First things first: this is no ordinary weekend in London. Certain areas in central London (The Mall, St James’s, Buckingham Palace and surrounds) will be very busy. There will also road closures all over the place due to parades, street parties and other events, so check your journey before you travel!
JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS: After months of hype, the Platinum Jubilee week is finally here, with the official celebrations taking place over the four-day weekend. Looking for somewhere to celebrate? Our Jubilee events guide includes exhibitions, family activities and other special events.
ROYAL AFTERNOON TEAS: Or you could treat yourself to a limited edition Royal-themed afternoon tea to celebrate the occasion.
BANK HOLIDAY: Keen to make the most of the four-day weekend, but not exactly dying to wave a Union Flag about? Take a look at these things to do over the bank holiday weekend, covering everything from walking tours to green spaces, boating, visiting pubs, and having a mooch around London’s craft or book shops — not a cardboard corgi in sight.
HALF TERM: As if there wasn’t enough going on this week, it’s also half term, with most London schools off. Dippy, the Gruffalo and Peter Rabbit all make an appearance in our half term events guide, which has plenty to keep the whole family entertained, whatever the age/budget. Also, we’ve got the ultimate map of central London playgrounds.
SUPERBLOOM: Another event to mark the Jubilee is Superbloom, the summer-long wildflower installation taking over the Tower of London moat. The colourful blooms can be viewed from above the moat, or you can slide right in (or use the steps) and walk among the flowers. We reckon it’ll be the most Instagrammed spot in the capital this summer. Tower of London, from £12, book ahead, 1 June-18 September 2022
CURRENT EXHIBITIONS: Lucky enough to have a couple of extra days off work? Why not use that time to see some of London’s current exhibitions? You’ll likely need to book in advance, as lots of places will be very busy this weekend (and some venues may have different opening hours from normal). These are some of your options:
- STONEHENGE: British Museum’s epic Stonehenge exhibition focuses on so much more than the mysterious stone circle, looking at the wider context of what was going on in Europe at the time. It’s a huge exhibition, and you may need more than one visit — or at least one very long one — to take it all in. £20, book ahead, until 17 July
- RAPHAEL: National Gallery’s 5* Raphael exhibition offers incontrovertible proof that the Italian Renaissance painter was a man of incredible talent and skill. £24, book ahead, until 31 July
- BRITISH BLUES: Barbican’s latest display, The British Blues Exhibition, charts the rise of the musical genre through Radio Caroline, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Cream, and Jools Holland. Objects on display include instruments, sheet music and posters. Barbican Music Library, free, until 19 September
- DIPPY RETURNS: Natural History Museum’s famous diplodocus replica skeleton is back after its nationwide tour. Special exhibition Dippy Returns focuses on the state of nature and biodiversity across the UK — as well as a chance to see Dippy once more, before it plods off somewhere else again. Free, book ahead, until December
- PIP & POP: Australian artist Tanya Schultz (aka Pip & Pop) has created trippy landscapes made from sweets as part of Kew Gardens’ Food Forever series. The pastel-hued ‘food fantasia’ is inspired by mythology and folklore, and plays with the viewer’s sense of perspective to draw them into a candy land. Included in Kew admission, book ahead, until March 2023
LONDON FESTIVAL OF ARCHITECTURE: A celebration of architecture and ‘city-making’, the London Festival of Architecture programme is packed with more than 400 events throughout June, from public installations to talks, tours, debates and performances — including some family-friendly events too. Highlights this weekend include a tour of tall buildings, a chance to view unseen footage of Somers Town, and screen printing workshops. 1-30 June
