15 amazing things to do in London this summer
From art installations to prison bars, London has it all
Now that “freedom day” is upon us and everything is opening up, a fun summer in London is well and truly underway.
Whether you have lived in London your whole life, or are relatively new to the area, this summer the city is hosting a whole range of new and fun activities, aside from going out for food or to the pub for a pint.
Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, here’s a list of 15 amazing and non-touristy things to do this summer in the capital.
1. Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser Exhibition
Price: £20 for adults, £15 for NUS cardholders
When: Now – 31st December
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Sunday from 10:00-17:00
Location: Victoria and Albert Museum
If you’re a fan of Alice in Wonderland, this exhibit is perfect for you. Located in the Sainsbury Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, this exhibit will allow you to explore Alice’s origins, adaptations and reinventions over 157 years. The immersive exhibition “charts the evolution of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland from manuscript to a global phenomenon beloved by all ages”. You can also enjoy the Alice in Wonderland VR experience during your visit, although there may be a long wait time if visiting during busy periods.
If you want to book tickets for the week ahead, they get released on the website every Tuesday at 12:00.
2. Van Gogh Alive Exhibition
Price: Approximately £19-30
When: 4th June – 26th September
Opening Hours: Sunday – Thursday from 9:00-20:00 and Friday – Saturday from 9:00-21:00
Location: Kensington Gardens
If you are interested in art but want a unique and immersive experience, then check out Van Gogh Alive. This exhibition is “an immersive multimedia art experience” which combines high definition projections of Van Gogh’s paintings with digital surround sound. Imagery and animations are projected at a scale that offers visitors the ability to see the details of the artists work like never before”.
Check out the website to purchase tickets to the experience and learn about the life of Van Gogh and what his art represents in a uniquely immersive way. Side note: there’s also a sunflower room which makes for great Instagram photos.
3. Neon Art Installation
When: From 26th August
Opening Hours: TBC
Location: Covent Garden
We all love a good bit of neon in our lives. Lucky for us, artist Chila Burman will be filling the South Hall of Covent Garden’s central Market Building with dazzling neon sculptures. Burman has previously covered the outside of Tate Britain with colourful neon lights, in a celebration of Diwali, which ended up staying installed for an extra month due to its popularity. The display is set to consist of “a distinctive floating neon octagon suspended from the centre of the Hall, sculptures of peacocks, tigers and snakes and bulls illuminating the space, plus words and collages throughout, all inspired by Burman’s Hindu Punjabi heritage”.
Covent Garden is thrilled to announce that artist Chila Burman will take over the Market Building with a new immersive art installation. Launching on 26th August, Burman will bring her neon sculptures into the South Hall, transforming the space into a giant neon wonderland. pic.twitter.com/exEyZ1vUFr
— Covent Garden (@CoventGardenLDN) July 15, 2021
4. Skuna Hot Tub Boat
Price: £225 Sunday – Friday for a maximum of seven people
Location: Canary Wharf
Ever wondered what it’s like to cruise the Thames in a hot tub? Look no further! This summer, you and a maximum of six other friends can get together to share a “hot tub boat” in Canary Wharf for around 75 minutes. If you don’t fancy being in a hot tub though, you can get a BBQ boat instead. Either way, someone will have to stay sober to actually steer the boat but everyone’s still bound to have a whale of a time.
For more information, click here.
— GiGadgets (@gigadgets_) March 11, 2021
5. Dodge: Drink, Dine and Dodgems
Price: Free entry, £5 to ride the dodgems and other packages available from £10
When: 15th July – 22nd August
Opening Hours: Varied
Location: Somerset House
Bringing back your favourite childhood fairground memories with a twist, Dodge is “a thrilling new open-air experience in Somerset House’s spectacular courtyard that takes an inventive twist on the traditional fairground. Dodge features dodgems, bold installations from acclaimed artists, and a delicious selection of food and drinks, from smoking hot street food to seriously extra sundaes and weekend waffle brunches with live DJ sets to kickstart those long summer days.
For advanced bookings, check out the website.
