This is it: the last free day off between now and Christmas! Embrace three days of shimmering summer (it’s looking promising, but who’s to know), with our sparkling guide of things to do in London during the August bank holiday. Expect festivals, food and much more to come on this lively August bank holiday weekend – here’s our pick of the best events coming up!
1. Experience the joys of Notting Hill Carnival
Hey, we couldn’t write a bank holiday round up without including the bank holiday’s biggest celebration – and the biggest street party in Europe: Notting Hill Carnival! After a two-year Covid hiatus (the only break in over 50 years), the jubilant celebrations are back, bigger and better than ever. Over two million spectators will descend on Notting Hill to celebrate Caribbean culture at this free event: you can dance the hours away by a sound system stage, feast on delicious dishes from one of the 300 trading stalls, or meander through the streets and follow a colourful mas band – or join one and be in the parade itself; see a full list of Notting Hill mas bands here, some of who are still selling packages. Find out more on Notting Hill Carnival’s official website.
2–7. Take part in other carnival-themed revelry
It’s not just Notting Hill itself gearing up for the celebrations, but many other businesses and brands in London are getting in the August bank holiday spirit too.
🥪 Bodega Rita’s sandwich shop in Farringdon are collaborating with food writer Riaz Phillips this week (August 23–26) to bring two limited edition sandwiches to diners: the Jamaican hard dough bun, stuffed with jerk chicken, slaw, and a fiery scotch bonnet ketchup; and a vegan jackfruit stew Ital sloppy Joe sandwich, served with mashed avocado and fried plantain. Riaz’s fiery and refreshing homemade ginger beer, made with fresh cloves, ginger and cinnamon will also be on offer. They’ll be on sale from 11am each day until they go!
👩🏾🦱 As part of the V&A‘s Friday Late series, award-winning hair stylist Charlotte Mensah will host a talk on the history of Carnival hair, and conduct a hair demonstration. Drop by from 6.45pm to 7.30pm on Friday (August 26) to check it out.
💷 Private members club, Kindred, are opening their doors to non-members for one day only on Saturday, August 27. Venture onto the grounds surrounding the beautiful Grade II-listed building, near Hammersmith station, from 12pm to enjoy live music, rum tastings and a BBQ menu designed by acclaimed chef Andrew Clarke.
🎉 Peckham Levels will be home to a dedicated Carnival party on Friday night (August 25). The Notting Hill Carnival Jam by Pon De Floor (same team behind the Pon De Rooftop Notting Hill Carnival parties) will bring together Caribbean flavours, costumes, and a cast of London’s best DJs and international guests, playing soca, dancehall, Afrobeats and more. The revelry will take place across two floors – level 5 and 6 – and you can snap up tickets here.
🥳 The Beachcomber Tiki Bar, located between Paddington and Notting Hill, will throw three nights of Notting Hill Carnival after parties in collaboration with Bounty Rum. On the evenings of August 27, 28 and 29, head on down after celebrating in the streets for (more) rum punch, frozen cocktails, and sets from DJs and live performers. There’s no need to book; just rock up!
🛍 Over in Covent Garden, the Seven Dials Market is hosting a Carnival weekender. From August 26–29, expect Reggae Roast DJs, calypso tunes, feathers, and cocktails galore from 12pm until 1am (late finish on the Saturday and Sunday only). London All Stars steelpan band will be playing from 1–5pm on Saturday, and glitter face painting will be available from 1–3pm on Sunday and Monday. Check out their full list of other activities here.
A short amble from Canada Water station, you’ll find yourself in Phantom Peak – an immersive steampunk mining town that has risen up from the ashes of a deliciously mysterious past. Embark on a treasure trove of adventures here, like hopping on a boat, strolling around the lake, or following the clues to uncover the history of the town. There is a dedicated bar with cocktails, beer and soft drinks, food stalls to fill your stomach after all the adventure, and many irresistibly fun circus-carnival-style games too. Find out more and buy your tickets here.
Find your happy place this bank holiday weekend at a venue that is built to induce feel-good hormones: Dopamine Land. The seriously Instagrammable, multi-sensory experience combines traditional media and innovative technology to create something that’s sure to put a smile on your face. A series of immersive rooms will enable you to unleash your inner child, and really enter a world of happiness, as Dopamine Land’s tagline professes. Find out more and book your spot here.
