David Jensen

As we endeavor to make the most of what’s left of summer, we’ve rounded up the best cultural outings happening in London right now.

Bridget Arsenault
August 05, 2015

Somerset House, the venerable Neoclassical building overlooking the Thames, hosts some of the city’s most iconic fashion and design exhibitions—and each summer, it’s the site of Film4’s Summer Screen series. Running from August 6 through 9, cozy up in the iconic courtyard with a blanket and cold glass of bubbly (sold at the event). The line-up is bursting with cult classics as well as two U.K. premieres, Gemma Arterton’s delightful Gemma Bovery and Guy Ritchie’s new testosterone torrent The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

For a classic night out with a serious twist, the Royal Opera House is showing Casablanca on August 7 accompanied by a live performance from Cinematic Sinfoni; an evening with Humphrey and Ingrid made even more romantic. Note well: the Opera House’s glass-vaulted Paul Hamlyn Hall Balconies restaurant is delightful (both the European brasserie food and the décor), so book a pre- or post-film table to round off the evening.

Film buffs have another option in The Luna Cinema. The model is simple: an iconic film shown on a big screen at a breathtaking outdoor venue. With events all over the country, in the most tantalizing and even regal locations—you can watch The Grand Budapest Hotel at Kensington Palace or Top Gun at Hampton Court Palace—each one feels fresh and memorable.

Prefer the stage? Two-time BAFTA winner James Fox and his up-and-coming actor son Jack star in the on-stage adaptation of Dear Lupin, based on the best-selling 2012 book of the same name. The story brings to life a series of father to dastardly son letters at the Apollo, now through September 19. And Abi Morgan, one of England’s most esteemed playwrights and screenwriters, unveils her new play Splendour, at the Donmar Warehouse, now through September 26.

For an entirely different but utterly charming theatre experience, check out the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. The much-lauded movie musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers comes to the outdoor stage until August 29th, followed by William Golding’s cult-classic Lord of the Flies (September 3-12). Make time for a pre-show drink under the fairy lights of the terrace bar.

The National Gallery has commissioned musicians and sound artists to compose a piece of music to accompany various works in the gallery’s permanent collection, Soundscapes, now through September 6. We love the clever tagline: “Hear the painting. See the sound.”

Bridget Arsenault is the associate editor, print and digital at Vanity Fair UK. and the co-director of the Bright Young Things Film Club. She covers the U.K. beat for Travel + Leisure; follow her on Twitter at @bridget_ruth.

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