London: 6 Secret Things To Do This Summer

Summertime opens up a whole host of fresh opportunities in the city. Outdoor strolls around London’s parks, gardens and markets are de rigueur throughout the season, but summer also brings with it plenty of exceptional but short-lived events. Catch the ones below before they’re gone!

Visit Buckingham Palace’s State Rooms

22 July to 1 October

State Rooms at Buckingham Palace
State Rooms at Buckingham Palace (credit: 2OnTheWing)

Year round, crowds flock to admire Buckingham Palace’s beautiful façade, but it’s only in late summer that you can explore some of its exquisite interior too. The State Rooms – those rooms designated for the Queen to receive and entertain subjects and visiting dignitaries – are open from July to October, and with a Royal Day Out ticket you can gain access to the Queen’s Gallery and the Royal Mews too.

The Throne Room is a particular highlight; in recent times it’s perhaps most famous as the setting of several official photographs from the wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Europea’s Westminster Residence is a short walk from Buckingham Palace.

Make DIY Ice Cream At Pierre Marcolini

1 June to end of August

Pierre-Marcolini

Give summer ice cream a gourmet, personalised twist over at the Esquimau Choc Ice Bar at the Pierre Marcolini boutique on Marylebone High Street. Select from four ice cream (or two sorbet) flavours and then choose from six luxurious chocolate toppings to round it off (including smoked dark chocolate, milk chocolate with toasted hazelnut and fleur de sel or white chocolate and toasted coconut).

Experience Movie Magic At The Outdoor Cinema In Hyde Park

3, 4, 5 and 7 July

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Outdoor Cinema London (credit: London The Inside)

Hyde Park’s British Summer Time festival comes with more than just musical performances. They’re also hosting four free movie nights in July on a huge open air screen, and the line-up is a spectacular combination of family fun (a sing-along of The Lion King and two of Disney’s sensational live-action remakes – 2016’s The Jungle Book and this year’s Beauty and the Beast) and grown-up modern classics (including Dirty Dancing and Back to the Future). See the schedule here – entry is on a first-come-first-served basis, so be sure to arrive early!

Europea’s Kinnerton and Kensington residences both border Hyde Park.

Channel Your Inner Patissier At The Big London Bake

Until 1 October

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(credit: Immy May)

The Great British Bake Off has practically become a national institution since first gracing British TVs back in 2010. (These days it’s even gaining in popularity across the pond as The Great British Baking Show.) Whether you have a penchant for cake, pastry and all things baking or are just a fan of the series, snap up the opportunity to take on a baking challenge yourself at The Big London Bake. Set in a marquee kitchen, contestants take part in the competition in 10 teams of 2 with all ingredients provided and a professional baker on hand. No experience required!

Go On A Sensory Journey At Somerset House’s Perfume Exhibition

21 June to 17 September

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(credit: Peter MacDiarmid)

If you’re a connoisseur of scent, you won’t want to miss Somerset House’s intriguing Perfume exhibition, which examines its perfumers’ modern and accessible approach to perfumery and celebrates their inspirations through visual, auditory and tactile displays. Visit one of the Perfume Lab Residencies (9 and 23 July) for a unique chance to learn more about the art and science of crafting a fragrance from an expert perfumer.

Europea’s Covent Garden residence is only a short distance from Somerset House.

Experience Theatre Anew At The Open Air Theatre At Regent’s Park And Immersive Ensemble’s The Great Gatsby

Open Theatre: schedule varies by production till September

The Great Gatsby runs till September

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The Sound Of Music Performance 2013 (credit: David Jensen)

Swap the West End for Regent’s Park’s Open Air Theatre this summer, with productions including A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist and the return of their 2016 sell-out (and award-winning) Jesus Christ Superstar.

For an alternative, but equally extraordinary, theatre experience, check out the Immersive Ensemble’s ‘heart-racing, immersive’ version of The Great Gatsby, held at a secret location. Don’t forget those dancing shoes!

