Summer in London
Summer in London. The sun shining in a bright blue sky. After-work drinks spill out onto London’s pavements and people have smiles on their faces. Beer gardens are filled with drinking people, parks are filled with sunbathing bodies and the Underground becomes a mobile sauna. Summer in London!
OK, the first thing to point out is that the above scenario doesn’t happen every summer. In fact, most London summers have some rain, some sun, some thunderstorms and some heatwaves. Nothing says ‘British eccentricity’ more than a London summer’s weather! The most important thing though, is that despite the weather, London continues to offer a huge amount of activities you can enjoy – nothing says ‘keep calm and carry on’ more than trying to eat ice-cream and sunbathe in a sudden rainstorm!
If the sun is shining (and honestly, it does happen sometimes!) or if it’s pouring with rain, most events will still take place (keep calm and carry on, remember? Although make sure you do so with an umbrella!). Most of the major sporting events can be enjoyed for free around the city on big screens: the space by St Paul’s Cathedral was filled with spectators enjoying the recent Euro 2016 championships in the shadow of the cathedral’s famous dome and the Olympics will be shown by the beautiful St Katharine’s Docks and the historic Broadgate Exchange Square (among many others). Enjoying some sporting events among the company of others surrounded by some of London’s most famous landmarks – what more could you wish for?
If you’re not a sports fan, don’t worry! There’s a LOT more to do! Outdoor cinema screenings show a variety of films, from black and white classics through to the latest releases, and there is simply nothing like the atmosphere of open-air theatre. Regents Park has an annual open-air festival and it’s possible to watch plays and musicals like ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’ or ‘Pride and Prejudice’ as night falls around you: as the trees cast long shadows and the wild animals settle down for the night, open-air theatre becomes something magical indeed.
The Scoop Theatre, situated on the banks of the Thames opposite the Tower of London holds a summer-long free festival. Not only can you see new theatre and comedy shows but there is also a varied programme of live music. All you have to do is bring a cushion to sit on and you can enjoy it too. Like the dusk settling over Regent’s Park, the sun going down on the Tower of London and Tower Bridge is like something from a painting.
There are other types of outdoor festivals that run in the summer. If you’re feeling hungry there are food festivals which take place where it is possible to eat cuisine from every part of the world. Festivals like the London Bridge festival include entertainment of all kinds: from food to face-painting, from music to live performances.
Many of the city’s art galleries host special exhibitions over the summer. The Royal Academy’s summer show is a tradition dating from 1769 and showcases the best of new artists. Sometimes controversial, sometimes moving, for art-lovers, the Royal Academy summer show is one of the highlights of the year. Many other art galleries also offer special exhibitions over the summer too.
But when the sun shines on London the city transforms; everything and everyone seems that little bit more optimistic. It’s fair to say that when the sun does shine, Londoners are just a little bit happier and because we’re Londoners and don’t see the sun as much as we’d like, we make sure we get out in it as soon as it appears! Several pop-up beaches appear in London over the summer: tonnes of sand is imported, deck chairs are placed around and with some seaside sound effects, if you close your eyes, you could almost be lying on a genuine beach (just don’t open them again and ruin the illusion!).
But summer is when London’s many parks come into their own. These beautiful havens of greenery demand you take a picnic and do a LOT of sunbathing. From the massive expanse of Hampstead Heath (the biggest open space in London with breath-taking views of the city below) to central parks like Hyde Park or St James’s Park, London’s parks are beautifully maintained: a free space for everyone to enjoy and relax in. London is the greenest city in the world for its size: almost 40% of Greater London is green space so there is no excuse not to get out and enjoy nature on a sunny day.
So there you have it. If it’s pouring rain or baking hot sunshine, a London summer is packed with enough things to do to last you until the winter. What are you waiting for?!
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