WEAPONS OF MASS HILARITY: Three days of laughs are promised at Weapons of Mass Hilarity, a comedy festival promoting acts with Middle Eastern/SWANA heritage. Included on the bill are bold and brash character comedians Shirley & Shirley; BBC Comedy Award Nominee Amir Khoshsokhan; and the festival’s creator (who also happens to be a surgeon) Jenan Younis. 2Northdown (King’s Cross), £13.20 per show, book ahead, 2-4 June
THE QUEEN’S PORTRAIT: The life and work of sculptor Mary Gillick is the subject of a new display at the British Museum. It’s timely as Gillick was the artist who created the new Queen Elizabeth II’s profile to be featured on our currency at the start of her reign, 70 years ago. The exhibition covers the whole of Gillick’s career, from training in sculpture at London’s Royal College of Art in the early 1900s, through her specialisation in medallic art, to her 1952 success and beyond. The British Museum, free, just turn up, 2 June-31 July
APPEARING ROOMS: Parents, pack a towel and spare clothes — Jeppe Hein’s Appearing Rooms is back outside Southbank Centre from today. The interactive fountain creates ‘rooms’ which appear and disappear, and kids love trying to catch them. Southbank Centre, free, just turn up, 2 June-28 August
Thursday 2 June
AFRO HAIR & BEAUTY: A beauty and lifestyle event for Black and mixed heritage women, Afro Hair & Beauty Live returns to London after a two-year hiatus. Expect live demonstrations with a selection of stylist and hair experts, a chance to try out new haircare and styling products, and an expert masterclass (host to be announced). Business Design Centre (Islington), £10-£16, book ahead, 2-3 June
BREAKFAST for 70p: 24-hour cafe Polo Bar has a few special Jubilee menu items this weekend, but the one we’re most excited about is their one-off breakfast deal. The first 70 people to arrive from 8am today have the chance to get breakfast for 70p! Polo Bar (Liverpool Street), 70p, just turn up, from 8am
TROOPING THE COLOUR: The Queen’s Birthday Parade, AKA Trooping The Colour takes place today, in a slight change to the normal Saturday event due to the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Though tickets to watch from the stands are long gone, you’ve still got a chance of catching a glimpse of the pageantry from The Mall or the edge of St James’s Park — though you’ll want to get there very early to get a good spot. Horse Guards Parade, free, just turn up, 10am-12.15pm (9am is the recommended arrival time).
BOXPARK PARTIES: Both the Wembley and Croydon locations of Boxpark host Jubilee street party events today. Each venue has games, quizzes, crafts for younger visitors, plus DJs, live music, and plenty of food and drink. Free entry, book ahead, 11am-11pm
TOGETHER 22: Greenwich is a Royal Borough, so of course it’s going all out for the Jubilee celebrations. Together 22 is an outdoor, family-friendly event with sports activities, kids’ workshops, a live music stage, a marketplace and food and drink stalls. Charlton Park, free, just turn up, 12pm-6pm
FOOD FOREVER: Head to the Temperate House at Kew Gardens for a look at the future of food. Journalist Dan Saladino and food design specialist Maria Fuentenebro discuss what our grandchildren will likely be eating, given the rate at which crops are changing and developing. Kew Gardens, £9, book ahead, 7pm-8.30pm
Friday 3 June
STREATLIFE: Tuck into street food, craft beer and cocktails, with a side of views over London, as Streatlife returns to Alexandra Palace Traders confirmed to be attending the food festival include hot dog vendors Rollin’ Dogs, Firebird fried chicken, Zero Sushi, and Greedy Vegan, plus there’s live music and DJs across both days. Alexandra Palace, free entry, just turn up, 3-4 June
FOODIES FESTIVAL: Head to Syon Park for Foodies Festival, the only London stop on the national tour this year. Live music comes courtesy of Scouting For Girls, East 17, Liberty X and others, alongside live chef demos, a Cake & Bake Theatre, plenty of street food to keep you energised, and bars to ensure you don’t go thirsty. Syon Park, from £23, book ahead, 3-5 June
