2012 is a big year for London, with all sorts of sensational events taking place in the capital. Check out our handy guide to the biggest and best of the summer celebrations, guaranteed to liven up your London hotel break.
By Show and Stay, the providers of hotel and London show packages.
13 Jul — 8 Sep 2012
The Royal Albert Hall plays host to the biggest classical music festival in the world, offering a series of incredible music events, including free concerts, workshops and talks. The concerts are intended to be casual and value-for-money, with tickets starting at just £5.
Highlights include the remarkable first and last nights of the celebrations, including Proms in the Park, a Children’s Prom with Wallace and Gromit and a celebrity-studded rendition of My Fair Lady.
Add a touch of Prom splendour to any London theatre deal by enjoying an afternoon classical concert.
Queen’s Diamond Jubilee
2 —5 Jun 2012
To celebrate 60 years of the Queen’s reign, make the most of the Jubilee four-day weekend with a series of splendid events.
Take part in the Big Jubilee Lunch, taking place nationwide, including a communal picnic running from Piccadilly Circus to St James Street. Join in the festivities at Battersea Park, where a whole host of fun-packed family activities will take place, including a massive kazoo orchestra playing the national anthem.
Witness the beacon lighting event, in which 2,012 beacons will be illuminated across Britain and the world to commemorate this momentous occasion. Plus, be sure to catch the magnificent carriage procession from Westminster Hall to Buckingham Palace, complete with rifle salute on 5 June.
3 June 2012
As part of the Jubilee celebrations, don’t miss this monumental river extravaganza, in which up to 1,000 boats will make up one of the largest ever flotillas gathered on the Thames. All types of vessels will take part, bedecked with Union Jack flags and streamers plus up to 30,000 flag-waving passengers. Look out for geyser-spouting boats, a floating belfry whose bells will echo those from churches on the riverbank, plus smoke and daytime fireworks to add to the visual spectacle. The fleet will make their way from Battersea to Tower Bridge between 2pm and 4pm, accompanied by gunfire salutes, bells, whistles, and music barges.
Olympics and Paralympics
27 Jul — 12 Aug and 29 Aug — 9 Sep 2012
Prepare for a festival vibe throughout the city as London hosts the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, kicking off with the Opening Ceremony on 27 July, which welcomes the athletes to London. See the torch as it travels to the capital in the run-up, traversing through the UK for 70 days before arriving in London on 21 July, and journeying through each London borough before reaching the stadium for the start of the sports spectacular.
The Paralympics opens on 29 August and showcases a range of 20 different sports. Alongside the games, don’t miss the London 2012 Festival, a celebration of arts and culture including free concerts and exhibitions throughout the city.
Southbank Festival of the World
1 Jun — 9 Sep 2012
Soak up some cosmopolitan culture this summer at this spectacular multicultural celebration, which includes a variety of entertainments including music, art, dance and comedy, plus an array of international food markets and an urban beach.
Celebrate spoken word at the largest ever poetry festival, with wordsmiths from every Olympic nation, or explore African arts at the Africa Utopia cultural summit and enjoy live acts at the BT River of Music.
The Southbank Centre will become a site of world learning and merriment with this programme of free and exciting events.
WorldPride 2012 in London
23 Jun — 8 Jul 2012
London is delighted to be hosting this year’s WorldPride event, a two-week long programme of rainbow-coloured celebrations including a main parade on 7 July promoting LGBT issues.
This ostentatious and polychromatic procession will weave through the city’s streets before congregating in Trafalgar Square for a post-parade party including world-class performers. The schedule of events also includes a wide range of theatre shows, poetry, music and parties, and is expected to attract up to 1 million visitors to the capital.
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships
25 Jun — 8 Jul 2012
One of the world’s most prestigious Grand Slam competitions promises two weeks of tense tennis tournaments set to attract over 500,000 spectators.
Seats are so oversubscribed that tickets must be allocated at random by computer from those who have applied, so get set to enjoy the matches on television, either in a pub, or in the garden with a bowl of strawberries and cream or a nice chilled Pimms.
City of London Festival
24 Jun — 27 Jul 2012
The Square Mile comes to life this summer season with a fantastic festival of art, literature, film and music. From classical concerts to operas and organ recitals, this resplendent reverie will bring music and colour to the financial district.
Look out for the fifty golden pianos dotted around the area, where you can play your own tune or take a free lesson to celebrate the festival’s golden jubilee. Join in the vibrant parade celebrating flowers of the world, or head to the Honey Feast on 27 July to honour the local beehives and their produce with a ceremonial wildflower planting plus bee-themed entertainment.
Notting Hill Carnival
26 — 27 Aug 2012
Europe’s largest street festival brings West London to life on the August Bank Holiday weekend. Caribbean vibes, street bands and calypso fill the streets in this energetic and electrifying party.
Watch the colourful costumes and floats parade through the streets while enjoying some authentic Caribbean cuisine from the wealth of stalls selling jerk chicken, goat curry and fried plantain.
Get down with the steel bands and drum-beats while sipping on a rum punch or Jamaican lager, and don’t miss the after-parties on Monday after the main parade.
Mayor’s Thames Festival
8 — 9 Sep 2012
In a glorious end to the summer festivities, and coinciding with the final weekend of the 2012 Games, this incredible festival celebrates the city and its river.
The banks of the Thames will be transformed with stalls, street art, exhibitions, lanterns, circus acts and activities, while the river itself will be teeming with boat races and illuminations.
Musical entertainment will include choral and percussion performances, plus a night carnival that will take place on Sunday, culminating in a breathtaking fireworks finale.
This handy guide was written by Show and Stay, the UK theatre break providers.