live concert

Here Are the Best Places to See Live Music in Shoreditch

Shoreditch is London’s classic entertainment district, a historic part of the city that has been the domain of theatregoers and play lovers since the days when Shakespeare first began holding performances in the 16th century.

These days the scene might be a little different, but the heart and soul of Shoreditch have never really changed. Shoreditch has always been at the forefront of trends and it’s always been at the forefront of the music scene.

While you won’t find huge music arenas or sell-out stadium tours in Shoreditch, you will find iconic venues tucked away down narrow alleys and intimate performances in packed-out pubs. This is where the best up-and-coming acts play to be discovered, and where those that have already made it return for nostalgic performances.

From the Old Blue Last to the Queen of Hoxton, here are the best places to see live music in Shoreditch.

  1. The Old Blue Last

The Old Blue Last is one of the most iconic pubs in Shoreditch, and it’s a venue that has become legendary over the years. This is a pub that has done more than anywhere else to give Shoreditch its hipster image; The Old Blue Last is actually owned by the infamous trendsetters that run Vice magazine.

This is a pub that’s steeped in history too, being over 300 years old. But despite its age, it attracts one of the younger crowds in Shoreditch. Over the last decade, since Vice turned a dilapidated pub into a stellar music venue, The Old Blue Last has seen the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Amy Winehouse, the Klaxons, Florence + the Machine, and many, many more famous acts play when they were trying to break into the music scene.

If you are looking to see the best up-and-coming artists, then visit The Old Blue Last on one of their gig nights. Any other time, it’s still a great pub for a night out, even if there’s no music on!

Hipster Beers

  1. Queen of Hoxton

The Queen of Hoxton is another legendary Shoreditch venue that’s one of the best places to catch some live music. Found on Curtain Road in the heart of the district, this is a multi-level and multi-purpose venue that’s always hosting interesting events and nights out.

The Queen of Hoxton is both a bar and a pub, and there are three different levels, including an open-air rooftop that gets packed out in the summer evenings. The venue hosts movie screenings, dance nights and even ukulele lessons, and there’s always something different going on any night of the week.

It’s best known for its club and live music nights though, and parties on the weekends go on well into the early, early hours of the morning.

  1. Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen

Tucked away in Shoreditch, the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen is a famous venue that puts on both club nights and live music events through the week. Hoxton Square has a solid reputation on the party scene in Shoreditch, and it’s one of the most popular venues in the area.

Despite this, it’s actually a rather laidback venue too. The outdoor terrace gives you the chance to sit out in the sun or to enjoy the cool evening air, while the first room is perfect for simply relaxing with cocktails or with some food in a great ambience.

The real fun happens in the second room though, as this opens up late at night for clubbing or is used for live music in the evenings. Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen has it all really, and it’s perfect for any kind of night out that you’re looking for in Shoreditch.

  1. Village Underground

Village Underground is a venue and cultural space that is just about as quintessentially Shoreditch as you could imagine. This is East London at its best, and the entire place screams hipster from the rooftops.

The venue is housed inside a renovated warehouse that dates back to the 19th century, and on the roof, there’s an iconic Shoreditch sight. Decommissioned tube trains that have painted and covered in murals and graffiti have been installed on top of the building, and have become somewhat of a landmark in the area.

Inside the warehouse, there is a large concert area that hosts DJs and live music events in what is an atmospheric and loud venue. A huge array of different genres and artists play here, and every night can be totally different from the last.

  1. 93 Feet East

Located on Brick Lane, one of Shoreditch’s liveliest streets, 93 Feet East is a popular bar, club and live music venue.

For two decades, 93 Feet East has been entertaining crowds with its excellent array of events, ranging from intense DJ sets to up-and-coming music nights. 93 Feet East is part of the Old Truman Brewery complex, which is the most comprehensive events and entertainment venue in East London.

The old brewery was converted into a business and artistic space. As well as 93 Feet East, there are regular markets, events, shows and exhibitions held here throughout the year.

  1. Oslo

No, not the Norwegian capital, but a bar and restaurant in Hackney that puts on great live music events. Oslo claims to be inspired by Nordic traditions and culture, and that shines through in the chic surroundings and innovative drinks and food menus.

What really makes Oslo great though is its unique location within a disused train station. The venue is next to Hackney Central Station, in a Victorian-era building that was put out of service and left to crumble many years ago, until it was taken over and redeveloped into Oslo.

They have live music several times a week, and if there are no bands playing on the weekends, they host club nights too on their cavernous music floor.

  1. Cargo

Cargo is located just off Shoreditch High Street, and it’s a fantastic place to spend your evenings and weekends if you are looking to find new bands and music acts to listen to.

While Cargo originally earned itself a reputation for being primarily a clubbing venue with late-night DJ sets and big parties, it’s also begun to earn a reputation for its excellent live music nights.

Of course it’s still very much a club venue too, but on live music nights, you can find a big music scene, and many up-and-coming acts performing. Cargo is found in an old railway yard and is a fantastic example of repurposing. As well as the event space, there are bars, a restaurant and a popular outdoor terrace. You can even find modern art on display at Cargo, including the odd Banksy piece.

Banksy

  1. Rich Mix

If you’re looking for a truly alternative and creative hub in Shoreditch, then head down to Bethnal Green Road, where you can find Rich Mix.

This popular events space is much more than just a live music venue. Rich Mix is best described as a cultural hub. It’s an art space, a creative centre, and even a charity, and they help to support Shoreditch’s rich diversity through their venue and initiatives.

At Rich Mix, you can enjoy new galleries and alternative exhibitions from local artists, catch screenings of both new and classic movies at the cinema, and listen to fantastic live acts in the entertainment venue. Many of the musicians and artists are from London’s more marginalised communities, and it offers a fantastic chance to learn more about the area’s incredible multicultural makeup.

  1. The Macbeth

The Macbeth is a more traditional Shoreditch pub that also hosts plenty of live music evenings. With a name alluding to Shoreditch’s Shakespearian past, The Macbeth has been here for well over a century, serving drinks and providing entertainment in the East End of London.

A century of drinking and partying has left The Macbeth with a sterling reputation in London, and it has a rich cultural history that few other venues in the area can match, apart from perhaps the infamous The Old Blue Last.

The darkened exterior might seem a little run down from the outside but don’t worry, it’s all part of the rustic charm. Inside, you’ll find a modern bar serving a surprisingly cosmopolitan selection of drinks and cocktails, rather than just the pints of ale you might expect from first impressions.

Cocktails

  1. The Blues Kitchen

Located on Curtain Road, The Blues Kitchen is the place to go if you’re looking for Deep South style food and an evening of blues music.

The restaurant has live acts playing blues, country music, soul and funk every single night of the week, and you’ll find the decor and atmosphere will transport you instantly to the southern states of America. On weekends, the music goes on late into the night, too.

You could be in Louisiana or Tennessee, not in the middle of Shoreditch. While the musicians do their thing on stage, you can order from the extensive food and drink menus. The Blues Kitchen serves up everything from lobster and brisket, to southern fried chicken and bean burgers.

  1. The Shacklewell Arms

If the culture of America’s Deep South isn’t quite your thing, then head to The Shacklewell Arms where you can have a taste of something a little closer to home.

Found on Shacklewell Lane close to the Dalston Downs, this is a classic London pub that hosts regular live acts in intimate surroundings. The pub serves up a selection of burgers and hot dogs, keeping things simple on the menu front, and they have a solid range of drinks too.

There’s nothing too fancy about this venue, but that’s part of the draw. Most importantly, they have a surprisingly packed schedule of bands and artists from the local area playing all through the week.

  1. The Auld Shillelagh

Just north of Dalston in Stoke Newington, you can find what’s often claimed to be one of the best Irish pubs in London. The Auld Shillelagh is stereotypically Irish. There’s Guinness on tap, Jameson Whiskey behind the bar, and green decor everywhere.

It’s a great place to enjoy plenty of drinks and to eat some hearty, traditional Irish pub grub too. The pub has a huge reputation but, surprisingly, it’s actually a rather small venue. That doesn’t stop them packing the place in with musicians though, and you’ll be able to dance your night away to traditional Irish folk songs and ballads while you drink Guinness after Guinness.

  1. Cafe Oto

Cafe Oto forms the heart of the Dalston music scene to the north of Shoreditch High Street. If you’re searching for a unique venue and unique place to listen to music, then head here.

During the day, this is a simple cafe serving up coffees and light lunches, but come evening time the space is transformed into an intimate music venue. Cafe Oto is a community project, and the venue helps to showcase and to fund local musicians from a variety of backgrounds, who offer a variety of styles and genres.

Tickets can sell out for the evening events, so grab then when you can!

Jazz Club

  1. Vortex Jazz Club

If you’re looking for an evening of jazz entertainment then head to Dalston and call in at the Vortex Jazz Club.

This classic jazz venue has been around since the 1980s and has hosted some of the very best in both British and international performers over the last three decades. This is a place to see both established and up-and-coming jazz acts, and the company that runs the venue frequently signs performers to their own record label as well.

There are regular events all through the week from a variety of groups and artists, and there’s always a great atmosphere. If you’re into jazz, then there are few other venues anywhere in London that have as good a reputation as the Vortex Jazz Club amongst jazz fans.

As London experts we know a thing or two about where to find the best live music in Shoreditch – and around the capital. While you’re in town, check out Premium Tours’ fantastic range of London tours to get more inside information on this superb city.

 

london-eye

These Are the Best Restaurants Near the London Eye

The London Eye is one of the British capital’s most enduring attractions. Built in the year 2000 to celebrate the start of the new millennium and to represent a modern London, in the two decades since it opened the London Eye has become an icon of the city’s skyline.

It’s an unmistakable landmark, and it’s an unmissable attraction for anyone visiting the city. Book yourself a ticket and enjoy an unrivalled experience as you soar into the sky in the unique 360-degree viewing capsules that slowly spin around above the River Thames.

Once you get back down to earth, you’ll find that the London Eye is in a prime location on the Southbank, with Westminster just across the river and many more famous attractions a short walk away. Before you wander away you might want to hang around for a bite to eat, be it time for breakfast, lunch or dinner, because there are some excellent restaurants nearby.

From floating pubs to street food markets, here are the best restaurants near the London Eye.

  1. The Library at County Hall

After an incredible trip around the London Eye, you might be feeling in the mood for more classic London antics. There’s nothing more quintessentially English than enjoying a spot of high tea.

Located just before Westminster Bridge is the shamelessly upmarket Marriott Hotel County Hall, and inside this elegant building and classic hotel, you’ll find The Library. This is perfect for anyone looking to indulge in some excellent afternoon tea especially as, on the upper floors, The Library offers wonderful views over the River Thames.

While you dine on a platter of cucumber sandwiches, pastries and some excellent English tea, you can gaze out across the water and marvel at the Houses of Parliament on the banks opposite. Dress well and book in advance though, because high tea at The Library is truly an experience you don’t want to be turned away from.

County Hall

  1. Tattershall Castle

On the opposite side of the River Thames to the London Eye, you’ll see an old passenger steamer floating on the water. This is Tattershall Castle, a boat that dates back to the 1930s that’s been uniquely preserved as a restaurant and pub.

That’s right, you can board this class steamboat that lies moored in the shadows of Westminster and Southbank, and enjoy a drink or a meal as you watch the river traffic cruise past on the Thames.

This is one of the best spots to visit in the summer when the sun is out because you can sit out on the deck with cold drinks and enjoy the warm weather. The food menu is classic British pub grub – you can order steak and ale pies, fish and chips and much, much more at the Tattershall Castle.

