Fun in London
As you'd expect, there's a huge amount going on in London over the coming year. We’ve selected our top things to do in London in Spring, the best London Summer Festivals, and cheap things to do in London in Autumn. Stalwart events such as Notting Hill Carnival and London Fashion Week are of course scheduled to return, as they do every year, with plenty of exciting new events to enjoy too. Read on for other events and activities to look forward to over the next 12 months.
Parks: May is when the weather properly starts picking up in London, and as the rainy season fades away, the city’s gorgeous and extensive outdoor areas become an utter pleasure to explore once again. Why not pick a warm weekend to wander the winding paths of Greenwich Park, Hyde Park and Kew Gardens?
Chelsea Flower Show: If you’re particularly into your botany, you won’t want to miss the Chelsea Flower Show – by appointment of her Royal Highness. This national festival is covered extensively by the BBC, and you’ll find all manner of specimens here. Highlights from previous years include the famous Grand Pavilion and the reintroduction of gnomes after their previous exile.
Puppets: Mid-May, the centre of Covent Garden comes alive with mischief and marvel as the May Fayre and Puppet Festival comes to London. For those who prefer their puppets with a little less vim and vigour as the terrible twosome, there is also the Kensington Dollshouse Festival, which will feature a weekend of gorgeous antique toys.
Mind, Body, Spirit: The more open minded visitor to London might wish to pay a visit to the Mind Body Spirit festival, which is taking place at the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre on Warwick Road. Open your chakras and see what wonders your spirit beholds.
Open Air Theatre: Culture vultures will not want to miss the Open Air Theatre festival at Regent’s Park, which sees West End performers entertain audiences under a night sky scattered with a bewildering array of stars.
London in June 2017
Outdoor markets: As we plunge further into summer, the weather in London gets better and better, so now there is even more excuse to spend time outside. The capital's outdoor markets are great places to enjoy yourself at any time of the year, but let's face it, it's generally more pleasurable when the heavens aren't drowning you with buckets of rain. Quite apart from exploring the stalls of Greenwich, Camden and Borough marketplaces, there's all sorts of fun to be had in June.
The Queen’s Official Birthday: To start with, royalists will want to celebrate the Queen's Official Birthday in the company of Her Majesty at Trooping the Colour.
Food: Taste of London promises to be an incredible event for all you foodies out there.
Sport: Greenwich and Docklands stage their usual international festival, which sees ships sail into the capital from all over the world. Then of course Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship gets underway during the closing week of the month.
Theatre: If you're looking to sample the best of the West End for free, get along to West End: Live, which showcases the best of London's theatre scene for all to see. Wicked, War Horse, Billy Elliot, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables - all the companies come together for this splendid weekend of music and performance in Trafalgar Square.
Father’s Day: And don't forget, Father's Day falls on 18 June in 2017, so why not plan a trip to London to treat the old man? You'll find there's plenty for him to do in this vibrant capital, whether he prefers sport, art, theatre or gardening.
London in July 2017
Hot, hot, hot: Weather wise, it doesn't get any better than July and August in London, so now is the time to take advantage of the sunshine and bask in the outdoor glory of everything the capital has to offer. On many days, you'll be able to get the shorts out, although it's worth being prepared for the occasional summer shower.
Classical music: July is known for one thing above all else - the start of the BBC Proms. This extensive session of classical music gives everyone the chance to experience the likes of Mozart, Beethoven and all the great composers, with its own series of traditions carried out every single year.
Music festivals: For the latest music, however, you should be switched onto Lovebox, which runs over the course of a weekend in late July. The biggest names turn out for this music festival, which usually takes place in the heart of Victoria Park. There’s also Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park at the beginning of the month, which always attracts big names from the music world.
Theatre: If theatre is what you're after, the National Theatre offers a free summer festival in July and August. It's called Watch This Space, and an extraordinary number of musicians, artists and performers apply to entertain the crowds there every year. It's fun. It's free. What more could you ask for?
Flowers: Finally, botany lovers need not feel left out of the fun with the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, which is well worth travelling down for. This event generally takes place early in July and features an extraordinary array of stunning flowers and plants from across the world. The atmosphere, however, is so incredibly quintessentially British, that's why the event is as popular as it is.
London in August 2017
Carnival time: The summer festivities are in full swing in London during August. There's one event that embodies this spirit more than all others and it takes place during this month. Notting Hill Carnival will be dancing through our streets with much jubilation and glee come the August bank holiday weekend. The northern streets of the city take on a whole new character as people wearing outrageous costumes can be found dancing in the streets, alongside enormous floats and stalls selling amazing street food.
Beer: Lovers of excellent beer can enjoy their favourite carbonated beverage if they visit London during the Great British Beer Festival. There will be golden Bavarian beauties in abundance.
