As we kick off the month of June there’s one huge block of days on the immediate horizon all ringed off with regal purple on our calendars – or more likely flagged as ‘OOF’ on our phone alerts. Like some seriously deep work of literature or art they have a level of meanings: that it’s the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee 2022 and that it’s a bumper four-day bank holiday weekend for us Londoners. Whether you’re a flag and bunting kinda monarchist or proud marxist, there’s no getting away from it, from Thursday June 2 to Sunday June 5 we’re getting time off for good behaviour to mark Elizabeth II’s historic 70 years on the throne.
Now, we know that there are still rumbles about a tube strike over the Jubilee bank holiday weekend (plus a possible dampener to our Monday commute), but fear not, not everything is centred around Buckingham Palace or the Queen’s Royal residence(s) if you don’t live next door (Imagine taking in the parcels). There are plenty of events big and small across the capital to liven up your local ends.
You probably won’t get sent to the Tower if you don’t want to take part in the festivities, but if you do, there’s plenty going on that not only celebrates Her Maj’s loooong reign, but highlights how gloriously bonkers we are when it comes to National Celebrations, from a pop-up corgi café to a 1950s-style pub on the London Eye (yes, really).
Here are 40 ways to celebrate Lizzie’s longevity, from the super-royal to the, well, really not very royal at all.
1. Get in on the action and grab yourself a flag
We get it, sometimes you simply want to be part of the really big events and get to the heart of all the historic stuff that has been laid on, so here are those events closest to the throne as it were.
Nab yourself a spot for the Jubilee Parade on Sunday June 5, when a giant scaly dragon will hatch and then coolly saunter down the Mall (with the aid of puppeteers) as though there is absolutely nothing strange in being a lizard bigger than a double-decker bus. You can find out more details of the parade here.
Buckingham Palace, SW1A 1AA, Jun 5. Free.
Continuing the theme of really big stuff, while you’re in the vicinity of Buck House go and admire Thomas Heatherwick’s giant ‘Tree of Trees’ sculpture which has 350 native species of British tree growing within its 21-metre frame to mark the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative.
Buckingham Palace, London, SW1A 1AA. Until Jun 5. Free.
Take a day at the races on Saturday 4 June, when the Queen and the Royal family will be heading to the Cazoo Epsom Derby to lay a fiver on Danny Boy. Don’t forget your titfer.
Epsom Downs Racecourse, KT18 5LQ. Jun 4. From £20.
Continuing the sporting theme, Lord’s Cricket Ground are hosting a special Jubilee celebration with the England v New Zealand Test Match, including a children’s lunch in the Nursery Pavilion. Probably best hope the New Zealanders play ball.
Lord’s Cricket Ground, St John’s Wood, NW8 8QN, Jun 2-6. From £70.
2. Hang out somewhere almost as fancy as Buckingham Palace
Head to Hampton Court Palace for the Jubilee Joust, a proper old-school fighting competition with knights on horseback (though thankfully not national treasures Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart).
Hampton Court Palace. Jun 1-5. Free with price of admission.
Head to the V&A to check out Platinum Jubilee Emblem Competition. Young people from all over the UK were challenged to design an emblem befitting the Jubilee celebrations, but there was only one winner.
V&A. Until Jun 31.
Take in a fragrant tribute to Her Majesty at the Tower of London’s ‘Superbloom’. To mark her 70 years, the moat that surrounds the historic building has been filled with tens of thousands of wild blooms to create a spectacular, summer-long display.
Tower of London. Jun 1-Sep 18. From £6.60.
Swing by the Southbank Centre for five days of irreverent Jubilee parties and performances including Duckie’s ‘Official’ and ‘Alternative’ Royal Command Performances and a screening of Danny Boyle’s new Sex Pistols series. There’s also an In Conversation event with the Oscar-winner himself.
Southbank Centre. Jun 1-5. Various prices.
Get your dauber out at Drag Queen Bingo. It’s hosted by camp callers Timberlina and Auntie Maureen in the Grade II-listed Victorian conservatory of Forest Hill’s historic Horniman Museum.