Dodgems, DJs, delicious food & drink – buckle up because we've got your summer plans sorted 👀
— Somerset House (@SomersetHouse) May 5, 2021
6. Rooftop playground
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Friday from 16:00-23:00 and Saturday – Sunday from 12:00-23:00
Location: Stratford Multi Storey Car Park
Sticking with the theme of childhood memories, Roof East has transformed a multi-storey car park into a rooftop playground pop-up for adults. “London’s largest outdoor playground” has a range of activities, such as crazy golf, batting cages, lawn bowls and a rooftop film club. Of course, you can also get your hands on tons of street food here too, to keep you fuelled with energy.
Book a table or games in advance on their website.
— Roof East (@Roofeast) July 16, 2021
7. Electric Gamebox
Price: £14 for 30 minutes, up to £34 for 60 minutes
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday from 13:00–21:00, Friday from 13:00–22:00, Saturday from 10:00-22:00 and Sunday 10:00-20:00
Electric Gamebox has created an immersive way of mixing gaming and socialising – who would’ve thought it possible! This experience allows you to enter a fully private, interactive, digital room featuring projection mapping, touch screens, motion tracking and surround sound to enjoy a hyper-immersive 60 minute adventure.
You can book and choose what game you want to play on the website.
Cool things you could do with the extra day today! An extra day of challenges and team work 💪#adventure #electronictheatre #southwark #thingstodoinLondon #activitiesinLondon #thingstodo #socialscreentime #social #makingscreentimesocial pic.twitter.com/XiDCUAqaNg
— Electric Gamebox (@electricgamebox) February 29, 2020
8. ‘Borealis’ Northern Lights Show
When: 27th August – 5th September (Greenwich) and 9th – 11th September (Woolwich)
Opening Hours: 8:30 pm onwards
Ever wanted to travel to Iceland to see the Northern Lights? Well, given the pandemic, London has the next best thing. The skies of Greenwich and Woolwich will be filled by artist Dan Acher’s Northern Lights display this summer, as part of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival. And better yet, it’s free – definitely a student-friendly experience.
Click here to see the full programme for the festival.
GDIF 2021 – Borealis 🌆
– 🌆 Inspired by the Northern Lights, #Borealis is about our ancestral communion with nature and our more recent compulsion to control it. A show which repurposes the city as a space for emotions to be experienced collectively.
— GDIFestival (@GDIFestival) July 16, 2021
9. ‘Lightfield’ Infinity Room
Note: This installation has now been cancelled
Price: £4.50 Monday – Friday or £5.50 Saturday – Sunday. Note: these are prices for Marble Arch Mound, not the infinity room itself.
When: July – December
Opening Hours: Varied – click here for the Marble Arch Mound opening times
Location: Marble Arch
In addition to the 25 metre tall Marble Arch Mound opening next Monday (giving us views of Hyde Park), there will also be an infinity room inside the temporary mound. Created by sculptor Anthony James, Lightfield is a mesmerising infinity room that uses steel and glass cubes, along with mirrors and LED lights, to create the impression of infinity that so delight us. Twelve of his “Transmorphic Cubes” will be used to create Lightfield, and they’ll invite us to stare deep into their depths to marvel at the patterns and colours found there. The aim of Lightfield is “to get us appreciating London’s artistic and cultural power, particularly after a difficult year”.
The installation, called Lightfield, will be made up of 12 cubes ✨ https://t.co/pLMNEXUSoZ
— Time Out London (@TimeOutLondon) July 16, 2021
10. Hijingo Bingo
Price: £11 for a single game, £16 for a full game session
Opening Hours: Wednesday – Thursday from 17:00-23:00, Friday from 16:00-00:00, Saturday from 13:00-00:00 and Sunday from 11:00-17:00
Location: Worship Street
A fresh take on the classic game of bingo, Hijingo Bingo is known as “the future of bingo”. You get to start off with some drinks in The Lucky Cat Bar whilst you wait to enter The Hijingo Room, where mind-blowing video & motion graphics, stadium-grade lighting, and a killer soundtrack will have you on the edge of your seat as you are fully immersed in the show. Each game is also an opportunity for you to win prizes.
