From the seedy streets of Soho to the hip and happening bars of Shoreditch, London has something for everyone. As the summer sun makes its rare appearance and the weather turns us all up and on, the roofbars open and the streets flood with festival spirit. This is your guide to London’s summer nightlife in 2017.
There’s no better place to start a summer’s night in London, than at one of the many rooftop terraces and bars. You won’t find these rooftop hang-outs open in the winter – wind and rain exposure does not allow it! In the summer months, you can sit back among laid-back crowds and tip your glass to the sunset.
One of my favorite rooftop bars has to be Roof East in Stratford. This place is much more than just a bar. It’s the ideal place to evoke your inner child in a playground for grown adults. Roof East features a mini-golf course, baseball batting cage, 80s roller disco, and London’s very first urban bowls’ lawn. You can even watch a film here at the Rooftop Film Club.
If open-aired movies are your idea of a good time, the Rooftop Film Club also has spaces in Peckham, Kensington, and right here on our doorstep in Shoreditch.
London’s rooftop bars give you an elevated place to enjoy good company in the sun, but they also offer so much more. They seem to plug the city’s gaps a bit, offering what the concrete streets simply cannot – beaches! The Brixton Beach and Camden Beach at Roundhouse are two rooftop bars that make you feel like you’re in Barbados, with golden sands and yummy cocktails, as well as street food stalls and Dj sets.
If you really want to get the party started, head to the North Dalston Roof Park to catch a DJ set or live band performance. If that’s not your thing, the Rooftop Boundary in Shoreditch offers fine dining to die for.
Once you have sipped away in the sun in one of London’s rooftop bars, it’s time to head out into the streets and get the party started. What better place to start than Soho, an area with tons of great places to eat and drink? Check out the world-famous Ronnie Scott’s jazz club for £10 shows and huge performances (Miles Davies and Stevie Wonder are among the elite to perform here).
Soho offers a wide variety of entertainment (not the kind you are thinking of). Check out the Arts Theatre Club for a laid-back speak-easy vibe, the Prince Charles Cinema for a late night screening of a weird and wonderful movie, or the Soho Theatre, which sees major comedians such as Eddie Izzard test out their material.
If comedy is your cup of tea, Piccadilly has a number of great venues to get you rolling around in stitches. The Comedy Store is open for shows six nights a week, and the Piccadilly Comedy Club offers awesome gigs for around £10. If you are searching for something distinctly not-British, head down to Opium in Chinatown, a complex of Chinese culture and labyrinth or drinking dens and quirky stalls.
But what better place for a night out than our very own Shoreditch, an area with enough bars to make a hipster wet their pants. Check out Nightjar for jazz, swing and cocktails, or doss in an art-deco setting at Gibson bar – an establishment with a bigger drinks menu than you know what to do with. The Worship Street Whistling Shop is another unusual hideout, a Victorian-inspired bar with a menu to match. Roasted wood pigeon anyone?
Once you are done hanging around and commenting on the originality of the interior designs of bars, head to Xoyo, a well-established Shoreditch venue with quality lineups across nearly every genre under the sun.
If you are looking for a bit of a heavier night, and clubbing is your style, I recommend trying out the Printworks, an exciting new venue that only opened in 2017, and is expected to be a game-changer in the dwindling super-club scene. Printworks is an industrial space in Rotherhithe with a 5000 capacity and six spaces for events. Expect shows, gigs and art installations, as well as major DJ events in the main room.
For the tried and tested super-club experience, head out to Fabric, which despite its recent hiccups has now fully reopened, and still features some of the best electronic dance music events in London. For a more intimate experience, try out Dalston Superstore, which is quickly making a name for itself in the East London scene for being inclusive, experimental and diverse.
Some of the best night life in London comes from the one-off or annual festivals. If you’re around in the city at the right time, and you manage to grab a ticket, I can’t recommend them enough. This is British summer at its best!
Though there are literally hundreds of festivals to choose from, the Notting Hill Carnival is a must. It is the biggest street party in the UK, and gives you a chance to immerse yourself in Caribbean culture, food and music.
One of the biggest music events in London is the British Summertime Hyde Park Festivals, a series of one-day events with headliners as prolific as Phil Collins, Green Day, Kings of Leon, and Blondie.
Many of the festivals in London combine music with park-life. Lounge around in the sun and dance in the urban woodlands with the South West Four Weekender on Clapham Commons, Lovebox Festival in Victoria Park, and Wireless Festival at Finsbury, each of which has an astounding line-up of R&B, dance, rap and electronic acts.
For London’s answer to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, check out Underbelly Festival, a collaboration between Underbelly and London Wonderground which sees circus, cabaret and comedy performers take over Southbank.
Not everybody is into cocktails and pounding techno music, and frankly life would be boring if everybody was. London offers events and unusual activities that defy the boundaries of what is considered a ‘typical night out.’
One of the hottest new activities is ‘Escape Rooms’. You are locked in a room with a team of strangers (or friends) and have to solve puzzles to escape. Use the power of logic and teamwork to make your way out within the 60 minute time limit. There are plenty of Escape Rooms in London, and many can be found near King’s Cross Station, such as clueQuest and Enigma Escape.
One of my favourite ideas (though I am yet to experience it) is to head to the London Shuffle Club in Shoreditch, open from the 5th July. This place lets you rent out shuffle courts or tables to play the unusual game, as well as order pizza and listen to all the disco music you can handle. Truly something a bit different.
London is, of course, well known for its high-quality theatre productions, so fans will not be disappointed with the choice of offerings. The West End is traditionally the place to be, and you will find plenty of classy shows there, but I prefer Open-air theatre such as Regent Park, where you can see shows like Jesus Christ Superstar and Oliver Twist in an outdoor auditorium. Globe Theatre is another great option, where you can catch Shakespeare performances in the open-air for around £6.
London undoubtedly has one of the best nightlife scenes in the UK, so you can enjoy your summer the way you want it!