  1. Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar

If you’re looking for a solid steak after you step off the London Eye, then look no further than Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar. Found in the County Hall building overlooking the Thames just a short stroll from the London Eye itself, Gillray’s serves up some of the capital’s finest steaks.

Gillray’s Steakhouse prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients from across Britain. In particular, they are renowned for their marvellous Aberdeen Angus steaks. Surprisingly, although the plush decor and reserved 19th century furnishings would make Gillray’s appear as if it’s been here for generations, the steakhouse only opened a few years ago. Already though, it’s earned itself an unprecedented reputation for quality.

As well as serving up supreme steaks, Gillray’s also has an extensive gin bar, stocking well over 100 different types of gin – as well as other drinks too of course – from all across the world.

  1. Terrace Restaurant at the National Theatre

Southbank is home to many more iconic London institutions aside from the London Eye. Just a short walk along the riverside will bring you to the National Theatre.

This is one of the premier locations to catch a play, but you can find an excellent restaurant – Terrace Restaurant – here too. You don’t need to be waiting for a performance to dine here either, plus you’ll find that the setting, overlooking Southbank, is rather grand.

When the weather is good you can eat out in the sun too, making the Terrace Restaurant a great spot to eat and drink in summer. There’s a mix of contemporary cuisines available and a wide selection of cocktails and wines, too.

National Theatre

  1. Bao Fa Garden Chinese Restaurant

For a taste of something a little bit more international, head to Bao Fa Garden Chinese Restaurant, which is a short stroll from the London Eye, again located in the County Hall building.

This flashy Chinese restaurant not only has a fantastic ambience and setting, but they have fantastic food to match too. The open kitchen adds a sense of intimacy to the proceedings, as you can see, smell and hear the sizzling sounds and sights of the cooking process.

There’s a wide range of dishes on offer from the Orient, including classic stir-fries, dim sum and the ever-welcome bao buns. Alongside the food, there’s an extensive wine list too.

  1. Ping Pong Southbank

If dim sum is your thing, then head to Ping Pong Southbank, which is tucked away by the Royal Festival Hall. This is one of London’s most popular dim sum restaurant chains, and you can find outlets in the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods.

The restaurant in Southbank is as good as any, and it’s perfect if you’re visiting the London Eye and looking to indulge in a heavy quantity of dim sum.

Ping Pong tries to be as authentic as possible, and their dim sum is all hand made. There is classic Hong Kong-style dim sum, a wide range of Chinese dumplings, Japanese gyoza and much more, including bao buns too. You can mix and match and, on certain days of the week, you can even enjoy bottomless dim sum.

As well as the dumplings, Ping Pong has an impressive and creative cocktail menu, making this a great place for a few drinks too.

Ping pong

  1. Crust Bros

A 10-minute walk from the London Eye towards Waterloo Station, you can find one of the best pizza joints in the area. Crust Bros started life as a humble food stand in Shoreditch, but quickly grew a huge following and moved to a permanent location close to Southbank.

Using truly authentic Italian ingredients and inspired directly by Italian cooking, Crust Bros serves up enormous pizzas with extravagant crusts. These aren’t the greasy, deep-pan pizzas that you might find at a takeaway though; these are light, airy and fresh pizzas.

The pizzas are cooked in wood-fired ovens the classic way, and there’s a wonderful range of toppings on offer. You can even mix and match the fresh toppings to create a pizza tailored to your tastes. The pizzas are great value and they’re served up quickly, too. If you’re looking for a fast but delicious lunch for less than a tenner, then Crust Bros is the place to go.

  1. Southbank Centre Food Market

If cheap eats are what you’re looking for, then the Southbank Centre Food Market is where you need to go. If you’re visiting the London Eye on the weekend, then your timing is perfect, because this street food market is only open from Friday through to Sunday.

It’s well worth timing a trip to coincide with the market though because the range of food on offer is simply astonishing. The entirety of London’s diverse culture is represented at the Southbank Centre Food Market, and you’ll be utterly spoilt for choice.

You can choose from Indian curries, Turkish kebabs, Israeli falafel, or Caribbean jerk chicken. You can gorge on katsu curry from Japan, devour huge burgers inspired by the deep south of America, or go for a hefty portion of paella. There’s much more than this too, and you’ll find it difficult deciding just what, exactly, you want to try.

Everything is great value, the food tastes great and it’s all served up instantly.

  1. Tandoor Chop House

For an excellent Indian-inspired meal, head across the river to Charing Cross where you can find the spicy aromas of the Tandoor Chop House.

From the London Eye it’s just a 15-minute walk over Jubilee Bridge, and it’s easily one of the best Indian restaurants in the area. The Tandoor Chop House fuses Indian tandoori styles with British meat chop cooking to create a uniquely London establishment

They use tandoor ovens to cook the meat and naan dishes, and the spices and flavours are simply superb. There’s a great range of sides to go with the meat too, from masala-flavoured fries to black dhal. If there’s a group of you, you might want to order the impressive thali sets, which are huge sharing platters that give you a chance to try almost everything on the menu!

  1. Skylon

Located in the Royal Festival Hall a short walk from the London Eye, Skylon is a fantastic restaurant with excellent views over Southbank and the River Thames. The restaurant is on the third floor and with wide windows, Skylon has a really open and atmospheric feel to it.

The food is great too, with Skylon focusing on serving contemporary British cuisine using fresh ingredients. You’ll find such dishes as Suffolk pork chop and Devon monkfish on the menu, while you can share a lamb rack or even split a beef wellington.

Skylon stays true to British heritage and you can also book in for an excellent afternoon tea if you want to feel particularly English after your jaunt on the London Eye.

st-pauls

  1. OXO Tower Restaurant

If you haven’t been satisfied by the views from the London Eye, then head down the river to the OXO Tower Restaurant, which is a 15-minute walk along the Thames. This is one of London’s most iconic towers, and for decades it’s stood over the city and formed an integral part of the skyline.

Located high up on the 8th floor of the OXO Tower, this is a restaurant with marvellous views across to St Paul’s Cathedral and all along the Southbank. There’s a beautiful open-air terrace, while the interior has wide windows that help to turn the entire restaurant floor into a viewing platform.

You can enjoy afternoon tea high above London, or you can partake from the extensive restaurant menu that focuses on British and European cuisine with more than a dash of fusion involved.

If you aren’t looking for a full meal though, then you can just call into the ever-popular OXO Bar, where you’ll find the same views and a huge list of expertly crafted cocktails to work your way through.

  1. Florentine Restaurant and Bar

Just a short stroll towards Waterloo Station and you can dine at the Florentine Restaurant and Bar, a seemingly normal European-style eatery that serves up one of the more peculiar breakfasts in London.

The Florentine is far from normal though. It has one of the most extensive European menus in the city, which is simple but certainly a little eclectic! Their unusual breakfasts are aimed at groups of four people, so get your friends together, head to the Florentine, and try the intriguing ostrich egg breakfast. This involves a giant ostrich egg to share, accompanied by all manner of other breakfast items.

  1. Le Pain Quotidien

Head to the Royal Festival Hall, where you can find a taste of Belgian baking at Le Pain Quotidien. The name translates into English as The Daily Bread, because everything about this restaurant revolves around bread and pastry.

You can enjoy a huge range of baguettes and different styles of baked bread, as well as jams and marmalades to go with them. They also serve waffles, scones and brioche, as well as classic eggy breakfasts. For lunch and dinner, you can enjoy light, seasonal salads and fresh quiches, or you can dip into pies or the open-faced tartine-style sandwiches.

If you’re heading to London, check out Premium Tours’ fantastic selection of tours that include a trip on the London Eye. As London experts, we’ll ensure you’re entertained and that you eat well when you visit the capital, as our guides have the lowdown on the best places to eat near the London Eye and around the city.

Garden Maze

These Are the Coolest Mazes in and around London

England has a long history when it comes to mazes. These mind-boggling attractions have for centuries amused, confused and baffled those brave enough to enter their twists and turns.

A maze is designed to confuse and to entertain, and they became popular amongst royalty and the rich in the 16th century. Indeed, many of the best mazes around today are still found in old country estates. Some of the best are found in and around London, including the iconic hedge maze at Hampton Court Palace that has been there for 300 years. It is undoubtedly a great thing to do whilst in London.

But in London, you can also find a new wave of labyrinths and mazes aiming to test your nerve and your intellect. Escape rooms are well and truly booming across the capital, while you can even enter the revered Crystal Maze, for an experience like no other.

Here are the coolest mazes in and around London.

  1. Hampton Court Palace Maze

Hampton Court Palace Maze is easily the most well known maze in the United Kingdom. Over the centuries it’s confused and baffled many an intrepid maze-goer with its high hedges and elaborate design.

In fact, as far as mazes go this one is legendary because Hampton Court Palace Maze has the distinction of being the oldest hedge maze in the world. It claims to be the most famous maze in the world too, and they probably aren’t wrong about that either.

The maze began life in the late 17th century, meaning that today it’s well over 300 years old. For centuries, people have been trying to find their way around the maze. It was originally designed for William III of Orange, the King of England at the time, and, in the beginning, only a select few royals and guests would have been allowed to enter this labyrinth.

It’s now open to the general public. While you can purchase maze-only tickets, you will want to explore the palace itself too, if you’ve never visited before. Hampton Court Palace is one of the most fascinating royal palaces, particularly given its association with the infamous Henry VIII and his many wives.

The maze has around half a mile of different pathways, all surrounded by expertly maintained hedgerows. It generally takes around 20 minutes to half an hour to reach the centre point from the entrance, but that, of course, depends on your maze talents.

green-tunnel Hampton Court

  1. Crystal Palace Park Maze 

Not the Crystal Maze – we’ll get to that one later – but the Crystal Palace Park Maze, which is one of London’s best, and easily a competitor for the title of coolest maze.

This is another legendary hedge maze. Although it’s not quite as old as the one at Hampton Court Palace, it still dates back to the 1870s and can claim to be one of the largest of its type in the United Kingdom.

It’s located within the lovely grounds of Crystal Palace Park and is a throwback to the Victorian Era. The Crystal Palace area was named for the Crystal Palace Exhibition Building, which formed the centrepiece of the Great Exhibition in the 1850s. The maze became another addition to the park, as it entertained and amazed the Victorian citizens of London, alongside life-size statues of dinosaurs that were also placed – and can still be found today – in Crystal Palace Park.

The maze is free to explore, and it covers an area of around 1,500 square metres, being 50 metres across in diameter. This is a true labyrinth of hedgerows, so be prepared to get lost time after time, as you turn the corner only to find dead end, after a dead end.

Crystal Palace Park is located in southeast London, an easy train or bus ride from London’s city centre.

crystal-palace

  1. Brent Lodge Park Millennium Maze

Head into the suburbs of London, west of the centre towards Wembley, and you’ll find the little known Brent Lodge Park Millennium Maze.

The maze was commissioned to commemorate the start of the new millennium in the year 2000, and for the past two decades, it’s been successfully confusing and frustrating those who enter its rows.

This is a modern hedge maze, but it’s one that’s really designed for kids because the hedges have yet to grow to the same high heights as those of Crystal Palace or Hampton Court. Tall adults can easily see over the top, which, of course, is perfect if you don’t actually want to get lost!

The twists and turns are still confusing enough to disrupt your sense of space and judgement though. Even if you can see over the hedges, you might still find yourself more perplexed than you imagined possible. Don’t be too confident when you start making your way through the maze!

Within Brent Lodge Park you can also find a range of other activities and sights aimed at kids, including the charming Hanwell Zoo, a conservation area where you can find exotic animals from around the world, including marmosets.

  1. Hall Place and Gardens

On the opposite side of London in the far eastern suburbs, you can find the glorious grounds of Hall Place and Gardens. This is a little known county estate that was eventually surrounded by the ever-expanding mass of London, but it’s still a welcome retreat from the outside world.

