Bank holidays are like the perennial London bus. You wait forever for one to arrive, before (just like Arsenal’s Cup Final goals) three come along in quick succession. Lack of planning for long weekends can see you snared like a tourist in the souvenir shop at the Tower of London.
Here’s the predictable scenario: desperate to kick start the summer season, you rush headlong out of the capital, along with a million other hopefuls, only to spend the largest part of the Bank Holiday parked in gridlocked traffic on the M3. Strike one – hone up on the road works reports ahead of time.
Having resolved not to go anywhere near a motorway on Bank Holiday again, you stock up on food and booze with the intent of staging an epic barbecue/trance party in your backyard. Waking up surrounded by empty tequila bottles, burnt sausages and burnt strangers, you realise that you’ve no idea where the long weekend went and that you should have been in the office an hour ago. Strike two – get wise to time-management.
However, all is not lost. With the season in full swing, there’s tons going on in the capital, which means a helpful dilution of tourists across the best parts of town. With this in mind, let’s swing through a selection of late May activities in the big smoke…
City Office tell us it’s now accepted wisdom that East London is the place to go for anything cutting edge, including food. Avoid the hordes and buck the trend by heading to the Rotisserie at Harrods for succulent roast lamb? Combined with Jersey Royal potatoes and asparagus, it’s basically late spring on a plate and will help set you up for the weekend ahead. If you’re hell bent on going east, enjoy a spicier take on lamb at Tayyabs, a bustling Punjabi restaurant in Whitechapel where the grilled chops have achieved citywide fame for their taste and tenderness.
Soho is a district that seems to be able to work, rest and play all at the same time making it the perfect site for one of the most funky and eclectic shopping destinations over the Bank Holiday weekend. Every stallholder seems to have their own unique take on their craft; be it artisan jewellery with a twist, punk-inspired pottery pieces or socially aware stationary. The whole of Dean Street will be pedestrianised and there will be plenty of live music, street food and good vibes.
Bank Holiday Monday sees the climax of Alchemy, a 10-day festival of South Asian culture with a selection of riverside Bollywood mash-ups and vibrant fashion events. Anoshka Shankar and Sukhinder Singh top the musical bill while Design Wallah will be running a pop-up shop that showcases the latest jewellery, artwork and design trends coming out of the subcontinent. Roti Chai Chaat Shack will be doing its level best to distract visitors from the art, history and politics by cooking up its regular selection of delicious South Asian street cuisine. Join our City team at the front of the queue.
The perennially cool Arctic Monkeys are taking over Finsbury Park for a two-day mini festival. The Monkeys are a proper band from up North who probably think twerking relates to employment and that the twitter-trending, costume-changing, selfie-taking nonsense that passes for pop stardom these days is proper soft. Instead, head down to the Park for real songs, real instruments, and a real audience. Please forgive the Highgate team’s singing in advance.
Anybody who totes the notion of a ‘breakfast ale’ is legendary in our book. The Meantime brewery (based in Greenwich – geddit?) aims to shift beer out of the world of binge drinking and into the realm of connoisseurship, taste pairings and… well, civilisation, basically. Brewfest Spring 2014 realises that craft beers require a convivial setting (which certainly got our Greenwich team nodding their heads in agreement) and has therefore added live music, artisan food stalls and workshops to the mix. The venue is the fabulous Georgian riverside pile that is the Royal Naval College. Cheers!
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