Horniman Museum and Gardens. Jun 5. £2.50-£5.
3. Level up your royal knowledge at a Queen-themed exhibition or tour
Peruse a selection of royal memorabilia at Sir John Soane’s Museum in Holborn. It will feature items on loan from the public, so expect to see at least one Charles and Diana wedding mug.
Sir John Soane’s Museum. Until Jun 26. Free.
Join lecturer Rosa Somerville for a short tour of royal-themed items at The Wallace Collection, one of London’s loveliest galleries.
Wallace Collection. Jun 4. Free.
Pop into the Imperial War Museum for its landmark new exhibition, ‘Crown and Conflict: Portraits of a Queen in Wartime’. It will trace the monarch’s personal experience of war through film, photography and poignant artefacts.
Imperial War Museum. Until Jan 8 2023. Free.
Check out an exhibition dedicated to Mary Gillick, the sculptor who modelled the Queen’s head for the 1953 coinage. It includes large-scale plaster models of Gillick’s portrait of the Queen and documents relating to the new coins.
British Museum. From May 2. Free.
Discover the relationship between the Queen’s ancestors and the City of London at the two-hour A Right Royal City walking tour.
City Information Centre. Fridays and Saturdays until Jun 25. £12.
4. Feel like the Queen of the Night at a Jubilee rave
Get down to hip hop, afrobeats, bashment, amapiano, R&B and afrofusion at Kings & Queens outdoor daytime party. They’re laying on cocktails, street food and lots of Insta-ready royal props.
Pitch Stratford. Jun 2. From £11.37.
Dance to beats harder than Charles’s arteries at The Queer’s Platinum Jubilee, a punky drum and bass night with an all LGBTQ+ line-up.
Village Underground. Jun 3. £16.
Enjoy live music, DJ sets and loads of great food and drink at Queenie’s Big Bank Holiday Bash, a three-day rager at Walthamstow’s Exale Brewery.
Exale Brewery. Jun 2-4. Free.
Dance to electro, acid-infused house and techno until 4am at Ritmo – Platinum Arch Jubilee Rave. Only the most regal beats will be allowed.
Bermondsey Social Club. Jun 4. £11.30.
Bop with body-positivity activists at Club Indulge Alternative Jubilee! Plus Size & Fat Liberation Club Night. Fancy dress isn’t obligatory, but they are inviting you to ‘get your tiaras out for the lads’.
The Windsor. Jun 4. £12-£15.
5. Try a slightly random royal-themed activity
Have a brunch to remember at London’s first-ever corgi café. They’ve even hired a ‘puparazzi’ to take Insta-ready snaps of you and your new four-legged friends.
Refinery Bankside. May 29. From £7.75
Watch 100 hours of pub time. In other words, enjoy a pint at an East End pub, celebrating he Jubilee by viewing artist Stanley Schtinter’s art film that is just the time spent in The Queen Vic, the iconic ‘EastEnders’ boozer. Discover the venues that ‘The Lock-in’ will be screened at here.
Learn to jive, 1950s-style in the Rothschild Rooms at Gunnersbury Park and Museum. All ages and abilities are welcome, and you can either bring a partner or pair up when you get there.
Gunnersbury Park Museum. Jun 2-3. Free.
Try a 1950s-style stretch class at Stretch Inc wellness centre in Covent Garden. You’ll definitely be a ‘Limber Lizzie’ by the end of it.
Stretch Inc. Jun 2-5. Price tbc.
Bop to top ’50s tunes at the London Jubilee Jump. Don’t worry if you don’t already have the moves, because they’re laying on free dance classes throughout the afternoon.
Columbia Rd. Jun 2. Free.
Party like it’s 1959 at A Platinum Playlist: Jubilee Special. Baritone Maciek O’Shea and soprano Sarah Minns will be performing classical greats and rock ’n’ roll songs from the decade of the Queen’s coronation.
Jun 4-5. Gunnersbury Park Museum. Free.
