Your London Bank Holiday Weekend Guide | 27th-30th August 2021
I said hey. What’s going on?
Glad you asked, because this Bank Holiday weekend there’s a lot going on including… an after-hours photographic mission round the Tate, intimate gigs with live music around a campfire, a theatrical gin-pop up at a little-known rooftop bar, a lock-in with nine singing and dancing men, a steel band contest, espresso martinis on tap, interactive artworks involving smashed pottery and multi-coloured trumpets, and a rare sighting of the aurora borealis over Greenwich…
Battle Over Retro Arcade Games at Four Quarters
Four Quarters make a whole lot of fun (maths joke). Mainly because they’ve distilled everything that was great about 80s & 90s video arcades into one nostalgia-filled activity bar, where you can check out arcade classics like Pacman and Street Fighter II, play with vintage consoles in your own private booth, and enjoy the food of your youth (burgers, hot dogs, fries) with the drinks of your adulthood. And it’s a formula that’s proved so successful, they’ve just completed their trilogy with a third new branch in Elephant & Castle… READ MORE
Details: Open from 26th August | 20 Ash Avenue, Elephant Park, SE17 1GQ
Remind Yourself Why There’s A National Burger Day
Burgers: they’re the best things between sliced bread. For seven years now they’ve been celebrated with their very own day, and there are far worse places to join the festivities this year than Vinegar Yard in London Bridge, where a host of the city’s best bun-slingers will be descending to serve their signature sliders – including Bleecker, Baba G’s, Bob’s Lobster, and more… READ MORE
Details: 27th August | Vinegar Yard, 72-82 St Thomas Street, SE1 3QU | £12
Listen To Music By Campfire
Summer nights were made for events like this. Campfire Club features wonderful folk and acoustic artists from the UK and abroad, who perform intimate live sets around a campfire in one of the city’s many secluded green spaces. This weekend there are still tickets available for Granny’s Attic, a multi-tasking trio who play high-octane English folk, and a family-friendly afternoon with Sefo Kanuteh, whose Mande songs hail from a centuries-old musical tradition in West Africa.
Details: 27th & 28th August | Various locations | £12.50-13
See Art, Make Art, Become Art
Tate Lates are back, and not a minute too soon. This Friday the Tate Modern’s doors will be open for an after-hours artistic fiesta with roaming performance artists, drop-in craft workshops, musical artwork, film screenings, DJs, photographic scavenger hunts and giant collaborative artworks that will develop over the course of the evening.
Details: Friday 27th August, 6-10pm | Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG | Free, but book an entry slot here
Bunker Down with Choir of Man
Lockdown was the kind of lock-in nobody likes. So this rambunctious crew of ‘nine handsome [and apparently modest] guys’ – all of whom also happen to be incredibly talented singers, dancers and er, mop-musicians – are here to bring you all the uplifting, boozy, singalong shenanigans that you’ve missed out on over the past year and a half. Reeling off a string of hits including Chandelier, 500 Miles and the Pina Colada song, this is basically Glee set in an old English boozer – and that set behind them is a genuine working bar, where you can get a free pint.
PS: This show is on at London Wonderground, which means you can stroll around a Victorian funfair, urban beach and street food market before and after the performance. Read more here.
Details: Tues-Sun until 5th September | London Wonderground, Lille Road, SW6 1TT | From £18
See A New Side of Carousel
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s classic musical is given the kind of revival it’s been crying out for for decades at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Sure, the peppy songs are still there (June Is Bustin’ Out All Over, That Was A Real Nice Clambake, etc.), but the stripped-back set and costuming, industrial English setting and some wise direction allows the production to address the show’s dark theme of domestic violence head-on, and the result is a stirring and progressive show.
Details: Until 25th September | Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, NW1 4NU | £25-65
Watch Top Steel Bands Go Head To Head
The UK’s national Steel Band competition is back for a ninth year, and is all the more anticipated since the Notting Hill Carnival was sadly cancelled for a second year. Four groups will be duking it out for the championship, and once the winners have been announced there’ll be DJs keeping the party atmosphere going till midnight, plus pop-up food and drink stalls.
