The best Easter events and activities in London

The first bank holiday of the year is also a double one – here are our top ten things to do over the Easter weekend in London.

Easter weekend isn’t just a time to scoff loads of chocolate and have a big roast dinner: it’s also a double bank holiday. We get four whole days off between Good Friday on April 7 and Easter Monday on April 10, so the world – or at least London – is our oyster.

Worried about filling up all your extra time off? Time Out has your back. There’s plenty to do in the capital over the Easter weekend: from checking out spring flowers and other kid-friendly Easter activities to swinging by one of London’s top rooftop bars and coffee shops. Hopefully, the weather will be glorious and hanging out in the park for four days straight won’t involve dashing away from freak rain storms.

But if not, you can still spend your time checking out a free art exhibition, seeing some top theatre or treating yourself to a proper pub roast on Easter Sunday. If you’re looking for something truly special to do over the extra-long April break, read on for our top ten things to do in London this Easter. From a resurrection-themed pub crawl to Good Friday club nights, there’s absolutely no way you’ll be bored.

How to spend your Easter weekend in London

1. Kick off your four-day weekend with a ‘very, very good Friday’ party at The Cause

Dance your way through the Easter bank hol at one of The Cause's famed day parties. Chicago-based Hiroko Yamamura will make her UK debut behind the decks at the 60 Dock Road venue. Cause fave and Berghain stalwart Ryan Elliott will also be going B2B with Evan Baggs and there’ll even be a slap-up brunch and £5 bloody marys for sustenance. This one finishes at 10pm, so you’ll be in ship shape for your fam on Easter Saturday.

2. Sup the hops of life on a crucifixion-themed pub crawl

Worship at the altar of the pint on this Easter crucifixion-themed charity pub crawl, which is being resurrected after a three-year hiatus following that biblical-scale situation we all lived through recently. Participants on the Easter Sunday sesh dress like Jesus and visit biblically-named pubs to raise money for charity – you will be asked for a small donation – starting at The Trinity in Borough and finishing at Whitehall’s Silver Cross. Prepare to make a holy show of yourself.

3. Enter an immersive David Attenborough documentary

The Attenborough supremacy continues with this immersive experience that thrusts you into the heart of the BBC’s recent opus ‘Seven Worlds, One Planet’. The general vibe is that enormous 360-degree screens give you the sense that you’re stepping into the programme’s awesome vistas – and while the footage is all from that particular show, you’ll be treated to extended scenes, alternative camera angles, and the obviously seismic difference between this and your puny telly. Plus we’re promised ‘bespoke’ commentary from David Attenborough himself.

4. Craft an eco-friendly Easter wreath

Wreaths aren’t just for Christmas. Craft your own Easter-themed donut of foliage at this hands-on workshop from the green-fingered gurus at Petersham Nurseries. Director of horticulture Thomas Broom-Hughes will be on hand to school you on how to make an environmentally friendly willow-based wreath using woodland materials, seasonal British foliage and flowering bulbs, meaning the design you take home won’t just be beautiful but also compostable. A win for your front room and for nature.

5. Rent a boat and go for a float along London’s canals

With GoBoat in Paddington, you can hire and self-drive your own boat make your way across London’s canals. Depending on how good your steering skills are, you’ll be travelling past London Zoo, through Regent’s Park and Camden Lock. Prices start at £95 for one hour. Sound good? Each GoBoat can have a micro crew of up to six people. Your days as a lonely sea captain are over.

6. Play new, experimental games at Now Play This

Always a highlight of the London Games Festival, Somerset House’s annual celebration of experimental video games returns over Easter weekend this time showcasing games themed around love, in all its many forms. Look out for a whole host of radical games including a feminist dating simulator, 3D scanning games that let you ‘walk through’ different family homes and cutting-edge construction play kits as well as talks, screenings and other playable exhibits.

7. Take yourself off to the pub for a top Easter Sunday roast

Sunday lunch. There’s nothing quite like it. An elemental meal that Londoners take incredibly seriously, debates about what constitutes the ‘perfect’ Sunday roast have been known to last for hours. There is no shortage of top roasts in London. We’ve rounded up the city’s best Sunday meals from a host of homely pubs and restaurants all around town. From snug neighbourhood staples to more bijou gastropubs. A lot of these places get quite busy, by the way. So you’re always advised to book ahead to avoid disappointment.

8. Witness Trafalgar Square’s enormous reenactment of the crucifixion

Wintershall Players return with their huge (for which read horses, donkeys, doves and a cast of more than 100) open-air re-enactment of ‘The Passion of Jesus’ on Good Friday, featuring volunteers from in and around London. Huge crowds are expected but big screens will ensure nobody misses any crucial plot twists.

9. Embrace the season at the Horniman Museum’s spring fair

This gem of a museum and gardens in south-east London has a lovely spring fair on the Saturday of the Easter bank holiday weekend. Wow your wee’uns with towering stilt walkers and enchanting bubble performances, or battle it out on the green with UrbanCrazy minigolf. Or take your pick from the rest of the array of family-friendly fun including face painting, garden trails, arts and crafts and live music.

