Summer is here, which means Londoners are taking every opportunity possible to get out and enjoy the sunshine – well, what little of it there is.
There's plenty of music on. Many of the capital’s most popular parks transform themselves into festival sites for the warmer months, while famous historical landmarks take on new lives as concert venues.
These are our picks of the very best places to watch live music outdoors in London.
Regent’s Park Bandstand
Regent’s Park might be best known for its excellent open-air theatre programme, but there are also spots within the glorious green space to catch some live music. Head to the bandstand — found in the south-eastern corner of the park, by the boating lake — which will host a free music festival throughout the summer. Get down there early, because this was a popular spot last year. Expect jazz, classical, rock, big band and more.
June 22-September 8, NW1, regentsparkmusicfestival.org.uk
Each summer, London’s most famous park plays host to the blockbuster British Summer Time. This time, there will be headline slots from Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Barbra Streisand, Florence and the Machine and Robbie Williams, with a host of support acts. Concerts will be spread across two weekends and, between them, there will be Open House, which boasts a series of smaller gigs.
July 5-14, W2, bst-hydepark.com
Sat on the bank of the Thames, Somerset House is always a favourite spot for some al fresco cinema during the summer months, but its glorious courtyard is great for watching live music, too. Its Summer Series welcomes a wide-ranging cast of artists to perform headline gigs across the course of 11 nights. The Internet, Sons of Kemet and Rosalia are among the biggest names on the line-up.
July 11-21, WC2R 1LA, somersethouse.org.uk
This grand Palladian villa in west London hosts all sorts within its lush grounds — this summer, there will be a circus, cinema screenings, wellness festivals, book launches, food events and more. There will also be a decent amount of live music to get stuck into. Liam Payne will headline a cancer fundraiser in August, while Razorlight, Clean Bandit and Texas are among those playing at Tom Kerridge’s Pub in the Park festival.
Various dates, W4 2RP, chiswickhouseandgardens.org.uk
The Old Royal Naval College
Set within the impressive grounds of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and with a backdrop of Canary Wharf’s skyscrapers in the background, the Old Royal Naval College is an incredible venue to watch live music in. Greenwich Music Time is the highlight of the cultural calendar here, with a host of big-name headliners — this summer, Cliff Richard, Paul Weller and Groove Armada will take to the stage.
Various dates, SE10 9NN, greenwichmusictime.co.uk
Hampton Court Palace
This 16th century palace is a marvellous place to visit whatever the time of year, but the annual music festival held here makes a perfect excuse to check out the landmark while enjoying performances from a cast of pop icons. The concerts take place in the stunning auditorium, but there’s also the chance to enjoy the East Front Gardens before the music starts. There are some huge names on the bill in 2019 — Nile Rodgers and Kylie chief among them.
Various dates, KT8 9AU, hamptoncourtpalacefestival.com
Not just a haven of horticultural highlights, Kew Gardens is also a favourite on the family-friendly festival scene. It throws a number of so-called “picnic concerts” as part of Kew The Music, meaning you can soak up the summer sun while chowing on a few egg and cress sandwiches and sipping Pimm’s. Jess Glynne, Rick Astley and Craig David are among the summer bookings.
July 9-14, TW9 3AB, kew.org
Three Mills Island
This circular patch of green space is flanked by various rivers and sits just south of Stratford. In recent years, it has grown into something of festival hub, and will host five events this year: Art’s House, Anjunadeep Open Air London, One Day At The Disco, Maiden Voyage and the 80s in the Park Festival.
Various dates, E3 3DU, queenelizabetholympicpark.co.uk
Amid a unique backdrop — the old-time grandeur of Tower Bridge and the sleek modernity of City Hall — this modern-day amphitheatre is a popular spot during the warmer months. It does all sorts, with live sports screenings, cinema nights and gigs. There’s always a lot to draw in the crowds, with this summer’s programme promising latin-flavoured jazz, raucous big bands and mass karaoke sessions.
Various dates, SE1 2AA, londonbridgecity.co.uk
London’s parks come alive during festival season, with hundreds of thousands of revellers flocking to them for some of the city’s biggest festivals. We’ve already mentioned Hyde Park, but Finsbury Park is another big-hitter, with Community, Wireless, Sink the Pink, Hospitality and Abode all taking residence this summer. Victoria Park, Gunnersbury Park, Brockwell Park and Clapham Common all host major music events this year, including All Points East, Lovebox and South West Four.
Various dates and locations
It may be known as the financial powerhouse of the city, but Canary Wharf is on a mission to boost its cultural profile with a variety of events planned for the summer. There will be al fresco cinema screenings, kid-friendly architecture festivals, dance nights and open-air opera, as well as a number of live gigs, ranging from classical to country. Venues include Cabot Square and Canada Square Park.
Various dates and locations, canarywharf.com