So it’s 2017… and a whole year stretches ahead of us. For potential visitors to London that means trying to make the difficult choice of when exactly to visit the UK capital. Each season has its various highlights – festivals, parades, national holidays, sporting events and musical concerts. So how do you actually choose? Well, here’s our run-down of what’s on in London from January through to the end of August, you may find it helpful…!
At the end of the January (28th), celebrations for the Chinese New Year – the ‘Year of the Fire Rooster’ – begin in Soho’s Chinatown with the Magic Lantern Festival, which runs for much of February. Expect parades, gigantic lanterns, colourful fire dragons and fireworks aplenty, not least an official celebration at Chiswick House that aims to retraces the ancient Silk Road which, in centuries, past ran from Europe, through Asia and to China (and vice versa).
It’s nearly spring; hooray! So why not let your hair down and do a jig on St. Patrick’s Day (the Irish national holiday on March 17th). London’ll be holding yet another parade, a mini-festival in Trafalgar Square and many more events elsewhere – not least in all the Irish pubs! With the better weather, er, hopefully, sport now takes centre-stage in the capital with the legendary Boat Race on the Thames between the crews from Oxford and Cambridge Universities (April 2nd) and, of course, the world’s biggest running race, the London Marathon on April 23rd. This too is the official day of England’s patron saint, St. George, meaning they’ll be celebrations in Trafalgar Square once more.
If you’re eager to check out London’s free museums and galleries then May’s the perfect month to visit; it also tends to provide seem decent spring – even warm – weather! The Museums at Night programme sees many of the city’s best venues stay open until late into the evening, ideally for grown-ups and, yes, loved up/ dating couples, and involves talks and live music – we’re talking the likes of the British Museum, the National Gallery, the V&A and the Tate Modern here. Meanwhile, during the day, the Chelsea Flower Show’s garden displays and floral exhibits are always a winner. Be sure to stay somewhere central – like the Metropolis London Hyde Park – and take advantage of hotel rewards programs to get the most out of all that’s going on this month.
As May segues into June, pomp and pageantry are on the menu as the equine celebration for HM Queen’s official birthday, Trooping of the Colour, takes place (June 17th). Hugely popular, you’ll want to try and get hold of tickets months and months in advance as they’re only available via ballot nowadays. June also brings the foodie festival that’s Taste of London and the wonderful, free West End Live, during which the casts of some of the capital’s biggest theatre shows perform in – yes, you guessed it – Trafalgar Square.
Summer means a whole host of major London events – many of them outdoors in the, er, sumptuous sunshine (fingers crossed!). First up is the fortnight-long ‘Championships’ at Wimbledon’s tennis stadium – the only one of the four grand slam tournaments played on grass and still the most prestigious. Away from sport there’s the roster of glorious classical music concerts that’s the BBC’s Proms season at the Royal Albert Hall (it runs through to mid-September), as well as many other short music festivals in various parks and, of course, the flamboyantly marvellous Pride parade.
As August dawns, those seeking a royal fix may well be tempted by Buckingham Palace’s ‘summer opening’, the few weeks of the year when the iconic residence is opened up by Her Majesty for the great unwashed to poke around in; specifically the State Rooms, the beautiful gardens and always fascinating exhibitions of garments, artworks and sundry glittering trinkets.
Finally, for something completely different, August is seen out over its final weekend (the August Bank Holiday) by the ever vibrant Notting Hill Carnival in West London. Strongly influenced by West Indian culture and cuisine, it’s been going for half a century now and draws thousands and thousands of revellers whom lap up all its lavish costumes, fantastic floats and dynamic live music. Party on!