Summer in the capital: the main cultural events in the open air

14.06.2024Настя Константинова

The London summer season is filled with music concerts, film screenings and theater productions, and the best part is that many of them take place outdoors. "ZIMA" has put together a great cultural guide to the capital's opener events that you can't miss this summer.


Regent’s Park Open Air Theater

When: from June 15 to September 21
Details and tickets at link .

One of the main spots on the map of “summer London” has long been the open-air theater in Regent’s Park. It was founded back in 1932 and since then it has hosted up to 140,000 spectators annually, being one of the largest in the city.

This year the theater’s repertoire includes the premiere of the musical “The Mysterious Garden” based on the novel of the same name by the Anglo-American writer Frances Burnett. The stage will unfold the story of a ten-year-old girl, Mary, who, orphaned after a cholera outbreak in British India, is forced to live with her uncle in the UK. In the grounds of his gloomy estate, she discovers a garden – as “lost and rejected” as Mary herself. As she begins to tend the garden, not only does it “blossom” but the girl herself. Screenings will begin in mid-June and run for a month.

Following “The Mysterious Garden” the theater will present another interesting project, the action of which takes place in Anatevka – a small village in the Kiev region – at the beginning of the XX century. “Fiddler on the Roof” is one of Broadway’s most famous musicals, created back in 1964 and based on a short story by Jewish writer Sholom Aleichem, about Jewish life in right-bank Ukraine. By the way, the play got its name in honor of Marc Chagall’s painting “The Fiddler.”

Chiswick House and Gardens

When: until August 21
Show schedule and tickets at link .

Chizik Manor is an elegant Italianate-style villa with landscaped gardens and sculptures in southwest London, built in 1738. Since 2010, the estate has been a cultural venue for various summer events, from gardening workshops to wine tastings and music and theater openings.

This year there will be several performances for young audiences. During June there will be a tour of the traditional English circus Giffords – the company will present a fascinating show-trip into the world of the mythical island of Avalon with an international cast of acrobats, clowns, magicians and musicians.

Chizik will also put on plays based on classic English fairy tales. On July 31, Quantum Theatre Company will present “The Tale of Jemima Dive-in-the-Puddle,” about a duckling who lives on a farm and dreams of having ducklings, based on a story by writer Beatrix Potter. On August 21, they will show a “family musical” based on Hugh Lofting’s book about Dr. Doolittle, who discovers he has the ability to talk to animals.

Shakespeare in the Squares

When: until July 12
Details on locations and tickets at link .

One of the most unusual theatrical events in our selection is the seventh in a series of annual street performances from touring theater company Shakespeare in the Squares, scattered throughout London and based on texts by the English classic. This year’s tour will open with a production of All’s Well That Ends Well at Leicester Square Gardens. Screenings will take place in all the city’s major garden squares, from Kensington to Camden to Greenwich.

Shakespearean comedy belongs to the cycle of “problem plays” of the playwright and tells about the difficulties of moral choice: commoner Elena and Count Bertman experience mutual sympathy, but the fear of unequal marriage becomes a barrier to their feelings. The Shakespeare in the Squares troupe’s adaptation of the play transforms the production into an exciting journey through France and Italy, filled with colorful parades and the rhythms of jazz manouche (gypsy jazz).

A nice bonus: you can come to the event with your own picnic basket and wine.

Theatre on Kew

When: July 20 to September 1
To purchase tickets, please go to link .

The Royal Botanic Gardens in the Richmond district of west London organize a series of annual opener events – classical music concerts, screenings of the best new films and modern adaptations of classic dramas.

This year’s Theatre on Kew festival will feature Melbourne-based theater studio The Australian Shakespeare Company. At dusk, surrounded by the exotic plants of the botanical oasis, the troupe will present “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, as consonant with the summer season as possible. This is one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies, the action of which will take the audience to ancient Greece – they will witness the wedding commotion on the occasion of the union of Theseus and Hippolyta.

