Make the most out of the last, and longest, weekend in August (Saturday, August 29 – Monday, August 31 2020). Bank Holidays may not feel quite the same in this new normal, but thanks to the originality and sheer grit from London creatives and event organisers there are still lots of things to do and see. Now lockdown’s eased, why not jump into a London lido or snooze in a big old London park. Or, join one of this year’s many activities, such as the virtual Notting Hill Carnival, the Greenwich Docklands International Festival-South London’s annual outdoor theatre party, or have a mosey around The British Museum, open again after being closed for its longest historical time. After all, you’ve won this extra day off so make it count.
The best things to do this August bank holiday weekend
London’s biggest party is becoming London’s biggest online party. Grab a Red Stripe, crank your speakers and tune in for three days of virtual Carnival vibes, streamed across four channels. There’ll be personal memories from the street party’s pioneers, live-streamed DJ sets from King Tubby’s and Rampage, and steel-pan band performances. Plus, Spotify has a whole microsite dedicated to the weekend, so you’ll never be stuck for a Carnival playlist.
It’s outside, it’s free, and it’s not cancelled! London’s biggest celebration of outdoor theatre is still going ahead this year and filling Greenwich with colourful performances for 16 days from Friday. Look out for circus acts, dance performances and large-scale installations from Bernadine Evaristo, Luke Jerram and many others.
Bethnal Green’s nocturnal NYC-style market is making a comeback this Bank Holiday weekend. It’s set to take over a huge space on Friday and Saturday night, which will make social distancing a hell of a lot easier. The roads surrounding the imposing Tower Hamlets gas holders will be closed off to make way for cocktails, and street food stands, traders flogging art prints and crafty bits, and DJs providing summer soundtrack.
Get the three-day weekend off to the best start by joining south London DJs Harry Gay, Wacha and Passer for another of their LGBTQ+ parties streamed live from their living room to yours on Friday night. While they provide the beats, drag king Louis Cyfer, drag queen Ebony Rose Dark, goth ‘drag ghoul’ Mynxie and Nineties-inspired drag artist Kripple Kween will be serving up some sweet performances. QHP is dedicated to making their events as accessible as possible so it will also have audio
The British Museum, one of the greatest hauls of cultural treasures in the world, is finally open again. For now, just the ground and lower-ground floors are open, with a one-way guided route that is a BM greatest hits: Ancient Egypt, the Athenian Parthenon friezes, Assyria (some of it, anyway – not the lion hunts, sadly), the Africa galleries, the Americas and then out on to Montague Place. There’s also a 2011 work by Grayson Perry, ‘The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman’, on display. The museum is open Saturday and Sunday this weekend; entry is by pre-booked ticket only.
The most prolific and voluminous dance music festival in the UK is going online for 2020. The organisers have pulled together a stacked line up for the two-day virtual festival over Saturday and Sunday, full of the best sets from Creamfields past. Expect a relentless mix of radio-friendly house anthems, fist-pumping trance, stadium techno and a hint of gut-wrenching dubstep from the likes of Annie Mac, deadmau5, Dusky, Faithless, Fatboy Slim, Pete Tong, Solardo and many more.
Battersea Power Station’s adjacent Grade II*-listed Coaling Jetty – no doubt the site of the odd Fab Four fag break in its time – is playing host to a run of open-air movie screenings. Hosted by the team behind the nearby Archlight Cinema, you can catch ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘Joker’ on Saturday, and ‘Frozen’ and ‘A Star is Born’ on Sunday all against a pretty stunning backdrop.
Concerts and social distancing do not go hand in hand, but Kings Place arts centre in King’s Cross has come up with an answer: tiny gigs. Its free Culture Clinic lets musicians chat to one small audience (a maximum of six people from the same social bubble are allowed into each performance) about how they’ve felt during the pandemic, and then create a 15-minute performance reflecting their experience. This Saturday you can still book a place to see violinists Rakhi and Simmy Singh, and violinist Thomas Gould in a unique bespoke performance.
While many of London’s great stages remain closed, DistDancing is taking its shows outside putting on a series of alfresco performances alongside the canal in Hackney from members of the Royal Ballet. Every weekend dancers perform a 20-minute presentation on a pontoon in front of waterside arts venue Hoxton Docks, with an audience watching from the towpath opposite. Dances range from classical ballet to aerial acrobatics. Plus, it’s free to watch. This weekend’s show will take place on Sunday at 3 pm, 5 pm and 7 pm.
South London music venue Brixton Jamm has renovated its outdoor space with spaced-out booths and picnic benches. It’s embracing the spirit of Carnival this Bank Holiday. On Saturday afternoon hear sounds from London-based party collective RITUAL and a unique set from musical heavyweight Mark Knight in the evening. On Sunday, legends Channel One will soundtrack a special carnival weekend BBQ session. They’re back on Monday along with Mad Professor for more reggae, exclusive dubplates, uplifting steppes and meaty treats.