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Spotlight Festival: Music, performances, shopping and more at the West End’s one day festival

© Matt Alexander/PA Wire

The Spotlight festival returns to Seven Dials, a one-day festival of comedy, music and arts.
© Matt Alexander/PA Wire

Many festivals can be rather tough on the wallet. However, this weekend, you can get your festival fever fix for free as Spotlight returns to Seven Dials. The iconic West End shopping and dining destination will be closed to traffic for one day for a festival of music, comedy and arts.

An open-air stage will feature a host of performances, including the cast of Motown The Musical and Treasure Island, comedy from Nathan Caton and magic from Britain’s youngest illusionist Ben Hart. The stage, hosted by George Lamb, will also feature music from Sample Answer, Old Dirty Brasstards and King Charles.

Among the activities on offer include pop-up tea garden, crazy golf, giant chess, giant Connect 4, Airstream photo booth, design your own flower crown and watch Margaux Carpentier’s live art mural unfold. The surrounding shops and restaurants will be taking part with discounts and special events, such as complimentary drinks, goodie bags, competitions and more.

  • The Spotlight Festival is on 13 August 2016. 12-7pm. Free entry. Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H 9HD. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. Register for free on the website for your free glass of Prosecco from the Prosecco truck on Earlham Street. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in August, click here.

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Where to watch the Rio Olympics and Paralympics 2016 on the big screen in London

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2012

Watching the Olympics on the big screens

The Rio De Janeiro Olympics kick off on 5 August 2016, with the Paralympics following on 7 September. Although many of us had the opportunity to watch the games in person in our beloved capital four years ago, this year it’s unlikely many of us will be jetting over to South America. So why not watch our Team GB athletes on the big screen so you can soak up some of the ‘lympic atmosphere. Check out the venues hosting pop-up screens around town, with plenty of food and drink on offer too to keep you fuelled as your watch our sportsmen and women go for gold.

  • 5 – 21 August : Boxpark

Watch the Olympics on the big screen while sitting on deckchairs. Plenty of food and drink establishments will be selling refreshments and snacks. Free. Boxpark, Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, E1 6GY. Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street. For more information, visit the Boxpark website.

  • 5 – 21 August : The Big Screen @ Bluebird

Bluebird on the King’s Road will be hosting screenings of the Rio Olympic Games on a giant outdoor screen in their sunny courtyard. You can watch the action while sipping champagne or Pimms from the bar or eating from the café menu. Bluebird, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest stations: Fulham Broadway, South Kensington or Sloane Square. For more information, visit the Bluebird website.

  • 5 – 21 August : Big Screen @ Merchant Square

Watch the Olympics on the big screen in Paddington. Food and drink will be available, including Pimm’s. Open until 10pm nightly. Free. The Lawn, Paddington Basin, Paddington, W2 1JS. Nearest station: Paddington. For more information, visit the Merchant Square website.

  • 5 – 21 August : Summer Screen @ Canary Wharf

Watch the Rio Olympics outdoors at Canary Wharf. Bars and restaurants nearby will be serving food and drink. Times vary. Free. Canada Square Park, Docklands, E14. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Canary Wharf website. Read the rest of this entry

Guide to what’s on in London in August 2016

99 ice cream © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2015

Summer is here!

Summer is well and truly in full swing. Schools are closed, there’s weddings and festivals up and down the country and plenty of alfresco fun to be had around town. Of course, the Rio Olympics will be kicking off on 5 August to expect plenty of sporting and Brazilian activities on around town as well.

To find out where to watch the Rio Olympics on the big screen, click here.

For a guide to the capital’s pop-up cinemas this summer, click here.

  • 1 – 28 August : Camden Fringe

The Camden Fringe returns for its 11th year, bringing over 250 productions of theatre, comedy and fringe fun to 25 venues across the borough of Camden, including Camden People’s Theatre, Camden Comedy Club, Canal Café Theatre and the Hen And Chickens. For more information and tickets, visit the Camden Fringe website.

  • 6 – 7 August : London Triathlon

Watch over 13,000 entrants who will be taking part in cycling, running and swimming across the Thames to raise money for charity. Free to spectate. ExCel, One Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Canning Town. For more information, visit the London Triathlon website.

