With so many events going on in London each summer, it's hard to pick what to do and where to go — and especially this year, with summer 2022 being the first restriction-free (hopefully!) summer since 2019. To help you out, we've picked out favourite things to do in the capital, whether you want to watch films under the stars, rock out at music festivals, or just eat and drink your way round the London.
Outdoor culture in London: summer 2022
When the sun comes out, London takes the roof off. If it rains, you get wet — it's all part of the British summertime fun. Here are a few of our favourite al fresco activities, but do check out our guide to outdoor culture in London for the full experience.
OUTDOOR CINEMA: It wouldn't be summer in London without an onslaught of pop-up outdoor cinemas and rooftop film screenings. Some are already underway, others begin in June, and others still make an appearance later in the summer. Here's the full guide to outdoor cinema in London 2022.
SUMMER BY THE RIVER: Open-air festival Summer by the River returns to More London, the stretch of land on the south bank of the Thames between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, this year with a 1930s Miami theme. The schedule is packed full of open-air gigs, theatre shows, film screenings, bingo and karaoke nights, with a pop-up bar and restaurant too. From 30 May 2022
UNDERBELLY: Once again, Underbelly Festival has two London locations, at Earl's Court and Cavendish Square. Book ahead for circus, comedy and cabaret shows, or turn up to enjoy the open-air food and drink options. May-July 2022
SCULPTURE IN THE CITY: All sorts of weird and wonderful creations land in the Square Mile for Sculpture in the City. The free, open-air art trail has works by 19 different artists, with one piece already on display in Aldgate Square. From 21 June
GREENWICH AND DOCKLANDS INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL: Free outdoor performing arts festival Greenwich and Docklands International Festival returns, for two weeks of theatre, art, dance and circus in outdoor locations. The full 2022 programme will be revealed in June, but a highlight already announced is a rainbow island of foam taking over Greenwich Peninsula. 26 August-11 September 2022
Cultural events in London: Summer 2022
LONDON FESTIVAL OF ARCHITECTURE: A celebration of architecture and 'city-making', the London Festival of Architecture programme is packed full of more than 400 events throughout the month, from public installations to talks, tours, debates and performances — including some family-friendly events too. Highlights include pop-up bike parking, a rocking bench and a full-size recreation of a Lebanese house. 1-30 June
OPEN GARDENS WEEKEND: London Square Open Gardens Weekend is a chance to explore London's green spaces via open days, tours and talks. They range from allotments to small private gardens, to the larger gardens in the likes of Eaton Square, usually only accessible to local residents with a key. 11-12 June
SUMMER LIGHTS: Light festivals don't usually happen in summer, for obvious reasons. But when Canary Wharf's Winter Lights event got postponed until Summer last year, Summer Lights was born. It's back again this year. Hunt out the temporary art installations around the Canary Wharf area, each chosen for the way they use natural light to create colour and sparkle. 21 June-20 August
LIFT: The London International Festival Theatre — or LIFT —takes place at venues across London, shining the spotlight on up-and-coming stars of music, dance and theatre. Unlock ghost stories in a shopping centre, see a climate opera performed on a beach, or witness Pinocchio reimagined as a story of gender transition. 23 June-10 July
MAYFAIR ART WEEKEND: Mayfair isn't short of art galleries, a fact celebrated during Mayfair Art Weekend. Events this year include the Mayfair Sculpture Trail through the district, as well as family-friendly activities and a chance to visit all of the participating galleries. 24-26 June
TWILIGHT AT LONDON ZOO: London Zoo's late-night openings are back, for adults only. Twilight at London Zoo is a rare chance to see the animals at dusk, and enjoy tours, live acoustic music and street food. Takes place on Thursdays and Fridays. 30 June-22 July
FERIA DE LONDRES: Celebration of Spanish food and culture Feria de Londres takes over Guildhall Yard. Expect Spanish music and flamenco performances and workshops, food and drink stalls and other family fun. If that's your sort of thing, check out the Flamenco Festival at Sadlers Wells in June. 1-3 July
PRIDE 50TH ANNIVERSARY: The Pride in London Parade is going big this year, as 2022 marks 50 years since the first ever Pride in London. The parade will take the same route as it did in 1972, marching from Hyde Park to Whitehall, to commemorate the occasion. 2 July
