London events during summer 2012

A selection of entertainment in the greatest summer London has ever seen.

Opening the greatest summer London has ever seen, Britain’s most adored icons launch to the public, as much-loved institutions reopen their doors. From the must-visit Harry Potter Studio tour to historic sights such as the Cutty Sark and Kensington Palace, it seems that everywhere – and everyone – is preparing for the most showstopping season the capital has known.

The Making of Harry Potter


Get ready to be spellbound! Step into Dumbledore’s Office, marvel at the Great Hall, traverse the Hogwart’s Bridge and be mystified by the Ministry of Magic: the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – the Making of Harry Potter has seen the public giddy with anticipation in the build up to the grand opening. Debuting this month, visitors can experience the lavish sets, special effects and animatronics behind the most successful film series of all time, as this fantastically fun day out goes behind the scenes of Hogwarts in a magical walking tour like no other. Set on 14,000 square metres, visitors experience firsthand what life is like inside Hagrid’s Hut, the Gryffindor Boys’ Dormitory and can even pick up some tips in the Potions Classroom.

The first tour starts at 10 a.m. and the last tour between 4 p.m. and 6.30 p.m. (depending upon the time of year, school holidays and weekends). The closing time is 3 hours after the last time slot. The show is open 7 days a week, all year round, except on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Adults (16+) £28, children (5-15) £23, children 4 and under free. Important: tickets must be booked in advance. No tickets are sold at the Studio Tour. Book online here

Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter, Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden WD25 7LR. Tel. +44 (0)8450 840 900

Kensington Palace Reopens

Fit for a king. After a multimillion-pound refurbishment, including new, historically-inspired landscaped gardens and the world’s highest profile couple – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – as residents, one of London’s most historic palaces reopens.
Opening times: Monday - Sunday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., last admission 17:00. Adults £14.50, children (under 16) free, concessions £12. Tickets can be purchased online  or in person.

Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, London W8 4PX. Tel. +44 (0)844 4827 777

Cutty Sark reopens

Maritime majesty in London’s new Royal Borough. For the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, a new Royal Borough joins Kensington and Chelsea – Greenwich. The riverside enclave is so crowned for its maritime history – this month the world’s most famous tea clipper reopens in all her glory after a massive restoration programme.

Cutty Sark is open Tuesday–Sunday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Last admission 4 p.m. The Cutty Sark will close at 2 p.m. on 2 June.

Admission is by timed ticket, available online, by telephone or in person on the day. Due to expected high demand tickets may be unavailable on the day to those who have not purchased their ticket in advance.

Book online, or by telephone bookings on +44 (0)20 8312 6608. Adults £12.00, children (15 and under): £6.50 (under-5s free), concessions £9.50.

Cutty Sark, King William Walk, London SE10 9BG. Tel. +44 (0)20 8858 2698

All the world's a stage

Revel in London’s literary and theatrical prowess this month. London is the literary capital of the world, its history and legacy built on linguistic prowess and tradition. The capital’s rich, sophisticated tapestry of life has been captured by the world’s greatest scribes and narrators. During 2012, dedicated anniversary events and ambitiously epic productions honour the city’s leading talents.

Globe to Globe

If language be the food of love, play on. Until 9 June 2012

As London welcomes visitors from across the globe to witness the greatest spectacle this millennium, the World Shakespeare Festival stages 37 plays by the world’s greatest playwright, wit and storyteller - William Shakespeare - in 37 languages between 21th April and 9th June. Unprecedentedly ambitious in its scale, audiences can enjoy Titus Andronicus in Cantonese, Julius Caesar in Italian, a Polish Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet in the passionate language of Brazilian Portuguese. With productions in Urdu, Palestinian Arabic, Korean and Belarusian, there’s now no excuse for the bard’s elaborate use of English to deter you from his greatest works. More info and tickets here.

