WorldPride, Olympics, Queen’s Jubilee, And 17 More Must-Dos In London This Summer

Get ready, world: You’re about to catch London fever. A trifecta of supercharged international events—the Summer Olympics, Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, and WorldPride 2012—will keep eyes focused on the British capital for the next several months, as its streets overflow with athletes, royalists, and gays (sometimes all in one).

And if the Big Three weren’t already enough, scads of top-tier cultural events—from Da Vinci and Shakepeare exhibits to Madonna and Rhianna concerts—will keep London ablaze this summer

So for those who’ll be there, for those who’re thinking of going (there’s still time, but you might want to get on that), and for those who just want to watch from afar, we’ve compiled the city’s 20 hottest events this season. Consider this your ultimate guide to the Summer of London.

Images by Pride London / One Sunny Day

Click through for London’s Top 20 Events for Summer 2012


The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: Central Weekend
June 2 to 5
All around London

She’s still about three years shy of being Britain’s longest reigning monarch (a record held by great-great granny Queen Victoria), but Elizabeth II has indeed ruled for so long now that most of the world can’t recall a time when she wasn’t The Queen.

In this, her astounding 60th year on the throne, events all across London are celebrating the royal milestone. The biggest thrills come on this Central Weekend in early June, which includes a Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, a Diamond Jubilee Festival, a Buckingham Palace concert, and the globe-spanning Jubilee Beacons.

(For a complete list of Central Weekend events, see here.)

Image via the official website of the British Monarchy


Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend
June 23 & 24
Hackney Marshes

Rihanna! David Guetta! Florence + The Machine! The Ting Tings! Lana Del Rey! Jay-Z! Jack White! Need we really say more?


Damon Albarn’s Dr Dee
June 25 to July 7
London Coliseum

Cute and clever Blur frontman Damon Albarn mounts this modern opera about Elizabethan-era astrologer, courtier, alchemist and spy Doctor Dee. Albarn’s accompanying soundtrack album is just out.


Christian Louboutin
Now through July 9
Design Museum

This first UK retrospective of iconic French shoe designer Christian Louboutin celebrates a career that’s pushed the boundaries of high-fashion footwear.


Picasso & Modern British Art
Now through July 15
Tate Britain

This major new exhibition brings together more than 150 works—60+ from Picasso himself, and the rest by a slew of British greats like Francis Bacon and David Hockney—to show how the Spanish master influenced the development of modern British art.

Britain Creates 2012
July 6 to 29
Victoria & Albert Museum

Part of the London 2012 Festival (as are many of the arts events here), the UK’s most prestigious fashion designers collaborate with the country’s leading visual artists on specially commissioned works. Pairings include Giles Deacon & Jeremy Deller, Hussein Chalayan & Gavin Turk, and Matthew Williamson & Mat Collishaw.

Image Giles Deacon, SS12 (Courtesy of the British Fashion Council)

Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch: World Cities 2012
June 6 to July 9
Barbican and Sadler’s Wells

In another London 2012 Festival highlight, famed German choreographer Pina Bausch presents ten of her most seminal works in this unprecedented retrospective series.


WorldPride 2012
June 23 to July 8
All around London

Pride London and InterPride present the third-ever WorldPride, which with its dizzying array of performances, presentations, parties and July 7 main parade is expected to draw more than a million festive homos and friendlies.

Ha Ha Hackney: Homo of Comedy Gay Extravaganza
July 8
Hackney Empire Theatre

Top British funnyfolk pay tribute to the gay heroes of British comedy, including John Inman (above), Danny La Rue and Larry Grayson. Footage from the BFI television and film archive, a drag chorus line, and show-stopping numbers are promised.

Image via BBC

Fetish Week London
July 9 to 15
All around London

Tucked neatly between WorldPride and the Olympics, Fetish Week London will include a massive number of down and dirty events and parties across the British capital, with eight official blowouts including a Rubber Party, a Skinhead Party, a new Sports Cruise Party, and the main Full Fetish Party.

July 17
Hyde Park

Never a marketing dummy, Queen Madge has (like the fetishists) deftly slated her London extravaganza just between WorldPride and the Olympics.

Image via madonna.com (Super Bowl Halftime Show shot by Kevin Mazur)

Drags Aloud
July 20
London Wonderground

Innovative Australian performance troupe Drags Aloud does its best to “demolish your expectations of drag shows with full tilt industrial glamour and steel-capped comedy.”

The 2012 Olympics
July 27 to August 12
All around London

A bunch of really intense and important sport matches are sandwiched between a July 27 opening ceremony that features Snow Patrol and Duran Duran, and an August 12 closing ceremony with headliners Blur, The Specials and New Order.

Photo: London 2012

Albion-Hypnagogue-Ghost: Hallucinatory Queer British Paganism
August 4
Queen Elizabeth Hall

Part of London’s Meltdown Festival 2012 (curated this year by Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons), experimental British music duo Cyclobe appear in their first-ever UK performance. Myrninerest also appears with a work about the life and death of the Coil’s Jhonn Balance. Four super-8 films by Derek Jarman will also get very rare showings, with soundtracks composed by both bands.

Torch Song Trilogy
May 30 to August 12
Menier Chocolate Factory

Douglas Hodge follows up the huge success of his La Cage aux Folles revival with another Fierstein classic. David Bedalla (above), award-winning star of Jerry Springer:The Opera, plays lovable drag queen Arnold.

Drag Divas
August 9 to 25
Arts Theatre

Some of London’s hottest up and coming dragsters present their takes on gay icons Whitney Houston, Cher, Beyonce, Shirley Bassey, Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli, Amy Winehouse, and more. Hosted by Titti La Camp and Mrs. Moore.


Damien Hirst
Now through September 9
Tate Modern

Influential and often controversial English artist Damien Hirst gets his first substantial survey by a British institution, bringing together key works from over twenty years.


Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist
Now through October 7
Queen’s Gallery

The largest ever exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci’s studies of the human body, which were intended by the artist to be published as a revolutionary work on human anatomy.


The Queen: Art and Image
May 17 to October 21
National Portrait Gallery

This collection of 60 portraits (in honor of her 60 years of reign) shows Elizabeth II in an extremely wide variety of settings, moods, and interpretations, and features works by Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz, Lucian Freud, and Gerhard Richter.


Shakespeare: Staging the World
July 19 to November 25
British Museum

Part of the World Shakespeare Festival and in collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company, this major exhibition on the bard’s world provides a unique insight into the emerging role of London as an international city, as seen through the innovative perspective of Shakespeare’s plays.

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