As we make our grand rétour to normal-ish life, it's going to be hard not to feel overwhelmed by all the things we're suddenly going to be allowed to do.
Hugging! Restaurants! Parties! Festivals! Dancing! (All in line with the latest regulations, of course). There will be people, there will be food and there will be booze, and we're pretty darn excited about it.
But before you go clogging up your calendar with just any old plan, stop right there. We've got the lowdown on what you really need to be doing during summer in London this year.
We've cherry-picked our very favourite – and probably the very best, but we're probably biased – food and drink goings-on to make it that tiny bit easier for you have the best summer in London ever.
Sure, we're excited to go back to restaurants and the like, but all the hospitality industry is sure as hell excited to have us back, too. It's laying on a blockbuster summer of special events, popups, terraces, parties and more to celebrate reopening.
Sit back, relax and peruse our guide below, safe in the knowledge that people with truly impeccable taste have deemed that brand-spanking-new pop-up absolutely worth booking two months in advance.
What to do in London in July 2021
Wildfarmed & Friends: Fix Food, Fix The Planet
26-30 July. Silas Yard, Bethnal Green
Regenerative agriculture is the new buzzword in sustainability, and it refers to a method of farming that allows natural ecosystems to flourish without the use of chemicals, leaving the land rich for future harvests. Flour company Wildfarmed is leading the charge, and its grains are being lauded for both their flavour and their eco credentials. And if you wanted proof of how great these grains are, five of London's best-loved chefs and fans of Wildfarmed are each hosting a different evening in Bethnal Green's Silas Yard in July, dishing up menus made with the regeneratively farmed grains. Every night will be as good as the last, but our favourites are Chantelle Nicholson's menu with her kimchi and cheese toastie on Tuesday, and braised lamb shoulder pie from lockdown sensation Willy's Pies on Thursday. Tickets are only £15, too.
Afternoon tea with Hoppers and Lyaness
Every weekend throughout July. 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PD
Afternoon tea is anything but twee in the hands of Hoppers and Lyaness, who have teamed up to put a South East Asian spin on the British tradition, in homage to Mr Lyan's Ryan Chetiyawardana and Hoppers' Karan Gokani's heritage. Think arrack sours (arrack is a Sri Lankan spirit with similar flavour notes to whisky) and spiced negronis, paired with a punchy menu of Sri Lankan-style short eats: mutton rolls, curried chicken salad sandwiches, scones with pineapple and black pepper jam, and so much more. 10/10 would eat.
Lillet terrace at Colbert
Until 4 July. 50-52 Sloane Square, SW1WX 8AX
Coffee? Tick. Croissants? Tick. Je ne sais quoi? Tick. Perched on the periphery of Sloane Square, all-day brasserie Colbert brings Parisian flair (and pastries) to London with playful charm reminiscent of years gone by. This summer, the café is bringing us a double dose of French culture, because it's teamed up with classic apéritif Lillet for Pétanque in the Square, a bigger, better outdoor terrace offering crisp Lillet cocktails, classic French dishes and the classic game of pétanque.
London In The Sky
From 1 July-26 September. The O2, Greenwich Peninsula, SE10 0DX
Emily Jayne Nolan
Pigs can’t fly, but it turns out that restaurants can. Kind of. London In The Sky is the restaurant experience that takes place 100ft in air, at a specially made (and very, very safe) table that gets hoisted up on a crane. Not only is it the ultimate outdoor dining experience, but you get some damn good views over London, too. You can choose from a variety of food and drink experiences, but the August bank holiday Sunday Session, complete with DJs and live music, looks set to be a live one.
Taste of London
7-11 July; 14–18 July. Regent's Park, NW1 4NR
Forget trying to get a booking at all your favourite restaurants – buy a ticket to Taste of London instead, where London's latest and greatest eating (and drinking) establishments will have stalls selling bite-sized versions of their favourite dishes. Taking over Regent's Park in July, it's basically like one big food love in. Enjoy.
ROOT supper clubs
From 15 July, throughout summer. 36 Highgate Hill, N19 5NL
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Discovering up-and-coming chefs is one of our passions at Foodism, and it's a passion shared by budding restaurater TJ Worrall Thompson. This comes as no surprise – TJ is the son of two chefs (yes, one of them being Anthony Worrall Thompson), and was working to set up his own food truck before the pandemic scuppered his plans. He's now working as the assistant manager at BAO Soho, but has set up ROOT in his spare time: a series of exclusive dining events showcasing London's up-and-coming cheffing talent. The first ROOT event takes place with Olly Oakley, who has spent time at revered restaurants Frantzen and El Celler de Can Roca. He brings his experience to Archie's in Highgate on 15 July, along with a passion for local, seasonal produce, a curated wine list and delicious cocktails. If this first event anything to go by, ROOT is off to a shining start.