The Shakespeare's Globe Exhibition and Tour is available all year round.
Monday: Exhibition 9.00 a.m.–5.00 p.m., Globe Theatre Tour: 9.30 a.m.–5.00 p.m.
Tuesday – Saturday: Exhibition 9.00 a.m.–5.00 p.m., Globe Theatre Tour: 9.30 a.m.–12.30 p.m.
Sundays: Exhibition 9.00 a.m.–5.30 p.m., Globe Theatre Tour: 9.30 a.m.–11.30 a.m.
21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DT. Tel. +44 (0)20 7401 9919
Follow this link for Info


Celebrate the bicentenary of London’s most prolific author. It’s two hundred years since the birth of London’s greatest storyteller, Charles Dickens, and Britain pays homage to his legacy with a range of walks, talks, plays and exhibitions. Don’t miss the Dickens & London exhibition. Entry to Dickens and London is by timed ticket only. Pre-book your ticket and arrive early. Adult £8 (£7 advance booking), child/concession £6 (£5 advance booking), under 5s free. Book online here

Follow this link for further info.
The Museum of London itself is open every day, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., admission free. It presents the history of London from prehistoric times to the present day.

Museum of London, 150 London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN. Tel. +44 (0)20 7001 9844

Barbican's thirtieth anniversary

Europe’s leading contemporary arts space turns thirty. The Barbican is regarded as the most pioneering contemporary arts centre in Europe, a multi-arts venue that runs a daily programme of art, music, theatre, dance, film and educational events. The London Symphony Orchestra are based here. Click here for further info. We recommend booking ahead, many events are sold out even a month before performance date.

Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS. Tel. +44 (0)20 7638 4141

Diamond Jubilee

Long live the Queen! Queen Elizabeth II vies only with Queen Victoria as Britain’s longest reigning monarch. Her unerring devotion and patriotism fascinate everyone from royalists to photographers and everyday citizens. In celebration of her 60 years of rule, Britain gains a 4-day bank holiday falling over the Jubilee weekend (2th-5th June) with a host of scintillating events and spectacles planned.

The Big Jubilee Lunch

Dine in royal style. Britain will be feasting on Sunday, 3rd June as the nation dines together for The Big Lunch. The ultimate spot to savour this is The Ritz London - the only hotel to be granted a Royal Warrant, the destination the Queen herself chose to celebrate her 80th birthday at, and positioned just around the corner from Buckingham Palace and Clarence House. Expect a dedicated Beef Wellington station and dramatic seafood ice sculptures against a backdrop of the day’s events, alongside a commemorative souvenir menu, champagne toast and exclusive limited edition keepsake from the Highgrove collection. The Diamond Jubilee Brunch taking place here on 5th June continues the celebrations with signature dishes and live screenings of the Royal Carriage Procession. Book online here.

The Ritz London, 150 Piccadilly, London W1J 9BR. Tel. +44 (0)20 7965 0195

The Queen: Art and Image

Sixty portraits for sixty years, until 21 October 2012. View Elizabeth II through the eyes of Lucian Freud, Annie Leibovitz, Andy Warhol et al. In celebration of her 60-year rule, sixty of the Queen’s most iconic portraits – from official sittings to media images and artist’s responses – are shown.

Adults £6, senior citizens £5.50, concessions £5, children under 12 free. Advance booking recommended particularly at weekends. By phone daily 9.00 a.m.–5 p.m., +44 (0)20 7766 7344. Book online here.

The National Portrait Gallery itself is open free of charge, every day, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. Info here.

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE. Tel. +44 (0)20 7306 0055

V&A Museum: ballgowns and British design

Ballgowns, British glamour since 1950, presents over 60 designs created for society events. It runs until 6 January 2013.

British Design 1948-2012 presents innovation in the modern age, with over 300 objects that represent significant moments in British design. This show runs until 12 August 2012. Adults £13.50. Prior booking recommended.

Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL. Tel. +44 (0)20 7942 2000

Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant

The largest flotilla known to modern-day London cruises down The Thames on 3rd June – comprised of over a thousand vessels, in addition to 30,000 flag-waving members of the public in this jawdropping spectacle attended by The Queen. The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the Royal Family, will travel in a Royal Barge as a centrepiece of the flotilla.

