With over 250 festivals every year, London has a lot going on whenever you decide to visit. To help you, we’ve chosen the top events each month.
London New Year's Day Parade (free): thousands of performers from all over the world come to London to take part is this dazzling parade that starts at Piccadilly and makes its way down to Parliament Square.
London Art Fair: the largest art fair in the UK kicks off in January and presents works and installations across modern and contemporary British art and photography.
London Fashion Week: presented twice a year, in February and September, LFW attracts the attention of the world. For events, talks and exhibits going on around LFW check out:
• Carnaby Street: this boutique-shoping street, near Oxford Circus, often hosts all sorts of pop-up music, dance and discount events during LFW.
• Victoria and Albert (V&A Museum): it’s worth looking at the events calendar at this decorative arts museum to see what exhibits, talks, or other events they have organized to tie in with LFW.
• Somerset House: as one of the official venues of LFW, check out their website to see what they have going on, but, whatever it is, it’s guaranteed to be fabulous.
• London College of Fashion: see what talks and events this dedicated fashion college may be offering if you’re in town for LFW.
• Fashion Space Gallery: part of the London College of Fashion, this gallery will never miss an opportunity to display its wares.
• Fashion and Textile Museum another museum dedicated to fashion and to feeding the appetite of the fashion hungry. See what they’ve got lined up this LFW.
Country to Country: love country music? This two-day indoor festival brings all things country – music, markets and line dancing – to London. What more could you want?
The Boat Race (free) every year people line the banks of the River Thames to see the famous Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race.
The Goat Race: if you don’t fancy the Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race, then why not go for the Oxford vs Cambridge Goat Race? Taking place on the same day, at Spitalfields City Farm, but tickets cannot be bought on the door so book in advance.
London Marathon (free): one of the most televised marathons in the world, check out the course and where to support the runners along the way here .
Udderbelly Festival: this is the Southbank Centre’s summer festival, offering a programme of events that cover music, comedy, circus and almost any form of family entertainment you can think of.
Chelsea Flower Show: this five-day show is probably the most well-known garden show on the planet. Even the Queen pays a visit.
Trooping The Colour (free): this free annual event (unless you want to book grandstand tickets) is held in celebration of the Queen’s birthday (despite her birthday being in April). For good viewing head to The Mall or to the edge of St James’s Park.
Pride (free): join the party, as members of the LGBTQ+ community take to the streets to celebrate their culture in vivid colours and wild creations.
Hampton Court Palace Festival: fancy an open-air concert in a Tudor courtyard? You can enjoy music, food and fireworks on these regal grounds.
Wimbledon: a tennis tournament that needs no introduction. Held between the end of June and the beginning of July every year, Wimbledon attracts the sporting eyes of the world to see who will take home that prestigious trophy. The schedule is announced just days before the excitement begins. Book your tickets here.
Notting Hill Carnival (free): held on the August bank holiday, this is the largest (free) street carnival in Europe, celebrating the food, culture and dance of the West Indian community.
The Mayor’s Thames Festival (free): this is London’s largest free festival and goes on throughout the whole of September. Over 100 events, covering art and culture, run along and on the river.
Open House London (free): every year, over 800 buildings (including some private homes) and public spaces take part in this weekend festival, inviting you to explore the architecture of the city.
The London Design Festival: across one jam-packed week, hundreds of events take place across the capital to display and support the creative talent in London.
Restaurant Festival: from cosy cafés to fancy Michelin-starred restaurants, events are hosted across this three-week festival, with a huge selection of restaurants creating a menu especially for the occasion.
London Film Festival: choose from hundreds of films, made all over the world, in several different languages, being played across many cinematic venues, in just 12 days.
Guy Fawkes (Bonfire) Night: every year, on the 5 November, we celebrate the failed Gunpowder Plot (Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605). An effigy of Guy Fawkes is put on top of the bonfire and fireworks galore are let off.
Southbank Winter Festival: Christmas markets, children’s shows, old-time jazz and more. As ever, the Southbank plays host to a multiude of events and goings on, from November to January.
Ice Skating: there are several spots for ice skating in the capital between November and January…
• Somerset House: set outside, in the beautiful court of this neoclassical building, in the heart of London’s Zone 1. Booking in advance is advisable.
• Natural History Museum: located right outside this historic museum, in West London (near South Kensington and Knightsbridge), be sure to wrap up warm.
• Alexandra Palace: situated high up on the hill (near Crouch End) you can do a few laps on this indoor rink.
• Eyeskate: outside, at the foot of the London Eye, you can enjoy the charms and Christmas markets on the South Bank before or after your skate.
• Hampton Court Palace: located a short train ride from London, Hampton Court is steeped in history and every year offers the opportunity to skate against this stunning backdrop.
Winter Wonderland (free): every year the festivities come to Hyde Park, bringing you themed rides, Christmas markets, the circus, ice skating, and festive food and drink. Entrance to the wonderland is free, but you have to buy tickets for the attractions.
New Year’s Eve Fireworks: all along South Bank and Embankment, people line the Thames to see the sky light up around Big Ben and the London Eye with the best fireworks display of the year. This event is now ticketed.
You can also visit the events calendar on TimeOut to see what other events in London you can pop along to when you’re in town.