Mr Fogg's Secret Garden
From 25 May. 15 Bruton Lane, W1J 6JD
Did lockdown see you suddenly develop a green thumb? Or were your attempts at plant parenthood result in dead cacti around your house? If it was a case of the latter, don't be ashamed to give up and bask in the green glory of Mr Fogg's Secret Garden, tucked off the the streets of Mayfair. Overflowing with flora and fauna, there are enough plants here to make you forget all about your sad little pots at home – and the floral-inspired cocktails should help with that, too. Sip Pimms in amongst the roses; gulp a gin and tonic in the orangery; or drink tequila in the Potting Shed.
The Botanist Gin's roof terrace
St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, NW1 2AR
Rooftop bars are boring, right? Same old same old, seen it all before? We challenge you to say that after a trip to The Botanist Gin's pop-up roof terrace on top of the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, with views over the iconic silhouette of the British Library. A raft of cocktails using the Scottish spirit go beyond the usual culprits, like a herbaceous Botanist negroni, while snacks ranging from mini fish and chips and wood-fired pizzas bode well for an evening of grazing and gazing into the night.
Della Vite at The Goring
From 17 May. 15 Beeston Pl, SW1W 0JW
We can't give you Cara Delevingne's eyebrows, but we can point you in the direction of her prosecco. And some lobster rolls. And both of those sound pretty darn great to us. Della Vite is the award-winning prosecco brand from the Delevingnge sisters, which legit tastes good, and is made with preserving the terroir (ie environment) in mind. Try it straight up or in cocktails in The Goring's delightful garden this summer, accompanied by lobster club sandwiches and The Goring's signature Seafood Platter.
31 Days of German Riesling
1-31 July, various locations
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Rieslings are some of the finest white wines on the planet (not to mention their flinty freshness means they’re crying out for a hot summer day). Wine made from the riesling grape – especially from the 13 regions strewn across Germany – is known for being fresh and flavoursome, bursting with notes of fresh fruit and citrus. It’s also incredibly versatile when it comes to food pairing, making for a refreshing, sophisticated aperitif or a great match to dishes from all over the world. And we’re not just talking bratwurst: you could have a bottle at your favourite BYOB Thai joint and get as much satisfaction as you would sipping it on a sun-soaked summer terrace. The best way to experience it? Through 31 Days of German Riesling, a month-long event taking place at venues around London.
Saturdays Until 7 August. Tobacco Dock, Tobacco Quay, Wapping Ln, E1W 2SF
Skylight is coming down from its lofty heights on top of Tobacco Dock for a new ground-level, canal-side street food market with KERB. There'll be garden games and a rotating selection of food trucks, kicking off with Fundi Pizza and Tongue'n'Cheek, which specialises in nose-to-tail burgers.
London Restaurant Festival
We bet you've already thrown yourself back into London's restaurant scene, mouths open, ready and waiting for all the glorious food you can possibly fit inside your jeans. But get prepared to make space for more: London Restaurant Festival, a month-long celebration of the very best of the city's cooking, is back with a bang. This year marks the festival's first summer edition, with more than 50 exclusive experiences and 250 special menus with OpenTable. There'll be exclusive events at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, James Knappett's newly reopened Kitchen Table, and cult new opening Kol, from Santiago Lastra. And that's just for starters...
Nine Lives Block Party
From July. 8 Holyrood Street, SE1 2EL
We liked Bermondsey low-waste bar Nine Lives already, but the Block Parties at Nine Lives Alley – taking over the whole of Holyrood Street – takes things to a whole new level. Nine Lives' signature tikki vibe carries over into the outdoor space with tropical plants and a summer playlist, and on the last Friday of each month the whole of Holyrood Street gets taken over for a taco feast from Tigre Tacos. The series of events kicks off with Nine Lives' fourth birthday party at the end of July, so it's one you won't want to miss.
The Macallan Manor House
Open until autumn. 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN
How do you like the sound of griddled prawns, lemon and garlic butte, and lamb rump and jersey royal potatoes? Eaten on the rooftop at the plush Rosewood hotel? And washed down with one-off Macallan whisky cocktails? We like the sound of that all very much, which is why you'll find us visiting The Macallan Manor House at the Rosewood this summer.
Sundowners Sunday sessions at Hicce
Until September. Unit 102, hicce x Wolf & Badger, Stable St, N1C 4DQ
Say a big fat no to the Sunday scaries by heading on over to Hicce in King's Cross for an evening of cocktails, music and (fingers crossed) sunsets on its two gorgeous terraces. A live DJ will spin the decks with a playlist of funk, rare groove, reggae and soul – the perfect partner to Hicce's wood-fired dishes and quite frankly excellent cocktails. Now all we need is the good weather...
Golden Gai's Drag and Wine Wednesdays
Until September. 16A D'Arblay St, W1F 8EA
Ring in a return to wine Wednesdays with a trip to Italian-Japanese fusion restaurant Golden Gai (the second site from the similarly themed Angelina in Dalston). A £25 ticket will get you three wines, a piadina (a folded, toasted, cheese-filled flatbread) and a seat to watch drag queen extraordinaire Vanity von Glow and Wicked Winos' Beth Brickenden work their magic on the 50-seater terrace. The only problem will be resisting Golden Gai's menu of fusion treats...