Children’s events: If you're looking to keep the kids occupied while you enjoy yourself, Kids Week at London's Theatre town could be the perfect solution. Once again, discounted tickets are available to families provided they have a child or two in tow.
Comedy: While Edinburgh is the festival that tends to grab the August headlines in the UK, Camden's answer to the Scottish extravaganza, the Camden Fringe, is just as exciting. The multi-venue multi-comic event is emerging as a serious contender to its north-of-the-border counterpart.
Buckingham Palace: Royalists will no doubt be entertained by the summer opening of Buckingham Palace, which remains open for nearly a couple of months, with many of its generally off-limits rooms on full display.
Music festivals: And that's without counting the South West Four Weekender, which gives music fanatics something to look forward to. There's no doubt about it - there's plenty going on in London during August. The only difficulty is deciding what to do.
London in September 2017
Autumn colours: In the capital, temperatures start dropping off again in September. However, that's no reason to avoid going into town - there are some lovely days to be had, especially as the trees start to turn orange in the latter half and the parks are very beautiful indeed. If you happen to get a completely rotten day, there are plenty of events taking place underneath a roof to enjoy.
Art of all kinds: The International London Tattoo Convention is sure to give body art lovers something to think about, while the London Design Festival is also a tremendous amount of innovative fun. Antique lovers will once again be called to Chelsea.
BBC Proms in the Park: Despite this, however, the best fun in September takes place outside, so take a brolly to the following events. BBC Proms in the Park generally comes in the last week of the classical music festival and features a variety of acts from many genres.
Sports: Late September sees the arrival of what has to be a contender for London's oddest event - the Great Gorilla Run. This sees hundreds of racers dress up in gorilla costumes for charity and sprint through the City of London in a bizarre stampede. It's great fun though, and all for a good cause.
London in October 2017
Lovely leaves: The weather steadily gets chillier into October for visitors to London, and the second half is starts to feel wintry. But you can still enjoy crisp and bearable temperatures in the first half, especially now that the autumn colours are in full swing.
Film festivals: Film fanatics will find themselves equally enthralled by the London Film Festival, which generally gets started halfway through the month and often extends into November. Lovers of motion picture will also want to attend the Raindance Film Festival, which usually happens before its larger counterpart. It's certainly a good month to be a film fanatic.
Food events: Foodies will undoubtedly be interested in attending Chocolate Week, which does exactly what it says on the tin and indulges cocoa bean adorers with seven days of creamy chocolatey goodness.
Halloween: And of course, London is the best place to experience the Halloween holiday, with parties kicking off left, right and centre in the run-up to October 31st. Pay a visit to the London Dungeons or terrify yourself to breaking point at the London Bridge Experience, both of which hold special events to commemorate the holiday.
London in November 2017
Bonfire Night: Remember, remember the fifth of November, as the capital is overtaken by fantastic firework displays and bonfires on Bonfire Night. Take to the streets and head to your nearest pyrotechnic event to celebrate this uniquely British evening.
Remembrance Day: From an evening of jubilation to one of great solemnity, London is also the home of the largest Remembrance Day parade in the UK. Poppies are, of course, prevalent.
Jazz: It's also worth attending the London Jazz Festival - smoothly swung quavers can be heard throughout the city for ten days from mid-November.
Christmas Lights: November is also when the capital starts hotting up for Christmas, with many of the districts and areas holding their annual Christmas Lights switch-on ceremony. Covent Garden, Regent Street, Carnaby Street and Oxford Street are generally considered to be the places to be to start the festive countdown as they always attract the biggest celebrities to press the button.
Christmas Markets: The switch-ons aren't the only Christmassy activities to get going in November, however, with numerous Christmas Markets and attractions opening across the city. The South Bank is home to the best, although Greenwich and Camden take on their own festive atmospheres for the duration of the season.
London in December 2017
Christmas: It's December and the Christmas celebrations are undoubtedly in full swing throughout the city. The most popular of London's attractions undergo a transformation during the festive season, with Kew Gardens, Harrods and Hyde Park among those to host fairy lights and Santa Claus during the most wonderful time of the year. You'll need to wrap up warm for these events, of course, as there's no chance of getting away with shorts in this weather and snow is not uncommon.
Horses: Besides the festive fun that takes over the capital at this time of year, equine enthusiasts should also make a note of the London International Horse Show, which sees our four-legged friends celebrated at Olympia over a week-long festival.
New Year’s Eve: After the overindulgence of Christmas, there's the smashing celebration of New Year's Eve to consider. Once again, there's no better place to enjoy it than London, with the fireworks over the Thames regarded as the city's best display of the year. Revellers gather in their thousands to hear the bongs of Big Ben echo out across the river, meaning there is atmosphere aplenty. If you're not one for hanging around in the cold, all of London's clubs hold special countdown parties where you can get merry with a few friends and welcome in 2016.
