For some wonderful reasons to get out and explore the city this month, the Wellcome Collection has free guided walks available. Nature Wanders are free to join and you can book from 30 June. The walks are on Saturdays 1 and 29 July and Wednesdays 5, 12 and 19 July. All walks are at 3-4.30pm.
Nature is sometimes seen as rural and remote but it is always fascinating to see what beautiful, wild and surprising natural things can be seen in the city. The Nature Wanders aim to encourage us to take a fresh look at what nature means today.
You could also visit the Wellcome Collection to see the Museum of Modern Nature exhibition that opens on 22 June. Why not go for the late night ‘First Fridays’ on 7 July when the museum stays open until 10pm? As well as extended gallery opening hours, there’s music, cocktails and tours of exhibitions.
Trajal Harrell: Hoochie Koochie
What would it look like if the exotic and seductive belly dance-like spectacles of the late 19th century teamed up with your favourite playlist? Or if the voguing ballroom scene of 1960s New York collided with postmodern dance?
Trajal Harrell: Hoochie Koochie is a performance exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery. Harrell’s performances are carefully crafted blends of fact and fiction in which he skilfully mixes the conceptual with the whimsical in an inventive, playful and sassy way. His choreography meshes together ideas and movements from across the globe spanning many cultures and centuries: from Japanese butoh dancing, postmodern and modern dance, to Classical Greek dancing, erotic dancing, voguing and entertainment alongside his signature use of runway movement.
The exhibition, a first of its kind in the UK following a residency at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, features Harrell’s choreography from nearly two decades. This ambitious project presents over 14 of Harrell’s performances in a changing, daily yet continuous programme of live shows and video projections, including dancing by Harrell himself, with the opportunity to weave in and out of the performances.
Performances are every Thursday to Sunday; 20-23 July; 27-30 July; 3-6 August; 10-13 August 2017. Thursday and Friday: 2pm-9pm; Saturday and Sunday: 12pm-6pm. Do note, no filming or photography is allowed in the gallery. Performances includes nudity, as well as some explicit imagery.
You Huggin’ Up The Big Monkey Man
Reggae and Ska founding fathers Toots and the Maytals bring the summer spirit to the Barbican with a performance of classics from their back catalogue on Friday 28 July. Their live shows are renowned for their exuberance, and the audience becomes more than spectator when Toots unleashes his call-and-response routines.
Releasing their first album in the early 60s, Toots and the Maytals quickly established themselves as leading purveyors of the reggae sound, and were pivotal in popularising the genre beyond Jamaica. Their take on the style, drawing on funk, rock, soul and even country was unique, revolutionising not only reggae, but influencing countless others and they have been covered by artists as diverse as The Clash, The Specials and Amy Winehouse.
New Music Biennial
From 7–9 July, Southbank Centre presents an entire weekend of free music, concerts and workshops featuring all 20 pieces of new music from PRS Foundation’s New Music Biennial 2017. Each bite-sized piece, lasting 15 minutes, is performed at least twice enabling audiences to see and hear all the winning compositions across the weekend.
A celebration of new music from the UK’s most talented composers and musicians, the New Music Biennial presents a snapshot of contemporary music in the UK across all genres from classical and chamber opera to jazz, folk, electronic and music for brass band and organ.
New Music Biennial 2017 comprises eleven brand new works from Gavin Bryars, Eliza Carthy, Darkstar, Peter Edwards, Daniel Elms, Mercury Prize-nominated artists GoGo Penguin and Sam Lee, Emily Hall, Simon Holt, Ray Lee and Southbank Centre Associate Artist and BAFTA-nominated Mica Levi alongside nine pre-existing works that have been composed within the last 15 years, including Anna Meredith’s Concerto for Beatboxer and Orchestra, commissioned by Southbank Centre in 2010.
Works are performed in a range of settings across Southbank Centre’s 17-acre site. From outdoor pop-up giant bell towers to a performance on the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden, audiences are invited to discover new music in an interactive way, outside of the traditional concert hall setting.
Alongside the new music are workshops, Q+A sessions with the composers, pop-up performances and a late-night after party show from London-based electronic music duo Darkstar.
Also at Southbank Centre this month, Africa Utopia is on Sunday 16 and Monday 17 July. Returning for the fifth year, Africa Utopia explores what can be learnt and celebrated from modern Africa and the African diaspora.
The festival investigates the arts and culture of one of the world’s most dynamic and fast-changing continents and looks at how Africa can lead the way in thinking about society, community, technology, fashion, gender, faith and activism.
Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle
As part of Prudential RideLondon‘s annual festival of cycling, Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle is on Saturday 29 July. The day offers riders of all ages and abilities the chance to cycle around eight miles of traffic-free, central London roads.
The event enables riders to pass iconic London landmarks including Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Bank of England and again goes south of the river with a loop over Waterloo Bridge, offering stunning views of London.
Seven festival zones offer riders the chance to stop and enjoy a huge range of free bike-based entertainment and to try out many different bike-based activities. Each Festival Zone has secure cycle parking so participants can leave their bicycles safely to enjoy the fun. The seven Festival Zones are at Green Park, Aldwych, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Guildhall Yard, Leadenhall Market, St Paul’s Churchyard and Southbank.