HAMPTON COURT PALACE GARDEN FESTIVAL: Didn't make it to the Chelsea Flower Show? Head to the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival instead. Wander the palace grounds and see specially designed gardens, and enjoy demos on on gardening, floristry, design, food, craft and health from experts including Monty Don and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. 4-9 July
HYPER JAPAN FESTIVAL: Love all things Japanese? Get yourself to Hyper Japan, a celebration of Japanese culture. Live performances, a market, food and drink stalls and a sake experience are all part of the fun. 22-24 July
NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL: West London will be a riot of noise and colour as Notting Hill Carnival takes to the streets for the first time since 2019. Sound systems take over the area as Mas, Soca and Calypso celebrations parade through in a celebration of Caribbean culture.27-29 August
OPEN HOUSE LONDON: This annual event is like Christmas for members of Team Londonist. A chance to go inside London buildings which are usually closed to the public? Yes please! The full programme hasn't yet been announced, but in the past we've managed to get inside the St Pancras Clock Tower, Battersea Power Station (before the recent redevelopment), Bush House and many more iconic buildings. 8-21 September
LONDON DESIGN FESTIVAL: Citywide event London Design Festival celebrates the top-notch design work going on around the capital, across architecture, project design, graphic design and more. Events usually include talks, tours, special installations, exhibitions and more — keep an eye out for this year's programme. 17-25 September
BANK HOLIDAYS: Bank holidays fall on 2 and 3 June (a special one for the Platinum Jubilee) and 29 August this year. Make the most of those extra (hopefully sunny!) days with our suggestions of things to do on a bank holiday in London.
New exhibitions in London: summer 2022
Generally, summer is a fairly quiet time for new openings on the London art and museums circuit, but there are a few fresh exhibitions opening their doors June-September 2022.
DIPPY RETURNS: One of London's most famous museum exhibits, Dippy the (replica) diplodocus returns to the Natural History Museum after its national tour, to star in a special exhibition. However, it's only here until December, so be quick if you want to welcome it back. From 27 May
PENNY WORLD: Works spanning the last 30 years by artist Penny Goring are on display in new exhibition Penny World, at the ICA. The works exhibited stem from the artist’s personal processing of trauma, and include poetry, sculptures, drawings, paintings and video works. 8 June-18 September
TIFFANY & CO: Saatchi Gallery opens an exhibition about famous New York-based jewellery company, Tiffany & Co. Vision & Virtuosity celebrates the jeweller's 150th anniversary in London, with 400 objects from its archives on display, alongside cultural references such as the script from Audrey Hepburn film Breakfast at Tiffany's. 10 June-19 August
SERPENTINE PAVILION: Chicago artist Theaster Gates and architects Adjaye Associates collaborated on the design for this year's Serpentine Pavilion, a temporary structure erected in Kensington Gardens each summer. Black Chapel takes its inspiration from the chapels and kilns of Stoke-on-Trent, and is free to visit throughout its residency. 10 June-16 October
ETERNALLY YOURS: Somerset House presents Eternally Yours, a free exhibition about care, repair and healing. The focus is on creative examples of reuse, such as the Japanese art of kintsugi, where a broken vase or jug is repaired with gold lacquer to make a feature of the imperfection. There's also an on-site repair shop.16 June-25 September
ROYAL ACADEMY SUMMER EXHIBITION: A highlight of the London art calendar every year, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition brings together established and rising artists to display their work. Prints, painting, film, photography, architectural works and sculpture all feature, and the theme this year is 'Climate' with Grayson Perry among those taking part. It's the first time in three years the Summer Exhibition has actually been held in the summer, due to delays caused by Covid. 21 June-21 August
IN THE BLACK FANTASTIC: Hayward Gallery's new exhibition, In the Black Fantastic, brings together myth, science fiction, spiritual traditions and the legacy of Afrofuturism. See works by 11 contemporary artists from the African diaspora, which question our knowledge of the world. 29 June-18 September
Music festivals and events in London: summer 2022
London is spoilt for choice when it comes to music festivals over the summer months. We won't list them all, or we'd be here until autumn, but here are some of our picks, which still have tickets available at time of writing.