The maze here is a small affair – and in all honesty, it’s got nothing on the likes of Hampton Court Palace – but it is still a lovely place to visit, especially given the expansive grounds and gardens. You’ll also find that few people visit Hall Place, especially in comparison to Hampton Court Palace.

Hall Place dates back to 1537 and is an often-overlooked piece of history in the London suburbs. This is a heritage-listed house and it’s remarkably well preserved. Inside the house, you can find an eclectic collection of exhibits telling the tale of the house and the former lords and ladies who lived within its walls.

The gardens are the crowning achievement of Hall Place, and you can find some marvellous topiary hedges, shaped into the form of heraldic lions, as well as the beautiful maze.

  1. Blenheim Palace Maze

Take a day trip from London and head out west to Oxfordshire, where you can try out your maze navigation skills at Blenheim Palace. Jump on the train or take the bus from London to Oxford, then make your way into the countryside to one of England’s grandest stately homes.

Blenheim Palace is the home of the Duke of Marlborough and his family, although much of the estate is open to the public. The palace dates back to the early 18th century and its historic importance has led the estate to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The grounds are marvellous and the history held within the palace walls is fascinating, but the real draw of a visit here is, of course, its maze.

Within the vast grounds, you can find the Marlborough Maze, which could be one of the most complicated hedge mazes in the country. The maze stretches for at least two miles, covering many turns, dead ends and false routes towards its elegant centre.

There are even several viewing platforms that you can climb up for an overhead view if you get stuck, which is very common in this maze. When you’ve been wandering around lost for what seems to be an eternity, you’ll welcome a bird’s eye view of the maze!blenheim-palace maze

  1. Hever Castle and Gardens

Just outside London, you can find the historic grounds of Hever Castle and Gardens, which lies close to Tunbridge Wells in the county of Kent.

This wonderful castle dates back over 700 years to the 13th century, and over the years was the home of many infamous characters, including the unfortunate Anne Boleyn, the executed wife of Henry VIII.

There’s a lot of heritage waiting to be uncovered at Hever Castle but, more importantly, there are also two mazes to be completed. You’ll certainly get your money’s worth at Hever Castle, with a Yew Maze and a Water Maze.

The Yew Maze is a classic English hedge maze, and it dates back over a century to when the wealthy owner of the castle decided he needed some outdoor entertainment. It’s marvellously well trimmed, and you’ll need around half an hour to get from the entrance to the centre, and then to find your way back out again.

More impressive even than the Yew Maze is the fabulous Water Maze. This is about as unusual as it gets when it comes to the world of mazes, and the Water Maze at Hever Castle is often sought out by maze enthusiasts. Found on an island, stepping stones and walkways have been raised above the water and lead to a small stone ruin in the middle.

The aim is to get to the stone ruin without getting wet because if you step on the wrong stone you’ll unleash jets of water that can soak the unwary maze-goer. It’s an unusual maze concept, and it adds a whole new level of excitement to the game. Be sure to bring a towel though, and be careful taking your children over the water too!

  1. The Crystal Maze Live Experience

For many years, through the 1990s and now again in its rebooted form, audiences have been mesmerised by the eccentricities of the Crystal Maze, a TV show that forces teams to solve puzzles as they make their way through an exotic labyrinth.

The cult TV show had a huge comeback recently when a live version of the maze was created in London. Fans can now immerse themselves in a real-life Crystal Maze, and try to complete what could easily be the coolest maze in London.

Just like in the TV show, you’ll need a team of friends with you to complete this maze, and together you’ll need to work your way through the different zones while you complete the different challenges to score points.

Each zone has a different theme – Futuristic, Industrial, Medieval and Aztec – and each zone is faithful to the original. You’ll be timed as you enter the different rooms in search of the crystals, and at the end of the maze, you’ll even get to enter the famous Crystal Dome, as you hurry to collect the tokens needed to win the game.

The Crystal Maze has become hugely popular in its live experience form, and can currently be found in the West End. You will need to make reservations in advance though, and ensure that you’ve assembled the best team that you can to complete the maze!

live-escape-game

  1. Escape Rooms

Mazes, while being a lot of fun, might seem outdated to some, a vestige of the Victorian Era and of day’s past. But the spirit of the maze never gets old. It lives on, and the challenge and intrigue can be found in its most modern form in Escape Rooms.

Escape Rooms have surged in popularity in recent years, and the concept is very much the same as a maze, just with more narrative and with more problems to solve. Escape Rooms can be found all over London, and the concept is simple. You are locked in a room, or indeed a maze of different rooms, and you have to escape within an allotted time period. To get out, you have to solve clues and figure out puzzles, while navigating your way around the room, and any other rooms that might be attached too.

Escape Rooms have different themes and backstories, and you have to work as a team to get out. They are modern-day labyrinths, and they couldn’t be more fun. Plus, being inside you don’t need the sun to be shining to complete an Escape Room, as you might want it to be for an outdoor hedge maze!

While you’re in London, getting lost in mazes and seeking a way out from Escape Rooms, check out Premium Tours’ fantastic selection of London tours. As London experts, we know how to make your London experience truly memorable.

comedy clubs london

Fancy a Giggle? Here Are the Top Comedy Clubs in London

There’s nothing better than the live experience of comedy – guffawing with friends and family, cheeks and faces aching from all the laughing and smiling, then sharing those funny moments again afterwards together, because you ‘had to be there’. London’s comedy scene is thriving, so where better to enjoy a hysterical night out with a wide and eccentric array of venues to choose between.

Rambunctious hilarity abounds with national, international and newbie comedians to suit every taste. There are plenty of options for tickets that include dinner, from your basic pub fare to international cuisine. You can even party on into the night, with some venues also hosting nightclubs.

Here are twelve of the finest comedy clubs the capital has to offer.

  1. 99 Club, Leicester Square

Hosting high quality comedy seven nights a week, The 99 Club has won Best London Comedy Club (Chortle Awards) for the past eight years in a row. The club features acclaimed international comedians, including those from shows such as Live at the Apollo, Mock the Week, and Have I Got News For You. The usual format at Leicester Square is three comedians per night for a reasonable £10-£15 given the high level of talent.

If you want to splash out and make an evening of it, you can also purchase food at the venue with good quality ‘pub style’ food (burgers, pasta, salads and classic desserts such as cheesecake or brownie). You can end the night dancing in the nightclub at the same venue. The 99 Club also runs comedy at other venues in Covent Garden and Soho.

Info: 7 days per week, Ruby Blue, 2nd Floor 1 Leicester Place, Leicester Square, London WC2H 7BP

Leicester Square

  1. Live at the Chapel, Union Chapel

The architecturally stunning Union Chapel is the most beautiful venue to enjoy comedy gigs. As it hosts many different kinds of events – from music gigs to actual church services – comedy is usually only found here once a month. But it’s well worth waiting for, with innovative supporting comedians and big-name headliners, plus a top-notch live band to add even more atmosphere.

Food-wise you can support social justice issues whilst eating at the Margins Cafe, with profits going to The Margins Project (based at the Chapel) working with people who face issues of homelessness and crisis. You can even sample the Chapel’s own beer – the 1877 Union Chapel Pale Ale – at the licensed bar, or grab yourself some sweeties, a Tunnock’s teacake and a nice cup of tea from the gorgeously old-fashioned kiosk.

Info: Monthly gigs, Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, Islington, London, N1 2UN.

  1. Hoopla Impro, London Bridge

If you like comedy that is spontaneous, dynamic and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, then why not try Hoopla Impro, featuring the best in improvised comedy in London. You’ll find a huge array of styles, from short-form games, improvised plays, musical inspired comedy, and stand-up routines. Experimental is the order of the day, and there’s plenty of opportunity to try out this style with free tickets being offered for many events, and others at a very reasonable £10 or less.

Fancy yourself as a bit of a comedian? Hoopla also offers improv beginner classes and workshops, plus ‘improv jams’ so you can test out your own gags on the fly.

Info: Mon to Sat, Hoopla’s London Improv Comedy Club at The Miller, 96 Snowsfields Road, London Bridge, London, SE1 3SS. Sundays only: The Comedy Pub, 7 Oxendon St, London SW1Y 4EE. Check the website for additional shows at other venues.

  1. Old Rope Comedy Club at the Phoenix, Cavendish Square

Featuring brand spanking new and innovative comedy, Old Rope is a weekly night where comedians test out their latest material. There’s a good mix of established names and up-and-coming talent, with the night being hosted by Tiff Stevenson (Mock the Week, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, 8 out of 10 Cats) in this West East pub. And the noose that hangs over the stage during the show? If their new gags are sinking like a lead balloon, comics can grab the noose and rely on their more tried-and-tested material to get them through.

Info: Monday nights, The Phoenix 37 Cavendish Square, London, W1G 0PP

  1. Comedy Carnival, Leicester Square and Covent Garden

If you’re after no nonsense big names on the comedy scene – such as those from Live at The Apollo and Mock the Week – then Comedy Carnival won’t disappoint. Shows run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at Leicester Square and on Saturday nights in Covent Garden. There are plenty of food options to choose between with dinner ticket deals including Pizza Express Covent Garden, fine dining at the Sicilian Enzo’s Kitchen or Peruvian Leicester Square Kitchen.

Info: Thurs, Fri and Sat nights at Leicester Square: Bar Rumba, 36 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 7EP. Saturdays at Covent Garden: Seven Dials Club, 42 Earlham Street, London, WC2H 9LA

london covent garden

  1. The Boat Show, Victoria Embankment

If you’re taking a trip to the London Eye then why not spend the evening at a floating comedy club, to enjoy a more unusual venue. Established over 20 years ago, The Boat Show takes place in a gorgeous refurbished paddle steamer permanently moored just opposite the London Eye. You’ll get a number of comedians at each show – usually three with an MC – so there’s good variety, and many of the names are well-known on the UK and International scene, including those from top TV comedy shows.

On Tuesdays, The Boat Show features ‘The Guinea Pig Club’ where you can sample new material from both established and new comedians with at least seven acts performing. For under a tenner, it’s seriously good value. At the weekend, your ticket price also includes the after-show Popworld nightclub, so you can end the evening dancing your socks off. Dinner deals are also available with classic pub food fare.

Info: Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturday nights. The Boat Show, Tattershall Castle, Victoria Embankment, London SW1A 2HR

london eye

  1. Angel Comedy Club, Islington

Angel Comedy is all about the sheer joy of comedy. This is a comedy club run by comedians and there to support comedians, with an aim to offer high quality, innovative and experimental comedy with no admission charge – all totally free. The emphasis is on how comedy really can be embedded in the local community, so it’s a project with a lot of heart.

The Camden Head in Islington is the main venue where the club began – in a room above the pub – and its reputation as London’s most beloved comedy gig means shows there are always packed out, seven nights a week. Get there early to avoid disappointment.

Angel also has a new and exciting venue – they’ve bought the lease on a pub called the Bill Murray (see their successful kickstarter campaign for the inspiring story) – and have big dreams to transform this into a base for comedians to come together to rehearse and work together. At the Bill Murray, they have a diverse programme of events (note admission charges apply at this venue) including comedy courses and community projects.

Info: Seven nights a week (free admission) at The Camden Head 2 Camden Walk, London, N1 8DY and seven nights a week (varied admission charges) The Bill Murray, 39 Queens Head Street, London, N1 8NQ

  1. Soho Theatre

This longstanding venue for innovative theatre, comedy and cabaret provides outstanding access to stellar comedians in a purpose-built theatre setting. Unlike most comedy clubs, the Soho Theatre lends itself better to single comedian events (rather than the usual three or more turns in an evening), so you get the chance to immerse yourself in the weird and wonderful world of a comic for a full evening.

