The sun is out (sporadically) and the temperature is up (well it’s stopped snowing, anyway) – and there’s nothing finer than London in the sunshine.
As one of the largest and greenest capital cities in the world, London has a plethora of expansive green spaces to enjoy – from Hyde Park to Hampstead Heath, from Regent’s Park to Richmond Park – but here we’ll be looking at five of the more unusual spring/summer activities available to London-dwellers.
Whether you’re a film fanatic, an avid theatregoer or an unabashed opera buff, London has you covered – al fresco style.
Deep in the heart of Regent’s Park is an utterly unique theatre, safely hidden from the bustle of city life since 1932. With a sunken amphitheatre with the audience seating arranged in concentric circles around an intimate stage, an undeniably magical atmosphere develops as you watch stories unfold beneath a blanket of stars. Over the next three months, the Open Air Theatre will have an eclectic programme featuring Peter Pan, Henry James’ ghost story The Turn of the Screw, Shakespeare’s As You Like it, and – everyone’s favourite musical about a singing plant that eats people – Little Shop of Horrors.
For those seeking a distinctly sophisticated edge to their outdoor entertainment, Holland Park plays host to a vast covered auditorium with capacity for 1000 opera lovers. Four picnic areas and a bar well-stocked with champagne mean you can enjoy the surroundings in immeasurable style, before a man ringing a bell heralds it’s time to head in and enjoy La Traviata, Cosi fan tutte, Isabeau or Ariadne auf Naxos.
Outdoor cinemas are a wonderful idea, but all too often they don’t quite work – especially when it comes to sound quality, with nearby traffic and ambient noise often drowning out the film and shattering the illusion. Rooftop Film Club solves this problem in two ways: by locating its cinema on top of buildings with spectacular views (and high above the noise of the city), and by handing out wireless headphones that stream crystal-clear sound directly to each audience member. With venues in Peckham, Shoreditch and Stratford and a fantastic selection of old and new films, Rooftop Film Club promises a once in a lifetime (or several times in a summer) cinema experience.
Outdoor gigs are a far more robust experience than outdoor cinema screenings – the noisier, the better. Enclosed within the courtyard of Somerset House, the four walls of this grand 18th century neoclassical masterpiece provide surprisingly good acoustics in a stunning outdoor environment – creating a highly unusual music venue which in 2018 will feature Metronomy, MGMT, De La Soul and The Roots… and many more.
Tucked away at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street – better known as the Walkie-Talkie – is a glass dome that houses three floors of exquisitely sculpted public gardens, and an outdoor terrace that provides unmatched views of the capital. There is a selection of bars and restaurants to enjoy while you’re up there, but entry to the main area is free – so there’s nothing to stop you getting closer to the sun than almost anywhere else in the capital, and watching its golden light sweep across the buildings far below.