10–12. Celebrate International Dog Day
This Friday, August 26, marks International Dog Day; check out a couple of paw-some activities below.
🐕 The streets of Chelsea will be transformed into a doggy paradise this Saturday (August 27) for Chelsea Dog Day, in partnership with The Dogs Trust charity. Across the neighbourhood, you’ll find dog-friendly cinema screenings; doggy brunches and teas from local restaurants, pubs and hotels; ‘pawtrait’ artists and photographers; dog-friendly ice-cream; free bones from the local butcher; paw massages from The Organic Pharmacy; floral dog collars from Moyses Stevens; and an array of fabulous accessories from the luxury brands on Sloane Street.
🚣🏽♂️ Set sail with your doggos this Friday (August 26), as self-drive boat company, GoBoat, offer a free water taxi service for anyone who turns up with their dog. You and your furry friend can take to the water for an hour’s boat trip from Paddington, and feel the wind in your fur… or hair.
🛏 On Friday (August 26), the five-star Pan Pacific hotel near Liverpool Street are welcoming pups to indulge in their luxury surrounds. Dogs and their owners can enjoy a comfortable stay, and choose from the ‘woof and meow’ menu of amenities to make their stay even more comfortable. These include a Paws Pack gifted on arrival, access to the pet concierge service, a dog toy, and a signature dog friendly afternoon tea. Head to the website to book.
From dogs to rabbits now: namely the much-loved, mischievous rabbit from our childhood, Peter Rabbit! A little drive out from London (just over an hour), you’ll find Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, which has had one of its special walled gardens transformed into the garden of old Mr. McGregor for the summer. Ready to welcome kids, and kids at heart, the Peter Rabbit™ Garden Adventure combines an outdoor trail, live performances, an activity area and a farm shop, and it’ll entertain the little ones no end. Find out more and book your spot here.
Dogs, rabbits, dinosaurs – it’ll be a weekend of animals at this rate! Jurassic World: The Exhibition will see you step into the universe of the epic dinosaur blockbuster at Excel London. Follow in the footsteps of Alan Grant and co. as you explore an ancient wilderness filled with familiar favourites such as raptors, brachiosaurus and, of course, the carnivorous queen of them all, the Tyrannosaurus-Rex. Not only that, but you’ll also get to peek behind the plexiglass and see where the scientists worked their dinosaur-making magic at the Creation Lab. You’ll be pleased to know there’ll be no risk of sudden swooping pterodactyl attacks or calculated assaults from ravenous raptors, so you can leave your flares and tranquiliser guns at home. It’s basically all the fun and wonder of Jurassic World with none of the peril – book your tickets here.
London’s biggest exhibition of the smallest artworks ever is officially closing at the end of next week, so why not check it out on its penultimate weekend? Small Is Beautiful boasts 143 miniature pieces and 80 photographs, a behind the scenes video space giving you a snapshot of the artists’ workshops, and DIY workshops for children. Examples of the incredibly small artworks include crochet elephants that can happily perch on the pointed tip of a pencil, adorable little penguins standing on iceberg marshmallows and entire pocket-sized city streets, which would serve as a perfect getaway for the Lilliputian people of Gulliver’s Travels. Don’t miss out on experiencing this exhibition; buy your tickets here.
16–18. Spend some time at a feel-good festival
There are a few festivals on this weekend, catering to a variety of tastes.
🖼 The 2022 edition of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival kicks off this Friday (August 26), lasting for just over two weeks. A range of theatre, circus acts, dance and immersive art installations – like the environmentally friendly Spark exhibit by artist Daan Roosgarde – will entertain visitors.
🥃 #ALLCONNECT is a one-day-only (well, one-evening-only) festival taking place at Laylow in West London on Monday (August 29), from 6pm–2am. The event will celebrate up-and-coming African talent and culture, and see performances from artists, such as Asake, Teezee and DJ Obi. The festival is a collaboration between Jameson whiskey and the Homecoming movement, and is free for guests – but booking is required.
🪅 From this Thursday, August 25, until September 7, The Stables in Covent Garden will host a fortnight-long celebration of Brazilian food, drink, fashion and design. Casa Brasil will boast a garden market, Brazilian products, cooking shows, barista and bartender demonstrations, fashion shows, and musical performances. Check out the full schedule here.
19–21. Or just let loose at a themed party
Get your groove on this August bank holiday weekend at one of the many parties taking place in London.