Soho Theatre is a charity and social enterprise, and the focus is on supporting high quality work and nurturing up-and-coming talent, with artist development being high on their list of priorities. So there’s a rich mix to choose between from highly touted newbies to Edinburgh favourites, and more. The bar at Dean Street offers a great range of drinks – including gluten-free, vegan, alcohol-free and low-alcoholic options – and food-wise there’s light fare on offer, such as ciabattas, salads and snacks.

Info: Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London W1D 3NE

soho theatre

  1. The Comedy Store, Soho

A review of the top comedy clubs in London wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the bastion of comedy talent, the Comedy Store. Established forty years ago, in a room over a strip club in Soho, it now has a purpose-built venue with over 3,500 visitors each week. The ‘recently played’ list is a who’s who of national and international comedy superstars, with this venue being a ‘rite of passage’ into the big league of comedy.

If you like sharp, uncensored and topical comedy, try the ‘The Cutting Edge’ regular show every Tuesday night, featuring a panel of famous comedians taking on issues from the week’s news. Wednesdays and Sundays also feature wickedly funny improvisation from highly skilled Comedy Store Players. A must for any comedy fan.

Info: Most nights, The Comedy Store, 1a Oxendon Street, London, SW1Y 4EE

  1. Knock2bag, Hackney and Bethnal Green

Whilst this venue also hosts high-level comics, there’s more eccentricity, innovation and surrealism here, with a wider range of comedic styles than in some other venues. Knock2bag also host ‘Cardinal Burns presents…’ – what they describe as an ‘impulsive’ and ‘anything goes’ show hosted by Channel 4 stars Dustin Demri-Burns and Seb Cardinal. The show had a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016 and regularly sells out, so get your tickets early. For all things wild and whimsical, you can’t go wrong with Knock2bag.

Info: Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at Moth Club, Old Trades Hall, Valette Street, E9 6NU and Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, E1 6LA

  1. Up the Creek, Greenwich

Once known for its ruthless crowd who accept nothing but the best, Up the Creek is an iconic venue offering premium comedy, establishing its reputation as a classic London comedy club. From touring shows to club gigs, there’s a good range of comedy of high quality here.

On Thursday nights they’ve developed the open mic format into an exciting, interactive comedy evening called ‘The Blackout’. Featuring 15-17 comedians, they each get two minutes on stage to wow the audience, three of whom are given a ‘blackout card’. If all three hold up their cards, the stage is plunged into darkness and the comedian has to leave. If the comedians survive, they get a full five minutes and have ‘beaten the Blackout’!

Food and drink here is great – Roxburgers provides a gorgeous selection of burgers, including veggie and vegan options, and you can get freshly brewed craft beer from independent microbrewery Greenwich Brewery. Shows run on Wednesdays to Sundays in the evening and after the comedy is done, you can get on the dance floor and enjoy busting some moves to classic hits until 2am.

Info: Wednesday to Sunday evenings, Up the Creek, 302 Creek Rd, London, SE10 9SW

Up the Creek comedy club

  1. Banana Cabaret Club, Balham

Banana Cabaret Club is a respected and well-loved comedy club that’s hosted classic comedians for the past thirty years, and is still going strong in the iconic round Club room at The Bedford. There’s everyone from comedy superstars, to touted newbies and those on the touring circuit, with an annual Comedy Festival in July. The nine-day Festival features star turns testing out their material before the Edinburgh Festival and the touring circuit starts, so it’s as fresh and new as you can get.

The Bedford’s restaurant serves delicious gastropub fare, which is a step above the usual burger and fries comedy combo. Banana Cabaret is noted for a friendly, welcoming and unpretentious attitude, and that carries on with dancing post-show until 2am.

Info: Fridays and Saturdays, The Bedford, 77 Bedford Hill, SW12 9HD

From big name superstars to up-and-coming newbies, improv and topical to surreal and hard-hitting, there’s a comedy show in London for everyone. To explore London in all its glory, contact the experts Premium Tours to discuss our extensive range of exciting tours.

london film sets

These Are the Best Film Sets in London You Can Visit in Real Life

London is one of the most iconic cities in the world, so it’s no surprise that the British capital has featured heavily in films throughout cinema history. London’s skyline has been the backdrop to many films, from action-packed sequences in thrillers like the Bourne Ultimatum and James Bond to romantic scenes in classic British movies such as Bridget Jones’s Diary and Notting Hill.

Just walking through London’s streets, you’ll easily recognise many of the best film sets from different movies. Plus, there are many more hidden away that you may not even realise were used for Hollywood blockbusters.

Film fans will have a fantastic time exploring famous Harry Potter filming locations such as Platform 9 and ¾, and Diagon Alley, while many of London’s most recognisable landmarks, such as Westminster, St Paul’s Cathedral and even the Tube, have been in countless movies.

To inspire your movie-based trip to the capital, here are the best film sets in London you can visit in real life.

  1. Platform 9 and ¾

Harry Potter fanatics won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to visit the real location of Platform 9 and ¾ when they are in London. J.K. Rowling had the magical platform located in one of the city’s busiest train stations: King’s Cross. Here, witches and wizards had to charge full steam into the wall with their trolleys to board the train that would carry them to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The scenes were filmed on location at King’s Cross Station, and you’ll instantly recognise the grand Victorian architecture from the Harry Potter series. Since the popularity of the films has exploded, you can even find a Harry Potter themed shop at the station, while you can take your picture under a Platform 9 and ¾ sign, as you push a trolley through the wall.

  1. Diagon Alley

There’s another great Harry Potter film set found hidden away in the City of London. The magical shopping street of Diagon Alley, where witches and wizards would buy supplies for Hogwarts, deposit money at Gringotts Bank or enjoy a few drinks at the Leaky Cauldron.

You’ll be surprised to find that there’s a real-life Diagon Alley in London, as the stand-in for the wizarding street was Leadenhall Market, which is every bit as magical as its fictional counterpart in the films. Leadenhall Market dates back as far as 1321 and is one of the oldest continually operating marketplaces in the country. It’s no surprise that the historic architecture of the market formed the perfect shooting location for Diagon Alley.

diagon alley london

  1. London Underground

Even just travelling around the city on the London Underground will have you immersed in countless film locations beneath the city. The Tube has featured in hundreds of movies through the decades, and any film that’s set in London will likely include a scene on the train or at a station.

World War II films, such as Atonement, use the underground stations to film scenes from air raids when Londoners would hide out in the Tube to escape the bombings. Action films, such as the popular Bourne Ultimatum and James Bond, have staged chase sequences through stations, and on moving trains too.

  1. Canary Wharf

The modern designs of Canary Wharf Tube Station have proven a hit with many directors looking to stage futuristic-looking scenes because, with little work, the station can easily pass for the interior of a spaceship.

The metallic-looking floors and sliding doors of the platforms make the station one of the most modern in the city. The last sci-fi movie to feature Canary Wharf was the Star Wars spin-off, Rogue One. During filming Stormtroopers were spotted across Canary Wharf, riding the Tube and marching up and down the escalators.

Another film that featured Canary Wharf is 28 Days Later, the hit end-of-the-world, zombie flick directed by Danny Boyle. He had the survivors of the apocalypse hiding out in the by-then abandoned tube station to escape the infected.

canary wharf london

  1. Notting Hill

Notting Hill was a smash hit British rom-com, which was released to great reviews in 1999 and features Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. It’s since become a classic London film, with the story taking place, as the name suggests, predominantly in Notting Hill.

The most famous filming location was Portobello Road in Notting Hill, where much of the action took place. It’s a colourful street and has a long association with cinema, even holding its own film festival each year. Since the release of Notting Hill, Portobello Road has become a major tourist attraction too, as legions of fans scope out the set where the film was shot.

  1. The Shaun of the Dead Pub

Shaun of the Dead is a British comedy horror film that’s become a cult classic, thanks to its low-key, sarcastic humour and general Englishness. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost alongside their dysfunctional friends get stuck in the middle of a Zombie apocalypse and decide to head to the only safe location they know – the Winchester.

The Winchester is their local pub where they hope to find shelter and a few pints, and you can actually visit the quintessentially English pub that was used in the film.

The pub, The Duke of Albany, is found in New Cross south of the Thames, and you can pretend you’re fighting off a horde of zombies when you visit this horror film set.

  1. Borough Market

Another classic Brit flick that was set and filmed in London is the timeless Bridget Jones’s Diary. Starring fan favourites Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, the rom-com was a huge success in the early noughties, spawning several sequels and earning its place on Christmas television schedules.

The plot takes the characters all across London, using many locations such as St Pancras Station and even Stansted Airport. The most iconic location in the film though, is Borough Market, where Bridget Jones’s home is found.

The producers picked a nondescript flat above the Globe pub, right by the market, and you can see the doorway as you walk down the street in this famous London district. You can even call in at the Globe for a pint, while just down the road a restaurant called Bedales was the scene of what became known as ‘the fight in the Greek restaurant’, and you can pop in for lunch and dinner.

As well as being the film set for Bridget Jones’s Diary, Borough Market is a must-see sight in itself, as the market is one of the oldest in London and these days is home to some of the best street food in the capital.

borough market london

  1. The Old Royal Naval College

The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich has appeared in plenty of films requiring a grand, neoclassical setting for shooting.

The building, the site of a Royal Navy training centre for many years, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an integral part of Maritime Greenwich, and it’s an easy film set to visit in London.

The Old Royal Naval College has been featured in hundreds of films and TV shows, being used to depict palaces, colonial buildings and government premises in an array of genres from detective thrillers to superhero movies.

Most recently, Marvel fans will recognise the college’s distinctive domes and pillars from Thor: The Dark World, while it’s also appeared in such films as Pirates of the Caribbean and The King’s Speech.

The college grounds were even used as a substitute for the streets of 18th century Paris, when the final scenes of the most recent adaptation of the musical Les Miserables were filmed here. The production team set up barricades for the classic action shots depicting the fighting in the streets of the French capital during the Revolution.

  1. Buckingham Palace

Despite being such a famous London landmark, security is so tight at Buckingham Palace that few films are actually able to get permission to shoot here.

Where you do see the palace in a movie, stand ins are generally used – The King’s Speech for instance has many scenes set in the palace which were actually filmed at the Old Royal Naval College mentioned above.

Some films and TV shows have managed to get permission to shoot here though, although it’s almost always been limited to the front facade, with the most famous being Doctor Who and The BFG.

Most of the time though, if you see the palace on screen it’s going to be CGI, another palace or a classic British estate where security isn’t quite such a worry.

buckingham palace

  1. Westminster

Westminster and the Houses of Parliament have been part of many a film set in London, from action movies to political biopics.

In the destructive thriller London Has Fallen you can see Westminster burning in the background, while in Danny Boyle’s zombie horror 28 Days Later, the main character is famously depicted walking across an empty Westminster Bridge with the Houses of Parliament clearly visible in the background.

Lots of British dramas have been set in the House of Commons or House of Lords debating chambers, including the latest Winston Churchill film, Darkest Hour. You can actually take tours of the Houses of Parliament to see for yourself where the country’s most important decisions are made, rather than just seeing it on the screen.

  1. Whitehall

Another famous government district that features in many British films is Whitehall. Found in the Westminster area, Whitehall is home to many civil service offices and ministries, including the Ministry of Defence.

The architecture here is some of the most classic in London, and many producers use the neoclassical designs as a backdrop for sets that need to look quintessentially English, particularly in World War II dramas or political thrillers set in the capital.

If you’re a fan of Winston Churchill, then as well as being set in the Houses of Parliament, Whitehall also featured heavily in the biographical film Darkest Hour, which portrayed the Prime Minister during the early stages of World War II.