There’s no need to wait until you’re 70 years old to play bingo. For a bingo experience like no other check out the website to book a game for you and your friends.
— DesignMyNight (@DesignMyNight) July 2, 2021
11. Picnic in the Buckingham Palace Gardens
Price: £15 for students
When: 9th July – 19th September
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday from 10:00-18:00
Location: Buckingham Palace
Forget picnics in a standard London park. We can all get a glimpse of our modern-day Bridgerton dreams by going for a picnic in the Buckingham Palace gardens instead. This is the first time the gardens have been open to the public, so bring some food (or buy some drinks at the gardens) and have a picnic with a view of the palace, and then roam around the gardens and see how the other half lives. There are some restrictions, however, such as no alcohol, ball games, or barbecues. As well as the gardens, you can also see the magnificent State Rooms on a special guided tour of the Palace this summer, although that will come at a higher cost.
Tickets can be booked on their website.
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) July 8, 2021
12. Luna Outdoor Cinema
Price: Varies but approximately £16-£18 for adults
When: Various dates
Opening Hours: Varied
Location: Various locations
Even though normal cinemas are now open, an outdoor cinema is a different experience entirely. Luna Cinema, the UK’s number one open air cinema, is screening various films at different locations in London throughout the summer. What makes Luna Cinema stand out is that the experience boasts state-of-the-art cinema equipment, including giant HD screens and incredible cinema-quality sound systems.
You can make a booking on their website, so get your friends and family, grab some food and drinks either off or onsite, and say good riddance to watching films in your living room this summer!
— Old Royal Naval College (@orncgreenwich) July 16, 2021
13. Alcotraz Cell Block Two One Two
Opening Hours: Various slots from Tuesday – Sunday
Location: Brick Lane
Now we all know that London has some very unique bars. From rooftop bars to basement bars and everything in between, you will not be disappointed. One rather interesting bar is Alcotraz Cell Block Two One Two, which promises to be one of the most unique cocktail bars in London. Once convicted, inmates are taken into an exciting world of mischief as they are instructed by a notorious bootlegging gang on the inside to smuggle in liquor to be used to make delicious, bespoke cocktails. You won’t find a set menu of drinks here…after all, it is a prison! The “serving” mixologists will deliver a range of tailored cocktails every night based on the liquor you bring and your tastes”.
You can book your slot on the website.
Tickets to London’s prison-inspired bar at a criminally good price? 👮 8 cheeky discounts to some of the best experiences in London @AlcotrazLondon @Littlenansbar @FourThievesPub https://t.co/ekMxcBLb3L pic.twitter.com/j7bWGcKgdB
— DesignMyNight (@DesignMyNight) September 2, 2019
14. The Slide at ArcelorMittal Orbit
Price: £13.50 for students (for the view and slide combo)
Opening Hours: Friday – Sunday from 11:00–15:00 (the slide opens 30 minutes after the attraction opens)
Location: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
For an amazing view of London and the chance to ride down “the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide”, head to the ArcelorMittal Orbit. This sculpture was created by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond as a London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games landmark. If you are a thrill-seeking Londoner then book a ticket to go down the 178 metre long slide with twists and turns like no other. As you go down the slide you’ll catch glimpses of the Park and London’s skyline through the transparent sections before plunging into darkness.
— The Globe and Mail (@globeandmail) August 8, 2016
15. Hangloose Adventure Ziplining Experience
Price: From £50
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday from 10:00-19:00
Location: Bluewater Shopping Centre, Kent
If you’re an adrenaline junkie and are willing to travel a bit out of London, this experience is the one for you. Zoom down the UK’s longest and fastest zipline, spanning 724 metres in length, alongside the famous Bluewater chalk cliffs. This proves to be a unique experience for any Londoner and is suitable for anyone over 8 years of age, who also weighs between 40kg and 120kg. Book your experience on the website.
🚀 😄 Hangloose is now open! 🚀 😄
— Bluewater (@TweetBluewater) July 14, 2021
So what are you waiting for? Go forth and (safely) make the most of a summer in London with your friends!