Things to do in London this Bank Holiday weekend

David Ellis
Are you not entertained? The Museum of London's Gladiator Games are playing all weekend

Without wishing to alarm anyone, we're obliged to point out that this coming Monday is the final Bank Holiday of the year until Christmas. That's it; we're done for, darkness is falling. Perhaps that's going a little far, but the point stands: get out in the sun and take advantage of the extra day off while you still can.


Gladiator Games

The Museum of London are strong contenders for winning the weekend. At Guildhall, on the site of an Roman amphitheatre, they’re hosting gladiatorial battles across the four days, with real swords, spears and shields. The 60 minute fights rely on the crowds to decide the winner and you’ll get a more even match than Mayweather/McGregor. Are you not entertained?

All weekend, Guildhall Yard, EC2V 7HH,

Take on The Beast

The self-proclaimed world’s largest inflatable obstacle course is being pumped up in Ally Pally’s Great Hall this weekend, boasting 32 obstacles over its 272m track. There’ll also be a light show, DJs, and street food from the likes of Saucy Chip and Taco Revolution, as well as pop-up bars serving prosecco, craft beer and cocktails.

All weekend, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY,

Notting Hill Carnival party... on ice

Queens Skate Dine Bowl have teamed up with Island records to host a huge, four day Carnival party. It’s set to be quite the spectacular: in the middle of their 12,000 square metre ice rink will be a custom-built DJ booth, complete with palm trees and a beach shack. There’ll be beer flowing, including a Jamaican Porter, plenty of food from MEATliquor and skating and bowling galore.

All weekend, Queens Skate Dine Bowl, 17 Queensway, W2 4QP,

Canopy Market

Feast at Canopy Market, just off Granary Square, where countless traders are lined up to serve up their finest street food. Highlights include World of Zing, Shrimpy, Bread Ahead, 58Gin and Italian wine bar Brevevita.

Friday till Sunday, West Handyside Canopy, King’s Cross,

The River Stage Festival's final weekend

This weekend marks the closing party of the National Theatre’s River Stage Festival with everything from a pizza van to live DJs and theatre. Night czar Amy Lamé kicks things off on Friday night, and there’ll be music from Hackney Colliery Band and Concrete Disco. Saturday includes beetle whisperer MG Leonard and a production of Peter and the Wolf from Goblin Theatre, while on Sunday there’ll be free outdoor screening of the National’s acclaimed production of Twelfth Night from earlier this year, starring Tamsin Greig. On Monday, there’s a chance to join in with a tea dance and see acclaimed jazz collective Nérija perform.

All weekend, National Theatre,

Maggie's Bank Holiday Baywatch Bonanza

It’s the bank holiday; the obvious thing is just to get out there and party. Maggie’s, which might just be London’s most twisted club (Thatcher plays over the speakers in the loos), is hosting an 80s blowout. It’s Baywatch themed, complete with Pam Anderson lookalike and plenty of Mojitos.

Friday and Saturday, Maggie's, 329 Fulham Rd, SW10 9QL,

Much loved: South West Four returns for another year


South West Four

This much loved Clapham Common festival returns for another year with a killer line up including Deadmau5, Knife Party, Example+DJ Wire and The Martinez Brothers alongside big name acts including Pendulum, Tinie Tempah, Eric Prydz, SIGMA, Duke Dumont and Hannah Wants. What more do we need to say?

Saturday & Sunday, Clapham Common, SW4 9DE,

Shuffle Festival

Taking place across the weekend and in and around Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, this festival boasts a packed programme of films and talks, performances, installations, music and plenty of food and drink. On Saturday catch Trainspotting, which has a Q&A with director Danny Boyle afterwards, and don’t miss a chance to play Badminpong. On Sunday, this time T2 is on, again with Danny Boyle, and the paint bombs and potatoes workshop looks brilliant fun.

Saturday & Sunday, Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, E3 4PX,

Birthday bash: Flamingo Pier turn three this weekend

Flamingo Pier turn three

Flamingo Pier are celebrating their third birthday in style. Things start on Hackney Wick canal boat Milk Float with yakitori skewers, kombucha cocktails and plenty of good music, lasting from 3pm till 8pm, and then there’ll be a party over at Mick's Garage until the wee small hours. Expect music from the likes of Session Victim, Chaos in the CBD and CC:DISCO.

Saturday, Milk Float and Mick’s Garage,

Free cider at No.90

Cider giant Kopparberg are hosting their own party at Hackney Wick’s No. 90, which features DJ sets from Pixie Geldof and DJ Yoda. Best of all, though, will be all the free cider they’re handing out. The entire thing is in aid of their new Recycling Rig, where punters can exchange empty bottles and cans for more music.

Saturday, 90 Wallis Rd, E9 5LN,

Duckin' marvellous: Andrew Clarke is laying on a new menu at Quo Vadis

Duck Feast

Brunswick House’s Andrew Clarke joins the Quo Vadis & Friends summer series with a seven course menu dedicated to duck. Dishes include duck hearts with trotter, girolles, blueberries and mint, and 14-day dry aged duck “Allard Style” with green olives. Just get there early to have one of QV’s excellent martinis, which are a must.

