Category Archives: Families
Ideas for parents and grandparents to entertain the children.
The arrival of autumn means darker, colder nights and the coming of Halloween. Although traditionally just one night, there tends to be days, or sometimes weeks, of spooky celebrations. over the October period, sometimes creeping into early November. As it coincides with half-term, there’s some Halloween themed daytime fun on offer for children. However, when it comes to the nights, there a range of activities for those who want to celebrate – from simple film screenings or immersive, fancy dress parties.
For a guide to what’s else is on in London in October, click here.
Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to the best Halloween events and parties on around London this October:
- 1 – 31 October : Screamfest @ London Dungeon
Special Halloween event at the London Dungeon, featuring 20 spooky tales, two rides and a Jack the Ripper show. Tickets from £27 (online), £31 (on the door). London Dungeon, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB. Nearest station: Waterloo or Embankment. For more information and booking, visit the London Dungeon website. For Metro Girl’s review of the London Dungeon, click here.
- 20 – 27 October : Spookfest @ London Museum of Water & Steam
Learn the secret history of the engine houses, enjoy a ride on the ghost train, a trip through the creepy wood and Halloween craft activities. Tickets: adults £12.50, children £5.50 (10% discount for children’s in Halloween costume). London Museum of Water & Steam, Kew Bridge Road, Brentford, TW8 0EF. Nearest station: Kew Bridge. For more information, visit the London Museum of Water & Steam website.
- 20 – 28 October : Gruesome Nature Live @ London Zoo
A week of fiendish fun at London Zoo, featuring interactive musical show. Open 10am-5pm. Activities are free with entry to zoo. Entrance tickets: Adults £24.50, Child £18.00 (cheaper online). London Zoo, Regent’s Park, Marylebone, NW1 4RY. Nearest station: Regent’s Park or Camden Town. For booking, visit the ZSL website.
- 22 – 30 October : Wizard and Witch Woodland Walk @ Strawberry Hill
A spooky walk for little wizards and witches and their families, then cast a spell in the ‘cauldron room’ and hear a spooky story. Times: 4pm-5pm (4-6yrs), 5.30pm-6.30pm (7-10yrs). Tickets: £8. Strawberry Hill, 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham, TW1 4ST. Nearest station: Strawberry Hill. For more information, visit the Strawberry Hill website. For Metro Girl’s review of Strawberry Hill, click here.
- 23 October : Family Day: Halloween @ Benjamin Franklin House
A spooky family day with spooky 18th century stories told by Polly Hewson and gruesome games for 5-11 year olds. 4pm-5pm. Free, but advanced booking recommend. Benjamin Franklin House, 36 Craven Street, Westminster, WC2N 5NG. Nearest stations: Charing Cross or Embankment. For more information, visit the Benjamin Franklin House website.
- 24 – 28 October : Halloween Horrors @ Sutton House
Halloween fun and games in a Tudor manor designed by Tea Break Theatre. Fancy dress encouraged. Halloween activities are with normal entry. 12pm-5pm. Tickets (general admission): Adults £7, Children £3.50. Sutton House, 2-4 Homerton High Street, Hackney, E9 6JQ. Nearest station: Homerton. For more information, visit the National Trust website.
- 27 – 28 October : Horniman Halloween Fair
Meet creepy crawlies, spooky storytelling, arts and crafts markets and food stalls. Halloween costume encouraged. 10.30am-4.30pm. Free entry. Horniman Museum and Gardens, 100 London Road, Forest Hill, SE23 3PQ. Nearest station: Forest Hill. For more information, visit the Horniman Museum website.
Things that go bump in the night
- 7 October – 3 November : London Horror Festival
Festival of live horror performance including cabaret, film screenings, Zombie weekends, midnight performances and a short horror play competition. Ticket prices vary. Most events take place at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, Islington, EC1V 4NJ. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the London Horror Festival website.
- 12, 16-19 and 30-31 October : The Silhouette in the Smoke
An immersive theatrical experience with a murder mystery written especially for the London Museum of Water and Steam. Victorian high tea included. You must solve the mystery in groups of six. Over 16s only. 7.15pm. Tickets: £28. London Museum of Water & Steam, Kew Bridge Road, Brentford, TW8 0EF. Nearest station: Kew Bridge. For more information, visit the London Museum of Water & Steam website. Read the rest of this entry
Launching this October is a rather special afternoon tea for families. Judith Kerr’s beloved children’s book The Tiger Who Came To Tea has been charming readers since 1968. Like many, I owned the book as a children and loved my parents reading it to me.
