London is packed to the rafters with fantastic exhibitions, talks, plays and events. Here’s everything you need to know about the best things to do in London this week, including a walking tour of London, a series of late-night supper clubs and London’s answer to the Edinburgh Fringe.
Walking the City: London Ecologies with the Design Museum
As part of its annual summer series dedicated to exploring London on Foot, the Design Museum is hosting Walking the City: London Ecologies that explores how we can create a more sustainable relationship to nature in the city. Led by art collective Something & Son, the walks will cover areas ranging from Holland Park to Brompton Cemetery, with participants producing a map that charts the histories and possible futures for a re-wilded London.
£7, 22 August at 7pm, 7 September and 15 September at 2pm, 224-238 Kensington High Street, Kensington, W8 6AG, designmuseum.org
Allpress Espresso was founded 30 years ago on a beach in New Zealand. To mark its three decade anniversary, its Dalston Roastery is hosting a series of evening events with some of the biggest names on the London food scene, including the likes of Margot Henderson of Rochelle Canteen, and queen of pickling Freddie Janssen. Expect great food, great people and – of course – great coffee to wash it all down with.
Can’t make it up to Edinburgh? That’s okay – London’s best comedians and performances who aren’t currently in Scotland are instead in north London, shaking things up with the ever-growing Camden Fringe. From improv comedy to music, theatre and spoken word, there’s over 300 events going on. And, just like in Edinburgh, the best way to experience it is to hit the street and try as many as you can.
Turn your Sunday brunch up a notch by taking a trip to Kings Cross’s Rotunda, a zen spot overlooking the peaceful canal. Its Sunday Beef Club is a four-course sharing feast, starting with canapés and a Bloody Mary, before moving on to a sea food platter that includes H. Forman & Son smoked salmon, dressed Cornish crab, and Atlantic prawns. The main event is, of course, the roast sirloin of beef from Rotunda’s very own Corneyside Farm in Matfen, Northumberland, served with all the trimmings and a half bottle of wine. Finishing it up is a choice of dessert, paired with an Espresso martini, Irish coffee, or port. Indulgent, yes. But is there a better way to spend a Sunday?
American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly – the artist behind the stunningly intricate and impressively sizeable installation in the lobby of the V&A – is bringing his colourful work to Kew Gardens. Peppered among the foliage both outside in the grounds and inside the hot houses, the best way to experience the exhibition is after dark during one of the Chihuly Nights events. From 7.30pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for the next two months, the botanical garden will be staying open late to let guests experience the sculptures, not only masterfully illuminated but also imbued with ever-changing ambient music commissioned to reflect the artist’s use of glass and breath. Talk about seeing something in a whole new light.
Tickets £18, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7.30pm to 10.30pm until 26 October, Richmond TW9 3AB, kew.org
Afternoon tea at Thomas’s
Just in time for Afternoon Tea Week, Burberry’s in-house café Thomas’s is launching its own take on the tradition. Comprising a selection of traditional British sandwiches, like beef, smoked salmon and cucumber, alongside scones and cakes created specially for the occasion, the afternoon tea makes the perfect pitstop for an afternoon’s shopping in St James.
Hidden away in the heart of Farringdon for three weeks only this August is the Fentimans Secret Spritz Garden. The al fresco terrace is ideal for re-hydrating after a long summer’s day, and offers a menu of spritz cocktails based around Fentimans range of tonic waters. Guests will even be able to garnish their own spritzes with rosemary, sage and lavender fresh from the secret garden, and on select evenings there’ll be live jazz courtesy of Kansas Smitty’s house band.
Wednesday to Saturday until 29 August, St John Priory Church, St John’s Square, Farringdon, London EC1M 4BU, fentimans.com
Granary Square Brasserie’s summer terrace
Now it’s August the countdown to the end of summer has started. Make the most of these last few weeks in the sun with a trip to Granary Square Brasserie’s new tropical terrace, created in collaboration with Jamaican rum makers Koko Kanu. Alongside the palm trees and vibrant plants is a bespoke rum-inspired cocktail list, to be sampled alongside the brasserie’s menu. There’s also a series of tropical weekend brunches throughout August, accompanied by either a DJ or live saxophonist.
This summer, a secret London location is doubling as a portal to 1920s New York. The Lost Love Speakeasy is a secret Manhattan nightclub, modelled on the Prohibition-era bars that allowed music and liquor to flow in equal measure. There’s food by Temper’s Neil Rankin, vintage cocktails and free-flowing champagne, along with a live jazz band and blues singers. A night you won’t forget in a hurry.
After a world tour and two sell-out runs at the National Theatre, the Barbershop Chronicles has arrived at the Roundhouse and is selling out fast. Set in six barber shops across two continents in cities as diverse as London and Lagos, it explores ideas of masculinity, and father-son bonds, as a young barber struggles to come to terms with the reality of his father’s time in prison. With the play sticking around for only five weeks before heading back out on tour, we suggest you get a ticket while there’s still some available.
Some of the modern art world’s most exciting sculptures have returned to Regents Park for the summer months, turning it into a giant (free) outdoor gallery. Featuring more than 20 international artists, this year the display includes the likes of Tracey Emin, Barry Flanagan and Robert Indiana. Go with a picnic and a bottle of English sparkling – something you definitely can’t do in the Tate.
