After being spoilt this May with three bank holidays, I wouldn’t blame you if you’ve been counting down the days until a precious three-day weekend rolls around again. Well, it’s almost here – August 26-28 to be exact – and of course, you’ll want to make the most of it. Luckily that’s where we come in, we’ve kept an eye and ear out for the best events, festivals, exhibitions and more that will ensure a brilliant bank holiday weekend. If you’ve been on the hunt for things to do in London this August bank holiday, look no further…
1. Experience the joys of Notting Hill Carnival
No August bank holiday list would make sense without Notting Hill Carnival. An annual staple of the bank holiday weekend, this epic parade is a vibrant celebration of Caribbean culture, where you can breathe in the aromas of Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Trinidadian Roti, dance to the infectious rhythms of live steel bands, and lose yourself in the colourful flurry of the mas (masquerade) bands’ feathers, glitter and joyous spectacle.
The carnival first occurred in 1958 and a year later, thanks to activist Claudia Jones, was broadcast on the BBC as a response to race relations at the time. It now attracts over 2 million visitors every year. Whether you’re in the parade yourself or heading along as a spectator, this will no doubt be the kaleidoscopic highlight of your bank holiday weekend.
2. Fill your boots with tacos and tipples at tequila town
Mosey on down to Tequila Town for tacos, tunes, and, well, tequila obviously. The festival returns to Peckham’s Copeland Gallery from August 25-27, following a sold-out debut in 2022 (that rhymes!). You’ll be able to indulge in your love of the Mexican-born beverage, with over 20 different tequilas and mezcals at hand to tantalise your tastebuds. In between sipping – or in my case gulping down – tequila-based cocktails and hand-crafted artisan tipples, you can feast on tequila’s foodie friend: tacos. That’s right, the bevvies’ tasty bestie will also be served up thanks to culinary wizards at The Leytonstone Tavern. You can choose from the likes of achiote pulled pork, a charred cauliflower vegan option or one of their new fusion surprises. The delicious day will also be soundtracked by live DJs who are sure to keep things in good, ahem, spirits. Find your tickets here.
3. Have a pawsome day at ‘The Big Woof’ dog festival
Who else sees the long weekend as a perfect excuse to spend more time with your dog? I know I do. Here’s something that will get tails wagging and paws bouncing; King’s Cross is celebrating International Dog Day with its first-ever dog festival, ‘The Big Woof’. Over the bank holiday weekend, from 11am to 6pm each day, Canopy Market will become the ultimate doggy destination with a wonderland of apparel, accessories and drool-inducing food.
What’s more, if you’ve been looking to make your dog the next BGT winner – or simply are looking to impress friends with a few clever new tricks – you can learn from the best, with award-winning dogs and their owners leading dog trick training sessions in Coal Drops Yard. Plus, if your dog is in need of some spiritual enlightenment they can get a tarot card reading at Star Mindfulness. Don’t worry, if you get peckish you don’t need to resort to dog biscuits, there’s a variety of dog-friendly restaurants to be found in Kings Cross.
Take a trip to a galaxy far, far away. The Fans Strike Back Exhibition in South Kensington should be on any Star Wars fan’s list this weekend, the otherworldly experience invites you to completely indulge in your love of the sci-fi epic as you explore hundreds of sculptures, costumes, figurines and even intergalactic weapons that have all been made by fans for fans. Passion oozes from every corner of this fan exhibition, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that is the result of over 40 years of work. There are plenty of photo ops where you can live out iconic scenes from the films – think selfies with Darth Vader and faking action shots while sitting on a speeder bike – as well as a VR experience where you can channel your inner Han Solo as you rocket through space.
5. Dance the day away at All Points East festival
We are right in the thick of festival season and helping round off an epic few months of dancing in fields to live music is All Point East. The East London festival is taking over Victoria Park for its usual 10-day stint from August 18 to 28. There are six days of live music on the cards, with bank holiday weekend headliners including The Strokes (August 25), Jungle (August 26), Dermot Kennedy (August 27) and Haim (August 28). Like any good festival, there’ll be food stalls and bars to fuel your day – dig into halloumi fries and sway to Raye or soak up the booze with a burger while falling under the spell of Dermot Kennedy’s bewitching vocals.
6. Devour bottomless pizza on a sun-drenched rooftop
Head on up to The Gantry Hotel’s sun-drenched terrace on Saturday 26 to enjoy bottomless stone-baked pizzas and refreshing cocktails among an idyllic jungle of plants. From 7pm-9pm their pop-up Botanist terrace will host a pizza party – basically the best kind of party – where you can savour stomach-rumbling slices to your heart’s content for just £35 per person. There’s something to please any palate, from classics like Margherita and Pepperoni to intriguing creations such as the truffled wild mushroom, cracked pepper and white onion. Of course, it wouldn’t be a party without a tipple or two. Thanks to their partner Botanist Gin, there are plenty of tempting concoctions to get the night in full swing – try the elderflower-and-apple Wild Garden or the tropical spritz Botanist Bubbles. Book your suits
7. Celebrate the nostalgic Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging anniversary
A very special anniversary is taking place this August: it is 15 years since the release of the fabulously cringey teen rom com Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging. Thankfully, the momentous occasion will not pass us by without the chance to pay your full respects. BFI Southbank is commemorating the occasion with a special anniversary screening at 2.30 pm on Saturday, August 26 which includes a Q&A with director Gurinder Chadha, co-writer Paul Mayeda Berges and more guests that are yet to be announced (I know, Aaron-Taylor Johnson is unlikely but let us dream goddammit). Whether you’re a 90s gal looking to take a tentative trip down teen memory lane or have unfathomably never witnessed the wince-inducing adventures of Georgia in this coming-of-age flick, this will be a weekend highlight, don’t miss out.