From this week, The Savoy hotel has teamed up with publishers HarperCollins to create a unique children’s afternoon tea inspired by the classic book as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. This food and drink extravaganza will be the five-star hotel’s first dedicated children’s afternoon tea offering in its 129 year history. The variety of treats are drawn from the tea that Sophie and her mum shared with the visiting tiger. The Savoy’s pastry team have dreamed up an enchanting menu served on bespoke chinaware inspired by the book. The stunning china will also be available to buy from Savoy Tea.
The menu is as follows:
- Sophie’s Sandwiches
Peanut Butter & Jam Bites; Red Leicester Cheese Whirl; and Honey Roast Ham Finger Sandwiches.
- Tiger Scones
Freshly-baked stripy scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.
- Treats with the Tiger
Sophie’s Tights (Blue and pink Battenberg), The Milkman Special (Vanilla yoghurt, raspberry compote), Mummy’s Cookie Crumbs (Dark chocolate cookie dipped in chocolate); Tiger Food (Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting); and Owp! (Handmade marzipan tiger).
Accompanying the food will be a choice of hot or cold drink, including Vanilla Black Tea; Blackcurrant & Hibiscus Tea; Tiger Hot Chocolate (Served with cream and tiger stripes) or Orange juice.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea menu will be available for children at the first two sittings of Afternoon Tea in The Savoy’s iconic Thames Foyer. Adults may prefer the Traditional Afternoon Tea, Champagne Afternoon Tea and High Tea, which will continue to be offered.
- The Savoy’s special edition The Tiger Who Came to Tea at The Savoy, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 0EZ. Nearest station: Embankment, Charing Cross or Temple. Available Mon-Fri afternoons for the first two sittings from 8 October 2018. Price: £40 per child (aged 5-12years). Dress code: Smart casual. For more information booking, visit The Savoy’s website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in October, click here.
Autumn is finally here after a super long summer. Some may be welcoming the cooler temperatures, while others may be lamenting the fast approach of winter. However, lets live in the moment and focus on October. There’s plenty going on around town with many events creeping into the warmer indoor settings. Of course, there’s Halloween at the end of the month and half-term holidays so expect plenty of ghoulish and family events – or both – going on. October is a good month for booze fans with lots of beer and cocktail festivals. The nights may be getting darker, but you could brighten up your home with a purchase from one of the many art fairs on this month.
For a guide to what’s on in London this Halloween, click here.
- 1 – 7 October : London Cocktail Week
Over 300 bars, restaurants and other surprising venues are celebrating London Cocktail Week with a variety of offers and events around the capital. To get the most out of it, buy a £10 digital pass so you can enjoy cocktails at participating venues for as little as £6. For more information, visit the London Cocktail Week website. Find out about the Broken Shaker pop-up bar at Madison.
- 1 – 31 October : London Restaurant Festival
Restaurants all over the capital are taking place in this festival, offering special menus, discounts and events celebrating the capital’s culinary culture. Highlights include Gourmet Odysseys, Eat Film, Restaurant Hopping Tours, Eat Art @ Saatchi Gallery and more. For more information, visit the London Restaurant Festival website.
- 2 – 3 October : RHS Harvest Festival Show
Horticultural show including fruit and vegetable competition, pumpkin display, nursery and harvest displays, harvest games, cocktails and live music. Open 10am-5pm. Free entry. Lindley Hall, RHS Horticultural Halls, 80 Vincent Square, SW1P 2PE. Nearest station: Victoria. For more information, visit the RHS website.
- 2 October – 9 December : Strange Days – Memories Of the Future
Video and films by 21 radical film-makers, presented as large-scale, multi-screen video installations. Tues-Sat 12pm-7pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. Free entry. The Store X, 180 The Strand, WC2R 1EA. Nearest station: Temple or Charing Cross. For more information, visit the website.
- 4 October : Young Marketeers’ Harvest Sale @ Borough Market
Local schoolchildren will be trading their homegrown fruit and vegetables at Borough Market. Proceeds go to the FareShare charity. 11am-1.30pm. Free entry. Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Borough Market website.
- 4 – 7 October : The Other Art Fair
The bi-annual fair is a great place to buy art from 130 emerging and undiscovered artists. There will also be guest artists, immersive theatre, live music, bar and restaurant. Opening times vary. Tickets: £8.96-£22.40. Victoria House, Southampton Row, Holborn, WC1A 2QP. Nearest station: Holborn. For tickets, visit The Other Art Fair website.