Europea’s Primrose Hill residence is very close to Regent’s Park.

Listen Up, London: Must-See Music Exhibitions

Listen Up! London is a vibrant city full of cultural events. Here we tell you the most important events you can’t miss this year.

The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains

V&A Museum, 13th May – 1st Oct 2017

This year sees the 50-year anniversary of the release of Pink Floyd’s debut single, ‘Arnold Layne’. To mark the occasion, the V&A Museum is unveiling the first major international retrospective of one of the most successful and influential bands of all time: ‘The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains’.

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Find out about the band’s artistic history (credit: Pink Floyd Exhibition)

The show promises an immersive and theatrical journey that will channel the band’s reputation for pioneering sonic and visual experimentation. Featuring 350 artefacts from handwritten lyrics to stage props, the exhibit will chart Pink Floyd’s inimitable music, staging and design from the 1960s to the present day in spectacular and multi-sensory style.

The Spencer Collection: A Musical Banquet, 3rd Jan 2017 – 31st Mar 2018

And Hands, 28th Feb 2017 – 31st May 2017

Royal Academy of Music

The eminent permanent collection of the Royal Academy of Music Museum is accompanied this year by two rather different temporary displays. The first, ‘A Musical Banquet’ showcases pieces from Robert Spencer’s collection of early music instruments, manuscripts, printed music and curiosities. With items spanning 500 years, the exhibition offers a rich and beautiful array of artefacts to intrigue and delight music enthusiasts, including guitar songs printed on playing cards and fine 16th century guitars and lutes.

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Top-notch exhibition space (credit: Royal Academy of Music)

The second, ‘Hands’, is a little less conventional for a music exhibition. It’s dedicated to musician’s hands, the most powerful tool in the arsenal of composers and performers alike. The exhibition seeks to question what hands might say about musicians by means of casts and photographs and includes specimens from such venerable composers as Chopin, Mendelssohn and Paganini.

The Vault

Hard Rock Café 

London’s only rock ‘n’ roll museum and part of the flagship Hard Rock Café, The Vault is quite literally what it says on the tin: a cosy basement room inside an old Coutts Bank, complete with hefty steel door. The small permanent exhibition of rock ‘n’ roll treasures includes clothing and personal items (Madonna’s Jean Paul Gauthier Bustier, John Lennon’s army shirt) but pride of place is the collection of guitars and other instruments (owned by the likes of Hendrix, Dylan, Bowie and Cobain).

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Head downstairs for more surprises (credit: Mail Experiences)

Entry is free and includes a guided tour from a member of staff. The Vault is accessed through the Hard Rock Café’s gift shop across the road from the café itself.

Handel & Hendrix in London

Beyond sharing a staggering musical talent, George Frideric Handel and Jimi Hendrix have at least one other thing in common: both called the same street in Mayfair home, separated by a wall and 200 years of history. Today, 25 and 23 Brook Street are home to Handel House and the Hendrix Flat respectively – both featuring historically restored rooms that invite the public to step back in time and view the spaces as they would have been.

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Music history, side by side (credit: Hendrix and Handel Museum)

Handel House features four restored rooms complemented by a roster of temporary exhibitions around Handel’s life and times and by live music performances. The Handel House series explores music of the Baroque period across multiple programmes between now and April.

Opened just last year, the Hendrix Flat has the distinction of being the only one of his homes open to the public. As the setting for many jam sessions and hours of song writing, the flat provides a unique insight into the creative space of the celebrated and mythologised musician.

Abbey Road Crossing

The most famous musical landmark in London and probably the world, the zebra crossing outside Abbey Road studios was immortalised on the cover of The Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road. Today, it’s a pilgrimage site for fans of the Fab Four and anyone with an enthusiasm for pop culture. Check out the ‘crossing cam’ online for a glimpse of what to expect. Do remember that the nearby Abbey Road Studios are a working studio and unfortunately aren’t open to the general public.

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An Abbey Road outtake, Paul wears sandals (credit: Iain Macmillan)