10. Frolic among the flowers at Kew Gardens

London’s botany HQ should be booming with blooms in April, making it the perfect spot for an Easter weekend walk. From its Cherry Walk lined with pink-blossomed Japanese cherry trees to its primrose and crocus-filled woodland garden, there’s plenty of pretty petals to spot here.

How to celebrate Easter in London this April

Easter in London 2023

A double bank holiday, chocolate for days and plenty of springtime activities – maximise Easter weekend 2023 in London

Ask any Londoner what the vibe is on bank holidays and they’ll no doubt agree that it’s absolutely bloomin’ marvellous. From blissful drinks in the park to glorious day parties and some of the year’s biggest and best club nights, this city sure knows how to make the most of an extra day or two off. Even the weather somehow always seems to pull through with dazzling sunshine.

London’s bank holiday energy is off the charts – and Easter weekend is a particularly sweet deal. Not only is it a religious holiday that demands you eat as much chocolate and hot cross buns as humanly possible, but it’s also a rare double bank holiday. Meaning, yes, you get four whole days of work-free folly.


Easter weekend this year runs from Good Friday on April 7 to Easter Monday on April 10. And, as always, those four days are packed full of stuff to keep you busy. Whether you’re after afternoons dazing in sun-glazed parks, extended Sunday pub lunches, evenings at the theatre – London this Easter bank holiday weekend has you covered. Here are our top picks below.

Plan a cracking Easter weekend in London

Top ten Easter activities in London

Mega Events To Make The Most of March 2020 In London

London events in March

Our guide to the best events, festivals, workshops, exhibitions and things to do throughout March 2020 in London


A bright, blossom-filled March 2020 in London is definitely our bag. As spring arrives and the days start to get sunnier and longer, there’s plenty going on in London to embrace the new season. Why not take a stroll around London’s best parks and gardens as they start to burst with colour, check out the city’s best restaurants or sink a drink in one of London’s neon-filled bars. St Patrick’s Day and Mother’s Day. It also holds WoW: Women of the World Festival, Earth Hour, London Book and Screen Week and the big St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival in Trafalgar Square. For more fun in the city, check out our guide to the best events, free stuff, art and music. This lot should keep you busy in London for the whole of March 2020. You’re welcome!

St Patrick’s Day in London

You don’t have to go to Ireland to enjoy the party atmosphere of St Patrick’s Day 2020, there’s plenty going on right here in London

The Irish really know how to celebrate, so when it comes to St Patrick’s Day in London, the city’s Irish community have no problem showing us how it’s done. A day to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, the occasion is always one big welcoming bash. Expect lots of dancing, hearty traditional dishes, a huge parade and as many pints as you can handle.

The official holiday lands annually on March 17 (a Tuesday in 2020), but this year the main London celebrations take place in Trafalgar Square March 13-17.

At this year’s three-day shindig, more than 50,000 revellers are expected to descend on Trafalgar Square for a lively parade of music and ceilidh dancing, plus plenty of things to do with the kids, from an Irish folk show and film festival to Irish walking tours. Feeling peckish? Fill up on traditional grub from the Irish Street Food Market.

If you can’t face the crowds, we’ve rounded up the best St Patrick’s Day happenings below. Or if you want more cultural inspiration, check our pick of the best London events in March. Get ready for a very green weekend.

When is St Patrick’s Day?

It’s always March 17, but in true Irish fashion, St Patrick’s Day sessions usually run throughout Paddy’s weekend.

What is St Patrick’s Day?

The date supposedly marks the death of this guy called (yep, you guessed it!) St Patrick, who travelled to Ireland in the fifth century to convince Irish pagans that Christianity is where it’s at. Do you associate Ireland with shamrocks? That’s down to him too: the story goes that St Patrick used the three-leaved clover to describe the Holy Trinity to non-believers. Oh, and legend says he banished snakes from the country by chasing them into the sea. Best mull that last part over with a Guinness.

Where is the London St Patrick’s Day Parade?

London’s St Patrick’s Day parade lines the streets from Piccadilly to Trafalgar Square and cheers on a stream of leprechaun floats, traditional musicians and squads of Irish dancers. The main stage at Trafalgar Square will be surrounded by a street food market and a ‘tea tent’, with a line-up of Irish bands. Basically, it’s a big, rip-roaring one-day festival, only the pints are a shade of Gaelic green.

Rare Birds Bohemian Market

The festival-themed market at 93 Feet East has everything you want in a market and more. Head along to Brick Lane to gobble down street food, sip on cocktails, pick up wavey garms from independent designers and vintage stalls and join denim customising workshops, all to a soundtrack from banging DJs and live acts.


Venue name: 93 Feet East
Address: 150 Brick Lane
E1 6QL
Transport: Tube: Liverpool St
Price: Free entry


Dates And Times

  • 93 Feet East Free Entry

    Rare Birds Bohemian Market

The Oxford v Cambridge Goat Race

Polish your horns and belt out those bleats, because London’s favourite farmyard fracas is back for an eleventh year in 2020. The Goat Race is fast becoming as popular as its Thames-based rival (at least around the Time Out office), and sees two goats – one representing ‘Oxford’, the other ‘Cambridge’ – take part in a dash around the farm.

