All Articles 11 things to do in London this summer

11 things to do in London this summer

From Shakespeare under the stars to music-filled street festivals and more.

People having a picnic at Parliament Square and St Margaret's church
Image: Maremagnum / Getty Images
Amelia Ang
By Amelia Ang17 Jun 2024 5 minutes read

England is often thought of as gloomy and dreary, but spend a summer in London and you’ll change your mind. London’s summers bring mild weather and sunny skies.

Spend the extra hours of daylight lazing around Hyde Park or flitting across the city’s jam-packed summer festivals. As summertime draws to a close in August, expect a surge of outdoor activities as Londoners enjoy their last hurrah.

Temperatures range from 59°F to 73°F, so pack a mix of summer dresses, shorts, and a cardigan or light jacket for nights out. Prepare for occasional showers, too, with a lightweight, waterproof jacket on your adventures.

Let’s get started on the best ways to take full advantage of summertime in London.

1. Join London’s biggest street party

Notting Hill Carnival in London
Image: Gabs / Tripadvisor

Every year, on the last weekend of August, the streets of Notting Hill burst into a vibrant sea of colors. The Notting Hill Carnival is one of the world’s largest street festivals and celebrates Caribbean culture in a multi-sensory display. Feast your eyes on the carnival’s elaborate floats and lively performers and move your feet to the pounding rhythms of steel bands and calypso music. The delectable smell of grilled meat and spices will make your mouth water, so come with an empty stomach to have your fill of traditional Caribbean dishes like jerk chicken, mutton curry, and corn.

2. Swimming and boating in the Serpentine

Swim in the Serpentine
Image: Kathyfitchett / Tripadvisor

Summer is one of the rare times you can swim in London without feeling like you’re about to turn into an icicle. Make the most of it by taking a dip in the Serpentine Lido, London’s most iconic open water “pool.” The man-made lake in Hyde Park opens for swimmers from May through September. If you prefer to stay dry, hop onto a pedal boat and sail alongside the swans, ducks, and geese.

Travelers say: A highlight of a visit to Hyde Park. Renting a row boat or pedal boat on a sunny Summer afternoon is one of the iconic aspects of visiting London. Even if not on the water, a stroll along its shore taking in the scenery is quite rewarding. --@TravelingSoccerLoon

3. Watch a play at an open-air theater

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Image: Management / Tripadvisor

Surrounded by lush foliage, the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is one of London’s largest theaters. Its season runs for only four months a year, so watching a play at this outdoor landmark is a must if you’re in London between May and September. Catch a matinée or go in the evening to sit under the stars. From classic Shakespearean performances to modern musicals, the theater promises an enjoyable time for adults and children alike.

Speaking of the Bard, you can also visit Shakespeare's Globe Theatre for classical works in the fresh air April through September. The theater, in Southwark along the Thames, is a reproduction of the playhouse where the great author's works were originally presented.

4. Walk the grisly footsteps of Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper tour in London
Image: Management / Tripadvisor

Explore some of London’s oldest—and bloodiest—streets on a warm summer night. While most Jack the Ripper tours run all year long, summer is when you get to truly appreciate the intricate architecture of East London. Plus, without earmuffs, you’ll be able to hear all the bone-chilling details from expert guides loud and clear. History buffs will get a thrill out of this tour that includes "Ripper-Vision," which transports you back to Victorian London for an almost too-immersive time.

Travelers say: I was not expecting this tour (with "Ripper Vision") to be anything different than a basic walking tour, but this exceeded my expectations. Our tour guide was phenomenal! So knowledgeable with actual family ties to the murders. I took many tours while in London, and this one was by far the best. --@James F

5. Drink. All. The. Beer.

A bartender pouring a pint of craft beer
Image: Mojor Zhu / Unsplash

Word of caution: Skip the pre-drinks for the London Craft Beer Festival. One single ticket will grant you access to all the beer your stomach can hold at this early August event held near the East London's Wapping Docks and its famous pubs. From crisp lagers to barrel-aged stouts, you’ll have your pick from breweries all over the world. Apart from having hundreds of craft beers on tap and plenty of food stalls, the summer festival also welcomes a rocking line-up of musicians.

