Open-Air Cinema at Kensington Palace
With the longer summer days, watching a movie outside in the evening is really enjoyable. The Luna Cinema returns to Kensington Palace for four nights of classic films from 2 to 5 August.
You can choose from the Spectre, The Breakfast Club, Four Weddings and a Funeral or Some Like it Hot. Tickets must be booked in advance and there’s food and drink available.
Kenneth Branagh is practically taking over the Garrick Theatre for a whole year, with a series of five different plays. The fifth offering is John Osborne’s modern classic The Entertainer, opening on 20 August (and on until 12 November 2016).
Set against the backdrop of post-war Britain, the play conjures the seedy glamour of the old music halls for an explosive examination of public masks and private torment.
Rob Ashford directs Kenneth Branagh as the unforgettable Archie Rice with a cast including Phil Dunster, Jonah Hauer-King, Crispin Letts, Sophie McShera and Greta Scacchi.
Do note, John Hurt will no longer be appearing in The Entertainer following medical advice.
The 122nd BBC Proms started on 15 July and continues until 10 September. It’s an annual season of classical music made more accessible with affordable prices and an informal atmosphere.
The main venue is the wonderful Royal Albert Hall but a new feature this year is to have concerts in four other unique and unusual London settings, from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Camden Roundhouse, to the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich and a large car park in Peckham, south London.
To help you get in the carnival spirit as the Rio Olympics unfold this summer there’s music from Latin America, including the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Symphony Orchestra.
Notting Hill Carnival
Speaking of carnivals, Britain’s biggest street party, the Notting Hill Carnival is on Sunday 28 and Monday 29 August.
Sunday is Children’s Day which doesn’t mean it’s only for kids; it’s just a bit more family friendly on the first day. There’s still a carnival parade with lots of music and dancing.
On Monday it’s the Grand Finale Parade with 60 bands and incredible costumes. There’s also 38 sound systems on side streets from the carnival route to keep the party going.
On both days you can expect huge crowds, loud whistles, big smiles and the best jerk chicken.
There’s always something marvellous at the V&A and highlights this month include a display of Beatrix Potter’s London, on from 28 July 2016 to 28 April 2017, to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter this year.
The display explores how the children’s author and illustrator was influenced by the cultural life of her birthplace. Although Potter is often associated with the sweeping landscapes of Scotland and the Lake District depicted in her illustrations, she spent most of her life at her family home at 2 Bolton Gardens in London, about 20 minutes walk from the V&A.
Potter was a frequent visitor to the South Kensington museums, including the V&A where she sketched items from the collection. This display brings together artworks, original sketches and Potter’s earliest published works to look at the inspirational role London played throughout her career.
Also at the V&A, this month is the last chance to see Curtain Up: Celebrating 40 Years of Theatre in London and New York as the display ends on 31 August.
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Olivier Awards this year, you can see the extraordinary range of craft and collaboration that goes into creating award-winning plays, musicals and productions in the West End of London and New York’s Broadway.
The display is an immersive theatrical experience taking visitors from the stage, to the design workshops and through the history of the awards to the red carpet. You can see costumes, designs, models, photographs, archival production material, film and awards from productions such as The Phantom of the Opera, A Chorus Line and Wolf Hall.
And there’s a related evening event on Friday 19 August, as Christian Holder is discussing his experience of working in both theatre industries. Holder was a leading dancer with the Joffrey Ballet in New York during the 1970s and later designed costumes for ballet and celebrities including Tina Turner. He is now based in London where as a child he attended the Corona Academy Stage School, acted in British television, and danced with his father’s company, Boscoe Holder and his Caribbean Dancers.
The Mechanics of Genius
More than just an artist, Leonardo da Vinci was an incredible inventor too. Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius is on at the Science Museum until 4 September.
He created a remarkable body of mechanical drawings that showed a radical approach to the challenges of flight, manufacturing and war. The exhibition includes 39 historical models of Leonardo’s inventions including flying machines, diving equipment and weapons, plus modern examples of bio-inspired robotics, aviation and materials technology.
Great British Beer Festival
The annual Great British Beer Festival is back on 9-13 August at London Olympia with over 900 tipples on offer from real ales, fruit beers and ciders, to stouts, bitters and international beers. The exhibition hall is basically one big giant pub, staffed by people who are both passionate about their beer and capable of recommending the perfect drink for connoisseurs and enthusiastic amateurs alike.
It’s not a ‘get drunk quick’ event but an opportunity to try a huge variety of beers, plus it’s free entry for accompanied under 18s with a family area upstairs.
Houses of Parliament Tours
While the Houses of Parliament are open on Saturdays throughout the year, during the summer we can visit on weekdays too. It’s best to book ahead for Houses of Parliament tours as they are popular.
You can choose between guided tours or self-guided audio tours. Both options allow you to see the Robing Room, the Royal Gallery, plus the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and more. The tours start and end in Westminster Hall – the historic chamber which witnessed the State trials of Guy Fawkes and Charles I.
The summer opening of the Buckingham Palace State Rooms includes a special exhibition Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe.
Dresses worn by The Queen for two of the most significant occasions in Her Majesty’s life will be seen together for the first time ever from 23 July to 2 October 2016.
The wedding dress worn by Princess Elizabeth for her marriage to The Duke of Edinburgh on 20 November 1947, and The Queen’s Coronation dress, both designed by the great British couturier Sir Norman Hartnell (1901–1979), will be wonderful additions to a visit to this magnificent palace.
I’ve got a special tip for you too. This photo shows The White Room and the Queen can access her private rooms through here but can you see the door? It’s very well hidden as the mirror on the left, and the cabinet in front of it, can swing open to allow her retreat unobtrusively.
If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the August 2016 in London blog post from London Bridge Hotel, our sister hotel.
You’ve got until 11 September to see the eighth year of Sensational Butterflies at the Natural History Museum.
Follow chomping caterpillars turning into beautiful butterflies and along the way discover fascinating facts about one of our planet’s most amazing life cycles.
Opening on 10 September at the V&A, You Say You Want a Revolution: Records & Rebels 1966-70 is a major exhibition examining the optimism, ideals and aspirations of the late 1960s, expressed through music, fashion, film, design and political activism, and their relevance to contemporary life.
For one night only on 25 September, Science Uncovered is your chance to discover more about the latest research, meet scientists, and enjoy a drink in the grand setting of the Natural History Museum’s Hintze Hall.
Laura Porter writes AboutLondonLaura.com and contributes to many other publications while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival that of our Queen. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.