The gates open at noon with lots to enjoy on the farm, including bands, booze and other fun, goat-related nonsense. The race takes place at some point between 4.30pm, although the exact time depends on the mood of the athletes. There’s an official bookie and sweepstake if you or your nanny fancy a flutter. Young bucks at heart can join the Goat-e-oke, take part in the Coat Race or the Goatry Slam. By the end of it, you might just pass out from goat-pun fatigue. Book tickets well in advance – the animals mustn’t get overcrowded and places sell out fast.

This year you can upgrade your goat race ticket to a VIP experience. For out £50 and as well as a front-row seat at the goat race, you’ll also get close up and personal with the farm’s goats. Help groom, feed and walk them and bring along up four people with you to help you do it. All proceeds go to the upkeep of Spitalfields City Farm.


Venue name: Spitalfields City Farm
Address: Buxton Street
E1 5AR
Transport: Tube: Whitechapel
Price: £17.50, kids £5

Dates And Times

The Mikvah Project

Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond

Achingly intimate remounting of Josh Azouz’s drama about two men drawn to each other at a Jewish bath

Two men exist awkwardly, nakedly together in a single Jewish ritual bath (the title’s ‘mikvah’). Josh Azouz’s tender story is soaked in healing water and other, harder-to-shift substances: tradition, self-doubt, hypocrisy.

‘The Mikvah Project’ was first staged at The Yard; translated to the more intimate Orange Tree, Georgia Green’s production is an example of the alchemy that happens when you get the perfect combination of play and theatre. In Cory Shipp’s set, a mosaic-tiled pool is recessed into the stage, its water reflecting Eitan and Avi’s limbs as they meet, first by accident, then more deliberately. The Orange Tree’s in-the-round set-up means that the audience becomes the walls of the mikvah. Sometimes the two performers are showmen, acknowledging us and explaining snippets of Jewish tradition from their warm, if sometimes claustrophobic, community. Sometimes they act like they’re alone.

Josh Zaré plays 17-year-old Eitan. He’s still a kid, really, and Zaré has this incredible energy that makes him visibly fizz with excitement as he mimes driving his first car, or drifts into confused monologues about the girls he’s meant to fancy. Avi doesn’t have time to help him work things out, because he’s married and trying for a kid. In theory. Alex Waldmann captures the contradictions of this man who always knows the right thing to say, the right thing to do, but can’t make himself stay within those lines he’s drawn out so neatly.

Religious tradition. Forbidden lust. We’ve seen it all before. Except we haven’t, because Azouz’s play takes what could be a familiar clash between religion and homosexuality and makes it strange. His writing dances, torturing unspoken truths into weird metaphors, like when Avi tries to use football to codedly explain why Eitan should choose a heteronormative life. It doesn’t work. But Azouz’s play doesn’t soar into queer wish fulfilment fantasies either: there’s an incredibly tense pattern of release, denial, release which makes it impossible to look away.

The mikvah is an acceptable place for men to be naked, together, and this play is an often-hilarious interrogation of all the intimacies that makes room for. This production doesn’t always find the more mystical side of the mikvah’s symbolism: Avi’s meant to be a talented singer but his voice lacks the strength to bring a spine-tingling spirituality into this small space. But it has the power to transport you from tiny room to bustling synagogue to snatched moment in the sun, with a still, cold pool of water at its heart.


Venue name: Orange Tree Theatre
Address: 1
Clarence Street
Transport: Rail/Tube: Richmond
Price: £15-£32, £15 concs. Runs 1hr 5min

Dates And Times

The best Things to do in February

London events in February

Our guide to the best events, festivals, workshops, exhibitions and things to do throughout February 2020 in London

February 2020 in London is going to be great. We’ve said goodbye to January and now London is beginning to brighten up. Use the – slightly – longer days to enjoy the month’s brilliant batch of events and celebrations. Get loved-up in London or join in the heaps of brilliant events, fun pop-ups and exciting new exhibitions happening. Here are our February 2020 highlights. February in London is also the month of Kew Garden’s Orchid Festival, London Fashion Week Festival, the London Classic Car Show and Brew LDN.

Hey, and while you’ve got your diary out, remember that it’s never too early to start planning for March either.

Pancake Day in London

Have your frying pans at the ready because Pancake Day is just around the corner. In 2020 Shrove Tuesday falls on Tuesday February 25 and London’s best restaurants will be going flipping mad for it.

Make the most of the flipping marvellous Pancake Day in London with our guide to races and celebrations happening around Shrove Tuesday

Have your frying pans at the ready because Pancake Day is just around the corner. In 2020 Shrove Tuesday falls on Tuesday February 25 and London’s best restaurants will be going flipping mad for it. Others will be perfecting their toss at a pancake race and some will be going for the DIY approach and creating crepes at home. Have a blast whatever you get up to, just don’t get too battered in the process. Here’s our guide to Pancake Day in London and our pick of the best races, celebrations and other events across the capital.

