A Curated Guide to Summer in London, 2019

“Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.”

There’s something so marvellously mercurial about summer in London. The days are long and languid, the evenings intensely action-packed and set against a starry skyline. 

From rooftop drinks to outdoor cinema, immersive art exhibits to the spectacular showmanship across the season’s sporting events – we’re always on the tip of the next compelling adventure! Here’s canvassing the best of what do, see and eat if you fancy making the most of the coming months in London!


All The Way Up

We might as well start at the top; that is to say, perched high atop the city’s enthralling rooftop terraces. There are plenty to gawp your way across – from Madison (with its sweeping sunset views of St Paul’ splendour) to 12th Knot where unparalleled vistas are further elevated by the live music, plush seating and stylish cocktails one would expect of South Bank’s rather trendy Sea Containers hotel.

And if your summer sojourn to Italy is delayed this year, you really needn’t look further than The Berkeley in Belgravia. The grand dame of London hotels sees its rooftop spa and garden transformed into the Amalfi-inspired epitome of La Dolce Vita replete with lemon trees, yellow-striped sun-loungers and plenty of Italian-inspired nibbles and tipples… Spritz on the dot it is, then!


#UnderTheFloralSpell

Back on the ground, London is a garden in full bloom with fabulous floral façades fronting shops and boutiques across the city! The heart-stopping displays are enough to have most Instagrammers (this writer included) swooning.

If the different seasons of London are a revelatory education in floristry, summer is a lesson on lavender. The violet-hued flora can be seen vivaciously springing to life in Mayfield Lavender Farm, sequestered in Surrey (just about 15 miles from Central London and accessible via train or bus). Here you can amble through endless fields carpeted by these breathtaking blooms, with an al fresco café offering a delicate taste of this fragrant flower.

Lavender are a rather lovely fixture in Kew Gardens too, which is brimming with a whole bevy of botanical curiosities and treasures. The gardens are also currently home to Dale Chihuly’s iconic glass sculptures, making for meanders wondrously well-spent!


The Great Outdoors

As always, summer sees the enchanting gardens of London host the city’s cultural agenda.

Open Air Theatre returns to Regents Parks‘ with a line-up that includes an updated take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a new production of the 1978 musical Evita and an operatic performance of Hansel and Gretel. Be sure to arrive well ahead of the appointed hour to laze on the lawns with a Pimm’s in hand and your picnic spread to graze on!

Whether a novice, enthusiast or simply snobby about classic music – those keen on opera can revel in the outdoor opera festival at Holland Park. Framed by the stately Holland house, the ambience is evocative of an English country house opera, with productions that are accessible, yet engaging and of impeccable quality.

As for when you’re in mood for a good ole’ fashioned movie night, there’s always Secret Cinema. Set in a top-secret outdoor location (with a 5000 person capacity), this year’s immersive cinematic experience features the thrilling world of Bond. Be prepared to be allocated a character from the film Casino Royale, upon booking your tickets, show up dressed in form and spend a starry evening sipping Martinis, shaken not stirred! 


And When It Inevitably Rains

This being London – rain, thunder and lightening strikes are all pretty much inevitable at some point in the summer. Luckily, silver linings are in no short supply with a string of unmissable exhibitions making it worth your while to stay indoors, pottering around the corridors of the city’s iconoclast galleries and museums.

This year, the Serpentine Gallery has commissioned Japanese architect Junya Ishigami to design a free-floating Pavilion; and is showcasing Venezuelan-born Luchita Hurtado and American artist Faith Ringgold whose works feature politically-driven paintings, narrative quilts and children’s books championing the Black Power movement of the ’60s and ’70s.

A Van Gogh retrospective at Tate Britain brings together over 45 works of Van Gogh paintings to weave a story of the young artist’s time as an economic migrant living and working in London between 1873-76, as a trainee art dealer.

Delve even further back in time into the prodigious life of Leonardo da Vinci at The Queen’s Gallery where thousands of his drawings (from the Queen’s personal collection)  are on display, sketching his probing studies into the fascinating world of anatomy, theatre, cartography and more.

The V&A remains a beguiling bolthole in Knightsbridge, with a dramatic showcasing of over 200 Haute Couture garments fashioned by Christian Dior, alongside accessories, fashion photography, film, vintage perfume, original make-up, illustrations, magazines, and Christian Dior’s personal possessions.

The landmark museum is also presenting a startling deep-dive into the future of the global food industry, with idiosyncratic revelations running the gamut from wine bottles made from grape skin, to cheese produced from celebrities’ bacteria and edible oyster mushrooms growing in hanging punch bags filled with coffee from the V&A café! As the exhibit goes at lengths to show, we all have a stake in the future of food.


A Cheat Sheet to Need-to-Know Essentials

On the subject of food, there’s enough to whet your appetite with the eclectic explosion on the epicurean front. From new(ish) and noteworthy openings to the thrilling discovery of hidden gems and the timeless gratification of an old classic, here’s a Foodie’s Guide to Visiting London this summer.

Of course, true blue foodies should also save the date (19 – 23 June 2019) for Taste of London, which is set to host the city’s most sought-after restaurants for another year in Regent’s Park, from the Michelin-starred stalwarts to the terrifically trendy eateries you’d otherwise have to queue up for! There’s also going to be a fire pit stage for flame-based cooking demos, a world-class cocktail bar, masterclasses galore and more!

Understandably, it can be a bit daunting to navigate your way around London, particularly in light of the fact that there are over 45 distinct neighbourhoods in the city! Which is why, I’ve introduced these Area Guides highlighting the best of what to do, see and eat in the different pockets of London. By way of more top tips, do bookmark these beguiling boltholes too for the next time you need to flee the madding crowd characteristic of Central London in the peak of the summer rush!

As is often said, “summertime is always the best of what might be.”


You can also stay updated with the latest word from The Foodie Diaries, by signing up to my newsletter here.

Author: The Foodie Diaries

A food travel & lifestyle journal, chronicling my culinary and other adventures around town.

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