PLATINUM PICNIC: The Royal Borough of Greenwich continues its Jubilee celebrations with Platinum Picnic in the Park. Take your picnic along and tuck in as you enjoy performances including: the Citizens of the World Choir; a Royal Ceilidh by Greenwich Dance; a UK Latin Community Fiesta; stilt walkers; and an Air Cadets band. Charlton Park, free just turn up, 12pm-4pm
EVENING WITH THE MOON: The Royal Observatory stays open late for one of its Evening With The Moon events, a chance to see the moon through the Victorian era Great Equatorial Telescope, as well as taking in a Planetarium show. Age 7+. Royal Observatory (Greenwich), £16/£8, book ahead, 5.40pm (repeated on Saturday)
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY LIVE: Looking for somewhere to get away from all the Royal-themed celebrations? Strap in for a screening of 1968 Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey, with the Philharmonia Orchestra and London Voices performing its soundtrack live. (Just be aware that even this film has a subtle Jubilee connection!) Southbank Centre, £20-£55, book ahead, 7pm
Saturday 4 June
CAMBERWELL ARTS FESTIVAL: A Platinum Party on Camberwell Green (today, 12pm-3pm) heralds the launch of for this year’s Camberwell Arts Festival, which also includes an arts market, artists’ open studios and a Camberwell Corgi trail of 70 cutout dogs dotted around the local area. Camberwell, various locations and prices, 4-12 June
CRAFTY FOX MARKET: Browse jewellery, cosmetics, ceramics, accessories and more, and buy them directly from independent makers at the Crafty Fox Market. The venue is a food market, so plenty of refreshment/lunch options on hand too. Mercato Metropolitano (Elephant & Castle), free entry, just turn up, 11am-5pm
WEST END DRAG BRUNCH: The Folly has a slightly different take on the ‘Queen’ theme of the week, hosting a West End themed drag brunch starring drag queens including host Ruby Murry. Entertainment includes singers and circus acts, to be enjoyed as you tuck into dishes such as eggs royale, fish and chips, and pancake stacks — with bottomless cocktails to wash it all down. The Folly (Monument), from £54.95, book ahead, 12pm-4pm
JUBILEE DANCE PARTY: Everyone’s invited to Wembley Park for a street party with plenty of dancing. Take part in swing, hip hop, Bollywood or street dance sessions, or simply enjoy entertainment from stilt walkers, pavement artists, circus acts and musicians. Wembley Park, free entry, book ahead for specific dance sessions, 12pm-6pm
DRURY LANE: Immersive walks don’t come much better than those hosted by Minimum Labyrinth. Their Drury Lane tour (a guided walk with plenty of street theatre) repeats this week, and it’s brilliant. Expect a “bawdy, boozy bacchanal,” yet bursting with “obscure factlets, dramatic sweeps of history, dark mysteriousness, musical protrusions and theatrical surprises”. Trust us, it’s worth it. Drury Lane, from £19.50, book ahead, 2pm-6pm
BATON RELAY: Enjoy an afternoon of sport-themed family fun as the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay visits Paternoster Square as part of its tour through all 72 Commonwealth countries. Take part in Commonwealth Games sports, including basketball with the London Lions, and table tennis with sports charity Greenhouse Sports. If that’s too energetic for you, just pose for a photo with the baton. Paternoster Square (St Paul’s), free, just turn up, 12pm-3pm
WORLD CIDER DAY: 3 June is World Cider Day, and London’s first urban Cidery, Hawkes, celebrates with a special festival. They host 16 guest cidermakers from around the world, with guided cider tasting, freshly made pizza, and DJ sets. Hawkes Cidery (Bermondsey), free entry (or £5 for a guided tasting), book ahead, 12pm-10pm
