This August the Charles Dickens Museum will present a unique and very special night of Victoriana. You’ll be granted an opportunity to sample a selection of rare gins, try your hand at book binding and enjoy a live acoustic guitar performance by Facio, all in the atmospheric surrounds of Dickens’ former house in Bloomsbury. Experts from The London Gin Club will be present to discuss the finer points of gin tasting while you sample a hand picked library of fine gins that are certain to shed new light on the spirit’s nuanced characteristics. There’ll be plenty of time continue your education in the gin bar, which boasts an entire library of artisan gins along with carefully selected garnishes and tonics. And if all that gin hasn’t taken its toll a book binding workshop will be running throughout the evening, offering expert insight into Japanese stab binding and a chance to make your very own hand stitched notebook – a fine memento of what promises to be a delightful evening.
Ascot will play host to more air-bound drama this summer with the return of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. Perhaps better known for the sartorial splendour of its race meeting, Ascot is quickly developing an exciting side-line as the venue for the British leg of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. Last year 50,000 people attended the Air Race and the event proved to be a huge success, picking up Event of The Year at the prestigious British Racecourse Association Annual Awards. Pitting the world’s finest pilots against each other, the Red Bull Air Race is an exhilarating test of speed, precision and daredevil skill. Saturday’s attendees will witness a full day of aerial action, commencing at 9.15AM with a calibration flight and reaching a thrilling finale at 5PM with the Challengers Cup, which will see the starting places for Sunday’s Masters event decided.
London Mela is well established as one of the capital’s most exciting festivals and an undoubted highlight of the city’s cultural calendar. Established in 2003, London Mela was an immediate hit, attracting 60,000 revellers to Gunnersbury Park in Ealing in what proved to be one of the biggest and boldest celebrations of South Asian culture outside Asia itself. Twelve years later Gunnersbury Park is once again set to be transformed into a vibrant platform for the very best in South Asian music, dance and visual art as Mela returns to for another inspired celebration of Asian culture in London. Spread over nine zones, Mela promises something for everyone – there’ll be a diverse musical line up featuring everything from classical Asian music to the latest urban acts, dance, comedy and Asian street theatre plus a mouth watering array of food stalls touting authentic Asian cuisine. A spectacular firework display will bring the day’s festivities to a suitably spectacular finale.
The second week of August looks set to test the mettle even the hardiest of beer drinkers. While West London sees the return of the Great British Beer Festival the East End welcomes its younger, dare we say slightly hipper, counterpart – the London Craft Beer Festival. Taking place in Bethnal Green’s Oval Space, the London Craft Beer Festival sets out to celebrate the very best of Britain’s independent brewing industry by hosting eighteen of the country’s finest brewers including The Kernel Brewery, Redemption, Camden Town Brewery, BrewDog and Redchurch Brewery, who’ll collectively present 60 superb beers for your delectation. Small glasses are the order of the day, giving you a chance to try as many different beers as possible – all covered by the entrance price. It’s a great chance to sample the finest tipples currently emerging from Britain’s rejuvenated brewing industry accompanied by an excellent live music line-up that includes DJ Yoda, Ghostpoet and Artful Dodger.
To say that Benedict Cumberbatch’s highly anticipated portrayal of Hamlet is set to be one of this year’s theatrical highlights seems like stating the obvious. Having seized the world’s attention with his mesmeric take on Sherlock in the acclaimed BBC update of Conan Doyle’s famous detective adventures, Cumberbatch has barely been out of the limelight in recent years, claiming numerous awards for his stage and screen work and effortlessly assuming a position among the country’s leading thespians. Now, at the height of his powers, Cumerbatch is set to take on Shakespeare’s most challenging – and iconic – role in Lyndsey Turner’s new production of Hamlet at the Barbican. Unsurprisingly the entire run is sold out but 30 £10 day seats will be made available per day from 10.30 AM so there’s still a chance to grab one of the year’s hottest tickets if you can make it to the Barbican early enough.
The highlight of the beer enthusiast’s calendar is returning to London’s Olympia this summer and promises a bigger and better celebration of British booze than ever before. Just as the capital’s brewing craze shows now sign of slowing down, so too the Great British Beer Festival – the biggest festival of its kind in the UK – continues to go from strength to strength, reflecting the enormous breadth of the buoyant brewing industry with an amazing array of tipples from Britain and beyond. This year’s festival promises over 900 beers, ciders, perries and ales, so every imaginable shade of amber nectar is certain to be present. As ever there’ll be plenty of musical entertainment on hand to ensure a festive atmosphere, plus plentiful pub grub and traditional games. And for those who seek enlightenment GBBF is never short of opportunities for the discerning hop fancier to expand their knowledge – this year’s tutored tastings include Champion Beers of Britain with Roger Protz and London’s Best Beer, Pubs and Bars with Des de Moor.