  • 7 August : Brixton Splash

Free community street festival taking over various streets in Brixton, featuring live music, poetry, art exhibitions, street theatre, crafts, children’s activities, food and sound systems. 12-7pm. Free. Nearest station: Brixton. For more information, visit the Brixton Splash website.

  • 7 August : Splash Fest

A pop-up water park comes to Battersea Park for one day only. Featuring five zones of water-themed challenges and games over a 2.5km trail, with water slides, bubbly brook and water spouts. 9am-7pm. Tickets: Adults £22, Children £10, Under 3s free. Battersea Park, Albert Bridge Road, Battersea Park, SW11 4NJ. Nearest station: Battersea Park or Queenstown Road. For booking, visit the Splash Fest website. For more information, visit Metro Girl’s blog post on Splash Fest.

  • Now until 7 August : East London Fringe Festival

Five week festival celebrating East London’s vibrant and bohemian culture, featuring music, art, lifestyle, film screenings, parties and cultural events. Venues include Shoreditch Park, Hoxton Square, Hackney Road Rec Ground, Cargo, Juno Bar, Bedroom Bar and more. For more information, visit the ELFF website.

  • 9 – 13 August : Great British Beer Festival

Up to 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 £9 (CAMRA members), £11 (non-CAMRA members). Kensington Olympia, Hammersmith Road, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Olympia. For more information and tickets, visit the Great British Beer Festival website.

  • 11 – 13 August : Some Voices presents Festival Headliners

London’s coolest choir Some Voices are bringing their own takes on the hits of Coldplay, Beyonce, Blur, Adele, Basement Jaxx, Pulp, Arcade Fire, Dolly Parton, Jay Z, The Verve and many more. Also featuring The Secret Forest, Field Of Dreams and Pop Up Disco. Door open 7pm. Tickets: £17. Mercato Metropolitano, 48-50 Newington Causeway, Elephant & Castle, SE1 6DR. Nearest station: Elephant & Castle. For tickets, visit the Some Voices website.

  • 12 – 14 August : London Craft Beer Festival

Twenty four breweries from London, the UK , Europe and USA will be showing off over 100 beers. Also including food stalls, live music and DJs. Tickets: £28-£38.50. Oval Space, 29-32 The Oval, Hackney, E2 9DY. Nearest station: Bethnal Green. For more information, visit the London Craft Beer Festival.

  • 13 August : Holi One Colour Festival

Thousands of people wearing white come together in Wembley Park for a festival of music, dance and performance art. Inspired by the Indian Holi festival, participants will end up covered in multi-coloured powder. Tickets start from £29.99. Wembley Park, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0TU. Nearest station: Wembley Park. For more information and booking, visit the Holi One website.

  • 13 August : Spotlight Festival

One day festival returns to Seven Dials in the West End, featuring live music and performances, live portraits, flower crown making, airstream photobooth, deck chairs, crazy golf, pop-up tea garden and free Prosecco. 12-7pm. Free entry. Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H 9HD. Nearest station: Covent Garden or Leicester Square. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website. To find out more, read Metro Girl’s blog post on the festival. Read the rest of this entry

Get wet and wild as water extravaganza Splash Fest comes to London for one day only


Splash Fest is one day water extravaganza in Battersea Park

This summer, Battersea Park is being transformed into a water extravaganza for one day only. The riverside park will play host to Splash Fest, a family-friendly aqua obstacle course, on Sunday 7 August.

Splash Fest will feature five zones of water-themed challenges and games spread over a 2.5km trail. Organised by lifesaving charity Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), the event will be a great family day out for family with children aged 7-12.

Among the zones includes ‘Crazy Canyon’, with a series of pools to cross using floating devices and a giant inflatable water slide. ‘Splash ‘n’ Shoot’ will see guests navigating a giant boat before aiming at floating targets on the lake. Meanwhile, you’ll get the chance to dodge geyser-spouting waters at ‘Wild Wild Waters’. Next, the ‘Slip-Slide Stream’ features a toboggan-style water slides from sedate and slippy to fast and foamy. Finally, the ‘Bubbly Brook’, features giant bubbles, a maze, music and bandstand hidden amongst a sea of foam.

