It’s the last three-day weekend before Christmas and we’ve still got a year’s worth of partying to make up for. The even better news for this year’s August bank holiday? It’s not actually looking like a total washout for once. According to forecasters, the next three days are set to be a balmy 21 degrees. Hooray!
Half your friends might have fled to the country but for those left in London, it’s all to play for - there are still tickets left for All Points East festival on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and chefs are going all out for National Burger Day with hot discounts and last-chance BBQ deals. Some are even giving away free cocktails and coffee - you just need to know where to look.
From pizza-spinning shows in Marylebone in to pop-up beach clubs in Shoreditch, here’s how to make the most of summer’s last big hurrah.
No carnival, no problem
Covid might have cancelled the Carnival, but you can still party. If Notting Hill’s virtual Carnival doesn’t cut it, Peckham Levels, Pop Brixton and Brixton Village Courtyard are all bringing the energy of Ladbroke Grove to south London, with free weekends of live music, jerk chicken and free-flowing rum punch. Bring your dancing shoes - Steel Pan Crew are expected to make a noisy appearance at Monday’s event in Brixton Courtyard, a collaboration between Caribbean restaurant Fish Wings & Tings and DJ collective Just Vibez.
Elsewhere in the capital, it’s festival fever. There are still tickets going for All Points East in Victoria Park if you’re a fan of Jamie xx, Arlo Parks, Foals and Bombay Bicycle Club. This year, the three-day festival is rubbing shoulders with Field Day, which is also popping up in Victoria Park on Sunday, while further east, Lee Valley Showground will be buzzing with house and techno for Eastern Electrics festival on Saturday.
Other festivals taking place over the weekend include Junction 2, split across Tobacco Dock and Fabric on Saturday and Sunday; Yam Carnival, an “immersive experience of Black culture, food, music and more” on Clapham Common on Saturday; plus a series of free alfresco gigs at St Martin-in-the-Fields by Trafalgar Square throughout the weekend.
If you’re still nostalgic for Notting Hill, check out photographer Rio Blake’s Notting Hill Carnival photo exhibition at White City House, and Panorama’s steelpan competition at Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park in Kensington on Saturday.
Happy hour is a whole lot happier when you don’t have work on Monday. To celebrate, ultra-fast delivery app Zapp is serving up complimentary drinks from its mobile cocktail bar all weekend. The roving bartender will be making surprise appearances at spots across the city all weekend (spoiler alert: it’s at Sloane Square on Saturday).
If you’re in the area, make a day of it. West London bar NBHD Portobello is hosting a carnival brunch on Sunday, featuring jerk chicken, reggae and steel drums, while Bunga Bunga Battersea is celebrating the bank holiday with a bottomless three-course brunch. Think fluffy jam-filled doughnuts, fresh fruit and Italian pizzas washed down with free-flowing pink prosecco.
In Farringdon, Piano Works is serving up bottomless mojitos as part of its Brunch To The Beat, Quaglino’s bank holiday brunch includes a DJ set from saxophonist Tom Diesel, and Crazy Pizza Marylebone has a bottomless champagne brunch featuring napkin-waving performances and pizza spinning shows.
Get your free caffeine fix beforehand. Just round the corner, Marylebone neighbour How Matcha! will be serving complimentary coffees all day on Monday.
Holiday at home
What’s that? A bank holiday actually forecast to be dry? Not only that, sun and highs of 21 degrees are expected across the weekend, so it would be rude not to get the bikini out while you still can. Beckenham Park Place lake and West Reservoir Centre are both lesser-known wild swimming spots if Hampstead Ponds are full, or take to the water in one of GoBoat’s eight-person self-driving electric boats, available in Paddington, Kingston and Canary Wharf.
Each route takes in some of some of the capital’s prettiest waterways, whether it’s the bridges of Little Venice on Regent’s Canal or the wildlife of The Thames near Teddington Lock.
If pool floats and pina coladas are your preferred staycation vibe, let Malibu Rum’s summer pop-up in Shoreditch be your bank holiday bolthole. Set in the heart of the city, it’s the ultimate beach club experience, with a heated outdoor pool, temporary tattoo parlour, tanning station, 4D photobooths and a Malibu cocktail bar. Inflatable flamingos are included, obviously.