ABBA VOYAGE: Mamma Mia, look who's back! Avatars of ABBA members Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid take to the stage for Abba Voyage, a series of concerts at a purpose-built venue in Stratford, combining the Swedish group's iconic tunes with newer releases. From 27 May
MELTDOWN FESTIVAL: The 27th edition of the UK’s longest-running artist-curated music festival, Meltdown, is at Southbank Centre, and model, singer and actress Grace Jones is at the helm this year. Events include a performance by feminist pop icon Peaches, a nightclub with DJs selecting tracks by artists across the Black diaspora, and a roller disco. 10-19 June
EFG LONDON JAZZ FESTIVAL: The musically-astute among you will know that the EFG London Jazz Festival takes place in November, and you're right, but we're also being treated to a Summer Series, for anyone who can't wait that long. Over four nights, Barbican hosts four different concerts, starring the likes of Herbie Hancock and Marisa Monte. 22-25 June
BST HYDE PARK:After two years of cancellations, BST Hyde Park is back, bringing Pearl Jam, Duran Duran, Elton John, The Eagles, Adele and the Rolling Stones to the huge pop-up festival site in Hyde Park. Some gigs have sold out, others still have tickets available, and we're awaiting confirmation on whether the 'open house' events on non-gig days will go ahead this year — watch this space. 24 June-10 July
WEST END LIVE: Musical theatre fans should head to Trafalgar Square for West End Live, a free, two-day festival starring the cast of all manner of West End shows. Exact details are TBC at time of writing, but in the past, cast members from the likes of Jersey Boys, The Lion King, Mary Poppins and Tina The Musical have appeared on the stage. 25-26 June
KEW THE MUSIC: A stage and large screen is set up in Kew Gardens for live music by the likes of Van Morrison, Bananarama and Will Young. Take your own picnic chair or blanket, pack a picnic or buy food and drink on site — and enjoy live music in a relaxed and (hopefully) sunny setting. 5-10 July
BBC PROMS: We can't even type that without Land of Hope and Glory firing up on the record player inside our heads — but that's Last Night of the Proms, and there's almost two months' worth of lovely live music to enjoy before that. For all your info on tickets, highlights, promming and the like, peruse our guide to the BBC Proms 2022. 15 July-10 September
Food and drink events in London: summer 2022
Peckish? Got a thirst on? If London's rooftop bars, beer gardens and ice cream parlours aren't quite cutting it, check out these special foodie festivals and events for something a little bit different.
