The last bank holiday of the year falls on Monday 28th August and there are plenty of ways to eat, drink and party over the three-day break. Perhaps you live here, maybe you’ll be just visiting: either way, there are carnivals, festivals, and other (much less energetic) ways to spend a long weekend in the city. Here are our tips on making the most out of the August Bank Holiday in London for 2017.
Carnivals and festivals
Notting Hill Carnival
The biggest free street party in London returns for its annual Bank Holiday celebrations. The streets of west London are transformed into a Caribbean carnival, with music, food and drink on offer. Steel Bands are the order of the day on the Saturday evening opening night, which is the precursor for the colourful Children’s Parade on the Sunday.
More than 60 bands and thousands of dancers will entertain the crowds at the Grand Finale on Monday as they make their way through the streets to the stage at Powis Square.
When: See below. Main parades Sunday 27th and Monday 28th August
Opening times: Panorama festival on Sat: 6pm to 10pm, Sunday Parade & Family Day: 10am to 8:30pm. Monday Parade and Grand Finale: 10am to 8:30pm
Further info: Website and Twitter
South West Four
One of the biggest dance festivals in the country takes place in London over the August Bank Holiday. You’re going to hear the best of drum ‘n’ bass, house, garage and dance music on Clapham Common. This year’s headliners include Deadmau5, Pendulum, Sigma and Knife Party, and tickets are still available for Sunday.
See the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace
While Her Majesty The Queen’s away on her holidays, you can head behind the scenes to see what goes on in a royal residence. The State Rooms are where the Royal Family host official occasions and welcome visiting dignitaries and are home to some of the finest furnishing and art from the Royal Collection – see if you can tell a Canaletto from a Van Dyck.
If you want to extend your visit on a Royal Day Out, then you can also see the Royal Mews, a working stable and where the historic coaches and carriages are kept as well as the Queen’s Gallery, which has an ever-changing exhibition of paintings.
Visit the Houses of Parliament
With all the MPs enjoying their summer recess, now’s the time to take a sneak peak behind the scenes.
You can take a Blue Badge guided tour through the corridors of power, where the experts will explain all the complicated and historic rules that govern the House of Lords and House of Commons. The tour includes Westminster Hall, the Queen’s Robing Room and the Members Lobby among other places of note.
When: Monday to Friday between 24th July and 1st September 2017 (except 28th August 2017)
Details: Adults £25.50, concessions available: Book online. Guided tours last approximately 90 minutes.
More info: Website and Twitter
Travel Photographer of the Year
See the winners images from 2016 in a free exhibition featuring entries from more than a hundred different countries. The breathtaking pictures from all over the world are on show at the Stockwell Building at the University of Greenwich.
Now in its 18th year, this gory and gruesome tribute to international fantasy and horror films is now a five day event in London. The film festival has previews, personal appearances, signings and some surprises that go bump in the night. Expect a mixture of short films, premières and cult classics.
When: Thursday 24th – Monday 28th August 2017
Details: Cineworld Leicester Square and the Prince Charles Cinema Leicester Square. Individual films cost £14.25, a day pass from between £33-£66 and a four day festival pass for £195. Passes must be booked in advance online.
More info: Website and Twitter
Find more cultural things to do in London this summer
Enjoy the great outdoors
If the weather’s nice, head down to one of London’s parks where you can go rowing, cycling, swimming or just do a bit of sunbathing. We’ve put together a list of some of the best parks and green spaces in the capital to give you a steer.
You can even feel the sand between your toes at Beach East at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This is the UK’s largest urban beach and its free to go along and sit in the sun, visit the funfair or take part in the family-led activities going on.
The worlds highest slide
Also the longest tunnel slide, with 178m of sliding to enjoy as you hurtle to the bottom.
From The Slide – at the ArcelorMittal Orbit – you’ll get a view of some of London’s best attractions as you circle the structure a dozen times and whizz down in 40 seconds. The slide was created by Belgian artist Carsten Höller, who was commissioned by the sculptor’s designer, Sir Anish Kapoor.
Find more family friendly things to do with kids in London this summer
Day trips from London
If you want to escape from the big smoke for a day or even a weekend break – jump in the car or take the train or bus out into the countryside.
We’ve put together a guide to day trips from London and here are a couple of places to visit within striking distance over the long weekend.
Catch the quick train and you can be in Brighton within an hour and with parking at a premium down on the South Coast, this is usually the best option.
Start the day off with a bracing breakfast or brunch.
We’ve found 44 things to do in Brighton to get you started, from beachside bars to vintage shopping.
If you love live music, then Brighton has one of the best gig scenes in the country – and here’s where to find those seaside sounds.
If you want to make a night of it, we’ve put together a list of 15 of the best Brighton Hotels to stay in.
In just under two hours you could be in this quintessential seaside town with its pretty beach and harbour. Dreamland Margate pays homage to the Golden Age of the day trip with it’s refitted retro rides and traditional entertainment.
They have rides from every decade, lovingly updated for those who love a bit of nostalgia, as well as modern ones to thrill the adrenaline seeker. The Turner Contemporary art gallery is free to visit and is right on the harbour. Once you’ve looked round have a glass of wine or beer on their seafront terrace. You can then see if you can uncover the mystery of the underground Shell Grotto (discovered in 1835).
And here are more things to do in Margate.
Essential weekend links for the August Bank Holiday
Find more inspiration for things to do in London here.
Visit the Transport for London website for all the latest news and travel information
If you’re planning on spending more than a day in London, then we have plenty of places to stay.
Finally, remember to check out the weather forecast to make sure you make the most out of the August Bank Holiday weekend 2017.
And don’t worry – we’ve even put together a list of things to do if it rains.