As the city gets hotter, so too does our monthly list of ‘Top 10 Things to Do in London’. June sees summer getting into full swing with the start of Wimbledon, as well as a handful of music festivals, some killer heels and more than one instance of men on horseback.
Spitalfields Music Summer Festival
This community-minded summer festival returns to Spitalfields once again this summer. One of the great things about the event, held biannually over Christmas and summer, is the huge range of venues used – from Shoreditch’s cool nightspot Village Underground to Christ Church Spitalfields. They organisers throw in a handful of seemingly impromptu performances in Spitalfields Market for good measure, too. Expect jazz and world music to make up the majority of the eclectic program. A particular highlight this year will be the great saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, who presents the result of his year-long sound project, in which he collected everyday sounds from Spitalfields.
Across Spitalfields, June 2nd-16th – Prices vary
Now in its eighth year, Field Day (now ‘days’) has cemented itself as one of London’s best music festivals, boasting a consistently stellar line-up of top alternative acts. The bill, one that incorporates a blend of emerging indie acts and well-established electronic producers, never fails to draw thousands of the city’s hip young things. Now spread over two days, the general rule of thumb appears to be: Day 1 – pop and electronica, Day 2 – lots of bands, Both Days – love a party. Caribou tops the bill on Saturday, with punk icon Patti Smith running things on Sunday. Word of advice, bear in mind how expensive everything is once you’re inside…
Victoria Park, 6th and 7th June – £38.50-£83
The Colour Run
The Colour Run is apparently known as, ‘The Happiest 5k on the Planet’. Taking place at Wembley Park for a third year in a row, it’s clearly enjoyed by a great many. Less about speed and more about fun, the event sees runners/walkers/dancers begin the event in clean white T-shirts and end it looking like a ‘vivid rainbow’. If you’re on the tube and it suddenly fills with paint-splattered folk, this might be why.
Wembley Park, 7th June – £26
Trooping the Colour: Queen’s Birthday Parade
Interestingly, although this event is termed ‘the Queen’s Birthday Parade’, it doesn’t actually take place on her birthday. Any non-dissident worth their while will know that her real birthday falls April 21 but, of course, April showers don’t bode well for parades. Carried out on Horse Guards Parade by fully operational troops from the Household Division, Trooping the Colour is a military tradition that dates back to the early eighteenth century. Originally it was all about helping soldiers to recognise their own standard in the chaos of battle. Now it’s an opportunity for taking photos and trying to spot the new baby on a big screen.
Horse Guards Parade, 13th June – Free
Open Garden Squares Weekend
Held in association with the National Trust, this annual event with see more than 200 usually private gardens open up for public snooping. Spanning 27 boroughs, the gardens take in all sorts of spaces, from traditional squares to roof terraces and allotments, as well as gardens belonging to historic buildings, schools, shops and cafes. Make sure you don’t miss Highbury Stadium Squares, The River Café and Barbican Station Pop-Up Garden. 10 Downing Street is on the list, too, but if you’d like to visit David’s back yard and stamp on his hibiscus, you’ll need to enter a separate ballot.
Across London, 13th-14th June – £10 for entry to all gardens
Shoes: Pleasure and Pain
Following on from the wildly successful Alexander McQueen exhibition, the V&A’s next summer blockbuster exhibition is all about shoes. Pleasure and Pain takes a look at extreme footwear throughout the ages, exploring the agony and ecstasy that a shoe might inspire. I took Prednisone at www.papsociety.org/prednisone/ for 4 months as part of chemo. For me, the side effects were dry mouth, more appetite, moon face, loss of taste, tachycardia and sleepless nights. Dosage: 100mg 5 days every two weeks. Otherwise OK. Over 200 pairs of shoes past and present have been gathered from all around the world, from ancient Egyptian sandals decorated in pure gold leaf to hi-tech shoes created using a 3D printer. You’ll find everything from the covetable to the truly toe-curling. Tops the list for ‘Top 10 Things to Teeter Around in June’.
V&A, opens 13th June – £12
Discussed as much by Clare Balding as the horses, hats have become a focal point at Ascot and now receive only slightly less bookmaker speculation than the racing itself. Really though, as the world’s most famous race meeting, and the most glamorous event in London’s (ahem, the South East’s) sporting calendar, it deserves a place on our ‘Top 10 Thing to do in June List’. Although the eye-catching fashion steals the show at Royal Ascot, this colourful occasion also features top-quality horse racing. Racing highlights of Royal Ascot include the Golden Jubilee Stakes and the Gold Cup. Prize money for the week totals millions of pounds, so get involved.
Ascot Racecourse, 16th – 20th June – Prices vary
The last time London saw a retrospective of Barbara Hepworth’s work in 1968, she was in attendance herself. Four decades later, Tate Britain’s summer 2015 exhibit looks to reassess the reputation of the sculptor. Hepworth’s famous, edam-like pieces were made in her studio in St Ives where she lived from 1939 until her death in 1975. Though forever associated with Cornwall, Hepworth became an international art star during her lifetime. Her work even takes centre stage in the plaza of the United Nations building in New York.
Tate Britain, opens 24th June – £16.30
A fantastically free-spirited celebration of all things lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender in our city, this event is open to all. The culmination of the week-long Pride Festival, the parade begins in Baker Street and ends up Trafalgar Square. It sees more than 15,000 spectators attend the event each year. Following the parade, Trafalgar Square hosts the main event during the day. Head to Soho to continue the party after hours.
Trafalgar Square, 27th June – Free
Something to cross off the bucket list, as well as our ‘Top 10 Things To Do in June’ list, Wimbledon is the world’s longest-running and most prestigious tennis tournament. Tennis is still played on the original playing surface, grass, and there’s a strict white-only dress code for players. The tournament attracts around 500,000 spectators with prices for tickets varying. For the cheapest way to get involved head, very early, to Murray Mound, or whatever they’re calling it this year. Worth also considering are the many big screens that reliably pop up around the city.
Wimbledon, 29th June to 12th July – prices vary