Things to do in London this weekend

Zoe Paskett
c/o Whitechapel Gallery

It’s festival madness in London this weekend.

From hot air balloons to contemporary art to music, there really is something for all.

Here’s our guide on what to get up to.

Nocturnal Creatures

A completely free, late night, contemporary arts festival comes to the East End on Saturday for the first time. Organised by the Whitechapel Gallery, Nocturnal Creatures combines performance, video, music, sculpture and tours, with events from Brick Lane to the Bell Foundry.

July 21, Whitechapel Gallery and nearby locations, E1,

Balloon regatta

For the early birds: drag yourself up at 5am for an unparalleled airborne spectacle. The Lord Mayor’s annual Hot Air Balloon Regatta sweeps over the city from Battersea Park on Sunday morning (though you won’t be let into the park for health and safety reasons). Best views will come from a high vantage point so get yourself to a rooftop if you can. Fingers crossed for perfect flying conditions.

July 22,


London’s getting a lot of brand new music festivals this year and the latest one on the list comes to Alexandra Palace and Park on Saturday. Kaleidoscope fuses music, theatre, poetry and talks, as well as a glimpse into the venue’s rarely seen underground rooms. The Flaming Lips, Mystery Jets, Beth Orton and Ghostpoet are on the music line-up, while comedy comes from Katherine Ryan and Mark Watson. Read our full guide here.

July 21, Alexandra Palace and Park, N22,

Museum of Childhood summer festival

This annual festival for all ages brings juggling, samba and rickshaw rides to the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. Entertainer Ian Marchant shows off circus skills and there’s live drumming from South London Samba, as well as face painting, henna, games and delicious food.

July 22, V&A Museum of Childhood, E2,

International Busking Day

Marking the third annual International Busking day, Newton Faulkner headlines a showcase at Wembley Park. The free day will show the best in home-grown busking talent, from music to dance to circus and all sorts of street performance. Workshops run throughout the day and singer-songwriter Nina Nesbitt will also be taking to the stage.

July 21, Wembley Park, HA9,

Open Doors: Vote 100

This year marks 100 years since some women gained the right to vote, and Here East in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is celebrating with a wealth of free performances on Sunday. Company Wayne McGregor and Myself UK kids Dance Company will present dance pieces, while the Guilty Feminist stages a teaser of upcoming hip hop musical Suffrageddon.

July 22, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, E


John Vernon Lord

80 pen and ink drawings by acclaimed illustrator John Vernon Lord are on display now at the House of Illustration. The drawings come from five classic books he has illustrated in recent years: Lewis Caroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, as well as Finnegan’s Wake and Ulysses by James Joyce. He will be in conversation with Chris Riddell on July 17.

Until November 4, House of Illustration,

Africa Utopia

The annual festival at the Southbank Centre returns, celebrating Pan-Africanism through arts and culture. Highlights from this weekend include musical duo Amadou & Mariam, the Chineke! orchestra, Daliso Chaponda’s Presidents of Laughrica on Saturday, and Reverse Colonialism! on Sunday. See our full guide from the weekend here.

Until July 22, Southbank Centre, SE1,