In addition to the splash-tastic fun, there will be entertainment, food, drink and a drying-off area in the Splash Out Zone, where you can find out all about the lifesaving work done by the RNLI.

  • Splash Fest takes place on Sunday 7 August 2016. 9am-7pm, but start times are staggered. Advance tickets: Adults £22, Children £10, Under 3s free. On the day tickets: Adults £25, Children £12.50. Battersea Park, Albert Bridge Road, Battersea Park, SW11 4NJ. Nearest station: Battersea Park or Queenstown Road. For more information and tickets, visit the Splash Fest website.

Splash Fest will feature five zones of water fun

For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.

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Celebrate all things Brazilian at the Olympic-themed pop-up @ Cocobananas

© Johnny S Photography

Latin fever hits London at the Olympics-themed pop-up at Cocobananas in Battersea this August

You may not be able to go to Brazil this summer for the Olympics, but why not enjoy a taste of Rio in London? This August, Battersea beach shack bar Cocobananas will be transformed into an exclusive Olympic-themed pop-up with food, drinks, entertainment and sports screenings. Situated upstairs from pizzeria, bar and karaoke venue Bunga Bunga, the pop-up will feature a Caipirinha bar, a dedicated Olympic-themed cocktail menu, POPS frozen Bellinis, a Brazilian-inspired food menu and Samba dancers.

With Brazil a few hours behind BST, Cocobananas will get the party started early with an official Olympics opening ceremony party on Friday 5 August. The bar will be decked out in Brazilian flags, palm trees, banana leaves, beach balls, exotic flowers and colourful lounge chairs. There will be a medal table on the wall keeping count of how many Gold, Silver and Bronze titles Team Brazil are picking up. Meanwhile, whenever Brazil win, the national flag will be flown while guests will have blue, green and yellow confetti cannons to fire off. There’ll also be the opportunity to showcase your vocals to karaoke in the L’Osservatorio, while DJs will be at the decks on Friday and Saturday nights.

Meanwhile, the Closing Ceremony party on Sunday 21 August will feature a Brazilian-inspired Supper Club by ‘The Latina Cook’ Natalie Salmon and Bunga Bunga’s head chef, Alexis de Naray. The menu will feature colourful and exuberant dishes, starting off with Brazilian pastels,  filled with ground meat, mozzarella, heart of palm and chicken; Coxinha (crispy chicken balls) and grilled Chicken Heart skewers, marinated in fresh herbs. The mains will include a choice of Brazil’s national dish, Feijoada, a stew made with beans, beef and pork; Vegetarian Brazilian pizza with the chance to choose your own toppings and Seabass Ceviche. And finally, for dessert, will be Brigaderios (truffle delight); Acai Bowls with tropical fresh fruit and homemade Avocado Ice Cream Gondolas.

  • Cocobananas, 101 Howie Street, Battersea, SW11 3BA. Nearest stations: Clapham Junction, Queenstown Road Battersea or Battersea Park. For more information visit the Cocobananas website.
© Johnny S Photography

Saude! Sip on Brazil’s national cocktails, Caipirinhas

For a guide to what else is on in London in August, click here.

To find out where to watch the Olympics on the open-air big screens this summer, click here.

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Guide to London’s urban beaches (yes, beaches!) this summer 2016

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Enjoy one of the capital’s urban beaches, such as this one on the South Bank

So London is famously an inland city… around 40 miles away from the nearest seaside resort. However, did you know there’s many urban beaches that pop-up around the capital over the summer? If you can’t manage to get fly to more exotic climes or can’t face the traffic on the motorway, a few hours on one of London’s sandy retreats may just help you imagine you’re elsewhere.

Here’s a guide to London’s urban beaches:

  • 27 May – 28 August : Brixton Beach Boulevard

Be transported to 1980s Miami beach with food, drinks, music and a live outdoor screen screening sporting events. Open Thur 6-11pm, Fri 6pm-12am, Sat 1pm-12am and Sun 1-10pm. Entry price varies depending on event. Popes Road, Brixton, SW9 8JH. Nearest station: Brixton. For more information, visit the Brixton Beach Boulevard website.