You can even visit the Churchill War Rooms, now a museum, where the Prime Minister made many of his daunting decisions during the war.

  1. St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral is an enduring feature on the London skyline, and is often clearly visible in films set in the city.

The distinctive dome of this Anglican Cathedral is hard to miss in panoramic shots of the capital, but a few movies depict St Paul’s closer up, too.

British staples Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes have featured the cathedral in many different episodes and renditions on the big screen, while the most famous movie to use St Paul’s was Mary Poppins.

The cathedral is such a London icon that despite being over four hundred years old it’s often included in futuristic visions of the city. Sci-fi fans will recognise St Paul’s from the recent Peter Jackson film, Mortal Engines, while Star Trek aficionados will have seen it in Star Trek Into Darkness, and Marvel lovers in Thor: The Dark World.

st pauls cathedral

  1. Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square is another of London’s most notable landmarks. Like many of the city’s most iconic places, it has featured heavily in films.

London’s most famous square is surrounded by grand institutions such as the National Gallery and Nelson’s Column, and is often used by directors and producers to depict classic scenes that need to portray the capital in both modern and historical contexts.

Trafalgar Square can be seen in Doctor Who and most notably in V for Vendetta, when the infamous marching scene sees hundreds of masked extras walking from the square and through the streets of London.

Harry Potter fans will also love the fact that the world premier of the series finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, where Voldemort meets his end during the Battle of Hogwarts, was held here, being the first film premier to ever be shown in Trafalgar Square.

If you’re heading to London to track down these famous filming locations, check out our great range of London Tours. For serious Harry Potter fans, we also run a number of daily tours of the Warner Bros. Studio, where the films were made.

Vauxhall Bridge

London in August: The Complete Guide

Visiting London in August will see you in the capital to catch the last real month of summer. British summers are short but sweet, and August is a month of outdoor events and festivals that celebrate the diverse multicultural makeup of the city, while the sun is still shining.

You’ll quickly realise that August is a month that’s packed with festivals, as the city hosts everything from international music events to street carnivals and beer festivals. There’s a lot going on, and with a Bank Holiday in August, Londoners definitely make the most of their free time by enjoying all that’s on offer across the city.

To help you to plan your trip to the capital this summer, here’s our complete guide to visiting London in August.

The Weather in London in August

August usually sees London experiencing its second hottest month of the year, with temperatures similar to July but slowly beginning to fall again. The start of the month can see highs of 30 degrees Celsius, while the average throughout August will generally be in the mid-20s.

This is the end of summer though, and evenings will begin to get chillier, as the days begin to shorten. Towards the tail end of August, you can begin to expect rain, with more rain throughout the month than you will have seen in July. Enjoy the sunshine when it’s there though, because this is your last chance for much of the year in London.

London in Summer

Festivals and Events in London in August

August is full of festivals, and there’s bound to be an event to suit your tastes, whether it be beer, food, music or culture. The trouble you will have in London though, is deciding which events to attend, as many of the most high profile and best-known festivals are held at the same time over the Bank Holiday Weekend. You’ll be spoiled for choice, and there will be some tough decisions to make, but rest assured that August is a great time to be in London.

August Bank Holiday

August is beloved by Londoners because they are treated to a long Bank Holiday weekend at the end of the month, on the last weekend, which really then becomes the last long weekend of summer in the country.

There are a lot of options for your Bank Holiday weekend in London, and as long as the weather holds out you can join everyone else in the parks, enjoying picnics or BBQs. You can head to the beer gardens to drink in the sun, or visit one of the many festivals held in the capital over the weekend.

Notting Hill Carnival

The Notting Hill Carnival is one of the most famous and well-attended festivals held in London. Held in Kensington over the Sunday and Monday of the Bank Holiday Weekend, the carnival is a celebration of Caribbean culture, and represents the diversity within London, with many more minority cultures featuring too.

Notting Hill Carnival is essentially two long days of street parties, with colourful, vibrant parades taking over Kensington. You can immerse yourself in Caribbean culture, learn more about local migrant communities in London, and have one of the best weekends in the city. The carnival gets incredibly busy, with well over a million estimated visitors over two days each year. You can enjoy music and eat great food from around the world and, of course, you’ll find the parties carrying on well into the night.

Notting Hill Carnival

The BBC Proms

The world-renowned BBC Proms are in full swing throughout August, and it’s a great opportunity to catch a performance from the best international orchestras and composers in London. If you enjoy classical music, then the Proms are for you, but get in early to secure your tickets, because even though the concerts are held over the entirety of the summer months, they can still get booked out, particularly on weekends.

The Great British Beer Festival

As the name would suggest, The Great British Beer Festival is one huge festival devoted to beer. The event is hosted by CAMRA – the Campaign For Real Ale, an organisation devoted to the preservation and advancement of British ales across the country – and no one else could match them for detail and knowledge when it comes to beer.

It’s a great event where you can try new beers from the country’s best breweries, discover up and coming ales, and find out what’s on the horizon in the beer world. The festival is also home to the British Beer Awards, and the winners will be announced – and celebrated with plenty of beer drinking – during the course of the event.

Beer

Carnaval del Pueblo

Burgess Park in London is the site of Carnaval del Pueblo, a huge event that transforms the district into a Latin America fiesta on the first Sunday of August. It’s the biggest event of its kind held in Europe and attracts both Latin crowds and many more people from across the world who take part in the vibrant, colourful and loud festival.

It’s a wonderful celebration of Latin culture and yet another demonstration of London’s incredible diversity. You can enjoy music, great food, dancing and fantastic culture from across Central and South America.

Camden Fringe Festival

It’s not quite as famous as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, also held throughout August in the Scottish capital, but the Camden Fringe Festival is becoming increasingly popular with each passing year.

Throughout August you can find a whole array of comedic acts being played out across venues in Camden. Alongside a few established acts, it’s a brilliant place to discover new, up and coming performers and groups.

South West Four Weekender Festival

The South West Four Weekender Festival takes place over the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of August, and it’s grown into one of the most popular dance music festivals in the United Kingdom.

This dance music festival is held on Clapham Common, and you’ll find several stages and plenty of huge international names lining the bill over the long weekend. After the main headliners finish their sets, then the parties spill out into the nearby clubs to carry on until the early hours of the morning. If you love dance music, then this is the place to spend your Bank Holiday, but you’ll need to get your ticket well in advance to avoid disappointment.

Festival

Espresso Martini Festival

Espresso Martinis are a potent mix of coffee and liquor, and the drink has become one of the most fashionable cocktails in London in recent years. Coffee and alcohol lovers won’t want to miss the impressive Espresso Martini Festival, where not only can you drink endless coffee-based alcoholic beverages, but you can learn how to make your own too.

There are cocktail-making workshops, talks from industry professionals, and much more on offer at the Espresso Martini Festival, which is held over a long weekend in August.

London Mela

The unique London Mela festival is a celebration of all things South Asian in Southall Park. The festival attracts artists, musicians and performers from the South Asian community in the United Kingdom and from South Asia itself, and there are stages catering to the best music and dance from the region.

More than this though, the festival is the largest celebration of South Asian culture in Europe and features an incredible array of different foods and cuisines. If you are interested in learning more about the culture, then this is a great opportunity, and if you just love South Asian food, then there’s no reason to stay away because entrance is free. Get to Southall Park and gorge on food while you listen to great music.

Hampton Court Palace Food Festival

Hampton Court Palace is a former royal residence and has been the home of kings and queens through English history. These days the palace is open to the public, as the royal family no longer live here, and the vast halls and gardens of Hampton Court host regular events throughout the year.

One of these events is the Hampton Court Palace Food Festival, which is held over the Bank Holiday weekend in August each year. Set in the beautiful gardens of the palace, this is a foodie festival of epic proportions and you’ll be able to eat and drink all day long. You’ll find food on offer from across the world, as well as cooking lessons, demonstrations, and talks and appearances from some of the United Kingdom’s most well known chefs. The best part is the entrance costs no more than the usual ticket price to visit Hampton Court Palace; you just need to make sure you get in fast.

Food

Things to See and Do in London August

August is the month for festival lovers in London, but if you need a break or a change from the street parties, carnivals, and music and food festivals, then there’s plenty more to see and to do in London in August. Check out the city’s major sporting events, visit Parliament or Buckingham Palace, and explore the capital in the last of the summer sunshine.

The Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament in Westminster close through August for the summer recess, when the MPs are on holiday. During this extended break, it’s possible to visit Parliament for a tour of the government building.

Most of the year, it’s only possible to tour on weekends, but when there are parliaments in session, it’s open to the public all through the week. See the different chambers where big decisions are made by the country’s leaders, and learn about the history of democracy in the United Kingdom.

Buckingham Palace

Just as the Houses of Parliament open during summer for visitors, so does Buckingham Palace, the iconic residential home of the Queen. The palace is opened up for guided tours, and you can visit the stately rooms and admire the grand opulence that the royal family live in.

It’s a rare opportunity to see how royalty really lives in London, and a very intriguing insight into their lives in the palace.

Buckingham Palace

Cricket

London has some of England’s most impressive cricket grounds, and August is the end of the cricketing season when international test matches can be found in full flow at stadiums such as Lords or The Oval.

Experience the quintessentially English sport of cricket first hand, as you join the crowds in the sun to watch the last games before the inevitable rain arrives to wash out the season.

Football

While the summer cricketing season might be drawing to a close in England, the football season is very much beginning, as the first games kick off across London and the rest of the country. You can catch matches across the city, but the most sought-after tickets are for the Premier League fixtures, which can sell out far in advance.

Ride London

Carry on the sporting activities by signing up for or spectating at Ride London. This is London’s most popular cycling event, as thousands of riders take to the streets to complete different sections of a course around the city, depending on how far they can ride.

The following day after the public event, one professional cycling race is held across the city and into the countryside of Surrey, before finishing in the city centre. As well as the racing, you can learn more about how to get into cycling and enjoy all things sporty over the weekend it’s held in August.

Outdoor Cinemas

Outdoor cinemas are incredibly popular in London throughout August, as the warm evenings and generally clear skies offer the last chance to watch movies in the open air. There are many great venues across the city, with rooftop bars turning into cinemas on certain nights of the week, and many dedicated venues purely devoted to the great art that is the world of outdoor cinema. Enjoy some great food, great drinks and great movies during a long summer evening.

If you’re planning a trip to London this August, check out Premium Tours’ great range of London Tours.

Summer park in London

London in July: Everything You Need to Know

July is one of the best months of the year to visit London, because this is the height of summer in the UK. July is one of the most happening months in the capital, as the sunshine and long evenings bring out the crowds to enjoy the unfortunately short summer months when they are at their best. Make the most of London in July, because you never quite know when it’s going to rain again.

There’s a lot to experience in London in July, from colourful flower shows set in royal palaces, to outdoor music festivals celebrating the summertime. You can hang out in beer gardens or make the most of rooftop restaurants and bars, or take to the parks to enjoy a picnic in the sun. London in July is quite simply glorious. To help you to plan your next trip to the capital, here’s our guide to everything you need to know about enjoying summer in the capital.

The Weather in London in July

July is one of the hottest months of the year to visit London, with almost perpetual sunshine, blue skies and hot weather. This being England however, things are rarely too hot, with temperatures only infrequently breaking 30 degrees Celsius during the odd heatwave that strikes the country.

Average temperatures will hover around 25 degrees Celsius, but you might want to pack a jumper for the late evening when the heat drops dramatically. Long days of sunshine ensure that things are busy in the capital and well into the night too, while you can also expect the city to be packed out throughout the month, as this is London’s peak tourist season.

