London’s back and buzzing with a packed calendar of blockbuster exhibitions, star-studded West End theatre and brilliant new places to stay and eat. Plus, it’s the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this year, which means a summer of pomp, ceremony and street parties. Here are the biggest events in 2022 to put in your London calendar.
Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
The Queen celebrates her Platinum Jubilee (June 2-5) this year, making her the first monarch in British history to rule for 70 years. Although the anniversary falls in February, the big celebrations are based around a four-day national holiday from June 2-5. Expect a weekend of concerts, carnivals and street parties. Things kick off with Trooping the Colour on June 2 – the event has marked the official birthday of the British Sovereign for over 260 years. This year’s parade is the first since the pandemic and will be resplendent with more than 1400 parading soldiers, 200 horses, 400 musicians and, of course, members of the Royal Family on horseback and in carriages. The route starts at Buckingham Palace and heads down the Mall to Horse Guard’s Parade. Find tickets for the parade ballot here.
Other festivities include Platinum Party at the Palace – an all-star concert (with guests yet to be announced) broadcast live from the palace garden on June 4 – but the biggest celebration is on Sunday June 5 with the Platinum Jubilee Pageant. The streets will be filled with a fabulous mix of military ceremony, musicians, dancers and carnival performances. This is the day for street parties across the country, too – pack a picnic and join the fun in the parks around the palace.
Stay: The charming Goring Hotel is a 10-minute walk from the palace and has a beautiful garden. The Middleton Family stayed here the night before Catherine married William. Nearby Dukes Hotel also has strong royal connections and the best cocktail bar in London.
Eat: When the pomp and ceremony gets too much, refuel at Michelin-starred A.Wong for some of the best Chinese food in the city, including amazing dim sum; Coya for delicious Peruvian food and a Pisco bar; and Cafe Murano in St James for Italian in luxe surrounds.
SEE ALSO: How to Spend a Perfect Week in London
The West End’s got an all-star line-up
Book now to see stars of the big screen on stage including Hollywood megastar Amy Adams making her West End debut in Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie (May to August at the Duke of York’s Theatre). Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke is also treading the boards as Nina in The Seagull (June to September) and X-Men star James McAvoy is in the acclaimed Cyrano de Bergerac (February to March), both at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Killing Eve’s Emmy Award-winning Jodie Comer also appears at the Pinter in her West End debut in Prima Facie by Australian playwright Suzie Miller (April to June). Over at the Bridge Theatre, Ralph Fiennes plays Bob Moses in David Hare’s new play Straight Line Crazy (March to June), about one of the most powerful and divisive men in mid-20th century New York.
Mark Rylance fans are in for a treat when he reprises his role as “Rooster” Byron in Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem (April to August at the Apollo). Elsewhere in the West End, Taron Egerton, star of Rocketman and Kingsman: The Secret Service, is in the Olivier Award-winning play Cock at the Ambassadors Theatre (March to June) and Rafe Spall plays Atticus Finch in Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway hit To Kill a Mockingbird (May to August at the Gielgud), based on Harper Lee’s classic novel.
Stay: When the curtain falls, stroll back to the uber-cool NoMad hotel, which opened last year in the heart of theatreland – it’s located in the former Bow Street Magistrates’ Court (where Oscar Wilde, the Kray twins and Emmeline Pankhurst were all tried).
Eat: For pre- or post-theatre sustenance, head to the fantastic Brasserie Zédel for French classics in a Parisian-style dining space; Bocca di Lupo for next-level Italian; or theatre lovers’ favourite J. Sheekey for its legendary fish pie.
The city’s newest attraction opens
The Gunpowder Plot at the Tower of London is a thrilling new multi-million-pound experience opening in May, allowing visitors to become immersed in the sound, smells and sights of London in the 17th Century. ”It’s the only place in the world where you can step back into British history,” says Andrew McGuinness, CEO of the project design company, Layered Reality. The multi-sensory experience is the biggest tourist attraction to open in London since the Shard and tells the story of Guy Fawkes and his plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. The action takes place in a new purpose-designed theatre in the Vaults opposite the Tower of London, where much of the real plotting took place. Amazing effects are achieved through layering live actors, virtual reality and sophisticated technology which produces changes in temperature, smell and motion control. Visitors become part of the action as they are guided through an amazing two-kilometre route passing through the equivalent of nine immersive movie sets.
Stay: CitizenM combines a brilliant location above Tower Hill station with hip design, light-filled spaces and an excellent rooftop bar.
Eat: St Katharine’s Docks is close for a quick meal at reliable chain favourites in a lovely marina setting. For more interesting options, take a 10-minute stroll to Spitalfields. There are plenty of delicious street-food stalls in the covered market or head to Som Saa for amazing Thai in a buzzy former fabric warehouse, St John Bread and Wine for delicious British food and Ottolenghi for unbeatable Middle Eastern-influenced café fare.
The exhibitions are blockbusters
London’s exhibition calendar is off to a flying start with Francis Bacon: Man and Beast at the Royal Academy (January 29 to April 17), which examines the artist’s relationship with the animals that shaped his work. Furry friends also loom large in Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature (February to September) at the V&A, a family-friendly look at Potter’s original watercolours, diaries and manuscripts. While you are there, check out the first major exhibition of British menswear – Fashioning Masculinities: the Art of Menswear (March 19 to November 6).
Over at the British Museum, The World of Stonehenge (February 17 to July 17) is a landmark exhibition exploring the world’s best known ancient stone circle, Stonehenge in Wiltshire, built 4500 years ago. Towards the end of the year, the Science Museum launches Science Fiction: Voyage to the Edge of Imagination (October to May 2023), one of its most ambitious exhibitions ever, where visitors become part of an interactive story complete with spaceships and undiscovered planets. For art lovers, the Tate Modern has Surrealism Beyond Borders (February 24 to August 29) and, later in the year, a major retrospective of Cezanne (October to March 2022).
Stay: The stylish Bloomsbury is close to the British Museum and has the prettiest flower-filled terrace in town. The new Hoxton Southwark is handy for the Tate Modern, has a buzzy vibe and a great rooftop restaurant. If you want to be close to the South Kensington museums, Number Sixteen is a chic boutique hotel tucked away on a pretty side street.
Eat: José Pizarro at the Royal Academy of Arts serves top tapas in the beautiful Senate Room, the Tate Modern’s own Kitchen and Bar has stunning views of the Thames, nearby Caravan Bankside is an all-day eatery, and foodie heaven Borough Market is only a 10-minute walk away. Visiting the Science Museum? The excellent Ognisko, the Polish Hearth Club’s restaurant, is just across the road in the most stunning high-ceilinged room.