  • 4 June – TBCBeach 338

Beach club at the Studio 338 venue, featuring 180-tons of imported sand, wooden decking, cabanas, 2 beach bars, BBQs, sunbathing decks and hammocks. Hours vary. Beach 338 @ Studio 338, 338 Boord Street, Greenwich, SE10 0PF. Nearest station: North Greenwich. For more information, visit the Studio 338 website. NB: Following a fire at Studio 338 on 8 August 2016, this is unlikely to be open until further notice. Please check their website.

  • 6 June – 30 September : CopaCabana Beach @ South Bank

Pop-up beach returns to the South Bank for daytime frolics with the children and night-time fun for the adults. Right by the sand is a pop-up bar serving Brazilian-inspired food and drink, such as Spicy Malagueta Chicken, Sweet Potato Fries and Caipirinha cocktails. 11am-late Free. South Bank (near the skateboard park), SE1 8XX . Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information, visit the Copacabana Beach website.

  • 1 July – 4 September : The Beach @ Brent Cross

A pop-up beach featuring entertainment, rides and street vendors, including 2,500 square metres of imported sandy beach. Open Mon-Fri: 12-10pm. Sat-Sun: 11am-10pm. 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.

  • 11 July – TBC : Urban London Beach @ Royal Docks

Temporary beach with sands feature views of the City and of the Emirates Cable Car crossing the Thames. Open 10am-8pm. Free entry. 1 Siemens Brothers Way, E1 1GB. Nearest station: Royal Victoria (DLR). For more information, visit the Royal Docks website.

  • 23 July – 4 September : BeachEast @ Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

The UK’s largest urban beach opens this summer in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Featuring a sandy ‘beach’, huge kid’s paddling pool, funfair rides, two beach bars and a host of sporting events and activities, such as volleyball, cricket, football, boccia and  fitness classes. Open daily from 10am. Free entry. BeachEast, Stratford Waterfront (near former Olympic Stadium & Pool), Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, E15 2DU. Nearest stations: Stratford and Hackney Wick. For more information, visit the BeachEast website.

  • 29 July – 29 August : Camden Beach

The ‘beach’ returns to Camden again this year, with 150 tonnes of sand, deckchairs, ping pong, bars and restaurants. You can also book VIP beach huts. Located in the grounds of the Roundhouse. Open Mon 5-11pm, Tues-Sun 12-11pm. Free. Camden Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, Camden, NW1 8EH. Nearest station: Chalk Farm. For more information, visit the Roundhouse website.

  • 30 July – 29 August : The Beach @ Watford

The pop-up beach will also feature plenty of sand, family activities, movie and Olympics screenings and more. 10am-10pm daily. Free entry. The Parade, High Street, Watford, WD17. Nearest station: Watford Junction. For more information, visit the website.

For a guide to what else is on in London in September, click here.

Find out where to watch the Rio Olympics on the big screen this summer.

To find out about London’s pop-up cinemas this summer, click here or for all that latest summer music festivals in London, click here.

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Guide to London’s open air and pop-up cinemas in summer 2016

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2013

Watch classic films, such as Back To The Future, which was shown by Pop Up Screens at Morden Hall Park

Londoners don’t get anywhere near the amount of warm weather we would like. So when it is sunny, we all head outside. Of course, this leaves film fans in a predicament – who wants to be stuck indoors when the weather is so glorious? Over the past few years, pop-up and open air cinemas have been steadily rising in popularity and this summer will be no different. Of course, sometimes the weather isn’t so kind, so many roaming film clubs are hosting screenings in unique London indoor venues as well. Here’s a guide to the capital’s open-air and pop-up cinemas so you can enjoy some alfresco entertainment with an ice-cold beer or glass of wine… sounds good doesn’t it?

  • March until 30 July : Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet With A Live Choir

Backyard Cinema are marking the 20th anniversary of Baz Luhrmann’s cult classic Romeo + Juliet with a screening accompanied by a live choir. Ice cream, bubbly and popcorn will be on sale. Tickets start from £20. St Mary’s Church, Wyndham Place, York Street, Marylebone, W1H 1PQ. Nearest station: Baker Street and Edgware Road. For booking, visit Backyard Cinema’s website. For Metro Girl’s review, click here.