Details: Saturday 28th August, 6pm-12am | Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park, London, W10 | £15, book here
Watch The Aurora Borealis, In Greenwich
The Greenwich and Docklands International Festival starts up again this weekend, where you can variously see a Catalan ballet company reinvent dances from Swan Lake and The Nutcracker by performing them mid-air, a stunning overhead projection of the aurora borealis, glow-in-the-dark giant mouths that lip-sync to disco classics, theatre on stilts, and something described as a “collision of dance and ping pong”.
Details: From 27th August, see the full programme here | Across Greenwich | Free, just turn up
Take A Craft Beer Cruise Along The Thames
The London Craft Beer Cruise is anything but plain sailing. Aside from floating past some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, you’ll be able to sample five draught beers from a hand-picked collection of independent brewers (and order from an even bigger menu after that), sip cocktails and cider, munch on cheese boards from Neal’s Yard Dairy, and bop your head to the perfect summery soundtrack while you do. READ MORE
Details: Saturday 28th August | The River Princess, Lambeth Pier, Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7SG | £44
Soak Up Sunshine & Music at Yam Carnival
So, this is huge. The day-long festival dedicated to Black music culture was meant to debut last year, and is finally getting its inauguration this weekend. The line-up – spread across three live stages – includes big names like Davido, Princess Nokia, Kehlani, Beenie Man, Honey Dijon and Fatoumata Diawara, and there’ll be a whole array of street food stalls serving dishes from across the diaspora, conveniently slap-bang in the middle of Clapham Common.
Details: Saturday 28th August, 11am-10.30pm | Clapham Common | From £67
Sip Bottomless Espresso Martinis
The Espresso Martini Society claims to offer the longest espresso martini menu on the planet. They must have been up all night working on it. This pop-up bar is always worth checking out for its inventive twists on the classic – this weekend, you’ll be able to try salted caramel, citrus and Ferrero Rocher editions – and as always, the bar team’ll keep them coming for a free-flowing 90 minutes.
Details: Saturday 28th August | The New Yorker Gallery, Hopton Street, London, SE1 9LR | £35
Make The Most of London Theatre Week
London theatre’s finally staged a return. And just to remind you what you’ve been missing, some of the city’s best shows are slashing their prices for the next few days as part of London Theatre Week. Tickets are going for £15, £25 and £35, and span from musicals like Back To The Future and Amelie to comedy like The Play That Goes Wrong, dramas like Leopoldstadt and Oleanna, and the jaw-dropping Cirque Beserk. You can find a handy round-up of every show taking part here.
Check Out Yoko Ono’s Interactive Artwork
The Japanese artist, activist and musician is staging an interactive installation at the Whitechapel Gallery, 55 years after its London debut. Here, you’re encouraged to pick up the broken pieces of pottery (which represent the world, obv), and use the glue and tape provided to help piece it all back together. It’s surprisingly therapeutic, and shows that we shouldn’t underestimate the collective power of small actions. READ MORE
Details: From 25th August | Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, Whitechapel, E1 7QX | Free, book ahead
Pick Up A Bargain at Hackney Flea Market
That’s right, cheap fleas! Hackney’s long-established second-hand market is back with a bumper crop this weekend, featuring 30 hand-picked traders displaying all manner of wares. The place is an eclectic trove of quirky furniture, retro posters, salvaged treasures, crockery, clothing, vases, lighting, bric-a-brac and odds-and-ends. And they’re dog-friendly, so you can look at them, too.
PS: Now you’re on Church Street, you might as well make a day of it.
Details: 28th & 29th August, 11am-6pm | Abney Hall, 73A Stoke Newington Church Street, London, N16 0AS
Discover A New Rooftop Bar
The Royal Opera House has always been good at hitting the high notes. Their rooftop bar is a little-known gem overlooking the Covent Garden piazza, where you can watch the bustle of musicians and street performers below. And just as the ROH gears up to reopen for live performance again itself, Sipsmiths are hosting a gin takeover of the whole bar. They’ve created a menu of signature gin cocktails inspired by some of the ballets and operas that have been staged downstairs, each of which come paired with something lovely to eat.