London in January 2018
Sales: The capital is traditionally treated to a chilly wind throughout January. Luckily, there's plenty to get out of bed for, with the January Sales being the primary draw for those who enjoy a bit of retail therapy. This is when the likes of Westfield London, Knightsbridge and Oxford Street really come into play, with bargain hunters thronging the streets and contributing to the wonderful atmosphere.
Ice rinks: Those quick off the mark can enjoy the leftover Christmas cheer, including London's various outdoor ice skating rinks that generally stay open until around mid January.
Boats: Then there is the London Boat Show to look forward to for all sailing enthusiasts.
Theatre: The middle of the month also heralds the arrival of the Get Into London Theatre promotion, which sees top West End shows reduce their prices to between £10 and £30 as part of a special initiative designed to open the arts to the world.
Art: Our final highlight is the London Art Fair. Commemorating the efforts of artists from a plethora of backgrounds, the five-day event is not to be missed. With all of this going on, there really is no reason not to get yourself out of bed and into London.
London in February 2018
Valentine’s Day: The chill doesn’t relinquish in February and coats will definitely be a necessity if you’re planning to venture out during this month. Once again though, there is plenty to get you out and about, with Valentine’s Day on 14 February. In romantic London there are plenty of things that you can do in order to treat that special someone. Why not gaze out over the illuminated city from one of the rooftop bars, or enjoy a serene trip along the Thames? There are also plenty of perfume shops and little boutiques if you’ve left the present purchasing until the last minute.
London Fashion Week: Fashionistas will no doubt have a place marked in their calendar for London Fashion Week, which takes place mid-February and will no doubt be one of the best in recent years.
Pancake Day: Also not to be missed are the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Day Races, in celebration of this British tradition. Pancake Day falls on 13 February in 2018.
Sports: Finally, sporting fanatics should not miss the chance to watch the Six Nations Rugby in the best sports bars in the UK. Cheer on your team in the Carlsberg Sports Bar in Leicester Square, or The Edinboro Castle in Camden. Or go one step further and enjoy the live game in Twickenham. After all, there’s nothing like being there in person. All in all, it’s shaping up to be a very exciting month all round.
London in March 2018
Weather warming up: March often signals a turn in the right direction when it comes to our British weather, and while the temperature in London will still be chilly, it will lack the bite in the air we’re often subjected to in January and February. All the more reason to get out and about, then.
Interior design shows: Midway through the month, you’ll find the perfect opportunity to spruce up your home, with the Country Living Magazine Spring Fair and the Ideal Home Show getting underway. As they usually overlap, you can time your visit just right if you’re interested in catching both of them.
Art and antiques: For those who like their homes to have a bit of artwork about the place, but dislike paying extortionate prices, there’s the fantastic Affordable Art Fair. Everything displayed is under £4,000 with around 120 galleries, dealers and studio groups from across the UK and abroad participating. It would also be criminal not to mention the Chelsea Antiques Fair, which is one of the most anticipated events of its type in the UK. Whether you’re seeking a unique Persian rug or a particular oil painting, the Chelsea Antiques Fair will undoubtedly cater to your every need.
Mother’s Day: It’s worth noting that Mothering Sunday falls on 11th March in 2018. Quality time with the parents is often hard to come by, so take this opportunity to show your thanks by taking Mum on the London Eye or to an afternoon tea at Hampton Court Palace or Harrods.
London in April 2018
April showers: Temperatures in the capital often improve dramatically in April, which means it's the start of spring, particularly as the last Sunday in March actually heralds the start of Daylight Saving Time in the UK. From now, the evenings are much brighter and you can sense summer is on its way. But of course there is always a trade-off and April can be very wet and windy. If there’s a hint of grey in the sky, don’t forget your brolly. Aside from the weather, there are all sorts of exciting things happening in London over April.
Patron saint day: Take part in some patriotic fun for England’s patron saint day at the Feast of St George in Trafalgar Square, when the Mayor puts on a free event with plenty of family frolics and traditional English grub at the farmer’s market, typically held on the Saturday nearest 23 April.
Royal attractions: And of course, the Queen’s actual birthday is on 21 April if you’re looking for an excuse to celebrate, with the Queen’s Birthday Gun Salute. There are plenty of royal attractions in London, from exploring the accessible areas of Buckingham Palace to wandering the gardens of Kensington Palace.
Book fair: Those seeking a more bohemian activity need to get themselves along to the London Book Fair, an enticing occasion that brings literary fans from across the world together. Previous speakers have included the award-winning and much-loved Neil Gaiman, whose talent with the written word is renowned throughout the world.
London Marathon: Finally, fans of running themselves ragged over long distances will be doing exactly that for the London Marathon, in what is perhaps the city’s best-known sporting event. Head along and cheer on as part of the crowd if you missed out on taking part this time.