London Park

Festivals and Events in London in July

London’s events schedule throughout July is a busy one, and you can find many excellent outdoor events being held across the city, from music festivals to food fairs. It’s a great time to experience the best of London’s unique culture, music and sports, as the city comes alive with the sunshine. Here are the best festivals to visit in London this July.

BBC Proms

Every year the Royal Albert Hall in London opens its doors to host one of the world’s biggest classical music events. The BBC Proms have been held since 1895, and it’s become of the most renowned performances of its kind, attracting music lovers from across the world to London in summer.

The event lasts eight weeks, and runs throughout July and August and into September, with the opening nights generally scheduled for the middle of July. There’s only ever a short window of time to purchase tickets for this popular season of music, so make sure you jump on the chance to buy if you don’t want to be disappointed.

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Hampton Court Palace is one of England’s most historic, former royal estates. For one week in July, the beautiful gardens are transformed as they host one of London’s biggest and best flower shows. Hampton Court Palace dates back to the 16th century, and was once the home of the infamous King Henry VIII. Today, it’s a place of history and culture, and while it’s no longer a royal residence, the grandeur and opulence are still second to none.

It’s the perfect setting for the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, which is organised by the Royal Horticultural Society, which also runs the equally famous Chelsea Flower Show. This is the largest flower show of its kind to be held anywhere in the world, and it draws in crowds each and every day the doors are open. The event showcases flowers from across the country, but more than this it’s increasingly becoming a space to raise awareness about the natural world and the effect of humanity on the environment.

Hampton Court Palace

London Pride Parade

London is one of the most diverse cities in the world and the capital puts on the largest Pride Parade in England, usually on the first weekend in July. The annual LGBTQ event sees huge numbers of people descending on the capital to join the pride festivities, and it’s a great chance to get to know this side of the city’s culture and history.

The main aim of the event is to promote awareness of the Pride community in London and to showcase the talents and lives of people who identify as LGBTQ. It’s always a lively and fun day, with a huge parade being the highlight of the event. As well as the parade, you’ll also find other events being held across London during the run-up to Pride.

British Summertime Festival

The iconic Hyde Park becomes the scene of a huge outdoor music event in July when the British Summertime Festival is held to celebrate the onset of some of the longest days of the year. The weekend-long event has become a firm favourite on the capital’s summer music circuit, and it attracts huge crowds and huge bands. You can expect to see some of the top performers in the country and from abroad playing to a packed out Hyde Park.

It’s a great event, but make sure you get in early to secure a ticket, as they inevitably sell out quickly. You can expect great music, food trucks and lots of cold beers over the weekend that the British Summertime Festival is held.

Summer Streets by Regent Street

One of the best places in London to visit in July is the famous Regent Street, as the road is closed to traffic and becomes entirely pedestrianised every Sunday throughout the month. Alongside the usual Regents Street shopping experience, you can enjoy some unique events along the road, as summer is well and truly celebrated in style.

There are food markets, live entertainment and more shopping stalls than you could imagine. You can experience one of London’s most iconic streets without worrying about crossing the road, as people from across the city descend here to go car-free for their Sunday. Each weekend, there’s a different theme to the festivities too, ensuring that you can come back every day that it’s held in July to see something new.

Regent Street

Things to See and Do in London in July

Aside from the fantastic festivals and events that are held across London in July, the city has a great many more attractions to visit when you are in the capital. From classic sporting events such as Wimbledon to the opening of Buckingham Palace to the public, there are some great things to see and do in London in July.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is easily one of the best places to visit in London any time of the year, but in July something unusual happens, as the royal palace is opened to the public. From July through to September, visitors can book onto guided tours of the country’s most iconic building, and you have the opportunity to see inside the historic palace and to explore the staterooms.

You can see where the Queen of England lives, and where Kings and Queens have held residence for several hundred years. It’s a tour like no other in the capital, as you’ll enjoy seeing first-hand just how the royal family live their lives inside a palace that is usually closed off to outside eyes.

Swan Upping

Swan Upping is one of the most unusual things to see in London in July. This slightly bizarre event is perhaps the most English sight that it’s ever possible to witness in the capital, as an annual census takes place that counts and tags the number of swans that live on the River Thames.

It’s a royal event, as due to long-standing tradition swans are the property of the ruling English monarch, who has the power to grant rights over the animals to other subjects if they desire. The practice has become a well-attended event, as small boats are rowed along the Thames to round up the swans on the river before they are released again later. The Queen is usually present at the event, which sees much royal tradition and ceremony throughout the day. It’s a quirky, yet quintessentially English spectacle.

Wimbledon Tennis Championships

From the end of June through most of July, one of the world’s classic tennis championships is held at Wimbledon. The world-famous sporting event dates back to 1877 and is the world’s oldest tennis tournament. It attracts world-class talent, as well as crowds from not only across the United Kingdom but internationally too.

You can soak up the Wimbledon atmosphere in the sunshine, as you eat strawberries and cream while drinking a tall glass of fruity Pimms. The crowds are always lively, and while the knockout stages of the men’s and women’s tournaments can sell out quickly, you can get tickets for many of the other matches on the day. If you can’t buy a ticket, then you can still watch the games from the Mound, where matches are televised on huge screens and the atmosphere is always jubilant.

Wimbledon Tennis

The Cricket World Cup

2019 sees London hosting matches of the Cricket World Cup, the popular one-day cricketing event that sees the best teams from around the world competing for glory. The world cup is being held across England and Wales, however many of the most iconic cricket grounds – such as Lords and The Oval – are found in London, and it’s in the capital that the final will be played out at the end of the month.

Enjoy a classic English sport as the July sun shines down on the grounds, join the crowds as they cheer on their teams on the field, and drink more than a few cold beers as the tournament progresses through the month.

Zoo Nights

With the long summer evenings in full swing, London Zoo opens its gates well after the usual closing time to bring their famed zoo nights to the public. As well as being able to peruse the zoo’s many unique enclosures and see the animals after hours, London Zoo also puts on a great street food market that runs late into the night. You can eat and drink in the unusual confines of a zoo, as well as enjoying many other activities – mostly aimed at adults – such as animal quizzes, comedy acts and packed out bars, all of which delve into the theme of wildlife and the world around us.

It’s a wonderful way to experience London Zoo and to make the most of the summer while it lasts in the city in an utterly unique setting.

Pub Beer Gardens and Rooftop Restaurants

With beautiful summer weather all through July, it’s time to enjoy the sun in style, by spending quality time in pub beer gardens or in rooftop restaurants and bars across the city. Despite the usually cold weather the rest of the year, London still has a huge array of outdoor establishments. Many traditional English pubs have great beer gardens that overflow long into the evening during summer, while more and more rooftop bars are opening up in the capital.

Sit back in the sun or enjoy the long hours of daylight into the evening, as you sip a few cold beverages or sample some of London’s finest cuisine in a great atmosphere and setting.

Alcohol

Picnics and BBQs

As well as visiting beer gardens, rooftop bars and restaurants, July sees local Londoners taking to the city’s parks and green spaces when the sun is out to picnic the day away or to start up the BBQ. As soon as the faintest rays of sunshine are seen in the city, evenings and weekends will see parks across the city crowded with groups of friends or families making the most of the great weather.

Take a picnic or stock up on some meat for a BBQ, whichever you prefer. July is the best time of year to enjoy the outdoors when you are in London, and you’ll find that there are plenty of people with the same idea, too.

If you’re planning on visiting London in July, check out Premium Tours’ fantastic range of London Tours for a fascinating insight into the capital.

Vegan Pizza

15 Vegan Restaurants in London You Need to Try

Veganism is taking off like never before, and London is proudly at the forefront of the ethical eating trend that’s sweeping the world.

With more people than ever ditching meat and animal products during Veganuary, in London it’s easier than ever before to carry on the healthy eating practice throughout the year and to try new vegan restaurants any day of the week.

London is undoubtedly one of the best places in the country to find great vegan food, and more and more dedicated vegan restaurants are popping up all the time across the city, serving everything from burgers and pizzas to curries and pies. The fierce competition means that the quality and creativity of the menus are constantly improving too, and it’s not hard to be swayed away from meat in these imaginative vegan restaurants.

To help inspire your next culinary tour of the capital, here are 15 vegan restaurants in London you need to try.

  1. Temple of Seitan

The intriguingly named Temple of Seitan isn’t a restaurant dedicated to the dark arts; it’s a restaurant dedicated to the great art of crafting quality vegan food. This is a place that takes the concept of veganism to its modern conclusion, as they harness the energy and ethics of the vegan movement to draw in the crowds with their delicious meat-free alternatives to classic meaty dishes.

Their signature eats are vegan burgers and vegan wings, and if you doubted whether these generally meat-orientated dishes could ever be the same when cooked vegan, then a few bites at the Temple of Seitan will leave you in no doubt at all that they can, and that they can even be better.

Burger

  1. Filth

Filth is a new eatery that is taking the vegan scene in London by storm with their filthy vegan burgers. The restaurant is found in Shoreditch, a hotbed for alternative movements, and veganism has been fast to take root here, with great results too.

Leading the way is Filth, which offers some of the best vegan burgers in London, and is easily competing with meat chains for customers too. Their unique burgers are simple but effective and you can even enjoy some excellent vegan cheese, which allows the burgers to have that original American-style feel to them without the use of any animal products.

The restaurant also focuses on biodegradable waste, making this a truly ethical vegan fast food joint for the truly ethical eater in London.

  1. Club Mexicana

It’s hard not to love Mexican food, with the intense palette of spices, flavours and fillings that the cuisine offers having long been a favourite across the world. At Club Mexicana, you can now delight in the fact that it’s possible to find truly authentic Mexican food without the meat, a rarity indeed.

The food here is inspired by the vibrant street food culture of Mexico, which is transported to the streets of Camden. If you love tacos but hate meat, then this is the place to eat, because the restaurant fills their beautiful corn tortillas with all manner of vegan toppings and ingredients.

You can even try their tofu alternative to fish tacos, or dip into a big bowl of nachos swimming in delicious guacamole and salsa. Club Mexicana has only been around for a short time, but already they are cooking up food to rival the best Mexican restaurants in London, and they are completely vegan too.

  1. Mildreds Restaurant

Mildreds Restaurant has long been a firm favourite on the vegetarian scene in London, and with the ever-increasing popularity of veganism sweeping across the city, they also have a wide array of vegan dishes on their menu.

Mildreds Restaurant dates back to the 1980s, and few other vegetarian or vegan restaurants in London can really say they pioneered the new healthy eating and ethical eating trends of the last few decades in the same way that this place has.

They have several locations across the city and their menu has twists on dishes from across the world, with a range of choices from burgers to curries available to order. If you love the food, then Mildreds has even released a vegan cookbook with the best of their recipes so you can try your hand at cooking, too.

Salad

  1. Biffs Jack Shack

Another Shoreditch favourite is Biffs Jack Shack, an eatery that serves up what they call ‘filthy vegan junk food’. Aimed at the fast food loving generation that are now looking to make more ethical choices in life, Biffs Jack Shack could be the answer you are looking for if you want to be vegan but still eat ‘filthy’.

They are popular enough that they are opening more chains outside of Shoreditch, to spread their dirty vegan food across the capital. One of their best dishes uses Jackfruit to simulate the delights of fried chicken without the need for any chickens to perish in the making of it. You can delve into their range of crispy, jackfruit burgers or go for a basket of crispy fried jackfruit wings. On the side, you’ll get a heap of fries to go with it too, all drowned in a blaze of different vegan sauces.

  1. Vanilla Black

If your tastes are more refined than filthy fast food, you’ll want to book a table at the excellent Vanilla Black, a dedicated vegetarian and vegan restaurant that has earned itself a reputation as a fine dining establishment without any meat being on the menu whatsoever.