What is Pancake Day?

Shrove Tuesday marks the last day before Lent, traditionally a period of abstinence, associated with clearing your cupboards of things like sugar, fat and eggs. It’s known as Pancake Day because it represents a good opportunity to use up such ingredients. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. 

When is Pancake Day?

Pancake Day takes place 47 days before Easter Sunday. Because the date of Easter Sunday is dictated by the cycles of the moon, Pancake Day can occur anytime between February 3 and March 9. This year’s batter action takes place on Tuesday February 25 2020.

Imagine Children’s Festival

Southbank Centre, South Bank

Bringing much-needed pizzazz to an otherwise dreary February half term holiday, Imagine is a mix of family-oriented shows and workshops, play experiences and exhibitions, music, art and literature. With events for all ages (from babies to teens) and lots of options which are free and drop-in, Imagine is the perfect way to fire young minds and allow the kids to let off steam when the weather is usually foul and parks are knee-deep in mud.

How cool that one of London’s greatest annual arts festivals is for an audience half of which are scarcely out of training pants

Bringing much-needed pizzazz to an otherwise dreary February half term holiday, Imagine is a mix of family-oriented shows and workshops, play experiences and exhibitions, music, art and literature. With events for all ages (from babies to teens) and lots of options which are free and drop-in, Imagine is the perfect way to fire young minds and allow the kids to let off steam when the weather is usually foul and parks are knee-deep in mud. The festival takes place at Southbank Centre, February 12-23.

On any day during half term you can swing by the Royal Festival Hall and join colourful, weird and wonderful family events. Some of them are free; just turn up and enjoy the eco-inspired games of ‘Earth Activity Trail’, scrawl your designs on the fest’s ‘Giant Chalkboard’, drop into the buzzing line-up kid-friendly music performances in the venue’s Clore Ballroom or, if you’re a worn-out grown-up, get a luxurious hand massage at the ‘Imagine Wellbeing Zone’.

Alternatively, book in advance for special events targeted at kids of all ages. Imagine started life as a literature festival for children and there is still a strong showing of authors and illustrators – this year, Michael Rosen, Dermot O’Leary, Cressida Cowell and Konnie Huq will all be running kid-oriented storytelling and poetry sessions. Many of these sell-out before the festival starts so it’s worth checking the website now.

There’s also a pretty hefty array of theatre shows to pick from. ‘Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo’ (February 15-21) will thrill Jurassic-obsessed kids with its strokable display of puppet lizards. There’s also ‘Slime’, a slug-inspired movement piece for toddlers (February 15-16); hip hop and classical Indian dance storytelling in ‘Same Same… But Different’ (February 23); and a chance to meet a pigtailed literary icon in ‘Meet Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking’ (February 23).

You’ll find the full schedule on the Southbank Centre website.

Event phone: 0844 847 9910

London Bookshop Crawl

Various London locations, London

Get the rounds in on a crawl of London’ß finest establishments. By ‘rounds’ we mean indulgent flicks through novels, and by ‘establishments’ we mean nice bookshops – but who says you can’t get drunk along the way too?

Back for its fifth year, the London Bookshop Crawl takes the basic premise of a pub crawl – only instead of drowning in beer, you’ll be drowning in books. Join one of the guided group tours or strike out on your own route using one of the free maps. One thing’s for sure: snubbing Amazon will be a lot easier once you know where all the good bookshops are.

Dates And Times

    • Free
    • Free
    •   Free

Orchids Festival at Kew

Kew Gardens’ celebration of the orchid returns for its twenty-fifth year, this time with a focus on the plant life of Indonesia. Kew’s Orchids Festival will see the botanical gardens’ tropical greenhouse bursting with colourful species, and in 2020 they will reflect the country’s diverse landscape – from tropical rainforests to spectacular volcanos.

Kew Gardens’ celebration of the orchid returns for its twenty-fifth year, this time with a focus on the plant life of Indonesia. Kew’s Orchids festival will see the botanical gardens’ tropical greenhouse bursting with colourful species, and in 2020 they will reflect the country’s diverse landscape – from tropical rainforests to spectacular volcanos.

The Prince of Wales Conservatory will be filled with the sights, smells and sounds of Indonesia. Highlights will include a dramatic central pond display filled with bright orange orangutans, life-sized animals and an erupting volcano all made up of hundreds of stunning orchid blossoms. There’ll also be an impressive carnivorous pitcher plant archway.

Don’t miss rare flowers that can only be found on certain islands in the archipelago. Take the infamous Titan Arum aka ‘corpse flower’ from the island of Sumatra, it gets its name from the unbearable smell of rotting flesh it produces when in bloom.