- 4 – 7 October : Frieze Art Fair
Contemporary art event in Regent’s Park, featuring over 150 galleries from around the world. Opening hours vary. Tickets start from £38.50. Regents Park (Art Fair near the Outer Circle in SE corner of the park). Nearest stations: Regent’s Park, Great Portland Street, Baker Street or Camden Town. For more information and tickets, visit the Frieze London website.
- 4 – 14 October : Oktoberfest London
Celebrate the German beer fest in Docklands, featuring a host of beer, food and entertainment. Opening hours vary. General admission starts from free to £10 (depending on day). Millwall Park, Manchester Road, Isle of Dogs, E14 3AY. Nearest station: Island Gardens or Mudchute. For booking, visit the London Oktoberfest website.
- 4 – 14 October : Wimbledon Bookfest
Festival featuring readings, children’s events, storytelling, comedy, courses, screenings, walks and interviews from a wide range of authors, including Graham Norton, Alan Davies, Lionel Shriver, Sebastian Faulks, Cathy Newman, Michael Rosen, Max Hastings, Billy Bragg and more. Tickets prices vary. A majority of events take place in tents on Wimbledon Common, but also other venues nearby. Nearest station: Wimbledon. For more information and tickets, visit the BookFest website.
- 5 – 7 October : Cake And Bake Show
Event celebrating all things baking and decorating, featuring celebrity experts, stalls selling baking equipment, cake competitions and more. Open 10am-5pm. Tickets: £13. ExCel, 1 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Prince Regent or Custom House. For tickets, visit the Cake And Bake Show website.
- 5 – 7 October : Tequila And Mezcal Fest
A weekend celebration of Tequila and Mezcal, including Mexican food, live Mariachi bands, Mexican art and artisan products on sale. Open Sat 12pm-9.30pm, Sun 8 1-9pm. Tickets start from £20 (early bird tickets include Tequila or Mezcal samples and free entry to seminars and master classes). Oxo Tower Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Blackfriars or Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit the Tequila Fest website.
- 5 – 14 October : Herne Hill Music Festival
Music festival in Herne Hill, south London at various venues across SE24 and neighbouring areas including The Half Moon, Off The Cuff, Canopy Bar, St Faith’s Church, Brockwell Hall and Herne Hill School. Tickets range from free to £50. Nearest station: Herne Hill. For more information, visit the Herne Hill Music Festival website.
- 5 October – 18 November : Poppies – Weeping Window
The Weeping Window from artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper’s famous 2014 poppy installation at the Tower of London has been touring the UK and returns to the capital. Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, Lambeth, SE1 6HZ. Nearest station: Lambeth North. For more information, visit the Imperial War Museum website. For Metro Girl’s blog post on the installation, click here.
- 7 October – 3 November : London Horror Festival
Festival of live horror performance including cabaret, film screenings, Zombie weekends, midnight performances and a short horror play competition. Ticket prices vary. Most events take place at the Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, Islington, EC1V 4NJ. Nearest station: Angel. For more information, visit the London Horror Festival website. Read the rest of this entry
I’ve long recommended a boat trip down the River Thames as a ‘must do’ to friends and family visiting London from abroad. It’s a great place to get an overview of the capital and some of its most iconic landmarks. such as the Tower of London, the London Eye and Cleopatra’s Needle. Personally, I’ve been down the river many times over the years on the Thames Clippers, party boats or the tourist cruises. However, the one Thames experience missing from my personal history was a speedboat ride… until now.
I had occasionally seen Thames Rockets on the Thames over the years as a pedestrian on dry land. Finally, last week, I got the chance to experience a trip on a Rocket myself. The company, which launched in 2006, offers six different experiences, ranging from a 15 minute ‘Thames Taster’ to the 80 minute Thames Barrier Explorers Voyage. I was on the Ultimate London Adventure, which aims to provide a “fun-filled adrenaline-fuelled 50 minute” journey. Ahead of my trip, I was intrigued how they would combine a sight-seeing tour and speed.
Arriving 15 minutes before departure, I was greeted by the friendly Thames Rockets team, who fitted my lifejacket at the pier just by the London Eye. Next, we were given a safety briefing before climbing in. The Thames Rockets boats are speedboats with seats for about 12 people, each with a driver and guide abroad during your journey. I managed to get a coveted spot at the front of the boat, which was perfect for me as I was planning to photograph and video a lot of the journey. We were introduced to our driver Doug and our guide Bill and prepared to set off.
