August is a great time to visit London. Being one of the warmest months of the year, summer festivals are in full swing, street parties are everywhere and family-friendly attractions keep children entertained during the school summer holidays. Without the usual smattering of clouds in sight, your options for outdoor activities ups tenfold during this time of the year.
Brick Lane’s Sunday UpMarket
You cannot go to London without eating and walking your way through its streets, tucking into anything from overstuffed Jamaican patties to paellas by the kilo, in a ghostly alleyway modernised by graffiti. But London is so sprawled out, the number of food markets at your disposal can overwhelm. Our pick is the Sunday-only Upmarket on Brick Lane. This is not a place of ad hoc carts, as many street food markets messily present. Upmarket is a deft arrangement of colourful tarps and stalls, with animated vendors rousing you to pile the world on your plate. You’ll melt over all the Insta-opportunities.
Film4’s Somerset House
It doesn’t get any more summertime than a night of film-watching at Somerset House under a blinking sky. This annual event replaces the winter ice rink with splayed out cushions for retro romantics with films spanning the decades – this year you’ve got classics like Inception, Being John Malkovich and Sleeping Beauty as well as front runner The Wife with Glenn Close. The majestic Somerset House alone is reason to give this a try – it’s every bit a British building. Film4’s summer screen is happening from August 9-22.
Shakespeare’s turf has lingered in the imaginations of many. Stratford-upon-Avon is the birthplace of classical theatre prefaced by a medieval, cobble-stoned town that has an untouched sentiment to it. Head to the Royal Shakespeare Company (originally opened in 1879), an imposing theatre with historical detail that predates most things you’ll have encountered. You’ll be on a train for two hours or so from London Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon but once you get there, it’s very walkable and jolly in its offerings for food and drink. Stratford-upon-Avon straddles the Avon river and a large canal basin, so it has a lovely watery feel for a perfect day trip.
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Enter the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with an open mind – it’s not for the purists at heart, more for the eccentric and quirky thinkers among you but one thing’s for sure – no left or right turn will be short of an eye-popping moment. This festival celebrates all the wonderfully weird degrees of performance art – from starter stand-up comedians to interpretive dance to improvised theatre, a huge amount takes place on the streets along with formal venues too. It’s outlandish, outrageous and so much fun, you’ll be buzzing throughout. The festival is from 3-27 August.
While there’s no shortage of parks in London, there are some more picnic-perfect than others. Take Primrose Hill – north of Regent’s park – where the summit of the hill is more than 60 metres above sea level. London is laid out in front of you in full. This is a proper Sunday park for Londoners – and there are many cute cafés fringing the area.
Words: Georgie Bradley