Venue name: Kew Gardens
Address: Royal Botanic Gardens
Transport: Tube: Kew Gardens/Kew Bridge rail
Price: Free with admission price

15 Best Day Trips From London When You Need A Break From The City

The best day trips from London

Looking to get out of the city for a few hours? Here’s the definitive list of best day trips from London, featuring spa cities, seaside towns and adventures in the great British countryside

Sometimes the best way to truly appreciate a place is to leave it for a short while. We suspect that's the case with London – much as we adore life in the Big Smoke, we also relish the occasional change of scene.

Helpfully, England is really quite small, which means getting from the city to the coast is a doddle – grab a coffee, hop on the train and you'll be breathing in fresh, salty sea air before you know it.

Whether you're in the mood for pony-filled forests, picture-postcard towns or pebble beaches, here are fifteen sweet spots, complete with cute pubs and ace restaurants – and all close enough to the capital to get there and back in a day.

1. Whitstable

It’s hard to think of a lovelier seaside spot than Whitstable. Kick off a day there at Blueprint Coffee and Books with a pot of something strong and ethically sourced (and maybe a mini orange-and-rosemary bundt cake). Next, rent a bike from Whitstable Cycle Hire and pedal your way along the five-mile seafront Oyster Bay Trail. And for lunch? Oysters, natch – watch them being shucked in front of you at The Forge. Stay on the beach for a drink as the sun sets: Whitstable is one of the few in the UK with a pub, the Old Neptune, right on the shingle.

How far? 61 miles

Get there one hour 20 minutes by train from London Victoria or one hour 10 minutes from St Pancras International to Whitstable; around one hour 40 minutes by car.

2. Deal

It doesn’t get as much attention as Margate and Whitstable, but with its tidy rows of Georgian townhouses, quirky independents and thriving Saturday market, Deal ticks all the day-trip boxes. Start at Deal Castle (built by Henry VIII as part of an ambitious chain of coastal forts), then treat yourself to lunch at 81 Beach Street or Victuals & Co. Parisian-style bottle shop Le Pinardier is great for stocking up on gluggable goodies, and make sure you stop by gallery-cum-homewares boutique Taylor-Jones and Son, where Delilah the sheepdog will welcome you with open paws.

How far? Just over 80 miles

Get there one hour 20 minutes by train from London St Pancras International; around two hours by car.

3. Margate

The Turner Contemporary opening in 2011 was the long-neglected Margate’s invitation to the ball. Today, the Kent coast’s most famous Cinderella story is awash with cold-brew coffee and craft beer, with just enough salty charm to still give it an edge. Start at the Turner, then mosey over to retro theme park and roller-disco Dreamland. Once the effects of the Waltzer have worn off, head to Hantverk & Found for a lunch of the freshest seafood and natural wines. Spend the rest of the afternoon shopping: browse immaculate vintage piece in Breuer & Dawson, and stock up on seaweed-based skincare at Haeckels.

How far? 76 miles

Get there one hour 25 minutes by train from London St Pancras International; around two hours by car.

4. Bath

Water wonderful day awaits you here! Start as you mean to go on with a tour of the baths the Romans built (no paddling allowed), before making a splash in the Thermae Bath Spa – the rooftop pool has stunning views of the city. Once you’ve dried off, make like Jane Austen and stroll along the Royal Crescent, then try on some reproduction Georgian garms at the Fashion Museum. Peckish? Sally Lunn’s teahouse is home to the Sally Lunn Bun, a kind of sweet brioche bap – for a Bath take on the cream tea, order one toasted and spread with strawberry jam and clotted cream.

How far? 115 miles

Get there one hour 30 minutes by train from London Paddington; two hours 30 minutes by car.

5. Box Hill

Biking to green and pleasant Surrey is a wheely nice way to spend a Sunday (sorry) – plus, Box Hill was part of the 2012 Olympic road-cycling route. Start in Richmond Park and pedal down past Hampton Court – it should take you about two hours. After a 1.6 mile climb and some hairpin bends (easier than it sounds!), you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the North Downs from the top of Box Hill itself. Grab a slice of cake from the National Trust café, but save space for lunch at The Tree, which serves homemade pies and crumbles. Your last stop is Box Hill and Westhumble station, where you can load your bikes on to a train back to Waterloo. Whewf!

How far? 30 miles

Get there by bike (obviously). Plan the route carefully before you set out, and take a map and a puncture repair kit, plus water and snacks.

05. The New Forest

A trip to the New Forest is about as close as you can get to going on safari without buying a plane ticket. As you make your way down dappled lanes and across the heather-covered heath you’ll be watched the famous ponies, which have grazed there for thousands of years, plus free-ranging Highland cattle and pigs hoovering up fallen acorns. Don’t fancy being stuck in the car all day? Hire a two-seater electric Twizzy buggy to explore in, or book a beginners’ hack at one of the stables. Don’t forget to make time for a proper ploughman’s lunch at the Royal Oak in Fritham.

How far? 90 miles

Get there one hour 30 minutes by train from London Waterloo to Brockenhurst; around two hours by car. Just remember that animals, not drivers, have right of way.