The first part of our journey was a musical trip past some of London’s most famous sights, such as Shakespeare’s Globe, Waterloo Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral. We slowed down a bit just before Tower Bridge so we could get some good photos. Soon after we passed under Tower Bridge and passed the River Police Station at Wapping, it was time to crank things up a gear. With this eastern passage of the Thames being wider and less busy than central London, Doug was free to increase the speed. Soon enough, we were holding on tight to the railings as we twisted, turned, and jumped over the waves at speeds of up to 30 knots (35mph). There was plenty of whooping and screaming as the group reacted to the various stunts. Sitting by the port side of the boat, I did get a little wet from the spray, but I was well prepared in a raincoat and it was all part of the fun. As we raced towards Canary Wharf, there were times I couldn’t even see the skyscrapers as the bow rode up in front of us as we leaped over the waves. The side turns were particularly hair-raising and certainly showed our skipper’s impressive skills at the wheel. Read the rest of this entry
If you’ve been in central London recently, you may have noticed some pretty new pieces of street furniture. Twenty one rhino sculptures have been erected near iconic sights as part of the Tusk Rhino Trail. Each piece of art has been customised by international artists, to raise awareness of the rhinos’ plight. These magnificent creatures are under threat of extinction due to poaching and they must be protected.
The capital-wide art installation has been curated by Chris Westbrook for the Tusk conservation charity. The sculptures will remain in situ until World Rhino Day on 22 September 2018. The following month, all 21 will be auctioned by Christie’s to raise money for the charity on 9 October.
Artists taking part include Ronnie Wood, Marc Quinn, Gavin Turk, Axel Scheffler, the Chapman Brothers, Charming Baker, Glen Baxter, Nick and Rob Carter, Eileen Cooper, Nancy Fouts, Nick Gentry, Zhang Huan, Patrick Hughes, David Mach, Gerry McGovern, Harland Miller, Mauro Perruchetti, Dave White, David Yarrow and Jonathan Yeo. Locations include Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Guildhall, Marble Arch and St Paul’s. Why not download a map and bring your children rhino spotting.
- The Tusk Rhino Trail is on now until 22 September 2018. To download the trail map and find out more about the charity’s work, visit the Tusk Rhino Trail website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in September, click here.
This post is taking part in #CulturedKids, sharing cultural blog posts aimed at children. Thanks to Catherine at Cultured Wednesdays for getting me involved.
When it comes to London’s royal palaces, most of them tend to be rather young, with the oldest parts of Buckingham Palace dating back to 1703 and Clarence House, a few years shy of its 200th anniversary. However, long before the monarch resided at Buck House, the King or Queen had a home in the huge Palace Of Westminster. Today, the title belongs to the Houses of Parliament, the seat of our Government.
Most of the Medieval Palace of Westminster was destroyed by a huge fire in the 1800s, to be rebuilt as the iconic masterpiece, which remains today. However, two buildings managed to survive, the 11th century Westminster Hall, and the 14th century Jewel Tower. Now owned by English Heritage, the diminutive Jewel Tower is open to the public. Recently, I paid a visit to this small, but interesting piece of Medieval London. It’s a small space with the exhibition taking about an hour to see.
The Jewel Tower was built around 1365-6 at the southern end of the Palace of Westminster to house the treasures of King Edward III (1312-1377). The Tower stood at the end of the garden and was protected by a moat to the south and west of the building. It was built under the direction of master mason Henry Yevele (1320-1400) and master carpenter Hugh Herland (1330-1411) on land which had been appropriated from Westminster Abbey, to the chagrin of the monks. The keeper would have worked on the ground or first floor, logging the King’s treasures coming in and going out of the Tower. The most valuable goods were kept on the second floor.
For 150 years, the Tower was used to house the subsequent Kings’ treasures until a fire at the palace in 1512. The building then became home to less valuable items, such as clothing, bed linen, furniture and royal children’s toys, according to an inventory in 1547. In 1600, the building was repurposed for the Government, rather than royals, when it became a parliamentary office. A three-storey timber extension was added to the side of the Tower as a house for the Clerk of the Parliament. The ground floor of the Jewel Tower became the kitchen and scullery, while the first floor was used as a repository for various parliament documents. In 1621, the building was renovated to become more secure to protect the important documents. On the first floor, a brick vault was added with a metal door featuring the year inscribed on the exterior and the cipher of King James I (1566-1625). That very door still exists today and can be seen on your visit.
By the 18th century, the Tower was apparently a bit of a state so work was taken to renovate and improve it. Larger windows and a new chimney were added, while the building was made more fireproof to protect the documents inside. Throughout the century, the Tower was gradually hidden by the buildings popping up around it. By 1827, the House of Lords’ records had been moved out of the Tower because it was too small and it was known as part of Old Palace Yard, with the name Jewel Tower dropping out of use. Read the rest of this entry
School’s out for summer! August is, without a doubt, the busiest time in the capital. Parents and grandparents are taking to London’s parks and museums to entertain the kids, while tourists are arriving en masse to take advantage of our city’s fabulous sights and attractions. After a scorching few months in the capital, many Londoners will be hoping for more hot weather… although a few rainstorms may be welcome for our poor parched parks and not-so-green spaces. Across London, there’s plenty of events and festivals taking place this August. Here’s Metro Girl’s guide to the best of the city this month.
