Best bets for the Bank Holiday: what to do for August’s holiday weekend

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Summer’s brilliant, isn’t it? Not only do you get sunshine, heat and fantastic places like London looking their best and offering terrific attractions to check out, at the end of the month of August you also get a weekend-long public holiday – well, in the UK you do, at least. Yes, between 26th and 28th August, Britain is officially on holiday; so what better reason to visit the UK capital? Here are some of the highlights going on in the city that very weekend…

notting hill carnival

Notting Hill Carnival

(W11/ 26th-28th August)

Where else to start than with the biggest deal in London come this August Bank Holiday – actually, come every August Bank Holiday in the capital! This annual street carnival is the biggest in Europe and is primarily a bright, breezy, colourful, noisy and aromatic celebration of the West London borough’s longstanding Caribbean roots. A legendary thing to witness and take part in then; expect floats, steel drums and a cacophony of music, song, dance and rhythm.

The Beast

(Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way N22 7AY/ 25th-28th August)

This attraction may not mean a great deal to those unfamiliar with UK television from back in the day, given it takes its unique and ironic inspiration from the challenges posed by 1990s game shows, but frankly is bound to enjoyed by anyone and everyone. The aim of the game is to leap, clamber and – if necessary – bash your way past a plethora of inflatable obstacles across 300 metres’ worth of bouncy castle. Total Wipeout has nothing on this!

Gladiator Games

(Guildhall Yard EC2V/ 25th-28th August)

And now for something truly gladiatorial (rather than inflatable), for Guildhall Yard – the site of London’s own Roman amphitheatre – will be hosting gladiator-esque games and events come the bank holiday. Unlike in the real events held centuries ago, though (possibly on this very spot in old Londinium, as it then was), blood-letting should certainly be at a minimum and losers are unlikely to be executed – hopefully not anyway! Great fun should be had by all, for sure, at this celebration of old-fashioned physical spectacle at its best – especially if you’re staying relatively nearby at accommodation near Brewery Road London City – specifically The Montcalm at The Brewery London City.

museum

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

(Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road SW7 5BD/ until 10th September)

A quieter, more contemplative and doubtless all-round delightful time can be had checking out the entrants in this exhibition showcasing the images of this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition – the pics of which are taken by both professional and amateur snappers and are bound to include some of the most extraordinary of the globe’s species in some of the most exquisite freeze-frame moments imaginable.

Zip World London

(Archbishop’s Park, Carlisle Lane SE1 7LE/ until 28th September)

High-adrenaline thrills and spills are the order of the day once again at this attraction that offers up bold participants the opportunity to throw themselves along a 225-metre-long zip wire descent through a park in the centre of Lambeth. Declaring itself the ‘world’s biggest, fastest zip line’, it begs the question then – are you brave (or foolhardy!) enough?

Soul of the Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power

(Tate Modern, Bankside SE1 9TG/ until 22nd October)

Finally, this admittedly very specific exhibit at the always thought-provoking and eclectically impressive Tate Modern may not be everyone’s cup of tea for the bank holiday, but it comes enormously acclaimed, having won rave reviews, seeking as it does to challenge ideas and flip notions of ‘black art’ on their head, thanks to showcasing the two-decade-long work period of imaginative and rarely displayed African-American artists. So go along with an open mind – and be inspired.