August has always been London’s effervescent month. The peak of our annual heatwave goes to our heads, and a typical August scene includes pubs spilling over onto the streets circa 5:30pm, at intermittent distances along the glittering Thames. 

This year, with foreign travel looking sketchier by the day, August 2020 is the month to be topping up on culture rather than your tan from travels abroad. In London, more attractions are opening their doors by the day, so after months of lockdown, you can feel like a tourist in your own city and regain that childlike elation as your walk through the doors of a real, open, establishment. We’ve collated a list of the most exciting things to do this August, from live music (yes, really), to virtual experiences of some of your favourite cultural events, so you don’t have to miss out on the things that make London the city it is.

Notting Hill Carnival
London in August and Notting Hill Carnival are symbiotic; one cannot exist without the other. Whilst the main attraction might be cancelled, the organisers behind the late-summer dancehall bonanza are putting together a virtual experience for those who can’t go without. Sign up to be a part of the online event on 30th and 31st August, which includes four channels of free livestreamed events that are being filmed this month. Usually more than a million people gather in Notting Hill on the carnival weekend for dancing and food, but this year we'll have to make do with playlists curated by official organisers and sets by some carni favourites, such as Volcano, Rampage and King Tubby. 

Sign up here for access to the livestreams on 30th and 31st August.

Art Galleries Open
Culture buffs rejoice, for London’s art galleries are finally opening. From the start of August, more venues are opening for reduced hours. After months of online exhibitions, you can finally wander in artfully lit chambers and linger over a particularly stunning exhibit – but remember to always check before going, because some require prior booking! With so many exciting exhibitions to attend on the horizon, we wanted to give them a digitalised spotlight and feature them within their own article, coming soon. But for now, here are 2 to keep you going: 

‘Masculinities: Liberation Through Photography’ at Barbican Centre, until 23 August
A moving display and subversion of everything it means to be ‘man’, this sprawling exhibition will undermine your notions of masculinity, and leave you with ounces of compassion to carry forward into your daily life.

Tickets start from £15 or £11 for concessions, and are available here.

‘Radical Figures: Painting in the New Millennium’ at Whitechapel Gallery, until 30 August
Whilst physical painting is often overlooked by our modern preference for graphic design, this exhibition shows that the genre is thriving in the modern age. Our contemporary society continues to shock and disturb, and what better way to capture the current sentiment than through paint?

Tickets start from £9.50 or £7.50 for concessions, and are available here.

Live Jazz Music, throughout August
The infamous Boisdale Jazz Club in Belgravia is paving the way for music venues everywhere by opening their doors for live music. The sumptuous speak-easy vibe provides an irresistible backdrop for summer evenings of easy listening. On the menu are Sunday Jazz Lunches for £44.50, and late-night sessions with the soul legend Omar every Friday night for £25.

Find tickets here

BBC proms, throughout August
It’ll take more than a pandemic to scupper the longest-running classical music concert in history, and the BBC Proms returns this July and August for its 125th year. Of particular interest is the eclectic musicality of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, playing on BBC4 on 23rd August.

Find more information and the full programme here.

Drive in: Swan Lake at Gunnersbury Park, Sunday 30 August, 5pm
Luna Drive-In Cinema are back in August, continuing a programme of movies across the country after their July success. For the London instalment, we can’t think of a better way to spend a late-August evening that soaking up the visually stunning Royal Ballet masterpiece, Swan Lake, from 1987. 

Tickets start from £35 for a car with two adults, and are available here

The Peninsulist Presents: Virtual Friday Film Club , 7 August, 7pm
Starting with a conversation between artists John Akomfrah, Jenn Nkiru and Zak Ove, the panel will analyse the evolving Black British experience, centring around representation in film. Followed by a double screening of two John Akomfrah films, Goldie: When Saturn Returnz and The Stuart Hall Project, the intimate films explore the experience of growing up black through times of tumultuous politics, and the films resonate with today’s political climate more than ever.

Sign up here for free to be part of the event. 

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