08. Brighton

If Brighton were a stick of rock, it would have GOOD TIMES! running right the way through it. With its perfect pebble beach, wall-to-wall live music venues and buzzing LGBT+ scene, there’s nowhere like it for topping up your Vitamin Sea levels. Start by dodging seagulls on the Palace Pier, then shop up a storm in the Laines, which are packed with independent boutiques, record stores and vegan eateries. Sit down to a zero-waste late lunch at Silo, and finish up with a couple of pints in the Brighton Beer Dispensary, which champions small Sussex breweries like the Hand Brew Co.

How far? A little over 50 miles

Get there one hour by train from London Victoria, Blackfriars or London Bridge; around two hours by car.

09. Canterbury

In Chaucer’s day this was where people came for a big old knees-up. Today its default is a little more sedate, but a large student population means there’s still a pleasingly rowdy edge. Kick things off with a leisurely stroll down the King’s Mile, home to boutiques a-plenty. Lunch-wise you’re spoilt for choice, from gourmet Scotch eggs with slaw and fries at Pork & Co, bento boxes at Tamago or pizza straight from the oven at indoor farmers’ market The Goods Shed. Round off your very own Canterbury tale with a visit to the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, which features one of the world’s most important collections of cow paintings and an Egyptian mummified cat.

How far? 61 miles

Get there one hour by train from London St Pancras International; around one hour 30 minutes by car.

10. Guildford

Heads up, horror fans: Guildford’s cathedral starred in cult bone-chiller ‘The Omen’. That being said, everything else about Surrey’s county town is bucolic in the extreme: if it’s sunny you can lounge by the water at pretty Dapdune Wharf, or actually get in it at the Guildford Lido. Lunch on locally-sourced nacho boxes at Burrito Loco, before checking out the 400-year-old Star Inn. Still thirsty? Hop on a train to tour the nearby Hogs Back Brewery.

How far? 31 miles

Get there 30 minutes by train from London Waterloo; around one hour by car.

11. Rye

With its antique shops and higgledy-piggledy cobbled lanes, Rye feels like a little piece of the Cotswolds on the coast. After a browse in The Tiny Book Store (does what it says on the tin), treat yourself to a seafood lunch surrounded by lobster pots at Globe Inn Marsh, followed by Sussex real ale or a glass of local wine at The George Tap – the Chapel Down vineyard is just up the road and well worth a visit. Ten minutes away are the pillowy dunes of Camber Sands: roll your trousers up and splash through the shallows, take a kite for a spin or just park your towel and stretch out.

How far? 79 miles Get there by car.

Get there one hour 10 minutes by train from London St Pancras International, with a change at Ashford; around two hours by car.

11. Dungeness

Dungeness’s shingly, shipwreck-dotted beach is so spookily empty that it’s often described as Britain’s only desert (though the Met Office refuses to recognise it as such, the party-poopers). But look a little closer and there’s plenty going on. It’s a nature reserve, for one thing – follow the two-mile trail around RSPB Dungeness for the chance to glimpse glossy ibises and marsh harriers. Come lunchtime, queue up at the famous Dungeness Snack Shack: they’ll serve you their catch of the day in a warm bun, lobster and crab rolls or smoked cod chowder. Finally, go in search of the huge concrete ‘sound ears’, which date from the First World War and were designed to listen out for planes.

How far? 86 miles

Get there  one hour by train from London St Pancras International to Folkstone, with a one hour 30 minute bus ride to Dungeness; around two hours by car.

12. Cambridge

Smaller, quieter and (whisper it) prettier than Oxford, Cambridge has its own language: bumps, backs, quads. Start your day with a visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum, then refuel at Fitzbillies and buy a box of the sticky Chelsea buns to take home. Spend a couple of hours wandering around the colleges and King’s Chapel before taking to the river for a spot of punting: behatted guides will do the hard work, or you can hire a boat of your own (beware: it’s trickier than it looks). Come tea time, head for Grantchester and feast on scones in The Orchard Tea Gardens, just like poet Rupert Brooke.

How far? 64 miles

Get there 45 minutes by train from London King’s Cross, or one hour 10 minutes from London Liverpool Street; around two hours by car.

13. Mersea Island

Attached to the mainland by a causeway that floods (and pub quizzers, take note: this is the UK’s most easterly inhabited island), Mersea feels properly, peacefully remote at high tide. The big draw is The Company Shed, which serves seafood platters that pull in crowds from all over the country every weekend. It’s BYOB – bring your own bread – and they don’t take bookings, so get there before noon to make sure you can feast on prawns, smoked fish, oysters and dressed crab. Speaking of which, catch-and-release crabbing is encouraged – there are specially marked areas near the water, and shops selling the kit. Or you can book a boat trip around the bay.

How far? 69 miles

Get there one hour by train from London Liverpool Street to Colchester, then a 45 minute bus to Mersea Island; around two hours by car. Don’t forget to check the tide timetable before you set off...

