Famed for our unpredictable weather, when sunshine is forecast you simply must make the most of it. But when temperatures soar during a London heatwave, keep note of these cool places (literally)
Swim at a London lido
The Serpentine Lido is, arguably, London’s most iconic ‘open water’ swimming location; find it in Hyde Park. The Lido Café Bar has waterside tables and is the ideal place to enjoy a snack, meal or a glass of wine. In southwest London, Tooting Bec Lido is London’s biggest at 91m and is open daily 6am-8pm. Brockwell Lido originally opened in 1937 and is a popular cool water swimming spot. Meanwhile, London Fields Lido in Hackney, Charlton Lido near Greenwich and Park Road Lido in Crouch End, north London, are all 50m heated lidos. Check online for times and prices.
Swim at Hampstead Heath Ponds
Hampstead Heath is home to some of the best outdoor swimming spots in London, including three natural bathing ponds and one 60m Lido. Parliament Hill Lido is open every single day and has changing rooms with warm showers, and even a sauna. Then there are the separate Kenwood Ladies’ Pond and Highgate Men’s Pond which are natural ponds. These are advised for strong swimmers only as the ponds are deep and can be very cold. For a day with all the family, head to Hampstead Mixed Pond, where there’s a lifeguard, changing rooms and cold outdoor showers. Please note that children aged 8-15 must be accompanied by an adult and will be asked to complete a Swim Test to show competency in the water. Check online for times and prices. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk
Head to Southbank Centre’s summer festival
A summer packed with live music, talks, performance, comedy and visual arts awaits at the Southbank Centre. Taking inspiration from the themes of the Hayward Gallery exhibition, In the Black Fantastic, this year’s festival showcases contemporary Black art and culture. Throughout the summer, there will be DJ takeovers, live music, dance and performance on the Riverside Terrace, free open-air artworks dotted around the ait and thrilling themed events. Artists explore how fantasy can be a gateway to Black creative and cultural liberation. Summer: In the Black Fantastic, to 18 Sep. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. T: 020-3879 9555. www.southbankcentre.co.uk
Eat, drink and swim at Laurel’s on the Roof, Shoreditch
Up on the rooftop of the Modrian Shoreditch hotel is Laurel’s on the Roof. This fun restaurant, bar and pool bring a touch of 1970s LA glamour to east London. Serving Cali-inspired classics such as a crisp Cobb salad, Malibu shrimp cocktail and jackfruit quesadilla, as well as a breakfast menu ranging from fresh fruit and acai bowls to full English breakfast, this may very well be the venue of the summer. 45 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3PT. T: 020-3988 6272. www.sbe.com
Visit The Berkeley
If you’re more into luxury than lidos, The Berkeley Hotel has a stunning rooftop pool. Located on the seventh floor, breathe in skyline views of Hyde Park and central London while you take a dip in the heated pool. Take a seat on a sun lounger among green leaves and fragrant flowers in the secret garden. To cool down, try a tropical smoothie or seasonal spritz from the pool bar – they serve small plates and snacks too. Open daily 7am-8pm for hotel guests only. www.the-berkeley.co.uk
A drink with a view: Rooftop bars
Elevate your evening at one of London’s many rooftop bars. From swanky rooftop lounges to fun-filled skyline gardens, you’ll find the rooftop bar in London that is best suited for you. Expect fun events, live music and classic British hospitality, along with amazing views over the iconic London skyline. Find the best rooftop bars here.
Have a night to remember at an outdoor cinema
Sitting in a cinema during a heatwave is probably quite low on your list. But if you’ve got a hankering for an evening film, grab a chair at an open-air cinema. There are plenty popping up around London this summer, from Hampton Court to St Katharine Docks. Whether you’re after a romance such as Pretty Woman or Mamma Mia!, or looking for a more action-packed evening with Spider-Man: No Way Home, there’s bound to be something for all movie-lovers. Discover outdoor cinemas now.
Try some of the best ice creams
Londoners love ice cream, despite the typically cool climate. Try some of the capital’s coolest spots for ice creams, sorbets, gelato and soft-serve. Gelupo in Soho takes its gelato creations seriously, offering unusual flavours such as lemon, custard and almond, and a range of vegan options. Greedy Goat has been serving smooth, British GM-free goats’ milk ice cream at Borough Market for years. Its delicious flavours will have you licking the jar clean every time! Milk Train has taken soft-serve ice cream to a new level with its quirky cafe in Covent Garden. The showstopper in the shop’s creative portfolio is the dreamy candyfloss cone, which combines two of your favourite childhood treats: ice cream surrounded by a cloud of candyfloss. Find more ice cream shops here.