PARTY AT THE PALACE: Today’s big Jubilee event is Platinum Party at the Palace, a live concert featuring (big breath…) Queen + Adam Lambert, Alicia Keys, Hans Zimmer, Ella Eyre, Craig David, Mabel, Elbow and George Ezra, Duran Duran, Andrea Bocelli, Mimi Webb, Sam Ryder, Jax Jones, Celeste, Nile Rodgers, Sigala and Diversity, plus Sir David Attenborough, Emma Raducanu, David Beckham, Stephen Fry, Dame Julie Andrews, The Royal Ballet, Ellie Simmonds, Sir Elton John and Sam Ryder. Some appear via video, others in person. Alas, it’s a ticketed event and tickets have all gone, but it’ll be shown live on TV — and we reckon a few pubs and the like will be screening it, so check your local. From 1pm
SISSY LEA: Waltham Cross-based drag queen Sicily Lea (from Sicily…) is back in Enfield for another performance of her show, A Night With Sissy Lea — expect singing, dancing, and plenty of glitz and glamour. Culture Palace, £12, book ahead, 7.30pm
PROUD AND LOUD: Celebrate 50 years of UK Pride at a special concert presented by Pride in London. LGBT+ icons including Calum Scott, Hayley Kiyoko, Cat Burns and ariōn all perform, at an event which celebrates the past 50 years of Pride held in the UK and looks at what the future holds for the LGBT+ community. Royal Albert Hall, book ahead, 7.30pm
Sunday 5 June
HOT AIR BALLOONS: After 22 May was scuppered due to unfavourable wind conditions, today’s the first reserve date for this year’s Lord Mayor’s Hot Air Balloon Regatta. If the weather is right, dozens of hot air balloons will float across London’s sky as the sun rises, all raising money for charity. You’ll have to be up early to see it though — from 5.30am
CAMDEN JUBEERLEE PARTY: DJs, live music, brewery tours, kids’ entertainment and a pooch parade are all part of the Camden Jubeerlee Party at Camden Beer Hall. Naturally, there’s plenty of beer too — your ticket includes two drinks, and there’s a chance to try the new Jolly Good Liz Lager from Camden Town Brewery. Camden Beer Hall (Kentish Town), £12, book ahead, 12pm-8pm
PLATINUM JUBILEE PAGEANT: The official royal celebrations culminate today in the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, a procession and performance featuring professional artists, schoolchildren, and other members of the public. Even if you’re not attending the pageant itself, be aware of road closures, large crowds, and public transport being very busy in central London. The Mall and surrounding areas, free, just turn up, 2pm-5pm (though you’ll want to get there much earlier to get a spot).
QUEEN’S BATON RELAY: Following its parade through Paternoster Square on Saturday, the Commonwealth Games Baton Relay arrives at the Royal Docks today (its final London stop), with an afternoon of events to celebrate. Look out for live performances including the English National Ballet’s Youth Company, West Ham women’s team and grime group Ruff Squad Academy. There are puppets, too Royal Docks, free, just turn up, from 2.30pm
JAPANESE ANIMATION: Want to escape today’s royal hullabaloo? Head to Barbican and watch a selection of rare animated Japanese silent films, accompanied by electro-acoustic music and Benshi narration (Benshi were Japanese performers who provided live narration for silent films). Very few of the earliest Japanese animation films survive, so this is a rare treat for cinephiles. Barbican Cinema, £13.50, book ahead, 3pm
GHARANA FESTIVAL: Enjoy an Indian classical music concert in all its complexity, performed by UK-based artists including Kirit Singh, Jasdeep Singh, Mehboob Nadeem, and Chiranjeeb Chakraborty. That’s followed by a lighter performance by local artists, finished up with compositions by Bengali composers. Rich Mix (Shoreditch), £20, book ahead, 4pm
DANNY BOYLE: As part of Southbank Centre’s Jubilee celebrations, respected film director Danny Boyle discusses his new six-part series, Pistol, which is about the rock and roll revolution and particularly the Sex Pistols. He also discusses the punk revolution with director Julien Temple, writer Celeste Bell, actress Maisie Williams, poet John Cooper Clarke and writer Andrew O’Hagan. Southbank Centre, book ahead, 7.30pm
Advance warning: The four-day weekend looks set to end with a bit of a bump, as, at time of writing, a tube strike is planned for Monday 6 June, with most zone 1 stations likely to be affected. We’re crossing our fingers it gets called off, but a contingency plan might be wise.