Until 6 October, Chester Road, London NW1 4NR, frieze.com
Aperitivo and arancini at Mele e Pere
To mark its new summer spritz menu, Soho trattoria Mele e Pele (home of London’s biggest selection of vermouth) is serving up complimentary plates of truffle arancini throughout July and August with every spritz.
Although we’re certainly not lacking green spaces in London – our roof gardens now cover an acreage larger than Hyde Park – we’re always looking for new places to drink our rosé. This week, it’ll be at The Corinthia, which has just transformed its terrace into an homage to Provence, with olive trees, bougainvillea, Mediterranean herbs and lavender. The hotel has also teamed up with rosé experts Domaines Ott, to offer up a selection of wines alongside a menu of summer salads.
Until September, Whitehall Place, Westminster, London SW1A 2BD, corinthia.com
Vacheron Constantin’s Watchmaking Emotions at Harrods
This week, Vacheron Constantin has taken over the atrium of the Harrods Fine Watch department for its new exhibition Watchmaking Emotions. The display will carry visitors on a journey through the different emotions associated with various Vacheron watches, as well as unveiling two new Traditionelle timepieces exclusive to Harrods.
The best of Italian fashion and food are brought together in Harrods this summer, which has just opened the pop-up Fendi Caffe. Designed by graphic artist Joshua Vides in a statement monochrome aesthetic, it serves delicious Italian food from breakfast to dinner, along with a selective wine list from the country.
Until 31 August, 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL, harrods.com
Louisiana crawfish boil at Plaquemine Lock
Every Monday night until December, Cajun and Creole restaurant Plaquemine Lock is celebrating crayfish season with a traditional New Orleans-style ‘crawfish’ boil. Served as part of a three-course feast, the crayfish are cooked and served in their shells, alongside potato salad, Cajun slaw, Andouille sausage and corn on the cob. These crawfish are definitely not intended to be eaten with a knife and fork.
From £30, 7.30pm, 139 Graham Street, The Angel, London N1 8LB, plaqlock.com
Serpentine Park Nights
The worlds of art, design, music and theatre come together at Serpentine Park Nights, the galleries’ annual collaboration with COS on a series of events in the Serpentine Pavilion (above), which this year is designed by award-winning architect Junya Ishigami. Eight new works will be presented over three months, including an immersive virtual reality exhibition by artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen, exploring imagination, ecology and technology, and a display by Kiko Kostadinov, creative director of Mackintosh 0001, on modern day uniforms and contemporary workwear. There’s also a performance by London composer and playwright Klein, an artist who assembles recordings of her own vocals and instrumentation into unique soundscapes.
London and the Thames are inextricably linked. But it’s London’s other waterways that form the basis of this new exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands, which uses archaeological artefacts, art, photography and film to reveal stories of life by London’s rivers, streams, and brooks. As well as exploring why many of them were lost over time, it also examines how they shaped and changed the city over the centuries.
This week, the British Museum’s largest exhibition of manga ever held outside Japan is opening. A craft that started with the 19th-century artist Katsushika Hokusai’s drawings of people, animals and nature, manga is now a multi-million-pound industry that stretches around the globe. The exhibition explores the history, art and culture of manga – which means ‘pictures run riot’ – from its origins as traditional brush art, to the present day. There’s a rendering of the oldest surviving manga bookshop in Tokyo, you can be ‘manga-fied’ in a photo booth, and see the work of artists like Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy and Princess Knight) and Fujio Akatsuka (Eel Dog).
Until 26 August 2019, Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG, britishmuseum.org
Food: Bigger Than The Plate at the V&A
The V&A’s latest in-depth exhibition explores what we’ll be eating in 50 years’ time. From edible plastic and insect sausages, to farming by AI, it examines the technology that’ll shape our dinners in the decades to come, as well as investigating the cultural and community shifts of mindset that will have to happen to make sure we all have a more sustainable and fair food future. You can even sample part of the exhibition itself in the V&A’s cafe, where oyster mushrooms are being grown from used coffee beans, and served up on the menu.
Until 20 October 2019, Cromwell Road, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL, vam.ac.uk
Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition at the Design Museum
It’s been touring for 15 years, but Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition has finally landed in the city the visionary director called home. The exhibition explores his unique creative process as filmmaker, as well as giving visitors insight into how he created such genre-defining films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining and A Clockwork Orange. Want to prep before your visit? We went behind the scenes with curator Adrienne Groen to discover more about his life and work.
Kew is great at all times of year, but never more so than in the spring. Head down this week to soak up both the new season blooms, and some awe-inspiring glass sculptures from artist Dale Chihuly. You’ll recognise his work from previous installations at places like the V&A, where his large sculpture of twisting glass tendrils dominates the entrance hall. His large-scale amorphous creations in vivid primary colours will be dotted throughout Kew’s extensive gardens until the autumn.
Until 27 October, Kew Gardens, Richmond TW9 3AB, kew.org
Back for its 11th year, the extensive Underbelly Festival is returning to the Southbank for five months of comedy, cabaret, concerts and live podcast recordings. There’s something on the bill for everyone, but The Jackal’s picks are a first look at Stephen K. Amos’s new stand-up show Bouquets and Brickbats, and The Thinking Drinkers’s intoxicating bar-hop through history.