Summer by the River
Running from London Bridge to Tower Bridge, the Summer by the River festival brings a whole host of free entertainment all throughout the summer. There’s an English country garden theme and, of course, there’s also a delicious array of food and drink on offer too.
With outdoor cinema and theatre, big screen summer sports (including Wimbledon, Ascot and the cricket), live comedy and music performances, fun family days, fitness classes and a host of events to let your hair down on a Friday, Summer by the River should be a lot of fun.
The daily event programme themes are:
- Monday – Fitness
- Tuesday – Film Night, outdoor cinema
- Wednesday – Comedy
- Thursday – Music
- Friday – FriYay!, all singing all dancing interactive events
- Saturday – Family Day
- Sunday – World Music
Historic Royal Palaces, Hofesh Schechter Company, East London Dance and LIFT are coming together to bring a large-scale spectacle of dance and live music to the moat at the Tower of London. On from 18 to 22 July, East Wall features up and coming choreographers from the local area, and a cast of over 150 dancers, musicians and community participants.
It’s an extraordinary outdoor performance inspired by the communities of east London. From grime to gospel, krump to contemporary – this mashup of old and new embraces east London’s diversity and puts its rich cultural heritage centre stage.
On The Wall
The National Portrait Gallery has Michael Jackson: On the Wall, a landmark exhibition exploring how Michael Jackson has inspired some of the leading names in contemporary art. Since Warhol’s first portrait of him in 1982, he was the focus of the over 40 artists featured in this exhibition.
Curated by Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, this major new exhibition spans several generations of artists across all media. On until 21 October 2018, the timing of the exhibition has been set to coincide with what would have been Michael Jackson’s 60th birthday (on 29 August 2018).
Also at the National Portrait Gallery, the BP Portrait Award brings us the best entries in portrait painting. This 39th competition promises to fulfil its usual high standards and now offers one of the highest value prizes for any global arts competition.
Alan Bennett’s new play, Allelujah!, is on at The Bridge Theatre for 12 weeks from 11 July. As sharp as The History Boys and as funny as The Lady in the Van, it marks the tenth collaboration between Alan Bennett and Nicholas Hytner.
The Beth, an old-fashioned cradle-to-grave hospital serving a town on the edge of the Pennines, is threatened with closure as part of an NHS efficiency drive. Meanwhile, a documentary crew eager to capture its fight for survival follows the daily struggle to find beds on the Dusty Springfield Geriatric Ward, and the triumphs of the old people’s choir (newest member: the Pudsey Nightingale).
Another good reason to go to The Bridge Theatre this month is for An Evening with Graham Nash (the Hollies, Crosby, Stills & Nash) on Sunday 22 July. The evening promises insights into the life of this musician and artist, as well as performances of his chart-topping songs which have become a part of the soundtrack to our lives.
On Saturday 7 July 2018 from 6pm to 6am, Art Night is transforming the Thames riverbank from Southbank Centre through Nine Elms to Battersea. There are new commissions, one-off artist projects and premieres by 12 internationally renowned artists for London’s largest free contemporary arts festival.
This 24-hour series of contemporary art events are taking place across historic sites, iconic landmarks, and secret venues including Battersea Power Station and New Covent Garden Market. Many of the free festival’s works are site-specific and directly engage with the culture and heritage of the area.
The festival is curated by Hayward Gallery, to celebrate its reopening and to coincide with its 50-year anniversary. This year’s Art Night focuses on the themes of the home, as well as gardening and urban produce.
The National Theatre
The story of a family and a company that changed the world, told in three parts on a single evening. The Lehman Trilogy is on at the National Theatre from 4 July to 22 September 2018.
On a cold September morning in 1844 a young man from Bavaria stands on a New York dockside. Dreaming of a new life in the new world, he is joined by his two brothers and an American epic begins. 163 years later, the firm they establish – Lehman Brothers – spectacularly collapses into bankruptcy, and triggers the largest financial crisis in history.
Adam Godley, Ben Miles and Simon Russell Beale play the Lehman brothers, their sons and grandsons. Sam Mendes has returned to the National to direct Ben Power’s English version of Stefano Massini’s vast and poetic play, which has been a success across Europe.
Also at the National Theatre this month is the dark comedy Exit The King.
Somewhere in Europe the kingdom is disintegrating. It’s the last day of King Bérenger’s life. Queen Marguerite is preparing for the end and Queen Marie is in denial. The King is 400 years old and dying, but he’s clinging on for dear life.
On from 17 July to 8 September 2018, the cast includes Rhys Ifans as the King and Indira Varma as his Queen. Exit the King is a Travelex show with hundreds of tickets available at £15 for every performance.
If you prefer your entertainment to be outside of the theatre then you’ll enjoy the River Stage festival weekends outside The National Theatre.
On from 13 July to 12 August, the big red River Stage returns this summer with an exciting and eclectic mix of weekend takeovers. There’s something for everyone including live music, dance, DJs, family workshops, club nights and theatre – and it’s all free.
Join the party atmosphere and get your hands on tasty street food including cheese toasties, wood-fired pizza and gelato ice cream or try local craft beers and summer cocktails.
This month has The Glory (13 – 15 July): East London’s alternative cabaret mecca with DJs and outrageous fun; HOME Manchester (20 – 22 July): An eclectic line-up of the best in contemporary international performance, with dance, theatre and DJs; and Sadler’s Wells (27 – 29 July): Dedicated to dance in all its forms, Sadler’s Wells presents a weekend of choreography, live music and dance workshops.
If you would like even more ideas for this month, do have a look at last month’s recommendations as many are still valid for July too.
Over the August Bank Holiday (25 to 27 August), the Museum of London is joining forces with the Smithfield Market Traders Association (SMTA) and others to put on a large-scale weekend street party of free, public festivities to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the iconic markets at Smithfield. The weekend will be reminiscent of the old St Bartholomew’s Fair and feature food, music, historic re-enactments and much more.
The National Theatre has performances of a new adaptation of Shakespeare’s late romance Pericles on 26, 27, 28 August. A huge company of all ages from across London join together with professional artists to breathe new life into this classic tale in a musical version on the Olivier stage.
And it’s the Notting Hill Carnival on 26 and 27 August 2018. This annual event takes place on the August Bank Holiday weekend and is the largest street festival in Europe. Sunday is Children’s Day and Monday is the Grand Parade. Expect lots of mobile sound systems as the party goes on after the parade passes. Expect big crowds but you can join in by blowing a whistle, eating jerk chicken and dancing in the street.
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.
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