🎧 Shake a leg at Vinegar Yard‘s silent discos, taking place 7.30 –9.30pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings (August 26–28). In the shadow of The Shard, these al fresco silent discos will include music inspired by that at Notting Hill Carnival, exclusive cocktails from Smirnoff, and one-off dishes with a Caribbean twist from Vinegar Yard’s favourite street traders.
🎶 Number 90 in Hackney Wick are throwing a huge bash between August 25–28 at their canal-side location. Over the weekend, expect to hear music from the likes of The Disco Express, S.A.S.H and Half Baked Records, and nab 2-for-1 burgers and cocktails on selected days (Thursday for burgers; Friday for cocktails). Find out more on their website.
👽 Space Ibiza will be throwing an all-day, all-night party at Studio 338 this Sunday (August 28). From 2pm until 6am the next day, let loose at The Discotech, with a lineup that includes Block & Crown, 6th Borough Project, Scott Martin and more. Check out Studio 338’s website for more information.
22. Satisfy your sweet tooth at a Nutella pop up
Your visit to Soho may be a rather sweet one if you happen across the Nutella pop up on Greek Street between August 25–27. The Happy Portion Parlour will showcase a range of brilliant breakfast dishes throughout the day, which can all be made using one heaped teaspoon of Nutella. It’ll be free to try mouthwatering peach melba, breakfast bruschetta (yes, made with Nutella!), and of course, the classic: pancakes. While you can book online, you can also just pop in impromptu as you wish.
23–24. Feast on brand-new brunches
As the start of a new month and new season is on the horizon (we know, how fast has this year gone?), restaurants are adding new activities to their arsenal; and lucky for us, there are a fair few brunches around! Check out two below that have something special going on for the August Bank Holiday weekend in our dear London Town.
🍽 Fine dining Japanese restaurant Aqua Kyoto are extending their new free-flowing brunch to Monday (August 29) for this bank holiday weekend only, so you can really enjoy every day of this long weekend. The lavish brunch features seven sharing starter dishes, plus a choice of one main dish, accompanied by free-flowing wine and beer; cocktails and bubbles; or Pommery Brut Royal champagne and cocktails. The in-house DJ and a band of live percussionists will set the vibes. Book your table here.
🐟 Mayfair restaurant Sexy Fish launch the first session of their two-part brunch series, Flower Power Brunch, this Saturday (August 27). At their exuberant venue, you’ll be able to feast on limited-edition dishes and Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque champagne cocktails, as you listen to the psychedelic sounds of well-known DJs. It’ll be an out-of-this-world, weird but wonderful experience – book your table here.
25. Indulge in a special afternoon tea at The Shard
Oblix at the Shard will open its doors for a one-off Monday afternoon tea on August 29 to mark the bank holiday weekend. With sweeping views over London, the panoramic restaurant offers an afternoon tea inspired by the capital, with a selection of refined sandwiches, freshly baked cranberry scones, and a special selection of pastries that include a coconut and pineapple tart, and ‘The Green Apple’ with vanilla and yuzu. There is an extensive selection of teas for guests to choose from, plus a bottomless rose, champagne, or cocktail add on. Book your table here.
26. Avoid long queues at the pub with a drop-off picnic at the park
Aperol have teamed up with the Zapp delivery app to bring a whole picnic directly to the park gates of some of London’s main green hangouts. From today (August 24) until the end of the bank holiday weekend, you can order an Aperol Spritz picnic, comprising Italian light bites and all the ingredients you need to make your own Aperol Spritz, to your local park gates. The parks that qualify for this service are: Battersea Park, Clapham Common, Wandsworth Common, Regent’s Park, Hyde Park, Hamstead Heath, Primrose Hill, London Fields and Victoria Park. So, round up your friends, grab your picnic blanket and download the app.
27. Have a drink at the innovative The Taste In Colour Experiment
Sip cocktails in a room with floor-to-ceiling artworks, digital projections, and soundscapes at The Taste In Colour Experiment. Taking place at Silverleaf, which is located in the aforementioned Pan Pacific London, guests are invited to experience a cocktail tasting like no other. As you sip malt whiskey cocktails, you’ll be able to see and hear an artistic interpretation of the Glenfiddich Orchard Experiment whiskey, presented all around. Reservations are required; please contact Silverleaf.
Also published on Medium.