14. Chichester

Dinky, pastel-coloured Chichester looks like it’s been built of macarons – but it’s more than just a pretty face. Start at the Norman-meets-Gothic cathedral before moving onto the Pallant House Gallery, home to brilliantly curated exhibitions, a first-class bookshop and a courtyard cafe that gives Rochelle Canteen a run for its money. Some of the best bits of Sussex are an easy drive (or, if you’re feeling full of beans, a slightly less easy bike ride) away, from the Goodwood Estate to West Dean Gardens and the gorgeous sandy beach at West Wittering.

How far? 80 miles

Get there one hour 30 minutes from London Vicotoria; around two hours by car. Car is best, so you can really explore.

15. Stratford-upon-Avon

The Bard, of course, is the big draw here, and Shakespeare’s house, his wife Anne Hathaway’s cottage and the RSC’s home theatre are all must-sees. But Stratford’s more than just a Tudor Disneyland, you know. Take a boat tour of the canal basin to find out more about the West Midlands’ waterways, refresh yourselves in the Grade II-listed Old Thatch Tavern, stop for a scoop of Eton Mess ice cream at Hooray’s British Gelato Kitchen and pick up some local Berkswell to take home from posh cheesemonger Paxton & Whitfield (sorry, fellow travellers).

How far? 104 miles

Get there two hours 15 minutes by train from London Marylebone; around two hours by car.

Plan your August Bank holiday

Top ten things to do this August bank holiday

Staying at home is just not an option this August bank holiday weekend…

Make the most out of the last – and longest – weekend in August (Saturday August 24 – Monday August 26 2019). Yes, you can always jump in a London lido or snooze in a big old London park, but this August bank holiday is positively packed with things to do. You’ve gained a day off work, so make it count.

Check out top ten ways to let loose from Friday to Monday and before Tuesday kicks in again.

Notting Hill Carnival

Notting Hill Carnival 2019 is a vivid spectacle representing London’s multicultural past and present. This August bank holiday, which includes invaluable Notting Hill Carnival information, route details and tips on having fun and staying safe. Feel the energy of the mas bands, watch the Notting Hill Carnival Children’s Day parade and don’t be afraid to get a little lost in the streets of the Grove.

The best markets in London

From the famous Borough Market to antiques fest Portobello Road, here’s our pick of the best stalls in town to pick up food, flowers, fashion and a whole lot more

Markets have been a central part of London life for centuries. Historically, they were a cornerstone of the community and the best place to go for the weekly shop. Of course, shopping habits have changed since then. The boom in supermarkets may have dented the market’s popularity in the past, but thanks to a diversified offering and renewed support, both locals and tourists continue to flock to markets around the capital. Nowadays, there’s a huge range of markets across London, from farmers markets and fashion markets to street food, vintage and antique markets. But if you’re only in town for a quick visit, any one of these are worth making a beeline for. Here’s our pick of the very best markets in London, from Borough Market’s foodie stands to stalls filled with flowers on Columbia Road.


1. Columbia Road Flower Market

Bethnal Green

Situated just off Shoreditch’s main drag, this weekly flower market is an East End gem. Every Sunday from 8am-3pm, the picturesque cobbled street is packed with traders selling bulbs, herbs, shrubs, bedding plants and bucketfuls of cut flowers. Flanking the stands are around 60 interesting independent shops and cafés, many open only at weekends. Arrive super-early for the best selection of flowers, or as the market’s winding down to bag a bargain. In between, it gets very busy indeed.


2. Borough Market

South Bank

Nestled next to London Bridge, this iconic food market has existed in some form since at least 1014. Though it still operates as a wholesale market in the early hours, it’s now best known as a foodie’s paradise where discerning Londoners come to buy top-quality meats, fish, fruit and veg, fresh-baked bread, cakes and sweet treats, oils and vinegars, and pretty much anything else they desire. There’s also an amazing array of street food, and a dedicated covered area to chow down in. Borough Market is open Monday to Saturday, but you’ll find the full selection of stalls from Wednesday to Saturday. It gets hella busy, so arrive bright and early to enjoy a more peaceful peruse.


3. Broadway Market

South Hackney

Since being relaunched in 2004, this Hackney street market has become a magnet for hipsters. Every Saturday from 9am to 5pm, it’s packed with arty students and East End creative types who come to fill their tote bags with organic groceries, vintage clothes, fresh flowers, coffee, books and unusual handmade gifts. Broadway Market has so many street food options, it’s practically impossible to go hungry here, though not everyone will have the stomach for a Yorkshire Burrito. The only downside is how busy its gets, especially on sunny Saturdays, so arrive early to beat the hordes.


4. Old Spitalfields Market


Following its noughties rejuvenation, this covered market opposite Liverpool Street station has blossomed into a major shopping destination. Now open seven days a week, the central concourse is filled with stalls selling contemporary and vintage clothes, bespoke children’s toys, home items and artisan food products. Inside, you’ll also find a decent selection of permanent retail outlets and restaurants including popular chains The Real Greek and Las Iguanas. There’s extra buzz on Thursdays, when it welcomes Old Spitalfields Antiques Market, a bonus cluster of stalls offering collectables and objets d’art from 8am to 5pm. And if you’re still not shopped out, Brick Lane Market is a quick five-minute walk away.