Here’s a guide to London’s urban beaches and lidos.
- 3 August : Wear – an opera performance
Tête à Tête brings a modern, immersive opera production to King’s Cross, exploring the themes of fashion and the future. 8pm. Tickets: £7.50 (advance), £9.50 (on the door). The Crossing, King’s Cross, N1C 4AA. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information, visit the King’s Cross website.
- 3 – 4 August : Cocktails In The City – London Summer
London’s best bars gather in one space for a festival of cocktails. Participating bars include Barrio, Mr Fogg’s, Cahoots, The Nightjar and The Cocktail Trading Co. Open Fri 5pm-10pm, Sat 12pm-5pm and 5.30pm-10pm. Tickets: £20 (inc welcome cocktail). Bedford Square Gardens, Fitzrovia, WC1B 3HH. Nearest station: Russell Square or Tottenham Court Road. For more information, visit the Cocktails In The City website.
- 3 – 5 August : London Craft Beer Festival
Over 65 breweries from London, the UK, Europe and USA will be showing off 100s of beers. Also including food stalls, live music and DJs from Two Door Cinema Club, Hercules & Love Affair, Huey Morgan, Toddla T, Everything Everything, Trojan Sound System, Hip Hop Karaoke and more. Times vary. Tickets: £46.50 (includes free glass and unlimited small pours). Tobacco Dock, 50 Porters Walk, Wapping, E1W 2SF. Nearest station: Wapping or Shadwell. For more information, visit the London Craft Beer Festival.
- Now until 3 August : Festibowl 2018
Festival of lawn bowling returns to the City every Thursday and Friday throughout the summer. There will also be DJs, street food and cocktails. 12pm-11pm. Tickets from £25. Finsbury Square, City of London, EC2A. Nearest stations: Moorgate, Liverpool Street or Old Street. For tickets, visit the Festibowl website.
- Now until 3 August : Somnai
Experience a live, multi-sensory experience with immersive technologies including virtual reality. Somnai is said to be the biggest theatrical event since Punch Drunk and offers a ‘lucid dreaming’ experience. Over 18s only. 90 minutes long. Times vary. Tickets from £35. Somnai, 2 Pear Tree Street, Clerkenwell, EC1V 3SB. Nearest stations: Old Street, Barbican or Farringdon. For booking and more information, visit the Somnai website. Read Metro Girl’s review.
- 4 August : London Tequila Festival
Live music and DJs, over 30 different Tequilas, Processions and piñatas, Tequila cocktail bar, tacos, fajitas and more. 12.30pm-10.30pm. Tickets £16.99-£22.99 (inc complimentary shot). Acklam Village Market, Acklam Road, Ladbroke Grove, W10 5TY. Nearest station: Ladbroke Grove. For tickets, visit Eventbrite.
- 7 – 11 August : Great British Beer Festival
Hundreds of real ales, ciders, perries and foreign beers with be available to try, while there will also be plenty of entertainment and food. Tickets start from £11 advance (£14 on the door). Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information and tickets, visit the Great British Beer Festival website.
- 8 – 25 August : Secret Cinema presents William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet
Immersive cinema company brings Baz Lurhmann’s vision of Verona Beach to the capital. Expect love, violence, Hawaiian shirts and a banging soundtrack in a five-hour outdoor festival, including screening. No cameras allowed. Times vary. Tickets start from £51.67. At a secret London location. For more information and tickets, visit the Secret Cinema website. Read Metro Girl’s review of a previous Secret Cinema event.
- 8 August – 2 September : Summer By The River – Outdoor Theatre
Watch a live outdoor performance of The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz by the Thames. Performances from Wed-Sat at 6pm, Sun at 4pm. Free entry. The Scoop, Queen’s Walk, London Bridge, SE1 2DB. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the London Bridge City website. Read the rest of this entry
Scrolling through your social media feeds recently, you may be seeing lovely shots of people running through lavender fields. Obviously, an over-crowded metropolis like London doesn’t have the room for huge fields, but there are several of these floral paradises just outside the capital. Lavender season is usually from late May until September, with July to August the best time to visit. As these tend to be in the countryside, it’s advisable to go via car if you can, however some public transport routes have been detailed below. The fields are all family friendly so it’s a great day out with the children during the summer holidays.
