Summer solstice London 2019: How to make the most of the longest day
From sunrise yoga to outdoor art, here's what to do in London on the summer solstice
Take a sunrise yoga class
There are plenty of yoga classes that offer allow you to say salutations to the sun with a stunning view to boot. Fat Buddha Yoga offers energising morning sessions across East London and the City; Yogasphere is offering punters the sky high yoga experience with yoga on the 24th floor of the Shard; Sky Garden offers a dynamic vinyasa flow class followed by a continental buffet breakfast in the Darwin Brasserie.
Do something outdoorsy
While you might not expect it, London is actually home to many a beautiful cycling route. One of which is Battersea Park to Greenwich – a 16km cycle ride largely along the river Thames that will see you ticking off various tourist hotspots (the London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe and Cutty Sark) along the way. There are also plenty of places to swim outdoors, from all-under-control lidos to wilder bathing ponds. London’s one of the best cities in the world for running, too, if you know which routes dodge the worst of the pollution. Meanwhile, those looking to take in scenic London at a gentler pace could head to pretty Holland Park. As well as being one of London’s lushest green spaces, it's also one of the most secluded ones. Plus, if you commit to walking the whole of this 55-acre park we can guarantee you'll burn off a fair few calories.
Treat your tastebuds at Taste of London
Enjoy the al fresco food event of the year at Taste of London. Several of London's leading restaurants are appearing in pop-up form in Regent's Park for a gastronomic gathering running from 19 - 23 June. Restaurants returning to Taste of London this year include Borough Market’s stylish Portuguese joint Bar Douro and delectable Basque spot Sagardi. Meanwhile, smoky, meaty goodness comes by way of Berber & Q, and Lina Stores is sure to delight with its sumptuous pasta dishes. Eat and be merry in the atmosphere of a summer festival. Live music stands can be found dotted throughout the grounds and bars provide the chance to enjoy champagne, craft beer tasting, or cocktail making.
Soak up the best outdoor architecture
In June 2019, the London Festival of Architecture rolls into town once again with a host of outdoor installations brightening up our urban landscape. If you’re in the City, seek out the three specially designed 'parklets' each created by leading design studios for the festival. The title of KHBT and German artist Ottmar Hörl's Lunch Break extends an invitation to busy workers to make the most out of their midday feed and go see their installation of 35 gilded angels outside St Paul’s tube station. Tick off the summer pavilions by heading to Dulwich to see Yinka Ilori's Colour Palace, a 10 metre high cubic structure sporting a polychromatic facade in the grounds of the Dulwich Picture Gallery, or make for Kensington Gardens to see the esteemed Serpentine Pavilion which is designed this year by Japanese architect Junya Ishigami and, conveniently, opens exactly on the solstice date.
Watch some Shakespeare in a leafy London square
If you're still eager to experience pagan delights in natural surroundings with a dash of animalistic hedonism, then you can't get much better that watching Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in one of London's green squares. Shakespeare in the Squares returns for its third year to bring one of the bard’s most magical plays to the four-sided pastures of London. Their performance in Notting Hill's Norland Square auspiciously falls under the summer solstice. Revert to atavistic pleasures and discover an illusory world filled with frolicking fairies and ardent lovers.
Enjoy a sundowner at a rooftop bar
Whether you're in the market for a fancy cocktail with an exquisite view, or a frosty glass of bubbly at a secret sky-high haven, London is overflowing with rooftop bars – each offering something a little bit different from the next. Have a read of our round-up of the best ones and find the bar you’d like to spend a long summer evening sipping your tipple of choice at. The National Theatre is also hosting a special al fresco soirée on 21 June at 4pm at its Garden Bar pop-up with gin-based drinks, and artists from the National Theatre strumming out a chilled acoustic soundtrack as the sun goes down.
Listen to magical opera in the park
Regent's Park Open Air Theatre is a twinkling gem in the crown of London's outdoor theatre offerings in the summer months. Listen to the mellifluous sounds of their operatic version of Hansel and Gretel created in collaboration with the English National Opera. Expect singing of the highest quality, but also that extra magic that comes from seeing a production in natural surroundings.
Bathe in light at Greenwich and Docklands International Festival
Greenwich and Docklands International Festival (GDIF), London’s leading festival of outdoor theatre and performing arts, returns with a plethora of exciting free events, some of which fall on summer solstice. Lose yourself in a world of colour by entering DAEDALUM, ‘cathedrals of air’ created by British artist Alan Parkinson which become a labyrinth of lanterns as daylight seeps through fabric walls. Don't miss the closing ceremony of the festival by the water at Royal Arsenal Riverside that evening.
Rock out to outdoor cinema in Wimbledon park
Enjoy the late sunset (at 9:21pm) by bringing a picnic hamper along to Wimbledon park for one of Luna's outdoor cinema screenings. Rock fans will be happy to know that the movie scheduled for the apex of the summer is the queen of the musical biopics Bohemian Rhapsody which starts at 9:30pm. The film charts the meteoric rise of the band, from the arrival of firecracker lead singer Freddie Mercury in 1970 to the historic Live Aid performance in 1985. Rami Malek's larger-than-life performance as Mercury won Best Actor at the Oscars this year, while the film was also nominated for Best Picture. Click here to book tickets.
Experience London Zoo after hours
Enjoy the extended hours of the day by visiting the London Zoo for the popular Zoo Nights event on the summer solstice eve. Explore the Zoo after hours, grab a drink from one of the many watering holes, and chill out surrounded by relaxing music, animal lanterns and entertainment. Beyond the wildlife, guests have the chance to participate in guided tours: You’ll Never See a Moon-Walking Emu sheds light on the quirkiest of animal facts, and – back by popular demand – Birds and the Bees Uncut involves a light-hearted introduction to the mysteries of sex in the animal kingdom. We recommend booking ASAP for this popular event.
Escape London and visit Stonehenge
If you can make it out of London on this longest of days, join the druids at Stonehenge, where they have been celebrating this sacred day for thousands of years. It's the one day of the year when Stonehenge is still open for the public to get up close – though it closes at 8am. Magicians, soothsayers and ordinary folks camp out overnight to watch the sun rise at the sacred prehistoric site. English heritage are offering special solstice access on Thursday 20 June and Friday 21 June.