Vanilla Black can get busy so you’ll need a reservation to enjoy an evening of serene vegan food here, but the wait and the prices are worth it to enjoy an array of unique dishes that can’t be found in any other gourmet restaurant in London. With their ever-changing and creative vegan and veggie options you’ll be amazed at what it’s actually possible to cook without using any meat at all.

  1. Manna

Hidden away in Primrose Hill in London, Manna has for decades been crafting beautiful veggie and vegan dishes for the hungry patrons of London.

Primrose Hill is, of course, an upmarket part of the city, and Manna caters to the higher end vegan looking for gourmet quality dishes that will both excite and satisfy the taste buds.

This is one of London’s oldest dedicated vegetarian restaurants, and with their new emphasis on vegan eating you can rest assured that the chefs at Manna know what they are doing. Alongside a great range of unique dishes from pastas to soups, they have a wonderful wine menu to complement the food.

Pasta

  1. Tibits

If you are looking for a casual dining experience but with quality vegan food to enjoy, then the Swiss restaurant Tibits offers the best of both worlds.

Tibits offers wonderful veggie and vegan food, for takeaway or to dine in, and the laid back, casual buffet style of their eateries is perfect for lunches or light dinners. The food is generally seasonal too, and you expect the menu to be constantly changing and refreshed throughout the year.

  1. 222 Vegan Cuisine

222 Vegan Cuisine focuses solely on producing quality vegan food in London. It’s one of the most popular vegan experiences in the capital, and you can choose from their range of excellent dishes, including such delights as quinoa and spinach meatballs, pumpkin noodles, and seitan medallions.

Given the gourmet feel of the food and the attention that goes into these vegan dishes, the restaurant is superbly priced for what you get. They even have a lunchtime buffet through the week where you can try as many of their vegan dishes as you can handle in one sitting.

  1. Wild Food Cafe

The Wild Food Cafe has proven so popular in Covent Garden that the restaurant is opening up more branches across London to meet the insatiable demand of the rapidly expanding vegan movement in the city.

Wild Food Cafe focuses on raw food, and everything on the menu is guaranteed to be sustainable and ethically sourced too. It’s the detail that goes into the dishes, alongside the ethos and motives behind the cafe that have made it such a success.

Here you can try such offerings as Raw Pizza and Wild Salad, with everything prepared with fresh ingredients on the day. More than just a cafe though, this is a community minded initiative, and you can find regular cooking and wellbeing workshops and events being held here too.

Salad

  1. Purezza

If you are vegan and you’re craving pizza, then head to Purezza in Camden to try some of the city’s best.

Originally based out of Brighton, the restaurant opened up in London after the roaring success of their sourdough pizza menu on the south coast. Even if you aren’t vegan, but love pizza, then you’ll enjoy their unique take on the Italian classic, with sourdough-based culinary delights topped with the likes of wild mushrooms or fresh courgettes. There are salads, macaroni sides, and even calzone in the menu too.

Few pizza joints do a good job at creating vegan options, but Purezza somehow meets the challenge and then takes it to another level. More than this though, the restaurant is genuinely interested in creating a more sustainable eating environment and they have a real focus on raw foods to try and meet this.

  1. The Vurger Co

Burger lovers with an equal love for all things meat free can rejoice, because The Vurger Co in London is taking vegan fast food to another level.

The Vurger Co is taking the classic burger and not only making it meatless but also making it into a uniquely sustainable meal. They have a great range of burgers, offering everything from black bean patties to portobello mushroom fillings, while if you want to go carb free you can even just order their burgers without the buns, in a huge bowl full of salad and greenery.

It’s fast food but it’s healthy, and you can eat in, take away or get your vegan burgers delivered to your home, meaning there’s really no excuse not to enjoy the meat-free lifestyle if you so desire it. Not only is The Vurger Co making vegan food more enjoyable, they are also making it much more accessible to mainstream Londoners.

  1. Cook Daily

Cook Daily are taking classic dishes and turning them into meat-free delicacies. At this wonderfully creative vegan and veggie restaurant in London Fields you can find a menu that takes inspiration from around the world, but with a particular focus on local English dishes too.

Here you can try a vegan chicken and mushroom pie, while if you are hungering for a full English breakfast, then the Tofu Full English is the early morning choice for you. They also have delicious curries, Asian-inspired noodle dishes and huge salad bowls too. The menu is great and even if you aren’t vegan you’ll enjoy their experimentation and their delightful, unique takes on your usual restaurant foods.

curry

  1. Farmacy

Found in the heart of Notting Hill, the relatively new Farmacy restaurant is already a hot topic in the city’s vegan circles.

Farmacy offers a huge menu, with excellent choices for both vegans and vegetarians that will keep you returning time after time to try something new and innovative. The restaurant is higher end but somehow still keeps things casual. If you love your health foods and ethical sourcing, then this is the place for you to eat, and to eat regularly.

  1. Spice Box

Spice Box in Walthamstow offers you the chance to cure your curry cravings and remain completely meat free. The Indian restaurant is completely vegan, and they offer a wide selection of spicy curries inspired by the cuisine of the subcontinent, and those classic British Indian dishes created closer to home too.

The restaurant started as a street food stand but proved so popular that they had to open a proper outlet to cater to the vegan demand for curry.

If you’re heading to London to sample its fantastic vegan restaurants, take a look at our fantastic range of London tours or contact Premium Tours to find out more.

Admission

A Guide to the Best Outdoor Cinemas in London

Nothing much beats watching a film in the sun or under the stars while you sit back in the great outdoors, enjoying a cool evening breeze or the heat of a summer day. That’s why London’s outdoor cinemas are growing in popularity, even while traditional cinemas are falling by the wayside. The city has a whole range of unique, outside setups to help fuel your movie addictions.

You can find outdoor cinemas popping up across London throughout the year – even in the cold depths of winter – but it’s the short-lived British Summer that brings out the best of cinemagoers and the best of the films.

You can enjoy time-tested classics hosted on rooftop bars or new releases shown in the grounds of historic estates, while boats on the River Thames are transformed into cinemas, and summer festivals see outdoor screenings playing to huge crowds in London.

The capital is a great city to be a film lover. Here’s our guide to the best outdoor cinemas in London.

Audience

  1. Rooftop Film Club

The Rooftop Film Club is one of London’s best and most popular outdoor cinema venues. Held in Peckham at the top of the Bussey Building, this is classic cinema territory. You’ll be treated to a movie-going experience that few others can match for atmosphere.

The Rooftop Film Club runs through summer, with several showings every week until it’s too cold to sit out under the night sky. A whole array of films are shown through the season, with everything from new releases to classics catering to the audience, meaning you can keep returning evening after evening to catch a different showing.

As well as the film, you can grab a beer at the rooftop bar, a few snacks, and enjoy the sublime sunsets and panoramic views over the city of London below.

  1. Nomad Cinema

Nomad Cinema is not only a fantastic outdoor cinema experience but it’s a charitable endeavour that sees the profits going to a great cause too, meaning that you can sit back and enjoy the film, safe in the knowledge that you’re also contributing to some good in the world.

Nomad Cinema is held at various locations across the capital, primarily through the summer season, but with the occasional showing through the rest of the year too.

With its pop-up concept, you’ll need to check the exact date and venue, as the beauty of Nomad Cinema lies in the fact that it’s an ever-changing event.

All the profits from Nomad Cinema go to help the South African charity The Sustainability Institute, which works towards creating a better future for rural communities across Southern Africa.

Popcorn

  1. Luna House Cinema

Luna House is one of the most respected outdoor cinema event organisers in the United Kingdom. They host screenings across the capital throughout the summer season.

The events are always in unique locations, with big crowds and huge projection screens and sound systems that create an epic atmosphere. The locations range from parks and estates to swimming pools and racecourses with new, more unusual venues being announced each year.

There’s great food, great drinks and you can catch classics and new releases at Luna House events. For the kids, the company even organise outdoor screenings of children’s movies during the school holidays.

  1. Floating Film Festival

If you are looking for one of London’s most unusual and entertaining outdoor cinema venues then the Floating Film Festival is for you.

At St Katharine Docks right on the River Thames there’s a floating pontoon stretching out across the water. It’s a truly beautiful location to host an outdoor cinema, as the waves lap gently against the pontoon. There’s a large canvas tent to protect you from any untoward English weather and you can catch some of the year’s most highly rated films in summer.

If you can grab a ticket for the evening shows, then you can enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Thames as you sip cold beverages and wait for the film to begin. The Floating Film Festival season is generally short, only usually running through July each year, but it’s one of London’s most unique outdoor venues to visit.

River Thames

  1. Backyard Cinema

Backyard Cinema holds events in different locations in London throughout the year, with open air cinemas in summer and cosy venues in winter.

The concept began one summer when some friends decided that they loved watching films in their back garden, and they had the bright idea to take their passion mainstream, believing that most other sane people also enjoyed the great outdoors and cinema together.

They weren’t wrong. From their humble beginnings, they’ve gone on to host not just classic open air cinema showings but more artistic and creative cinema shows too.

They’ve hosted such eclectic performances as space-themed cinema that immerses you into the world of science fiction while you watch classics such as Men in Black. They’ve had choirs singing in churches to accompany Shakespearean movies, and they host regular Christmas shows during the festive season. They never forget their backyard roots though and when summer comes around they undoubtedly host cinema shows in the great outdoors at some unusual and quirky venues across London.

  1. Film Four Summer Screen

For decades Film Four has been producing some of the country’s best film and television, from hard-hitting dramas to alternative comedies. Every year they host a massive cinema event at their Summer Screen festival in August.

Held in the majestic courtyard of Somerset House, the open air cinema plays for two weeks when the weather is at its best in London. The courtyard at the historic central London building couldn’t be a more fitting venue to experience the best of British cinema, and you’ll find a sold-out crowd every day there is a screening.

As well as the film showings, you have the chance to enjoy Q & A sessions with directors or producers, while big British actors and actresses can always be spotted in the seats too, making this one of the most hotly anticipated cinema events on the London calendar.

Somerset House

  1. Movies on the River

The iconic River Thames becomes the venue for one of London’s best outdoor cinemas every summer, as classic movies are screened as you cruise along the water.

You’ll pass London’s most well known sights as you’re given a tour of the city skyline, passing locations such as Westminster and Southbank, to name just a few.

You’ll watch the sunset from the river as you enjoy a fully stocked bar and plenty of food, with an almost party-like atmosphere guaranteed by the end of the film. Previous screenings have included the likes of Jaws, Dirty Dancing and even Love Actually.

It’s one of the best outdoor cinema events in London, but if you want to enjoy a sunset cruise with a classic movie this summer then make sure to snap up your tickets as soon as they are released, because it’s always popular.

  1. Secret Cinema

Secret Cinema takes the concept of attending a movie theatre to a new level, as you not only watch a film, but you are immersed in the film.

The idea behind these novel events is to merge cinema with live action. It’s part film, part theatre and you’re never quite sure how things are going to play out. Secret Cinema events are only announced shortly before showings and the locations are always kept tightly under wraps, only being disclosed right before the action starts.

The venues are designed specifically for each event and many have been held in the great outdoors during summer. One past event involved creating a replica of the town from Back to the Future in which the audience were literally immersed for the duration of the film.

It’s not for everyone but the shows always offer a unique take on classic cinema, with a fresh and creative approach that can’t be matched by more traditional outlets in London.

  1. London Bridge City Summer Festival

Every summer the London Bridge City Summer Festival welcomes crowds to its multitude of varied events, held at venues along the river between London Bridge and Tower Bridge.