- Mayfield Lavender Farm
Despite some London guides claiming this is in Croydon, it isn’t. Located in the Surrey Downs, in the London Borough of Sutton, it’s at least a 45 minute commute from Croydon town centre. Mayfield has 25 acres of fields with an Insta-tastic red phonebox and tractor for those perfect poses. It also has a shop selling lavender products and a café, serving drinks and snacks, many featuring lavender flavours. Find out more on their website. Check out Metro Girl’s blog post about her visit.
Mayfield Lavender Farm, 1 Carshalton Road, Banstead, Surrey SM7 3JA. Open daily 9am-6pm from 1 June – 16 September. Tickets: Adults £2, Under 16s free.
Getting there by public transport: The nearest train stations are Chipstead (42 mins from London Bridge) or Banstead (56 mins from Victoria), before a short bus ride (166) or a 40-45 minute walk. Alternatively you can get the 166 bus earlier from West Croydon which takes about 45 minutes.
- Hitchin Lavender
Situated north of the capital in Hertfordshire, Hitchin boasts 25 miles of rows from which you can pick your own lavender. It also features a sunflower field and wildflower area. There’s a 17th century barn on-site selling lunches and cakes, as well as a shop. Find out more on their website.
Hitchin Lavender, Cadwell Farm, Ickleford, Hitchin, Herts SG5 3UA. Open daily 10am-5pm from 19 June until the end of August. Tickets (picking included): Adults £6, Under 14s £3, Under 5s free.
Getting there by public transport: From King’s Cross, you can get a Thameslink train to Arlesey (54 mins). Take the 72 bus to ‘The Green’ stop, a few minutes walk from the field.
- Kentish Lavender
Castle Farm in Kent is home to the largest lavender farm in the UK with over 95 acres of the purple stuff! Their Hop Shop is open all year round, selling lavender and other farm products. You can only visit the fields on a guided group tour or a sunset pop-up picnic. Check out their website to find out more.
Castle Farm, Redmans Lane, Shoreham, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN14 7UB. The Hop Shop is open Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 10am-5pm. Group tour tickets: Adults £6/£7, Children 5-14ys £3/£3.50.
Getting there by public transport: From Blackfriars, you can get a Thameslink train to Eynsford (55 mins) or Shoreham (59 mins). From either, there are several bus routes (approx. 15 mins) going to the Hop Shop.
- Lavender Fields @ Hartley Park Farm
This is a lot further afield in Hampshire, but if you’re willing to make the journey, then you may find it quieter than the ones closer to London. There’s an on-site shop open from mid-April under late September, but the lavender fields are only accessible during their open days. Check out their website to find out when their open days are taking place.
Hartley Park Farm, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 3HP. Tickets (open days only): Adults £4, Under 12s free.
Getting there by public transport: From Waterloo, you can get a South Western train to Petersfield (1 hour). Take the 38 bus to the ‘Hartley Park Farm’ stop.
For a guide to what’s on in London in August, click here.
Summer is in full swing and so is tourist season. London has one of its busiest months of the year as hordes of visitors descend on the capital and the school holidays kick off at the end of the month. It’s also a big month for sports fans with the World Cup and Wimbledon taking place.
For a guide to London’s urban beaches, click here.
Find out where London’s nearest lavender fields are.
- Now until 1 July : Merge Festival
The annual arts, music and performance festival returns to Bankside, drawing upon the area’s heritage and contemporary culture. Events include the Emily Peasgood’s sound installation Requiem for Crossebones, and many more. For more information, visit the Merge Festival website.
- Now until 1 July : Carters Steam Fair @ Hornsey
The vintage travelling funfair sets up camp in Hornsey, featuring rides from the late 19th century to the 1960s. Open Frid 3pm-8pm, Sat 11am-8pm and Sun 11am-8pm. Free admission. Priory Park, Hornsey, N8 8QR. Nearest station: Hornsey. For more information, visit the Carters Steam Fair website.
- Now until 1 July : Hampstead Summer Festival
The festival takes place in and around Hampstead, including the Big Fair on Heath Street (1 July), open art competitions, poetry, art and literacy events, pub quizzes and more. Many activities are free. For more information, visit the HampsteadSummer Festival website.
- 3 – 5 July : FoundHER Festival
A festival for working women bringing together inspiring women giving talks, workshops, entertainment and more. Times vary. The AllBright, 11 Rathbone Place, Soho, W1T 1HR. Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus or Goodge Street. For more information, visit the FoundHER festival website.
