Your Guide to London's Top Summer Events

Your Guide to London's Top Summer Events

London puts on its party hat this summer to celebrate a breadth of anniversaries and cultural extravaganzas By: Meagan Drillinger
<p>“Punk 1976-78,” an exhibition at the British Library, will explore the genre, which will turn 40 this year. // © 2016 Creative Commons user <a...

“Punk 1976-78,” an exhibition at the British Library, will explore the genre, which will turn 40 this year. // © 2016 Creative Commons user sampos

Feature image (above): Clients will have the opportunity to see the inside of Buckingham Palace during its summer opening. // © 2016 Creative Commons user jimmyharris

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London is all about the party this summer. From commemorating the Queen’s birthday and the history of punk to welcoming the return of the magical world of Harry Potter, London is pulling out all the celebratory stops. Earlier this year, VisitLondon — together with the Great Britain Campaign, British Airways and Hilton Worldwide — launched Fans of London, a new initiative to celebrate the packed calendar of events, exhibitions and anniversaries that will roll out in the city through the summer. Here’s what travelers to London can expect this season.

Annual Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace
“One of my favorite experiences is Buckingham Palace’s summer opening,” said Howard Lewis of Protravel International. “Rather than waiting outside the famous iron gate to peer inside, you have the opportunity for a short while to see inside the palace, view the many staterooms and see the Queen’s vast art collection.”

To mark her Majesty’s 90th birthday, part of this year’s summer opening, which will take place from July 23 to Oct. 2. will include the first-time display of the Queen’s wedding and coronation dresses together.

Big Dance
Whether they go to sports venues or concerts or just enjoy the city’s beautiful parks, travelers have plenty of opportunities to take advantage of London’s summer weather, says Sondra Wilson, a travel agent with Travel Leaders. 

Big Dance is no exception. Led by the mayor of London, this festival — held through Sept. 10 — is a celebration of dance that encourages people of all ages and abilities to come together in a series of events and activities all summer long.

“My favorite is to catch the Big Dance Bus tour, a converted double-decker bus complete with a sound system, DJ and dance floor that drives into every corner of London throughout the festival,” Protravel’s Lewis said.

Curtain Up: Celebrating 40 Years of Theatre in London and New York
This year, the Olivier Awards — equivalent to Broadway’s Tony Awards and presented annually by the Society of London Theatre to recognize excellence in professional theater in the city — is celebrating 40 years. As part of the anniversary, guests can visit the “Curtain Up: Celebrating 40 Years of Theatre in London and New York” exhibition at Victoria and Albert Museum through August 31 to explore the world’s two greatest cities for theater. 

On display are costumes from shows such as “The Producers,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Audience.” Other highlights include set models, scripts, photographs and film from past productions such as “Carousel,” “Arcadia” and “Sunday in the Park With George.”

Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones
Through Sept. 4, Shidoobies can meet at Saatchi Gallery for “Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones” to celebrate the beloved band’s 50-year history. Both floors will be taken over by the exhibit’s nine galleries, which combine more than 500 Stones’ artifacts with interactive technology and insight into the band. Highlights include dressing room and backstage paraphernalia, as well as rare instruments, original stage designs, costumes, rare audio tracks, video footage, personal diaries and more.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Nineteen years after J.K. Rowling introduced the world to The Boy Who Lived, the writer is poised to launch another “Harry Potter” story. Potterphiles are waiting with bated breath to see “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” a two-part play based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. The show will officially open on July 30 at The Palace Theatre. The two parts are meant to be seen in order on the same day or on two consecutive evenings.

Punk 1976-78
This entirely free exhibition at the British Library celebrates all things punk, as the genre celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. “Punk 1976-78” starts with the impact of the band Sex Pistols in 1976 and follows punk through its early days and its influence across music, fashion, and more. The exhibit, which will run through Oct. 2, is part of Punk London, a year of events, acts, talks and exhibits showcasing the influence of the genre on the city.

Romeo and Juliet
2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and all of Great Britain is celebrating. In London, the classic story of “Romeo and Juliet” is coming to The Garrick theater through Aug. 13, courtesy of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company.