Visit Royal Residences

Every summer, the Queen leaves Buckingham Palace so the State Rooms can be opened to the public. The Palace’s State Rooms predominantly reflect the taste of George IV (r.1820-30), who commissioned the architect John Nash to transform what had previously been known as Buckingham House into a grand palace. There’s a special exhibition each year which gives us an insight into the lives of the British royal family.

To mark the 70th birthday of The Prince of Wales this year, the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace (21 July to 30 September 2018) includes a special display of over 100 works of art personally selected by His Royal Highness.

In the exhibition ‘Prince and Patron’ within the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, a selection of The Prince’s favourite works of art from the Royal Collection are shown alongside works created by young artists supported by three of His Royal Highness’s charities – The Royal Drawing School, The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts and Turquoise Mountain.

Prince and Patron - Buckingham Palace 2018

Credit: Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018


Also open to visitors this month is one of the last remaining aristocratic townhouses in London, Clarence House, the official residence of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall.

Built by John Nash in 1825-27 for George III’s third son, the Duke of Clarence, and previously home to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother for almost five decades, Clarence House is open to visitors each August.

The arrangement of the rooms and the groupings of their contents remain much as they were in Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s time, with important works from Her Majesty’s collection of art in their original positions. A tour of the House includes five rooms on the ground floor where official engagements are undertaken by Their Royal Highnesses.


As featured in March when the exhibition opened, Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy is on at Tate Modern. As it is closing on 9 September this seemed like a good time to remind you about this blockbuster.

1932 was Pablo Picasso’s ‘year of wonders’ – an extraordinarily intense creative period in the life of one of the 20th century’s most influential artists. This landmark exhibition takes you on a month-by-month journey through this pivotal time.

Visitors can view some of the most important paintings Picasso ever made. It includes three works featuring the artist’s lover Marie-Thérèse Walter which have not been shown together since 1932. Each painting is an exceptional loan to Tate Modern, originating from private collections across the globe, offering a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience these outstanding works together. These three paintings are being reunited for the first time since Picasso’s first full-scale retrospective held at the Galeries Georges Petit in Paris and the Kunsthaus in Zurich 85 years ago.

Picasso embarked on these paintings after an extraordinarily productive start to the year. Having recently turned 50 with his first retrospective looming, Picasso was determined to prove his creativity and assert his standing in the contemporary art world against rivals including Matisse.

Girl Before A Mirror - Picasso

Picasso, Pablo (1881-1973): Girl Before a Mirror (Boisgeloup, March 1932). New York, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Houses of Parliament

Throughout the year you can visit the Houses of Parliament most Saturdays but during the summer recess, when MPs are not working for the summer, you can visit on weekdays too.

Tours are available Monday to Friday between 26 July and 31 August 2018 (except 27 August 2018) and every Saturday until 27 October 2018.

Those with a tour ticket also get to see the free Voice and Vote exhibition in Westminster Hall about the centenary of women’s suffrage. I’ve been to see it and would definitely recommend. You can book a free ticket for this without needing a tour ticket too.

Houses of Parliament - Voice & Vote #suffraduck

Zip Wire

Opposite the Houses of Parliament, on the south side of the river Thames, is the world’s longest and fastest city centre zip wire.

Zip Now London was here last summer too and it was a lot of fun. This year there’s less waiting time as there’s a third wire. Plus a new feature is the heart-stopping Mega Drop; it’s a freefall jump from 15 metres, rather like a like a bungee jump without the bounce.

Don’t miss out as it’s only here until 9 September 2018.

Zip Now London


Shakespeare’s Othello is on at Shakespeare’s Globe from 20 July to 13 October 2018. André Holland is Othello but the star for many will be Mark Rylance as Iago.

The republic of Venice employs General Othello, a self-made man and a Moor, to defend its overseas territories against the Turks. As the Turkish threat gathers and Venetian forces are dispatched to Cyprus, the love Othello holds for his new wife becomes a raging, uncontrollable torrent. Iago, a junior officer secretly enraged by Othello, exploits his General’s ambiguous position and ingenuous nature, driving him into a passionate and overpowering jealousy.

Othello - Shakespeare's Globe

And in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse – the Globe’s adjoining intimate, candlelit indoor theatre – there’s the fairy tale Love’s Labour’s Lost from 23 August to 15 September 2018.

Self-denial is in fashion at the court of Navarre where the young king and three of his courtiers solemnly forswear all pleasures in favour of serious study. But when the Princess of France and her entourage arrive, it isn’t long before the all-male ‘academe’ have broken every one of their self-imposed rules. Shakespeare’s boisterous send-up of all those who try to turn their back on life is a dazzling parade of every weapon in the youthful playwright’s arsenal, from excruciating cross-purposes and impersonations to drunkenness and bust-ups. It’s a banquet of language, groaning with puns, rhymes and grotesque coinages.

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Courtauld Gallery

Don’t miss the chance to visit the Courtauld Gallery this month as it will be closed from 3 September 2018 for at least two years for a major redevelopment project.

It is home to great impressionist and post-impressionist works from Van Gogh to Cézanne, from Renoir and Gauguin to Matisse and Degas among many others.

Courtauld Gallery

National Theatre

Home, I’m Darling is a new play by Laura Wade at the Dorfman Theatre (National Theatre) from 24 July to 5 September 2018.

Every couple needs a little fantasy to keep their marriage sparkling. But behind the gingham curtains, things start to unravel, and being a domestic goddess is not as easy as it seems.

Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd, Humans) plays Judy in this unsettling new comedy about one woman’s quest to be the perfect 1950s housewife. The cast includes Kathryn Drysdale, Sara Gregory, Richard Harrington, Barnaby Kay and Sian Thomas.

Home, I'm Darling - National Theatre

Notting Hill Carnival

The largest street festival in Europe is in London at the end of the month. The annual Notting Hill Carnival is on 26 and 27 August 2018 with Children’s Day on the Sunday and the Grand Parade on Bank Holiday Monday.

Expect lots of mobile sound systems as the party goes on after the parade passes. There will be big crowds but you can join in by blowing a whistle, eating jerk chicken and dancing in the street.

Notting Hill Carnival

Even More

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 August too.


From 7 to 9 September, the Tower of London Food Festival is happening in the historic dry moat. There will be live cooking demos from top chefs such as Michel Roux Jr, Nadiya Hussain, Melissa Hemsley and Dr Rupy Aujla. Also on the menu are a host of tempting street food stalls and artisan food producers, promising everything from gin and tonic to sweet treats and an array of ales. There will also be a bandstand with live music, with relaxing deckchairs on hand to soak up the festival atmosphere. And all tickets include free entry to the Tower of London.

The Mayor’s month-long Totally Thames festival is on throughout September. It’s an annual celebration of the River Thames with a creative and diverse programme that inspires, connects and enthrals.

And another annual highlight next month is Open House London when hundreds of architecturally interesting buildings open their doors to the public for free for this special weekend. The dates to note are 22 and 23 September 2018.


Do check out the latest offers as London Bridge Hotel has weekend rates from as low as £99. 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 maintaining an impressive afternoon tea addiction. You can find Laura on twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as AboutLondonLaura.

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