks. Plus, most tickets are under £20! Look out for the all-male ‘boylesque’ stars of the award-winning Briefs: Close Encounters, putting on their unmissable comedy-drag-circus hybrid show daily over the bank holiday weekend. Or check out the ravishing Miss Polly Rae’s own cabaret spectacle on Friday 25th.
The world’s greatest classical music festival came back in July for its 2017 edition, with a packed schedule of events over the bank holiday weekend. On Friday 25th, a celebration of Indian and Pakistani music to mark the 70th anniversary of partition will be held at the Royal Albert Hall. Or enjoy works of huge sonorities as the La Scala Philharmonic Milan debuts under Music Director Riccardo Chailly, with a violin concerto opener from Brahms, as well as a big band battle for lovers of Thirties and Forties swing music on Sunday. Bring your long weekend to a certifiably grand close with Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito on Monday night, with mezzo-soprano Alice Coote leading a starry cast in the much-loved opera. Ticket prices vary starting at £7.50, with a range of multi-show pass options available.
Mardi Gras Harlem Swing Train Spectacular
Blues Kitchen Camden
Get ready to earn that bank holiday brunch with a night dedicated to a whole lot of foot-tappin’ and hand-clappin’! Blow off the cobwebs with the high-energy Mardi Gras atmosphere of the Blues Kitchen Camden on Sunday 27th August. Enjoy two live bands performing the best in New Orleans jazz and marching band funk and soul. Performances start at 10.30pm, with DJ Eli continuing to bring the swing until 2.30am. Tickets start at £4 advance – or arrive before 9pm to get in for free. You can also reserve a table to dine on some fine Deep South soul food to fuel you up for the evening, with hearty, finger-licking fare including buttermilk chicken, burgers, barbecued meats and gumbo.
Madness Presents House of Common 2017
If you don’t fancy spending the final hours of the long weekend in bed recovering, then how about celebrating old school reggae and dancehall with Madness and friends? The Nutty Boys return to host another day of huge music acts for House of Common 2017, fresh from the success of last year’s top five album ‘Can’t Touch Us Now’. 2016’s edition of the festival proved a day to remember, with performances from legends including Toots and the Maytals and Lee Scratch Perry, and this year looks set to be just as thrilling. The long-standing ska-pop favourites are inviting along some more friends on Monday 28th August, in the form of De La Soul, Slaves, Craig Charles and Norman Jay to name a few. There’s even a Minor Madness arena for the kids. The action takes place from noon to 10.30pm, with tickets priced at £45 plus booking fee.