The Cultural Events In London To Book Now

There’s plenty happening in and around the capital this summer. From a month-long series of street parties and balls at Somerset House to the must-see new fashion exhibition at the V&A, here’s what to see and book right now.
By Heather Steele /

South Pacific at Sadler’s Wells

This much-loved Tony and Pulitzer prize-winning musical production transfers to Sadler’s Wells this summer following five-star reviews at Chichester Festival Theatre. The powerful love story, set on a South-Pacific island during World War ll, features a cast of more than 30, led by the leads from the Chichester Festival Theatre production, including Julian Ovenden, Gina Beck, Rob Houchen, Joanna Ampil and Sera Maehara. Featuring a full orchestra, South Pacific has one of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s most memorable scores, features songs such as ‘Some Enchanted Evening’, ‘I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My’ Hair and ‘Bali Ha’I’.

Rosebery Avenue, Islington, EC1R 4TN; 27th July-28th August

Visit SadlersWells.com

This Bright Land at Somerset House

Created by Somerset House Studios artists Gareth Pugh and Carson McColl, This Bright Land is a forthcoming series of events focused on ‘togetherness’. The set up will include everything from a 35m observation wheel offering views over the city and open-air ‘Vogue Balls’ staged in collaboration with Vogue Rites, to Friday night parties hosted by creative collectives and Sunday street parties. There will also be an ongoing global street food market from Black Eats LDN, plus a number of beauty activations, including a clubhouse sponsored by M·A·C and pop-ups by Clinique, Origins, Jo Malone, Dr Jart, Aveda and Bobbi Brown.

Strand, Covent Garden, WC2R 1LA; 1st-29th August

Visit SomersetHouse.org.uk

Summer on the Square at The National Gallery

This summer, the National Gallery will host its biggest ever festival of immersive art, creativity and community on Trafalgar Square – all for free. The festival is a reworking of the gallery’s art collection, creating a new set of experiences and activities that play with scale, spectacle and sound. Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in a purpose-built arts studio; participate in practical and walk-in art and sound installations; as well as sketching, making, moving and exploring the National Gallery’s collection. Best of all, there are no tickets required to attend.

North Terrace, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN; 11th-19th August

Visit NationalGallery.org.uk

101 Dalmatians at Regent’s Park Theatre

There’s nothing like a warm summer’s night spent in the atmospheric, open-air Regent’s Park Theatre. Suitable for the whole family, this current production brings the notorious Cruella de Vil to the stage. When the pampered and glamorous heiress and fashion designer sets her sights on a new Dalmatian fur coat, there’s trouble ahead for Pongo, Perdi and their litter of puppies. Based on the classic story by Dodie Smith, and set in and around Regent’s Park, this new musical adaptation is full of fun-packed puppetry children will love – with enough OTT fashion for grown-ups to enjoy too.

Inner Circle, Regent's Park, NW1 4NU; until 28th August 

Visit OpenAirTheatre.com

The Proms at Royal Albert Hall

The BBC Proms is a classical music festival held every summer at the Royal Albert Hall. The event’s aim is to bring the best in classical music to the widest possible audience, which remains true to founder-conductor Henry Wood's original vision in 1895. Whether you’re a classical connoisseur or think classical music isn’t for you, the programme has something for everyone during its eight-week stretch of concerts. This year’s celebration includes 84 concerts and features a large-scale repertoire not heard at the festival since before the pandemic. It also sees the welcome return of international orchestras to the stage, plus a special night with the newly formed Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra.

Kensington Gore, South Kensington, SW7 2AP; until 10th September

Visit RoyalAlbertHall.com

Don Giovanni at Royal Opera House

One of the Royal Opera House’s most acclaimed recent shows returns this September. Kasper Holten’s production of Don Giovanni offers a glimpse inside the mind of one of opera’s most notorious seducers. Serial womaniser Don Giovanni barely stops to draw breath between conquests – not even when one of his seductions ends in a murder. But time is running out for the Don and his servant Leporello, and they are about to receive a dinner invitation they simply can’t refuse. With a spectacular revolving set by award-winning designer Es Devlin and striking video projections by Luke Halls, the production gives audiences an experience of Mozart’s daring drama in all its wit, glamour and darkness. Tickets go on sale on 27th July.

Bow Street, West End, WC2E 9DD; 8th-26th September

Visit ROH.org.uk

The Tempest at Shakespeare’s Globe

Shakespeare’s tumultuous tale of reckoning and redemption is being brought to life by the Globe EnsembleFor powerful Prospero’s opening act of revenge, he raises a ferocious storm to shipwreck a crew of men – including his usurping brother – onto the remote island he now rules. His unwitting cast is now in position and, with reluctant support from the island’s colonised inhabitants, Prospero’s designs of magical and emotional manipulation unfurl with life-changing force. Get ready to be shaken by Shakespeare’s most elemental comedy.

21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, SE1 9DT; until 22nd October

Visit ShakespearesGlobe.com

A Doll’s House Part 2 at Donmar Warehouse

Fifteen years after Nora Helmer slammed the door on her stifling marriage, she’s back with an urgent request. But first she must face the family she left behind. Directed by James Macdonald, with a cast led by double Olivier award winner Noma Dumezweni (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), Lucas Hnath audaciously picks up where Ibsen’s revolutionary masterpiece left off. You don’t need to have seen the original to immerse yourself in this excellent 90-minute production.

41 Earlham Street, West End, WC2H 9LX; until 6th August

Visit DonmarWarehouse.com

The Secret Garden at The Garden Museum

The Garden Museum’s summer exhibition celebrates Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved classic children’s book The Secret Garden. The exhibition explores how different artists’ illustrations from the past 100 years bring the story to life, embracing the healing power of gardens and discovering the true story of Burnett’s real ‘secret garden’ which inspired the book. This immersive exhibition is suitable for all ages, with interactive games and trails for children to learn about the plants, animals and stories found in The Secret Garden, all designed to inspire young visitors to try their hand at gardening, but there’s more than enough here for older visitors who loved the book as a child to enjoy.

Lambeth Palace Road, Waterloo, SE1 7LB; until 4 September

Visit GardenMuseum.org.uk

Africa Fashion at V&A

The V&A’s latest show is a landmark exhibition celebrating the creativity, ingenuity and unstoppable global impact of contemporary African fashion. It’s the UK’s most extensive exhibition of African pieces to date, with over 250 objects on display. Many of the garments on show are from the personal archives of a selection of iconic mid 20th-century African designers – Shade Thomas-Fahm, Chris Seydou, Kofi Ansah and Alphadi – marking the first time their work will be shown in a London museum. The exhibition showcases these objects and the stories behind them alongside personal insights from the designers, together with sketches, editorial spreads, photographs, film and catwalk footage. The collection also celebrates influential contemporary African fashion creatives including Imane Ayissi, IAMISIGO, Moshions, Thebe Magugu and Sindiso Khumalo.

Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 2RL; until 2nd April 2023

Visit VAM.ac.uk

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