There is plenty of action in this lively ELL borough: from vintage dances to hot tub cinema, here are ELL’s best ideas to spend a great summer in Tower Hamlets.
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.
Kick off the weekend with an adventure that will get the whole family excited! Summer is the perfect time to get active, so join the climbing club at Mile End Park for something different and fun. The friendly staff run junior courses and they organise safe taster sessions for all first-timers.
Playtime may whet the appetite, so head to the nearby Pavillion Café in Victoria Park. They offer delicious, organic and locally sourced food from an all day breakfast menu, including amazing veggie options. Sit in the sun by the outdoor tables, while keeping an eye on the children feeding the ducks by the lake.
Just one tube stop down the central line, in Bethnal green, the V&A Museum of Childhood is hosting a free Summer Festival on Sunday, July 27. With outdoors games, arts and crafts workshops and face painting, children can enjoy some creative fun, while parents can nose around different stalls selling everything, from plant pots to artisanal cakes.
Does exotic food tickles your fantasy, but you worry the children may not appreciate? Pho Café at Spitafields Market serves healthy and delicious Vietnamese street specialties together with dishes from the kids’ menu. Open in the evenings, with no booking required.
Nothing spells out summer quite like a late breakfast for two in the sun. Grab a seat on the outdoor terrace at the Gallery Café, in Bethnal Green, and enjoy a homemade vegetarian delight in the cosy atmosphere of this little café. All their profits go to St. Margaret’s House, a local charity that provides working space, support and opportunities to the multicultural community of Tower Hamlets.
The Café hosts art exhibitions, but if you are eager for more, we suggest taking a short walk around the block to Vyner street, a thriving centre of the London experimental art scene. On the first Thursday of each month, galleries come together and host free events, exhibitions, talks and private views during a special late opening.
For a romantic lunch with a view and under a tenner, head to St Katharine’s Docks, in Wapping, and grab some delicious food from one of the stalls at the Good Food Market, every Friday. You could enjoy Ethiopian delicacies, paella or fish and chips while sitting on a bench against the scenery of the docks.
If you fancy a taste of old-fashioned romance and some swinging moves, do not miss Swing Patrol’s free evening sessions under Spitafields Market’s Sails. Expect plenty of rhythm n' blues, swing and jazz music to accompany beginners’ workshops, freestyle dancing and some demonstrations from the professionals. No previous experience needed, maybe just a tiny bit of self-deprecating humour.
Feeling hungry after the ballroom action? The sophistication of Bistrotheque’s cuisine, in Bethnal Green, will appeal both foodies and eternal romantics, combining exquisite dishes from the French tradition with the contemporary ambiance of a modern, lofty dining room. They are open for brunch too, if anyone is up for a Sunday lay in.
Extra tip to impress your date: the Mahogany Bar, the oldest part (originally built in 1725) of the historical Wilton’s Music Hall, serves good-quality drinks and turns into an intimate and charming venue hosting free music events.
Friendship lasts forever, and so does breakfast time at Shoreditch’s coolest Breakfast Club. Chatty friends will come in handy while queuing for a spot at their tucked-away Artillery Lane venue, where epic fry-ups and pancakes specials are served all-day long to hungry crowds of hipsters and the rest of us!
If you are a music lover, check out Rough Trade East in-store gigs calendar. The east London branch of legendary record stores, just off Brick Lane, regularly puts up free exclusive performances by world-class acts, including the Manic Street Preachers on Wednesday, July 8.
From June 29 until July 6 it’s the Roman Road festival, a weeklong celebration of the history and the community of this area of Bethnal Green. Running across different venues, events include live music, drama workshops, architectural walks, local story telling and even a ‘letter lounge’ session to finally make time to send out all those unwritten letters piled up in your head.
For a big night out, you are definitely in the right area, as bars and clubs fill the streets of Shoreditch far and wide.
For something a bit more extraordinary, why not joining a bunch of strangers in tiny hot tubs to watch some movie classics on a maxi screen? It’s the Hot Tub Cinema and everyone loves it! Subscribe to their mailing list to be updated on the latest screenings.
The night may be young, but it’s 3am and your stomach is grumbling. Whether you are seasoned Londoner or a fresh expat, there is one place that puts everyone’s tastes at peace: a tiny ‘Beigel’ shop on Brick Lane. Open 24 hours a day all year round, the ‘beigels’ from this rustic and very popular eatery are the perfect answer to after club munchies and midnight snacking.