In spring and summer, London is the cultural capital of planet earth. It will house everything from major sporting events like Wimbledon to the best cultural events off the beaten path. Been to Chelsea flower show? Go to Columbia Road flower market instead. Done the Proms? Check out Wigmore Hall. Been to all the museums? No you haven’t – there are nearly 300. Tired of London, tired of life.
For five days each May, the Royal Hospital Chelsea’s gardens burst into bloom. The most famous flower show in the world, the displays at Chelsea are rather like the catwalks at Milan Fashion Week: the place to spot trends before anyone else. The sheer variety will open your eyes, and your nostrils. Expect to see the components of the quintessential English country garden, as well as more avant-garde horticulture from around the world. Tickets are hard to come by, but if you can't get inside, just take a stroll down the King’s Road – the floral extravaganza spills over into the local community. If you do manage to get one, be sure to be on your best behaviour – Her Majesty the Queen is a regular. From 23-27 May 2017.
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Dozens of classical concerts, in the Royal Albert Hall and other venues around London, make up this festival, which runs from July to September. Festivities culminate in the famous Last Night of the Proms, where thousands of Brits, and millions more watching on TV, join in patriotic sing-alongs. In recent years the programme has become more diverse, incorporating modern music and special shows for children. From 14 July-9 September 2017 .
Info and tickets from http://www.bbc.co.uk/
The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea’s smart streets are heaven for museum junkies. As well as the nearby Natural History and Science Museums, check out the Victoria & Albert, named after Britain’s now second-longest serving monarch and her beloved husband. The main collection is vast, and 2017’s special exhibitions are strikingly diverse: photography, crafts in the Punjab, and Pink Floyd. Through spring/summer .
Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL
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Nestled on the banks of the Thames between Westminster and Chelsea, Tate Britain is the home of British art, with works from 1500 to the present day. Check out the huge collection of works by early 19th century landscapist JMW Turner. This spring, don’t miss the biggest ever exhibition of the work of David Hockney, one of the most influential British artists of the last century. From 9 February - 29 May 2017.
The auditorium in Covent Garden is one of the most spectacular places in the world to watch opera. The third building on its site since its formation in 1732 because of two 19th century fires, the interior was recently revamped for the 21st century. Highlights in 2017 include Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in the spring, and Mozart’s Mitridate, Re di Ponto in the summer. Through spring/summer .
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It’s a few miles out of central London, but the beautifully landscaped gardens will make you feel like you’re out in the Home Counties. Less crowded than more central galleries, the collection here is spectacular, with one of Britain’s best sets of Old Masters – look out for Canaletto, Rubens, Rembrandt, Poussin. British artists found here include Constable, Gainsborough and Hogarth. Sir John Soane designed the stunning building, which is illuminated by natural light. He’s a legendary architect whose main legacy is an eponymous museum in Holborn. His Dulwich gallery celebrates its bicentenary this year with a series of special exhibitions, so take your time, and bring a picnic if it’s sunny. Through spring/summer.
For more of London's top events and attractions, view our destination guide.