Saturday, Quo Vadis, 26-29 Dean St, W1D 3LL,

A Pooch Picnic at Deptford Market Yard

Saturday is National Dog Day. Pamper your pooch at Deptford Market Yard, where there’s a doggy friendly picnic happening all day, including complimentary dog biscuits. Still, owners are in for a good time too, with everything from Indian inspired fast food to Jamaican street fare and plenty of cocktails from Little Nan’s bar. Don’t miss the cheese toasties from Archies, either.

Saturday, Deptford Market Yard, SE8 4BX,

Hackney Downs Summer Fête

The Star by Hackney Downs is once again hosting its much loved Summer Fête, which has something of a village vibe. They’ve everything from a dog show to a plant show to lawn games, including giant Jenga. Elsewhere, there’s plenty of facepaint, a sandpit and all sorts of crafts for the little ones. Street food should keep everyone’s energy up and DJs promise to get folks dancing. There is likely to be an afterparty at the pub itself afterwards, too.

Saturday, 35 Queensdown Rd, E5 8JQ,

British Fish Craft Championships

This really is something different – and something rare, as it’s the first time the championships have been held in Billingsgate Market for more than 30 years. It is a chance to see the country’s top fishmongers go head to head in a series of fishy contests, from skinning flat fish to shucking oysters, with demonstrations on Saturdays and an actual competition on Sunday. It’s free to attend.

Saturday & Sunday, Billingsgate Market, E14 5ST,

Field Day at Dinerama

Following successful takeovers earlier in the year, Field Day are returning to Shoreditch’s Dinerama. All the usual suspects will be there, food wise, including the likes of chicken shop Thunderbird, Eastern Mediterranean hotspot Laffa, You Doughnut and Swedish barbecue Lagom. Music comes from Simian Mobile Disco, Vampire Weekend’s Baoi, Eat Your Own Ears, and Lemmy Ashton. You get a free beer on entry, included in the £10 ticket price.

Saturday, 19 Great Eastern St, EC2A 3EJ,


Notting Hill Carnival

Still going strong after more than 50 years, this celebration of Caribbean culture, music, food and drink returns for another year. By the end of it all, 15,000 costumes will have shimmied during the parade and a hangover-inducing 25,000 bottles of rum will have been polished off. Read our guide for everything you need to know.

Sunday & Monday, Across Notting Hill,

All day brunch party

What’s a weekend without brunch? Soho’s 100 Wardour St are upping their usual fare in the spirit of the carnival with an all day party. Brunch is bottomless, there’ll be music from DJ’s Black 2 Basics and Joshua Roberts. Tuck into the likes of pancakes with grilled pancetta and maple syrup and wash it all down with endless prosecco.

Sunday, 100 Wardour St, W1F 0TN,

Notting Hill… in Bethnal Green

If you can’t make it west for the Carnival, stick east and head to the Sun Tavern, who are doing their own thing. They’re handing out free jerk wings, there’ll be plenty of alcoholic ginger beer, and ska, reggae and jazz from the pub’s resident band, followed by DJ Paul Day. If you’re not in mood for ginger beer, dip into their huge Irish whiskey selection.

Sunday, The Sun Tavern, 441 Bethnal Green Rd, E2 0AN,

Party to pirate radio

Almost 50 years ago to the day, the UK government made pirate radio stations illegal. The three Records bars are celebrating the pioneers of the movement, and of its impact on the British music scene. They’ve a host of first rate DJs, including some of those on the original boats, including Tony Prince of Radio Caroline and Radio Luxembourg and Kiss FM founder Gordon Mac. True to theme, all the DJs will perform in actual boats.

Sunday, Across London,,,


Crystal Maze

It’s no surprise the Crystal Maze is a London favourite and it’s more or less been packed out since it opened, with more than 100,000 visitors pitting themselves against the challenges of the Aztec, Industrial, Futuristic and Medieval zones, while indulging in a joyous sense of nostalgia. They’ve just released a new batch of tickets for the next three months, and have a new game to boot. Grab the chance and give it a go; it doesn’t disappoint.

10-14 White Lion St, N1 9PD,

Go Ape

London now has four Go Ape’s nearby, with treetop fun in Battersea Park, Chessington, Trent Park and a new site in Alexandra Palace. If you haven’t been, do; they’re tremendous fun, whether with friends or family, and it makes a change from wasting away another Bank Holiday in the pub. Trent Park is best if you want to get high – they’ve got a platform that’s 16 metres up – but all of them will put a smile on your face.

Across London,

Zip World London

Go flying on one of the world’s fastest zip wires in Archbishop’s Park. Riders will reach speeds approaching 50kph — roughly the same as a downhill race skier — when they launch into the air from a 35-metre high tower. If you’re seeking thrills, this is the place to get them.

Zip World London, Archbishop's Park, Lambeth Palace Road, SE17JY,