6. Enjoy a feast fit for the Queen
Treat yourself to The Jubilee Afternoon Tea at The Goring, the closest hotel to Buckingham Palace and a longtime favourite haunt of ‘the firm’.
The Goring. Until Sep 1. From £60.
Watch drag queens pay homage to pop queens as well as the Queen at West End Drag Brunch: Queens of Pop. There’s a bottomless booze option if you’re feeling especially jubilant.
The Folly. Jun 4. From £20.
Tuck into a three-course meal that begins with coronation-chicken scotch eggs at The Royal Jubilee Supper Club. The price includes 90 minutes’ worth of bottomless Pimm’s and ‘Ju-bellinis’.
The Little Blue Door. Jun 1-3. £47.50.
Attend a super-exclusive street party in The Stafford’s secluded cobbled courtyard. This is Mayfair, darling, so the menu is packed with swanky takes on classic British party food including quail scotch eggs and game sausage rolls.
The Stafford. Jun 5. £80.
Channel Elizabeth II’s ancestor King Henry VIII by tucking into a bottomless Sunday roast. No one will judge you for turning your plate into a moat of gravy. For once.
Drake & Morgan at King’s Cross. Jun 4. Various prices.
7. Scoff sausage rolls and quaff champagne (okay, prosecco) at an old-timey party
Step back in time at Mayfair Street Party, a nostalgic two-day bash with a loose ‘Mary Poppins’ theme and a communal table that seats 300. They’re laying on face-painting for kids and cocktails for adults.
North Audley St. Jun 2-3. Free.
Check out a re-creation of The Mall – complete with real trees and a huge projection of Buckingham Palace – at Truman’s Social Club in Blackhorse Road. They’re doing on various free special events over the long weekend including a classic village fête and a Caribbean carnival.
Truman’s Social Club. Jun 2-5. Free.
Check out Borough Market’s Jubilee-weekend makeover complete with regal bunting and vintage music. Seven new recipes have been commissioned for the occasion – one for each decade of the Queen’s reign – which you pick up in a free Jubilee newspaper distributed at the market.
Borough Market. Jun 2-5. Free
8. Go on a royal-family-themed pub crawl along the Jubilee line
At Stratford, begin at The Queen’s Head
Next up, London Bridge’s old-school boozer The Old King’s Head, which is tucked down a cobbled alley and boasts stained glass windows depicting Henry VIII.
At Westminster, hit The Windsor Castle
At Green Park, visit The Rose & Crown, a 400-year-old pub that’s got historic panelling and is just around the corner from Buckingham Palace, making it the queen’s unofficial local.
Baker Street gastropub The Royal Oak is the perfect place to feast like a monarch on delicious fish and chips or a pancetta scotch egg with garlic aioli.
Finish at St John’s Wood at The Duke of York.
9. Escape all the madness at these totally Jubilee-free places
Shut out the world completely in a floatation tank at London Floatation Centre, where you’ll be immersed in total darkness and silence. Shame sessions only last an hour, really. Not four days.
21 Essex Rd. £55.
Pay homage to the UK’s biggest ever anti-royalist by visiting Oliver Cromwell’s Statue in Westminster. If you play your cards right, you too could execute a king someday.
House of Commons. Free.
Imbibe the guillotine-happy spirit of France at Brasserie Zedel. Dig into a bloodied steak tartare and a glass of vin rouge and you’ll be ready to sing a few courses of revolutionary battle hymn ‘La Marseillaise’ before the night is out.
20 Sherwood St.
Prince Charles famously despises brutalist architecture, so defy him by enjoying the concrete jungle that is the Barbican Centre. See some art he’d hate while you’re there too at current exhibition ‘Postwar Modern’.
Silk St. ‘Postwar Modern’ £18, £13 concs
Anarchists and radical types gather at Housman’s Bookshop. Browse its shelves and you’ll find titles like ‘Black Ghost of Empire’ or ‘Green Unpleasant Land’, which critique the uglier sides of Britain’s colonial past.
5 Caledonian Rd. Free
Need more inspiration? Check out our guide to the best things to do in London in June.