diamond geezer

 Friday, June 01, 2012

Mostly free things to do in London during June

The Diamond Jubilee
» Derby Day (Sat 2): It's not in London, and you're not going. Let's move on.
» The Big Jubilee Lunch 2012 (Sun 3): Celebrate plucky British spirit by sitting at a trestle table in the middle of your local street in miserable temperatures and driving rain.
» Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant (Sun 3): Stand somewhere on the banks of the Thames between Battersea and Tower Bridge to watch hundreds of carefully choreographed historic boats sailing by. The miserable temperatures and driving rain should make it easier to find a decent viewing space, but harder to enjoy any decent viewing.
» The Diamond Jubilee Concert (Mon 4): Unless you've got a ticket, you'll have to watch Gary Barlow from your sofa.
» Diamond Jubilee Beacons (Mon 4, 10-10:30pm): More than 4000 beacons will be lit, all across the country. This time there's no attempt at geographical line of sight correctness, just a series of lighting times organised by theme. Interactive map here.
» The Commemorative Bit (Tue 5, 10:30am-3:30pm): A service at St Paul's in the morning (by royal car), lunch at the Palace of Westminster (by royal car), and then an all-too-brief procession down the Mall to Buckingham Palace (by rocky gold carriage). And then the weather improves.

» Transit of Venus (Wed 6): If you're up early, and if it's not cloudy, and if you can see the eastern horizon, and if you've got protective eyewear, then you can enjoy one of the rarest spectacles in the sky. Unfortunately that's a lot of ifs. The Planet Venus will cross the disc of the Sun, between sunrise and 5:50am, and then won't do that again for over 100 years. It was a marvellous experience viewed from London back in 2004, so this early morning showing is likely to be an anti-climax. This website shows you what you're likely to see, and when, from anywhere on Earth. Seriously, after this, never again in your lifetime, not until 2117.
» Open Garden Squares Weekend (Sat 9 and Sun 10): 208 gardens, many not usually open, are open. Your £9 ticket gets you into them all. Maybe this is the year I finally go.
» London Green Fair (Sat 9 and Sun 10): Eco-friendly stuff on the Camden side of Regent's Park. It's been going 20 years, but has got rather bigger of late. I've been.
» Something somewhere (Sat 16 and Sun 17): Come on, there must be something good on in London this weekend.
» London 2012 Festival (Thu 21 Jun - 9 Sept): A once-in-a-Gamestime celebration of the arts, more Radio 3 than Radio 2, more Radio 4 than Radio 1, with events across the country. I'll let you know as soon as I find a one-off event that looks interesting.
» The Greenwich and Docklands International Festival (Thu 21 - Sun 30): This rocks. Every year this outdoor multi-evening extravaganza brings dynamic performance art to the East End masses, both north and south of the river. In previous years I've seen giant giraffes and swirly firewheels, and this year they've promised even bigger. Expect giant insects along Roman Road in Bow, dancing in Docklands, a foamy ship of dreams in Woolwich, and really rather a lot of stuff in Greenwich. Here's the brochure. Something for everyone.
» London Festival of Architecture (Sat 23 June - Sun 8 July): This also rocks. A huge number of building-based events, many of them free, spaced out across select London hubs over three weekends. Only happens every two years, and it's always a bit special. This year's theme is "The Playful City", whatever that means. Alas, as usual, the list of events on the website is woefully hard to scan for highlights, ensuring that many of the really interesting things are likely to go overlooked. Highlight of the opening weekend looks to be the London Pleasure Gardens by Millennium Mills in the Royal Docks. There's quite a lot of stuff around King's Cross later on, as far as I can tell. Worth digging into.
» West End Live (Sat 23 & Sun 24): See free performances from the casts of London's world-famous musicals at this festival in Trafalgar Square. Your mother-in-law would love it.
» Exhibition Road Music Day (Sat 23): Music with a cultural tinge, headlined by a French chanteuse, along the pedestrianised street in South Kensington's Exhibition-land.
» City of London Festival (24 June - 27 July): The City's annual artsfest includes the Bank of England Open Door event on Sat 23rd and Sat 30th June, where you can get a free half hour tour round the innards of the Old Lady. Expect shorter queues that for Open House in September. Highly recommended.
» Reopening of Forty Hall (Sat 30): After several months closed for renovations, Enfield's finest historic house reopens to the public, with free tours (book in advance) and a hog roast.

» Next month: The Olympics (next month!)


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