Explore the docks and canals
While the River Thames might dominate your agenda, it’s not the only body of water on which you can have fun this summer. The capital’s network of docks and canals is perfectly suited for mini meanders. Perhaps you want to be the captain of your own motorised GoBoat in either Paddington or Canary Wharf? Jump in a Hot Tub Boat or BBQ Boat with your besties, thanks to Skuna? You can also work up a sweat on a paddleboard along the Regent’s Canal before quenching your thirst with a well-earned pint thanks to Paddleboarding London’s Paddle to the Pub tour. goboat.co.uk; skunaboats.com; merchantsquare.co.uk; paddleboardinglondon.co.uk.
Enjoy Summer by the River
Reviving weary workers, tourists and locals alike, Summer by the River is a three-month festival bringing free entertainment to the banks of the Thames. There are three locations: The Scoop, Hay’s Galleria and The Pier. s bringing 1930s Miami vibes to the banks of the Thames over three locations – The Scoop, Hay’s Galleria and The Pier. At The Scoop, The Riverside Terrace pop-up bar offers a little slice of South Beach complete with empanadas and piña coladas, while over at The Pier, Taqueria Garcia is bringing the heat with tacos and tequila. The eclectic programme of events will put smiles on the faces of all ages. Activities include a karaoke night backed by a live Gospel Choir, Dabbers Bingo, interactive workshops and dance battles between world-renowned artists and a modern take on Twelfth Night set on Love Island. Find out more.
Keep cool in Kew
Walk through the canopy on the Treetop walkway, take a mindful moment in the Japanese Garden and wander through wildflower meadows. While at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, visit the Waterlily House. Here you will see a newly recognised species of giant waterlily, that claims the record for the largest leaves, which span a whopping 3 meters. They are at their best during the summer months. Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AE. T: 020-8332 5655. www.kew.org.
Spend the day at Alexandra Palace
From one of London’s biggest beer gardens to the ice rink, Alexandra Palace has everything you need for a cool day out. The Terrace at the Phoenix Bar and Kitchen is the perfect place to enjoy a drink (or five), stone-fired pizza and panoramic views in the sunshine. At weekends you’ll often find street food vendors here too, as well as Greek Souvlaki. To cool down, head inside to the year-round ice rink. Kaleidoscope Festival will bring electronic music duo Orbital, Manchester’s Happy Mondays, comedians Ed Byrne and Dom Joly and other fun and games to the hilltop (23 Jul). While you’re here, test your head for heights at GoApe’s treetop challenge. Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY. T: 020-8365 4343. www.alexandrapalace.com.
Run through the fountains in Granary Square
On the banks of Regent’s Canal, at the top of King’s Boulevard in the heart of King’s Cross, is Granary Square. Where barges once unloaded their goods, the square is filled with more than 1000 choreographed fountains – they light up at night. They are undoubtedly the Square’s most popular attraction, but you’ll also find restaurants, markets, outdoor cinema screenings, the Summer Sounds Music Festival (10-21 Aug) and much more. Sit on the steps overlooking the canal while the children run through the fountains. 1 Granary Square, N1C 4AB. T: 020-3479 1795. www.kingscross.co.uk.
Walk through Summer Lights, Canary Wharf
Outdoor areas across Canary Wharf have been transformed into sparkling, colourful spaces. Punctuated by beautifully designed outdoor installations that play with the natural light, Summer Lights will be in place until 20 August, although six pieces are permanent additions. There is also a spectacular exhibition of hand-blown glass in the lobby of One Canada Square. Free to view, this is well worth a look when you’re in the area. Throughout the Estate, Canary Wharf, E14. www.canarywharf.com.
Catch an outdoor theatre performance
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is one of London’s best and celebrates its 90th anniversary this year with a musical adaptation of 101 Dalmatians that’s packed with puppetry. You could also catch a Shakespearean play performed al fresco. The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, one of the UK’s finest touring theatre companies, will perform As You Like It at Morden Hall Park (16 Jul & 12 Aug) and Kenwood (14 Aug), or you can head to Shakespeare’s Globe for an open-air performance at the Bard’s theatre.
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