London: Summer 2011 Upcoming Events

Every year London seems to add more and more events to the summer calendar and this season is no exception. It’s been something of a stop-start summer in the UK capital so far, but as we post this, the sun is out and there are a ton of exciting happenings on the horizon…

A Sporty Start

If you missed the marathon but still fancy watching others getting out of breath, the Virgin Active London Triathlon takes place at the ExCeL centre in Docklands this weekend. Competitors, including Sir Richard Branson’s own celebrity relay team, will bike, swim and run for a host of different charities.

When: 30th & 31st July

Cycling at London Triathlon by Digitalric

Cycling at London Triathlon © Digitalric |

Indoor Events

Representing the high end of the country’s pub culture, the Great British Beer Festival at Earls Court is a chance to sample some of the UK’s finest real ales and ciders from breweries up and down the country. With European and American cask ale bars also on site, there are over 700 tipples to choose from, so be sure to indulge in some traditional pub snacks in between pints. The festival also offers tutored tastings, so you can get an insight into the connoisseur’s craft.

When: 2nd to 6th August

Earls Court Great British Beer Festival by scubagirl66 on Flickr

Earls Court Great British Beer Festival by scubagirl66 on Flickr


Also in its fifth year, the Camden Fringe offers a varied cultural menu across an entire north London borough and throughout August. Something of an upstart rival to the well-established Edinburgh Festival, the Fringe brings comedy, theatre and dance at affordable prices and is the perfect place to catch up-and-coming UK stand-up acts.

When: 1st – 28th August


An altogether different kind of spectator ‘sport’ takes place in August at the Garage in Highbury. The fifth annual UK Air Guitar Championships promises hours of rocking fun as wielders of imaginary instruments battle for a place to represent Britain at the World Championships in Finland. The competition is fierce and has to be seen to be believed.

When: 20th August

Open Air Festivals

For those who’d rather be outdoors, the first weekend of August has a bonanza of outdoor festivals for (almost) all ages. The ‘big bash for little people’, Lollibopin Regent’s Park will keep kids entertained all weekend with facepainting, fairy schools, crafts, workshops and a live appearance by Children’s TV star Rastamouse. If it all sounds a bit much, don’t worry, there’s a bar and DJ entertainment for grown-ups too.

When: 5th to 7th August


On Saturday 6th, East London’s Victoria Park welcomes an eclectic array of the hippest bands and DJs from around the world for one day of open-air revelry at the capital’s coolest music fest, Field Day. Younger music fans need not miss out either as Friday brings a credible line-up for 13-17 year-olds at the Underage Festival. Sunday balances things out with The Apple Cart, an easygoing, family-friendly fest featuring Badly Drawn Boy, St Etienne and DJ sets from Soul II Soul and Gilles Peterson. Plus top class comedy and cabaret acts including Tim Minchin and the infamous Literary Death Match.

When 5th (Underage) 6th (Field Day) and 7th (The Apple Cart) August

Field Day at Victoria Park by dnfisher on Flickr

Field Day at Victoria Park by dnfisher on Flickr


The big one of course, comes on bank holiday weekend as all roads lead west for the Notting Hill Carnival. From its humble beginnings as a small Trinidadian parade, Carnival has gone on to become one of the biggest street parties in the world. There are two main ways to celebrate: follow the colourful floats and feather clad dancers and musicians or simply find your favourite among the hundreds of sound systems and have a dance of your own. If you’re visiting with children in tow, Sunday is definitely the day to attend.

When: 28th & 29th August

Dancer at Notting Hill Carnival by Patrickwang

Dancer at Notting Hill Carnival © Patrickwang |


Summer closes with another free party in the shape of the Mayor’s Thames Festival. A multi-faceted, multicultural mix of arts and entertainment; this year’s events include live jive bands, tango dancing, a festival market of global foods, a kids’ choir and the usual illuminated night carnival and fireworks finale.

When: 10th – 11th September

Night Carnival Parade at Thames Festival by PCutter

Night Carnival Parade at Thames Festival © PCutter |

Special Cinema

Film buffs certainly won’t want for anything this season. Early August’s Film4 Summer Screen showings sold out quickly, but the travelling cinematic circus that is The Nomad is in full swing bringing classic films to various venues including Hyde Park and Hampton Court Palace.

When: Until end of September


Serious fans won’t want to miss out on the O2’s Empire Big Screen event: a unique opportunity to meet Hollywood stars and directors, check out previews, original props and costumes and attend premieres and movie masterclasses.

When: 12th – 14th August

The O2 by Zsolt-Biczo

The O2 © Biczó |


Thanks to Flickr photographers dnfisher and scubagirl66. Of course, if the great British weather doesn’t hold up there’s still plenty to do: check out our guide to Rainy Day Entertainment. And if you’re after more than urban adventures, see our post on Britain’s National Parks.

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