As one of the most vibrant and culturally diverse London boroughs, Hackney has a lot to offer this summer. From the Lovebox music festival, to visiting donkeys at the City Farm, here are ELL’s pick of the best places and events.
We’ve chosen activities to suit families, couples and groups of friends, just make your choice from the tabs below. Use the map to find how to get to each place, red stars show the activities we would recommend for families, green for couples and blue for friends.
There is a restaurant in Dalston Square where ‘children are as important as the food’: Nancy’s Pantry. Combining healthy, delicious eating with child-friendly living, the Pantry puts a spotlight on families’ needs. Children are given the chance to play and explore while adults can happily sit, watch, eat and relax. Their calendar includes regular movie screenings and children-only club nights.
If the city makes you longing for the countryside, take a trip to Hackney City Farm, near Haggerston Park. The kids will be able to meet goats, sheep, donkeys and a couple of ginger pigs, while learning more about sustainable living. They also sell fresh eggs and honey from the local bees: some rustic treats to take home.
To hold the adventurous spirit high, why not go fruit picking? Join one of the Free PACT Wildlife walks: they will be foraging edible flowers and fruits on July 13. An experienced guide will show how to recognise good and bad berries before the start of the haunt. Walks are for people of all ages, including kids.
One thing will always unite parents and children: pizza! The great news is that, this summer, Clapton’s favourite Latto’s is churning out pizzas at Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, every Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 9pm. Grab a table in this lovely community garden and share al fresco with the family.
Wake up and smell the coffee, errr, sorry, the bun! Scandinavian bakery Fabrique, under the arches near Hoxton station, serves some of the best buttery and spicy Swedish-style cinnamon buns in London. Grab them warm from the oven, order a couple of coffees too, then walk up to the Geffrye Museum’s Herb garden, where more than 170 different plants are cultivated.
For a romantic afternoon, unleash the sailor in you and book a cruise along east London canals. It is fascinating to see luxury flats sit next to post-industrial warehouses along the banks, while many little independent businesses have sprung up for a new young crowd of residents, as the area gentrifies.
Facing Regents’ Canal, close to Kingsland Road, also hides one of locals’ favourite: Towpath Café. Away from the hustle of the main street, this waterside café is perfect to sit and relax in the sunshine. They serve highly praised coffees and cakes and their food menu changes daily and is locally sourced. At the weekend, they serve brunch too.
Nothing says ‘I love you’ quite like a date at the movies. This summer, the Rooftop Film Club has got it all covered for you! They are hosting screenings of 80s cults and old Hollywood glories on the rooftop at Queen of Hoxton, all geared up with comfy director chairs, blankets and wireless headphones.
Are you dreaming of some exotic getaway? Look no further than Shoreditch High Street, where newcomer Andina serves bites of South American marvel. This modern Peruvian restaurant – a new venture from Soho Ceviche’s founder Morales – offers authentic traditional food with a contemporary appeal (deep fried quinoa, pork belly chicarrones and, obviously, ceviche), for a delicious meal that feels both unpretentious and sophisticated.
Weekends can be busy, but there is so much to be missed while repeating 'on snooze’. On Sunday mornings, just off Hackney road is the Columbia Road Flower Market. Well established among Londoners and tourists, there is a lot to explore at this colourful market: along typical stands of flowers and plants, many little cafes and independent, quirky shops open their doors until the early afternoon.
A staple of English summer is outdoor music festivals and Victoria Park in Hackney hosts some of the most exciting! Lovebox is on July 18-19 and this year's line-up includes acclaimed international electronic artists, DJs and alternative rock bands. Rap icon NAS will perform his classic album “Illmatic”, while Chase & Status dance-y beats will warm up the crowd. Not to miss: M.I.A’s fierce tunes, indie rock band The Horrors and English-born Berlin-based techno DJ and producer Scuba.
Flower crowns and tank tops at the ready! Don’t forget your sunscreen.
For the music types with a preference for intimate venues, Café Oto in Dalston is regularly putting on interesting artists, pushing forward the best of experimental music. Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth is a regular and just a few months ago Yoko Ono played some impromptu gigs here. Sold?
Nice weather calls for a good beer-garden, and Hackney Wick may just have one of the best. Crate Brewery, at the White Building, stretches out by the River Lea, serving their own original brews within a former industrial warehouse refurbished to the creative type’s standards. Their pizzas are pretty good too and well worth a try.
Whether you would like to spend a day swimming at the Olympic-sized lido, organise a mini tennis tournament or just lie on the grass with some cheese and a bottle of sparkling rosé, London Fields is the place to be. And yes, it gets crowded at weekends, and yes, it is full of hipsters and their disposable barbecues, but the liveliness is contagious: embrace it.
If you are heading back to Shoreditch for a big night out, stop by Rivington street for dinner at Jubo, aka the real KFC: Korean Fried Chicken. The menu cuts it short: just choose your flavours, it’s all about the chicken here. And it’s sticky, tasty and relatively cheap – 6 strips for £8.50 is definitely cheap for this hip side of town.
This Korean canteen sits in a corner of the Bedroom bar, helping for a smooth transition from dinnertime to partytime.