You can view the pageant from the banks of the river or from one of the 47 large viewing screens nearby, at Chelsea Embankment, Grosvenor Road, Milbank, Lambeth Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Victoria Embankment, and Blackfriars Bridge.
The flotilla will be at Battersea Bridge at 2.30 p.m., and will move towards Tower Bridge, where it will arrive at about 4 p.m.
Spectators can also view the Avenue of Sail, a mile long stretch downstream of London Bridge where vessels too large to travel with the rest of the flotilla will be moored from Friday 1 June until Monday 4 June. Click here for more information on the Ave of Sail.

London 2012 festival

Get ready for a mind-blowing month. In celebration of 2012, the Olympics, London and all that is great and good about this world culture capital, an unprecedented programme of exhibitions, performances, shows and events takes over the metropolis from 21th June–9th September. Totally immersive and utterly interactive, prepare to be dazzled, awed and educated by the London 2012 Festival.

Poetry Parnassus

Poets from all over the world will be at Southbank Centre. OIver 100 free events, activities and workshops happening every day throughout the festival. The world’s most exciting poets, rappers, spoken word artists, singers and storytellers are gathering for this huge event that will make history as the largest poetry festival ever staged in the UK. Further information here.

Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX. 

BT River of Music

This festival of music takes place on six stages at different locations on the Thames, with artists representing all Olympic and Paralympic nations. Book online here

Big Dance

This is the largest dance celebration in the UK. Thousands of events will take place all over the country, and in particular as part of the London 2012 Festival. Click here for performance info.

Damon Albarn's Dr. Dee - until 7 July 2012

Damon Albarn does opera with Dr Dee at the London Coliseum. Doctor Dee was the quintessential Renaissance Man, a key advisor to Elizabeth I, and responsible for much of the intelligence which shaped ‘the British Empire’. Dee also dabbled in the occult and in the end, this destroyed him. He died discredited and penniless. In this performance, he is bought to life by composer and musician Damon Albarn,. Albarn’s music is performed live on-stage, with contemporary orchestral music played on 16th-century period instruments. Book online here 

English National Ballet

The English National Ballet is a remarkable institution, whose objective is to bring top-quality ballet to audiences at affordable prices. The company comprises 67 dancers and a full orchestra. They perform in various venues, including the Royal Albert Hall. Further info here.

Royal Opera House on a barge: 28 July 2012

Monty Python frontman Terry Jones stages The Owl and the Pussycat on a barge, which will sail along the River Thames from Brentford to East LondonLondon’s canals. Information is not yet available, but take a look at, where you will find information of a whole series of performances this season.

Visit a Gallery

Damien Hirst at Tate Modern, until 9 September 2012

Damien Hirst has his first major UK survey at the Tate Modern. £ 14. Purchase tickets here.
Tate Modern is open 10.00 a.m.–6.00 p.m., Sunday–Thursday, last admission to special exhibitions is at 5.15 p.m.; open 10.00 a.m.–10.00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, last admission to special exhibitions is at 9.15 p.m. The Damien Hirst exhibition is open until 10.00 p.m.every Sunday.

Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG

Yoko Ono lands at the Serpentine, 19 June-9 September 2012

To the Light is the name of the exhibition deicated to artist Yoko Ono, with new installations, films and performances, as well as archive material. The Serpentine Gallery is open every day, 10.00 a.m.-6 p.m., admission free.
Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA. Click here for info 

Whitechapel Gallery

This gallery has a programme that includes a new frieze on the exterior, by Rachel Whiteread, and other shows that include Gillian Wearing, Artists' Film Internatiohnal, The Bloomberg Commission, the Government Art Collection, Social Sculpture and more. Some exhibitions require an admission fee, others are free of charge. See

Open Tuesday-Sunday 11.00 a.m.-6.00 p.m., open until 9.00 p.m. on Thursdays. Closed on Mondays.

Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX

Witness a spectacle

Fringe Street, it’s a clash of the titans on London’s streets, 15-17 July

Lords of Lightning sees two gladiators wrestle four million volts of electricity. This is part of the Lovebox Festival in Victoria Park from 15 to 17 July 2012. The Lords of Lightning head the bill, but there are many other attractions, such as the Gaymers Cider and Music Bar, with bands The Correspondents, lo-fi dance trio Is Tropical, AlgoRythmiK, Reeps One, MC Xander, and the Drum Along Disco. Tickets and info from

Close Act: Saurus will see the biggest beasts that ever walked the earth charge through the crowds with a deafening roar. We will post info when we find it!

August: The Olympic and Paralympic Games

It’s the moment the world’s been waiting for.... London enters the history books as the first city outside Athens to host the Olympic Games three times. Long before and after the official dates between 27th July – 12th August, the capital will be sporting crazy, but getting in on the action isn’t purely limited to attending the ticketed events – here are the surest bets toward assuming pole position throughout the games... For information on programme and how to attend Olympics and Paralympics events, see

Spectator Sports

Whether you’ve secured tickets to the opening ceremony or the wrestling, spectating isn’t solely limited to the ticketed events. The Women’s and Men’s Marathons (5th and 12th August, respectively) will weave from The Mall through iconic locations such as St James’s Park, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and the Houses of Parliament. Alongside this momentous run, the race walks, road cycling and time trials are free to view, as competitors power past the capital’s most iconic landmarks. Finally, during one of the Olympics’ most testing events - the triathlon - the cycle route veers beyond Hyde Park and into public view – enjoy!

The Olympic Park

The two and a half kilometre Olympic Park is a veritable pleasure garden, incorporating artist sculptures, poetry installations, breathtaking horticulture and even a floating cinema that will cruise through the waterways between the host boroughs. Click here for an interactive map

2012 Games River Tour Service

Without doubt the capital’s most pleasurable trajectory to travel, The Thames knocks London’s underground and busy streets to the curb, and this season a specialist service sees routes between Greenwich, Westminster and the London Eye extended.
For river transport info, see
For cruises on the Thames, see


This month hosts London’s most influential events. September in London is an aesthete’s paradise – this is when the spring/summer fashion collections debut and the London Design Festival takes over the capital. While the celebrations and events of London 2012 continue to dominate September, they are joined by stalwarts of the social season, ushering in an inspirational month.

London Design Festival

In celebration of future and form. With its hub at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the London Design Festival (15-23 September) takes over the capital with its always colourful and unceasingly inventive range of talks, walks, events and exhibitions. Running from East to West, highlights among the week and its satellite displays include the Designer’s Block Exhibition. Info at

London Fashion Week

Sartorial inspiration for the fashion pack and beyond. Sitting beautifully from its base at Somerset House, the historic setting provides a suitably epic backdrop to sensational fashion from the world’s top designers including Burberry Prorsum, Matthew Williamson, Paul Smith and Vivienne Westwood, as well as world class emerging talent, as the capital erupts in parties and the beautiful people descend.

Info here 

At other times, Somerset House is open for visits, but we particularly recommend the guided tours, on Thursdays at 1.15 p.m., and Saturdays at 12.15, 1.15, 2.15 and 3.15 p.m. It looks at Tudor intrigue, Georgian Enlightenment, scientific curiosity, naval power, and interiors that range from the graceful staircases to the evocative Deadhouse. Tickets available free of charge, from 10.30 a.m.

The show "Kokoro: The Art of Horiyoshi III" is running until 1 July 2012. In summer this year, a series of fountains provide an interesting and refreshing surprise.

Somerset House is open 10.00 a.m.-6 p.m. Further info:

Somerset House Trust - Strand London WC2R 1LA

The Proms

Singing for England. The Proms at the Royal Albert Hall run from 13 July to Saturday 8 September – the last night of this event is among the bastions of the Social Season. A highly glamorous affair filled with music, spirit and cheer, it’s a true once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
Tickets from
Info here 

Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP. Tel. +44 (0)20 7589 8212

Read more:
London does it again, the third Olympics
London city guide