8. Enjoy music under sun and stars at Battersea Park In Concert
Pack your hampers and picnic blankets. You can take picnics in the park to a whole new level thanks to Battersea Park In Concert. The emerald expanse will be playing host to three days of open-air picnic concerts over the bank holiday weekend, with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, West End stars, singer-songwriter Gabrielle and the world’s greatest composers all taking to the stage to fill the sky with classical masterpieces and musical hits. As your ears are treated to the talents of musicians and your stomach enjoys the spread of summer snacks, your eyes can enjoy an epic firework finale, magnetic musical performances and the spellbinding simplicity of the setting sun.
9. Unleash your inner artist on Madrí Excepcional‘s interactive mural
Calling all art lovers and beer fans. Mediterranean-style lager Madrí Excepcional is celebrating London and Madrid’s shared passion for street art by creating an interactive mural on Chance Street in Shoreditch. You’ll be able to contribute to the large-scale masterpiece for free from 12pm-6pm each day of August 25-27 – putting your own creative stamp and splash of colour on a section. To prep for the painting participants will learn the basics of street art and some savvy tips and tricks from experts on site. The mural features designs from one of Madrid’s best street artists; Sokram and leading London artist, Choots so you can be sure it will grab people’s attention in the best way. Plus, it will be reset each day, so there will ultimately be three amazing artworks created by Londoners for Londoners.
What’s more, Madrí has teamed up with BOXPARK Shoreditch so, after an afternoon of artistry, you can refresh yourself with a free Madrí Excepcional at one of London’s most vibrant venues. It is also home to a modern street food market and pop-up retail mall if you fancy a browse and a delicious bite to eat. Swing by to sip your refreshing golden pint of Madrí Excepcional and daydream of your next masterpiece.
T&Cs apply: Must be aged 18 years or over. Proof of age may be required. Participants of art experience will be offered one voucher each to get a free pint of Madrí Excepcional @BOXPARK Shoreditch. Subject to availability. Offer valid until 27/08/2023 at 11pm.
10. Catch a nail-biting game of cricket at The Hundred finals
We’ve all been cheering on the Lionesses on their path to the final and over in the world of cricket the women’s team have also been hitting it out the park. New domestic cricket competition The Hundred has seen men’s and women’s teams battle it out over the month of August to become the champions and this weekend is the final. It may be sold out, but there are still tickets available (at the time of writing this) for the eliminator matches at the Kia Oval on Saturday, August 26. You can become a part of sporting history cheering on from the pitch side and enjoying the rollercoaster rush of experiencing the highs and lows of an epic match. Alongside all the heart-pumping sporting action, there’ll be live music and fireworks to add an extra dash of spectacle for all the family to enjoy.
Grab your marmalade sandwiches, round up the kids and clamber in the car. Paddington Lo-Commotion at Blenheim Palace is a great excuse for an escape to nature with all the family. Through an enchanting combination of adventure, puppetry and immersive storytelling, you can join Paddington and the gang on a search for buried treasure in the sprawling grounds of Oxfordshire’s most picturesque palace. The 55-minute experience includes a ride on a miniature train that goes by the name Winston, a fun-filled area to unwind with word searches and maze maps, and a dedicated shop stuffed full of bear-illiant Paddington merchandise. Plus, Blenheim Palace has a tasty range of restaurants to wander to after, as well as many more kid-friendly activities to fill your day.
12. Put your putting skills to the test at Skylight Tobacco Dock
Need a dose of friendly competition with your bank hol adventures? Skylight Tobacco Dock can help you out there. The purveyor of terrace lawn games is teaming up with Buffalo Trace Bourbon for a weekend of rooftop golf with irresistible cocktails, lip-smacking BBQ grub and sunset DJs. You can show off your skills with the golf club while sipping on Bourbon-based concoctions, before devouring some succulent meat straight from the grill – it all sounds very Texan, to be honest. That is, aside from the far-flung views across London of course.
Discover a world of colour at Camden Market’s Hawley Wharf. The Colors Festival has taken over a 1,000m² space in London and transformed it into a labyrinth of giant-scale colour-themed rooms, with art from over 35 talented street artists, emerging painters, illustrators and photographers bringing the walls to vibrant, psychedelic life. The mesmerising art exhibition has received a wealth of positive reviews and is fun for all the family – don’t miss out on tickets.
14. Meet like-minded dog owners on this tail-wagging walk
Leads (and poo bags) at the ready. The newly launched 1 Hotel Mayfair is celebrating our canine companions this International Dog Day (August 26) by introducing monthly community dog walks. Designed to bring the community and hotel guests together over a mutual love of their dogs, the walk is also in partnership with the sustainable dog brand Beco. The first walk will take place at 10am on Saturday, August 26 and will take owners and four-legged friends on a tour around Green Park. Along the way there’ll be rest points for dogs to drink water and play with toys provided by Beco – they’ve not forgotten the dog walk essentials either, natural UK-made treats and poo bags will also be provided.
15. Indulge in a special afternoon tea at The Shard
If you’re feeling fancy this bank holiday the afternoon tea at Oblix Shard could be just the ticket. The sleek sky-high restaurant is the perfect place to gaze out across the labyrinth of London while tucking into a delicious afternoon tea inspired by the very city that is laid out before you. Their sumptuous selection will be served at Oblix East on Monday 29 for one day only. There are all the quintessential afternoon tea favourites to enjoy – think smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches, freshly-baked scones with seasonal jam and sweet pastries – and for a truly special experience you can opt for the free-flowing Champagne afternoon tea or, if you’re more of a rosé person, the Oblix Rosé afternoon tea which includes bottomless rose and selected cocktails. Book your table here.
Some features in this article have been paid for by Secret London’s friendly brand partners.
Also published on Medium.