One of the best festival events to attend is the weekly outdoor cinema. Held at the Scoop Amphitheatre, you can catch some classic movies in a beautiful setting. Enjoy the evening air along the river as you sit back and watch movies on the big projector. Conditions are basic, with concrete seating for all, but you can’t complain because this is the best free outdoor cinema in London. Get there early because although the amphitheatre can hold over 1,000 people, you’ll want your pick of the seats to get the best view.

The festival is more than just this one event though, and you’ll find much more going on by London Bridge throughout the summer, too.

  1. British Summer Time Party

For one weekend every July, the British Summer Time Festival takes over Hyde Park in London. This huge festival sees headline music acts from across the world playing to sold-out crowds packing out the grass in one of the city’s most iconic parks, for three days of music, eating and drinking.

While the festival is best known for the music, they also host outdoor cinema screenings through July, with several nights a week dedicated to movies. In the past, movie screenings have been free to attend with films on show ranging from Disney animations for the kids, to musicals such as Grease and classics from the past few decades for everyone.

Hyde Park

  1. Pop Up Screens

The organisers of Pop Up Screens offer a basic outdoor cinema experience, but one that through simplicity is proving to be exceptionally popular.

In parks and green spaces across the capital through summer, Pop Up Screens move their inflatable cinema screens from venue to venue. Tickets are cheap and there’s always plenty of room for more people, making it one of the most laid back and relaxed outdoor cinemas to visit in London.

They play classics mixed in with a few newer releases, and you’ll find that it’s an enjoyable place to kick back, have a few drinks and enjoy the summer evenings.

  1. Block Party Cinema

If you are interested in learning more about London’s minority communities and cultures, then attending a Block Party Cinema event is a great chance to see an alternative side of the city.

Their outdoor cinemas are pop up events, and they are hosted across London during festivals or in places such as Brixton or Camden.

The screening focus on showing productions focusing on minorities, but more than this you can also find a huge array of street food stalls from around the world, great drinks and great company too. Past shows include comedy classics such as Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America, right through to hard hitting, violent dramas such as the Brazilian cult movie City of God.

  1. Regents Park Open Air Theatre

Okay, so it’s not technically a cinema and you won’t be watching a movie, but the wonderful Regents Park Open Air Theatre is an open air event that will take you back through the ages to a time before movies.

The Regents Park Open Air Theatre is perfect if you need a change from the cinema but still want to be entertained on a warm summer evening. Before cinema there was only theatre and this is your chance to take things back a step, and to enjoy the classic, live action predecessor of the film industry, which is often overlooked in London today.

The theatre has long been a favourite during its summer run, offering great adaptations of Shakespearean plays and more modern, alternative productions too.

There’s a huge bar, a dining area and a great atmosphere during every performance at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre, making this the number one alternative to London’s open air cinemas.

If you’re heading to London to experience one of these fantastic outdoor cinema events, check out Premium Tours’ great selection of London tours so you can learn more about the city while you’re in town.

London in May: The Complete Guide

Summer is almost here, or at least it’s not too cold in London anymore come May, and it’s a great opportunity to get outdoors and to explore some of the capital’s best sights and most vibrant cultural events.

Londoners get two Bank Holidays in May, which they use to celebrate the onset of great weather and more of it to come, and you’ll find this is a month of festivities and outside entertainment. There are countless important sporting events held across the capital, from the FA Cup Finals to the start of the cricketing season, while theatre productions are performed in the great open air, and parks are absolutely resplendent in their May colours.

There’s a lot going on throughout May, so to help you to plan your visit to the big city here’s our complete guide to London in May.

The Weather in London in May

London in May sees great weather, all things considered. Spring is well and truly moving into summer, and the days are getting longer and the nights shorter. The grey mist of winter has long been forgotten, and you’ll find parks full of colour and beer gardens spilling over into the streets as Londoners soak up the newly arrived sunshine.

Although the mornings and evening may be a little chilly and you’ll definitely want a jumper, you’ll start to see the locals out wearing just shorts and t-shirts and, inevitably, sporting some sunburn after a long weekend of sun. You might get the odd rainy day, though it’s not too often an occurrence to make it worth worrying about, but given the good weather you can expect London to be much busier in May than in previous months of the year.

Park

Festivals and Events

London plays host to many great events through May, and it’s the perfect time of the year to get involved in the sunshine and to soak up some culture, and perhaps a few drinks too. From Bank Holiday weekends to flower shows and sporting events, here are our top picks for London in May.

May Bank Holidays

There are two Bank Holiday weekends in England in May, giving Londoners plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great weather and to take a break from work.

The first Monday of May sees the Early May Bank Holiday, which is the newest Bank Holiday to be introduced, primarily, it would seem, to give people the chance to bask in the early summer sunshine.

The second Bank Holiday is officially known as the spring Bank Holiday, and it falls on the last Monday of May.

Both long weekends, you’ll find plenty of cultural and sporting events being held across the capital. It’s a lively if busy time to visit London, and you’ll be able to join the locals in the parks and across the city enjoying their time off. If the sun’s out, the t-shirts and shorts will be too, alongside football games, barbecues and drinks.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a must-see event in London, and it’s held every May in the gardens of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea over five days towards the end of the month.

The Chelsea Flower Show is an exceptional display of botany run by the Royal Horticultural Society, and it offers flower enthusiasts from across the country the chance to compete for recognition and to win prizes for their work.

You’ll also find more unusual works of art – flower related of course – on display here, but just remember that it’s an incredibly popular event, so try to get tickets early. Hundreds of thousands of visitors flock here over the five days of the event, and it’s popular enough to be televised by the BBC.

London History Day

31st May is the annual celebration of London History Day, a day that recognises the city’s rich history, and attempts to educate people on the intriguing past of the capital.

London has a long history that dates back to pre-Roman times. On this day, you’ll find events held in museums across the city, which offer an insight into the diverse development and growth of London into the sprawling metropolis you see today.

The 31st May was chosen as the date for this historical commemoration because this was the date that Big Ben, London’s iconic timekeeper, was first rung.

London Wine Week

If you’d prefer to enjoy a few drinks of the good stuff rather than learning about the city’s history, then never fear, because London hosts an entire week devoted to wine! Held in the middle of May, London Wine Week is the perfect place for wine connoisseurs to indulge their taste buds.

Venues across the capital host special events throughout the week, allowing you to join tasting sessions, sommelier classes and much more in some of the city’s best wine bars.

Wine

London Craft Week

London Craft Week is also held in May each year, and it offers visitors to the city the chance to not only learn more about the creative scene in the capital but to get hands-on classes for master craftsmen too.

Events are held across London, and you’ll be able to learn about such crafts as metal and glass working, ceramic designs and painting, to name just a few. It’s a great chance to learn new skills and to see the creative side behind often-overlooked yet talented craftspeople.

Canalway Cavalcade

The Canalway Cavalcade is a wonderfully fun event that’s held on the waterways of Little Venice, a beautiful collection of canals that are found around Westminster. The festival takes place over the first May Bank Holiday weekend, ensuring that there are three packed days of events to enjoy.

You can learn more about the canals and the boats, the history and the enthusiasts that keep old traditions alive today through the long weekend. It’s colourful, fun and energetic, and you might just get to take to the water yourself.

Foodies Festival in Syon Park

The last Bank Holiday of the month sees food lovers descending upon Syon Park, a vast estate in west London, for a culinary experience like no other. For the long weekend, you can enjoy the biggest food festival in the country, as top chefs and experts give talks and demonstrations to crowds of people.

There will be plenty of quality food to try, alongside cooking workshops, live music and many other events too, all held in a wonderful, outdoor setting. You might even spot a few celebrity chefs mixing with the crowds at the Foodies Festival in Syon Park.

Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival

Perhaps the most unusual, yet strangely enthralling festival to be held in London in May, is the Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival. For decades, puppet fanatics have been coming to this unique event to celebrate all things puppet related, but in particular Punch and Judy.

The classic English puppet show has long entertained children and adults alike with an amusing simplicity that has carried it for centuries. Held on the 9th May each year, this wonderful festival is great fun for adults and children alike, and you can enjoy performances from puppet masters who have travelled here from across the country, and gain an insight into this sometimes peculiar pastime.

Covent Garden

Things to See and Do

As well as an array of events to attend during May, there are plenty of great things to see and to do in London too throughout the month. Visit the city’s great many parks, enjoy walking tours in the fresh air, or attend some of the excellent outdoor theatre performances held in locations across London. Here are the best things to do in London in May.

London’s Parks

London’s parks are quite simply excellent to visit in May, because with the sun out they are awash with people enjoying the great outdoors and escaping the city. There are many to visit, from small, hidden parks found deep within London to the larger royal parks in the suburbs.

Take a walk through verdant green spaces, jog or cycle along trails and pathways, and immerse yourself in London’s glorious nature.

Hyde Park is particularly busy on Bank Holidays, while you can head out of London’s centre to visit the beautiful Richmond Park, where you’ll find not only the flowers and trees blooming in the sunshine but the herds of deer out in the open, enjoying the start of summer too.

Hyde Park

Walking Tours

Walking tours of London are a must throughout May, as the weather lends itself particularly nicely to enjoying the sights of the city while strolling through the busy streets. There are lots to join, including tip-based walking tours led by enthusiastic guides, to Harry Potter or Jack the Ripper themed tours that will take you through unique parts of the city that would otherwise be hidden.

Enjoy the outdoors as you learn about London’s past, present and future, while seeing the best that the city has to offer on a walking tour.

Cruise the Thames

Take to the mighty River Thames during your trip to London in May, to explore the city’s great waterway on a boat cruise. There’s nothing better than sitting out on deck, enjoying the breeze as you leisurely travel past London’s most iconic sights.

There are many different cruises to choose from, including simple sightseeing or even commuting boats, to more extravagant dinner cruises that come complete with drinks and gourmet dining as you explore the River Thames.

FA Cup Final

One of the best sporting events to see in London in May is the classic FA Cup Final. This is the biggest cup final of the year, and it’s held at Wembley, the national football stadium, to packed out, raucous crowds, as two teams battle it out to be crowned winners in what is always a hard fought and compelling match.

The men’s FA Cup Final is always the most popular, but you can also watch the much-underrated women’s FA Cup Final too, which is also held at Wembley usually a week or so before the men’s game, to enjoy a match between the equally talented English women’s teams.

Cricket Matches

May is when the cricket season well and truly begins, as rain is limited and the sun is out. A great English pastime is enjoying a cricket match, and soaking in the atmosphere on weekends. Head to one of the iconic cricket stadiums such as Lords or The Oval to catch a world-class game while you are in London.

As a bonus for cricket fans, the ICC Cricket World Cup is held across England and Wales, starting at the end of May, with many of the matches being held in London including the opening games and ceremonies. You can expect packed stands at all the events!

Cricket

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

May sees the opening of the excellent Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, with performances being held through May and well into the summer months.

This wonderful theatre makes use of the great weather to stage top quality events in Regent’s Park in London, as the organisers and actors put on not classics, but new and intriguing productions that you won’t find anywhere else in the city.

It’s a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoor air and to witness some brilliant plays at the same time.

Museum of the London Docklands

The often overlooked Museum of the London Docklands does, in fact, hold some fascinating exhibitions, and being free to enter it’s certainly worth a visit this May to peruse the intriguing and unique displays of local history held here.

As well as learning about the Docklands growth into one of the most powerful and rich trading areas in the British Empire, you can also learn about the slave trade, the Fire of London, and much more. Of particular interest is the Secret Rivers exhibition, which begins in May 2019, and offers a look into the city’s many hidden waterways and long lost rivers, proving that the Thames isn’t the only river to have shaped London’s history.

To find out more about our great range of London tours, contact Premium Tours today.