For the evening, make the most of golden hour and take a tour of London’s best alfresco drinking dens. Veuve Cliquot is hosting a rose takeover at Coya in the City; passion fruit liqueur Passoa has teamed up with Vinegar Yard to launch a Passoa Summer Sunset Rooftop in London Bridge; Prezzo’s new summer menu includes blood orange, pink grapefruit and rose spritzers made with Malfy Gin; and Botanist Gin is serving up gin-infused cocktails at its rooftop gin terrace on top of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. Expect Instagram-worthy swing-seats, wild greenery and free-flowing negronis with views over London and the British Library.
If there was ever an excuse for a BBQ, it’s National Burger Day coinciding with a sunny August Bank Holiday. To celebrate, sustainable butcher The Ginger Pig has teamed up with Braybrooke Beer Co to create an eight-person BBQ box feast, while Aldi has recreated Gordon Ramsay’s epic £80 Michelin-star inspired truffle and cheese patty to cook at home for just £2.85. Michelin star-inspired food for £77 less than Ramsay’s edition - an easy way to impress the guests.
Hundreds of restaurants are taking part in National Burger Day this year, including Boxpark, Five Guys, Honest Burgers and Tommi’s Burger Joint, with more vegan burgers expected to be eaten than ever before - for extra eco points, try the plant-based burger from Lewis Hamilton-backed chain Neat Burger, which plants a tree for every burger sold.
Meanwhile The Cinnamon Club has an alternative bank holiday BBQ offering if you’re bored of standard patties: its new at-home BBQ kit comes filled with chaats, marinated meats, seafood and a sticky ginger and toffee pudding to finish. You can cook it in the oven if you don’t have a barbecue of your own.
To complete the holiday feel, upgrade your ice cream. Covent Garden’s new Italian party palace Ave Mario is serving up its famous gelato tower to walk-ins all weekend (extra pouring caramel is optional but encouraged), Five Guys has a new banoffee pie milkshake to help wash down your burger, and Ben & Jerry’s flagship Scoop Shop in Soho is launching a new decadent dessert in time for the bank holiday. Think supersized hollow chocolate, spun into recognisable Ben & Jerry’s shapes and packed full of Fairtrade ice cream - just ask for Rethunk Chunks at the counter.
Kids climbing the walls? Get them to scribble on them. Not yours - the ones at the Tate Modern, which is inviting children and adults to channel their inner artist and graffiti the floors of its Turbine Hall in a “living artwork” project by artist Ei Arakawa. It ends on Sunday.
If you’re heading into town, capitalise on half the capital fleeing for the seaside. Sport-lovers inspired by Sky Brown’s performance in Tokyo should check out Somerset House’s free skateboarding exhibition, charting the history of the four-wheeled sport over the last 45 years through photography, fashion displays and vintage magazines.
Elsewhere, Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience has transformed Shoreditch’s 106 Commercial Street into an immersive, 360-degree digital spectacle; the Wellcome Collection is opening its ‘happiness’ season with two immersive exhibitions, Joy and Tranquility; and Kensington and Chelsea’s outdoor festival currently features a seven-metre lunar installation detailed with NASA’s imagery of the moon’s surface.
The giant glowing sphere been created by artist Luke Jerram and can currently be found indoors at St John the Baptist Church on Holland Road .
For a full-day of awe and wonder, combine your moon visit with a trip to Greenwich, where the streets will be lit up in a Northern Lights recreation laser show called Borealis as part of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival.
Get your sweat on
It’s not just tourist town where you can make the most of London without the crowds. According to PureGym, bank holiday Sunday is expected to be the quietest day for gyms outside of Christmas and New Year’s Day, the perfect chance to catch one of London’s hottest classes ahead of the September rush.
Barry’s Bootcamp has a full timetable of classes across the weekend, while Fitness First has just launched its biggest and toughest new class, TraX, taking place at 7.15am on Monday morning on Liverpool Street for the bank holiday early risers. Game on.