Visitors to the Square Mile can expect to check out a whole host of festivals, exhibitions, films and theatre performances this week as the sun finally returns.
The City calendar is always bursting with things to see, do and experience. And this week is no different. Visitors to the area can expect to check out a whole host of festivals, exhibitions, films and music performances as the City finally heats up. These are the top events in the City of London this week.
This new exhibition celebrates the work and life of Lee Krasner, a pioneer of Abstract Expressionism. Lee Krasner: Living Colour is the first major presentation of her work in Europe for more than 50 years, and tells the story of a formidable artist whose importance has too often been eclipsed by her marriage to Jackson Pollock. Discover Krasner’s spirit for invention – from striking early self-portraits to her acclaimed ‘Little Image’ paintings from the 1940s, to collages comprised of torn-up earlier work and a selection of her most impressive large-scale abstract paintings. There are nearly 100 works included, many of which are being presented for the first time in the UK.
30 May until 1 September, tickets £15
Barbican Art Gallery, Silk Street EC2Y 8DS
The London Merchant, a play about two dysfunctional families begins. But suddenly, from the audience, a grocer and his wife clamber on to the stage, explaining to the astonished actors that while they quite like the play, it could be better and more exciting. Apparently, singing, dancing, an exotic foreign location and the appearance of a knight are the missing ingredients. Luckily, their apprentice Rafe is just the man for the job.
5-8 June, tickets £25-£45
Barbican Theatre, Silk Street EC2Y 8DS
Timeout has relaunched its outdoor film screenings for summer. The experience kicks off with a food and booze-fuelled boat cruise along the Thames while the sun is setting. Once it gets dark enough, they dock up looking out over some of London’s great landmarks and get the film rolling. Expect to see classics like Grease, Dirty Dancing and Breakfast at Tiffany’s as well as new releases like A Star Is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody and The Greatest Showman.
From 4 June, tickets from £29
Tower Pier, Lower Thames Street EC3N 4DT
A protest against oil dependency and our dependency on motor vehicles, the World Naked Bike Ride is also an unapologetic celebration of individuality and the beauty of the nude body. Many people opt to go totally naked and bike in the buff, although full nudity isn’t mandatory. Just remember not to disrobe until you get to the event – no commuting au natural, folks. The route for 2019’s World Naked Bike Ride (now in its 16th year) will have six start points: Tower Hill, Regents Park, Deptford, Hyde Park, Clapham Junction, and Kew Bridge. All the routes merge for the core part of the route from Westminster Bridge onwards, so that everyone gets to be part of the massive annual ride.
8 June, free
A multidisciplinary pop-up art exhibition is coming to the Southbank for a full week, showcasing established and emerging pieces from Pittsburgh artists. Pittsburgh Art on the Bank, overseen and curated by a panel of Pittsburgh arts administrators, is an immersive presentation of the city’s diverse talent, featuring original tapestry pieces, digital installations, visual poems on acrylic, canvas oil paintings, and archived photography. Throughout the exhibition, visitors will also have the opportunity to win a five-night trip for two to Pittsburgh and admission to a selection of the city’s top museums.
3-9 June, open 24 hours
Riverside Slice, Southbank SE1 9PH
For one weekend only, some of London’s top hidden and private parks open up to the public. By purchasing a ticket, visitors can wander about greener pastures while taking part in fun activities. Inner Temple will be running a croquet and cocktails day on Sunday from 1pm-5pm; The Cannon Bridge House Roof Garden will host the Bel Canto Girls’ Choir, who will perform between 12pm and 2pm, also on Sunday; while Middle Temple is holding Head Gardener tours and a musical performance from a cappella group Broomdasher – again on Sunday. Other City of London outdoor spaces to explore in this year’s festival include the likes of Drapers’ Hall Garden, The Master’s Garden, Nomura International PLC, and Eversheds Sutherland Vegetable Garden. There’s plenty to take in – let’s just pray for good weather.
8 & 9 June, weekend-long tickets £10 for kids and £20 for adults
Discover the latest collections that have been deposited at the London Metropolitan Archives. Enjoy intriguing documents, short talks, and creative activities for all the family, including the Great Document Explorer Discovery Quiz, Conservation Crafts, and music from Alexander D Great.
31 May, 10am-4pm, free
London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road EC1R 0HB
There are over 400 events running throughout June for this year’s London Festival of Architecture – and the City of London is one of the main hubs. The area has the most iconic and identifiable buildings found anywhere in the world, including the Gherkin and the Lloyds Building, but there is just so much more to explore in the Square Mile. Take tours of London landmarks, inspect little known design elements on the streets of the City, get an insider’s look at the Barbican Centre, and interact with some tailor-made installations. The entire festival works alongside the City of London Corporation’s series of events, Fantastic Feats: The Building of London, meaning that this year’s festivities will be just that much better.
The ambitious Illuminated River project will light up central London’s bridges along the River Thames sometime in 2022. It is being led by London architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and American light artist Leo Villareal and, once complete, will be the longest public art commission in the world. In anticipation of the installation, architectural drawings and visualisations for the project will be displayed alongside Thames paintings chosen by Villareal from Guildhall Art Gallery’s collection.
From 31 May, Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12noon-4pm, free
Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard EC2V 5AE
Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s award-winning Opera department presents a double bill of early operatic works exploring romantic love: the pursuit and passion, happiness and heartbreak. Handel’s pastoral cantata Aminta e Fillide follows Aminta on his campaign to woo the nymph Fillide. The theme of Cupid’s arrow also runs through John Blow’s Venus and Adonis, composed 25 years earlier for the court of King Charles II and considered by many to be the earliest known English opera.
10 June, 7pm, tickets £25
Milton Court Theatre, Silk Street EC2Y 8DT
Each weekend, until the end of July, a programme of free playful activities will bring kids into the City as a part of the Play the Mile season. First up is Sing Culture Mile, a pop-up summer singing group for all ages and abilities who will rehearse weekly in Smithfield Rotunda Gardens, working towards a live performance as part of Make Music Day on 21 June. Mapping and illustration workshops will be presented by East London Comic & Arts Festival throughout the season, offering kids and adults the chance to work with artists Katie Johnston and Grace Helmer from Day Job Studio. There will also be a range of performances and live events, including free lunchtime concerts from the LSO at St Luke’s, while the Guildhall School’s musicians and production artists will be bringing spaces around the City to life with everything from electronic music to opera.
Until 26 July, free
Various locations across Culture Mile
This end-of-year showcase presents some of the outstanding work of final-year students on Guildhall School’s technical theatre arts and video design for live performance programmes. It’s a chance to see up close a range of props, scenery, costumes, lighting, sound and video designs created for the school’s public operas, dramas and musicals, as well as stage and production management portfolios and students’ personal projects. Many of the students will be present to talk about their work.
5 & 6 June, free
Milton Court Studio Theatre EC2Y 8DT
Expressionist painter Feliks Topolski was always on the lookout for something eye-catching to draw. At this exhibition of his drawings of Debden’s banknote printing works, try your hand at sketching your surroundings with the help of a selection of drawing activities. The top picks will be displayed on the museum’s social media channels.
28-31 May, 10am-5pm, free
Bank of England Museum, Bartholomew Lane EC2R 8AH