  • 3 May – 17 September : Rooftop Film Club

The Rooftop Film Club is for rooftops only (obviously). Screening a mix of films including recent releases and classics. Venues include the Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch, the Bussey Building in Peckham Rye, Roof East in Stratford, Tobacco Dock in Shadwell and Kensington Roof Gardens. Ticket includes headphones, blankets and deckchairs. Tickets: £15. To find out more, visit the Rooftop Film Club website.

  • 22 May – 24 September : The Nomad Cinema

Travelling cinema company returns this summer with a new roll call of venues. Locations include St Mark’s Mayfair, Paddington Street Gardens, Grosvenor Square, Bushy Park, Hoxton Hotel, Brown Hart Gardens, Royal Academy Of Arts, Belgrave Square, Brompton Cemetery, Victory Park East Village, Hyde Park Lido and Queen’s Park. Ticket prices £5-£33 (vary depending on package, some include food and drinks and other bonuses). To find out more, visit the Nomad Cinema website.

  • 2 June – 10 September : Cult Screens

Roaming UK pop-up screen will be coming to London for several dates at Twickenham’s York House Gardens, featuring your favourite movies with a twist. Tickets: Floor cushions £12, Deckchairs £14.50, Bean Bag £16. York House Gardens, Richmond Road, Twickenham, TW1 3AA. Nearest station: Twickenham. For more information, visit Cult Screens. Read the rest of this entry

Guide to London’s music festivals this summer 2016

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2016

Lovebox returns to Victoria Park in East London

This summer sees some of the biggest music acts and DJs in the world converging  on London – and the Home Counties – for the festival season. Here’s a one-stop guide to what’s on and where to get tickets. However, be aware that most will sell out in advance so I would recommend getting your tickets asap.

  • 4 June : Camden Rocks

Hard rock and metal festival featuring over 200 bands (big names and underground talent) to 20 venues around NW1. This year’s line-up includes The Cribs, Sikth, Escape The Fate, Billy Bragg, We Are The Ocean, Carl Barât & The Jackals and Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind. Tickets: £35. For tickets, visit the Camden Rocks website.

  • 4 – 5 June : Born & Bred

Celebration of UK and international bass culture, with acts including ILoveMakonnen, Wiley and Slimzee and Novelist. Tickets start from £20. Haggerston Park, Hoxton, E2. Nearest station: Hoxton or Cambridge Heath. For tickets, visit the Born & Bred website.

  • 8 – 23 June : Hampton Court Palace Festival

Big names perform against the backdrop of the historic palace. Acts include Tom Jones, Van Morrison, Katherine Jenkins, Art Garfunkel, George Benson, Caro Emerald, Jools Holland & his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, Anastacia and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. Tickets range from £45 to £95 depending on act. Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey, KT8 9AU. Nearest station: Hampton Court (trains from Waterloo). For more information and tickets, visit the Hampton Court Palace Festival website.

  • 10 – 19 June : Guy Garvey’s Meltdown

This year’s Meltdown festival on London’s Southbank is curated by Guy Garvey, frontman of Elbow, TV presenter and DJ. Featuring gigs by Femi Kuti, The Staves, Richard Hawley, Laura Marling, among others. Tickets range from free to £45. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. For booking and more information, visit the Soutbank Centre website.

  • 11 June : Found Festival

Six stages of house, techno, disco and more. Acts include Kerri Chandler, Derrick May, Dyed Soundorom, Trade (Blawan & Surgeon), Rødhåd, Legowelt, Theo Parrish, Ron Trent, Marcellus Pitman, Petre Inspirescu (RPR), Mara Trax (Maayan Nidam & Vera), Binh, Mood II Swing, Wamdue Kids, Dream 2 Science, 808, Abandon Silence and Cubed. 11am-9pm. Tickets from £30. Brockwell Park, Dulwich Road, Herne Hill, SE24 0PA. Nearest station: Herne Hill. For more information, visit the Found Festival website.

  • 11 – 12 June : Field Day

Two day festival returns to East London, featuring performances from James Blake, PJ Harvey, Air, The Avanlanches, Formation, Goat, Hattie Whitehead, Mystery Jets, Tourist, Mabel and many more. Tickets: £49.50-£54.50. Victoria Park, Victoria Park Road, Hackney, E3 5SN. Nearest station: Bethnal Green or Mile End. For more information, visit the Field Day website. Read the rest of this entry