- 3 – 8 July : RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
Flower show in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace. Celebrity and expert speakers include Pippa Greenwood, Julia Bradbury, David Domoney, Bill Oddie, Chris Beardshaw, Carol Klein, Joe Swift and Ben Faulks. Open to RHS members only Tues-Wed, Public entry Mon and Thu-Sun. Advance tickets range from £19.50 to £37 depending on full/half-day and RHS membership. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (from Waterloo). For more information and tickets, visit the RHS website.
- 3 July – 30 September : Scoop – The Wonderful World Of Ice Cream
A sensory immersive celebration of ice cream from food wizards Bompas & Parr. Featuring the history of ice cream, ice cream weather, glow-in-the-dark ice cream, the neuroscience of ice cream and the dark side of desserts. Open: Mon-Fri 12pm-8pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm. Tickets: Adults: £12, Conc £10, Under 16s £6 (+ booking fee). Unit 2, Gasholders Building, 1 Lewis Cubitt Square, Kings Cross, N1C 4BY. Nearest station: King’s Cross St Pancras. For more information and booking, visit the BMOF website.
- 4 – 8 July : Sail Royal Greenwich presents Tall Ships
Ten tall ships will be cruising up and down the River Thames. Visitors can enjoy a quite unique opportunity to cruise aboard one of the ships. Setting off from Woolwich Royal Arsenal Pier, there’ll be a range of cruise options available throughout the event with the route taking visitors past Canary Wharf and The O2 Arena as far as the Cutty Sark, Greenwich Royal Naval College and even the Thames Barrier or Tower Bridge depending on the chosen departure. There will also be firework displays each evening. Cruises packages and departure times vary. For more information, check out the Sail Royal Greenwich website.
- 5 July : A Walk Through Time @ Connaught Village
Connaught Village celebrates 150 years of history with a special event. Featuring live music, theatre, jelly art from Bompas & Parr, workshops, freebies and more. 3pm-7pm. Free to attend. Connaught Village, W2 2AA. Nearest station: Marble Arch, Paddington or Lancaster Gate. For more information, visit the Connaught Village website. Read Metro Girl’s blog post on the event.
- 5 July : City Beerfest
One day beer festival comes to the City of London. Featuring 14 breweries, live music from City Music Foundation artists and food stalls. 12.30pm-9.30pm. Free entry or Beer packages from £12 (incl 4 beer tokens and 1 City Beerfest glass per person). Guildhall Yard, City of London, EC2V 5AE. Nearest station: St Paul’s. For tickets (save at least 10%), visit the City Beerfest website.
- 5 July : Whisky 101 for American Independence Day
Celebrate the US holiday with a banquet of Southern American style food, beer and bourbon. Learn all things bourbon and beer with ambassadors for Heaven Hill and FourPure, while DJs will be spinning American classics on the decks. Tickets: £15 (inc food with 1 cocktail/beer). The Gallery, 190 Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead, NW6 3AY. Nearest station: West Hampstead. For more information, visit the Gallery website.
- Now until 5 July : Masterpiece London
An imaginative art and antiques fair for traditional and contemporary. Featuring a week of cultural, culinary and social experiences. Tickets from £35. Royal Hospital, Chelsea, SW3 4SL. Nearest station: Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Masterpiece London website.
- 6 – 8 July : Just V Show
Lifestyle festival for vegans, vegetarians or those who want to live a more plant-based diet. Open 10am-5pm. Tickets: £10 (also include entry to the Love Natural Love You and The Allergy & Free From Show). Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For tickets, visit the Just V Show website.
- 7 July : Stockwell Festival
A celebration of the unique creativity and diversity of Stockwell. This year’s theme is ‘Stockwellbeing’. 12pm-6pm. Free entry. Larkhall Park, Stockwell, SW8 2PX. Nearest station: Stockwell or Wandsworth Road. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.
- 7 July : Art Night
A free contemporary arts festival takes over spaces, venues and landmarks in the capital for one night only, featuring art, architecture, dance and music. Every year, a cultural institution is invited to focus on a different part of London. This year, the event will take place in south of the Thames across Southbank, Vauxhall and Nine Elms. 6pm-6am. Free. For more information, visit the Art Night website.
- 7 July : Rainbow Festival Pride Party @ Chotto Matte
Peruvian-Japanese restaurant Chotto Matte are hosting a party to celebrate Pride, featuring multi-coloured cocktails, rainbow menu, DJs and more. From 12pm-1pm, guests will be served free multi-coloured food and drink on the house. Chotto Matte, 11-13 Frith Street, Soho, W1D 4RB. Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Chotto Matte website.
