As summer draws to an end in the UK, there’s no better place to say farewell than in the English capital itself. London always has heaps to offer over the August bank holiday weekend, and this year is no exception, with the break running from 24-26 August). Rest assured, you’ll find both special events and permanent attractions to keep you busy, especially if it’s your first time in the city.
With that said, London can be busy over the long weekend, so book ahead to secure London Paddington hotel deals where you’ll be well-placed to access attractions like the Notting Hill Carnival.
Looking for a bit of guidance to help you decide what you should see and do over the Bank Holiday weekend? Refer to this itinerary to get you started on planning your three days away.
Day one: Saturday 24 August
Start your weekend in the leafy and northern neighbourhood of the Grand Park London Paddington where you can stroll down tree-lined paths towards Regent’s Park where you can admire the 12,000 roses in Queen Mary’s Gardens. During the summer, you can even hire a rowing boat and relax on the lake. From Regent’s Park, you can take a gentle ramble up Primrose Hill to enjoy glorious views of London and take a gulp of fresh air. Pack a picnic for today’s lunch and – top tip – prepare for both showers and sunshine as London’s weather can be unpredictable.
If you have a full day today, add a trip to ZSL London Zoo where you can get up close to tigers, penguins, monkeys and snakes among other exotic residents. Is rain forecasted or you’re not mad for meerkats? In that case, head for cover and pick from two further local attractions.
Wannabe-detectives can tap on the door at 221B Baker Street and spend some time investigating the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Or, if you want to attempt to fool your friends back at home, book a slot at Madame Tussauds London and collect some selfies of yourself with remarkably lifelike wax figures, including the likes of the Royal Family, the Kardashians and Benedict Cumberbatch.
In the evening, check out what’s on at the Underbelly Festival on Southbank. Their show programme boasts circus, cabaret and comedy acts as well as family-friendly shows. Known for its affordability (most tickets are priced under £20) and short, snappy performances. this is a great option for travellers on a budget who want to experience London’s theatrical scene. You’ll also find a food festival on the premises, and will be able to enjoy panoramic views along the Thames by night whilst soaking up the summer evening atmosphere on this much-loved strip of the embankment.
Day two: Sunday 25 August
Wake up early and make the most of your complimentary full English breakfast at the Park Grand London Paddington as today will be a busy day.
Board the tube as early as you can and alight at South Kensington – it will pay to beat the crowds. Pick from one of the three huge museum complexes that form ‘Albertopolis’ on Exhibition Road: the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum. Entry to the permanent galleries at all three is free, but you might want to make the most of an exhibition whilst you’re in town. Many are free, but most require booking so do plan ahead!
The Natural History Museum is running their Museum of the Moon over the bank holiday, and are hosting a series of events including yoga and concerts ‘under the moon’ which you would need to book in advance. Fashion enthusiasts, meanwhile, can venture into London’s Swingin’ Sixties at the Mary Quant exhibition at the V&A.
After your dose of heritage and culture, you can zip over to Westminster on the Circle Line and take some photos of the iconic Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, before following Parliament Street up to Trafalgar Square and into Covent Garden for a bite to eat.
Still feeling energetic? Hop on the Piccadilly Line to the not-so-distant Wood Green. Your next port of call is Alexandra Palace where you’ll have a date with The Monster.
Big, bouncy and utterly bonkers, this is the world’s largest inflatable obstacle course for adults, meaning you’ll get to spend the afternoon acting like a big kid. Activities include giant unicorn and flamingo ball pits, a glitter wheel of wonder and drag queen karaoke. Tickets do sell out, so whilst searching for London Paddington hotel deals, you’ll want to secure your spot at the same time.
After all that bouncing around, you’ll probably be feeling exhausted, so head back to your hotel and feast on authentically-cooked Indian food to replenish your energy and enjoy a bank holiday drink at the bar.
Cheers to that!
Day three: Monday 26 August
Notting Hill Carnival has been dazzling Londoners and tourists since 1966, and it only gets bigger, brighter and busier every year! Don’t be deterred by the crowds – its part of the character, and you’ll get a buzz from the lively ambience.
The largest street festival in Europe, the Notting Hill Carnival is a free event to attend and is the pinnacle of your bank holiday weekend in London. Expect Caribbean food, reggae and costumes galore. Monday is reserved for the grand finale, so come along this day to finish off your long weekend with a bang.
Take cash so that you can buy food from the stalls and wear comfy shoes. If you are bringing your family to London for the carnival, take them on Sunday instead, because this is the dedicated family day with a parade launching at 9 AM with young performers. The costume is optional but highly encouraged.
The carnival programme begins early in the morning and runs until 10 PM. You could make a stop at Holland Park on your way to the carnival, where you can see Japanese Gardens and the Jacobean mansion, Holland House, and take a moment to pause. After all, it’s been a busy weekend.
If you’re leaving London today, our Paddington hotels will let you leave your luggage with them, ready to pick up once you’ve had your fill of jerk chicken and feathers. Allow plenty of time for getting back, as the roads around the Carnival and the Underground will be exceptionally busy.
And there you have it – the perfect August Bank Holiday Weekend itinerary. Book now!