In addition, the Australian team of artists has prepared a production for young audiences: they will be treated to a unique immersive show based on Kenneth Graham’s fabulous story “The Wind in the Willows” about the life and adventures of four forest friends.

Shakespeare’s Globe

When: from May 31
To view the schedule and purchase tickets, please go to link .

In fact, the Globe Theater, located on the south bank of the Thames, serves as a year-round open-air venue – there is no ceiling over the famous circular stage, and plays are played regardless of weather conditions. However, the most enjoyable and popular time for audiences to visit this theater is definitely summer. Incidentally, in addition to the lack of a roof, there is also no artificial lighting, no parterre seating or microphones on stage, and all plays are performed in an uncut version.

On the stage of the theater are already in full swing shows of “Richard III” – the main role of the brutal usurper of power in the play performs actress Michelle Terry (she is also the artistic director of the Globe). Overall, the predominantly female cast presents the play’s gender politics from a slightly different angle, allowing strong statements about discrimination and demeaning women.

Also worth a look is The Comedy of Errors, one of Shakespeare’s earliest and shortest plays, more like a farce with elements of buffoonery, puns and wordplay. Here the unity of time and place is observed – all the action covers only one day and takes place in one city. Two pairs of twins, once separated, find each other in the comedy’s finale. But before giving them the joy of this meeting, fate makes everyone go through a series of tests, sometimes funny and sometimes dramatic.


Rooftop Film Club

When: until July 31
Full schedule and tickets at link .

Rooftop Film Club is offering two locations this year for outdoor movie screenings with beautiful views of the London sunset – in the Stratford and Peckham areas. Movie theaters are equipped with cushioned chaise lounges for one or two people, as well as premium seating in the front rows. Customers are also offered personalized anti-noise headphones and plaids. There are cocktail bars within the movie theaters, as well as food courts with a wide variety of choices for dining.

Movie nights run daily through the end of July. This summer season’s program includes both festival hits of recent years and recognized classics. For example, if you want to fill in the gaps in the novelties of cinematography for the last year, it is worth paying attention to the movie of American-Korean director Celine Song “Past Lives” – a poetic story about “unrequited love” of two childhood friends. Meeting 20 years after their separation, adults Nora and Hae-sung wonder how their “past” lives might have turned out if they had stayed together. The film received several nominations at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival, as well as an Oscar nomination for “best original screenplay.”

In addition, Stratford and Peckham cinemas will be screening the classic “London” love story “Notting Hill” starring Julia Roberts, as well as all parts of Potteriana and Disney animation.

Summer Screen in Vauxhall

When: July 9 to July 30
Details and tickets at link .

Vauxhall Urban Gardens in south London will host several free movie screenings throughout July. The outdoor festival will open July 9 with the Oscar-winning Disney animated film “Encanto,” which is based on real-life events from Colombia’s civil war. Next up, on July 16, is a screening of one of last year’s top films, the feminist film “Barbie” starring Margot Robbie. The festival will conclude with the 2001 musical “Moulin Rouge,” which won two Academy Awards. Australian actress Nicole Kidman appeared as Satine, the star of the famous cabaret.

During the movie screenings there will be several gastronomic points with cuisines from all over the world – visitors will have an opportunity to try Mexican tacos, Caribbean curry, Peking duck burger, and so on.

Osterley Park and House Cinema

When: August 8 to 11
You can buy tickets at link .

The Georgian estate of Osterley Park in the west of the British capital hosts several screenings of world cinema classics each year. The calling card of the Osterley Opener is live music concerts featuring tunes from the movies selected for the screenings. This season’s movie and musical show includes “Pretty Woman,” the musicals “Mamma Mia” and “The Greatest Showman,” and the 1985 cult science fiction film “Back to the Future.” This summer in Osterley you can not only refresh your memory of world-favorite movies, but also listen to, for example, the famous compositions of ABBA performed by an orchestra under the stars.