Night Tales, The Street
Until September. 14 Bohemia Pl, E8 1DU
If Night Tales = fun, by our calculations an even bigger popup version of Night Tales should = even more fun. Which is why you'll likely find us propping up the bar at The Street, Night Tales' takeover of East London's Bohemia Place. The theme is street party, but make it hipster, with food from Patty & Bun and Only Jerkin', a custom-built 16m-long outdoor bar, frozen margs and live music on the last Friday and Saturday of every month.
Live on Ten at Decimo
Saturdays at 12.30pm and 2.30pm. 10 Argyle St, London WC1H 8EG
If you want to feel like you've made it in the glamour stakes, Decimo at The Standard is the place. Gorgeous food in gorgeous surrounds makes for a seriously special occasion, especially when live jazz is thrown in the mix. This brunch is anything but basic – a selection of up-and-coming musicians will serenade you while you devour chef Sanchez-Iglesias' Spanish-Mexican inspired food. Graze your way through a golden, gooey Spanish tortilla; smoky charred bread slathered in marinated red peppers; and delicate tacos topped with razor-thin slices of refreshing raw cauliflower. We're never going to try to persuade you not to get the lamb, but vegetarians get the royal treatment here – pardina lentils topped with artichoke and charred leek with romesco sauce were serious showstoppers. Get your gladrags on for a seriously special lunch, and see if you can finish up with a drink on the roof if you can wangle it. Did someone say... Money shot?
Wine Dinners at Trinity Upstairs
Throughout summer. 4 The Polygon, London SW4 0JG
Perched prettily on the edge of Clapham Common, Adam Byatt's Trinity is a real treat. Downstairs you've got the Michelin-starred main restaurant, but bypass the white tablecloths and head to the first floor to find Upstairs at Trinity, a more casual – but no less delicious – sibling. The wine-focused restaurant is holding a series of Wine Dinners this summer in collaboration with Sara Rossi, winner of the GQ Food & Drink Awards 2020 Best Sommelier category. Byatt's specially curated menu will feature his favourite oysters, hand-dived scallops, Cornish blue lobster and more.
£195pp, inclusive of food, wine, water, coffee and service. trinityrestaurant.co.uk
Borough Market, SE1 9AG
Borough Market's Tacos Padre serves tacos. Obviously. And pretty damn great ones at that. But if you're bored of these moreish morsels (said no one on the planet), come back to the taqueria in the evenings this summer to find a full Mexican-inspired menu with tostadas, aguachile, flauta (a fried filled tortilla), grilled lamb and so much more. Don't mind if we do.
What to do in London in August
St-Germain's Bouquet & Spritz workshops
5, 12, 19, 26 August. McQueens Flowers Mayfair, 29 North Audley Street, W1K 6WY
A bottle of St-Germain elderflower liqueur contains up to 1,000 fresh, hand-picked wild elderflowers. That's a whole lot of blooms, and to celebrate its floral beginnings, St-Germain has teamed up with London florist McQueens to run a series of workshops that'll show you how to create both a St-Germain spritz and a bloomin' beautiful bouquet at the same time. You'll get to go home with both your flowers and a St-Germain spritz kit, packed with everything you need to sip your way through summer. If spritzes are more of a spectator sport for you, take a seat at one of St-Germain's flower-filled terraces at Radio Rooftop, Mrs Riot and the Great Northern Hotel this summer.
£85; book through eventbrite.co.uk
7-8 August; 21-22 August. Alexandra Palace, N22 7AY
There's not much better than dancing, drinking and grazing in the sun, and that's exactly what you'll be doing at Alexandra Palace's StrEATlife festival. More than 30 food and craft beer traders will be taking over the palace's south terrace, complete with panoramic views of London. There'll be live music in the form of accoustic musicians and DJ sets, too – and dancing in actively encouraged... And entrance is completely free.
London Craft Beer Festival
13-15 August. Tobacco Dock, Wapping Lane, E1W 2SF
A celebration of great beers, passionate brewers and the people who make London a great beer city, London Craft Beer Festival is a guaranteed good time. Dousing Tobacco Dock in hops and happiness for one glorious weekend in August, it’ll also feature DJ sets from the likes of Craig Charles and Django Django, while more than 100 of the world’s best craft brewers make sure you’ll never get thirsty…
What to do in London in September
3-5 September. Tobacco Dock, Tobacco Quay, Wapping Ln, E1W 2SF
Where there's smoke, there's… Barbecue. Or at least that’s the case at Meatopia, everyone's favourite fire-forward festival. Brought to London in 2013 by Richard H Turner (he of Hawksmoor and Blacklock) in partnership with the late Josh Ozersky, it's still one of the hottest (literally with all that fire) tickets each summer. Soon we'll be in Tobacco Dock, inhaling the smell of fire-grilled meat and veg from the likes of Freddie Janssen, James Cochran and Hoppers’ Karan Gokani, drinking craft beer and listening to live music.