Summer fun – and then some: things to do in London when the sun shines


You may have heard it said – and it’s true – London truly comes alive in the summer. But what does that mean? Well, should you be coming to the capital and staying somewhere like the Park Grand Paddington Court hotel at this time of year, there’s some things you simply must do while you’re here…

Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House

(Somerset House, Strand WC2R 1LA; until 22nd August)

If you’re a sucker for a classic or cult movie or a fan of partaking in a modern blockbuster in the most epic and awe-inspiring atmosphere possible, then attending a showing at Somerset House during 2018’s open-air Film4 Summer Screen season’s verily for you. Featuring London’s biggest moving-displaying screen in a huge courtyard with the building that’s Somerset House as a backdrop (which has doubled as many a movie location itself), it’s bound to make for a pretty unbeatable filmgoing experience. Not least when the roster features the likes of Call Me By Your Name, The Wizard of Oz, Labyrinth, Total Recall, A Nightmare on Elm Street, La Belle et La Bête, Bride of Frankenstein, as well as a host of food and drink options and the option to bring your own picnic.

St James's Park, London

Regents Park Open Air Theatre

(Inner Circle, Regent’s Park NW1 4NU; until 15th September)

A firm fixture of London’s social summer until as far back as 1932, this fabulously charismatic open-to-the-elements performance space welcomes as many as 140,000 punters every year; all of them braving the elements (or even, in the case of this summer, a rare heatwave!) for the best in classical theatre, stage musicals and more. This summer’s bill includes the theatre’s own production of the original dramatic version of Peter Pan, a run of Gothic horror adaptation The Turn of the Screw, Shakespeare comedy As You Like It, the frothy and fun musical that’s Little Shop of Horrors and finally the earth-shaking thrills and spills of Dinosaur World Live. So, sure; on your visit you may end up dodge pesky raindrops (so pack your waterproofs as well as your picnic) but there’s nothing quite like experiencing al fresco theatre – it’s where it all began anyway; just ask the Greeks! – so why not give it a go, not least if you’re staying nearby at one of the hotels near Paddington Station London?

Enjoy a dinner cruise on a Regents Canal barge

(The Prince Regent, Sheldon Square W2 6PY)

Dining while on a journey from Paddington to Camden may not sound particularly appealing – or even very practical – then you clearly haven’t heard of, let alone been on, a dinner cruise on a barge on the Regents Canal. Should you like the same of enjoying dinner and fine wine while on a vessel, but turned off by those generic Thames cruises, then this may prove to be just the ticket. It’ll see you indulge in a five-course meal as you and yours (or you and your family) drift your way past the likes of London Zoo and Regent’s Park on a two-and-a-half-hour journey. Their speciality of the house – or, rather, the barge – is high-quality British seafood and, going by the cruise’s 5* TripAdvisor reviews, the whole experience is bound to be one to savour and remember – especially if you’re saving money already thanks to London hotels special offers.

Visit a Kensington pub in full bloom

(119 Kensington Church Street, Kensington, W8 7LN)

Practically entirely hidden under a colourful cornucopia of flowers, Kensington’s The Churchill Arms is both fantastically floral and, should you be checking out social media on all things London ahead of your time spent in the UK, you may already be aware of the place – it’s a big hit there, all right. Amazingly, the proprietors spent £25,000 a year on decorating this watering hole every year; yes, really. So, what does that get them? Well, come the spring and summer it results in 100 full flower pots, 48 window boxes and 42 hanging baskets – just imagine carting that all home from the garden centre/ plant nursery! But that’s not all; for inside, pub’s brimming with Churchill-related memorabilia of all kinds and, eventually, all the WWII bric-a-brac fades away and into a sprawling indoor garden? All rather magical, in a way!