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When the sun comes out, most of us have the urge to head to a park, rooftop bar or… the beach. However, this can cause issues with the capital being a couple of dozen of miles from the nearest seaside. Fortunately, in the past few years, urban beaches have been cropping up around London. Some are patches of sand accompanied by water, while some have a full-blown beach club so you can close your eyes and imagine you’re on the French Riviera. However, if sand isn’t your thing and you just fancy a swim, you can always visit one of the city’s lidos or swimming ponds.
- 3 May – TBA September : Fulham Beach Club
The popular Neverland has had a summer makeover, featuring day beds, private beach huts and cabanas, two bars, Jimmy Garcia’s BBQ Club pop-up, live DJs, croquet, beer pong, shuffleboard and ping pong. They also host special events include bottomless brunches, yoga classes, fancy dress parties and sports screenings. Open Wed-Fri 6pm-11pm, Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-9pm. Entrance starts from £5 (free to SW6 residents all days except Sat). Neverland, 364 Wandsworth Bridge Road, Fulham, SW6 2TY. Nearest station: Wandsworth Town. For more information, visit the Neverland Fulham website.
- 21 May – 21 September : Beach Bar @ The Montague Hotel
Pop-up beach bar returns to the gardens of The Montague Hotel. Featuring real sand, beach hut, tropical cocktails, palm trees, BBQ and jet ski selfie area. Open Mon-Sun 12pm-10pm. Packages start from £50. The Montague Hotel, 15 Montague Street, Bloomsbury, WC1B 5BJ. Nearest station: Russell Square or Holborn. For more information, visit The Montague Hotel website.
- 25 May – 9 September : Southbank Centre Beach
The popular mini beach returns to the South Bank opposite the skate park. The area is surrounded by food and drink vendors. Open 10am-10pm. Free entry. Southbank Centre Beach, South Bank, SE1. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information, visit the Southbank Centre website.
- 26 May – 2 September : The Beach Brent Cross
Pop-up beach returns featuring a huge beach of imported sand, water to paddle in, rides, entertainment and food and drink vendors. Open Fri 4pm-9pm. Sat-Sun: 12pm-9pm. Entry: £3. Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Hendon, NW4 3FP. Nearest station: Hendon Central or Brent Cross. For more information, visit The Beach Brent Cross website.
- 1 July – 2 September : Hampstead Beach
The Jewish Community Centre is hosting a two month-long pop-up beach, featuring lots of sand, cocktails, food and special events. Open Sun-Thu 9.30am-8pm, Fri 9am-3pm. Sat closed. Free entry. JW3, 341-351 Finchley Road, Hampstead, NW3 6ET. Nearest station: Finchley Road and Frognal or West Hampstead. To book, visit the JW3 website
- 18 July – 2 September : Urban London Beach
Sandy beach by the River Thames underneath the Emirates Air Line cable car. Sit on a deckchair, watch your kids play in the sand or enjoy an ice cream. Open daily 10am-8pm. Free entry. Urban London Beach, 27 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Docks, E16 1FA. Nearest station: Royal Victoria (DLR). For more information, visit the London’s Royal Docks website.
London’s lidos and swimming ponds
If you’re not a fan of sand, perhaps you’d like to cool down in one of the capital’s alfresco swimming spaces instead.
Brockwell Lido, Dulwich Road, Herne Hill, SE24 0PA. Nearest station: Herne Hill.
Tooting Bec Lido, Tooting Bec Road, Tooting Bec, SW16 1RU. Nearest station: Streatham.
Charlton Lido, Hornfair Park, Shooters Hill Road, SE18 4LX. Nearest station: Charlton.
Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park, South Carriage Drive, W2 2UH. Nearest stations: Hyde Park Corner, South Kensington, Marble Arch.
Parliament Hill Lido, Heath Lodge, Highgate, NW5 1NA. Nearest station: Gospel Oak.
Hampstead Mixed Bathing Pond, Hampstead Way, Hampstead Heath, NW5 1QN. Nearest station: Hampstead Heath.
Finchley Lido, Chaplin Square, Finchley, N12 0GL. Nearest station: West Finchley.
Park Road Pools & Fitness, Park Road, Crouch End, N8 8JN. Nearest stations: Hornsey or Highgate.
London Fields Lido, London Fields West Side, Hackney, E8 3EU. Nearest stations: London Fields or Hackney Central.
Hampton Pool, High Street, Hampton, TW12 2ST. Nearest station: Hampton.
For a guide to London’s pop-up and roaming cinemas this summer, click here.
For a guide to what’s on in London in August, click here.
Find out where London’s nearest lavender fields are.