The Queen at 90

The second weekend in June is going to be an exciting time in London because we’ll be celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Special events are taking place all weekend starting with a National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday 10 June. The public are not allowed to enter the cathedral for the service but we should be able to see the Queen enter from the street.

The rest of the weekend is taken up with the annual Trooping the Colour parade on Saturday 11 June which is free to watch along The Mall. And on Sunday 12 June there’s The Patron’s Lunch, London’s largest ever street party also happening along The Mall. While tickets are not available there are Live Sites in Green Park and St James’s Park which are free so we can all watch on large screens and enjoy a festival atmosphere.

Changing of the Guard

© visitlondonimages/ britainonview/ Pawel Libera


New Tate Modern

On 17 June 2016 the new Tate Modern opens with a complete re-hang, bringing together much-loved works from the collection with 75% new acquisitions made for the nation since Tate Modern first opened in 2000. The most recent work to join the collection will take centre stage in the Turbine Hall: a huge sculpture of a tree almost seven metres tall, created by acclaimed artist Ai Weiwei.

The world’s most popular gallery of modern art will be even more international, diverse and engaging, with works by over 300 artists from around the world displayed across the existing Boiler House and the new Switch House – the most important new cultural building in Britain for almost 20 years, adding 60% more display space.

For the opening weekend the gallery is staying open until 10pm as there are lots of special events planned including music and free screenings. And for the first three weeks there is a free programme of performance-based works (17 June-3 July) including Tino Sehgal’s gallery attendants bursting into song.

New Tate Modern

The new Tate Modern © Hayes Davidson and Herzog & de Meuron


Bhupen Khakhar

Another reason to visit Tate Modern is to see the first international retrospective of Indian artist Bhupen Khakhar (1934-2003) since his death. Opening on 1 June (and on until 6 November 2016) the exhibition looks at his vibrant palette, unique style and bold examination of class and sexuality across five decades.

Khakhar combined popular and painterly aesthetics, international influences and provocative subjects. He played a central role in modern Indian art but was also a key international figure in 20th century painting.


Shakespeare’s Southwark

In this 400th year since Shakespeare’s death we are celebrating the Bard all year.

Shakespeare knew this part of London well and this month you can join guides from Southwark Cathedral on revealing walking tours of Bankside and the Southwark church that he and his actor friends knew.

The Cathedral itself has many Shakespeare links and was known to the Bard as St Saviour’s parish church. You’ll visit the site of the original Globe Theatre and see the replica Globe too while walking along riverside streets trod by Shakespeare and see the ruins of a grand medieval palace he would have known very well.



Barbican Theatre

Another Shakespeare 400 event, The Shadow King is at the Barbican Theatre from 22 June to 2 July 2016.

Shakespeare’s King Lear is reimagined by Malthouse Theatre, Australia’s foremost Indigenous actors, transporting the story to the resource-laden terrain of northern Australia. The Shadow King is a blood-soaked tale of two Indigenous families divided by land, identity and legitimacy.

Told through modern English, Kriol languages and a score, including Aboriginal ‘dreamtime’ songs, performed live by an onstage band, The Shadow King fuses music, new text and video to create provocative and epic theatre.



Also at the Barbican Theatre this month ( 9–18 June) is Phaedra(s). Embodying one of Greek mythology’s most enigmatic characters, French screen and stage actress Isabelle Huppert makes a rare London appearance to play Phaedra, her story relocated to a modern world.

This new production is directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski, Artistic Director of Warsaw’s Nowy Teatr, and is based on the provocative text of Sarah Kane’s Phaedra’s Love and incorporates extracts from J M Coetzee’s novel Elizabeth Costello.


The Alchemist

More interesting theatre this month, The Rose Playhouse has The Alchemist by Ben Jonson on from 7 to 30 June 2016.

Ben Jonson published a Folio edition of his works in 1616 making this the 400th anniversary year of this witty farce.

When the wealthy Lovewit leaves disease-ridden London he expects his butler, Jeremy, to look after his home. But Jeremy links up with two fellow swindlers and they try everything to get rich quick yet constantly looking over their shoulder in case Lovewit returns.

The Alchemist


My Family: Not the Sitcom

Comedian David Baddiel is at the Menier Chocolate Factory with My Family: Not the Sitcom – on until 25 June. It’s a totally disrespectful celebration of the lives of his mum and dad, and tackles the taboo subjects of ageing, infidelity and gay cats.

It’s a reminder that just because a family member has died we can talk about the reality of their lives and it’s not always positive. In fact remembering the weird times and their flaws can be a good thing too.

Screenshot 2016-05-24 at 19.06.46


Spirit Drawings

Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawings is at the Courtauld Gallery from 16 June to 11 September 2016 showcasing a series of automatic ‘spirit drawings’ where the fluid forms and dense rich patterns of the work anticipate the abstraction of early 20th century art.

In the 1860s and 70s, Georgiana Houghton produced a series of largely abstract watercolours. Detailed explanations on the back of the paintings declare that various spirits guided her hand. In 1871 Houghton rented a gallery in Bond Street and presented 155 of these works to a London audience. While the majority of Houghton’s work survives in the Victorian Spiritualists’ Union in Melbourne, up until now her work has been largely unknown beyond a circle of specialists.

Georgiana Houghton - The Eye of God, c. 1862. © Victorian Spiritualists' Union Melbourne, Australia

Georgiana Houghton – The Eye of God, c. 1862. © Victorian Spiritualists’ Union Melbourne, Australia


London Bridge City Summer Festival

Starting on 1 June, and running until 31 October 2016, the London Bridge City Summer Festival is happening riverside between Tower Bridge and London Bridge. There’s free interactive arts and entertainment inspired by fringe festivals around the world.

The London Riviera pop-up food and drink experience is back and there’s a big screen showing all the summer’s sporting events plus cult and classic movies.


Weekend Punk

For the closing weekend of the Design Museum, as it leaves Shad Thames to move to Kensington, there’s a Weekend Punk Festival. On 25 and 26 June there’s two days of creative disruption celebrating of one of London’s most distinctive design movements, with fanzine-making workshops, music, spoken word and other events shaping a fitting last weekend for the museum.

Design Museum Punk Museum


Even More

If you would like even more ideas for this month have a look at the Things to Do in London in June 2016 from Kensington House Hotel, our sister hotel.


Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love is on from 9 July to 29 August 2016. This is the third summer-long Festival of Love features a wide-ranging programme of performances, music, differently-themed weekends, exhibitions and installations across the site.

Waterloo Food Festival is on from 30 June and throughout July and has unique tastings, masterclasses and demonstrations as part of its 2016 Festival.

You can enjoy a Pre-Edinburgh Comedy Festival at the Cutty Sark Studio Theatre from 22 July to 4 August.

And Tate Modern has a Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition on from 6 July to 30 October 2016. This will be the UK’s first large-scale, monographic show of her work for more than twenty years.


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 and contributes to many other publications while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival that of our Queen. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as @AboutLondonLaura.

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