The Festival Zones feature stunt cyclists, Street Velodrome, a mountain bike course, bike polo, Penny Farthing polo, stunt unicyclists, a pedal-powered juice bar, BMX tryout, a pedal-powered quiz, Cycle Scalextrics, the London Bike Market, a jump box ramp show, cycle cinema, drumming cyclists, a picnic area and much more.
There will be music and entertainment all along the route too with bands, music bikes, stilt bicycles, stagecoaches and Penny Farthings to entertain the riders. Free registration for Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle is now open.
Bruce Nauman is the next artist presented in the Artist Rooms gallery in the Tate Modern Switch House in a free exhibition opening on 24 July 2017. The Artist Rooms gallery is the London hub for showcasing work from the Artist Rooms collection.
Nauman is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and influential American artists working today. His work focuses on perception, spatial relationships, human psychology, and questions about life and death. Since the 1960s, his pioneering exploration of different media has challenged conventions and had a profound impact on a younger generation of artists internationally.
Also, Bruce Nauman’s fascinating and enigmatic sound installation Raw Materials returned to the Turbine Hall in May. It is the first time the work has been shown since it was commissioned for The Unilever Series in 2004. It brings together 22 fragments of speech recorded over 40 years, transmitted from 22 speakers mounted on the walls. Walking through the Turbine Hall you are encouraged to listen rather than look. The tone and rhythm of the voice varies dramatically, from composed to psychotic, imploring to intimidation, ranting to melodic.
Soul of A Nation
Also at Tate Modern this month, Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power opens on 12 July, and runs to 22 October 2017. Spanning the period 1963-83, the exhibition explores how the category ‘Black Art’ was defined, rejected and redefined by artists across the United States.
Most of the works are on display in the UK for the first time and will introduce the UK audience to American artists such as Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, Lorraine O’Grady and Betye Saar, alongside prominent British Guyanese painter Frank Bowling who was resident in New York much of this time.
Beginning with the establishment of Spiral art collective in 1963, the exhibition explores how debate raged among and beyond African American visual artists as to what it meant to make and show art, who it was for and how to relate it to the Civil Rights movement and other campaigns for racial empowerment.
The City is Ours
Opening on 14 July, The City is Ours is the next major, and free, exhibition at the Museum of London. On until 2 January 2018, in this interactive exhibition we can see how and why cities are changing and what urban communities around the world are doing to improve city life.
We can look at what data has to tell us about the urbanisation of our planet in a dramatic visualisation. Get hands-on to explore challenges facing cities around the world, from the use of digital technologies to housing and homelessness. Discover new innovations from social housing in Chile to underground bike storage in Tokyo. Share your opinions and find out about local London initiatives too.
Created by Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris, this interactive dual language exhibition, spread across three of the museum’s galleries, focuses on how urban cities around the world are rapidly evolving, affecting everything from our leisure activities, work life and transport to how we manage urban green spaces and data. It explores the ideas and innovations being developed by urban communities to improve how cities work and people’s experience of living in them.
Voices of the Amazon
Following performances in Moscow, a a passionate dance musical from the heart of Brazil has its UK premiere at Sadler’s Wells this month. With voiceover narration by Jeremy Irons, and performed by 15 dancers, singers and musicians, Voices of the Amazon is on from 4 to 8 July.
Set amidst the Brazilian rainforest, the show follows the story of Beleza: a water spirit from the Amazon whose search to cure her dying sister takes her on a life-changing journey deep into the rainforest.
The show features a sensational musical score, containing sounds recorded from the Amazon Rainforest with music and songs performed in English and Portuguese. Combined with Helen Pickett’s fusion of ballet, contemporary and capoeira, the show aims to highlight the damaging effects of deforestation, the loss of natural medicines and plants, and promises an exhilarating live experience, embracing the true spirit of Brazil.
Arrival of Anne Boleyn
UPDATE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED.
On 29 July you can literally see the arrival of Anne Boleyn at the Tower of London.
In this live performance, it is 1536, and the unthinkable has happened. King Henry VIII’s controversial second wife, Anne Boleyn, will be arriving from Greenwich by Royal Barge. But not in state, but as a prisoner, to await her trial and her execution for treason. This performance is included in palace admission.
If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the Things to Do in London in July 2017 from Kensington House Hotel, our sister hotel.
Gladiator Games is returning to the site of London’s only Roman amphitheatre this August Bank Holiday weekend. From Friday 25 to Monday 28 August, gladiators in full battle dress will enter the arena before packed crowds where the audience will become a big part of the action, taking sides and encouraging the emperor to save or spare each stricken fighter. Tickets are on sale now.
From 1 to 26 August, The Rose Theatre has a production of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Two pairs of lovers find themselves in the midst of a dispute between the King and Queen of the Fairies, a mischievous Puck flies among them with a love potion that causes all manner of high jinks and drama. Meanwhile, cue scripts in hand, Bottom and The Mechanicals, a troupe of amateur actors, are trying to rehearse a play…
English National Ballet brings the world’s greatest love story, Romeo and Juliet, to the Royal Festival Hall on 1-5 August. The production will have Rudolf Nureyev’s inventive and passionate choreography, and Prokofiev’s exhilarating score performed live by the English National Ballet Philharmonic.
Do check out the latest offers as London Bridge Hotel has weekend rates from as low as £99. You can sign up for special offer alerts here. And when you can’t be at the hotel, you can try making the Quarter Bar’s cocktails with these recipes.
Laura Porter writes AboutLondonLaura.com and contributes to many other publications while maintaining an impressive afternoon tea addiction. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.