Live at the Scoop

When: before September 1
Schedule and tickets at link .

As part of the city’s Summer by the River program, free film screenings are held every Tuesday on the Thames River Embankment at The Scoop at More London, a 1,000-seat open-air amphitheater. In addition to the acclaimed “Barbie,” the program features plenty of entertaining content for kids: Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” “Wonka,” “Lego. The Movie.”

As a note to sports fans, The Scoop amphitheater will also be broadcasting soccer matches from the European Football Championship and the Wimbledon tennis tournament.

Barbican Outdoor Cinema

When: August 21 to September 1
To purchase tickets, go to link .

The Barbican Center won’t be short of summer movie screenings either – the Sculpture Court space will showcase several gems of world cinema during the last week of August. The program will open with Wes Anderson’s cult film-farce “Grand Hotel Budapest” starring Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton (the screening is timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the film’s premiere in the UK). The Barbican will also show “Strawberry Glade” by Swedish film classic Ingmar Bergman, who, by the way, was especially admired by Andrei Tarkovsky. Of course, we should also mention the screening of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” – also a classic love story of Joel and Clementine performed by the duo of Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet.

Everyman on the Canal

When: July 1 to August 18
Schedule and tickets at link .

Everyman Cinema chain opens several pop-up outdoor spaces in and around the British capital every summer. This year, the location for this year’s open-air film screenings in London has been chosen as the Canal at Granary Square in King’s Cross. Every day for six weeks, the theater will show three or four pictures each day (as well as broadcasting the Wimbledon tournament). In the afternoon, you can have a family viewing party (the program includes everything from Disney’s “old school” to Potteriana, The Hunger Games and The Chronicles of Narnia). A very diverse program is also planned for the evening screenings – such as the iconic “Casablanca” and “Singin’ in the Rain” as well as the new, second part of “Dune” with Timothee Chalamet.


Kew the Music

When: July 9 to July 14
Full list of performers and tickets at link .

As well as theater productions, the Royal Botanic Gardens will host a series of musical concerts from some of the UK’s leading contemporary artists. The festival will open with a performance by singer Mika – back in 2007, the BBC called him “the major breakthrough of the year”. The musician composes compositions in the glam-pop genre. The main event of the festival will be the concert of musician Passenger, famous for his collaboration with Ed Sheeran in the song Let her go, which topped the music charts in 19 countries in 2012.

Jazz on the Lawn

When: Aug. 2 and 3
Details and tickets here. .

Jazz on the Lawn, a two-day jazz music festival, will take place on the Fulham Estate in south London in early August. The event is organized by London jazz club-restaurant 606 Club. On the first night, a duo – one of the UK’s premier saxophonists, Derek Nash, and performer Noel Mccalla – will perform for guests. The artists came up with their joint show as a tribute to Stevie Wonder, an American musician, composer and soul singer who made a huge contribution to the music industry of the last century. The second night will feature a concert by The New Orleans Clarinet, a jazz quintet coming to England from New Orleans, which is considered the birthplace of jazz as a distinct musical genre.

A food court and bar will be open at Fulham Palace during the festival, but visitors are also welcome to bring their own drinks and picnic baskets.

Battersea Park in Concert

When: August 24 to 26
Booking tickets at link .

On the final, long weekend of the summer, Battersea Park will host a three-day festival of music from a variety of genres. On Friday, August 24, there will be a classical music show featuring compositions ranging from Mozart and Bach to Tchaikovsky performed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert. The Alex Mandham Jazz Orchestra will also present its Great Gatsby-inspired show that day. The following day, festival guests will be able to take part in a musical journey through the main compositions of iconic West End musicals – from Mary Poppins to Back to the Future – also performed by the Philharmonic Orchestra. On August 26, one of the most famous British jazz groups Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra will perform on stage at the end of the festival – the ensemble will present the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder.

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