5. Greenwich Market


Though it’s situated in historic Greenwich (in a World Heritage Site, no less), this eighteenth-century indoor market is no relic. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am-5.30pm, it’s home to around 120 stalls selling jewellery, clothes, second-hand furniture, interesting gifts and general bric-a-brac. On Tuesday and Thursday you’ll find more antique stalls; other days have a greater arts and crafts presence. Once you’ve refuelled at one of 40 food and drink stalls, you can pay a visit to the nearby Cutty Sark or Royal Observatory. Or just hop on a Thames riverboat back to central London.


6. Portobello Road Market

Portobello Road

The world’s largest antiques market occupies a prime stretch of Notting Hill, an area that manages to feel diverse and surprising despite heavy gentrification (how Hugh Grant in that movie could afford a one-person flatshare despite working in a bookshop is beyond us) in the ’90s. Portobello Road Market is really five markets in one, with different sections dedicated to second-hand goods; clothing and fashion; household essentials; fruit, veg and other food; and the main event: antiques. You’ll find the greatest range of antiques stalls on Saturdays, when the market gets so busy that it’s wise to arrive before 11am. Portobello buzzes on Fridays too, but this fascinating street packed with characterful cafés, shops and drinking spots is worth a visit any time.


7. Brixton Village and Market Row


Brixton is one of the capital’s most vibrant and culturally diverse neighbourhoods, and these adjacent indoor markets reflect its unique and varied flavour. In recent years, they’ve become a gourmet destination where hungry Londoners can grab a table at places serving seafood, superior pizza, Portuguese cuisine, Mexican food, Jamaican/European fusion and all manner of Caribbean delicacies. But they contain plenty for shoppers, too. A leisurely amble through the arcades reveals a treasure trove of independent outlets selling clothing, jewellery, homeware, art, antiques and unusual gifts. Brixton Village and Market Row are open from 8am to 11.30pm every day, except for Monday, when they close early at 6pm.


8. Covent Garden Market

Covent Garden

his grand neoclassical building in the heart of Covent Garden is a London landmark. Since 1980, after traffic congestion forced the traditional fruit-and-veg market to relocate, Covent Garden Market has reinvented itself as a serious shopping destination. On Mondays, it’s filled with stalls selling antiques and collectables; then from Tuesday to Sunday, it welcomes a broader range of traders offering everything from handmade jewellery to artisan soaps. There are plenty of permanent retail units, too, mainly housing fancy brands like Mulberry and Tom Ford. Once you’re done exploring, which could honestly take hours, Jubilee Market across the piazza is great for gifts and trinkets.


9. Camden Market

Camden Market

Technically several adjoining markets, this sprawl of stalls stretching from Camden Town tube to the Regent’s Canal is London’s fourth most popular visitor attraction. Every week, around 250,000 people come here to shop, sample street food and soak up the distinctive, still-grungy atmosphere. Camden Lock Market is an arts-and-crafts haven while the Stables Market is a trendy spot for everything from quirky furniture to fetish clothing. Nearby Buck Street Market on Camden High Street (the one under a sign that reads ‘The Camden Market’) is best for T-shirts and touristy trinkets. The markets in Camden Town are open seven days a week and always seem to be buzzing.


10. Brick Lane Market

Brick Lane

On Sundays, the streets of East London’s bustling Brick Lane are lined with stalls selling anything and everything. You’re bound to find bargain fruit and veg, household items and electrical products, but this market’s USP is its sheer unpredictability: you could bag a second-hard bargain, or spend hours sifting through trinkety tat. Brick Lane’s recent ‘trendification’ is reflected in the various splinter markets that surround it. Visit Backyard Market for arts and crafts, Sunday Upmarket for street food and interesting gifts, The Tea Rooms for vintage bric-a-brac, and the Boiler House Food Hall for more snack and drink stalls. Brick Lane’s various Sunday markets surely have something for everyone.


11. Alfies Antique Market


Housed in a huge Egyptian-style art deco building in Marylebone, Alfie’s Antiques Market has been attracting collectors and casual buyers alike for more than 40 years. Spread over four floors you’ll find around 100 different dealers selling an eclectic selection of jewellery, homeware, decorative items, memorabilia, furniture and artwork. Full-on bargains are few and far between, but that’s only because the quality of goods on offer is so high. Alfie’s Antiques is open 10am-6pm from Tuesday to Saturday; once you’ve found your dream objet, you can enjoy a bite and a tipple at the rooftop café, a famous sun trap.


12. Maltby Street Market


Located in increasingly lively Bermondsey, Maltby Street Market is a bit like a calmer, more curated version of Borough Market. It’s only been going since 2010, doesn’t open during the week, and the tourists haven’t quite cottoned on yet. So, if you can’t face the masses, this is the place to come when you’re having a Nigella moment and want to stock your kitchen cupboards with high-end condiments and tipples you can’t get at Tesco. Nestled in and around the atmospheric Victorian rail arches of the Ropewalk you’ll find around 30 artisan food and drink traders selling everything from craft beer to Mozambique-style peri-peri meats.