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Things To Do

London’s Fabulous Free Riverside Festival Is Returning This Summer

By Alex Landon

Summer by the River

Summer by the River is the perfect festival for those who enjoy summer and rivers. Obviously.

When the sun shines in London, there’s no better place to be than by the river. So it’s rather nice that, from June 10, London will get a three-month festival overlooking the Thames at Tower Bridge. Returning for another (hopefully) glorious summer of sun, Summer by the River will once again set up outside City Hall, laying on a programme of free, summery events until September rolls around.

People sit at benches at London's Summer by the River festival

We’ll overlook the less-than-imaginative name, because Summer by the River is in fact the largest free arts and entertainment festival in the capital. They’ll bring #summervibes to London Bridge City, by transforming a stretch of riverside from London Bridge Pier to City Hall into a beachy homage to the Mediterranean. So, what can you expect from 110 days of entertainment?

Two women chat in the sunshine at Summer by the River

Aside from the pretty special views of Tower Bridge and its surroundings, Summer by the River will be laying on a programme of food and entertainment. The hardest-working man in pop-ups, Jimmy Garcia, will run a pizza parlour and spritz bar named Piazza By the Pier, with wood-fired sourdough pizzas on the menu and Mediterranean pagodas to relax in. Guests will be invited to create their perfect slice by adding all the toppings they fancy, and you’ll even have the opportunity to finish it off yourself in the restaurant’s pizza oven if you opt for the three-course pizza party experience (um, yes please).

Meanwhile, the Riverside Terrace Bar overlooking The Scoop will evoke the setting of a leafy Greek taverna, complete with winning cocktails. Summer serves are the order of the day here, with Lynchburg Lemonade, Graham’s White Port & Tonic, and Malfy con Limone Spritzes all proving tempting. Sweet treats come courtesy of Good Times Roll, who will delight kids and adults alike with their ice cream concoctions.

From June 21 (pending England’s move into Step 4 of lockdown easing), Summer by the River will lay on an exciting programme of events. That’ll include an outdoor cinema that blends Hollywood classics with family favourites, and live screenings of sporting events such as Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics.

Open-air fitness classes, live music from fresh London talent (Summer by the River has roped in BBC Introducing to help line this up), and salsa and swing dances from Havana Londres and Swing Patrol are also on the schedule. Finally, you can dip into the all-singing offerings here, which include Massaoke, Musical Bingo, and – somewhat bizarrely – Barrioke, which is a karaoke event with Barry Evans of Eastenders fame. Yup, really.

Summer by the River

Seriously, you’ll have to actively have to work to be bored here. So, if it’s riverside revels you’re after this summer – without breaking the bank – then Summer by the River should float your boat nicely.

Practical information

Runs from June 10 until September 28.
Events are free, but you'll need to cough up for food and drink.

Also published on Medium.