Details: 28th August – 5th September | Royal Opera House, Bow Street, London WC2E 9DD | £20 (inc. complimentary cocktail)
Enjoy A Rooftop Sauna Session
Surely the epitome of bank holiday bliss: Netil360 have recently upgraded their own rooftop with a set of private sauna pods. They each come with stonking city views, refreshingly cool waterfall showers, a fully-stocked minibar, and a toasty fire-pit to relax by afterwards. And the good news is they’re currently very available for the weekend.
PS: Once you’re all nice and relaxed, you could always get pumped up again downstairs at NT’s, who have DJs and dancing on Friday & Saturday nights.
Details: Open daily | Netil360, 1 Westgate Street, Hackney, London, E8 3RL | £18-60pp
Go For A Classic Sunday Roast
Bank holidays present the perfect opportunity to go all-in with a roast, absolutely stuffing yourself with good food and wine, safe in the knowledge you have a whole day left to recover. We’ve rounded up some of our favourite spots here.
Go APE For The Day
After going a year without Hackney fest All Points East, appetite was so fierce the organisers have added a whole other festival into the event: Field Day. Tickets are still up for grabs for all the days, meaning you can (try to) choose between the insane line-up – which features Foals, Bombay Bicycle Club, London Grammar, Jorja Smith, Kano, and Jamie XX – and get excited for pop up bars, street food, funfair rides, and more. Plus, over the following few days there’s a huge programme of free events for locals, from outdoor screenings to free Thai boxing and aerial circus workshops.
Details: 27th-30th August, free events 31st Aug – 2nd Sept | Victoria Park, E3 5TG | From £78.95, or buy 6 for 5 with team tickets
Watch A Film Al Fresco
Hang on, intel just in – the weather’s going to be not completely grim this weekend, so make the most of it and catch an outdoor film screening before it gets cold again. Wembley‘s holding free film screenings all weekend, and there’s still tickets available for these more central film spots – see our listings guide here.
Listen To This Colourful New Sculpture
Much like esteemed 2010s pop duo Rizzle Kicks, artist Yuri Suzuki is keen for you to get down with the trumpets. His colourful, surreal and gloriously whimsical art installation has just landed in the middle of Mayfair, and for something that looks so bonkers it has a really heart-warming objective at its core. The trumpets are designed to amplify some of the sounds we take for granted in the city – bird song, trees rustling, general hustle ‘n’ bustle – and also to connect strangers, as you’re invited to record yourself speaking into the horn, for it to be played to someone listening on the other side. It could just be the ultimate game of bogeys.
Details: Open now, until next summer | Brown Hart Gardens, W1K 6WP | Free, just turn up
Improve The Mind at One of These Exhibitions
It’s a bank holiday! That’s basically a free day to enlighten yourself about something very specific to impress your friends with next time you’re at a high-brow dinner party/the pub/a bus stop. And currently, you can learn about the hidden women of the British surrealist movement (who were largely hidden metaphorically, but also sometimes literally, as in this photograph); the $80bn sneaker industry; 5000 years of Iranian culture; a Roman emperor with a bad boy rep; and the history of human happiness. SEE THE BEST EXHIBITIONS ON IN LONDON NOW
…Or Just Enjoy A Day Spent Doing Nothing
It’s a bank holiday! That’s basically a free pass to do absolutely nothing at all and chill out. And London’s full of places to do exactly that: you could spend a sunny afternoon lazing around one of London’s hidden green spaces, go for a long walk around the capital’s most scenic spots, soak up hilltop views and pet goats at the Horniman Museum Gardens, meander along London’s waterways on your own personal boat, tramp around Hampstead Heath (and finish off with a nice cool pint), mooch around a good market or just spend the whole afternoon atop one of the city’s finest rooftop bars.
Main image: Sonic Bloom – Yuri Suzuki
Need sustenance before you tackle everything that’s on in London this weekend? Peruse our newly updated guide to the best brunch in London