STREATLIFE: Alexandra Palace's regular street food and craft beer festival Streatlife is back for the Jubilee weekend, offering excellent nosh paired with impressive views over London. 3-4 June
FOODIES FESTIVAL: Head to Syon Park for Foodies Festival, the only London stop on the national tour this year. Live music comes courtesy of Scouting For Girls, East 17, Liberty X and others, alongside live chef demos, a Cake & Bake Theatre, plenty of street food to keep you energised, and bars to ensure you don't go thirsty. 3-5 June
JUNIPALOOZA: Gin has its moment in the spotlight at Junipalooza, a gin festival at Tobacco Dock where you can meet distillers and brand reps to learn more about their products. There are plenty of tasting opportunities too, as well as food and water to keep you fresh. 11-12 June
TASTE OF LONDON: Foodies will want to head to Regent's Park for Taste of London, the huge, food-based festival which brings dozens of London's best-known restaurants together to feed the hungry visitors. It's also a chance to discover up-and-coming London chefs and food businesses, take part in tastings and watch masterclasses. 15-19 June
COCKTAILS IN THE CITY: On selected dates in July, August and September, Bedford Square Gardens in Bloomsbury hosts Cocktails in the City, for an evening of cocktail-themed fun. Renowned London bars have pop-ups with special menus, tastings and masterclasses, plus there's live music, a silent disco and street food stalls. July-September
GIN & RUM FESTIVAL: Gin + rum, with tequila thrown in — what could possibly go wrong? Oh, and it all takes place in a church. That's the deal at the Gin & Rum Festival, which is a chance to meet the makers behind your favourite tipples, and maybe try a few new ones. 8-9 July
LONDON WING FEST: Wing Fest, apparently the world's largest chicken wing festival, stops by the London Stadium on its UK tour. Exact details have yet to be confirmed, but expect to see several chicken wing vendors pitting their dishes against each other. 16-17 July
LONDON CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL: Over 100 breweries are expected to be present at the 10th anniversary of London Craft Beer Festival, which is at Tobacco Dock. Choose from hundreds of different beers to sample, from established and newer breweries. Tickets include a festival tasting glass, and live DJ sets as you sup. 12-13 August
LONDON DESSERT FESTIVAL: One for the sweet-toothed, Instagram-loving Londoner, the London Dessert Festival is as much about the photoshoots as the food. 'Insta-worthy' dessert-themed attractions include a sprinkle pool and an ice cream bar. Food items on the menu include patisserie, chocolate, teas, and cocktails. 12-14 August
Local festivals in London: Summer 2022
Plenty of local areas celebrate their history, heritage and community with local festivals, open to both local people and those travelling from further afield.
CAMBERWELL ARTS FESTIVAL: A Platinum Party on Camberwell Green is the launchpad for this year's Camberwell Arts Festival, which also includes an arts market, artists' open studios and a Camberwell Corgi trail of 70 cutout dogs through the local area.4-12 June
WANDSWORTH ARTS FRINGE: 150 events including many live performances make up the Wandsworth Arts Fringe programme. There's a particular focus on dance this year as the Royal Academy of Dance open their brand-new headquarters on York Road, but other events include a family fun day, an open mic picnic, and a chance to try a musical instrument. 10-26 June
GREAT EXHIBITION ROAD FESTIVAL: South Kensington institutions including the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Imperial College, Royal Geographical Society and V&A all come together for the Great Exhibition Road Festival, a weekend celebrating science and the arts. There are live performances on an outdoor stage, along with workshops, panel discussions, food tastings, tours and more, on topics ranging from AR to space to microbes to Queer history. Plenty for kids, too. 18-19 June
TOTALLY THAMES: Look out for this year's Totally Thames programme, a celebration of all things related to London's arterial river. There are usually multiple events every day throughout the month including exhibitions, talks, guided tours, boat rides and more. 1-30 September
Sporting events in London: summer 2022
Got energy to burn? Good for you. Prefer to watch others do the hard work? That's perfectly fine too.
WORLD NAKED BIKE RIDE: If you're prudish, you may wish to avert your eyes as the World Naked Bike Ride comes to town. Cyclists let it all hang out as they ride in a group on a pre-agreed route — though the route will change from previous years due to ongoing road closures from the Jubilee celebrations. Don't forget your suncream. Full details TBC. 11 June
WOMEN'S EUROS: Remember how excited London got about the men's Euro tournament last year, and the 2018 World Cup? 2022 is our chance to show the same support for female footballers, as the Women's Euro tournament takes place here in the UK, including some matches in London. Here's our full guide to the Women's Euro tournament, including the who, when and where. 6-31 July
WIMBLEDON: The biggest fortnight in tennis is back. If you can't make it to SW19 yourself, fear not — plenty of places around the capital show the action of big screens, often for free. Here's our guide to where to watch Wimbledon 2022. 27 June-10 July
DRAGON BOAT RACE: South Dock in Canary Wharf hosts a day of dragon boat racing in support of Water Aid. It's £250 to enter a team, but if you can't do that, head down on the day to watch and support them. 7 July
Family-friendly things to do in London: summer 2022
SUMMER HOLIDAYS: Most London children are off school between July-September. We'll bring you our guide to a jam-packed, budget-friendly summer holiday closer to the time... watch this space.