6. Stay classy at the BBC Proms

Henry Wood Promenade Concerts in London
Image: Ian C / Triapdvisor

The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, known affectionately as the BBC Proms, is an annual music festival that runs for eight weeks throughout the summer. The classical music festival invites the world’s leading orchestras, musicians, and conductors to London’s Royal Albert Hall and Cadogan Hall for a series of first-class performances. Thankfully, you won’t need to score a date for these Proms—all you’ll need is an appreciation for music.

7. Breeze past London’s top sites

Cruise down the Thames River in London
Image: Management / Tripadvisor

Escape the summer heat with a leisurely cruise down the Thames River. Feel the wind whip through your hair on the open-air deck as you sail past a string of top London attractions. Admire the majestic Tower of London and the historic Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre while learning more about their stories and secrets from your guide. Need a break from the sun? Retreat into the indoor deck, where you’ll still get to enjoy the panoramic views of London’s iconic skyline.

Travelers say: Been to London numerous times but never done a river cruise. What a find this was. We were lucky with the weather as the sun was shining. The boat crew were brilliant and provided some interesting river information and pointed out key building. Far better than I expected. --@David_PaulaCH

8. Fly your Pride flag high

People waving Rainbow flag at Gay Pride Parade on streets of central London, UK
Image: coldsnowstorm / Getty Images

London Pride falls in the summer, which is when you’ll see the LGBTQIA+ community congregating in London for the U.K.’s biggest Pride March. The fabulously colorful Pride Parade typically weaves through central London, brightening the streets with a fleet of floats, dancers, and musicians.

Drop by Trafalgar Square to immerse yourself in the heart of the Pride in London festivities, where you’ll find live performances, workshops, and more. When night falls, dress up and check out one of the many after-parties across London—you’ll probably have the best luck in Soho.

9. Turn movie night into a cinematic event

Rooftop Film Club in London
Image: Management / Tripadvisor

In the summer, screens pop up all over London’s rooftops and parks.

Take to the skies with the Rooftop Film Club—we guarantee any movie will be a hit when there are city skylines, glorious sunsets, and starlit evenings as backdrops.

Travelers say: We loved it, will definitely be back. The film was great. The staff were all so lovely and helpful. You can order drinks and food from your seat via qr code including some lovely looking cocktails and pizza. All this with a gorgeous view. --@Senga D

10. Get a taste of London at this ultimate outdoor food festival

Regent’s Park Taste of London festival
Image: Oleg P / Tripadvisor

As you take a summer stroll through Regent’s Park and admire the seasonal blooms, don’t be surprised if floral scents are soon overtaken by savory aromas. Every summer, Regent’s Park plays host to the Taste of London festival, where you’ll find masterclasses, live demonstrations by leading chefs, and an array of stalls serving up signature dishes from London’s top restaurants. Cap off your meal with a pint from any of the festival’s bars.

11. Discover London from up above

View from the London Eye
Image: Samaq / Tripadvisor

Admire the unparalleled 360-degree view of London’s cityscape as you rise up over the Thames aboard the London Eye. Summer’s clear weather doesn’t just make for prime selfie opportunities—the lack of clouds or fog will ensure you’ll see all the way to Windsor Castle. Of course, being the U.K.’s most popular paid attraction, you’ll bump into plenty of other tourists clamoring for a spot on the Eye. Speed things up with a fast-track ticket that will have you up in the air in a jiffy.

Travelers say: I highly recommend catching the last ride possible. I managed amazing fotos of dramatic clouds and sky. (The London Eye) is a must in London. --@Sandra B

Amelia Ang
Amelia is a writer and traveler based in Singapore. Some of her favorite cities include Tokyo, New York, and Taipei. Amelia is fluent in English, Chinese, basic Korean, and intermediate Japanese.