HOBBLEDOWN HOUNSLOW: Families, you'll need to know about new opening Hobbledown Heath Hounslow. The child-friendly tourist attraction has farm animals, birds of prey, a play barn, a wilderness wood and plenty more to keep little ones occupied. It's due to open fully on 1 July but there may be some preview tickets available before that.
LAMBETH COUNTRY SHOW: A children's funfair, bouncy castles, farmyard animals, sheep dog and owl displays, food stalls, live music, and crafts stalls are just some of the activities at the huge — and free entry — Lambeth Country Show in Brockwell Park. We once found a model of Jarvis Cocker made from vegetables... that's the kind of show this is. 16-17 July
KIDS' WEEK: Keep the kids busy in the summer holidays with free tickets to West End shows. Kids' Week is an annual event — which actually lasts for the month of August — giving under-17 year olds free tickets to selected West End shows, provided they're accompanied by a full-paying adult. Past shows have included Lion King, Matilda and Aladdin. Kids' Week tickets for 2022 go on sale from Tuesday 14 June. Throughout August.
Things to do in London in a heatwave
While the weather in London is notoriously unreliable, we do pin our hopes on at least a few warm, sunny days every year.
URBAN BEACHES: Dreaming of kicking back on a deckchair on a sandy beach somewhere warm? Well we can't guarantee that last bit, but for the rest, check out London's pop-up urban beaches, including one which is great for kids, and a couple of rather exclusive venues.
BOATING: Cool yourself down by taking to the water on one of London's oarsome boating lakes. Rowing boats and pedalos are available at lakes, ponds and even a canal, from Hyde Park's Serpentine to the waterways of the Olympic Park.
ROOFTOP BARS: It only takes a mere mention of sunshine on the weather forecast, and London's rooftop bars are packed to the rafters. Still, it's worth it when you're enjoying a cheeky post-work cocktail on a balmy summer evening, watching the sun set over the capital.
BEER GARDENS: Similarly, London's beer gardens get rammed on warm days, so slap on the Factor 50 and get down there early doors to get a table.
GET OUT OF TOWN: Make like Parisians and Manhattanites and leave the city to escape the summer heat. Browse our Beyond London section for day trip and weekend break ideas. Might we suggest a day at the seaside, an overnighter in Brighton, or lunch at a fabulous tea room?
Platinum Jubilee celebrations: summer 2022
Summer in London is great any year, but summer 2022 is particularly special, as the Platinum Jubilee celebrations take place here in the capital at the start of June. Chances are, you won't be able to move without being whacked by a Union Jack that week — you've been warned.
JUBILEE EVENTS: The Jubilee celebrations take place all over town, with official events alongside smaller happenings run by local museums, venues and community groups — here's a small selection of the special events. Even if you're not into the Royal stuff, be thankful that the special occasion has graced us with a weekend entirely free of transport disruption.
SUPERBLOOM: Worth a mention in its own right is Superbloom, a wildflower meadow being planted in the Tower of London's moat to mark the Jubilee. Members of the public can buy tickets to walk past or even among the flowers, and there's the option to enter the moat via a giant slide. 1 June-18 September
JUBILEE AFTERNOON TEA: Fancy going fancy? Mark Her Majesty's achievement with a right regal afternoon tea — these menus all have a Jubilee theme to them. One features corgi biscuits, and another recreates the Queen's hat and handbag in edible form.
VISIT BUCKINGHAM PALACE: The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace open to the public this summer as usual, giving us mere mortals a peek at the sheer opulence that lies behind those palace walls. Visit the ballroom, throne room and other locations where the Royal Family host visiting dignitaries and special guests. 22 July-2 October